: Photo: Jon Snyder/Wired.comLAS VEGAS — It's the eve of the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show, and the floor is a flurry of activity as thousands of vendors set up their wares. Teamsters and union carpenters rub elbows with electronics industry representatives. Forklifts jostle for position in the narrow pathways, which are lined with shrink-wrapped booth parts and gigantic HDTVs displaying test patterns. Wired.com took a backstage tour of the preparations to bring you a glimpse of what, in a few short hours, will be the latest incarnation of North America's largest technology tradeshow.
Microsoft representatives set up the laptops and screens the company will use to show off its latest software and web services.
: Photo: Jon Snyder/Wired.comLess than 24 hours before the show opens, construction is still underway on most of the floor. Carpet awaits unrolling, and pallets are stacked high with high-tech gear.
: Photo: Jon Snyder/Wired.comThe gigantic Panasonic booth includes a row of partition-enclosed meeting rooms along its back edge. In those rooms the real business of CES will happen: furious dealmaking between manufacturers, distributors and retailers. But today, construction is still in progress. Here, a worker opens the door to reveal a mysterious blue screen in the background.
: Photo: Jon Snyder/Wired.comWorkers scurry to turn the showroom floor into something presentable. Some will remain overnight, working until the moment the show opens here at 10 a.m. Thursday. Organizers expect 130,000 people to attend CES 2009 — an 8 percent drop from last year's attendance, but still enough to ensure that every cab line is at least 30 minutes long.
: Photo: Jon Snyder/Wired.comThese small electric carts are the transportation method of choice for workers to hustle from one end of the convention center to the other.
: Photo: Jon Snyder/Wired.comBikes lean against the wall of an unfinished Panasonic exhibit. With more than 1.7 million square feet of exhibition space spread across the Las Vegas Convention Center's three massive halls, getting from point A to point B can be a challenge.
: Photo: Jon Snyder/Wired.comA Pioneer booth is still under construction. Large corporate logos lie here and there around the hall, awaiting placement far above the heads of the crowd.
: Photo: Jon Snyder/Wired.com"Say, you're not looking at that chart upside down, are you?"
: Photo: Jon Snyder/Wired.comHitachi representatives check out a display panel. Maybe it will work after the guy on the right plugs it in.
: Photo: Jon Snyder/Wired.comBanks of high-definition displays in the Sharp booth will show off the company's HDTV prowess with eye-catching videos. But that's tomorrow; today, the displays show only color bars.
: Photo: Jon Snyder/Wired.comWorkers set up RCA monitors.
: Photo: Jon Snyder/Wired.comSony's exhibit is located at the very end of the central hall and is more built-out than most booths. Putting together a show of this size is a massive undertaking: The first advance teams arrived Dec. 26 to begin setting up, a CES rep said.
: Photo: Jon Snyder/Wired.comSony is already drawing attention with its new screens and a message of eco-friendliness.
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