Philadelphia Area HP Handheld Club Meeting

Wednesday, June 12th, 1996 - Drexel University


The Summer Consumer Electronics Show, held in Orlando, Florida on May 23rd to the 25th was quite a sparsely attended (as well as exhibited) affair. All told, only around 200 exhibitors showed, compared to over 1500 at the Winter shows, traditionally. This was billed as a specialty show, dubbed the "Digital Destination", combining producers of CD, Digital Video Disc (DVD), Digital Satellite System (DSS) and digital videotape products along with digital wireless communications, Internet-related products and such. Attached to the show was the "Habitech" show, a home-automation gathering, along with a much-reduced high-end audio exhibitor's area at a peripheral site. The products that were there were indeed interesting, as early glimpses at cable modems, Internet-ready televisions, digital video disk players, DVD-ROM drives and such were shown, mostly in prototype.

The only "big" names to show up, however were Panasonic, RCA (Thomson), Toshiba and Samsung. All had their interesting devices, however. For instance, Panasonic showed prototypes of their new 21-inch diagonal flat plasma panel TVs, which looked every bit as good as standard television CRTs. These were a "technology statement", as they put it, destined to be released then they could produce 40-plus-inch models to compete with the projection television market. Still, they will be only two inches thick, even at the larger sizes. Texas Instruments showed a new line of handheld organizers with PC docking cables and Indiglo back lights. U.S. Robotics was touting their newly-released Pilot touch-screen organizer product, which has been getting alot of good press and user accolades. Toshiba was touting their newly-introduced Nickel Metal Hydride rechargable batteries in AAA, AA, C and D sizes, along with a soon-to-be-available fast charger which will fully charge the cells in 1.5 hours. Zenith showed a prototype of a cable modem for the upcoming cable/Internet market. Curtis Mathes showed new televisions which have Internet browsing features built in. Another category of upcoming consumer product which seems to be beginning to catch on is the digital still camera, and those were shown by Ricoh, Casio, Polaroid and Epson. Still, it was a major disappointment not to see Sony, HP, Sharp, etc.

The Spring COMDEX show, held in Chicago from June 3rd to the 6th, was the typical madhouse, with all the major computer software and hardware companies represented. An amazing number of hands-on demonstrations were conducted, with usually a few rows of computers for the audience to try. Apple, for instance, showed off a $799. card called "Pentium on a Macintosh". Digital Equipment Corporation demonstrated its new AltaVista Web seearch tools. Hewlett-Packard showed off printers, Pentium-Pro servers and the new Omnibook 5500 notebook computers. IBM had several Thinkpad, Lotus and other demonstrations. The list goes on and on.

The CHIP Meeting

The Annual "Special" Chicago-Area CHIP users group meeting was held on the night of June 5th, with around twenty attendees. Richard Nelson spoke on the state of the art in handhelds, and the latest Educalc news. Paul Hubbert talked about printing technologies (as only he can) and others threw in a few observations here and there. Overall, it was an enjoyable evening. Since next year's Spring COMDEX and CES are to be merged into a single show to be held in Atlanta, we'll have to come up with some new excuse to meet in Chicago in the June time frame.

HP Journal

Check out this month's HP Journal for a couple of interesting articles on the HP38G calculator and calculator aplets. Of particular interest to me is the biographies of the articles' authors indicating their responsibilities for the "next-generation calculators and information appliances." A copy of this material is included in this handout.

Rumors Start to Fly

Check out the PC Week and EE Times articles on handheld trends. Both mention sources which indicate that HP will have new handhelds in the coming months. The first appears to be a successor to the Omnigo 100 organizer, available as early as this September. Richard Nelson is hoping that we hear more about this device at the upcoming HP Handheld/Palmtop conference in Anaheim, California on August 24-25th.

Educalc Catalogs Shift a Month

The Educalc catalog production has been delayed a month so that their release corresponds to the start of the calendar quarter. So...the next one (#72) will be available at the beginning of July, and then October, January and April. Also, check out Educalc's ever-growing WWW page at

Jake Schwartz

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