The best, and worst, of Demo Fall 2008

72 companies showed their stuff, with many intriguing options for businesses and consumers. But a few stood out far above the rest

The breakthrough that could make this reader successful is a screen and backplane made from plastic instead of glass. The circuits are also printed on plastic. As a result, the device will be larger, lighter, and much less fragile than Amazon's or Sony's readers. A prototype of the device has a black-and-white screen that's just under 8.5 by 11 inches, is about as thick as a legal pad, and weighs a little more than a legal pad. The screen display uses electronic-ink technology, and the reader will likely be loaded with content via a wireless connection or by syncing with a PC.

The reader is aimed at businesspeople who carry around reams of paper content. The device will support a number of document formats, including Microsoft Office and Adobe's PDF.

It's obvious that a lot of design decisions have yet to be made, and I wonder if the device will really hit its launch deadline of the second quarter 2009. Even so, this is one worth keeping an eye on.

World's smallest SAN

As far as I know, the ioSAN is the world's first networked enterprise solid state drive, and it's really cool. Developed by Fusion-io, the ioSAN can be deployed as networked, server-attached storage or integrated into networked storage infrastructure.

Each ioSAN card can hold up to two memory modules for up to 640GB of flash memory storage, yet it fits into a standard PCI Express slot. CTO David Flynn says that the cards can transfer up to 1.5Gbps with up to 200,000 IOPS. Smokin'. It'll be available next year. Meanwhile, Fusion-io plans to announce shortly a developer forum to encourage third-party developers to use the platform.

Buddy, can you spare a bass line?

If you're not in a band, finding musicians to jam with isn't always easy, let alone getting ahold of someone to help complete an arrangement. MixMatchMusic has a cool service that allows musicians to collaborate over the Web.

An amateur pianist, for instance, could upload eight bars or so to MixMatch, and then hunt for a compatible riff from a bass player or drummer. You can search by key, tempo, genre, instrument, and -- soon -- by key signature. The snippets are automatically mixed and ready to play.

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Bill Snyder

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