Innovations abound at CES

Vendors display advances in notebooks, flat-panel monitors and new headsets

This year's International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas brought a fresh wave of innovation and technological advances. Trends included dual-core processors in notebook computers, flat-panel monitors with response times as fast as 2 milliseconds — with 1 millisecond models soon to follow — and ultra-portable tablet PCs.

Vendors that offer dual-core processor notebooks include Lenovo — the maker of ThinkPads — Toshiba, Gateway, Fujitsu and Alienware. Toshiba also introduced the industry's first notebook PC to feature a high-definition DVD optical drive, the Qosmio.

Both Samsung and ViewSonic showed off 2 millisecond flat-panel monitors, and ViewSonic announced 1 millisecond technology that will launch later this year.

In the ultra-portable tablet PC arena, OQO presented a tablet version of its tiny Model 01+, which runs a full version of Microsoft Windows XP, and Fujitsu showcased its 2.2 pound LifeBook.

News in the handheld market included DualCor Technologies' cPC that runs a full version of Windows XP and Windows Mobile 5.0 simultaneously. Palm's latest smart phone, the Treo 700w, is the first product from Palm to run on a Windows-based operating system, Windows Mobile 5.0.

The following products also caught our attention at this year's show.

Hip headsets

Headsets were hot at the show, with vendors showing off Bluetooth and non-Bluetooth models that boast increasingly small and stylish designs.

GN Netcom showcased its new GN9350 dual connectivity headset that is compatible with desk telephones and IP telephony.

The headset uses digital signal processing technology to filter impurities from the incoming signal and maintain a safe, consistent volume level. For outgoing sound quality, the noise-canceling microphone filters background noise.

When used with IP telephony applications, the GN9350 offers wideband audio with a 6.8 KHz range that is twice that of conventional telephony.

You can use the GN9350 as far as 350 feet from the base, so feel free to make the office rounds while chatting away. And take your time, because the headset offers six hours of IP talk time or nine hours of telephone talk time.

Given recent news headlines, customers might be particularly interested in the digital encryption feature that ensures that calls are secure and conversations remain confidential.

A company called Iqua brought some innovative Bluetooth headsets to the show, including one called the Snake.

The Snake is tubular and wraps around the base of a car seat's headrest for hands-free talking while driving. It promotes safety while also looking cool.

Its design is spare and clean, and the body is covered in black leather with integrated silver aluminum areas for the speaker and microphone. The flexible neck allows you to adjust its height.

The headset offers as much as 10 hours of talk time and as much as 300 hours of standby time. It also includes a car charger.

Iqua's Smart Badge also turned heads. The product combines a Bluetooth headset and corporate identification badge into one streamlined product. We've never seen anything like it.

It's thicker than a standard ID badge but measures about the same height and width. A microphone is integrated into the lanyard, and an earpiece on a cord is attached to the lanyard.

The device offers as much as 40 hours of talk time and as much as 600 hours of standby time.

Productive pad

If you don't need all the functionality of a tablet PC or simply prefer to take notes on paper but still want to manage them electronically, you should take a look at Adesso's CyberPad.

The product, which weighs 1.5 pounds, resembles a standard 8.5-inch x 11-inch portfolio, but it also has a line of command buttons and a small LCD along the left side. A clip holds a pad of standard letter paper in place.

The CyberPad uses electromagnetic technology to communicate between the digital ink pen and the pad to capture notes. It can work with a pad of paper as much as to three-quarters of an inch thick.

The CyperPad stores notes in its 32M of internal memory, which translates to more than 150 digital sheets.

The CyperPad connects to a PC via a USB 1.1 port.

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