Comdex 98: Bigger, kinder, gentler?
November 16, 1998
by Glenn McDonald
(IDG) -- It's that time of year again. The biggest computer show on the planet, Fall Comdex, kicks off today in Las Vegas and is expected to draw 220,000 attendees -- a little more than half the total population of Las Vegas.
It should be a kinder, gentler Comdex this year. Attendees will find the show slightly less cramped thanks to the newly expanded Las Vegas Convention Center and the hundreds of additional hotel rooms built since last year's show.
This time around, Comdex planners added some online features to help attendees plan ahead and to update those who can't make the show in person.
For the conference-bound, the Web-based Comdex Event Schedule and Planner offers to help you customize your own personal schedule for the show. Using a set of check-off boxes, you choose which conference sessions, keynote speeches, special events, and exhibitors you want to visit, and the planner will generate a manageable schedule. The service is limited to registered attendees.
For those who can't make it to Las Vegas next week, Web broadcast service Vstream will provide on-demand videostreaming of the conferences, special events, and keynotes on a pay-per-view basis. See the Vstream link at right for pricing details.
Also new this year is the Comdex Career Fair, a recruitment event produced by The Lendman Group.
Comdex Advisory Board members expect the biggest action to center around e-commerce, mobile computing, and intranets, according to previews on the Comdex Web site. In particular, board members expect to see business-to-business e-commerce solutions get a lot of attention.
It's been a banner year for speech recognition software, with everything from office suites to multimedia encyclopedias integrating speech functions. Look for new offerings from big players like Dragon Systems and Lernout & Hauspie.
Like last year, digital cameras continue to be a hot market, with a dozen or so vendors jockeying for position. Keep an eye out for the PhotoPC 750Z, Epson's $800 state-of-the-art megapixel camera with 1600 by 1200 resolution and a 6X zoom lens.
Compaq CEO Eckhard Pfeiffer is scheduled to deliver a keynote speech Monday at noon PST. It should be a good one, coming on the heels of Wednesday's unveiling of Compaq's new direct sales initiative, which puts it in direct competition with archrivals Dell and Gateway. Also, with the acquisition of Digital Equipment, the PC company is now the second largest computing and services company in the world.
Microsoft's Bill Gates will deliver a special keynote Sunday night. Other speakers throughout the week include Jeff Papows, president of Lotus Development Corporation, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, and Intel CEO Craig Barrett.
It's all in the numbers: 220,000 people. 2400 exhibiting companies. Hundreds of new products and services. Stay tuned to PC World Online for continuing coverage of Fall Comdex 98.
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