Show floor, Tuesday.


Local color: Swag sucks.


Is it possible to attend Comdex from Massachusetts? So far, so good.

Lots of video

Show daily delivered to my screen

Some questions can’t be answered – quality of handwriting recognition.

My Psion will probably last a year longer.

Backgrounds in video reports show sparse crowds.



Product demos

Siemens –

$119 fingerprint mouse announced at the show – available for all Windows except XP.


SmartCard writer – carry fingerprint on smart card to allow login at multiple computers. Validation against storage on card, not in computer.




Treo – due out after fist of year

Keyboard looks like BlackBerry, or Graffiti version


Phone form factor – hold to face, speaker phone, earbud.


SMS built in on GSM, POP3 client. Not always-on email until middle of next year.


Upgradeable to GPRS when available – with always-on email software, an email solution.


Due out beginning of next year. $399 with service contract for either kbd or graffiti version.

Compaq Evo

Is the PC dead? No. Evo D500 compact desktop – small enough to be ergonomic monitor stand, or can be used as tower.

Wireless technology integrated - WiFi or Bluetooth

Evo has 12 month minimum lifecycle – for corporate customers. Will be sold at least through next September

Size, acoustics, power utilization are key issues in open office environments.

Competes with HP and other key competitors.

Small form factor without taking power supply outside the box.


On market with Celeron Q1, P4 in Q2. Price not determined.


Tablet PC – shown at Gates keynote.

P3 processor, small notebook form factor. Twist screen on hinge, fold down, can be portrait or landscape as tablet. Works as clamshell PC or tablet.

Lowest power consumption Intel-technology PC on market.

Helps acceptance of tablet form factor, since it can be used as either. Voice reco coming as well.

2H2002 for Tablet XP – will see this form factor PC around same time.


Sony Microvault

16-128MB capacity, USB connected. Memory stick in a box – works as any file system on Windows. Portable data transfer.

Capacity, pricing, software will make it competitive. I don’t think so.

16-128M $50-300, available January.

Ricoh iMove

Digital camera with built-in 802.11 wireless Web server – construction companies primary market right now. Broadcast images across the Internet in real time. $2500, rolling out in a few weeks.

Nokia 9290 Communicator

Clamshell PDA/phone

Full color Internet

Corporate email with attachments.

Document editing.


SAP support for corporate applications

Corporate applications – taking SAP, Oracle, Sybase applications wireless. E.g. sales force automation

Back end – existing corporate and cell networks. Oracle or SAP thin client embedded on device.

$799 – early 2002.

Sony wireless Handycam

Internet connected – Bluetooth connection. Can use it as a wireless Web browser on the road. Download images directly to an image station. With a cellular phone, can get directly to the Internet – intrinsically can do local transmission only. Can email 3M video attachments to family and friends. (won’t they be happy?)


$2000. Available Feb.

Dell Latitude C400 ultralight laptop

Introduced Monday at Comdex: 3.6 pound machine, 95 percent keyboard, touchpad and trackpoint mouse, 12.1 inch XGA display, up to 7 hour battery life. Modem and wireline networking built in.


A mobile professional’s dream or nightmare. Using standard protocols, SimulRing can make up to five phones can ring when a single number is called. Picking up one will disable the call on all the others. If nobody answers, the call is forwarded to a single voicemail box. Numerous telephone companies offer this service within their own networks, but SimulRing is the first to consolidate phones from multiple telcos. Basic service is $10 per month, deluxe service $25. Currently operating only in California, the New York City area, and Dallas, they are expanding to other major markets. Look for them in your neighborhood.

General observations

Just reporting on the public announcements might be enough, but doesn’t get below the surface. You trust me to ask the hard questions, so here are some.

PC Magazine Technical Excellence awards

When I’m in Las Vegas, this is my favorite party to crash. Over the past few years they’ve moved it around and made it a bit harder. But it’s worth the effort for the quality of the invited guests and the awards show itself – if not for the food, which is on the low end of the scale for Comdex parties. This year, I only get to read the results. If I turn up the volume on my subwoofer and play loud music while I’m reading the web page, I can almost feel like I’m there.


In a win almost predictable for a show that has been built around the Wintel PC, Windows XP beat Mac OS X for the desktop software award. Consider that OS X was originally slated to go head to head with Windows 95. Still, it’s a great product in itself. The wildcard in this category was Groove, the collaboration platform touted by Bill Gates himself during his Sunday keynote. Successful collaboration software has been a long time coming, but with a powerful list of key partners including Microsoft, the momentum is finally here.


