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PC Accessories Debuting At COMDEX – -November 13, 1996

Internet telephony devices, ergonomic wristrests, and CD storage top the list of PC accessory products making their debut at COMDEX. Gemini and Recoton’s Interact Division are introducing devices that make it easier for users to take advantage of the Internet’s telephony capability, which allows voice communications over local Internet connections, avoiding long-distance charges.

Gemini’s PC Accessories division is showing more than 20 new products at COMDEX, including a new joystick, 10 computer care and cleaning items, and ergonomic wristwrests and mousepads. But it’s an Internet phone-ready keyboard that has company executives talking.

The CompuNet 2000 PC Internet Telephony Device features a keyboard with a built-in telephone handset, dialing pad and Internet telephony circuitry. 3Telephony is one of the newest and most exciting applications for the Internet,² says David Posner, Gemini’s senior product manager for PC Accessories. 3We believe that Internet telephony will continue to heighten interest and generate additional sales revenue in the computer products category.²

Internet telephony allows people to talk to other users anywhere in the world and avoid long-distance charges. Without a special handset, the communications are conducted through speakers and a microphone plugged into the PC.

3This makes it consumer friendly,² says Michael Schwarz, Gemini’s marketing VP. 3You don’t need microphones, headsets and speakers.²

The CompuNet 2000 automatically tracks calls by time and date and allows the user to dial from virtually any application. The handset features volume control, mute, redial and flash functions. The product is shipping at a suggested retail price of $249.

Interact, a division of Recoton, is also launching a line of Internet accessories, including an Internet telephone and programmable Web Remote input devices. The suggested retail price of the Web Remote is $39, while the wireless Web Remote Professional is priced to retail at $59.

Interact’s full-duplex telephone plugs into the computer sound card. The speakers automatically shut down when the phone is in use, then come back on when the user ends the call. Interact is targeting a $59 retail price point, and the product will ship with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.

3With all the Internet phone software selling like crazy, people want some privacy features,² says Todd Hays, Interact president. 3You don’t have to speak through your microphone and speakers. This is like a traditional telephone handset.²

Ergonomic products are another red-hot accessories category, and several suppliers will be showing off their latest products at COMDEX.

Fellowes, the full-line accessories giant based in Itasca, Ill., has introduced 146 new products this year across 15 categories, says Mark Naidoff, VP and general manager for the computer accessories division.

A new line of ergonomic accessories tops the list of Fellowes introductions. The Gel Products line uses patented Memoflex gel, originally developed for the bicycle seat industry.

The Gel line includes: a wristrest at $19.95 suggested retail price; an adjustable wristrest at $29.95; a notebook wristrest at $24.95; a wristrest and mousepad at $21.95; a back support at $49.95; and a palm-size exerciser at $9.95.

Fellowes is also introducing nine CD storage products, both desktop and portable devices. 3That’s certainly the hot category for 1997,² Naidoff says. In addition, Fellowes is adding six carrying cases, in both leather and nylon.

Kensington also is showcasing a new line of wristrests and mousepads under the Kensington Sports brand, but the company isn’t focusing on any particular product category at COMDEX. Instead, Kensington is touting its goal of becoming a one-stop shop for accessories retailers.

A series of acquisitions and brand consolidations has expanded Kensington’s line from 50 to 500 SKUs over the pa