Multimedia megashow. (1994 International Conference on Multimedia and CD-ROM) (Fast Forward)
by David English
This year's inter media show was bigger than ever. In fact, so many multimedia companies wanted to exhibit at the show that there wasn't enough space for all of them.
Among the most exciting CD-ROM titles at the show were five new ones from DK Multimedia (212-213-4800), a new multimedia division of Dorling Kindersley Publishing, the company that supplied most of the graphics for Microsoft Dinosaurs and Microsoft Musical Instruments. The five titles are The Way Things Work, based on David Macaulay's best-selling book of the same name; Stephen Biesty's Incredible Cross-Sections Stowaway!, based on Stephen Biesty's Cross-Sections Man-of-War, which shows, in intricate detail, the sections of an eighteenth-century English fighting ship; My First Incredible, Amazing Dictionary, a lively 1000-word dictionary designed for children ages 4 to 7; The Eyewitness Encyclopedia of Science, based on Dorling Kindersley's excellent Eyewitness series of books for kids; and The Ultimate Human Body, which includes 3-D imagery and detailed microphotography. All five titles look great, but prices weren't announced, and the titles won't ship until fall.
Of course, Microsoft (800-426-9400) isn't standing still. It announced five new CD-ROMs: Microsoft Bookshelf '94 ($99.00), which brings one-click access to its seven reference books; Microsoft Complete Baseball ($79.95), which lets you add daily baseball statistics by going online; Dangerous Animals ($79.95), which features 250 animals, 100 videos, and 1000 informative articles; Ancient Lands ($79.95), which lets you explore the ancient worlds of Egypt, Greece, and Rome; and Multimedia Strauss ($79.95), which includes full recordings of "Don Juan," "Death and Transfiguration," and "Till Eulenspiegel."
Media Vision (800-845-5870) added three new titles to its growing list of CD-ROMs. They are Grammy's Interactive (price not available), which features performances from 35 years of Grammy Awards telecasts; Road Scholar ($59.95), which tests your knowledge of the different regions of the United States; and Wiggins in Storyland (price not available), a writing program for young children.
A longtime leader in CD-ROM titles, Compton's New Media (619-929-2500) announced two new titles: a John Lennon CD-ROM ($69.95), which is scheduled to ship sometime in the fall, and Babylon 5--The Universal Encyclopedia (price not available), which provides back-ground information on both the fictional universe and the production of the popular science-fiction television series.
Other new CD-ROM titles at inter media included MegaRace ($59.95) from The Software Toolworks (415-883-3000), a fast-paced car race that features excellent 3-D-rendered graphics; The Big Bug Alphabet Book ($39.95) and Animal Tales ($49.95) from Avtex (408-371-2800), based on two award-winning early-learning books; and MPGNET (800-GET-GAME), an online game network that uses a CD-ROM to minimize the amount of data that has to be sent over the phone line.
Along with the large number of new CD-ROM titles, there were quite a few disk-based multimedia applications, including MusicTime 2.0 ($149) from Passport (415-726-0280), an easy-to-use music composition and notation program; true-Space ($795) from Caligari (415-390-9600), a powerful 3-D modeling program that's easier to use and less expensive than 3D Studio; and ToolBook 3.0 (price not available) and Multimedia ToolBook 3.0 (price not available) from Asymetrix (800-448-6543), the latest versions of the powerful multimedia authoring programs.
On the hardware side, Axonix (800-466-9797) announced the CardStation ($400-$800, depending on the configuration). It plugs into any Type II PCMCIA slot and lets you add various combinations of drives and ISA cards to most notebook computers. Logitech (510-795-8500) announced its new video and audio capture board, which sells for just $299. In addition to capturing video, it functions as a Windows sound board and includes Adobe's Premiere for Windows 1.1. And multimedia audio took a giant leap forward when SRS Labs (714-442-1070) auditioned its SRS 3-D sound technology. It works with both mono and stereo sound and doesn't require the listener to sit in a specific location to hear the effect.