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New products to watch from CES

The debut of a hot new device or product category--usually the talk of the annual show in Las Vegas--often sets the tone for consumer electronics for the rest of the year.

New devices and software are coming out of the woodwork for this week's Consumer Electronics Show.

The debut of a hot new device or product category--usually the talk of the annual show in Las Vegas--often sets the tone for consumer electronics for the rest of the year. This year's crop includes a wide range of products such as computer displays, handheld computers, portable storage devices, and digital cameras and music players:

• Consumer electronics maker Sonicblue launched its first portable digital-music player with a hard drive. The $395 Rio Riot includes a 20GB drive that the company says stores roughly 5,000 songs. The Rio Riot is available from the company now and should hit stores in February.

• SanDisk, which makes flash-memory cards, unveiled a portable storage device that plugs into a PC's USB slot and accepts one of four memory card capacities: 32MB, 64MB, 128MB or 256MB. The Cruzer will hit the market in the second quarter, with prices ranging from $59 to $199, depending on the capacity of card it can read. The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company also announced three ImageMate dual-slot memory card readers designed to accommodate multiple storage formats.

• Graphics chipmaker Nvidia launched the nForce 415-D, a new version of its chipset for Advanced Micro Devices' Athlon XP processors. Motherboards using the new nForce are expected later in the month, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company said.

• As expected, Sharp Electronics said its Zaurus SL-5500 handheld computer will be available later in the first quarter. The new Zaurus SL-5500 combines a color screen, 206MHz StrongARM processor and 64MB of memory, along with an MP3/video player and voice recorder applications.

• Palm is holding a series of fashion shows to tout its latest handhelds dressed in designer cases from Coach and others and to trot out add-ons, such as Eastman Kodak's PalmPix camera. Fashion show attendees will also take part in a demonstration of new infrared content-distribution technology from Wideray. Those toting Palm devices and sitting up to 150 feet away can receive an application by pointing their handhelds at the runway. Santa Clara, Calif.-based Palm also launched a new version of its eBook reader.

• Display maker ViewSonic introduced the VX3600 MegaMonitor, a high-definition flat-panel monitor that uses liquid-crystal-on-silicon technology. The 36-inch display will cost $6,999 and ship later this quarter. ViewSonic also showed off a prototype of the Airpanel 150, a 15-inch wireless liquid-crystal display based on Microsoft's Mira technology.

• Toshiba is reducing the price of its digital cameras. The company is cutting the price of the PDR-M71, a 3.2-megapixel camera, by more than 20 percent to $399. Toshiba is also offering a $100 mail-in rebate for its PDR-M81, a 4.2-megapixel camera, which cuts the price to $599.

• Toshiba also has developed a large-capacity rewritable optical disc. The disc enables people to store up to 30GB, including three hours of recorded digital images.

• Samsung Electronics and Planetweb, which makes software for consumer electronics, announced a licensing agreement. Samsung will use two Planetweb applications, Digital Photo Manager and Digital Audio Manager, in a new line of Samsung DVD players set to ship later this year. The applications allow consumers to organize and view digital photos on a television or to listen to digital music on a home stereo.

News.com's Gwendolyn Mariano and John G. Spooner contributed to this report.