Satisfying the senses - multimedia products mean add-on sales
- 30 April, 1997 14:20
Just a few years ago multimedia meant adding a sound card and CD-ROM drive to a PC. Now that these items are standard on most new machines, the term has expanded to cover almost any product that extends the usefulness of a PC using sound, graphics, video and input devices. This product focus looks at just some of the products available, hopefully exposing you to a technology you should be selling. These categories include: digital cameras, 3D graphics cards, CD-ROMs, multi- media monitors, joysticks, software, video and multi- media upgrade kits By Durelle FryDigital camerasOlympus Camedia - Digital cameras and printerOlympus has released two digital cameras onto the Australian market, the C-800L and C-400L. To complement these products, the Olympus P-150E digital colour printer, which offers "high quality" postcard-sized prints directly from the digital camera or a personal computer, will soon be available on the Australian market. (The distributor has told ARN that while it has no firm delivery date, it expects the printer to be available in the coming months.)Features common to both cameras are:l f2.8 high resolution aspherical glass lensl 5mm lens (equivalent to 36mm in 35mm film terms)l 4.5cm LCD viewing screenl Optical viewfinderl Flash with red-eye reduction, fill-in, and flash off modesl Macro mode for close focusing to 20cml High quality and Quality taking modesl Cables supplied for connection to Windows PC and Macl Software supplied (CD-ROM) to facilitate downloading and basic image manipulationl Direct printing to Olympus P-150E printerl Optional AC mains adaptorImages are stored in the built-in flash memory. In the Standard Quality mode, the C-800L with 6Mb capacity can record up to 120 images and the C-400L with 2Mb can store up to 80. The user can also switch to the High Quality mode for better results.
Olympus claims that the cameras offer "the highest resolution available in any digital camera for the home market". The C-800L has a 1/3in interlaced CD with 810,000 pixels while the lower priced C-400L has a 1/3in pro-gressive CCD with 350,000 pixels.
Estimated retail prices are $1999 for the C-800L and $1399 for the C-400L.
The P-150E Digital Colour Printer uses dye-sublimation thermal transfer for output on A6 postcard-sized paper. Images can be printed directly from the camera by linking it to the printer with the cable provided. They can also be printed from a personal computer.
The paper feeder can hold up to 25 sheets of A6 postcard-sized paper. The printer can use three types of stock, including exclusive paper, 16-cut sticker sheets and one-cut sticker sheets. It has 148dpi resolution and has in excess of 16.7 million colours.
Estimated retail price of the printer, when available, is $899.
Olympus products are distributed in Australia by:
R. Gunz (Photographic)
Tel (02) 9935 6600 Fax (02) 9935 6622
Offices are also in Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.
Minolta RD-175 digital camera
This camera has recently won an award for the best new professional digital camera in 1996 in the United States.
The RD-175 incorporates a Minolta Maxxum 500si camera that uses computer-controlled autofocusing and autoexposure systems to provide basic imaging capabilities.
The Maxxum 500si's camera back has been replaced with a Minolta-designed proprietary camera back, which incorporates three linear CCD digital imaging sensors (1.75 million pixels).
Images are stored on a removable 131Mb PCMCIA card, capable of storing up to 110 images. Images can be accessed using an Adobe PhotoShop plug-in module in either a Windows or Macintosh environment.
The RD-175 has an RRP of $7995 ex tax and is distributed in Australia by Kayell (HCL Professional Imaging Division).
Tel (02) 9439 9937 Fax (02) 9439 9664
Tel (03) 9690 1844 Fax (03) 9690 7346
Tel (07) 3844 3411 Fax (07) 3844 7311.
Microplex digital cameras - offer network connectivityThe NetworkEye M270s are network ser-vers designed to connect digital video cameras directly to an Ethernet LAN. The NetworkEye functions as a stand-alone Web or FTP server and is accessible from any workstation on a network. With a single Ethernet 10Base-T connection, the NetworkEye-Colour supports Connectix's Colour QuickCam for Windows, and the NetworkEye supports the black and white QuickCam.
Images from the camera can be viewed from any LAN workstation which is running a standard Web browser such as Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Explorer. By directing the Web browser to the Web server integrated into the NetworkEye, a page containing the image is displayed. The user also has access to an FTP client or remote shell command to obtain raw images directly from the unit. These raw images may then be made available to other Web servers for display, providing the security and processor capability which is required for multiple external viewers. Target markets for the NetworkEye are the office environment for monitoring unattended areas, for videoconferencing and for showing real-time images of the office facilities on its Web site; and for educational institutions as a low cost security tool.
