LAS VEGAS -- Even with its reduced size and deflated importance, Comdex is still a week full of red-letter days for the average geek.
Like Christmas, Thanksgiving and a Microsoft launch all rolled together, Comdex lays acre upon acre of technological wizardry before the awed techie. Laptops are lighter at Comdex. Digital cameras are accompanied by their own miniprinters. The mobile phones stand a little thinner and the booming strains of Madonna tunes bump a few decibels louder from the Microsoft (MSFT - Get Report) booth than on an average day.
We'll translate the experience for you. We have condensed the wonders of Comdex for the layperson, shedding light on the upcoming holiday season, and the gadgets that will come to fruition later in 2002.
Gimme the works: You've been waiting for almighty convergence for about five years. Finally it's ready to ship to stores. Handspring (HAND) introduced its Treo GSM/GPRS phone and PDA to the Comdex crowd in a marketing flurry. The Treo will come out in the spring with email, short messaging and calling on networks such as Cingular's.Nokia (NOK) displayed its 9290 color-screened phone and PDA combination device. Weighing in at a half-pound, the 9290 looks a bit like the clunky flip-open PDAs your relatives gave you before Palm became popular. It is built for GSM mobile-phone networks and runs the Nokia-backed Symbian operating system instead of the typical Palm OS or Pocket PC 2002 offering. The 9290 was announced in June with planned availability in the first half of 2002 in the Americas. It gives access to short messages, calendaring and contacts, Internet browsing and email with attachments. Kyocera's Palm OS-based smart phone, which is available for Sprint PCS and Verizon Wireless customers, reminded us that a $399 device -- excluding any rebates from service providers or retail outlets -- that can deal with data in a mature fashion has been out since March. Back to our senses, we remembered that it's not the capability of the device, but the device plus a working next-generation mobile-phone network that will ring in convergence. Stay tuned for a potential end-of-2002 purchase once your wireless service carrier gets its data-loving networks up and running smoothly.
Convergence and music dominated the Comdex gadget offerings
|Handspring Treo||Mobile phone and PDA combo||Available in the spring for GSM/GPRS networks||Light, full functioned, great design||Relies on wireless carriers rolling out higher data speeds|
|Samsung Yepp||MP3 player||$89 to $169||Incredibly small, 1.12 ounces without AAA battery||64 MB of memory is easy to eat up with songs|
|Sony AIBO||Digital robot||New 220 version available by the end of November||Audio capability and better commands||Will lose your real best friends if you spend too much time programming a robotic dog|
|Nokia 9290||Mobile phone and PDA combo||Available during the first half of 2002||Color screen, productivity tools||Feels big, not Palm OS-based|
|Sony Clie PEG-T415||PDA||Out in late November for $300||Screen is very crisp, super slim form factor||Black-and-white screen, pitting this Clie against much cheaper competition|