Rest and relaxation. (1993 CES and COMDEX computer hardware and software shows)
by Robert Bixby
REST AND RELAXATION
Time to recover from back-toback compuhypefests-com- DEX in Atlanta and CES in Chicago. For me, COMDEX was boring. Favorite quote: "The problem with COMDEX isn't so much infoglut as substanc anorexia." Said by: me.
Among the bright light were object-oriented paint programs from Micrografx (the latest version of COMPUTE Choice Award winner Picture Publisher) and Fractal Design (an add-on to COMPOTE Choice Award winner Fractal Design Painter called Painter/ X2). These paint programs allow you to paint or import objects on layers independent of the painting surface.
Also at COMDEX I saw an up-to-the-minute release of Micrografx Designer with a sharp new interface and tons of new capabilities, and a dyesublimation add-on for the Primera color printer that allows the printer to create photographic-quality color printouts on special coated paper. The add-on is only $249.95 making the final cost of the printer just $1,244.95). But get ready for a Kodak moment. The special paper and ribbon" for dye sublimation printing boost the $0.45 cost of an ordinary Primera printout to $3.00 per page.
CES, on the other hand, was not boring. But it was really, really, really, really loud. Ordinarily, you can maintain your hearing at CES through the simple expedient of avoiding the cardiac arrhythmiainducing car stereo area, but ever since sound moved to the PC, the CES floor has become a kind of blastfest, between the karaoke vendors, rock bands, and computer game sound effects. Each volume control has to be turned to 1 1 to overwhelm the noise pollution from the next booth.
Hot stuff? Lots. Like Microsoft's new Flight Simulator, which brings greater realism to the landscape, and Space Simulator, which lets you fly to distant galaxies-even generating planets to form undiscovered solar systems. Microsoft is alsq releasing a collection of nostalgia arcade games for Windows, including Asteroids, Missilecommand, Centipede, and (a game I never thought would make it to the PC) Tempest. These games feature ear- ly-eighties-style graphics that will surely bring a tear to the eye of every erstwhile quarterpumping arcade junkie. Multimedia Golf features Pro Notes from COMPUTE Books' Pro- Links: The Official Guide to Links and Microsoft Golf by former COMPUTE editor Peter Scisco.
Great parties: Dynamix chose the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry (home port of the only WWII German U-boat in the Western Hemisphere) to showcase Aces over Europe and Graue Wbife, its new convoy-sinking sub sim. Knowledge Adventure hired the Shedd Aquarium for the announcement of its latest how-the-heck-didthey-do-it floppy-based multimedia product, Undersea Adventure. Each introduction party had excellent food. And drink. The work of a journalist is tough, but somebody has to do it.
IBM is bundling a raft of Disney products with its latest PS/ 1 series of computers. The computer giant will also be put ting a lot of effort into peri erals designed to be easy to install on any machine (not just IBM machines). Watch for Windsurfer, an Mwave-based do-it-all card With sound, faxing, voice mail, and so on.
Maxis will be releasing Simcity 2000, an upgrade to its addictive Simciy game, that allows you to import your "Simcity 1.0" cities for further development. Complete with contour mapping (and lots of terraforming tools), Simcity 2000's angled view makes your cities stand out in three dimensions. New convenience features abound.
MECC is releasing a business simulator, Dinopark Tycoon, for budding entrepreneurs. it lets you develop your own Jurassic Park-like theme park while coping with budgets, crowd appeal, and ecology. Davidson is releasing Al- geblaster and a very exciting upgrade to Mathblaster, plus Kid CAD, a three-dimensional architecture program specially designed for children. The Learning Company is adding Math Rabbit and a new Reader Rabbit for the prereader called Reader Rabbit's Ready for Letters, plus a new adventure called Treasure Math- Storm. The competition is heating up nicely in educational software, yielding better, deeper, richer products across the board. What a great time to be small!
Sega and AT&T are collaborating on an online game-playing network. Details were sketchy, but this could give Sega a definite edge in the videogame-machine war.
Whatever your interests, your favorite games will probably appear in multimedia format on CD-ROM and on muchhyped 3DO (if software support is any predictor of success, 3DO may already be over the top). Virtually everything is being upgraded to multimedia and making use of the huge capacity of CD- ROM, which iooks like the distribution medium of choice.
And to all the manufacturers I left out, watch for upcoming reviews. Despite the cold Lake Michigan wind, it was a hot time in Chicago.