Comdex Fall will feature everything from armadillo races to an X-rated CD-ROM pavilion as the year's biggest computer show gets underway in Las Vegas this week.
While the atmosphere at Comdex will be rife with industry rumors--word that IBM or maybe HP wants to buy Apple is the hot buzz so far--the goal for most attendees is to find hot new products. Not surprisingly, many of the most interesting new products are aimed at Internet enthusiasts and plain old PC fanatics. As interest in the Net skyrockets, PC manufacturers who until now have focused on the business market are wising up to the fact that home system sales are hot.
For example, Hewlett-Packard will this week show off its new Pavilions line of home PC systems. Sold through retail outlets, the new systems will be easy to set up, easy to use, and will provide fun for the whole family, according to company officials.
For consumers always after the latest and greatest point-and-shoot digital camera, Chinon America will debut a new price for its ES-1000 Pocket Digital Camera. Now priced at $499, the ES-1000 takes full 24-bit color photos that can be easily downloaded and distributed online.
For those more interested in software, Comdex will provide the backdrop for a slew of new offerings.
CyberMedia will show First Aid 95, a product designed to correct software and configuration conflicts in Windows 3.1 and Windows 95. The company claims First Aid 95 will intercept general protection faults (GPFs) and correct over 10,000 applications, multimedia setups, and Net access problems. First Aid 95 is aimed at novice computer users, according to officials. To reach these novices, CyberMedia will enclose a free copy of IDG's best-selling Windows for Dummies book in the $49.95 First Aid 95 package.
Davidson & Associates will demonstrate two new children's multimedia CD-ROMs: The Little Samurai, the third title in the Magic Tales series, and 3D Jungle Train. The Little Samurai is a multimedia retelling of a Japanese folk tale with three-dimensional art, animation, and original songs. The title includes over 500 "click and explore" options and is aimed at children ages 3 to 9. Jungle Train, for children ages 5 and up, takes players on a virtual reality adventure where they build train tracks and ride through the jungle. The Little Samurai will retail for about $35, 3D Jungle Train for around $30.
Gold Disk will show off three products aimed at videophiles. VideoDirector Home 1.0 will let you edit home videotapes using the PC, camcorder, and VCR they already own. The software does not digitize the video, eliminating the need for extra disk space and video cards. With VideoDirector Suite 2.5, the home video editor can add titles, sound, and animation; there's also a clip-art library. Studio M gives you the ability to create personalized multimedia projects including greeting cards, invitations, and family albums. VideoDirector 2.5 Suite for Windows lists at $99.95; VideoDirector Home 1.0 for Windows retails at $49.95; and VideoDirector 2.0 for Macintosh lists at $99.95. The estimated street price for Studio M is $49.95.
For those of you who really, really hate to ask for directions, Road Scholar's Map Connection may help. An add-on for CompuServe subscribers, Map Connection lets you browse and download digital maps of more than 240 cities as well as national highways. Each map costs $19.95 and is free of connect-time charges during the downloading process. The City Streets for Windows mapping engine is downloadable for $9.95.
S&S International, makers of Dr. Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows 3.x, MS/PC-DOS, NetWare, and OS/2, will show off toolkits for Windows 95 and Windows NT and introduce SCO Unix and Macintosh versions of the software. The software detects, identifies, and repairs viruses, and provides background virus protection. The Windows 95, Windows NT, Windows 3.x, SCO Unix, and OS/2 Toolkits are priced at $125. The Macintosh Toolkit is $99.
Also at Comdex, cyberspace convert Quarterdeck will launch WebTalk--software that lets users talk over the Net. The company is packaging its software with the Quarterdeck Mosaic Web browser, a Labtec microphone, and an offer for Web access from Netcom On-Line Communications. WebTalk is expected to sell for about $50. A free demo of WebTalk can be downloaded at Quarterdeck's Web site.