BETT on a busy week for tech

The Week Ahead: With CES and MacWorld plus a big UK education technology show all jostling for attention, 2007 is getting off to a hectic start
Written by ZDNet UK, Contributor

With many workers apparently opting to take the first week of January off, 2007 has been pretty slow on the IT news front so far. However, that is all set to change this week when we see the start of some of the year's most eagerly anticipated technology shows.

The traditional curtain-raiser to a new year is the Consumer Electronics Show, out in Las Vegas. It runs from 8 to 11 January, and was opened officially on Sunday night by Bill Gates.

Although CES obviously has a strong focus on the home market, there should be titbits to entice many tech professionals. Storage should be a key area — we've already seen Hitachi launch a 1TB hard drive, and SanDisk's all-flash offering.

Also of interest to the wider IT community will be new GPS products, which are increasingly essential to mobile workers. And high-speed wireless will be huge — manufacturers will be adding Bluetooth to more and more products, and we may also see some ultrawideband devices.

Communications devices that support VoIP may also make a strong showing at CES. Nokia has just announced a tie-up with Skype, alongside a new version of its Internet Tablet.

Another area of interest at CES may be green IT, a hot topic in the both the consumer and business space.

But CES won't have all the headlines to itself. It's going up against Apple's MacWorld show in San Francisco. Much of the pre-show gossip has been around the long-expected Apple iPhone, which has been thrilling some digital music fans for many months now.

Enterprise IT users may be more interested in Leopard, the next version of OS X, which may launch at the show. Leopard will include new backup and networked searching functionality, and could steal potential sales from Microsoft Vista. Apple has said it will ship in the first quarter of this year, but some websites are predicting that it could be held back for a March launch.

Some observers have predicted that Apple may announce support for faster wireless connectivity, such as 802.11n. New machines based on Intel's quad-core chips also seem likely, as is a home video product dubbed iTV.

All will become clear with Steve Jobs's keynote on Tuesday (early evening UK time). Gadget website Gizmodo is certain that an updated version of iLife will figure, but don't hold your breath waiting for an Apple tablet.

Although the UK can't match the scale of CES and MacWorld, there will still be some interesting events this week. The BETT show will be taking place in London, focusing on technology in the educational space. It runs from Tuesday to Thursday, and ZDNet UK will be at the show, complete with a film crew, to bring you the key announcements.

One important theme is likely to be the take-up of open-source software in schools — an issue many MPs are concerned about.

And on Wednesday, the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee will be continuing its investigation into personal internet security. It will be taking evidence from John Carr, executive secretary of the Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety. The Home Office will also be appearing before the committee, which is keen to investigate whether UK citizens understand the scale of the e-crime threat, and whether the government is doing enough to protect them. We'll be there to hear what they find out.

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