CES Watch 2001

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BRAND X Bill Gates wants you to hold off buying that PlayStation2. Microsoft's Xbox game console won't arrive for 10 months, but developers are already promising their popular game franchises, including Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, Oddworld and WWF Raw Is War. The demos look great, but the high-tech hardware still doesn't fit into the cool case that debuted last week at CES in Las Vegas.

INTERNET INSIDE The trouble with Internet TV today is that it usually entails a set-top box and an additional monthly fee. By this fall, you will see a line of Net-ready TVs from the big makers, including Panasonic and Zenith. Internal hardware and software, built by TeleCruz, will drive the cost of the TV up an extra $100 or $150, but some models will provide free Net access, and others will let you use your existing service. Just plug a phone line or network cable into the back of the TV, and you will be a couch-potato surfer.

GIGATUNES Be careful: if you buy a Compaq iPAQ Music Center, your five-disc CD changer and your AM-FM tuner may get a teeny bit jealous. The networked device, due out in late spring, blends in with the other audio components on the shelf but contains a 20-GB hard drive, a CD deck and a Net radio tuner. You will be able to store and sort 5,000 songs and listen to your favorite radio programs, even if they're airing on the other side of the globe.