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Comdex Fall 2000 - Day 1

Comments are heartily encouraged!

By Rob Baumstark

Event: Comdex Fall 2000
City: Las Vegas, NV
Date: Nov 13-17

If you haven't already, you can check out day 0 of my Comdex experience.

Day 1:

Once I finally pulled myself out of bed (it really wasn't easy this morning), I walked over to the Sands Expo to continue my quest to receive my e-mail on the laptop. The whole net access problem was caused by the Comdex organizers not having a place to hook up laptops to a NIC; they only provided phone lines for dial-up access to whatever ISP you happened to have an account with. My ISP happens to be a Canadian cable provider, and even in Edmonton you can't get a dial-up account with them, so I was rather stuck. It didn't take long to realize I needed a free dial-up account for a week (I can suffer some ad banners for that long), and the new problem became "How do I get the software for a free dial-up account onto the laptop?" This ended up being most of the work, and at one point I went as far as installing AOL, though I never did bring myself to actually run the software. Instead I ended up using FreeLane (free dial-up from Excite), which actually works really well, isn't that annoying when you're surfing the web, and it fit on a single floppy, which allowed me to get it to the laptop. Of course everything free has to have a bad side, in this case it blocks TCP port 25, so you can't send SMTP mail, and if you're not actively surfing the web (it monitors for traffic on port 80 I think) it disconnects you. Perhaps they didn't realize that there are other uses for the net than web-surfing (like remote-controlling our www server trying to reconfigure our mail server to listen on a port other than 25 so I could send mail).

Around noon I finally had everything working, and so it was finally time to go try and learn something, which is the most important part of Comdex after partying every night. Yesterday at the Rio I had met Tom Leufkins (hope I spelled that right, sorry if I didn't), and he had promised to bring me a water-cooling kit to review, so I hopped the shuttle-bus over to the LVCC (Las Vegas Convention Center) where the other half of Comdex is, and with a little help from a map, made my way to the 2CoolPC booth where he said he would be most of the day. Of course, he wasn't there - he had just gone to walk around and see what all was on display.

Not wanting to waste time standing around, I left a message with the guys there and went off myself to see what kinds of interesting things would be on display. My first stop was ATi. The guys there were showing demo's of all their existing products; there wasn't really much new to see. The All-In-Wonder-Radeon looked impressive, with a lot of extra functionality in the software/drivers over previous AIW cards, such as the ability to pause a live TV show. Of course they also had one playing MIB on DVD (can't have an ATi display without a DVD display), which looked excelent, as ATi cards always do. When it comes to DVD playback you just can't beat 'em. Turning around they were displaying the Rage Mobility. They had one laptop running Q3 on a new version of the chip - apparently the first and only (including nVidia's new mobile chip from what the ATi person said, haven't checked out nVidia yet) mobile chip to support/use AGP 4x. But still being a laptop, 3D acceleration isn't something I really look for. They had Demo1 running at 800x600x16, and there were a few places where it really got quite choppy. I also took a quick break at the Radeon 64MB DDR section, where they had 4 systems setup for Q3 LAN action. I played a round and it actually ended up really close. I spent a fair bit of the time in the lead, but started to suck at the end and came in 3rd by 2 frags. Of course, comparing my Q3 skill with the guys I usually play against, we all sucked that game.

Wandering the floor grounds again, I started to notice what the big technologies are this year. Last year, every company and it's neighbor had an MP3 player of some sort. This year wireless net access and handheld computers (usually both, but often just one or the other) seem to be almost everywhere you look. I'm gonna work on getting some different handheld computers to run head-to-head for you guys. The wireless net access is a bit out of the price range of our average reader though, and though I'm trying to learn as much about the products as I can, I doubt we'll be able to review any of them for you.

I found a few different companies producing Springboard modules for the Visor, which I think is a good sign (owning a Visor I like to see other companies supporting the brand). Most of these modules are wireless modems (and none of them worked in Canada dammit), but I came across an MP3-player module that was pretty cool, and a few different GPS modules. Most of these I found in Handspring's partner section, which I still have a fair bit of to explore tomorrow - I was running short on time by now.

The final thing I saw, which I have to go back and check out again tomorrow, was a ... not sure what to call it. Wearable personal audio/video viewer soemthing. It looked kinda like a really thick pair of glasses, which were actually little view-screens. There were also headphones built into the arms so you got sterio sound of whatever you were watching. They claim it's the same as watching a 37" (or around that size, don't remember exactly) screen, and though I found it really hard to compare to a normal screen it was very easy to watch, and definatly looked big. I don't know how well they'd work for a computer (especially gaming), but if you have a portable TV/VCR/DVD (they had a little DVD player the size of a disk-man for the demo) it would be a great way to pass time on flights/long bus rides/anything else that takes a while and you have nothing to do. You can bet I'll be trying to get one of those to review, it rates as the coolest thing this year so far.

I did take a few pics today, but I'm sore all over (I got a HUGE blister on the bottom of one foot) and really don't feel like getting out all the cables and stuff to transfer them over just yet. So since none of them are really special you'll just have to suffer till I have something worth showing you (that is to say, till I get a pic of those video-glasses things tomorrow). I'm so sore tonight in fact that I'm not even going out partying. If all goes well I'll have lots of content for ya tomorrow (a whole day of wandering, not just half), a water-cooling system under my arm to review, and perhaps even some mid-day news updates. Remember to keep sending me any comments you have about Comdex. Questions about things I've seen, or even about things you've read on other pages. I check the mail a few times a day and I'll do my best to make sure I fill every request for info I get.

Update: Day 2 is now online. Click here.

Comments are welcome !

All respective copyrights named or used in this article, and images, are copyright of their respective copyright owners. All opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the writer, and may or may not express the view of Glide Underground, Inc.

Glide Underground at Comdex 2000

Added:  Friday, November 17, 2000
Reviewer:  Rob Baumstark

Page: 2/3

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