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Apple crops up in Windows world

Although the annual Comdex trade confab is a Microsoft-dominated event, there are a few signs of Mac life in Las Vegas, a CNET News.com staffer on the show floor says.

LAS VEGAS--What's a Mac person to do at Comdex?

Well, although the annual trade show is a Windows-dominated event, there are a few signs of Mac life here.

For instance, software training company LearnKey did use the iPod as a lure, offering those who had their event badge swiped a chance to win the popular music player. In addition, although the products weren't introduced at the show, Apple Computer did thoughtfully show its new, larger-screen iMacs and lower-cost Power Macs on Tuesday.

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It wasn't quite as exciting as last year, when Apple marketing executive Phil Schiller popped into town for a panel discussion on whether PCs or consumer electronics would dominate the living room.

Of course, if the world of Microsoft Windows is just too much to take anymore, Comdex visitors could always leave the PC-centric festivities and head to Apple's lone Nevada retail store, conveniently located on nearby Las Vegas Blvd.

Perhaps the most interesting Mac happening here was the presence of start-up Griffin Technology at Monday's ShowStoppers party, which was a gathering place for smaller companies to show off their wares.

Company president Paul Griffin was on hand to show off the RadioShark, a $69 device that acts as a sort of TiVo for AM/FM radio broadcasts. The device, which lets people record their favorite NPR program or radio station to their Mac's hard drive, is expected to arrive in time for MacWorld in January.

It's the perfect device to come out of music town Nashville, where the start-up is based. Griffin said that of the company's 25 employees, probably 20 are frustrated musicians.

Griffin also showed off his collection of iPod accessories, including the iTrip, which allows the iPod to broadcast its signal to a car stereo with FM radio frequencies. He pointed out that the iTrip was the first add-on to have a software tie-in to the iPod, paving the way for devices like Belkin's Voice Recorder.

Viva Las Vegas
Signs of Comdex's decline were everywhere--the $49 hotel rooms, the nonexistent cab lines, the fact that event registration took place on the show floor--to name but a few.

However, there was one indication that not all the air has leaked out of the once high-flying trade show. Despite the absence of many of the excesses that accompanied past events, there was still an oxygen bar outside the trade show, eager to take a few dollars from those who still have money to burn.

And--believe it or not--there were a few customers paying to breathe in air.