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VALLEY AND VENTURA COUNTY | VENTURA COUNTY REVIEW /
LEO SMITH

Xircom Develops Cable-Free PC Cards

April 07, 1998|LEO SMITH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Despite the advanced level of computer technology and high-speed telecommunications, it is often the simple things that can trip up computer users, particularly those on the run with portable notebooks and PC cards.

That's something to which Renee Bader, vice president of worldwide marketing for Thousand Oaks-based Xircom, can attest. Xircom manufactures communications products for mobile and portable computer users.

"Among our larger customers, the No. 1 issue isn't a technical issue, it is how to deal with lost, broken and forgotten cables," Bader said.

Officials of Xircom believe they may have found a solution. The company expects to receive a patent on a technology that eliminates the need for cables to link its modem PC cards with telephones, instead building the technology for connection into the cards themselves.

"[The technology] allows you to take the standard card and plug it directly into the phone," Bader said. "PC cards have been around for four or five years, so the question is, why hasn't anyone done this before? The bottom line is it wasn't easy to do--we had to redesign and custom-tool the connector. There is quite a bit of intellectual property from the design perspective and the manufacturing perspective."

The first product in the RealPort line of PC cards is expected to be on the market in mid-May and will retail for a suggested price of about $400. Xircom will selectively license the technology, when patented, to its partners.

Expectations are high for the new products, Bader said.

"On the average, our customers replaced cables for their users three times a year," Bader said. "That not only speaks for the cost of cable and logistics in replacing it, but also for the down time."

With all elements inside rather than outside the RealPort cards, Bader said, there also is less chance of parts breaking than with traditional PC cards.

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