Tech Focus: ATI’s Versavision
Mac users were left out in the cold when Portrait Display Labs decided not to update its monitor-pivoting software for OS X. Now, thanks to ATI’s Versavision-enabled cards with hardware-accelerated display rotation and scaling, Mac graphic designers and others can once again view life vertically. Both the $399 Radeon 9800 Pro Mac Special Edition (8x AGP Pro with 256MB of DDR RAM; ADC and DVI ports; G5 only) and the $129 Radeon 9200 Mac Edition (PCI with 128MB of DDR RAM; VGA, DVI, and S-Video ports; G3, G4, and G5 support) include this technology. But Versavision isn’t available on the ATI cards that ship with Macs.
Kid Pix Deluxe 3 for Mac OS X
For years, kids have been enjoying Kid Pix painting, drawing, and animation software on the Mac. Now, after two years of work by Software MacKiev, OS X users can join the party. But the $40 Kid Pix Deluxe 3 for Mac OS X adds much more than OS X compatibility. It works with iMovie, iPhoto, and iTunes, and it lets you easily send finished artwork to friends using Apple’s Mail. The OS X version also greatly increases the work-canvas size, and it offers more than 7,000 enhanced graphics, larger buttons, and millions (instead of thousands) of colors to work with. It’s the next best thing to pencil and paper—some may say it’s better.
The next time you find yourself wandering the streets of London after a few pints too many, avoid the improper urge toward public urination and consult your trusty iPod instead. The free pPod uses the iPod’s Notes feature to help you find public rest rooms in London’s Tube and other rail stations—including hours of operation, cost (if any), and (in some cases) audio reviews by both male and female patrons. pPod even comes with MP3 files of appropriate tunes, such as Handel’s “Water Music.” No self-respecting iPod-wielding tourist—or native—should be without it.
Tactic Video Controller
VJs—people using multiple video sources for live performances—looking for a way to stand out from the crowd might want to check out Livid’s Tactic. This $2,999 handcrafted wooden device, which the company dubs a “real-time video mixing instrument,” is paired with custom OS X software (it works only on the Mac) that lets you mix and edit digital-video files on-the-fly. The kidney-shaped hardware has an LCD screen, 16 assignable sliders and knobs, and USB and MIDI connectivity, and it’s designed to rest on a keyboard stand. The proprietary software provides access to more than 4,000 QuickTime clips and 100 effects parameters, controls audio files, and takes advantage of OpenGL for compositing and 3-D effects.
One enduring Mac gamer’s lament: Macs don’t support 3-D positional audio, as most PCs do. Those days are over, thanks to M-Audio’s Revolution 5.1, a PCI card that supports OpenAL, an open standard for 3-D audio that’s seeing increasing support in Mac games. In fact, the $100 card is bundled with a Mac game—a version of Aspyr Media’s Wakeboarding Unleashed Featuring Shaun Murray that has been “remixed” for maximum surround-sound potential. The card’s minijack outputs connect to just about any 5.1 computer-speaker systems out there, and the coaxial digital output can hook up to your home entertainment system—with much less stress on the CPU than the G5’s digital output.
What’s Hot: A Quick Look at the World of Macs
1. Apple unveils the iMac G5, which features components nestled behind the display, in a thin case. The creators of the Etch A Sketch responded by immediately filing a copyright-infringement suit.
2. Apple marketing promotes the new iMac as “from the creators of the iPod.” Meanwhile, the iPod will now be touted as “from the people who had nothing to do with the Newton, no sirree.”
3. The iTunes Affiliate program offers 5 percent commissions to Web sites providing direct links to Apple’s online music store. But Web sites linking to songs from any American Idol finalist will be fined $10.
4. Microsoft unveils an online music store available through its MSN service. In keeping with a long-standing Microsoft tradition, the only songs available at the store will be cover versions of other people’s music.M-Audio Revolution 5.1 Software MacKiev Kid Pix Deluxe 3