No NUCs at Intel’s CES booth again this year…or were there?

CES was amazing…and once again, mostly NUC-free.  Last year when I went to CES I made it a point to head to Intel’s booth to see what fun, cool, exciting demos they’d have with the latest NUCs.  I was disappointed to see they had none. Other than a single NUC on display in a glass case (for winning an award, no less), the booth was NUC free. I asked around and was told it simply wasn’t a big enough selling product to warrant inclusion at CES.

This year, I told myself, would be different. NUCs have grown in popularity, variety, and usefulness. This time Intel had to be showing them off, especially with the recent release of Hades Canyon. Finally, a NUC that could compete with gaming rigs. There was no way Intel wouldn’t be showing it off.

So when I arrived at CES, one of my first stops was Intel’s booth. The booth, as always, was incredible. They had some very cool displays and demos…but no NUCs that I could see. I asked someone working in the booth where the NUC display was. Her response; “Nook? Is that a processor? I’m sorry, I’m not sure.” Surprised, I wandered around the booth and asked a couple more folks. I got similar responses. Finally, I found an Intel person who’d heard of NUCs. She said “Yeah, they’ve got a couple over there.” I followed her aim to an area where a couple of very slick gaming demos were running.  Sure enough, the demos were running on Hades Canyon NUCs. I and another attendee began discussing them, talking about how exciting it was for Intel to have something with AMD graphics. I asked the person running one of the demos if the Hades Canyon was released yet. “Hades Canyon?” he said. I said yes, that looked like a Hades Canyon. He looked at it and responded “Yeah, I guess that’s what it is.”

The other attendee and I looked at each other, a bit confused. We were both there to see Hades Canyon, to ask questions, to drool over the new features, to see inside it.  Instead, we got “yeah, I think we sell those”. We talked about NUCs for a few minutes, then he was on his way. In all, I’d asked a half dozen workers in the Intel booth about NUCs. Most had no idea what I was talking about.

I suppose I can see Intel’s position. After all, NUCs may be popular but they aren’t a cash cow…yet.  It’s the old conundrum; do you drop your time, effort, and funds into a project to get it off the ground, or do you wait for that project to pick up steam before you fully back it? If Intel’s leaders were to ask me (and why wouldn’t they?) I would say the NUC, and the mini PC market, could easily be the answer to slumping PC sales. But that’s just me.

John Deatherage, the leader of the NUC team, was there at CES doing interviews about the NUC. It’s clear he’s enthusiastic, and you can tell he and his team want to do great things for Intel.  But if you didn’t bump into him at the CES booth, you likely didn’t feel that same energy from other Intel employees. Intel is talking about it to the press, but nothing sells people on a product like letting them see it, touch it, and try it.  At CES, a lot of people got to play a game running on the Hades Canyon NUC, but (if my experience wasn’t unique) they most likely left the booth not knowing that.

Hades Canyon has the potential to be huge. A game changer in more ways than one. So I would think if Intel isn’t going to showcase it and show it off, they should at least hand out a product brief for their employees to read. That way, when someone interested asks about that cool little box running the amazing game demo, the employee can respond with something more than a blank stare.

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