I’ve divided the Builders’ Show posts into three digestible chunks, with sketchbook doodles to accompany each bite.  The show is vast (housed in the nation’s second largest meeting venue, the two-million-square-foot Orange County Convention Center) and so we spent hours hiking long miles of elaborate product displays, attending the continuous lectures and seminars, and venturing out into the surrounding county to visit actual concept houses. 


Highlights this year included a top-secret sneak preview of Dell‘s new waterproof, smashproof, drive-your-car-over-it-proof “Rugged Laptop.” After seeing it during a lecture by Dell marketing chief Mark Jarvis, we got up close and personal with this new super-tough computer at Dell’s exhibit. It’s heavy. It’s square. It looks like the lovechild of a laptop and a Hummer H2. And, with an estimated price tag around $3,000 it has premium pricing in common with the Hummer. But you really CAN drive your car over it, according to the helpful Dell representative manning the booth.