Las Vegas. Land of poker and blackjack. The desert city where ranks of slot machines greet you in the airport. But what if we're all betting on the wrong thing?
Think about it. What's going up in tech right now? Software! Apps.The cloud. iOS, Android 4.0. Siri. Windows 8. But here at the CES, people are queuing like madmen (and it's not even open yet) for press conferences about hardware.
Samsung and LG with their giant TV screens. Intel is pushing manufacturers like Lenovo and HP to get ultrabooks - those new super-slim, super-light laptops - on the shelves. Not to mention everyone from Toshiba to Acer trying to convince us that this time their tablet won't suck.
This year's CES keynote will be Microsoft's last. The software giant instead prefers to announce its new releases according to its own schedule. Dell is paring back its presence, as are Motorola, T-Mobile and others.
CES in its purest form represents one face of the technology prism: those 55" OLED TVs, razor-thin laptops and mad, indulgent gismos. The things that take time and investment to make. And that's why it's still important - as a bellweather. In Vegas, we get to see what the big names are betting on before we decide whether to wager. They often get it wrong, just as Google did the first time it ventured into TV (there are higher hopes this time around).
But for raw excitement and the crispest, freshest ideas out there, the start-ups have it. CES hasn't traditionally been known as the place where new firms get their big break, but organisers are trying to change that. You could do worse than to skip the three-hour Samsung queue and head instead to the "Eureka Park TechZone," an area dedicated to 94 start-ups. It's there that you'll find the rank outsiders who might just win you that surprise jackpot.