The RRP (ex tax) is $732 for colour and $628 for black and white. The NetworkEye is available now and is distributed through Force Technology:
Tel (02) 9417 4477 Fax (02) 9417 3881
TEAC CD-516 Series CD
TEAC Corporation Data Storage Products Division has released a 16X CD-ROM Drive, the CD-516. The drive is available with ATAPI (CD-516E) or SCSI (CD-516S) interface and is therefore suitable for most applications. The drive has a 1.8 to 2.4Mb data transfer rate and 12X to 16X speed. A precision disc rotation controller automatically monitors and sets rotation speed to ensure data integrity.
The CD-516S is compatible with stand-alone systems, maximum rotation can be set to 12X or 8X, and it is equipped with a SCSI terminator reset fuse.
Power tray loading permits CDs to be loaded with one hand, and the ball-bearing spindle-motor drive adds to reliability.
The TEAC CD-516E 16 speed CD-ROM has an RRP of $237.
Southend Data Storage
Tel (02) 9749 2633 Fax (02) 9749 2152
Microtest 7-Bay DiscPort Tower - Nakamichi CD-ROM changers With this new product, users have access to up to 28 CD-ROM titles near-line in a "cost-effective, compact form". The Nakamichi MJ-4.8 is a CD-ROM changer device that allows four discs to be interchanged without a magazine.
The device fits into a single drive slot and no trays, cartridges or caddies are required to load it. CD-ROMs are inserted directly into the drive and the mechanism draws the disc into one of the four internal slots.
The changer also supports 8X rotational speed.
The RRP for the new Tower is $US5595 and is available through authorised Microtest distributors.
Computer Systems services
Tel (049) 689 199
Tel (02) 9894 6033
3D graphics cards
Creative Pacific - Graphics Blaster and . . .
The Graphics Blaster 3D is a 64-bit, 2D and 3D multimedia accelerator with 4Mb of onboard Rambus memory. The plug and play, PCI-compliant graphics card is based on the Cirrus Logic CL-GD5464 graphics controller. It has advanced 3D functions, for example perspective correction, texture compression and Z-buffering.
The 2D functions include Point Sample Video Filtering and YUV-RGB colour space conversion.
The product includes Creative Blaster Control and a SoftMPEG player which popular video formats such as Indeo, Cinepak, MS-Video 1, AVI, CD 1, Video CD 1.1, Video CD 2.0 and CD-Karaoke. The product also includes VREAM WIRL 3D Web browser and Microsoft Interactive CD Sampler.
The RRP of Graphics Blaster 3D is $249.
. . . 3D Blaster PCI
This PCI version of the Graphics Blaster is designed for Pentium-based technology.
The card comes with a Rendition Verite V1000 3D/2D Graphics and Video Processor.
It features a front-end RISC engine, perspective-correct texture mapping, bilinear filtering, anti-aliasing, z-buffering, YUV-RGB colour space conversion and SVGA acceleration.
The card accelerates all Microsoft Direct3D, DirectDraw, CGL and Rendition Speedy 3D applications. Bundled with the card is Quake (Encrypt version), Toshinden, Rebel Moon and Flight Unlimited.
The RRP of the 3D Blaster PCI is $399.
Tel (02) 9906 5577
Diamond 'Monster Sound' Audio Accelerator Diamond's Monster Sound PCI-based audio accelerator, including software bundle, is available now with an estimated RRP of $249.
Monster Sound was specifically developed to support Microsoft's DirectX API's under Windows 95. The new accelerator is capable of multi-stream audio (up to 24 independent streams), a signal-to-noise ratio >80db and quad speaker output. Monster sound also works alongside legacy audio components already existing in the end-user's computer system.
The bundle comprises four games: Outlaws; Sim Copter; Tiger Shark; and Rocket Jockey.
The product is available in Australia through distributor Chips & Bits, on:
Tel (03) 9696 1911 Fax (03) 9696 1942.
Legend 3D Delta
This card, for professional 3D applications, is designed to meet the needs of "tomorrow's 3D games" and "the committed 3D CAD user".
The product is based on the 3DLabs Permedia and Glint Delta graphic processors. The Permedia is a fully integrated 2D/3D processor which provides 2D performance with 3D features. The Glint Delta is designed to manage 3D pipe line geometry processing, operating in sync with the Permedia enhancing polygon throughput.
The Legend 3D Delta has 4Mb synchronous graphics memory, and optimised software for OpenGL, Windows 95, Direct3D, Windows NT and Autodesk's Heidi API for 3D Studio Max.
The technology is capable of delivering over 600,000 bilinear filtered texture-mapped polygons/second and 30 million bilinear filtered pixels/second.
The Legend 3D Delta has been released to both OEM and retail channels.
The Legend 3D Delta with 4Mb is expandable to 8Mb SGRAM total and the RRP is $699.
The 8Mb SGRAM model, which provides professional levels of 3D graphic, has an RRP of $799.
Major OEM customers include Byte Power in Queensland, PCU and EDYSYS in Western Australia, BBF and AH Computers in Victoria, and Lodin and Matcom in Western Australia.
