Editorial license. (10 top products viewed at spring 1994 COMDEX) (Editorial)
by Clifton Karnes
Spring COMDEX, held this past May in Atlanta, was the site for a tropical heat wave. Attendees tried to keep cool by wearing Bermuda shorts and sipping mint juleps. I decided that the only way to fight the heat was to look for cool products, so here is the fruit of my labor--an ice chest of the ten coolest products I saw at this year's show.
10. Microsoft may have created a monster with Access 2.0 (206-882-8080, $495). It's one of the few products that have reached the elusive goal of all software: It's easy to use and powerful. And queries are 100 times faster than version 1.1's.
9. If you think UPSs are boring, take a look at the SmartUPS 400 from APC (800-800-4272, $399). When teamed with the company's PowerChute software, this power tool will protect your computer from surges, brownouts, and outages, and if the power goes out when you're away from your PC, PowerChute will close your files.
8. If you think you have some artistic talent and just need the right vehicle to express it, Fractal Design's Dabbler (408-688-5300, $99) is the program you're looking for. It's designed to teach you how to paint with a computer, and its tools look like real-world paint media.
7. PagePlus made my COMDEX list last year, and here it is again in a new version with new features, the same great easy-to-use interface, and the same amazingly low price--$60 (Serif, 603-889-8650). If you're into desktop publishing, take a look at PagePlus.
6. U-Lead Systems was a winner last year with ImagePals. This year, the company is back with MediaStudio (310-523-9393, $349). This terrific toolkit includes all the excellent modules in ImagePals 2, plus video, sound, and morph editing.
5. Creating 3-D objects is all the rage these days, and the best 3-D program I saw at COMDEX was Caligari's trueSpace (415-390-9600, $795). This cool rendering program can create the most complex objects with just a few clicks and keystrokes.
4. Blue Sky Software was on my list last year, and it's here again with MulitiMedia WinHelp (619-459-6365, $199). MultiMedia WinHelp is a set of tools that make it easy for Windows Help authors to integrate video, sound, and other neat effects into regular Windows Help documents.
3. In third place there's a tie between the Texas Instruments 4000M multimedia notebooks (800-848-3927) and IBM's Thinkpad 360 (914-766-1900). The top-of-the-line 4000M comes with a 75-MHz 486DX4 and a 340MB hard disk in a striking new design with a TrackPoint-like pointing device and an integrated sound system ($5,299). An optional CD-ROM drive makes the 4000M really sing. The Thinkpad 360 boasts rock-solid construction, a great keyboard, and IBM's innovative TrackPoint ($1,999).
2. WinFax Pro 3.0 is a super program, but WinFax Pro 4.0 (Delrina, 800-268-6082, $129) is even better. New features include folders with a drag-and-drop interface and the ability to send binary data and E-mail. Super add-on services include Fax MailBox (like E-mail for faxes) and Fax Broadcast (which allows you to send multiple faxes at one time).
1. At the top of my list this year is Sidekick for Windows from Simplify Software, a division of Borland (800-336-6464). Sidekick is a full-featured PIM with enough power to make the heavyweights tremble, and it's easy enough to use to make anyone who isn't already using a PIM want to jump on board. Sidekick has a great interface and an almost unbelievable price--$29.95. Wow! Buy one for each of your friends.