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Fred Does Macworld Washington

It’s been several years since Macworld Expo ventured into the nation’s capital. This Expo was called the Summit, held in Washington D.C. May 10 – 12, and should be called the show of contrasts.

You’ll undoubtedly read other reports on Macworld Expo Summit, some good, some not so good, and I suspect my impressions will be somewhat different from most other reviewers. For me, the pleasant surroundings, comfortable, relaxed atmosphere, and the friendly attitudes made this show a pleasure.

The Macworld regulars seemed compelled to compare this Macworld to Boston, so I will too. No, it was not Boston. It was a small show with nowhere near as many exhibitors or as much glitz. But, it was a quality show with quality displays and quality sessions.

This Macworld Expo offered a unique experience. You could actually meet the exhibitors and play with their product offerings. I didn’t miss the big Mac-moguls like Microsoft, La Cie, Aldus, and others who usually dominate the show. Show attendees had a great opportunity to discover little-known vendors that seldom get much attention in Boston and San Francisco. I signed up for several free magazine subscriptions including Digital Imaging Magazine, and Digital Video Magazine. I also picked up the latest AISB Glitch Report which exposes problems and "glitches" from imaging centers all around the country.

Impressions — I guess the threat of "government" kept many of the gimmick hawkers and frivolous Mac-obilia vendors away. Macworld Washington had the crisp tone of serious productivity. Network, workgroup, desktop publishing, presentations, connectivity and multimedia were the key words. Everyone wanted to sell you some power, and most had the words "PC" or "Windows" built into their pitch. I saw some superb presentation productions. Not the usual PowerPoint stuff, but some knockout visual displays. The "Creation, Authoring, and Development Tools" session with Karen Rall, Marcus Frank, Paul Gibertson and Nina Tovish, alone was worth the price of admission! Radius gave a stunning multimedia show, running real-time video with a dazzling display of GIF files which were actually being downloaded, decompressed and displayed from America Online in the background. Avid Technology showed their outstanding desktop video production system Media Suite Pro with Media Composer 1000.

A Publisher’s Mecca — I’m the sort who looks for printing and publishing excitement. Here was something for everyone in the publishing biz, from the large to the small. I took a spin on various impressive color printers, Canon’s CJ 10 desktop full-color copier, scanner and printer, the Tektronix Phasers, and Seiko’s awesome new ColorPoint2. Seiko also did a nice demo of their ColorStic products for signs displays, iron-on products for T-shirts, mugs and color plaques. Kodak took the time to chat with me, switching from paper to overhead film to demonstrate the ColorEase system’s capabilities to produce color overheads. The ColorEase, folks, is by and far the nicest color overhead printer I’ve seen to date, and it sells for under $7,000! Precision Type was handing out Fonts disks, and I had a nice chat with Bonnie Schmidt of Precision Type about their new "art" fonts. (If you missed the show, you’ll want to call them at 800/248-3668 and see if they’ll honor their $5.00 font sampler special.) For the high-end folks, the 3M Rainbow Color Proofing System was churning out some competition-crunching pre-press color powers. Too rich for my blood.

Art & Arts for the Artist — Some new clip art publishers were present, along with well-established ones. One Mile Up was showing their new line of clip art CDs, and I had the opportunity to take a look at their high-quality offerings, and chat with the artist. Nice stuff.

Maps? I got my first look at Digital Wisdom’s Mountain High Map Frontiers, an incredible collection of relief maps on CD. If you need maps of the world, or the oceans in wonderful, full-color relief, this one is stunning! If you use people in your publishing you’ll definitely want to contact Digital Wisdom and get info on their new BodyShots series. Styled after the famous Fairburn system, and the popular concepts of figure reference books, BodyShots features hundreds of people posing in an amazing array of situations. They’re all high quality photos, shot on a knock-out-white background. Call them at 800/800-8560.

The highlight of this Macintosh show for me, however, was not a Mac at all. Now I can forget about the "power" PCs and "power" Macs. Now I know what Apple meant to deliver, but didn’t. I got to test-drive the Indigo2 workstation from Silicon Graphics. Imagine selecting all, and applying a Gaussian blur to a 32-bit, full-page Photoshop file and have it appear the instant the mouse clicks. Note I said appear – not redraw. Or, imagine issuing Kai’s Spherize command and see it as you look up at the monitor. All for a few dollars more than a dressed-out Power Mac. I’m saving up, starting today! CAUTION: Could be too fast for heart patients, pregnant women, or those prone to nosebleeds. [To be fair, I should note that although the Indigo is a great graphics workstation, it’s just that, a Unix workstation, and your existing Macintosh software won’t run, so you’ll have to replace everything with the Indigo-specific versions of programs like Photoshop or completely different Indigo programs. -Adam]

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