Comdex 2001: Buried treasure

There are PC and DVD gems to be found at Comdex this year, including Sony Walkman Recorders

Comdex is an annual catch-22 for computing companies that have to choose between making product announcements that may be drowned out by competitors' noises, or not saying anything and risk giving the impression they're behind the technology curve.

Discretion usually falls on the side of doing something, so Comdex Fall 2001 is producing a predictable avalanche of announcements, many aimed at content creation and making computers easier to use.

Hewlett-Packard announced a home PC, the HP Pavilion 9995, which will come with HP's dvd100i drive for rewritable DVDs using the DVD+RW format. The PC will cost $1,999 and go on sale 18 November. It will come with a 2GHz Pentium 4 processor, 512MB of memory, and an 80GB hard drive.

The DVD+RW drive can also be configured into PCs through HP's build-to-order program and is available separately.

Consumer electronics giant Sony is demonstrating a number of products that fit into the company's efforts to use broadband access to connect consumers to content and services. Among the company's latest products are the Net MD Walkman Recorder and a combination DVD+RW/CD-RW drive.

Sony is releasing three Net MD Walkman Recorders that use the company's MiniDisc media. Using a USB connection, the company sees these players as a way for consumers to download digital music quickly from a PC. The move is meant to boost the prospects of the MiniDisc in the United States, where digital music has been a bigger market than in other countries.

All three devices will be available in stores in March. The Net MD Walkman Recorder MZ-505 will cost about $200. The $250 MZ-707 will come with a remote control and charging stand for its rechargeable battery. The $350 MZ-N1 will weigh 3 ounces and come with a rechargeable battery.

Sony is also releasing a combination DVD+RW/CD-RW drive. The DRU110A/C1 drive will be available this month for about $600. DVD+RW media, with capacity of 4.7GB, will also be available this month for about $16.

The company will also demonstrate a 5-megapixel digital camera, the Cyber-shot DSC-F707, which is currently available for about $1,000, as well as a new Vaio MX PC. The MX features a television and FM tuner, digital video recording capabilities, a DVD/CD player and recorder, and a remote control. The PC ships this month and will cost about $2,800.

Other announcements include:

  • Maxtor is showing new 80GB Personal Storage 3000 DV, an external hard drive aimed at storing content created by devices such as digital cameras and digital music players. The drive, which features an IEEE 1394 interface, will be priced at $349.
  • Serious Magic has new video editing software that allows consumers "to superimpose themselves over a digital image or video clip instantly, without special cameras or lighting," according to the company's announcement. It will ship in January for $99.
  • Synaptics, which makes touchpads for notebook PCs, announced its new cPad touchpad, which uses an LCD touch screen to enable the addition of functions such as a calculator or an application launcher. The pads are available now to notebook makers.
  • For full Comdex coverage see ZDNet UK's Comdex '01 News Special.

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