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Booming CES marks death of Comdex

Michael Dell's pantiliners, Darl McBride goes shopping and more

CES Roundup - Whether you ask a cabbie, a stripper or a tech executive, the answer is the same these days. CES is now the big daddy show in Las Vegas, and Comdex is the kid bringing it a beer on Sunday.

This year's CES show packed the hotels and the show floor with gadgeteers running as fast as they could from booth to booth - some even managing to sweat a bit in the middle of winter. Frankly, after so much fallout in the technology industry over the past three years, it warmed the heart to see a conference maintain a full head of steam and then some.

And like any first rate IT show in Vegas, CES comes wrapped with an adult entertainment expo. Yes, friends, Adult Video News held its annual awards ceremony at the Sands with Heart of Darkness capturing the best film award.

Somewhere in heaven, Joseph Conrad has a smile and hopefully a camera phone.

That said, plenty of geek-on-geek action was going down on the show floor, and we would like to bring you a couple of highlights, starting with the comedy session and moving to the tech goodies.

Dell's big surprise

Anyone who has ever had the pleasure of meeting Michael Dell in person will note that the Dell CEO, while very bright, does not have the best sense of humor. This made his demonstration of a new Dell TV at CES all the more amusing, as a giant Always pantiliner commercial rolled across the big screen. (If you don't know what a pantiliner is, ask Iris.)

There is nothing better better than seeing a big, rich Texan try to sell a tech product with a fifty foot hight sanitary napkin emphasizing his every word. Dell also uttered, "We are not locked into any one (chip) supplier," which we found equally amusing.

A second bit of comic relief comes to us from Jean-Baptiste Su of La Tribune - a good friend of El Reg.

He found none other than SCO's Darl McBride on the CES show floor. Su noted that McBride was "pretty dressed down" and without his usual bodyguard. This made it easier to blend into the crowd, McBride told the reporter.

It's nice to see that McBride is able to take some time away from his vigorous IP pursuits. He was at the CES show with son, enjoying all the gizmos like the rest of us.

And you thought your dad was embarrassing.

Ultra thin gets thinner

Transmeta and its partners displayed some of the most covetous products at CES. Sharp again showcased its ultra-thin Mebius Muramasa notebook running on Transmeta's low-power chips. This system is as thin as thin gets, and US users will be happy to know it should go on sale here sometime this year - or so the word on the street goes.

Along with the Sharp kit, Transmeta's partner Antelope also promoted its version of the portable PC. The system comes in a package slightly larger than a cigarette pack and contains a hard drive, memory and processor. Users can plug the little box into a docking station for desk use or slip it into a more notebook type of package. At this time, Antelope is only targeting businesses with its rugged handheld product, but consumers may well have their chance if the Antelope idea takes off.

One of the most intriguing demonstrations at the Transmeta booth came courtesy of Secure Communication Systems and its Air Warrior touch-screen PC. This product is used by the US Army and was running fully submerged in a fish tank. With an Efficeon processor at its heart, the Air Warrior runs for several hours and is in action in Iraq right now.

Stone age phones

D-Link's wireless kit impressed us with its sleek design. The same can't be said for Kyocera. If you are looking for a mobile phone, we recommend you steer clear until the company does some serious work revamping its kit. Stepping into the Kyocera booth was like a taking a trip back in time to the Luddite era. Kyocera's Slider Series of phones lack most of the features you would expect as standard on a low-end device these days, their screens are weak and the service options are far behind. This includes an MTV branded phone that only allows customers to download fancy MTV ring tones. Goodie.

Out hats go off to the US Postal Service which also made a spirited appearance at CES. USPS was touting a new Electronic Postmark service (EPM) - or USPS EPM to you - brought to life by partner AuthentiDate. The technology allows customers to check on the authenticity and date and timestamp of electronic documents and files. In addition, the service provides a tamper detection function. Users can check up on their documents via a Web interface.

There is an USP EPM extension for signing Microsoft Word documents, and the service complies with the ESIGN legislation established in June of 2000. ®

Our CES coverage in full

CES plays home to HomePlug at 100 Mbps
Consumer giants encircle the home PC
HP declares war on sharing culture
Pocket-sized PC has PowerBook pedigree
Real and IBM form media software link
Verizon trumps Wi-Fi with 500 k/bits nationwide
Dell 'suspects' Yamhill is on the way
MS (nearly) ditches the PC religion with home net plans
Gates wraps Brave New World with hefty fees
Yahoo! and Philips in Streamium TV

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