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Comdex Rolls Into Las Vegas

Information appliances, software platforms, electronic commerce and broadband home networking are the themes for the 1999 Comdex fall show this week – and more than 200,000 attendees are expected to take in a variety of keynote addresses, pavilions and seminars dedicated to these topics.

This year’s Comdex, which kicked off last night with a keynote by Microsoft’s Bill Gates, will feature the first time Sony is addressing the event when president/CEO Nobuyuki Idei speaks today at noon on the power of hardware in a networked society.

“We feel Sony is now more of an information technology company and not just centered on consumer electronics,” Comdex VP/general manager Bill Sell said.

Filling out the keynote schedule today is Carly Fiorina, president/CEO of Hewlett-Packard, who will speak at 9 a.m., and Linus Torvalds, creator of the Linux operating system, who will talk at 6:30 p.m.

John Chambers, president/CEO of Cisco Systems, will begin tomorrow’s keynotes at 9 a.m. Eric Schmidt, CEO of Novell, will follow at noon.

Scott McNealy, CEO of Sun Micro-systems, will present Wednesday’s 9 a.m. keynote, and Xerox president/CEO G. Richard Thoman and chief scientist John Seeley Brown will follow at noon.

Several new pavilions have been added to this year’s event including the Linux Business Expo in the Hilton Hotel Convention Center and the E-Commerce Pavilion.

Sony will launch two additions to its Vaio Digital Studio line at the show, the PCV-E308DS with an Intel Pentium II 450MHz processor and the 350MHz PCV-E302DS. Both offer 128MB or SDRAM, 13.6GB hard drive, 5x DVD-ROM drive, 2x AGP graphics, iLink (IEEE 1394 FireWire) and a 56K V.90 modem. Respective suggested retail prices are $2,299 and $1,499.

Sony will display two new CRT monitors. The 19-inch GDM-F400 features 0.22mm dot pitch and will ship in February with a $999 suggested retail price. Available this month is the 19-inch short-neck CDP-420GS with a suggested retail price $699.

The short-neck design minimizes the monitor’s desktop footprint. The monitor also has MobilePort technology, which allows it to be quickly connected to a notebook computer.

The company will also exhibit its memory stick products.

TEAC’s Data Storage Products division will have two new products on hand: the CD-D832S CD Duplicator and the CD-224PEK portable CD-ROM drive. The CD Duplicator can operate as either a stand-alone device or in conjunction with a PC or Mac.

The device contains a CD-RW and CD-ROM drive enabling the end user to transfer audio from one CD to another. The latter product is a 24x drive that weighs about 9 ounces and is intended for use with subnotebooks. Pricing and shipping dates were not available.

TEAC will also show a 4x 4x 32x CD-RW drive, which will come in USB, IDE and ATAPI versions, and has a suggested retail price of $199. It will ship in late November. A 40x CD-ROM drive, suggested retail price $79, will also be on display. It ships late this month.

Panasonic will show how its DVD-ROM, DVD-RAM and DVD video players work with the new Sigma Designs DVR DVD/MPEG-2 video editing solution and display how end users can store and play personal and business high-quality videos.

Sharp Electronics will show two multifunction devices, the FO3800M and UX-4000M. The first is a copier/printer/fax machine that simultaneously prints and faxes. The latter is a fax/copier/scanner that incorporates a laser printer and allows for Internet connectivity.

Monitor-maker ViewSonic will display its first flat-panel monitors featuring built-in picture-in-picture capabilities – the 15-inch VP151 and 18-inch VP181. These will ship with respective suggested retail prices of $1,795 and $3,995. Another first for ViewSonic will be the company’s first digital CRT monitors. The PIP monitor will allow a person to work, while watching a movie or TV show in the window.

Emachines, now third in PC market share, will show its newest entry-level PCs at Comdex and unveil its new Internet service, called the eMachines Network.

CompUSA’s store-brand PC and notebook division will announce two new notebook computers priced at $999 and $1,599, respectively.

