Technology: Big And Small

For gadget lovers and MAC fans, Christmas comes in January, when Apple Computer and the rest of the world's electronics manufacturers hold separate trade shows.

Decked in his signature black shirt and jeans, Steve Jobs conducted his annual filibuster in San Francisco; he typically comes loaded with envelope-pushing goodies that re-energize the perpetually beleaguered Mac minority. This year was no exception. Jobs rewarded the faithful with a fast new Web browser and a slick app to create presentations (Jobs insists it's just a coincidence that both are assaults on Microsoft domains). The climax? Two new PowerBook laptops: one with a dazzling 17-inch screen, the other a consummately portable 12-inch model. Both are sheathed in sexy, anodized aircraft-strength aluminum.

Consumer Electronics Show
At CES in Las Vegas, the story was also about things large and small. Sony's 30-inch LCD widescreen television ($6,000) set our hearts aflutter--until we saw Samsung's 46-inch model ($10,999). Sony offered a line of DVD camcorders that record up to 60 minutes of video on three-inch discs ($1,000 and up). On the PDA front, Garmin's Palm-compatible iQue 3600 ($589) sports built-in GPS. No room in your pockets? Fossil showed off a Palm-powered wrist PDA. Teenagers will go bananas when they slip Smart Skin "intelligent faceplates" on their Kyocera mobiles--they not only change the look of the phones, but customize ring tones, video clips and games.