Macworld Expo Reporter Notebooks: Thursday

Today's Best Tech Deals

Picked by Macworld's Editors

Top Deals On Great Products

Picked by Techconnect's Editors

What's in a Name? Corel Gets Creative with its Brand

Somebody was happy that Adobe didn't stake a space on the Macworld Expo floor. While the software giant was among the graphics and publishing companies that skipped the biannual trade show for financial reasons, Corel came out roaring.

The company announced a line of software under a new Mac-focused brand the Canadian software maker has dubbed "Procreate."

No, that's not a typo. And perhaps to let customers know that it's well aware of the alternative meaning of its new Mac brand, Corel has chosen a bunny rabbit as its brand icon.

(Perhaps it's something in the New York drinking water. Apple's latest slogan for its retooled Power Mac G4 offerings? "Pro Create.")

Intended to help Corel shed its fusty Windows image, the Procreate product line is geared toward creative professionals who want software that complements Adobe Photoshop, such as plug-ins and the venerable paint program Painter, formerly owned by MetaCreations.

Painter 7, the newly announced update that will run on Mac OS X (as well as Mac OS 8.6 and later), will be the first product released under the Procreate banner. It will be followed by the Photoshop plug-ins KPT, for general effects, and Knockout, for masking. Painter 7 will ship in early August, priced at $499. Existing users can upgrade for $199.

New features include a watercolor effect that drips and smudges paint across the canvas. You can control the drips' direction and gravity. Also new is Liquid Ink, which mimics the gluey viscosity of ink or paint.

As for the future of Procreate, Corel Executive Vice President Ian LeGrow smiled when asked if the company is in the market for more plug-ins owned by small firms suffering from the current economic climate. "It's a good time for us," he said. -- SSM

Intuit Announces OS X Compatibility for Quicken

Intuit wasn't among the herd of developers that joined Apple CEO Steve Jobs on stage during Wednesday's keynote to promote Mac OS X. But that doesn't mean the financial software maker didn't have OS X-related news to announce at Macworld Expo.

The company confirmed that the next version of Quicken will run natively in OS X. While that's not earth-shattering news -- Intuit said as early as Macworld Expo in January that the next version of the financial-planning software would be compatible with the new OS -- the company did give a more concrete shipping date. Quicken 2002 Deluxe for Macintosh will be available later this summer.

Don't fret if you aren't planning to switch to OS X before then. Quicken 2002 will continue to run on OS 9.0.4 and later.

Intuit is tight-lipped about new features that will appear in Quicken 2002. But expect the online features rolled out in recent versions to continue to play a prominent role in the latest update. In a press release trumpeting Quicken's OS X support, Intuit says the coming version will let users download their most recent transactions from participating brokerages directly from the Web into Quicken. Quicken 2002 will also let users update financial information in one step through online connectivity instead of having to individually connect to banks, credit card providers, and brokerages. Finally, the Quicken update will introduce the Capital Gains Estimator, a feature that helps users forecast tax implications of their stock transactions.

Details about the Quicken update may not be public yet, but Intuit doesn't mind talking about its OS X support. An OS X-native version of Quicken was the top feature sought by Mac users when asked what it would take to convince them to upgrade, says product manager Adam Samuels.

"We've been working on OS X support for three years," Samuels adds. "We really got on the Carbonization stick early on." -- PM

Mulitple Multimedia Releases

Boris FX announced the next version of Boris Graffiti, its software for creating 2D and 3D title animations.

Graffiti 2.0 is a significant upgrade that includes such new features as vector text, animated text on paths (which can be imported from Adobe Illustrator), extruded materials with reflection mapping, and Adobe After Effects plug-in support.

The new version had large speed improvements over its progenitor, with OpenGL support for 3D redrawing as well as support for the G4's AltiVec sub-processor and multiple processors for rendering.

New export formats also include Flash, QuickTime, and AVI.

Boris Graffiti 2.0 should be available in Q3, 2001 for $495. A professional version of the product will cost $995, Upgrades will be $199.

Sorenson Media announced and demonstrated Sorenson Squeeze; its new variable bit rate (VBR) audio and video encoder for Mac OS 9 and OS X.

