There were many prototype products that are embargoed as far as mentioning them in the press, but the items on display were so interesting that waiting to mention "in the pipeline" units was no problem.
Monitors and TV display units are bigger than ever - and thinner than could be imagined a few short years ago. A 60-inch plasma flat panel display - a mere two inches deep - stole the show at the Panasonic exhibit.
Among the things that immediately caught my eye were those that make the road warrior's life easier. Targus, always in the forefront of innovative products, offered several items that grabbed the attention of those of us who spend as much time with our laptops as on our desktop systems. From security devices to connectivity solutions - and cases galore - Targus had dozens of must-have products. (targus.com/)
Timex, an old standby that consistently comes up with new ideas, will be offering the Datalink watch in a few months. This technology allows you to literally wear your PDA on your wrist, as part of a sporty timepiece. It connects to your computer via a USB port, allowing transfer of data and your personal information. (timex.com/)
Something that will be a boon for those of us who like to write - or play Internet games - at night is the Auravision EluminX Illuminated Keyboard. The illumination is bright enough to see the keys, but not glaring, great for those who have their computer in the bedroom or who want to use it while someone else is watching TV in the living room. This was a big hit in the press room where the keyboards were used on the work area computers. (auravisionllc.com/)
The most exciting product is one you can't see - WiFi (wireless connectivity) is the way of the future. Cell phones, headsets, PDAs, pocket computers, even vid-cams can all "talk" to other computers or phones with no need for wires. The home of the future will have wireless entertainment networks, and Internet connections available - all without hardware. Hy-Tek Manufacturing showcased the Tek Panel 300, an all-in-one box that includes a computer, TV, DVD and VCR that you can control wirelessly - it's the ultimate couch potato toy.(hytekmfg.com/)
WiFi is different from Bluetooth in that Bluetooth can only carry data over several feet, while Wi-Fi has a 300-foot range, making it a popular method of extending Net access (WLAN) in many homes and business.
Cameras are smaller than ever, and do more. There were so many to see that only a few stood out. The one I'm eager to get my hands on, however, is Samsung IT Cam Gadget, a pocketsize camcorder with a 1.5 gig hard drive and MPEG-4 that will be available by June. Only the size of a deck of cards, it will tape a 90-minute video, and the video quality is as good as that of the current full sized vid-cams.
Last, but certainly not least - in the simple but incredibly clever category - is Shoreline Cases- gel padded strap for heavy laptop cases, attaches, or any other weighty item you need to tote. This was an instant hit when Deborah Williams, ace PR gal and originator of the product, put one on my gear bag. They also offer the Stay Connected System that allows consumers to connect and disconnect all of their different cases based on their daily needs, and the neoprene cases come in a veritable rainbow of colors, more about this in a later column. (shorelinecases.com/)