ZDNet's annual Trendsetter awards

Which new products are blazing the technological trail? The recipients of ZDNet's annual Trendsetter award are forward-looking technologies that we're impressed by today -- and will take for granted tomorrow

Transmeta-based Notebooks and Handhelds

Start-up Transmeta is trying to shake up the Intel-dominated processor landscape with a new line of chips that emphasize efficiency over brute force. For the first time, at PC Expo, Transmeta demonstrated prototypes of devices running on its processors, which promise to dramatically extend battery life. A who's who of computer makers including Compaq, Fujitsu, Hitachi, IBM, and Sony are all expected to have Transmeta-based notebooks out by year-end. Although some questions remain about performance and compatibility, these notebooks are likely to elicit joy from coast-to-coast business travellers who are sick of running out of juice somewhere over Kansas.

S3 Rio Digital Audio Receiver/Dell Digital Audio Receiver

The trouble with MP3s and other digital audio is that most of us have our PCs in one part of the house and our home stereos in another. The Digital Audio Receiver uses home networking technology, specifically home phoneline networking (HPNA 2.0), to solve this problem. The device, which looks like a small stereo tuner, attaches to your stereo. Unlike an MP3 jukebox, it has no internal mass storage. Instead, you connect it to your desktop PC over your existing home phoneline with an HPNA 2.0 PCI card. Compatible with RealJukeBox, MusicMatch, and the Rio Audio Manager, the receiver automatically recognises all of the MP3s and Windows Media files on your hard disks. With the included remote control, you can scroll through tracks, create playlists, and listen to files streamed from your PC to the stereo.

Compaq iPAQ Pocket PC

Microsoft unveiled its new Pocket PC platform amid much fanfare back in April. Though they were a little late getting to the party, Compaq Corp. has officially unveiled the long-awaited iPAQ Pocket PC, easily the best implementation of this new platform to date. At 6.8 ounces, the iPAQ Pocket PC is smaller and lighter than its competitors (the Casio Cassiopeia E-115 and HP Jornada 545). But this is misleading, since the iPAQ doesn't integrate a CompactFlash slot. Instead you can add one ($40 street) by inserting the device into a sleeve called an Expansion Pack. Other Expansion Packs will include a PC Card slot ($150 street) and eventually gadgets such as Bluetooth, digital cameras, and GPS receivers. Other distinguishing features include an unusually bright LCD screen (4,096 colours) visible both indoors and out and a lithium polymer batter rated for 12 hours of continuous use. The iPAQ Pocket PC is also a relative bargain at about $100 less than the competition for a device with 32MB memory and a 200-MHz StrongArm processor.

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