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Comdex gear gets playful

Editors from CNET Reviews and Computer Shopper toy around with everything from a service for gamers to multitasking cell phones to see what stacks up.

Day two of Comdex Fall 2002 is all about play. Editors from CNET Reviews and Computer Shopper toy around with everything from a service for gamers to multitasking cell phones to see what stacks up.

A pack of peripherals from BenQ
BenQ has unleashed a pack of new products including a fast-responding LCD (liquid crystal display), a surprisingly inexpensive 4.1-megapixel digital camera, a whisper-quiet keyboard and a variety of optical storage products.

The LCD FP591 15-inch flat-panel display offers a lot of high-end features for $499, including analog and digital connectors, a high contrast ratio of 450-to-1, and an extremely fast 16 milliseconds response time, allowing the LCD to produce flicker- and ghosting-free images. Its speakers use advanced technology to help emulate surround sound, and an optional memory reader allows users to view photos directly on the screen from a variety of memory card types, including CompactFlash and SmartMedia.

On the camera front, the $399 DC4500 is among the least expensive 4.1-megapixel cameras on the market. While it ships with only a 16MB CompactFlash card, it offers a maximum resolution of 2,272 pixels by 1,704 pixels, as well as 3x digital and 3x optical zoom. The 1.5-inch thin-film transistor LCD isn?t super bright, but this camera may make the short list for shoppers looking for a tempting holiday bargain.

For the $99.95 AM305 wireless keyboard, BenQ adopted scissors-plunger technology, which is often used in notebook keyboards. The company says this design helps eliminate the key wobble associated with most desktop keyboards. In unofficial hands-on tests, the AM305 did provide a better feel than traditional units. What?s more, the AM305 is remarkably thin, has multimedia controls, and offers three positions for comfortable typing. The keyboard is accompanied by an optical wireless mouse.

Finally, BenQ introduced a variety of optical storage devices, ranging from the CRW 5224P, a $129 52x/24x/52x internal CD-RW drive; to the $299 DRW4212VR, a DVD-RW drive; and the DRW4212DW, a $299 DVD+RW drive. External DVD-recordable drives, in both formats, are also available.
--Adam Fisher

Gigs of gaming content
IBlast's new Game Silo can download up to 3GB of gaming content per day, including demos of unreleased games and other content such as videos and movie trailers.

The service employs an antenna that, when hooked up to a PC, downloads directly from the iBlast network, using the transmitters of local TV stations to bypass the Internet. The service also connects to set-top boxes and other receiving devices.

You?ll pay $149 for the antenna and PC Card bundle, or $169 for a USB version. Game Silo charges a $9.95 monthly service fee for a basic service package. iBlast Full game releases from an expanding list of titles are available for purchase and rental for $4.95 and up.

Game Silo?s partners include LucasGames, Activision and Microsoft. The service is currently up and running in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C. Would-be users can go to the Game Silo Web site to receive an alert when the service is available in their city.
--William Flanagan
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Multitasking cell phones
Two sleek new camera-enabled phones unveiled at Comdex by Nokia and Sanyo Electric put audio/visual capabilities in your pocket.

The Nokia 7250 is a sophisticated, slim world traveler measuring 4.1-by-1.7-by-0.8 inches (HWD). This 3.3-ounce tri-band GSM (Global System Nokia for Mobile communication) phone is decked out with advanced features including a 128-by-128 pixel screen capable of displaying 4,096 colors, Multimedia Message Service support, and the ability to operate on high-speed GPRS (General Packet Radio Services) networks.

What?s more, the 7250 sports an internal FM tuner and an integrated camera capable of snapping shots at a resolution of 352-by-288 pixels. Expect the Nokia 7250 to cost less than $400, depending on cellular carrier.

For those who prefer a CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) network, Sanyo, in partnership with Sprint PCS, launched its 5300 cell phone. The device is trim and eminently pocketable at 3.7-by-1.9-by-1.1 inches (HWD) and weighs a mere 4.1 ounces. This dual-band/trimode cell phone boasts a 2.1-inch screen capable of displaying 65,536 colors and operates on Sprint?s high-speed 1xRTT PCS network.

For snapping shots, the Sanyo 5300 features a built-in camera that has its own flash and captures images at resolutions up to 640-by-480 pixels. Available through Sprint PCS, the 5300 costs $399.99.
--Brian Bennett
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Browser-based remote access for the PC
Remote-access apps like Timbuktu, PCAnywhere and LapLink took a turn for the obscure last year when remote-control service GoToMyPC burst onto the scene.

Now, LapLink is using Comdex as a launch pad for what it hopes will be its GoToMyPC-killer, LapLink Everywhere.

Whereas most remote-access programs require the user to install and set up complex applications, GoToMyPC uses a simple, Java-based method to access the host PC from any computer with a Net connection. Newcomer LapLink Everywhere offers a similar service for about half the price: $9.95 per month compared with GoToMyPC?s $19.95. LapLink Everywhere provides access to a host computer from any Net-connected device with a Web browser. The new service?s advantage over GoToMyPC is that it works more elegantly from small-format Internet devices, including PDAs.

Unfortunately, another of LapLink Everywhere?s selling points--its ability to access remote files and communication applications such as Microsoft Outlook, without opening applications on the host--may also prove its greatest flaw. Because LapLink Everywhere keeps the host desktop?s applications closed and therefore more secure, those applications remain unavailable unless the remote computer also has them installed.
--Lindsey Turrentine
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A big notebook from a little-known supplier
PCLaptops, a notebook supplier that?s little known outside of its home state of Utah, has launched a beefy new notebook in a bid to burst onto the national market.

PCLaptops introduced on Tuesday the brawny E-Pro Max 585, which is powered by a 2.8GHz Pentium 4 desktop processor. The desktop-replacement notebook?s other features include 1GB of RAM, a 40GB hard drive, a 64MB ATI Radeon 9000 graphics chip, a 15-inch UXGA screen, two swappable bays, and four USB ports. The price you?ll pay for this kind of power can be measured in weight: The E-Pro Max tips the scales at a shoulder-straining 9 pounds.

PCLaptops While it?s available now for $2,999, there?s no way to ascertain whether the top-notch components of E-Pro Max will yield proportionately high-performance scores. plans to test the notebook soon and report on its performance, however.

Despite its relative obscurity, PCLaptops has been around for several years. The company was founded as Elite Systems in 1994, and changed its name in 2002. It currently offers a wide range of notebooks under product names that include Max, Ultra, Supra, Traveler, Allure and Padawon.

Its chief executive, the self-titled Dan "The Laptop Man" Young, has set some ambitious goals for the company that extend beyond breaking out of the regional box. "We are committed to delivering the best dang laptops on the planet--no questions asked," he says.
--Tom Dunlap
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