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Comdex Report -- Windows Gadgets, Notebooks, PDAs
By Todd Ogasawara
Manager, Windows CE Forum

Nov. 19, 1998

Photo: Philips representatives perform a humorous skit to demonstrate the features of the Nino Palm-size PC.
I found yet another Palm-size PC (P/PC) Thursday at Comdex at the Sands Convention Center. It is the Bcom MARS. It will be available at the end of the year priced between $350 and $400, depending on memory size. The MARS is identical to the Uniden P/PC. Bcom is the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) for the Uniden P/PC.

The Celltrix TrackBar is an innovative new pointing device that rolls up and down like a trackball but slides left to right on a rail. You can simultaneously roll and slide to position the pointer anywhere on the screen. I found the TrackBar far easier to use than any trackball device I have tried. I sincerely hope that Windows CE hardware manufacturers consider this technology for devices like the Handheld PC Pro (H/PC Pro).

Photo: The Celltrix TrackBar offers a compact alternative to touchpads, trackpoints, and other pointing devices used in ultraportable devices.
The Toshiba booth had information about the Bluetooth wireless consortium. This consortium includes industry leaders Ericsson, IBM, Intel, Nokia, and Toshiba. It proposes a standard for short distance (10 meters) wireless communication using the 2.45GHz ISM band to link devices of all kinds.

More Comdex daily reports below.


Nov. 18, 1998

Photo: Klingons and Ferengi descended upon Comdex and found Windows CE Handheld and Palm-size PCs in the Microsoft Pavilion. They probably mistook the devices for Federation-issued Tri-corders.
Uniden displayed its Uniden Unipro 800 PC 100 Palm-size PC (P/PC). This device's unique feature is the V.34 33.6Kbps modem integrated into the P/PC itself.

A source at Philips who requested anonymity noted that sales of the Velo 500 Handheld PC have been steadily improving. The device will continue to be produced and supported despite rumors to the contrary.

The HP Jornada 820 Handheld PC Professional (H/PC Pro) is now available in some CompUSA stores. This is, to my knowledge, the first widely available H/PC Pro unit in the United States.

Photo: The Iomega Clik! 40MB drive is shown connected to a Handheld PC Pro via an ATAPI interface card and cable.
The NEC MobilePro 800 H/PC Pro continues to impress me. It retains the touch-screen interface unlike some other H/PC Pro units. Its 9.4-inch, 800x600 color LCD display appears clear and bright. It comes with 32MB of random access memory (RAM), unlike the 16MB RAM shipping with other H/PC Pros; a USB port; a serial port; Infrared port; and VGA output port. It also features an integrated 56Kbps V.90 modem. I found its 17.5mm key pitch keyboard quite comfortable for typing.

Iomega demonstrated its 40MB miniature Clik! drive connected to a Windows CE H/PC Pro using an ATAPI PC Card and connecting cable. The Clik! Drive for Mobile Computers has a suggested price of $199.95. Each 40MB disk costs $9.99.


Nov. 17, 1998

Photo: A representative of Fairfax, Va.-based Xybernaut demonstrated the Mobile Assistant IV wearable computer. While not Windows CE-based, it does raise the possibility.
Trogon, of Cerritos, Calif., unveiled its Palm-size PC models: 4MB for $329, 8MB for $429, and 16MB for $529 at Comdex Tuesday. The units feature a vibrating alarm and rechargeable batteries. A 33.6Kbps modem is integrated into the cradle. The unit can, however, attach a synchronization cable or A/C adapter/recharger without the cradle. The system can be upgraded by the user, unlike some other Palm-size PCs.

The Dallas-based JP Systems BeamLink lets a Windows CE Palm-size PC (P/PC) or Handheld PC (H/PC) wirelessly send and receive email by partnering with a Skytel AccessLinkII two-way pager. The AccessLinkII pager communicates with the P/PC or H/PC via infrared transmissions eliminating the need for connecting cables.

NCD's ThinSTAR 300 Intel Pentium-based, Windows-based Terminal (WbT) runs Windows CE as the client operating system and connects to a server running Windows NT Terminal Server Edition. The 16MB RAM thin client has 2 serial ports, 1 parallel port, 2 USB ports, and audio input/output. The system seemed quite responsive in the few minutes I viewed it in action.


Nov. 16, 1998

Photo: This Everex FreeStyle Palm-size personal computer microphone and PalmScribe system allows recorded voice memos that later can be transcribed to text on a PC.
The first day of Comdex has come to an end. Where do I start?

I think you have to admit that the Everex FreeStyle Palm-size personal computer (P/PC), equipped with a microphone that seems to be waving "hello" to you, gets your attention right away. The system lets you record speech on your P/PC. You can then use a speech-to-text engine on your desktop or notebook PC to transform your spoken words to text.

Adaptec said that it will be shipping drivers for its SlimSCSI 1460 PC card early in 1999. The card lets Windows CE Handheld PC (H/PC) owners connect Zip, Jaz, and other removable media that use a SCSI interface.

Audible Inc. announced that its new product allows P/PC users to download and listen to books, periodicals (such as the Wall Street Journal), and other traditional print-based text that has been translated to audio files. An audio subscription to the Wall Street Journal costs $49.95 a year.

Finally, Ruksun's Windows CE unit has a new name: Cerium.

I will be at Comdex for another three days. Stay tuned for more daily reports!

The Comdex Report is updated daily.


Nov. 15, 1998

Photo: Bill Gates told the Comdex crowd about future uses for the Windows CE operating system.
The annual opening Fall Comdex keynote address by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates is a mega-event itself! This year, thousands of attendees jostled in line for one of the 7,500 seats in the Las Vegas Hilton's Barron Room. People were queuing up at 2 p.m. Sunday for the 7 p.m. keynote presentation.

Gates brought a small army of people to assist in various demonstrations.

The SGI representatives showed the work-in-progress SGI graphic workstation, running Windows NT instead of the UNIX-based operating system. SGI in the past has run exclusively on UNIX. The SGI executive demonstrating the system delivered stunning demonstrations of the new system's graphic processing power.

Bill showed a table loaded with various Windows CE devices and pointed out how Windows CE will be in all kinds of different form factors in the future. There was also a discussion of the Open E-Book (books on electronic media) Standard that was capped by a demonstration of a Microsoft work-in-progress, CleanType. CleanType technology uses color pixels instead of gray-scale pixels to remove the "jagginess" of text displayed on computer displays. The claim is that CleanType can improve the clarity of type on current computer displays by 300 percent.

Finally, there was a great demonstration of integrating Office 2000 and SQL Server 7.0 that produced an email message with dynamic database-driven data embedded in a mailed Web page.

The Comdex Report is updated daily.

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