Last Wednesday, Grace and I went up to the NEC in Birmingham for Gadget Show Live.
In short, we both loved it.
We were there from when doors opened at 9am, nearly until they closed at 6pm. Anything that can keep a six-year-old interesting and entertained for over eight hours of walking around is pretty impressive.
I’ve been to a few trade shows before, and so was expecting stands pushing freebies and schwag. I didn’t see any. That’s not a complaint: it meant we didn’t have to carry stuff around all day, and really – how many more branded USB keys do I need?
What we did get was lots of chances to try stuff out. A theme for nearly all the stands we saw was “hands-on” – lots of live demos, toys and gadgets to try.
Some of it was stuff I’d heard of or read about before – whether that was games systems like the XBox Kinect or the Nintendo 3DS, or tablets like the Motorola Xoom.
But that was still cool – because reading about the Kinect and actually playing for yourself are very different. Actually trying out a variety of Android tablets gives you a better idea of what they’re like than reading the specs. Playing a few 3D games on the 3DS gives you an idea of what the 3D effect is like (wow, the AR games are cool) in a way that a review can’t.
Knowing that you can do fun graphics stuff with pen tablets is one thing, seeing what someone can do with a photo of you is another.
There were a few surprises for me – such as the Android phone from LG with the 3D screen, which was a bit bizarre. Or the NeuroSky headset, which had some fun demo apps – we’ve used the Emotiv headset at work, but I didn’t know much about their competitors.
On the whole, though – it’s a show about gadgets you can buy today, rather than future tech.
And plenty of time to try things out for yourself. Grace got to try out a neat kids Razor bike with two castors for back wheels (making it easy to slide the back out as you skid around corners) while I got to go on a Segway and TP Scoot bike.
There were areas dedicated to gadgets for kids – Grace loved the stands from VTech and Leapfrog, both of which had a ton of cool electronic toys and games out to try. (In fact, in general – as a day out for kids, it’s pretty good. It’s a very child-friendly venue, and lots of stuff for kids to do and play with).
There were also areas with games for grown-ups… which I didn’t get to look at. I’m assuming games of death, gore, and destruction were the theme there.
Lots of gadgets, lots of chances to try stuff out – it was huge, with more than enough to keep us occupied for a day.