electronica 2006 Survival Guide

Paul Whytock, Editor-in-Chief of Electronic Design Europe, has been a regular visitor to the electronica show in Munich since 1988. He and his colleague, Mark David, Editor-in–Chief of Electronic Design, will be there reporting on the highlights of this year's event, which runs from November 14 to 17.

The countdown is on—we're now just a week away from electronica 2006. Not only will Electronic Design Europe be at the show, but we've already put together a dedicated Web site. We've posted product and technology announcements as they are released to us prior to the show.

On top of that, during the event, we will be posting daily news. So show visitors remember, when your feet get weary, and they will, turn to the laptop and get the latest news from:

http://www.electronicdesign.com/electronica/index.cfm?AD=1&

For those first-time visitors, here are some tips, advice, warnings, and general information that may help make your trip a really good time.

Being there means that you've got to get there

About 45% of the 75,000 people visiting electronica 2006 this year will come from abroad. So, if you're flying into Munich airport, you've got a few choices on how to get to the show. By far the best is to get the regular buses that run from just outside the terminal. Unless there's a group of you, taxis work out pricey. If your first port of call is central Munich, then use the S Bahn trains.

Without a doubt the majority of people get to the Messestadt (show ground) by U Bahn. Let's clear up this U Bahn and S Bahn stuff. Munich has a fantastically good and efficient train system that also happens to be mind-numbingly complex when trying to work out what ticket you need. The S Bahn lines are the suburban trains that run within the city and also to outlying areas. The U bahn constitutes the central city lines. You need to get the U2 line to the show. Find a map on:

http://www.toytowngermany.com/munich/munich_ubahn_map.html

A great site that explains the fares system, which many Germans even struggle with, is:

http://www.dooyoo.co.uk/transport-international/transport-inmunich/353728/

It's worth looking at this site. Remember, the Munich rail system works on an honesty policy. Get your ticket and date, and time-stamp it before entering the train. Don't think that by acting the dumb tourist you'll get away without a ticket if questioned by the plain-clothes ticket inspectors that patrol the trains. You won't, and the fines are steep.

This is one big techfest

So you've made it to the show. It's vast. Over 3000 companies set up shop along huge halls. It's worth taking a look at the show Web site to see what's available.

http://www.globalelectronics.net/id/20308/cubesig/97b17dfd83e976533fa4dd2406fab7d1

....but be warned it's a clunky and slow site.

Be warned

Now here's something I have learned. Once you've paid your entry to the exhibition, you get a show catalogue with such thickness and weight that you may need to attach wheels to it and roll it around. Here's where you sit down and plan your routes; your stand visits. Do this for as long as it takes. Don't be tempted to try and wing it around the show. Desperation and dehydration will soon set in.

Dedicated technology areas

If you've gone to the show's Web site, you'll have already seen the special application halls focusing on things like automotive, RFID, wireless, and nanotech subjects. These are well put together, and if any of those are your beat, they're good areas to visit. If you're a designer (14% of visitors represent this group), and your scene is the latest in semiconductor technology, then you'll need to concentrate on the Halls in the A section of the show.

Don't forget to find the moving walkways (just like the one's in airports) that run the length of the exhibition site. These are on the first floor adjacent to the line of hall B's, with crossover areas to get to the A halls.

For many people (85% of visitors), the main reason for being there is to establish new contacts. Interestingly, it's about the same percentage of polled visitors that say the main reason for being there is to observe what their competitors are up to...not my figures, but the show organisers. Whatever the reason, though, careful itinerary planning is essential.

End of the day

A vast proportion of electronica visitors stay over in Munich. Don't be tempted to stay in a hotel near the show; it's a very boring thing to do and you'll miss out on a fantastic city. Take a look at:

http://www.bigfoto.com/europe/germany/munich/index.htm

My advice is stay as near to Marienplatz—the central square of Munich—as you can...

From here it's an easy train ride into the show in the morning but forget that for the moment; in the evenings, it's beer and food time. Munich is world famous for its variety and quality of beer:

http://www.xs4all.nl/~patto1ro/munipubs.htm#map_guide_city_centre

Now I'm more of a wine man than a lager person, but when in Munich that changes...yeah, I drink both. The beer is great and so are some of the beer halls where you drink it. They're invariably linked to the breweries that produce the stuff, so they're a must visit. The Hoff Brau House is the best known and, consequently, is a little too tourist-trap for my taste. But it's where Adolf Hitler made some of his early speeches, so it does hold a certain fascination. By the way, for those of you who might like the idea of dining in what was Hitler's favourite restaurant, go to the Osteria Italiana at Schellingstrasse 62. But back to the beer halls. One of my favourites is the Augustiner Großgaststätte. It's huge, historic, authentic , brash, and very Bavarian. It's also only a short stumble from Marienplatz. Take a look at:

http://www.augustinerrestaurant.com/

Tomorrow there's more

Back to the business of the show. No one ever gets to see all of the technology that's displayed at electronica. And trying to accomplish such a feat is a sure route to madness. So what we will be doing with our electronica 2006 dedicated Web site is bringing you product and technology announcements as they're released to us prior to the show. Then, during the show, we will post daily news. So remember, when your feet are weary—and they will be—turn to the laptop and get the latest news from:

http://www.electronicdesign.com/electronica/index.cfm?AD=1&

Hope you have a good show!

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