Today's Best Tech Deals
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Top Deals On Great Products
Picked by Techconnect's Editors
MAYA FOR MAC OS X 3.5.1
4.0 mice Alias|Wavefront, 800/447-2542, www.aw.sgi.com; $1,999; upgrade from version 3.5, free
When we reviewed Alias|Wavefront's Maya for Mac OS X 3.5 (Reviews, January 2002), we found a number of serious problems with OS X compatibility, and we advised potential users to wait for this update. Version 3.5.1, which shipped in late December, fulfills its promise of bringing fast, stable performance to OS X 10.1 and later.
Maya for Mac OS X 3.5.1 runs smoothly on all current graphics cards with ATI and Nvidia chip sets, and OpenGL performance is now much improved. Furthermore, the program's many tools that rely on Wacom pressure-sensitive tablets are now fully functional, and painting and sculpting with a tablet are pleasurable tasks. We highly recommend Maya for Mac OS X in its current form.--SEAN WAGSTAFF
TOON BOOM STUDIO 1.1
4.0 mice Toon Boom Technologies, 514/278-8666, www.toonboomstudio.com; $375; upgrade, free
We've already reported that Toon Boom Studio 1.0 excels at creating vector-based Flash animation (Reviews, March 2002)--this free upgrade beefs up the program's pixel power. Toon Boom Studio 1.1 works with iMovie, letting you export movies created with Toon Boom into preexisting or new iMovie projects. And your movie's audio doesn't get left behind when you export to QuickTime format, as occurred with Toon Boom Studio 1.0.
Toon Boom Studio's interface has also been significantly overhauled; gone is the plethora of tool palettes, replaced by customizable toolbars in the main windows, Drawing and Sceneplanning. These toolbars work exactly as the one in OS X's Finder windows does, with a special customizing screen that lets you drag premade icons into and out of the toolbar. This welcome face-lift further integrates Toon Boom Studio into OS X.--GALEN FOTT
3.0 mice eZedia, 877/408-0195, www.ezedia.com; $240
If you're looking for a quick, relatively hassle-free way to infuse humdrum business presentations or school assignments with interconnected text, sound, graphics, and movies--including virtual reality and animation--eZediaMX 3.0 is worth a look. It runs in OS 9 and OS X, and its drag-and-drop environment is both practical and intuitive. You generate your creations one frame at a time, and you rely on the program's Objects buttons to incorporate text and graphics, link to a movie or sound file, and set up navigation between frames. At any time, you can preview your project in the program's Run mode and export it to popular file formats such as QuickTime. Helpful PDF tutorials guide you through basic functions.
While eZediaMX boasts cross-platform capability and a slew of new and enhanced features, it doesn't quite hit the mark when it comes to OS X; the tutorials assume you're using OS X but show some OS 9 screenshots, and the dialog box that's supposed to let you apply transitional effects doesn't load in OS X.
eZediaMX's ease of use comes at a relatively high price. Newcomers should consider just how much they're willing to pay to generate interactive family trees, spice up their marketing presentations, and enhance their children's social studies homework.--JILL ROTER
EX-TEND-IT DVI TO ADC
4.0 mice Gefen, 800/545-6900, www.gefen.com; $200
DVIATOR FOR ADC
3.5 mice Dr. Bott, 877/611-2688, www.drbott.com; $150
You're drooling over Apple's flat-panel monitors--and with good reason: they're some of the best-designed displays around (see "Macworld's Ultimate Buyers' Guide: Monitors," February 2002), and unlike 90 percent of the displays out there, their ADC connectors unify power, USB, and the video signal in one cable. But if your Mac's video card includes a DVI output, it's been incompatible with these ADC monitors--until now. Dr. Bott's DVIator for ADC and Gefen's
Ex-tend-it DVI to ADC adapters turn an ADC signal from your monitor into a DVI signal your computer can use, and they both do a fine job. Until someone makes an ADC video card for the Mac, using one of these adapters is the way to go.
Each product includes a large (and heavy) power brick, appropriate cables, and a device that converts the signal. The Ex-tend-it uses a small conversion box with USB and DVI inputs along one side and ADC and power inputs along the opposite side. The DVIator comes with a cluster of cables that adapt the signal, but they also make the connection more confusing than the Ex-tend-it's compact box.
Setup is simple for both products, and display quality with either of these adapters is just as crisp and clear as with an ADC video card. However, those who want to use an ADC monitor because it promises to reduce cable clutter may find that the tangle of additional cables and numerous parts spawned by these adapters only exacerbates the problem.--JENNIFER BERGER