Highlights from the Show
by Rick Smith and Stephen R. Jones
Once again, Comdex opens its noisy grand bazaar of technology where every trinket is touted as a treasure and every little thing is declared the Next Big Thing. To help you sort out the gotta-have's from the wanna-be's, Reviews OnLine has reached into the writhing mass of products and pulled out a few that may be worth the hype (or at least a future review).
This new six-in-one device puts an entire office of equipment inside one box. You get a 720 x 720 dpi color inkjet printer that moonlights as a scanner, a PC fax, a stand-alone fax, and phone message center. But, wait, what's a NTSC video jack doing on a printer, you ask? That's feature #6. It allows you to capture frames from any video source. Very unique.
Play Inc's Amorphium 3D
After it's merger with Electric Image, Play set EI's high-end 3D graphics geniuses loose to create a killer 3D sculpting package at a consumer price. Amorphium is the result. This $149.95 program promises to allow mere mortals to sculpt and paint 3D objects in real-time using the sorts of friendly yet flashy tools that are Play's mainstay.
Cirque Cruise Cat
The Cirque Cruise Cat touchpad is the latest GlidePoint touch pad that strives to be much more than a simple mouse-replacement. The $100 pad's software now interprets gestures along its edges as corresponding scroll, zoom, or web browsing commands. So, sliding your finger left and right along the top edge would page forward and back in your favorite web browser. In addition, you can define your own gestures for executing common actions.
Sony Mavica MVC-FD91 Digital Camera
What could Sony do to beef up its already hugely successful Mavica digital camera line? Plenty. How about adding a 14x optical zoom, manual exposure control, and doubling the floppy drive speed? If that's not enough, the $999 MVC-FD91 now lets you record snatches of audio and video as well.
Philips DVD+ ReWritable
Philips has announced that it has developed the first samples of rewritable storage media based on DVD standards and technology. The new media will handle data rates of 7 to 17 Mbits per second. Each disc will hold 3.0 gigabytes and permit 100,000 random rewrites over it's lifetime.
Hauppauge Computer Works demonstrated its first digital television receiver board for PCs. Developed in conjunction with Intel, this PCI-based board will allow PC users to enjoy programs (and accompanying datafeeds) broadcast digitally. The board supports all emerging DTV standards including HDTV which should be broadcast in most areas within the next 18 months.
Trellix has already won awards for enabling non-techies to produce complex and attractive web sites (not just single pages) without requiring you to stray much beyond your familiar word processor or spreadsheet. But, now this vision of simplified web publishing has been validated in a big way by Corel which has signed a world-wide licensing agreement to include the $249 product in its next generation office suite.
Aiwa Bolt Tape Backup
At $179, Aiwa offers the Bolt tape drive as an inexpensive, high-capacity backup option. The external unit can read many legacy tape formats (including QIC-80) and writes to standard 6.6 or 10 GB Travan 3 cartridges at a sustained rate of 5.33 Mbps.
Philips' Scuba VR Visor
(Announced but unfortunately absent from the massive Philips booth, the second largest at Comdex) For $299 you can virtually step inside your favorite game worlds by donning this 1.2 pound Virtual Reality helmet. Scuba is unique among consumer-level VR headgear in that it also provides head tracking. Even better, your head position is sent through your PC's mouse port which means that most existing first-person 3D games will already work with Scuba.
© 1998 Rick Smith and Stephen R. Jones
All rights reserved.