PC Expo Report

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Last week New York City played host to PC Expo 2000, the summer's biggest personal-computing trade show, and we braved the stale convention-center air and 85,000 rabid technophiles to check out the latest and greatest in personal-computing technology. Ironically, PCs were the last thing on anybody's mind at PC Expo. Instead, PDAs, digital cameras, webpads, and other handheld gadgets were all the rage.

You might have thought the new, as yet unnamed Sony PDA was the sixth Backstreet Boy for all the attention lavished on it. Built to run Palm software, the new Sony (exhibited under glass--no touching, please) is thinner and lighter than other Palm devices and, with its sleek, brushed-metal finish, quite a bit sexier. It's also rumored to include brand- new entertainment and digital imaging features, but Sony was cagy about the details. Look for it on catwalks early this fall.

Also from Sony was a radical new addition to its Mavica line of digital cameras. The Mavica MVC-CD1000 ($1,300, available in August) comes with a built-in CD-ROM burner, so when you snap a picture, you don't have to download it to your PC. Instead, the camera writes the image straight to a disc. No fuss, no muss.

Finally, those wild and crazy scientists at IBM have created the Microdrive ($499, available this fall), a 1-GB hard drive squeezed down to the size of a quarter. It weighs less than an ounce--you could almost mistake it for an after-dinner mint. Big whoop, you say? Slot one of these babies into an MP3 player, and you've got storage space for about 20 hours' worth of music. The Backstreet Boys never sounded so good.