Handhelds Grab Show Spotlight

NEW YORK (06/28/2000) - Sony Electronics Inc. unveiled its handheld prototype.

Palm Inc. opened up its operating system for more expansion possibilities.

Throughout PC Expo this week in New York, it seemed handheld computers and gadgets stuck out rather than PC innovation -- a fact not lost on show visitors.

"I think the main focus is more gadgets, more enhancements and PC expandability," said Chris Vaughan, a product manager for Compaq Corp. in Houston, who was walking through the Jacob Javits Center. "The end game is to (make) your device so you don't have to have your PC."

The market for such devices is hot.

"There's a lot of gadgets," remarked Arthur Belanger, technical manager for Yale University's School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut. "Our users are using them quite a bit. Physicians are using them all the time at the medical school."

Handheld makers Palm and Handspring Inc. highlighted expansion possibilities for their products that allow use of digital cameras, additional memory, paging and Internet access. [See "PC Expo -- Palm Enhances OS Expansion Support," June 27.] Handspring had many third-party developers on hand to show the growing possibilities of the PDA (personal digital assistant).

Some of the new handheld hardware on display includes:

-- Franklin Electronic Publishers' eBookman -- The electronic book will come in three models based on varying memory capacity and will run on the Microsoft Reader operating system. The reader has a 240-by-200 pixel display, provides MP3 capabilities, and holds personal information contacts. Prices start at US$129.99 for an 8M-byte reader and will be available by September in North America.

Franklin, based in Burlington, New Jersey, can be reached at +1-609-386-2500.

-- Casio's Cassiopeia IT-70 and IT-700 -- The handheld models run on the Microsoft Windows CE 3.0 operating system and are shock and splash resistant.

They will come standard with 32M bytes of RAM, an optional Multi-Dimensional Space Rotation, a common key encryption system and a Compact Flash card slot.

Each IT model has a 240-by-320-pixel display and weighs about 10.33 ounces (289.24 grams). Both models will be released in September or October.

Casio, based in Dover, New Jersey, can be reached at +1-973-361-5400 or at http://www.casio.com/.

-- Sony Electronic Inc.'s Palm OS-based prototype PDA -- The prototype runs on the Palm OS operating system. It supports the Sony Memory Stick media slot, possesses Jog Dial control and is expected to feature digital imaging capabilities. Sony's PDA is expected out this fall, but no prices have been announced.

Sony can be reached at http://www.sony.com/.

-- Glenayre Technologies Inc.'s ActiveLink wireless messaging module -- The module plugs into the Springboard module and allows users to receive messages, e-mail and access Internet data. It weighs 3.2 ounces (91 grams) and runs on two AAA batteries. The unit accepts messages even while not plugged into the Springboard module slot. No pricing is available yet on the module that will be released in early August.

Glenayre, located in Charlotte, North Carolina, can be reached at http://www.glenayre.com/.

PC Expo continues through Thursday.

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