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At CeBit, bejeweled MP3 players, cuddly Webcams

Exhibitors even have an intelligent shoe--designed to adjust depending on whether the ground is hard or soft.

HANNOVER, Germany--The most expensive flat-screen TV. The smallest hard drive. The most powerful camera phone. The first intelligent shoe.

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The CeBit technology fair in the northern German city of Hanover is not just a showcase for fanciful devices that push the boundaries of the possible. A fair number of them go into mass production and prove to be commercial hits.

Wireless Bluetooth headsets are ubiquitous three years after they were first seen here, and MP3 music players aren't just built into phones, but also into sunglasses and wristwatches.

Mobile phones are becoming even more powerful, and this year Samsung unveiled a phone with a 7-megapixel camera--on par with top-of-the-range digital cameras--and another with a 3GB hard drive.

Japan's NTT DoCoMo is presenting a phone prototype that can store four hours of movies and TV programs, and France's Alcatel is one of several companies to show a mobile that plays back music files in stereo surround sound.

Should your phone lack that individual touch, an Italian company offers pendants with colored crystal glass gems to dangle from it, attempting to bring sparkle to a fad that started in Japan.

And on Friday morning, Samsung said it will offer an MP3 player studded with genuine diamonds.

Then there's a Chinese company that makes cuddly toy bears with a Webcam as the nose--a cuter computer for techy teenagers--and a British company promoting designer computer cases that come in pink, peach, baby blue and polished reflective silver.

Makers of flat-panel displays, meanwhile, vie for the title of who creates the biggest screen ever.

Samsung is presenting a plasma TV that it says is the world's largest at 102 inches across, but LG Electronics' 71-inch screen, which is decorated with 24-carat gold and will be sold at $79,939 (80 million won) in South Korea, is touted as the world's most expensive.

Samsung's 82-inch

Toshiba, on the other hand, is going for the world's smallest: a 4GB hard drive that, at 0.85 inches, is barely bigger than a 1-euro coin.

What may be the world's lightest portable full-page scanner is shown by Canada-based Planon System Solutions. It is the size of a pen and weighs less than 2.1 ounces.

Biometric security such as fingerprint recognition is also breaking into the mainstream.

Several manufacturers are offering USB memory sticks or hard drives that can only be unlocked with the user's fingerprint, and Pantech shows a mobile phone that substitutes fingerprint recognition for the secret PIN number.

German sports company Adidas-Salomon, meanwhile, is promoting what it touts as the world's first intelligent shoe. It went on sale just before CeBit began.

A chip in the sole detects if the ground is soft or hard--for example, asphalt or grass--and adjusts the dampening of the shoe.

But only if you remembered to switch it on.

Story Copyright © 2005 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.