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Macworld Superlatives

At a trade show with thousands of products, it’s impossible to see everything, or even all the important things. If you missed some of these products, or if you missed Macworld Boston entirely, please contact the companies mentioned below and tell them you read about their products in TidBITS. Some of these products may receive more in-depth coverage later on, but we wanted to get some of the juicy details to you right away.

Sensible Color Output — If you want to spend many thousands of dollars, buy one of the fancy Tektronix or SuperMac dye sublimation printers that takes forever to spit out a photo-realistic page. If all you need photo realism, however, consider Nikon’s new CoolPrint. It’s a $1,995 small-format dye sublimation printer that’s perfect for printing photos and color proofs.

Nikon — 516/547-4200 — 516/547-0305 (fax)

Lamest Booth Staff — When you can wander around a booth looking interested in the products, then talk out loud about competing products while two salespeople chatter away to each other, something’s wrong. Asante Technologies needs train its sales staff before the next trade show to learn how to strike up conversations with potential customers.

Asante — 800/662-9686 — 408/752-8388

Growth Property — A brand-new, small company called VST received our "Best Battery" award at last August’s Macworld Expo, so we’re pleased to see they have grown enormously since then. Their large booth showcased a wide variety of laptop batteries, chargers, and related products. Good for them. /P>

VST — 508/287-4600 — 508/287-4068 (fax)<

Cable Marathon — Do you wish SCSI cable chains weren’t so limited in length? Add ATTO Technology’s Silicon Express 4D NuBus card to your Mac and you can string your devices up to 81 feet away from the computer. Sounds great for secure installations or rooms where you’d rather not have loud devices. [We have a friend who pursues quiet by keeping his Macintosh IIfx on one side of a wall and his monitors, mouse, floppy drive, and keyboard on the other. -Tonya]

ATTO –716/ 688-4259

Mixed Feelings — CE Software’s new QuickMail 3.0 looks good, and we want to be impressed, but evidence suggests the MailManager feature (see TidBITS-237) won’t be as useful for real-life use. For MailManager to process incoming messages, your computer must stay on, and your connection to QuickMail must stay active. Such features would be best implemented at the server.

CE — 800/523-7638 — 515/224-1995

Best Connectivity — One reason ISDN hasn’t caught on as strongly as it could have is the variety of non-compatible hardware on the market. 4-Sight L.C. (previously CommFORCE) offers ISDN management software that bridges the gap not only among different ISDN services and cards, but between ISDN and such otherwise-incompatible services as Switched 56.

4-Sight — [email protected] — 515/221-2100 –800/448-3299 (fax) — +44 (0) 202 764401 (UK) — +44 (0) 202 761666 (UK fax)

Biggest Shame — Dayna Communications was among the vendors showing wireless network solutions, including a PCMCIA LocalTalk card. Pity the card won’t work on a Newton MessagePad! According to Dayna, the MessagePad can’t supply enough power to PCMCIA devices, even when the devices don’t try to draw more than the PCMCIA design allows for. Meanwhile, a wireless PCMCIA LocalTalk card could come in handy for 500-series PowerBook users.

Dayna — 800/531-0600 –801/531-0600

Best Paging Software — As has been customary the last few years, many vendors demonstrated software designed to send text messages to electronic pagers. Congrats to Desktop Paging Software for its NeuroPage product, which automates a schedule of messages for dozens of individual recipients. Originally designed to remind patients to take their medicines, the software could also work wonders for disorganized executives.

Desktop Paging Software — 716/634-9010 — 716/634-9003 (fax) — [email protected]

Bundle of Joy — Ex Machina is understandably pleased; their paging MSAM (a personal gateway extension for Apple’s PowerTalk messaging software) has been licensed by Apple to be included in all CD-ROM copies of System 7.5 retail packages. Anyone with System 7.5 will be able to send pages to electronic paging service subscribers with no further software. (A modem is required.) Diskette packages of 7.5 won’t include this, or the variety of other tools included on the CD.

Ex Machina — 718/965-0309

PostScript Big & Fast — Xante Corporation made a name for itself by offering accelerated, high-resolution PostScript-compatible printer controllers to replace the aging logic boards in Apple’s and Hewlett-Packard’s older printer models. More recently, the company started selling its own complete printers. This year, they took advantage of the lower price of real Adobe PostScript Level 2 and built it into their latest printer, the Accel-a-Writer 8200. It’s an 11 x 17 inch 1,200 dot per inch printer that can even print 11 x 25 at lower resolutions.

Xante — 205/476-8189 — 205/476-9421 (fax)

Cutest Feature Name — Fractal Design Painter 3.0 is impressive for so very many reasons, but it gets this award for its "image hose" feature. Just create a variety of images of a type of object (for example, nineteen discreet images of clover) then use the image hose to paint with that object; it randomly scatters the different versions. Instant clover field! No more laborious cutting and pasting to get the desired montage effect.

