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Wireless expo showcases personal technology

CHICAGO (CNN) -- Every kind of wireless gadget imaginable is on display at Chicago's giant Personal Communications industry show, where people talk about a future with any desired information available at one's fingertips -- anytime, anyplace.

Cell phone options were big hits at the show. Eddie Patton was wondering if he should get an earbud, even though it would make him look like all those cell phone users who always appear to be talking to themselves.

Candy-colored ear "gels" by Jabra makes earpieces more comfortable. There are also snazzy new headsets, including the first model to use the new Bluetooth wireless communications standard.

Fashion accessories could either conceal or showcase a cell phone, including, apparently, a phone-holder for 4-year-olds.

Everywhere one looks at the Personal Communications show there are signs of our growing love affair with all things wireless. One can now listen to the Wall Street Journal during a morning commute, with wireless delivery right to a handheld device through audible.com.

For those who have come to depend on their e-mail pagers -- but have been frustrated by the inability of the pagers to open e-mail attachments -- there is PrinterOn, which lets a user print an attachment to any nearby printer, as long as its Internet-connected.

The show also revealed a glimpse of something everyone might be doing a lot in the future: sending video e-mails to cell phones or palmtops.

The technology is still a little clunky and the quality isn't great, but many people believe videomail messaging will one day make plain old text obsolete.

"It's much better than text, much better than voice," said one participant.

The obstacle to videomail and many other mobile services is bandwidth. The wireless networks in the United States were not set up for Internet and multimedia content and do not handle it well. But those networks are being rebuilt and soon the results will literally be seen.



RELATED STORIES:
Anti-virus vendors focus on wireless devices
September 27, 2000
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September 25, 2000
Intel unveils wireless architecture
September 22, 2000
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September 21, 2000
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RELATED SITES:
Personal Communications Industry Association
JABRA
Bluetooth
Printeron


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