Macworld Expo: Friday Afternoon Notebook

I Want My Mac 3-D

Vendors of 3-D applications were anything but lost in the background at Macworld Expo this week.

Eovia showcased Carrara Studio -- a stabler and heartier version of the former MetaCreations product -- which it's targeting at the graphics-professional and Web-creation markets.

The program, which began shipping last month, has faster rendering, control-click-activated in-line menus, a tutorial feature, and multiple-level textures, and it includes about 850 3-D models.

Carrara Studio, which currently runs in Mac OS 9, sells for $399 (with various upgrade paths available) and includes a hybrid CD with both Mac and Windows versions. It also comes with a full version of Amapi3D v5, the previous edition of that program.

NewTek demonstrated LightWave 6.5b, the latest update to its powerful 3-D-modeling and -rendering program. This version can export to Shockwave in the new Shockwave 3-D format, as well as to Viewpoint and Flash.

LightWave 6.5b sells for $2,499. It's a free upgrade for owners of versions 6 and 6.5.

Alias/Wavefront announced a release date for its long-awaited professional-level 3-D package. Maya Complete for Mac OS X -- as it's billed on the Mac side, should ship by September 25, but the company hopes to make the program available several weeks before that target date.

Previously available for IRIX, Linux, and Windows NT and 2000, Maya costs $7,500. It's often used in combination with other 3-D programs -- such as LightWave -- in motion pictures, commercials, and other projects.

Alias/Wavefront has begun taking orders, offering a year's worth of free upgrades and support to anyone who orders before the end of the year. Those who purchase Maya before the shipping date will also receive a Wacom tablet, a three-button mouse, a training DVD, and other Maya-related items.--JONATHAN SEFF

Linux without Apple

The Unix-based Mac OS X threatens to diminish demand among Mac users for flavors of the open-source Linux operating system. With that in mind, Terra Soft Solutions -- the maker of Yellow Dog Linux, which runs on most Power Mac models -- is pushing into a surprising new area: hardware.

In a partnership with engineering firm Total Impact, Terra Soft is showing off its new briQ, a $1,600 device about the size of an external CD-ROM drive, that's actually a 500MHz G4 computer running Yellow Dog Linux. In addition, Terra Soft is also showing off an 8-briQ cluster running its Black Lab Linux variant.

Currently, the briQ comes with only serial and Ethernet attachments -- which means you can only Telnet into it but can't attach it to a monitor. But it does come with an industry-standard PCM slot, and Terra Soft CEO Kai Staats is hopeful that the company will soon be able to offer a PCM add-on card that will provide USB and VGA connections.

But even without that card, the briQ is an intriguing entry -- that uses the power of the G4 processor -- into the rendering and Web-serving market.--JASON SNELL

Give It Away Now

Thursby Software calls itself "The File Share Folks." Who knew that sharing included giving away free software?

That's exactly what the cross-platform-software maker is doing with its OS X version of Dave -- for now, anyhow.

Dave is an application that lets Mac and Windows users easily share files. Thursby hoped to release an OS X-native version of the software but has decided that there aren't enough key features in OS X 10.0.4 to properly integrate Dave into OS X in a timely fashion.

Thursby still plans to work on an OS X-native version of Dave, probably for the forthcoming OS X 10.1. But in the meantime, it's offering a free, downloadable version of Dave at its Web site as an interim solution for OS X's early adopters.--PHILIP MICHAELS

Turning Over a New Leaf

QPS -- most closely connected with its affordable but bulky CD-RW drive and less-than-stellar technical support -- wants to change its image.

Neil Ghadiyaram, a director of sales and vendor relations, admits that QPS has had problems. But he says that the company has ironed out its technical problems and that QPS customers should now be receiving better support.

QPS also unveiled a host of new products including a mock-up of a high-tech gadget and a series of products using a bridge from FireWire to two ATA devices.