In the PC category, two of the three finalists had pen-based designs. Neither used the pen as a text input device, instead capturing the ink for note-taking or drawing applications. The IBM Trans-Note, a marriage of an ultralight notebook PC and a Crosspad, took home the prize.


An interesting nominee in the Development Tools category is IDA Pro, a code disassembler. This commercial-grade product can convert almost any compiled program back into usable source code. While some consider it a hacker tool, it has found a home in Fortune 500 companies, and its authors call it “ethically neutral”. It’s produced and marketed by the same company that makes the F-Secure virus tool. Look for them at


Intel and Transmeta: Where have all the Crusoes gone?

Intel is fighting hard to undermine the market for Transmeta’s low-power processors. The first part of this was the release of the low-power Mobile Pentium III for portables earlier this year. The effect of competition on Transmeta is apparent – the majority of portable to ultraportable devices introduced at Comdex and for several months before are Pentium-based, while Transmeta’s Crusoe processor powers niche machines like the Fujitsu P-series and Sony’s Vaio Picturebook.


Intel adds another front to their fight with Transmeta by their introduction this week of a second low-power Pentium III designed specifically for ultradense, or blade, servers. These servers are designed to be packed several to a cabinet, allowing up to eight to fit into the rack space occupied by a single “pizza-box” sized server. The pizza box machines, which were until recently considered small, are 1U, or 1.75 inches, thick and are offered by almost all major server manufacturers.


Ultradense servers, pioneered by startup companies like RLX (, a PC Magazine Technical Excellence Award finalist, and FiberCycle, use Crusoe processors to deal with the considerable problem of cooling servers that are packed so tightly together. With Intel’s release of low-power Pentium III processors linked to low-power error-correcting cache memory, they become competitive in this area, and the vendors set to release Intel-based blade servers – HP, IBM, Dell and Compaq – have much more name recognition than the manufacturers of Crusoe-powered products.

Wireless networking gets real

OK, I admit it. Wireless networking was already pretty real. However, you have to wonder about the robustness of the prevailing 802.11b standard, which transmits data in an uncontrolled frequency band that’s shared with microwave ovens, cordless telephones, and Bluetooth. But help is on the way, in the form of 802.11a, an older standard that has been too expensive for widespread acceptance - up to now. 802.11a broadcasts in the 5-gigahertz band, a frequency shared with… not much. It broadcasts at 54 megabits per second, compared to 11 megabits for 802.11b. It also offers better security tools. Cisco and Proxim are both announcing 802.11a networking products at the show. They cost about 25 percent more than comparable 802.11b, but the higher data rate should make them attractive for people further down the technology curve than the usual early adopters.

Document mobility gets real, too

As I’ve mentioned in these pages, collaboration is all the rage this year. A product that allows multiple conference participants access to a spreadsheet, document or chart, where any edit is immediately viewed by all other participants, wouldn’t be big news ordinarily. But what if those participants are working wirelessly – on Palms? Cutting Edge Software ( isn’t releasing another NetMeeting clone. This is peer-to-peer conferencing software for the Palm, meant to add value to conference calls and other conversations held by people on the run. So far, there’s no interoperability with PC software – in fact, the product itself won’t ship until first quarter of 2002. But the spreadsheet sharing capability is being demonstrated, today, on the floor of Comdex.

Access your data from anywhere

Want access to files based on your PC or the Web? You could try vVault Anywhere (, which allows a subscriber to view files that live on networked PCs and secure Web storage on a WAP phone or wireless PDA, or fax or email those same documents to a client, business partner, or themselves.

Mobilize your enterprise applications – in a day?

Do you find that your mobile workers are always too far from your critical applications? Consider the Infinite Mobile Delivery Server ( from Captaris. I checked out Infinite at Comdex last year, when they were a separate company selling a unified messaging solution. They had literally years of experience combining email and voicemail, offering either hosted mail services or the server product itself. Infinite was acquired by AVT, which then renamed itself Captaris. The product has been enhanced with mobility features: an Open Data connector, to give mobile applications access to ODBC-compatible databases, an Enterprise Mail Connector, which mobilizes Infinite’s core unified messaging product, and a turnkey solution for mobilizing Microsoft Exchange. Captaris claims the Exchange connector can be installed in less than an hour, a claim no one seems to have tested. But this is a serious company, with seven years in the messaging business, and I wouldn’t doubt their claims too quickly.