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Consumer Electronics Show opens in Las Vegas

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(IDG) -- Vendors from around the globe descended upon Las Vegas Friday as the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) kicks off. Entertainment companies, hardware makers and software specialists are all expected to flood the city with their latest electronic wares.

Somewhat surprisingly, a pair of PC stalwarts will begin the gadget parade, as Intel Corp.'s Chief Executive Officer and President Craig Barrett and Microsoft Corp.'s Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates will deliver the opening keynotes. While Intel is best known for its stronghold in the PC processor market, Barrett will likely highlight some of his company's recent forays into the consumer electronic space.

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Intel Tuesday took the wraps off a portable digital music player that comes with plenty of memory and music pumping ability. Touting 128M bytes of flash memory, the Pocket Concert Audio Player can store up to four hours of music and 20 hours of speech. This product, due out next month, will add to Intel's existing consumer products such as its home networking offerings, digital cameras, wireless keyboards and a line of PC-enhanced toys.

Like Intel, Microsoft has been making inroads into the consumer electronic space with a number of products designed to work with or complement the PC.

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The Redmond, Washington-based software giant may be looking for its Xbox gaming console, Ultimate TV products and a series of wireless devices to eventually boost slumping PC-related software sales. Gates is expected to show off a prototype of Xbox during his CES keynote address. He will probably also hit on features in the next release of Microsoft's Windows CE operating system designed to enhance the media abilities of the company's current and future device lines.

While the old guard may dominate the start of CES, a bevy of vendors look to showcase their latest products and catch the public's eye, as well. Here's a look at some of the technology expected to be on display in Las Vegas over the next four days.

Samsung Electronics America Inc. will team up with DataPlay Inc. to deliver a series of devices with DataPlay's quarter-sized 500M-byte non-erasable optical disks. The disks can run in varying hardware, including PDAs (personal digital assistants), cell phones and music players in addition to their ability to store photographs and video. Samsung will incorporate the disk technology in its Combi Yepp minisystem with a detachable, portable audio player; another Yepp portable digital player that holds over 10 hours of music; and a PCMCIA card. All of these devices on show in Las Vegas should appear by the end of this year. Samsung, based in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey, can be reached at http://www.samsung.com/USA.

Nokia Corp. plans to debut a series of new products designed for home use. The vendor will show users its Media Terminal infotainment center. This device combines the Internet with digital broadcasting to give consumers a single place for organizing and storing their media. Nokia will also return to its mobile phone roots by introducing the 3390, 8200 Series and 7190 Internet-enabled phones. Nokia, based in Espoo, Finland, can be reached at http://www.nokia.com/.

For the film-makers out there, Applied Magic Inc. will introduce its new Sequel 20G-byte entry-level video editing appliance. The company designed Sequel as a PC-free video editor with a number of simplified editing tools directed toward the consumer market. The set-top box resembles a VCR and costs $1,995. Applied Magic, based in Carlsbad, California, is at http://www.amagic.com.

Delphi Automotive Systems Corp. will announce the availability of its Communiport Rear-Seat Entertainment System. This portable system is targeted at automotive manufacturers and gives users access to DVD (digital versatile disc) playing abilities in the back seat of a car. In addition, users can hook gaming consoles up to the 7-inch flip-up color display. The unit costs $1,495 and will ship in February. Delphi, based in Troy, Michigan, can be found on the Web at http://www.delphiauto.com.

On the chip side of things, National Semiconductor Corp. will highlight some of its latest processors designed to handle the heavy requirements of multimedia applications. First up, National Semiconductor plans to introduce its next generation DVD-on-a-chip integrated processors. In addition, Internet appliances using the company's low-power Geode processor will be on display from Philips Electronics NV, Compaq Computer Corp. and 3Com Corp.

E.Digital Corp. will showcase a variety of products based on its MicroCAM (compressed audio manager) operating system technology. The San Diego, California-based company will display its MP2000 portable Internet music player design, and a DataPlay-enabled digital audio player and a DataPlay-enabled MP3 encoder design. E.Digital will also highlight its portable jukebox which contains a 10G-byte hard drive in a device about the size of a deck of cards. E.Digital, based in San Diego, can be found on the Web at http://www.edig.com.




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RELATED SITES:
2001 International CES

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