Windows XP hype takes backseat for PC makers

PC makers will try to show off more than just their latest boxes loaded with the new Windows XP operating system at next week's Comdex Fall 2001 trade show Nov. 11-16 in Las Vegas.

At the show, demonstrations of Microsoft Corp.'s new OS running in PCs from several major computer vendors will be juxtaposed by discussions on how to reduce power consumption in PCs, and a look at some future PC design concepts.

Beyond that, Comdex could border on a non-event for PC vendors, according to Rob Enderle, an industry analyst at Giga Information Group Inc. in Cambridge, Mass. "We're expecting this particular Comdex to be relatively quiet," he said.

Undaunted, PC vendors like IBM, Compaq, Dell, and Hewlett-Packard will each be on hand at Comdex demonstrating PCs packing IAPC (Instant Available PC) technology from chip maker Intel.

IAPC enables idling PCs to quickly drop into a "sleep mode" even when still networked or connected to high-speed modems, saving a significant amount of power, according to Intel. IAPCs can resume to full operational speed in less than five seconds.

Compaq will demonstrate IAPC on its iPaq PC, Dell will display IAPC on its newly Optiplex GX240 and Dimension 4300, IBM will have IAPC loaded in its new NetVista X Series PCs, and HP will show IAPC in its Vectra vl800 PC, which HP officials claim is the quietest Pentium 4-powered PC available.

Advanced concept PC designs will be showcased at Comdex by several PC vendors.

HP and Dell will be at the show demonstrating their separate next-generation business PCs, according to company representatives. Concept PCs from HP and Dell each reflect a growing trend toward space-saving in dense office environments as well as a continued drive toward interchangeable components and ease of use, according to company representatives.

Compaq will demonstrate its Tablet PC, a fully functional handheld computer, as well as new Pocket PC products and wireless advances, a Compaq representative said.

Not all PC vendors plan to attend Comdex. Gateway has chosen not to make an appearance at the trade show, said Gateway spokeswoman Lisa Emard. She said Gateway feels it will be better served by targeting regional sales efforts rather than setting up shop at a large industry trade show like Comdex.

"Going after a specific customer set as opposed to the broader trade shows has its appeal," said Enderle of the Gateway decision. "A lot of companies are questioning the value of going to Comdex."

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