Designed to be an easy-to-use encoder, Squeeze offers several presets optimized for creating progressive download, streaming, and CD-ROM video built on the Sorenson Automated Compression Engine, or ACE. Those who desire more control, however, can gain access to areas such as output size and frame rate.

Following a simplicity model, Squeeze offers two video codecs, Sorenson Video 3 and Sorenson MPEG4, as well as four audio codecs, Qdesign, Qualcomm, IMA, and Fraunhofer MP3.

The product will come in two flavors, a Standard Edition that includes the free Standard Edition of Sorenson Video 3 (part of QuickTime 5.0.2 and later) and a Professional Edition with the commercial version of the Sorenson Video 3 encoder.

Sorenson Squeeze will enter a public beta phase later this summer and should ship sometime in Q4 2001. Pricing has yet to be determined.

Realviz, makers of image processing software, recntly began shipping its first product for the Mac, Stitcher, which they demontrated on the floor at Macworld Expo.

Stitcher 3.0 is a stand-alone product that allows you to combine overlapping photos in order to create panoramas and VR movies (both the cylindrical VRs supported by QuickTime 4 and the new spherical VRs supported by QuickTime 5).

With Stitcher, you place photos near where they should be aligned, and the program examines the pixels to determine how they should be positioned. Upon rendering, Stitcher will automatically match brightness and color to give your output a more uniform look.

Stitcher retails for $800, but is available at an introductory price of $495 until at least the end of August. The OS X version should ship in Q3, 2001, and will be a free upgrade to those who purchase Stitcher now. -- JS

The Games We Play

During Steve Jobs' keynote, Aspyr Media announced that it will be releasing Tony Hawk's Pro Skater II for the Mac, exclusively for Mac OS X. But this is just the beginning of playing games on Mac OS X.

MacPlay offers Macworld Expo attendees a first glimpse of their summer lineup, with Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn, Giants: Citizen Kabuto, and Sacrifice. On the opening day of Expo, MacPlay announced plans to publish Giants: Citizen Kabuto exclusively on Mac OS X. Citizen Kabuto will make use of OpenGL for 3D graphics,; it's the first game for the Mac to support the pixel and vertex shader capabilities of Nvidia's new GeForce3 GPU. MacPlay plans to release the game this summer. Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn will be available on both Mac OS 9 and OS X this summer.

Later this summer, MacPlay will publish three Activision titles for the Mac: Heretic II, Hexen II, and Zork Grand Inquisitor. Heretic II and Zork Grand Inquisitor will be compatible with OS 9 and OS X; Hexen II is compatible with OS 9, exclusively .

Meanwhile, it's paradise at the MacSoft Booth #2209. There are cool-looking postcards for most of their new games, perfect for sending to loved ones if you realize that you've been playing for days on end.

MacSoft released Pop Top Software's Tropico for the Mac. The 3-D strategy game involves the player taking on the role of a newly installed dictator on a remote Caribbean island. The goal of the game is to maintain the happiness of the citizens of the island by building a path of progress. If the citizens aren't happy, you face being deposed in a revolution. Tropico's animation is enthralling and the game is feature rich. When citizens walks by, it's easy to discover what state of mind they are in: just click on them. There are 45 different characters to choose from. The game lists at $39.99.

Also announced from MacSoft: Duke Nukem Forever, Max Payne, Sid Meier's Civilization III, Master of Orion III, Beach Head 2002, Jeopardy! Second Edition, Wheel of Fortune Second Edition, and Fly II, sequel to the aviation simulation game Fly! - AR

Education at Macworld Expo

The first computer I ever used was an Apple II in elementary school. It left a lasting impression. Apple has long been linked with education. And there is never a shortage of Mac-compatible educational software for teachers, students, and the knowledge-hungry of any age. Following are just a sample of what is being shown at Macworld Expo New York.

GollyGee Software, Inc. (booth #2051) is showcasing GollyGee Blocks, a 3-D creativity program for children age 5 to 12. Using GollyGee Blocks, kids build their own 3-D world with virtual building blocks that can be stacked, stretched, rotated, translated, copied, colored and texturized. The program stimulates critical thinking, problem solving, and spatial reasoning. For educators, an activity guide and site licenses are available. The program is available for Mac OS 8.6-9.1 now, and will be available for OS X with added features this fall.