Fractal Design — 408/688-8800

Happy Anniversary! — Hewlett-Packard had its usual array of printers on display at Macworld, but what’s most noteworthy is that they’re celebrating ten years in the printer market, going back to the original LaserJet (and five years to the first DeskWriter, a major breakthrough in the low-end Macintosh printing arena). Other players in the field have been selling printers longer (Apple and Epson are two easy examples) but HP has come a long way, offering great laser, inkjet, and color solutions at both low- and high-end prices.

HP — 800/752-0900 — 301/670-4300

If You Can’t Beat ‘Em — Bravo to Iomega Corp. for snapping up Nomai’s SyQuest-compatible 44 and 88 MB cartridges and getting past the legal red tape to bring them to market. The company claims they’re much more reliable than SyQuest’s own product, but either way the product alternative will be good for the market and good for the end user’s wallet.

Iomega — 800/947-0928 — 801/778-3000 — 801/778-3748 (fax)

Best Drive for Video — Doing a lot of video processing? Want to show high-resolution video presentations at their best? Don’t get a general-purpose hard drive. The latest 2 and 4 GB AV-model drives from Micropolis seem to far outstrip the competition when it comes to sustained data transfer rate, which is critical for continuous video display.

Micropolis — 818/709-3300

Why Didn’t I Think of That? — If you live in the area from Boston north to Concord, NH, and from Route 495 to the Atlantic, you needn’t ever worry about your laser printers again if you subscribe to the Page After Page service. Subscribers simply call the service when their low-toner lights become worrisome. Within an hour or so, a technician will arrive, remove your old cartridge, thoroughly clean the printer, and insert a new cartridge, all for a bit less than you’re paying for your toner cartridges now. Saves time and eliminates the need to keep cartridges on hand. How do they do it? The New Hampshire-based company imports toner "by the ton, literally" and makes its own cartridges. Since each remanufactured cartridge has a brand-new drum, we’re not as concerned as we are with most rebuilt and refilled cartridges.

Page After Page — 800/441-0539 — 603/595-2522 — 603/598-4277 (fax)

Can I Play? — Parsoft and ThrustMaster get the award for most compelling game setup, complete with a fighter plane’s ejector seat set in front of three large-screen monitors in a row. The wide-angle flight simulator display (created simply by dragging the window to cover all three monitors) was stupendous. Add to that ThrustMaster’s foot-pedal rudder game controller, its joystick controller, and weapons pod, and you’ve got a serious looking game machine.

ThrustMaster — 503/639-3200 — 503/620-8094 (fax)

Get It There Now — When you copying files, you want them copied now. That’s the idea behind such copy accelerators as CopyDoubler. RAD Unlimited Networking (RUN) Inc. takes super-fast copying a step further by accelerating file copies over a network (and opening/saving of three specific file formats over a network). The company’s upcoming RunShare product watches your network and lobs extra packets into spaces in the data stream, which is rarely close to full. (Apple’s protocols are too polite when it comes to point-to-point traffic.)

RUN — 408/353-8423 — 408/353-8984 (fax)

Nifty Storage Product — SyQuest makes up for its sour-grapes attitude towards Iomega with an upcoming PCMCIA storage product. The device, a type III PCMCIA card (which will work in stacked type II slots), is a complete removable-cartridge drive. It uses SyQuest’s 1.8 inch 80 MB cartridges, which look just like the company’s 5.25 inch cartridges – except much, much smaller. The PCMCIA card won’t work on a MessagePad (which has just one type II slot), but we see tremendous potential for 500-series PowerBooks and DOS-compatible laptops. Imagine mailing a few hundred megabytes in a business-sized envelope.

SyQuest — 510/226-4000 — 510/226-4102 (fax)

Best Text Tool — Word processors keep getting bigger and bigger, but some people just need to write and edit ordinary text. For those folks, BBEdit from Bare Bones Software, is right up on top. In the words of one user, the new version 3.0 "still doesn’t suck." Among the ways it doesn’t suck are good support for such System 7.5 features as AppleScript and PowerTalk, PowerPC native code in many time-consuming components, and quite a bit of extensibility, which make it great for programmers or managers of World-Wide Web sites.

Bare Bones — 508/651-3561 — 508/651-7584 (fax) –[email protected]

Most Exciting Revival — Only long-time Mac fanatics are likely to remember Dark Castle and Beyond Dark Castle. Delta Tao Software, Inc., the company that brought us Color MacCheese and Spaceward Ho! among other nifty programs, has just acquired these games from Aldus and is working on color versions that’ll run on Macs of the ’90s. Delta Tao showed Dark Castle ’95 at the Expo, and it looked great!

Delta Tao — 800/827-9316 — 408/730-9336 — [email protected]

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