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Samsung showed off its curved TVs at CES 2014.

LAS VEGAS — The Super Bowl is the most-watched sports event every year, and I recall being so impressed when a sportswriter said that he’d covered a few NFL championships.

But what surprised me was how he described the experience.

GeekWire’s Todd Bishop and Taylor Soper on the show floor at CES 2014 in Las Vegas. (Thanks to Seattle’s Colin Christianson for taking this pic for us.)

“It’s not all that great,” he said. “You’re there with thousands of other press members. It’s a zoo.”

This sentiment mirrors my four-day experience at the annual Consumer Electronics Show — otherwise known as CES, or, the Super Bowl of technology.

I’m back in Seattle and have had some time to reflect. In a nutshell, this is how I remember CES: An incredible amount of technology with an inordinate amount of people.

Being at CES provided an amazing glimpse into the future. I saw several gadgets and electronics that were simply jaw-dropping — Intel’s scanned 3D objects, LG’s massive 3D TV wall and pretty much every single product at Sony’s spaceship-esque booth all come immediately to mind.

Sony’s incredible booth at CES.

But when I think of CES, 150,000 also comes to mind — the insane number of people that gathered in Vegas from all corners of the globe for one of the biggest tech conferences in the world.

Moving around the show floors, where companies set up their extravagant booths, was at times extremely annoying. People bump into you, it takes a while to actually see anything up close or play with a device, and there are massive lines for just about everything — taxis, food, bathrooms, etc.

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Team GeekWire ended up writing about one of the hottest CES stories at a place we least expected it: A private AT&T Macklemore show at the Palms.

What I’ve learned, though, is that aside from my complaints, there’s something special about being there in person. It allowed my colleague Todd Bishop and I an opportunity to connect with Seattle entrepreneurs who were also at CES, and offered a chance to experience these new technologies first hand.

And it was actually away from all the booths and outside the ridiculously enormous Las Vegas Convention Center where we found the best stories.

While Todd and I waited inside the Rain nightclub at the Palms Las Vegas for a private Macklemore concert put on by AT&T, we reported on T-Mobile CEO John Legere being escorted out of the party by security.

My CES celebrity moment with Seattle's own Ryan Lewis.
My CES celebrity moment with Seattle’s own Ryan Lewis.

Two days later, just as we were about to board our flight back home, we discovered an Amazon “Kindle Kiosk” vending machine near out gate — something that not many were familiar with.

So yes, the overcrowded show floors and never-ending lines sucked. Yes, a majority of the tech we saw this week will likely never make it to mainstream consumers (this is why you see so many “10 things I’d actually buy at CES” articles). And yes, the CES experience can really tire you out, both mentally and physically.

But like I said, there’s just something to be said for being there in person, meeting people, testing out gadgets, absorbing it all. I’m hopeful that I can to return to Vegas next year to see how far the tech world has progressed in 365 days — and that my sports betting skills improve just a tad.

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