Macworld Expo is an international affair. Spend just five minutes on the showroom floor and you're bound to hear at least two different languages being spoken. Want to know what's being said? It's never too late to learn a foreign language. Eurotalk Interactive's booth has been busy since the opening day of Macworld Expo. Offering a diverse range of language learning titles in all levels, Eurotalk Interactive teaches phrases and comprehension for students of all ages.

Nova Development (booth #149) recently announced Print Explosion Deluxe, software for creating an array of print projects including greeting cards, banners, invitations, and certificates. Print Explosion Deluxe offers a Mac OS X-compatible version as well as a version compatible with OS 7.6.1 and later. The program is available for a discounted price of $49.95 during Macworld Expo.

Metrowerks has announced CodeWarrior 7.0, with both Mac OS X and earlier operating system support. The program includes everything necessary to write code in a flash: state-of-the-art project manager and build system, text editor, C/C++ and Java compilers, linkers, debuggers, class browser, and a code navigation system. Plus, the Mach-O Project Converter utility makes it easy to convert existing carbon PEF projects over to Mach-O so your applications can run on Mac OS X.

The World Book Encyclopedia 2002 Mac OS X CD-ROM set was announced by World Book yesterday in Steve Jobs' keynote. The CD-ROM set is now available exclusively on Mac OS X, at Booth #2300 and also online at Jam-packed with interactive information, study aids, and audio clips, the World Book Encyclopedia 2002 is a resource that will benefit teacher, student and the curious alike. -- AR

Power On Software

PowerOn Software showed us a demo of the OS X version of their popular Now Up to Date and Contact. The software will be a free upgrade to current users of the 4.0 version for OS 9.

The software includes many new features as well as the current stable of utilities to keep your life in order. An impressive new feature called Docklings allows you to do things like check your appointments, or look up personal contacts without having to open up the full application.

Palm connectivity is ready to go as soon as Palm or a third party vendor releases a desktop conduit for Mac OS X. A version of the elusive desktop conduit is being shown here at the Expo, but no dates have been set for its release. -- JC

A Tiny, Functional G4

Terra Soft Solutions not only had a showing of the recently released Yellow Dog Linux for PowerPC 2.0, but they also debuted their latest entry in the hardware field: a new G4 Power Mac box called the Yellow briQ Node. The briQ is a bit bigger than your hand and is a fully functional G4 machine. The unit supports up to 1GB of RAM, sports a ethernet port in the fully enclosed unit, and offers a G3 or G4 CPU, 400 or 500 MHz, 100 MHz 64-bit System Bus, 2 x 168 Pin DIMM sites, 2.5" IDE internal drive, serial, 10/100 ethernet, programmable Vacuum Florescent Display (VFD). Most amazing is the size: the briQ weighs in at just 1.85 lbs, and is the same dimensions as an industry standard CD-ROM: 5.74 X 1.625 X 8.9 inches.

While the briQ does not currently ship with a video card, you may either export the video display to a workstation through the ethernet or serial port or use the PCM to PCI adapter and install a standard PCI video card. -- JC

Give My Regards to Broadband

Proxim has released three new products for the Mac this week. The NetLINE Broadband Gateway/4S is a plug-and-play 4-port gateway that supports PPPoE and VPN network protocols. It is configured via a web browser and includes Network Address Translation, which can help keep prying eyes out of your business. The NetLINE Broadband Gateway/7S has the same features as the 4S, but supports up to 7 ports. Proxim also debuted the HomeLINE 10MB USB Adapter, which is similar to their Homeline PNA, but has an USB interface for use with newer Macs. The unit is fully HomePNA 2.0 compilant and is powered by the USB port.

Xsense also announced a upcoming wireless PCMCIA card, the WPE-600. The card supports 802.11b (AirPort) which will be quite handy for those who have a pre-airport PowerBook. The card should be shipping in the next few weeks. -- JC

Scholle Sawyer McFarland, Philip Michaels, Jonathan Seff, Jason Cox and Adrienne Robilliard contributed to this report.

1 2 Page 1
Page 1 of 2
Shop Tech Products at Amazon