New multimedia products. (software and hardware) (Buyers Guide)
by Lisa Young
Clear the Floor
Instead of going to the gym, you can now just turn on your computer for a personalized aerobics workout. Fitness Partners, released by Computer Directions, develops customized workouts based on your weight-loss or muscle-toning goals.
The CD-ROM compiles your workout from 75 full-motion video exercises and includes video and audio instruction from Roni Smaldino, an IDEA-certified aerobics instructor. Fitness Partner can design as many as nine personalized routines for ten different users. The program also electronically tracks seven different measurements and goals for each person.
You can design your own routine by mixing and matching the 75 exercises, setting the speed and number of repetitions for each movement, and choosing your favorite music. If you're unfamiliar with a particular exercise, you can use the learning mode to find out how to perform a movement.
New Entry-Level Multimedia PC
If you've been thinking about buying an entry-level multimedia computer, this could be the time to do it. Radio Shack has introduced the Tandy Multimedia Personal Computer, a fully equipped 80486-based multimedia PC priced at less than $1,600.
The package includes a Photo CD-compatible CD-ROM drive, a Sound Blaster Pro 8-bit audio card, Super VGA graphics, 64MB of RAM (expandable to 64MB), a 130MB SmartDrive hard disk, and two 16-bit expansion slots.
The Tandy Multimedia PC ships with several multimedia programs, including The Animals!, The Software Toolworks World Atlas, Toolworks Reference Library, and America Online. The package also includes DOS 6, a multimedia version of Windows 3.1, and a multimedia version of Microsoft Works for Windows.
No More Sacrifice
Why should you have to settle for an 8-bit sound card just to save money? With Media Vision's Pro Audio 16 Basic, you can add CD-quality sound to your computer for less than $200.
Compliant with both MPC Leve 1 and Level 2 standards, the Pro Audio 16 Basic offers 16-bit stereo digital audio recording and playback to 44.1 kHz, an on-board FM synthesizer, a software-controlled mixer, MIDI support, and a game port. It also supports DOS, Windows 3.1, Windows NT, OS/2 2.1, and NextStep, and it's compatible with the Pro AudioSpectrum 16, Sound Blaster, and Ad Lib sound cards.
The Pro Audio 16 Basic package includes DOS and Windows software, including Media Vision's Pocket Tools (which allows recording, editing, and mixing under Windows 3.1), Dinosaur Adventure from Knowledge Adventure (which lets you explore the prehistoric era of dinosaurs through full-motion video and stereo sound), and a QuickStart installation program.
Sight and Sound
Sony has introduced two computer peripherals designed to bring multimedia and video conferencing applications to the PC. The PCS-V2 and PCS-V4 combined audio and video components into a single compact unit that fits on top of a desktop computer monitor.
Both products have a high-quality color video camera, undirectional microphone, speaker, volume control, and audio mute switch. You can vertically adjust the camera and manually activate a privacy shutter to disengage the video capabilities. The PCS-V4 will be available with a full-duplex echo cancellation feature to reduce unwanted echo.
The PCS-V2 and the PCS-V4 work with most types of computers and can be networked in a number of ways. They can also function as audio and video input devices for other multimedia applications.
The PCS-V2 is scheduled to ship in November, while the PCS-V4 should be released sometime in 1994.
Monitors That Sing
If you're looking for a monitor to use with multimedia and CD-ROM applications, consider the Brillance 15, an autoscanning monitor with stereo audo capabilities built in.
The Brillance 15 includes a stereo amplifier, speakers, headphone jack, and user-adjustable volume control. It has a maximum resolution of 1024 x 768 at 72 Hz. It also uses a 0.28mm dot pitch, as well as a flat, square, black matrix tube for high contrast and brillant color redition.
Other high-performance display functions include Constant Vertical Raster, which automatically maintains the correct vertical image height for all display modes, and Advance Monitor Deflection Control, which allows fast, stable switching between display modes without disturbing transient distortion effects.
The Brilliance 15 is backed by a two-year parts-and-labor warranty and has a mean time between failures of 50,000 hours.
Lights, Camera, Interaction
VirtualCinema, from Hyper-Bole Studios, is a technology that creates three-dimensional, interactive films on CD-ROM. It uses live actors, gives you a 360-degree perspective of the environment, and lets you peek into the minds of the characters. According to the company, you actually think the characters' thoughts and recall their memories.
With VirtualCinema, you can go at your own speed, repeating sections or following interesting tangents. Several popular types of interactive films are planned, including drama, comedy and science fiction.
HyperBole plans to begin shipping its first VirtualCinema product by Christmas, with more titles scheduled for release in 1994.