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Comdex 2002

Last Updated Thu Nov 21, 2002 - 2:19 AM EST - By Marcus Adolfsson

More on Gates' Keynote

The following is staff writer Stuart Atherton's comments on Gates' speech.

The digitization of the home is very close, Bill Gates assured a packed crowd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.  Displaying new products such as the Axim X5 Pocket PC from Dell, SmartDisplays, and the Tablet PC, Gates presented several live demonstrations that showed the audience how technological advances will connect us from one end of the home to the other wirelessly. 

Gates started his keynote discussing the recent ups and downs of the technology industry and  listed several reasons why he feels the industry will only get better. One  topic that seemed to keep coming up was that of usability and convenience. Describing how the release of Windows XP finally allowed for the smooth connection between many types of devices, Gates continued by explaining how the next generations of these devices and new software will work together to make every day life easier. 

The first product to be showcased was the SmartDisplay.  This is in essence a flat, cordless LCD display that has built in 802.11 connectivity and executes software and applications running on a computer connected to the network.  The display itself does not have the ability to perform operations on its own, but rather uses what is available on the computer, giving the user full mobility and access from anywhere within range of the network.  It can be docked to the computer and used as the primary monitor if desired. 

The most anticipated product of the show, the Tablet PC turned heads every time it was displayed or mentioned. A demonstration showed it being used as a normal desktop, then undocked and used as a laptop, then separated from the keyboard and used as a notepad to take notes as one would pen and paper. Once returned to the docking station, the ink notes taken were organized into a list, the ink color was changed and underlined as if using word, pictures were added, and even a graph from a website was copied by dragging and dropping onto the open note sheet, recognizing the html.  The note taking software was a demonstration of OneNote, a new software expected to be released in the middle of next year. This software is a solution to notes and memos being taken everywhere and never combined and used to their potential. 

Several Tablet PCs were displayed, having release dates ranging from already shipping to as late as the second quarter of next year. These ultra portable machines come in three main designs: slate with built in hidden keyboard (convertible), removable keyboard, and slate only. NEC currently has the thinnest version on the way, being a slate only. Other makers include Toshiba, Fujitsu, and HP.

No matter which segment of Gates' keynote one picks, one underlying tone seems to ring prevalent from tonight's event:  technology will overcome the current market condition, and will do so in the form of wireless networking and accessibility.

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