Fast forward: COMDEX sounds off for multimedia. (fall 1993 computer trade show) (Multimedia PC)
by David English
Fall COMDEX is a huge trade show. This year, the management estimated that about 170,000 people viewed over 2100 computer-related exhibits. A large portion of this normally staid convention was devoted to multimedia. In fact, the multimedia section was so big that it would have filled two-thirds of the main hall.
So what was hot in multmedia at this year's Fall COMDEX? You couldn't swing a joystick without hitting a company with a new video or sound card. Sigma Designs (510-770-0100) showed its new ReelMagic video card ($449), which offers full-motion, full-screen playback of MPEG video files. Software support for the new format will be coming from such industry stalwarts as Access, Compton's New Media, Interplay, Sierra On--Line, and Virgi. Orchid (510-683-0300) touted its Vidiola line of video cards, which use the AuraVision chip to intelligently scale AVI files to full-screen. ATI Technologies (416-882-2600) announced its new Video Wonder ($999), which combines high-performance graphics and motion video on a single card.
On the audio front, Yamaha (714-522-6637) announced its first sound card, the CBX-B1. It has built-in General MIDI and uses Yamaha's own DSP to offer such audio effects as digital dely, voice morphing, voice cancellation, pitch change, and surround sound. Creative Labs (408-428-6600) showed its new SCSI-2-based Sound Blaster 16 card ($329.95 with the ASP chip, $279.95 without) and announced future support for MPEG. Logitech (510-795-8500) touted its new SoundMan Wave ($349.00), which uses Yamaha's OPL4 chip set for high-quality General MIDI wave-table synthesis.
Other sound cards at COMDEX included the AudioBlitz Classic (Genoa, 800-93-GENOA), a 16-bit sound card that sells for just $79, and the Digital Office (Cardinal, 717-293-3114, $359), which combines full audio and fax/data modem features on a single card.
Portable sound and SCSI cards, in the guise of PCMCIA cards, are now available from DSP Solutions (415-494-8086) and New Media (714-4530100). Altec Lansing (814-234-1230) auditioned its new ACS3 powered speakers--with subwoofer--which will sell for about $200.
Media Vision (510-770-8600), best known for its sound and video cards, has jumped into the CD-ROM software business with both feet. The company showed ten titles, including two action-adventure games, called Critical Path and Quantum Gate ($79.95 each); a children fantasy game, called Forever Growing Garden ($49.95); a cross-country adventure game with trivia questions, called Peak Performance ($59.95); three titles in a new children's early learning series, called Professor Gooseberry's I Can Read Club ($49.95 each); and three titles in a CD-ROM-based daily planner series, called Personal Daily Plant ($59.95 each).
Access (800-800-4880) wowed the crowd with its new adventure CD-ROM, titled Under a killing Moon. It looks terrific and is currently scheduled to ship in March. General Media Publishing Group (800-466-9435) had them blocking the aisles to see its new interactive CD-ROm games, called Virtual Photo Shoot I, II, and lll ($99.95 each). They're the follow-ups to the company's popular Penthous Interactive (99.95), now available in a Windows version. One of the latest titles from VTGA Publishing Studio., Karaoke Macbeth, lets as many as ten players act and record their parts in a production of Shakespeare's Macbeth.
Other interesting new CDROM titles at COMDEX included Prehistoria (Grolier Electronic Publishing, 800-285-4534, price not available), Total Distortion (Pop Rocket, 415-731-9112, $99.00), Cyber-Race and Darkseed (Cyberdreams/Sony Electronic Publishing, 212-702-6273, $69.95 each), and Library of the Future, Third Edition (World Library, 800-443-0238, $395.00).
Disk-based multimedia software included Software Audio Workshop (Innovative Quality Software, 702-733-7854, $599), which lets you record four simultaneous stereo tracks with a standard Sound four simultaneous stereo tracks with a standard Sound Blaster 16, and Musicware Piano (Musicware, 800-997-4266, $99), a Windows-based program that provides piano lessons.
It's clear from Fall COMEDX that multimedia is a rapidly increasing piece of the personal computer pie. Full-motion video, high-quality sound, flashy new CD-ROM titles, and snazzy multimedia authoring tools promise to liven up our computing lives throughout 1994.