Hot new multimedia products from COMDEX. (Fast Forward)
by David English
The temperature wasn't the only thing heating up at the recent COMDEX in Atlanta. Much of the computer show was devoted to the hottest growth area in computing: multimedia software and hardware.
On the software side, 7th Level (214-437-4858) threw a big COMDEX party to launch Monty Python's Flying Circus's Secret to Intergalactic Success [Earth Edition]. The CD-ROM is full of clips from the popular television series, as well as animation from Python animator, Terry Gilliam. The highlight of the evening was the crowd's singing "The Lumberjack Song" in s nc with the program.
Back on the floor of the show, Virgin (800-874-4607) demonstrated The 11th Hour: Sequel to The 7th Guest, which contains twice as much full-motion video as its predecessor. Living Books (800-521-6263) previewed two new Living Books: Ruff's Bone and Little Monster at School. Ruff's Bone grew from a collaboration between Broderbund and (Colossal) Pictures and is the funniest Living Book so far. Like the first Living Book, Just Grandma and Me, Little Monster at School is based on a children's book by Mercer Mayer. Grolier Electronic Publishing (203-797-3500) demonstrated 1994 Guinness Multimedia Disc of Record ($49.95), which includes the paperback version of Guinness Book of Records.
Other new CD-ROM titles at COMDEX included Medio Magazine (Medio Multimedia, 206-867-5500, $9.95 per issue or $59.95 for a 12-month subscription), a family-oriented CD-ROM magazine with special emphasis on news, entertainment, and education; Millennium Auction (Eidolon, 718-884-7095, $69.95), a futuristic art auction game with highly realistic 3-D characters; Lower Your Score with Tom Kite (IntelliPlay, 800-357-5237, $79.95), a golf-training CD-ROM that features professional instruction through live-action video; and CD-ROMANCE (Romulus Productions, 800-266-4557, $49.95), a CD-ROM-based singles magazine with photos, video clips, and profile screens of eligible men and women.
Disk-based multimedia software at COMDEX included the multimedia presentation program Action 3.0 (Macromedia, 800-756-9603, $199.00 for the disk version and $299.00 for the CD-ROM version with 230MB of ClipMedia), which now includes an outliner, spelling checker, and 300 templates; MediaStudio (Ulead Systems, 310-523-9393, $349.00), which includes video capture, video editor, audio editor, image editor, morph editor, media management, screen capture, and file conversion modules in a single package; MediaShop (Motion Works, 415-541-9333, $299.00 with Visual Basic and $249.00 without Visual Basic until August 31, 1994, and then $695.00 and $595.00, respectively), which ad a complete set of multimedia tools to Visual Basic, Visual C++, and other popular languages; and Melody Maestro (Blue Ribbon Software, 404-315-0212, $79.95), which lets you sing into the included microphone and have the program convert your melody into a full MIDI-based song using a variety of musical styles.
On the hardware side, TEAC (213-726-0303) introduced its SuperQuad 4X AT CD-ROM drive, a quad-speed CD-ROM drive with a list price of $750. MediaMagic (800-624-8654) announced the Telemetry-32 ($399), a combination audio, modem, and telephony board that uses a new AT&T DSP chip for truly simultaneous audio, voice, and data functions. Creative Labs (800-988-5227) previewed an expansion board that lets you play 3DO software on a standard MPC Level 2 IBM-compatible PC. It should be available this winter, though no price was announced.
Roland (213-685-5141) showed its Roland SoundCanvas DB ($229), a wave-table MIDI daughter-board for Sound Blaster 16 sound cards; it offers a dedicated microprocessor for more expressive sounds. ALR (800-444-4ALR) showed a similar wave-table daughter-board, called the ALR Kurzweil Wave Express Module ($399). It uses the Kurzweil chip set, which has the best MIDI piano I've heard. And Turtle Beach (800-645-5640) demonstrated the Turtle Beach Daytona ($499). It's a high-end PCMCIA sound card that includes 16-bit audio, 128 wave-table General MIDI sounds, and the ability to sample WAV files and use them as MIDI instruments.