January 12, 2001, 3:32 PM — LONG CONSIDERED the premier high-tech show for the introduction of the latest hardware products, the buzz this week at Comdex in Las Vegas will be about wireless techno-logy.
Not to be seen on the show floor but much talked about in the hallways and in the private meeting rooms will be the upcoming deal between Research in Motion (RIM) and America Online to cobrand the RIM wireless devices, several industry experts said.
|Wireless at Comdex|
Other announcements are expected to make noise at the show.
* Capslock's Secure Wireless Access Technology allows client-side strong encryption on handhelds but not on cellular phones.
* Xircom's SpringPort Wireless Data Module for the Handspring Visor lists at $129 and runs at speeds as fast as 9600 bps.
* Wireless Mountain's Power Rover connects wireless users to any wired infrastructure.
AOL will customize the RIM device to include instant messaging and AOL mail, sources familiar with the project said.
RIM is also set to upgrade its 957 handheld PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) and 950 pager to include automatic receipt of calendar updates as well as e-mails. "If this were next year, while you are at Comdex your secretary could make a new appointment for you, put it in your calendar, and it would synchronize wirelessly with your RIM," a source said.
Although RIM and AOL want to make their deal privately, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates will openly discuss one of the wireless industry's worst-kept secret projects, a tablet PC that will also feature a persistent wireless connection to home and office networks. (See the article "Microsoft developing PC tablet device")
The unit, which is meant to be used as a fully-functioning PC, will have wireless capability that incorporates instant messaging, paging functionality, and Web browsing.
Some analysts have said the focus on wireless technology at Comdex this year is proof that the PC hardware show is no longer relevant.