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DigitalFocus 2001
Inside this invitation-only event
by Rick Smith (June 25, 2001)


 


Sponsors of DigitalFocus:

Acer
Adobe
Agfa
Applied Science Fiction
Canon
Digi-Frame
Digimarc
dotPhoto
Epson
Excite@Home
Express Digital
EZ Prints
FlashPoint
FotoWire
Fujifilm
Hewlett Packard
Imation
Intel
Iomega
iPIX
itBeat.com
Ixla
Jasc
Kodak
Lexar Media
Lexmark
Nikon
Ofoto
Olympus
PhotoPoint
PhotoWorks
PictureIQ
Pioneer
Polaroid
Ricoh
SanDisk
Sharp
Shutterfly
Sierra Imaging
Sony
Toshiba
Viewics
Xerox
Yahoo! Photos


Adobe Photoshop 6
Adobe Photoshop Six. The latest version of a program that some people would fight a religious war over its virtues, while others scream that their favorite program has a better this or a better that. I admit that I am one of Photoshop’s afficionados. For two simple reasons. One - it works, and works well and two - multiple NAMED undo. Without these key features, other graphics software is just a bunch of features in a box. These two features, combined with the rest of Photoshop, helps you soar to new heights, limited only by your imagination. Now those screamers are quiet - 6.0 is here!

I’ve been using 5.5 for a little over a year and its web features really impress me, read my review. What new in 6.0 you ask? A bunch. Here’s a quick taste of some of the features that I feel are most compelling:

Tighter integration - Adobe is continuing to integrate ImageReady web features directly into Photoshop. In 5.5, only Image Ready performed “web slicing” - now this can be done directly in Photoshop, which saves time and resources. File saving is also more automated when moving between ImageReady and Photoshop.

Weighted optimization - Now you can achieve higher quality in critical areas of your web graphics because you can vary the compression settings in different areas of a single image.

Better layer management - Layers can be clustered into sets for better control. Layers can also be locked against accidental image changes or movement.

Better text capability - Now text alignment can be set at the paragraph level, with word wrap, directly on the image. And all without having to use a dialog box! You can even store written notes and even audio annotations, within a Photoshop file - much better than using abbreviations buried at the end of layer names.

Additional actions support - One of the best, and to some, “hidden” feature of Photoshop is actions. They were designed to help speed up repetitive tasks and they do a great job. Now, many people have figured out fantastic ways to use them for extremely creative tasks - I’ve seen one action create random puffy clouds on a blue sky background. Now, even tool options can be set through actions and actions can also be saved as droplets. These droplets can trigger batch operations, when folders of images are dragged on top of them.

Vector graphics - Adobe followed Jasc’s lead in vector integration and now adds its vector functionality. Vector clipping paths can be applied to each layer in a photograph and resolution-independent text can be added to photos. Crisp type quality can then be maintained in both PDF and Postscript output. Vector shapes can now be drawn, independent of output resolution.

OS Support shift - Support for Windows 2000 and ME has been added, 98 and NT 4.0 remains and Windows 95 is now dropped. (8.5, 8.6 and 9.0 for Macs).

That’s a quick summary. I’ll let you know how these key features work and elaborate about them in greater detail during our upcoming product review. Other new web features are:

Dynamic layer based slices - JavaScript rollovers can more easily be created simply by assigning an effect to a layer and letting ImageReady make the slices.

Easier image maps - Use rectangle, ellipse and polygon tools to create map areas and define rollover states.

Rollover styles - Effects of rollovers and their states can be saved as ImageReady styles. These styles can help you replicate this faster to other portions of your graphics to produced dynamic effects more quickly.

Slice sets - Like layer sets, slices can also be clustered into sets, for easier output

Faster buttons - With the vector tools and layer styles, buttons and bars are quicker to create. 

 


Applied Science Fiction
Digital Dry Film Process
With a name like Applied Science Fiction, you have to create cutting edge technologies and they do. They have created a technology that can produce digital images from exposed, UNDEVELOPED film - a truly 21st Century concept.

In a process that takes about seven minutes per roll, micro-amounts of a proprietary developing agent are applied to the exposed, undeveloped film as it is being fed through their image-capture machine. This environmentally friendly digital dry film process (DDFP) requires no water, generates no hazardous waste and makes complete silver recovery from the film possible. Next, a digital record of each image is captured. Color and exposure settings are established on a pixel-by-pixel basis for the entire image. Since the output data is pure digital they can be routed to multiple destinations, including the Web, printers, file servers, hard drives or anywhere digital data can be stored. All without any plumbing!

