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Gadget Show Live 2014 Review

Gadget Show Live 2014 has been and gone.  Held in the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, UK, the show is a mixture of demonstrations, selling, and entertainment.  Visiting for the day you’ll find you time split between playing with products in the main exhibition and attending a show put on by the shows presenters.

Exhibition

We visited on the final day of the exhibition and it was good to see lots of deals still to be had on a number of products.  There are 2 different types of exhibitors:

[list style=’regular’]

[list_item]Those that have come to sell products on the day[/list_item]

[list_item]Those that have come to raise brand awareness[/list_item]

[/list]

Generally larger manufacturers such as Sony and Microsoft will be there to demonstrate products only, not sell any.  Sony in particular did this brilliantly with the use of a water tank, diver and their range of waterproof Xperia mobiles.  

Sony had a good selection of mobiles on display and also showed off the recent QX100 Bluetooth camera adapter.

Microsoft took a different approach, setting out as many different Windows 8 devices as you could possible want to try.  There were a range of tablets and laptops all setup allow you to play with them all and decide which is the right one for you.  There was no pricing information and you couldn’t buy them, but it will certainly have helped people decide what their next device will be.

Microsoft were clearly keen on demonstrating that it’s touch screens could be used artistically in the same way as an iPad, with a demo area with easels and tablets available for visitors to try.  Onhand to help was a Microsoft worker who was artistically at work on one of the display tablets, unfortunately she was so engrossed with her own painting that when we asked to be shown the paint software she spent very little time setting it up and headed back to her own masterpiece without checking it was working.  It wasn’t and we were left thinking the tablet was rather difficult to use.

If you were there to purchase a gadget or two you were had a lot to pick from.  You could pick up a new set of headphones, Bluetooth speakers, stationery made from stone (full review coming soon!), 3D printers, a wood carving printer, robots, battlebots, helicopters, UFOs, quad copters, Android tablets, fitness trackers, power tools, garden tools, kitchen gadgets, PC peripherals, personal transport gadgets, gadget showers, and many more items.   

It was good to see show discounts available, for example:

[list style=’regular’]

[list_item]Leap Motion controller, was: £69.99, show price: £59.99[/list_item]
[list_item]Fitbug fitness tracker, was: £59.95, show price: £49.95[/list_item]
[list_item]MiP Robot pre-order, was: £100, show price: £80[/list_item]
[/list]

GSL:2014 3D Printer   GSL:2014 Sale items

Having been to the Gadget Show Live for the past few years it’s been interesting to see the developments and trends.  3D printers are shrinking in terms of size and price, Oculus Rift was on display at a number of stalls and the number of fitness wearables has increased.

Walking around the stalls had been well positioned to place similar subjects near each other, for example you could easily compare the various fitness tech.  Overall it was a strong exhibition with lots of variety and lots to see and do.
Super Theater Show

If you’ve been before you’ll know all about the super theater shows, essentially they’re a nice break from checking out the exhibition and give visitors a chance to see the Gadget Show presenters on stage as well as potentially win some prizes.  Over the years these shows have always been a highlight of the day and this one was expected to be extra special as a celebration of 10 years of the Gadget Show.

The scene was set, a giant cake on stage, fire twirling ladies doing there thing to help with the build up, it all seemed to be getting off to a good start….until the cake in the middle of the stage, out of which the presenters were to appear, malfunctioned and trapped them inside.  At this point the audience didn’t really know what to think; was this part of the show?  Was it a technical fault?

GSL:2014 Fire lady GSL: 2014

Further problems became evident when Rachel Riley opened her mouth, it became clear the live shows had taken their toll on her voice and it was almost painful to listen to her speak, but instead of adapting the show to reduce her talk time they pressed on.

The live show recapped the last 10 years of the TV show, with some messages from past presenters, with the notable exception of Suzi Perry.  In fact they seem to have to great lengths to remove any trace of her generally, as if she hadn’t been a core part of the show.

In between these recaps were some interesting live performances, along with a constant stream of sponsorship messages about where you could buy the products used in the show.  For some reason of all the shows I’ve been to this one felt rather flat, there just didn’t seem to be much energy, the audience didn’t seem too engaged.

It didn’t help that they sent John Bently to sit in jacuzzi (“available from stall…”) for the majority of the show.  The bubbling water appeared to distract him from the task of presenting, the crew seemed to enjoy themselves with John Bently masks and it all came across as a time filler that hadn’t really been thought through.

A high point was an attempt to break a world record via an audience driven game of Tetris. One third of the audience controlled the block drop, one third controlled moving the block left and right and the final third controlled rotation.  Unfortunately this meant the audience controlling the rotation had very little to do, only having to rotate the block a couple of times during the 3 attempts.

If you’ve been before you’ll know about the personal transport race, it’s something they like to indulge in every year and this year was no exception.  I can forgive reusing this section, it’s become something of a tradition. The end of the show featured a further bit of self indulgence with Otis belting out ‘Final Countdown’…again.  This is the second time I’ve heard him sing this, the first being in a previous live show in a challenge against Pollyanna Woodward, and it felt like they were out of new ideas this year. 

GSL: 2014  GSL: 2014 Jason catapult

So a bit of a letdown this year; A lack of original ideas, the constant sales messages and a general feeling that it was all thrown together last minute meant the show felt far less professional, less entertaining and less slick than previous years.

Is it worth going?

Yes, absolutely!  The Super Theater show might have fallen flat this year but there is so much to see and do that it’s well worth a day trip to check out everything on display.  There are deals to be had if you’re in the mood for some shopping and it’s a great place to check out the latest and greatest tech you might be interested in buying.

With the fast pace of technological changes there is something new and interesting to see each year.  With hints of Oculus Rift at this years event I predict VR will be heavily featured at the 2015 event, with Rift and it’s competitors out for public use a show like this is a great way to show people the new technology available to them.

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Self confessed gadget lover who has a day job at Verastar Ltd and a hobby of writing and filming reviews that are published on YouTube and Reviewify.co.uk.