Editorial license. (the COMDEX computer show) (Editorial)
by Clifton Karnes
Las Vegas in November means COMDEX, and it's a three-ring circus, or more appropriately, a three-sided wrestling match. In one corner are 2200 exhibitors; in another corner are 170,000 attendees; and in the far left corner, almost out of sight, are 2000 cabs. People come to COMDEX for the 2200 exhibitors, but it's the cabs they wind up really wanting. That's Fall COMDEX in a nutshell, and it's a prescription for disaster. Unless you play your cards right, you can spend the entire week to the show in a cab line or a series of cab lines. Some people do. And if you ever get out of a cab line, chances are you'll wind up in another line.
For those of us who did manage to get out of the lines long enough to stroll the convention floor, there was a lot to see. One of the show's big announcements was Borland Office 2.0 (Borland International, 408-438-8400). Borland has bundled WordPerfect 6.0 with its own Quattro Pro for Windows and Paradox for Windows (both of which won COMPUTE Choice Awards for 1993) and produced a stellar suite. Borland and WordPerfect are also working on an integrated application language to tie the individual applications in the suite together.
At the Sands, Best Data Products (818-773-9600) was showing its super ACE card, which uses a DSP chip to support 16-bit sound, 14.4 modem communications (including faxing), voice mail, plus a SCSI CD-ROM port. Look for more all-in-one cards like this in 1994.
After a show like COMDEX, I have fistfuls of business cards to deal with. Pacific Crest (800-870-3391) is coming to my rescue with CardGrabber, a combination business card scanner and address book that plugs right into your parallel port. With Calera's OCR engine built in and its plug-and-play interface, CardGrabber looks like a real winner.
There were several notable notebooks at this year's COMDEX, but two that caught my eye are from Sharp (201-529-8100). The 8150 and 8650 are full-powered 33-MHz 486 PCs with 200MB hard drives and dual-scan passive and active matrix color screens, respectively. Both machines have excellent fit and finish, as well as crisp displays.
The best on-the-floor show at COMDEX was at the Micrografx booth. Micrografx (214-234-1769) was introducing Charisma at the show, and the company's presentation included a dazzling performance from a team of daredevil Rollwerblade skaters. Charisma looked pretty good, too.
Power users should be interested in three products Landmark (800-683-6696) was showing at its booth: Land-mark 3.0 (the newest version of the company's much-praised benchmark suite for Windows), DOS for Windows (a DOS-like command like interface for Windows), and WinProbe (a Windows diagnostic tool). All three seem like worthy additions to any Windows user's toolbox.
One of the most unusual products at COMDEX comes from a company appropriately named Second Nature (503-221-1460). It was showing its superb collection of screen savers and wallpaper art, all based on artworks from well-known artists. Second Nature has several collections that feature art by Renoir, Monet, Audubon, Barbara Wallace, and many others. Also worth nothing is the fact that Second Nature was formed to help support nonprofit organizations. The company donates all profits or 10 percent of sales (whichever is greater) to orgranizations such as the Nature Conservancy and the Audubon Society.
That's it for the latest Fall COM-DEX. See you in a cab line.