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COMDEX Sports A Wider Scope In Vegas Today

LAS VEGAS -Comdex Fall 2000 will push further away from its pure computer hardware and software roots as PDAs, digital cameras, home networking and other categories continue to gain prominence at the show which kicks off here today.

The 200,000 people attending this year’s Comdex, the most Las Vegas is capable of supporting, will see a re-vamped show featuring new pavilions for DVD-RAM, Intel Pentium 4 and the Palm PDA. Key3Media, the show organizer, has developed a more segmented show floor that has companies with similar products grouped in “hot spots” to make it simpler for attendees to find what they are interested in, a Comdex spokesman said.

“We are trying to separate the different groups attending Comdex and dividing up the floor by category,” he said. “We are truly trying to target the audience to specific areas so people don’t waste their time.”

About 2,100 companies are on the show floor, up slightly from Comdex/Fall 1999, with 500 new firms in attendance. These new arrivals offset the loss of about 450 dot-com companies that have either disappeared from the map or have merged with other companies.

Key3Media hopes that these moves will help lure back many of the companies that left Comdex while it was controlled by Ziff Davis, the spokesman said. He also expected the lower hotel room prices and cheaper air fares, the lowest since 1997, to entice companies to return to the show.

A wide variety of products will be unveiled starting today.

Removable memory maker SanDisk today unveiled TriFlash, a new flash memory format for use in portable digital audio players, cellphones, pagers and GSP devices. Unlike SanDisk’s removable CompactFlash and MultiMediaCard products, TriFlash is intended to be embedded in these products, said Nelson Chan, SanDisk’s senior VP for sales and marketing.

Chan said TriFlash is smaller than other internal flash memory cards and features an onboard controller, where other flash memory cards depend upon the device to handle that function.

TriFlash will initially be available in 16MB, 32MB and 64MB capacities. These cards will cost $35, $60 and $110 when sold in 1,000-unit lots.

Hewlett-Packard this week will start shipping its first scanner dedicated for use with WebTV-type Internet Appliances.

The e-scanner, suggested retail price $99.95, is a one-touch scanner capable of scanning photos and text up to 4 x 6 inches in size. The device is used with the WebTV Page Builder feature to download the images or text directly into e-mail or onto the Internet. The e-scanner, along with the previously introduced e-printer, which is shipping in December for $199.95, will deliver a full digital imaging solution to consumers without a PC.

Value PC maker eMachines will unveil four models in its eTower line. The entry-level 600is, $399 suggested retail price, leads off with an Intel Celeron 600MHz processor, 32MB of RAM, 40x CD-ROM drive, 10GB hard drive and two USB ports. The 633ods, $549, adds a Celeron 633MHz processor, 64MB of RAM and 15GB hard drive.

The $699 667ir has a Celeron 667MHz chip, 8x CD-RW drive and a 48x CD-ROM drive. The top-end 700irx, $799, has a Celeron 700MHz with 128KB of L2 cache, a combination CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive and a 20GB hard drive. These two models are being offered with a $50 mail-in rebate.

TEAC America is showing three CD-RW drives that include SCSI and FireWire connectivity. Two-external FireWire drives will ship by the end of the year, a 12x write, 10x rewrite, 32x read external and an 8x, 8x, 32x drive.

TEAC will also introduce a floppy drive for Apple computers. It will come in black and all the new iMac hues and carry a $79 suggested retail price.

Samsung’s Comdex introductions are centered on its flat-screen monitors and laser printers. The company will exhibit its first 24-inch display. The SyncMaster 240T has digital and analog inputs allowing it to be used as either a PC monitor or a video display unit. The unit also features video inputs for use with DVD players, camcorders, detachable speakers, a 170-degree viewing angle and picture in picture.

Samsung also has 15-, 17- and 18-inch-LCDs at Comdex. The SyncMaster 150T, 170T and 180T are analog/digital models. The company is also showing one flat-screen CRT model, the SyncMaster 1200NF. Features include 0.24mm dot pitch, an auto calibration system and an adjustable focus. Pricing and shipping information were not available at press time.

Samsung’s Digital Information Technology Division is displaying the ML-4600 and ML-7300/N laser printers. The former is a consumer-oriented device with 1,200-dpi resolution. The latter is a business-class product capable of printing 20 pages per minute. Pricing and availability for these is to be announced.

UMAX is planning to introduce at the show several new digital cameras, including a $199, 1.3-megapixel model. Other features include a 4MB SmartMedia card and USB connectivity. Shipping information was not available.