Applied Science Fiction’s “film in, bits out” technology takes advantage of the high quality film images, produced by traditional cameras, and allows them to function more like digital cameras. Produced images can be saved in any image file format, just like digital cameras. Now consumers can more easily “go digital” without having to buy new cameras.

Unfortunately, this DDFP develops the film directly to a digital format so no film negatives are generated and if needed would have to be created by outputting the digital record to a film recorder. Since most consumers probably prefer a CD of images to an envelope of negatives, this shouldn’t be a problem.

Applied Science Fiction’s DDFP technology processes both 35mm and Advanced Photo System (APS) film formats. It is expected to be available in photo kiosks and minilabs, worldwide, in the fourth quarter of 2001. 

 


Iomega Peerless
If you are facing data overload and require better data management, you will welcome the innovative and high capacity modular drive platform from Iomega - the Peerless Drive System. This approach is important for the following reasons:

  • Addresses major needs in numerous business and consumer vertical markets.

  • Growth in the rapidly expanding digital music and digital imaging marketplace requires ever increasing removable capacity. This revolution is just starting.

  • Modular design is usable for both PC and Macintosh users and appears to offer good scalability at affordable costs - about a penny a megabyte according to company. Relocation of the hard drive electronics from the disks to a base station is said to be a first in the hard drive industry.

  • Read/write heads are fully sealed to eliminate dust contamination.

  • Security is addressed by using chip based identifier technology which protects against unauthorized attempts to read information.

    The Peerless drive also:

  • offers 5, 10 and 20 GB capacities using proven hard drive technology

  • retails for $249. Peerless disks should retail for $129 (5 GB capacity), $159 (10 GB) and $199 (20 GB).

  • has a usable size and shape (about the same as a PDA - 5 inches tall by 4 inches wide)

  • has transfer rates in the 15 MB/sec range.

    It should be shipping by the middle of 2001. 

     


    Lexmark X73 and X83
    family of printer/scanners
    While color printing has become much less expensive for both the home and the home office, color copying has remained pricey. While multiple copies of computer-generated color material can be easily printed, color copying generally involves a trip to the library or local copy center. The Lexmark X83 and X73, the latest models in their All-in-One Print Center line make color copying very affordable. In addition, each of these models function as printers and scanners.

    Both the Lexmark X83 and X73 combine a high resolution color printer with a high resolution flatbed scanner into a single integrated unit, for less than 200 dollars. This price and feature combination certainly eclipses the Xerox XK35C (read our review) in price and the Umax 1220P/Lexmark Z11 (read our review) combination in ease of use. Last year, Lexmark released the Z82, (read our product brief) another printer/scanner combination, but both the Lexmark X83 and X73 surpass the Z82 by providing faster printing and better specifications at a lower price. (The Z82 provides both a parallel port in addition to a USB port, while the X83/X73 are USB only devices.)

    These two models look very similar and the Lexmark X83 shares many features with its lower priced sibling, the Lexmark X73.



    Lexmark X83




    Lexmark X73

    These two multifunction printer/scanners:

  • Print at 2400 x 1200 dpi resolution in both black and color with the Accu-Feed paper handling system

  • Scan 600 x 1200 dpi optical resolution and 48-bit color scan depth

  • Connect via USB for Windows printing

  • Feature a flatbed scanner with a removable top

  • Can print up to 99 copies from a single original

  • Feature a zoom range from 25 percent reduction to 400 percent enlargement

  • Ship with Black Ice Fax software that can edit, store, send, and receive faxes using a connected computer in both black and COLOR

  • Include a high resolution black inkjet cartridge and a high resolution color inkjet cartridge in the box

  • Provide OCR and imaging capability through the included ABBYY Fine Reader 4.0 Sprint OCR text editing and MGI Photo Suite

  • Use a seven picoliter color droplet size for smoother color blending and more vivid output

    The most critical feature difference between these models is that the Lexmark X83 is capable of standalone copying. This means that all the copying functions (black/color copies, 1-99 copies, reduction and enlargement) can all be accomplished without requiring a PC. The X83 also retails for $199, while the X73 retails for only $149.

    There are several differences between the Lexmark X83 and X73 models. They are:

  • The X83 prints at up to 12 pages per minute (ppm) in black and up to 6 ppm in color, while the X73 print at up to 9 ppm in black and up to 5 ppm in color.

  • The X73 currently supports the Mac OS, while X83 will be Mac compatible later in 2001.

  • The X83 has a 19,200 dpi enhanced scanner resolution, while the X73 has up to a 9600 dpi enhanced scanner resolution.