QPS's most exciting offering at Macworld Expo was a mock-up of the Que Portable CD-RW code-named 007. It looks like a silver Sony Discman with thin handles on its sides. In the next 30 days, the company plans to ship a version that will attach via USB for CD-R burning, and will function as a portable audio-disc player. A second version of the drive will use the PC Card slot on the top. It will be a handy way to download images from camera media directly to CD-R. It could also hold an 802.11b wireless card to copy data to an AirPort-equipped Mac.

QPS also showed off a variety of drives that hold two ATA devices and connect to a Mac via FireWire. The Que MiniRAID is the size of a small paperback and holds two 2.5-inch drives. It's stackable and ships with Charismac's RAID software.--KRISTINA DE NIKE

QuicKeys Coming Quickly

CE Software kicked off its week at Macworld Expo by releasing a public beta of its QuicKeys utility for Mac OS X. While the beta doesn't have the full functionality of QuicKeys 5, it allows users to create macros for typing text and opening commands -- just like the utility that power users have come to know and love.

In addition to adopting the OS X look-and-feel, the QuicKeys beta adds a spelling checker feature in the Type Text window, allowing users to instantly double-check their commands.

QuicKeys X should ship in late August. CE Software is treating the OS X version as a new product, so existing users and QuicKeys novices alike will have to buy the new version. But don't throw out QuicKeys 5 if you're planning to switch to OS X: you'll need it for OS X's Classic mode. The new version will work only natively.

CE Software is offering a price break to anyone who preorders QuicKeys X. It's selling for $50 now, but the price will rise to $100 once the application ships.--PM

AccountEdge -- The Next Generation

AccountEdge, MYOB's small-business accounting program, is less than a year old. But that's not preventing the software maker from looking ahead to the application's next version or from giving Macworld Expo attendees a sneak peek at it. (Many of AccountEdge 2.0's features remain under wraps.)

The next edition of the accounting application will feature two new assistants that make it easier to set up and choose account formats within the product. Those two features are in line with MYOB's goal of helping users get started with the application more quickly, says Director of Product Management Tom Nash.

Another goal of MYOB is adding flexibility so that AccountEdge works in a way familiar to small businesses, Nash says. To that end, MYOB is adding a Bank Register feature that gives a different view of an account's status. You can also enter and edit transactions straight from the register.

Look for AccountEdge 2.0 in the fall. Pricing hasn't been set yet. The update will run in Mac OS 8.6 and later, including OS X.--PM

ADTX Steps Out of the Shadows

Off the show floor at Macworld Expo, a Japanese company that, until recently, was primarily involved with OEM products has been showing its RAID arrays.

ADTX's RAID towers all take inexpensive ATA drives and bridge them to SCSI. This gives them good performance at an affordable price. ADTX's J series hardware-based RAID tower holds four drives for a maximum of 300GB at $4,500.

ADTX is also showing an internal drive-bay device that holds two 2.5-inch drives striped in RAID 1. The drives are both ATA but the connection to the computer can be either ATA or SCSI. In case one drive fails, the second holds a mirror image of the data.--KD

Imation Looks for Big Things from Small Packages

Expect several Imation products that utilize a 500MB disk not much bigger than a postage stamp to start shipping this fall.

Imation's first offering is DiscGo, a USB player-recorder that plugs into your desktop or PowerBook. You can store and use most file types directly from the disk. Three major record companies have begun archiving music files, which will also be available sometime this fall.

Each disk can store from two to three full albums, including video segments that complement the music. DiscGo will store data for SmartMedia and CompactFlash, so you can reuse your media while on the road, without having to drag along a laptop to store files. DiscGo should be available by the end of December, for around $350.

RipGo is a small-format CD burner and music player that supports the MP3 and WMA formats. The drive will include a current version of Toast and should ship in September, with a retail price of $400.

