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Taiwan Launches Virtual Computer Show

Organizers have set up a virtual computer show that lets people worldwide look at 1,200 of the latest computer products.
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) -- When SARS hit Taiwan's capital earlier this year, the city had to postpone one of the world's largest computer shows. But organizers of Computex Taipei said Tuesday that if the often-deadly virus returns, they'll be ready this time.

The organizers have set up a virtual computer show that lets people worldwide take a look at 1,200 of the latest computer products. They said Computex Online provides a multidimensional display, where products can be turned 180 degrees for a clear view on the screen.

"With the Internet technology, we can now present Taiwan's best products to global buyers all year round, not just five days a year," said Frank Huang, chairman of the Taipei Computer Association, which operates the online show.

The concept of a virtual show first occurred in May when officials feared that the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome might force cancellation of the computer show. After the outbreak faded in early July, the computer show was eventually held in September.

International business travel to Taiwan nearly halted during the SARS outbreak. The highly contagious virus sickened more than 8,000 people and killed 774, according to World Health Organization figures.

Taiwan was ranked as the world's No. 3 SARS hotspot, after mainland China and Hong Kong.

If SARS cancels next year's computer show, the Web site could be bolstered with video conferences to allow foreign buyers to make deals with firms online, said Shih Wen-cheng, a computer technician for the show.