Philips will show a wide range of new products, including its latest in home networking, speech-recognition software, monitors, USB speakers and other PC peripherals. Philips will also construct a fully networked “home of the future.”

Lucent Technologies will discuss current and upcoming Internet and home networking technologies, including WAVELAN 802.11 wireless home networking and the company’s latest development in ADSL modem chipset technology.

LG Electronics’ Comdex effort focuses on its CRT and LCD monitor products. At the show the company will introduce its second-generation Flatron 915FT Plus 19-inch monitor. This CRT model features a flat screen on both the outside and inside of the tube, which helps enhance color reproduction and reduce distortion.

The 915FT Plus will carry a $550 suggested retail price. Other features include a USB hub, 24mm dot pitch and front-mounted control buttons. Other Flatron offerings will include the 17-inch 795FT Plus and 775FT, suggested retail prices $410 and $340, respectively.

In flat-panel monitors LG will show LM220W1, a 22-inch TFT model that can be used either as a PC monitor or digital TV. An LG spokesman said the company is ready to start mass-producing this model. Pricing and availability were not released.

LG will also show off its newest video-conference solutions. These include the LPC-U30 and LPC-U35 PC cameras. Both can be attached to a PC or detached and used as an independent digital camera. The units are USB ready and are bundled with Microsoft’s NetMeeting 2.1. Shipping and pricing were not available.

Agfa will show the CL30 Clik! digital camera that uses Iomega’s 40MB Clik! drive. The cameras will hit store shelves by the end of November with volume shipments to follow in December. The Clik! drive can store between 60 and 80 images, depending upon the image’s resolution. The 1.5-megapixel camera also features a 1.8-inch LCD and an optical viewfinder, and has a $549 suggested retail price.

Hitachi will feature large-format television technology at Comdex. The lone product introduction is the 52LDX99B 52-inch LCD display. This product is HD-ready and intended for general viewing, but can be connected to a PC. It will ship in the first quarter of 2000 with a $4,799 suggested retail price.

Hitachi will also display its plasma TV technology along with HDTV models introduced earlier this year.

Music software publisher Sonic Foundry will show ACID 2.0, an updated version of the ACID title that now includes MP3 support, CD burning, and advanced editing and effects processing.

Also on hand will be SIREN, a new jukebox title that can act as a personal music manager for playing or recording CDs to a PC’s hard drive. SIREN also allows end users to burn their stored music onto CD-R/RW media.

Smart and Friendly will debut its third-generation CD SpeedWriter CD-RW drive at the show. The CD SpeedWriter, with an estimated street price of $199, has 4x write, 4x rewrite and 24x read performance that allows it to burn a CD in about 17 minutes. The drive is shipping this month.

Simple Technology will announce a 320MB CompactFlash Type II card at the show along with a 1GB RAM memory module for the Apple iMac and an 18GB portable hard drive.

Verbatim will introduce a multitude of new removable media products, including 4.7GB DVD-R and 3GB DVD+RW. On the CD front the company will have preformatted 4x CD-RW, 12x CD-R and CD-R80, which is optimized for recording MP3 formatted music.

Pinnacle Systems is working with Verbatim at the show to demonstrate its new digital imaging editing solution. Product highlights include Studio DV, an editing system that stores 60 minutes of video, 650 images of data onto CD-R/RW discs. The Studio DV’s estimated street price is about $200.

Aqcess Technologies will show the Altus Qbe personal computing tablets and the Qbicle docking station. The tablets feature Intel Pentium II and III processors, built-in PC camera, up to 514MB of RAM, CD-ROM for DVD-ROM drive and a 13.3-inch LCD. It will ship this month with a $4,995 suggested retail price.

Internet software provider Net Nanny will show and demonstrate the newest version of its Internet child security application, Net Nanny 4. Like Net Nanny 3.1, the upgrade allows children to freely view the parts of the Web deemed safe by their parents.

A ship date has not been released, but it will carry a $49.95 suggested retail price when purchased at a retailer or cost $34.95 when directly downloaded off the Internet.