Imation bills FlashGo as the world's first USB single-slot flash memory card reader and writer that supports all five flash memory card formats. It will be available in September for $80.--JASON COX

New Cameras? Check. New Scanners? Double-Check

As each new generation of scanners and digital cameras becomes more feature-rich and intuitive, they also become more affordable -- a trend evidenced at Macworld Expo by new products from Nikon and Epson.

Nikon has added two new cameras to the lineup it first announced in April. The 3.34-megapixel Nikon Coolpix 995 follows the successful Coolpix 990. The latest Coolpix camera features a 4x optical zoom Nikkor lens and a 4x digital zoom. The camera accepts Type I/II CompactFlash cards and can shoot up to 40 seconds in Movie Mode. It connects via USB and accepts all optional Coolpix lenses.

The new built-in Pop-up Flash in the Coolpix 995 minimizes the effect of red-eye. The $900 camera is available now.

The Nikon Coolpix 775 features a 2.14-megapixel CCD, matrix metering, USB connectivity, scene modes, and a built-in 5-mode flash. The Coolpix 775 also includes a 3x zoom Nikkor Lens and a lithium ion battery and charger. The camera features shutter speeds as fast as 1/1000, close-up capabilities, self-timer functions, and CompactFlash. The 6.5-ounce Coolpix 775 body is silvery, lightweight, and compact. The Nikon Coolpix 775 will be available this month for $500.

Epson America announced a new Epson Perfection scanner line, which includes five new products. The Perfection 2450 offers photographic image quality with 3.4 Dmax, 48-bit color-depth and 2,400-by-4,800-dpi resolution. The scanner is also equipped with a built-in 4-by-9-inch transparency adapter. Aimed at photography enthusiasts and graphic artists, the scanner will be available in early October for $399.

The Perfection 1650 and the Perfection 1650 Photo provide 1,600-by-3,200-dpi resolution, 48-bit scanning, and a four-button interface. Epson is targeting home and office users with these scanners. The Perfection 1650 Photo unit includes a built-in 35mm filmstrip adapter and Adobe Photoshop Elements. An optional 4-by-5-inch transparency unit is available for $99.

Both models are USB compatible. The Perfection 1650 and 1650 Photo will be available in early September for $199 and $249, respectively.

The Epson Perfection 1250 scanners offer 1,200-by-2,400-dpi hardware resolution, 48-bit color depth, and one-touch scanning for $129. The Perfection 1250 Photo model includes a 35mm slide adapter unit.

The Perfection 1250 and 1250 Photo scanners will be available in early September for $129 and $149, respectively.--ADRIENNE ROBILLARD

Multi-Ad Creator6

Publishing professionals have heard a lot of annoucements about upcoming Mac OS X software but have had little to put their hands on. Quark previewed QuarkXPress 5.X for OS X at the Expo keynote, but of course the company has not even announced a firm ship date for the forthcoming 5.0, which will not run in OS X.

This Wednesday, however, some competition stepped up in hopes of filling the void. Multi-Ad is now shipping Multi-Ad Creator6 for OS X.

Multi-Ad's desktop publishing software has long been used by newspapers and by companies creating ads. But the company chose to base Creator2 around Apple's ill-fated GX technology. GX suffered from printing (and other) problems and was eventually discontinued by Apple, leaving Multi-Ad -- and others -- in the lurch (see the Creator2 review ).

With Creator, Multi-Ad hopes to regain lost ground. In addition to being the first OS X layout program, it also adds new features, including PDF export and a slider for adjusting text size visually -- it actually changes the print size instead of scaling the font, which can cause output problems. It also includes a freehand drawing tool and basic premade shapes. As of this version, the program is also cross-platform.

Multi-Ad Creator6 costs $750, or $299 as an upgrade from a previous version or any page-layout program. The company also offers a $99 LE version with wizards and templates (to create calendars, for example).--SCHOLLE SAWYER MCFARLAND

Jonathan Seff, Jason Snell, Kristina DeNike, Philip Michaels, Adrienne Robillard, Scholle Sawyer McFarland and Jason Cox contributed to this report.

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