Heading for CES with a Windows 8 ultrabook -- and hoping for the best

The International CES show in Las Vegas is always an...interesting...experience.

By "interesting" I mean, of course, frantic, overwhelming and a huge amount of fun. This incredibly large technology trade show is the focal point for almost every tech company that has a new product coming out (or expects to have a new product coming out, or may perhaps have a new product coming out) and wants to show it to corporate buyers, possible investors and, of course, anybody who may write about it.

One of the tools that are needed to negotiate CES -- especially if you're a member of this last category -- is a computer (or, if you prefer, a tablet) that can handle all the work you need to do without weighing you down too much.

When I go to CES, I spend most of my time away from my hotel room, and as a result, I'm hauling a lot of stuff, including my smartphone, munchies (it's often hard to take time out for a meal), a notebook (a paper one), a large supply of business cards, a small camcorder, and any PR materials I pick up along the way. I don't have that much upper body strength, so if I tried to carry around my 4.5-lb. MacBook Pro as well, I'd probably resemble Quasimodo by the end of the day.

In the past few years, I've compromised by using a netbook -- specifically the Asus Eee PC 1005PE, which weighs 2.8 lb. without its adaptor (3.4 lb. with). And I would have made do with that again this year, despite the cramped keyboard and slow processor, but I was able to borrow one of the new Windows 8 ultrabooks -- the Acer Aspire S7.

I've been playing with (and setting up) the S7 for the past week, and I'm looking forward to using it -- albeit with a bit of apprehension. On the one hand, this is a really slick system -- a 13.3-in. display, great keyboard, fast Intel Core i7 processor, all in a slim 2.9-lb. package (a bit more with the adaptor).

On the other, reviews of the system have complained about its short battery life -- which could be a real issue in a trade show environment, where everybody is looking for a source of electricity. My little netbook was a real trouper, giving me something like eight hours before it started to complain. That's not going to happen with the Acer.

And then I'll be coping with Windows 8 which, even after several weeks with the Surface (which was running Windows RT) is still a bit of a mystery.

At this year's CES, I'm going to concentrate on trying to find the more weird, interesting or innovative products that are being shown at CES. I'll be reporting on what I find -- and how things go with the Acer Aspire S7. Wish me luck.

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