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CeBIT 2000: What's hot at this year's show

Mobile devices, MP3 players, Bluetooth-enabled products and Linux-dedicated solutions are just some of the hot items you can expect at this year's CeBIT

Expect wireless, lots of wireless. Mobile ownership levels have been thundering past those of the PC of late and with the arrival of broadband mobile networks, companies will be falling over one another to demo Internet access devices.

Symbian and IBM will be showing off the wireless information systems they've been working on together, while WAP crusader Nokia will be unveiling a number of new mobile devices. NEC will also be giving a glimpse of its prototype 3G Videophone.

Sure to cause a stir among its loyal followers, Palm will be showing off its full-colour IIIc organiser. Arch rival in the handheld space, Microsoft, will be hoping to buoy up the ailing Windows CE operating system by announcing several new CE-based products -- with the emphasis firmly set on wireless capabilities.

Samsung, the highly secretive Korean manufacturer, is also rumoured to be showing a prototype of its first PDA -- running on Linux.

The show has progressed somewhat since last year when Bluetooth was hyped as the hot technology. Unfortunately that turned into a bit of a damp squib as the funkiest Bluetooth gadgets turned out to be hands free units for mobiles. No such worries this year, with a multitude of vendors -- including Xircom, Siemens and Psion Dacom -- proudly displaying Bluetooth-enabled wares in a dedicated pavilion.

On the MP3 front, the raft of announcements at the recent Consumer Electronics Show mean that we're more likely to see built-in digital audio features in a range of mobile devices, rather than a host of standalone players. One company that plans to make a splash is UK firm, Pine, which will be launching the world's first combined CD MP3 player.

In 1999, Linux was the new kid on the block, but this year expect everyone and their dog to be showing off the latest hardware and software solutions for the platform. There's even a pavilion dedicated to Linux for the first time, and the usual distributors will all be showing off their wares here.

A little-known Finnish company, SOT Finnish Software Engineering will even reveal its own Linux distribution, which it promises will "dispel the myth of Linux as a server-only operating system". Demonstrating just how far Linux has come in the last year, on Monday 28 there will be a special presentation entitled "The World of Linux" by none other than executive director of Linux International, Jon "Maddog" Hall.

Computer security will be another hot topic, given the recent spate of distributed Denial of Service attacks on major Internet sites. Network Associates subsidiary McAfee, for example, will be highlighting its next generation of anti-virus and personal security solutions, Active Virus Defence and Total Virus Defence.

Hewlett-Packard will be demonstrating a security solution for another of the show's hot topics -- WAP. The company will demonstrate a solution designed to secure wireless WAP transactions based in its Virtual Vault server technology.

For full coverage, see ZDNet UK's CeBIT 2000 special.