At one end of the scale, CES is about big, high-end product announcements - the world's biggest TV, the smallest pico projector, hi-fi speakers that cost more than your car.
At the other end it's about companies you've never (or barely) heard of trying to catch the tired eye of a wandering blogger with head-mounted displays, portable scanners and USB penknives.
Filter out the noise with our pick of the best gadgets and tech of CES 2012.
1. Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook
You know that it's a low-key CES when laptops are the stars of the show. Of course, the Dell XPS 13 isn't just any old laptop. It's part of the first wave of Intel Ultrabooks, super skinny portables that hope to outdo the MacBook Air (for power, if not skinny styling).
The XPS 13 impresses with a super model waistline that thins from 18mm down to 6mm. But it still manages to incorporate a 13.3-inch (1366 x 768) Gorilla Glass display, Core i5 processor, 128GB SSD and 4GB of RAM. This is the new shape of laptops for 2012. Whether it's another fad remains to be seen.
2. LG 55-inch 3D OLED HD TV
You've gotta hate the TV industry. Whatever HD TV you eventually buy, there's always a newer, smarter, brighter and sleeker model waiting to outdo it.
At least we can see where the technology train is heading. Next stop: LG's 55-inch 3D OLED HD TV.
The 55EM9600 is the world's largest OLED telly. Not only is it superbly bright and clear, but it's almost ridiculously thin. Get a ruler out and you'll see it's a mere 4mm thick, with a 1mm bezel that gives the impression of an edge-to-edge picture.
3. Samsung 'Smart Evolution' kit
Want a future-proof TV? Samsung is claiming that its 2012 Smart TVs will be exactly that thanks to a modular upgrade feature. "Thanks to its proprietary system-on-chip technology, Samsung is the only company that can deliver an evolving TV," says the company.
4. Fujifilm X-Pro1
Fujifilm's first compact system is a triumph. The redesigned sensor on the Fujifilm X-Pro1 uses a new colour filter array, inspired by traditional film cameras. The sensor is powered by a brand new EXR processor and Fujifilm has incorporated the combined electronic and optical viewfinder it first outed on the FinePix X100 model.
5. Acer Iconia Tab A700
If you want to beat the iPad 2 (or any iPad 3 or iPad 2S or iPad 2 HD), then you've got to be bold with your technology. Enter the Acer Iconia Tab A700, a Tegra 3-powered tablet of tomorrow running Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich).
The A700 arguably sets the bar for tablets to come during 2012. It boasts a 1.3GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM and a 10.1-inch 1080p touch panel. HDMI, MicroSD and micro USB ports give it flexible connectivity that iPad owners can only dream of.
6. Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga
Why do you need an Ultrabook when you could have the flip-and-fold Windows 8 tablet/laptop that is the clever Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga?
It's effectively four devices in one. You can use it as a standard 13.3-inch notebook or as a slate-style tablet. Flip the keyboard backwards and the screen stands up like a small monitor. Open it out in a triangle shape to use it in 'tent' mode.
As our Dan Grabham points out: "It's like Microsoft's vision for the Tablet PC from 2002. Only good." This sort of flexible design could give Windows 8 devices a real edge over their iOS and Android rivals.
7. Razer 'Project Fiona' gaming tablet
This is how you do a gaming tablet! Razer's eye-catching 'Project Fiona' concept combines a chunky Windows 7 tablet with two fixed analogue game controllers that stick out on either side like jug-ears.
Powered by an Ivy Bridge Core i7 processor, it boasts a 10.1-inch touch display and has been spotted smoothly running Assassin's Creed: Revelations and Skyrim.
We'd love a portable Xbox 360 like this. It would be ideal for couch potato gaming when the wife wants to watch the telly...
8. JVC GY-HMQ10 4K camcorder
Remember when 1080p full HD was the pinnacle of video capture? Not any more. JVC's GY-HMQ10 is the world's first 4K handheld camcorder capable of recording footage at a sky-high resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. This £5K gadget will go nicely with LG's 84-inch Ultra Definition TV.
9. MakerBot Replicator
In the future, you won't BUY a new toy, you'll PRINT it. Last year, MakerBot showcased its single-colour 3D printer - the Thing-O-Matic. A year on and the new Replicator model can print 3D objects in two colours.
It uses either acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), which is also used to make Lego bricks, or Polylactic acid, a biodegradable material made from corn. At $1,749 it can make the most expensive plastic whistle you've ever owned. Or replacement Lego bricks...
10. Voice/motion control
With Kinect heading to Windows and Siri presumably destined for an Apple TV, CE companies are keen to add gesture control and voice commands to their next-gen telly boxes. Samsung and LG have both demonstrated the technology at this year's CES. The days of the old IR remote control could be numbered.
So what can we take away from this year's show?
- Ultrabooks are the new netbooks
- Windows 8 tablets might actually be good
- Nobody is talking about Blu-ray any more
- Big OLED tellies are here (but they'll be pricey)
- TVs are getting smarter
- The days of the TV remote control are numbered
- The future of smartphones is quad-core and LTE
- Ryan Seacrest should NEVER host a tech keynote
- The CES glitz might be starting to fade...
Article continues below