  • The X83 copies at up to 10 copies per minute (cpm) in black and up to 3 cpm in color, while the X73 copies at up to 9 cpm in black and up to 3 cpm in color.

    Deciding between these two models depends on your budget ($50 difference) and if you need to be able to make copies without having your PC running.

    Reviews OnLine has highly recommended the Lexmark X83 in our review

     


    Lexmark's newest color printer family
    Lexmark continues its tradition of providing high quality printers at progressively lower prices. The new models for 2001 are the Z53, Z43, Z33 and Z23.

    Key features of this printer line include:

  • One-click driver installation
  • Quick open-and-load cartridge install
  • Next business day exchange warranty
  • Accu-Feed paper handling

    I can personally attest to the great paper handling of the Z52, a predecessor to the Z53. When I have been in a hurry, and didn't want to open a new paper package, I have reused a page that had been printed on before. Sometimes the corner of this page was slightly bent, but it never caused a problem with the printer. Most printers, even laser printer over TEN times the cost, have trouble feeding and printing that very last sheet, much less a single used page.

    Specific details of the lineup are:

    Lexmark Z53



  • 2400 x 1200 dots per inch (dpi) resolution
  • 16 pages per minute (ppm) in black
  • 8 ppm in color
  • Parallel and USB connectivity
  • Windows, Mac and Linux compatibility
  • Enhanced peer-to-peer networking capability (you can check ink levels and print status from multiple PCs)
  • $139 street price

    Lexmark Z43



  • 2400 x 1200 dpi resolution
  • 12 ppm in black
  • 6 ppm in color
  • Parallel and USB connectivity
  • Windows and Mac compatibility
  • $99 street price

    Lexmark Z33



  • 2400 x 1200 dpi resolution
  • 9 ppm in black
  • 5 ppm in color
  • USB connectivity only
  • Windows, Mac and Linux compatibility
  • Fresh new styling
  • $89 street price

    Lexmark Z23



  • 1200 x 1200 dpi resolution
  • 8 ppm in black
  • 5 ppm in color
  • Windows, Mac and Linux compatibility
  • USB connectivity only
  • Upgradeable to dual-head (simply install a black cartridge)
  • Fresh new styling
  • $49 ($79 street price with a $30 mail-in rebate)

    All models will be shipping soon (by June 2001) and will be available at most major retailers. 

     


    Record both DVD-Rs and CD-Rs
    on the same drive
    If recordable CD-ROMs don't have enough capacity for you, Pioneer has a recordable DVD drive that also can record CDs as well. The Pioneer model DVR-A03 is a combination of a recordable DVD drive and a recordable/rewritable CD drive in one. This is the world's first drive that can perform all these functions in a single drive.

    The DVR-A03 will ship by the end of May 2001 and will have a suggested price of $995. Now you can store a whopping 4.7 gigabytes of data on a single, removable media -- that's over seven conventional CDs in storage capacity.

    Software included to make the most out of this multifunction drive is:

  • Prassi's PrimoDVD 2.0 for recording data to DVD and CD media

  • Sonic Solutions' MyDVD for DVD-Video authoring

  • CyberLink's PowerDVD 3.0 software DVD player

    This drive is primarily targeted for digital video recording and data archiving applications, but I can see some avid digital photographers using this drive as well. Kodak's latest six megapixel camera and sixteen megapixel DCS Pro Back makes conventional CD-ROM capacities look puny.

    This drive reads and writes four recordable formats:

  • DVD-R (Write once and is compatible with most DVD Video players and DVD-ROM drives)

  • DVD-RW (DVD re-recordable -- erase and re-record your own DVD discs more than 1,000 times)

  • CD-R (CD write once)

  • CD-RW (CD rewritable)

    It is capable of recording DVD-R discs at twice normal speed -- the other key speeds for the DVR-A03 drive are:

  • 2X DVD-R record
  • 1X DVD-RW record
  • 8X for CD-R record
  • 4X for CD-RW record
  • 4X DVD-ROM read
  • 24X CD-ROM read

    In case this drive sounds familiar, Reviews OnLine covered the OEM version of the drive, before it even had a part number. That drive (now numbered DVR-103) is currently available in the Compaq Presario 7000 and PowerMac G4 systems. Now it is available to anyone by the end of May 2001 for under a thousand dollars. 

     

    Want to see all this page in a more compact form? View the linked version of this article. It's a smaller download than this page, and each product's information is only a link away.

    Copyright © 2006 Rick Smith All rights reserved.

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