Any tech blogger will tell you CES can be fun, but it is a grind. They will tell you loudly, and insistently. You will not need to ask. But to get through that joyous slog, we had some helpful sidekick gadgets to get us through (mostly) unscathed. Here are the Gizmodo Strike Force favorites.
The Toq isn't perfect but it was utterly invaluable at CES. What with hundreds of emails and texts and GroupMe messages blowing up my phone when I was on the run and in press conferences, being able to separate "urgent" from "really freaking urgent" at a glance was crucial. And its battery lasted all 5 days I was on the road without a charge. [$300]
I got my Nexus 5 right around launch and I've been loving it since then, but a convention like CES really gives you a chance to bond with your phone, and man I still love this thing to death. The battery, camera, and overall design trump my old Nexus 4 easily. Mainly I learned that that $400 upgrade from 4 to 5 wasn't as unnecessary as I thought. [$350]
First of all, it's CES, so we're carting around tons of gear—cameras, chargers, computers, etc. It could easily and comfortably fit everything I needed and then some. It also comes with a battery pack, so I could plug into it when I was running low on power. [$124]
This was what we used to communicate on the show floor and make horrible jokes to each other. It was completely invaluable for both purposes. [Free] (Editor's note: This is a super easy pick and borderline cheating but we're all exhausted so I let it slide.)
I broke one of our CES rules. We weren't supposed to wear brand new shoes because of the risk of blistering, but all of my comfortable shoes were so worn out and gross that I wouldn't have felt comfortable wearing them to a meeting with an executive. I am so, SO glad I bought these. They were so comfy that my feet never got sore, despite running around all day for five days. Also, they look good enough that I could wear them for dancing and parties and nobody was the wiser. [$140]
This is the first year that I felt like I've been able to take really good pictures under really difficult circumstances. Like, I'm actually proud of some of them. I used it with the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens, so it was solid for video, too. [$1,500]
My phone and my MiFi need power—and they really burn through their batteries when they're trying to cut through the choked airwaves of the show floor. I never once wen back to the press room for a charge thanks to my 6000mAh Mophie Juicepack Powerstation Duo that could charge both of them at once. [$99]
This sack you put inside regular backpacks is great when you're running around/dropping your bag and you don't want your camera to get all banged up. [$38]
Long gone are my days of hauling a heavy DSLR camera around CES. The DSC-RX100 II is small and light enough that I barely notice it around my neck, but not at the sacrifice of control. I shoot exclusively in full manual while roaming the show floor as the lighting greatly varies from booth to booth, and the DSC-RX100 II gives me separate dials for quickly adjusting both my shutter speed and f-stop for the perfect shot. It's also a brilliant low-light shooter, letting me snag beautiful shots during even the most poorly lit press conferences. [$750]
Land-locked Vegas is one of the driest places on earth to hold a tradeshow, and if you're not careful, a set of dry chapped lips can be a painful way to wake up every morning. Some manner of lip balm is the most important thing you can carry at all times. Nivea's 'A Kiss of Smoothness' lives up to its name, giving your lips a smooth finish without any kind of flavoring or chemical after taste. Most people prefer a small container of Blistex for moisturizing lips, but when you're shaking hands and touching gadgets all week, the last thing you want to do is touch a dirty finger to your lips. [$16 for 6]
In addition to the 5D Mark III, the Ricoh GR could hang out in my pocket allowing me to snap quick, one-handed, impromptu one-handed shots. Its f/2.8 wide angle lens complimented the telephoto lens on my 5D during press conferences, and I carried it for general documenting throughout the trip. [$620]
Telephoto DSLR lenses can be huge and heavy. The standard for most pros is the 70-200mm f/2.8 L lens. But when you're toting your gear everywhere at CES, heavy lenses will make you want to die. My alternative is the 70-300. It's not as fast or sharp as the L lens, but it is smaller, lighter, has image stabilization (that's essential), and is a whole lot cheaper. [Amazon]
Made by the fashion incubator Stitch Factory in downtown Vegas, these party essentials were outfitted with a tiny battery box over the ear that allowed me to put the pink LED tube on three settings: off, solid or flashing. Wearing them, I could easily locate the biggest nerds in any crowd. Better than Google Glass.
One of the best apps out there for recording interviews. I was able to record and store hours of interviews with decent quality sound on my phone, organize and name them, and then use the wifi sync feature to transfer them to a URL where I could download them if needed. I loved not having the carry around a second recording device, and it was great that I could retrieve the files online if necessary. [Free]
Geoff's face is normally not quite that wide.
I have to say Camper Beetle shoes for being light-weight, flexible, durable, and comfortable enough not to wear out my feet even after standing up or walking for hours at a time. [$180]
I used a blank, pocket-sized Moleskine for taking quick and easy notes on products, interviews, and places both on and off the CES floor; it fits perfectly in the back pocket of my jeans and looks just enough like a classic reporter's notebook that i didn't feel like too much of a Luddite carrying this thing around a tech show. The blank pages are also perfect to letting you scrawl as quickly as possible without worrying about writing between the lines, and all that open space holds quick sketches—for example, while visiting Hoover Dam. [$9]