Asia's biggest information technology trade show opened in Taiwan, with the spotlight on low-priced notebook computers and an advanced broadband Internet mobile technology.
The participation this year of Chinese exhibitors in the Computex Taipei -- the first time since its launch 29 years ago -- was also expected to be a highlight.
During the five-day event, Taiwanese notebook PC companies were expected to showcase new netbook models, as part of efforts to stay ahead of the game.
Asustek Computer Inc, known for its popular "Eee PC" family launched in 2007, said it would be demonstrating its latest items shortly after the opening of the exhibition, which the organisers say is the world's leading information communication technology procurement platform.
Its rival Acer Inc, the world's number two PC vendor, behind Hewlett-Packard, said it would also be launching new netbooks.
Netbook -- a portmanteau word formed from Internet and notebook -- describes a small, relatively cheap laptop computer designed for wireless communication and web access.
Many weigh less than a kilogram (2.2 pounds) and can cost as little as 250 US dollars.
Analysts say Taiwanese makers' strategy of concentrating on netbooks has proved to be a big success, especially as the world computer market tumbles due to sluggish demand caused by the international economic downturn.
Thanks to their competitive supply chain and flexible manufacturing capabilities, Taiwan's computer makers are expected to take a 60 percent share of the global netbook market in 2009.
Worldwide demand for netbooks is expected to more than double this year to 32 million units from 13 million units last year. At the same time, the overall information communication technology industry is forecast to contract by nine percentage points, according to Taiwan's private think tank Topology Research Institute.
"The emergence of netbook... brings new growth opportunities to matured markets," it said.
The other big talking point of the trade fair was expected to be a cutting-edge technology called WiMAX -- Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access.
The latest generation broadband mobile has a higher capacity, operates across greater distances and allows for voice, video, Internet and other mobile services.
Starting from Tuesday, the technology will begin testing on a train running on one line of Taipei's metro rail network for a year, offering real-time image transmission services to commuters.
"Perhaps there are still flaws with the technology (but) it is becoming commercially viable after years of development," said Lin Chih-ching of the Taipei Computer Association.
WiMax operators have said that in the future, for about 800 Taiwan dollars (25 US dollars) a month consumers will be able to call, play on-line games, receive long-distance medical diagnosis, surf the Internet and watch high-quality television while on the move.
One local operator started to provide WiMax service on a Taiwanese island earlier this year, offering real-time mobile image phone services.
Five other Taiwanese companies, including Far East Tone and Global Mobile, have been licensed by the government to launch WiMax services.
Trade fair organisers said they were pleased to see the 80 booths of Chinese exhibitors this year, with companies including Huawei and Tsinghua Tongfang represented.
Their participation has been made possible by the rapid improvement in ties between Taiwan and its former bitter rival China since President Ma Ying-jeou came to power on the island in May last year.
Organisers said more than 1,700 exhibitors have 4,500 booths for the five-day fair, which is expected to greet around 100,000 visitors, including 35,000 international buyers.
The trade fair last year generated around 20 billion US dollars in business, they said.