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Year in review: Gadgets, go home

While consumers maintained a tight grip on their wallets, device creators devoted much of the year to plotting the future of the digital household.


Homeward bound

Gadget makers spent the year trying to get into your house.

While consumers kept a tight hold on their wallets, device creators devoted much of the year to the future of the digital home, where gadget lovers will be able to access all their digital content as well as the Web.

The year started very much the way 2001 did, with the unveiling of a mysterious and much-hyped company and product. In January, Rearden Steel became Moxi, and the start-up began demonstrating its cable set-top box that acts as the central hub for storing and receiving digital content, such as photos and music. Digeo acquired the company and its features were integrated into its cable product. The Moxi Media Center set a tone for the year as other companies, including Microsoft, Apple and Intel, began illustrating digital home strategies and products.

Wireless networking spread its reach into the home this year as many consumers complemented their broadband access with 802.11, or Wi-Fi, technology. Wi-Fi will also play a key role in tablet PCs, unveiled by Microsoft and its hardware partners.

DVD players continued to be a blockbuster hit for manufacturers as quickly falling prices made it a no-brainer for consumers and even helped to promote rewritable DVD technology despite incompatible formats in the market. DVD-rewritable drives are now being included as a standard feature in more and more PCs and have found their way into the consumer-electronics market.

The picture for interactive television got fuzzier this year, as cable companies turned down the volume on their efforts to bring Web surfing and e-mail access to the couch potato.

On the handheld side, more hardware partners lined up for Microsoft's handheld operating system, Pocket PC 2002, with the biggest splash coming from Dell Computer. However, Palm continued to maintain its market-share lead in both the operating system and number of handhelds shipped, while it prepared to split into two companies. The handheld pioneer also came out with a more powerful version of its operating system and new devices.

Consumers can look forward to the continuation of lower-prices on such electronics items as DVD recorders that connect to televisions, components such as DVD recorders that are integrated further with digital video recorders, and televisions that have built-in DVD players.

--Richard Shim

Rearden Steel unveils multimedia system
After two years of secrecy, the start-up jumps into the home entertainment market by announcing its first products and a name change.

January 6, 2002

DVD players no longer go it alone
To prevent DVD players from becoming victims of their own popularity, manufacturers combine basic movie-playback with more advanced features.

January 22, 2002

Palm counts on beefed-up OS
After warning that sales would fall well short of expectations, Palm hopes its beefed-up version of its operating system will give it a shot in the arm.

June 9, 2002

PC squeeze means DVDs for the masses
Weak PC sales and the ever-troubled economy may push companies to offer new PCs--even high-end models with DVD burners--at bargain prices.

September 17, 2002

T-Mobile to launch Sidekick device
The highly anticipated device that combines a Web browser with a cell phone is about to become available nationwide.

September 30, 2002

Tablet PC: Scribbling into the future
Attempting to write a new chapter in the saga of pen-based computing, Microsoft unveils its vision for tablet PCs.

November 8, 2002

Palm moving ahead with spinoff
CEO Eric Benhamou says the move to separate the businesses is one of a series of steps the board of directors took in response to Palm's problems.

November 8, 2002

New iPaqs take high road, low road
Hewlett-Packard introduces two new iPaqs, but can they compete with Dell's lower-priced models?

November 13, 2002


• Microsoft reshuffles UltimateTV, cuts jobs
• Gates peddles home tech in CES speech
• Intel gadget wirelessly joins PCs, TVs
• Wi-Fi: As big as Budweiser?
• Making connections for a digital home
• Hard drives: The new VHS tape
• DVRs tune in to integration
•  Microsoft extends hand on low-cost PDAs
• Flat-panel sellers perk up monitors
• In DVD war, Sony takes sides--both