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Gadgets galore at PC Expo

Handheld computers, wireless equipment and other high-tech gadgets are taking center stage at the PC Expo trade show.

PC Expo isn't expected to produce a lot of news about PCs, but makers of handheld computers, wireless equipment and other high-tech gadgets are busy at the trade show, part of the Technology Exchange Week New York event.

Here are some of the noteworthy product announcements to emerge from the show:

•&nbspMaxtor announced the Big Drive initiative to create hard drives capable of storing 100,000 times more data than current units. The effort is aimed at refining the existing ATA drive standard to boost drive capacity to 144 million gigabytes. The current ATA standard tops out at 137 gigabytes. Microsoft, Compaq Computer and other hardware and software partners are supporting "Big Drive."

•&nbspSierra Wireless announced the Sierra Wireless AirPath 300 wireless modem for Handspring's Visor personal digital assistants (PDAs). The adapter plugs into the Visor's Springboard expansion slot for wireless access to corporate networks, the Internet and e-mail.

•&nbspTEAC announced new portable CD-rewritable drives. The units weigh 1.1 pounds, come with USB or PCMIA attachments for connecting to laptops and desktop PCs and sell for $329. The USB version writes data at 4x speed and reads at 6x; the PCMIA model writes at 4x and reads at 24x.

•&nbspOmniSky, which specializes in providing wireless data access for Palm- and Pocket PC-based handhelds, announced it is expanding its service to cell phones. The company demonstrated its service running on a Sanyo WAP cell phone and announced it has joined the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) Forum trade group to help guide development of the standard.

•&nbspIntel announced the Wireless Gateway, a wireless networking base station for homes and small offices. The $299 unit combines an access point, router and firewall to allow PCs and handheld computers equipped with 802.11b wireless adapters to exchange data and share an Internet connection.

see Tech Trends: PC Expo product reviews •&nbspPanasonic announced it has begun shipping to PC manufacuters a recordable DVD drive that supports DVD-RAM rewritable discs and DVD-R write-once discs. Besides being incorporated in new PCs, Panasonic will begin selling a retail version of the DVDBurner in October for around $600.

•&nbspPortable Innovation Technology announced the release of the MemPlug CompactFlash adaptor for the Handspring Visor. The storage device will plug into the Visor's Springboard expansion slot and install automatically. It provides 256MB of storage and costs about $50.

•&nbspNexian introduced the HandyGPS ProTM, a Global Positioning System add-on for the Handspring Visor. It will feature Rand McNally StreetFinder Deluxe Travel Navigation software, enabling people to download maps, directions, points of interest and business services, as well as providing quick map searching.