For guys, electronics show is all about gadgets

Tyson Rabani stood in the middle of the Las Vegas Convention Center, transfixed by a Transformer.

On his way to check out the Dolby home theater display at the Consumer Electronics Show, Rabani, 26, stopped to take a picture of the giant yellow prop, a 10-foot model of Bumble Bee, an autobot from the movie “Transformers.”

The Colorado-based audio-visual salesman wasn’t alone; a sea of tech-heads surrounded the Transformer, snapping photos with their digital cameras or just staring slack-jawed at its mighty presence.

It didn’t move, walk around or stomp people, as one man observed, disappointment tingeing his voice. Still, the onlookers stared.

Why? Because they couldn’t help it; they’re guys. And standing around gaping at gadgets — even fake ones, like a Transformer — seems to be a predominantly guy thing to do.

Even Sarah from California, the sole woman taking a picture of the Transformer, did it for a guy.

“I’m only taking a picture for my son,” said Sarah, who asked that her last name not be used.

Women play a major role in the production of CES, making up about 60 percent of the Consumer Electronic Association’s staff. They also influence 88 percent of household electronics purchases, according to CEA statistics. Women attend the show, too, though one look around any of the exhibit areas and it’s obvious they are vastly outnumbered by men.

And you won’t catch many of them snapping pictures of robots or video games or bragging about beating their friends at a product demonstration.

“Traditionally, guys are more gadgety,” said Kim Brachter, an exhibitor at CES. She was demonstrating Wild Planet’s latest electronic toy, the Spy Gear, a remote-control tank with a camera on it. “They’re competitive, too.”

Like buyers David Gray, 51, and co-worker Jim Marshall, 38, from Canada.

Gray watched as Marshall played a car-racing video game using Vuzix, a pair of glasses that enables the wearer to use head movements in place of hands.

He didn’t like it, Marshall said, because he likes to use his hands, especially when playing video games. He simply played the demo to beat Gray.

“I watched him and he was doing so well,” Marshall said. “I wanted to beat him.”

When asked why, Marshall looked confused.

“Why not?” he asked.

Both Gray and Marshall agreed that men are more electronics-oriented than women, but they don’t know the reason.

“Maybe women are smarter than men, they know none of this stuff works and they don’t want to mess with it,” Marshall offered.

It’s no different from women liking clothes or shoes, said Jeff Hanley, 25, of Spokane, Wash.

“Girls like diamonds and guys like gadgets,” said Hanley, who sells and installs home audio and video equipment. “This is our diamond. Guys like flashy things.”

His girlfriend, Nicole Downhour, 21, agreed. Women can be intimidated by the constantly changing electronics field; it’s difficult to keep up with the latest technology, she said.

“It seems like such a large knowledge base and if you don’t know everything, you don’t know anything,” Downhour said.

But things are starting to change.

At the beginning of their relationship, Downhour wasn’t very “techie,” Hanley said. Now, she works with Hanley selling home audio and video equipment. And more companies are starting to manufacture their products in a way that appeals to women, she added.

Contact reporter Sonya Padgett at or (702) 380-4564.

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