Was well excited to get myself over to the Excel Centre today after months of drummed up expectation seeing adverts and promotions in the PC mags I subscribe to (Custom PC, PC Pro and Computer Shopper). I bounded over there in the early morn with a slight delay due to some office work that needed doing – despite me being on annual leave (I’ve got too much Malaysian working style in me methinks…) but finally managed to make it there a little over the official start time.
An inauspicious low-tech beginning
Walking towards the exhibition hall, I expected a throng of people to already be there since Malaysia’s annual PC Fair is always jam packed with humans who are all after great tech bargains that you just don’t get instore. Upon reaching the ticketing booth, I had a little mixup with the lady at the counter. The booth said Press & Invitations and Groupon Tickets – so, having already bought my tickets via Groupon a few days back and because there was no one heading for that counter, I made a beeline for it and waved my phone in front of the counter girl only to get waved off by her and told to get in line. Confused, I went into the very short line and waited. Shortly, I saw a guy saunter straight up to that same girl with a printout of his Groupon voucher and got his wristband pass in no time at all. At this point, I was sure that the lady misunderstood me so I make eye contact and walk straight to her counter and promptly display my Groupon on my smartphone.
What happened next was rather unexpected given the event that I was there for – she looked confused and said that they don’t have the facilities to scan my Groupon voucher from my phone and needed me to bring a printed copy. My first thought was, “Hang on. Aren’t I at the London International Technology Show? How come they don’t have QR code scanners for Groupon vouchers?” Fortunately, after a few moments of me standing there looking rather awkward with my Groupon voucher displayed on my screen at the Groupon ticketing counter, she said she’ll let me in anyway and asked whether I wanted just the one ticket. “Now we’re getting somewhere”, I think to myself and said I’ll take the single ticket.
Now that I was properly registered, I walked through the entrance and started checking out the various exhibition booths.
Low-tech gear in high-tech show?
The strangest exhibit in the whole show hands down was this decidedly low-tech offering…
If I wanted decorative wind spinners in the UK, I would hop, skip, and jump (well, I’d prob take the tube instead… less conspicuous) over to Camden Market (or one of the other many markets around London) to check out their range of offerings – not go to an ‘international technology show’…
Cool tech at last
That aside, there was some cool tech around though it was focused on stuff that’s too expensive for mainstream consumers (like the £100 keyboards I saw) or on stuff for enthusiast PC overclockers (like the audacious cooling products on offer). Here are a couple of the cool stuff I saw:
And now, some retro tech that’s gotten on in years but is still cool…
Shattered pinball dreams
Apart from having a blast at the retro arcade games (especially Galaga – which was the subject of many hours of fun during my childhood), I tried my hand at Micro Mart’s gaming shed where they offered an opportunity to win a nice gaming chair. The competition in question to win it was a free-to-play pinball game that was a staple in Windows 95 – 3D Pinball: Space Cadet. The catch? You only had 1 chance to get the highest score possible and anyone who’s played it will know that it’s difficult to score anything more than a few hundred thousand (my own personal best was about 1.5 million – a far cry from my 48M scores in Pinball Dreams back in the day…). Cracking my knuckles I quickly configured the controls to what I was used to and gave it a go – but failed when I reached 160,000 points because I overused the tilt button. What a sad way to go.
At the same hut, I also had a go at id Software’s RAGE on a lovely Eyefinity setup. The previous player seemed to have left it at a point where there wasn’t much to do, shoot, or kill though so I gave up on the game after a while of aimlessly running and driving about. Doubt I’ll purchase it for the PC. It was also lagging a bit on the PC though I’m not sure whether it’s a hardware or software-related issue.
Dearth of genuinely must-buy gear and gadgets
I’d say, one of the biggest disappointments of the day was a lack of any really well-priced items. I grew up in Malaysia and regularly experienced the annual PC fair where it was THE place and time to get the best deals in the whole year and people knew it. It runs across a 3 day period in Kuala Lumpur and is constantly packed (and it takes up a larger space than LITS). Over here, it rarely felt like anyone was genuinely interested in the deals or that the vendors were interested in actually pushing their deals. All I saw around was a few price lists (generally a 20% discount) and some items that some shops had placed price tags to (Scan did it for some of their products – but knowing the extent of their normal catalogue, it was distinctly underwhelming).
The seminar area didn’t look or sound very exciting either…
So in the end, I left at around 1pm – having already seen the whole place several times round and played a couple of games. The good thing was – since my Groupon didn’t register at the counter, I effectively went in for free (well, as long as my Groupon cancellation request goes through for the tickets I had already bought…). London International Technology Show 2011 – a poor excuse for a tech exhibition.
There’s not much else that was really exciting so I’ll leave you with several other photos I took at the show.