Editorial: What To Expect from the Consumer Electronics Show
The 2002 International Consumer Electronics Show will kick off on Tuesday in Las Vegas and last through the week. As its name implies, the focus for this show is on home users, not businesses like many of the large computer trade shows.
Many companies like to make announcements at shows like these so they are close-mouthed about their plans for the show. However, a few educated guesses can be made.
Sony's entertainment-oriented handhelds are targeted almost exclusively at this market. Add in the fact that both the N610C and the S320 have apparently been discontinued and it seems very likely that the company will be announcing replacements at the CES.
Rumor has it that Sony will be releasing the S360 to replace the S320. This new model will have 16 MB of RAM, an updated OS, but otherwise be quite similar to the S320. It's also entirely possible that Sony will take this opportunity to announce the T615, a U.S. version of the T600, with a hi-res color screen and 16 MB of RAM. This is the N610C's replacement.
In the past, Sony has generally announced its handhelds several weeks before they were actually available.
Sony won't be the only company with a strong presence at the CES. Handspring will also be there and will certainly be showing off the Treo line of wireless smartphones which is expected to be released the week after. The Treo was one of the big hits at Comdex in November. Handspring is concentrating almost totally on the Treo so it is unlikely that it will be making any other big announcements.
Don't expect Palm Inc. to miss the show. However, predicting what it will do it a bit harder. They will certainly be demonstrating the Bluetooth SD card because they have been doing that for months. Whether they will announce a release date for it is a different story. One piece of evidence is that one of their three booths at the show is devoted to just Bluetooth. Another is that Toshiba is already selling it in Japan.
It's possible but less likely that Palm will be announcing and demonstrating its wireless handeld, probably called the i705. It's targeted more at enterprise users than home consumers so it doesn't really fit the tone of the CES.
While the handheld manufacturers will be there, many of the smaller Palm-related companies will be staying home. A quick search for a few of the important Palm software and peripheral makers turned up few attendees, though some of these may have some space in the larger companies' booths. A few notable exceptions include RhinoSkin, Navman, Copytalk, Targus, and Motient.
Thales Navigation, who makes the Magellan line of GPS products, Rand McNally, and Palm are going to announce "a GPS solution with advanced technology and affordability previously unavailable to consumers." Exectly what this is isn't yet clear, though it could be a new GPS module for Palm's Universal Connector, which has been rumored to be in development for some time.
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