Comdex Fall 1999: The Comdex Show

Comdex has really been shrinking these last years

Comdex has changed quite a bit in the last years. I remember how packed Comdex was in 1996 or 1997: all the halls were packed and there were more companies in tents outside because there was no other place where they would fit.

Last year, those tents were gone and the Hilton convention center wasn't that full. Yet, this year, I could hardly believe my own eyes when I saw that the first floor of the Sands was empty. This floor was huge and would take quite a while to visit. Incidently, that's where the Linux Pavilion used to be. As for the Hilton, if it weren't for the linux business expo, it'd be empty.

I also noticed last year that companies didn't have such extravagant booths and giveaways, or impressive technology demonstrations. This year was even worse, there were still some big booths and a few shows, but not near as many as there used to be.

Xerox was one of the exceptions, with their usual impressive Greek Booth

National Semiconductor had the entertaining spice girls device girls
They were actually quite talented and gave an entertaining show

Nope, Comdex ain't what it used to be anymore, but this may have something to do with all the tourists who show up because they somehow got a badge and yet don't belong there. Another reason is that maybe companies realized that they weren't getting much returns for the incredible amounts of money they spent on the show.

But there was still some cool stuff to see

While Comdex has been shrinking, it was so big to start with that there were still cool things to see.
One big presence this year was MP3 players. Most of them used flash memory, and to my taste had not enough capacity. As far as I'm concerned, they'll have to reach 128MB to 256MB before I consider one. 32 or 64MB just doesn't cut it for me.

the latest type II compact flash cards are 320MB now. Yummy :-)

This was ingenious: an MP3 player inside a fake tape so that you can play it in your car or your stereo

The very cool Empeg linux MP3 car player.
Too bad it's so expensive, I'm sure a lot more people would buy it if the price were a bit more reasonable
That said, I'm buying one anyway :-)

The usual cool BeOS demo (they now have a journaled FS and can boot the OS in 15 seconds)

Wait, is that an ethernet jack on the back of this camera?

With a 600MB minidisk2, this sony digital camera is really cool

A Cryotech supercooled 1GHz AMD CPU machine (it has a full freezer inside)

Lame product of the year award

Well, this year it's a tie. We have both Iomega (you know, the folks who sell those zip and jaz thingies and who have the balls of still selling a 1G jaz cartrige for $80, price that hasn't changed after more than 3 years. I hope they get their lunch eaten by Orb) and Creative Labs (you know the folks who managed to kill Gravis with overpriced and inferior soundcards (soundblaster and soundblaster pro anyone?) but superior marketing, until they made so much money that they eventually got real engineers).

So Iomega "invented" this:


Then we have Creative Labs. They wrote this thing called Lava which is basically something like a fancy xmms plug-in: it displays graphics that react to the MP3 being played.


Ok, why not?
The part that was ridiculous is how they were marketing the crap out of this, and how they were trying hard to get people to associate MP3 and soundblaster, and Lava and soundblaster, when obviously any decent sound card (including my 5+ year old Gravis Ultrasound) can play MP3s just fine, and this lava thing is 100% independent from the sound card :-).

You can find more pictures from Comdex Exhibits in the picture library

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99/11/28 (22:42): Version 1.0