Distributor and manufacturer:
Legend Performance Technology
Tel (08) 8374 2355, (03) 9281 3750,
(02) 9929 4114
ATI Cards - 3D Pro Turbo PC2TV and 3D Xpression+ PC2TVBBF Components and Peripherals is now shipping these graphics cards from ATI Technologies. They are designed to increase graphics performance for both professional and recreational users.
Both products allow users to display graphics from their computers on their television screens to play games, edit graphics in business presentations, or use the Internet.
The 3D Pro Turbo PC2TV is recommended to business users wanting to enhance desktop publishing and 3D-CAD applications. It supports MPEG video playback so that no additional hardware is required to run TV-quality, full-motion video.
Features of the product include Z-buffering, bi-linear texturing and perspective correcting. The card is compatible with all "leading" pro- fessional Windows, desktop publishing and CAD applications.
The 3D Xpression+ PC2TV allows recreational users "to turn a computer into a high-powered 3D and 2D graphics-capable machine".
The card includes 4Mb fast memory, Windows 95 Direct 3D and fast DOS acceleration, 16.8 million colour graphics, plug-and-play capability and screen adjust to change monitor and screen settings within Windows 95.
Additional features are bi-linear texturing and alpha blending which lets users blend two images together, create fog effects, and lower lighting intensity so objects appear further away from the viewer. The card has a "virtual desktop" to increase workspace for applications, ATI help Wizards, and an ATI video player to play MPEG or video with VCR controls.
Specifications common to both products are:l ATI 3D RAGE II graphics and video acceleratorl Pro Turbo - 4Mb upgradable or 4Mb memoryl High-resolution 1600 by 1200 graphics l 16.7 million colours up to 1280 by 1024 resolutionl Flicker-free refresh rates up to 200Hzl PCI local-bus compliantl VESA DDC 1/2b monitor compliant l Optional TV tuner board sold separately.
The RRP is:
3D Pro Turbo PC2TV 4Mb $489
3D Pro Turbo PC2TV 8Mb $629
3D Xpression+PC2TV 2Mb $289
3D Xpression+PC2TV 4Mb $359
An ATI Tuner Card is also available for $200. The Tuner Card only works with ATI graphics cards. Mac versions of these products are available on request.
BBF has recently been appointed as Australian distributor for ATI Technologies, and under the agreement, BBF will distribute all new products from ATI to dealers and resellers across Australia.
Tel (03) 9761 4299 Fax (03) 9761 4001
FreeD Cordless joystick
Released last month, the FreeD is a hand- held device that is designed to give game players full freedom of motion without being bound to a desk. FreeD has two thumb control buttons to fire any kind of weapon or missile and uses natural wrist and arm actions to control aim. It uses ultrasonic technology and is mouse compatible (and can also function as a cordless mouse).
The FreeD tracks and positions to within 0.2mm. Power consumption has been reduced to less than 10mA so that power can be drawn directly from the computer's serial port, eliminating the need for an external power source.
The FreeD package contains an L-shaped receiving unit which is mounted on top of the monitor, the joystick, a manual and an install diskette with 3D demos. The package is bundled with Descent II on CD-ROM.
The joystick supports MS-DOS, Windows 3.x and Windows 95 platforms and plugs into the standard serial port of most computers. System requirements are an IBM PC-compatible 386 or higher processor VGA display adapter, 1Mb RAM, MS-DOS 3.3 or higher and 3.5in floppy drive. The RRP is $150.
The FreeD is distributed exclusively in Australia by Samsung, and is sub-distributed to the retail market by Marketing Results.
Tel (02) 9957 5655 Fax (02) 9929 6208
Tel (02) 9899 5888 Fax (02) 9899 5728
Sony 'PC Conference Kit' PCB-500
This is a desktop videoconferencing kit that brings high quality and sound to medium bandwidth communications such as ISDN lines. The kit can interact with all H-320 standards-based videoconferencing systems around the world.
Included in the kit are a Sony video camera unit, Plug-and-Play PC board (PCI bus required) and a telephone handset. Menu-driven software and one-touch dialling facilitates face-to-face communications.
Picture on-screen can be finely tuned for picture quality and is scalable from full screen down to a small window, with picture-in-picture available to view data or graphics while talking. The camera uses a 60 degree angle of view and the user can add a 3X BRI board to support improved video quality at 384Kbit/sec or connect to third-party communication boards via the MVIP interface to enable connectivity such as V.35 and LAN.
Hands-free sound is available via the built-in camera microphone and an output to the PC's multimedia speakers, or alternatively using the telephone handset for privacy. A natural sound to conversations is created by the lip synchronisation and echo canceller functions, all of which can be controlled through the on-screen menu.
Sony is currently looking for distributors and resellers for the conference kit, demonstrations of which can be seen at ATUG 97. The RRP of the kit, including sales tax, is $6698.
DOOIN DVD Vision Multimedia Package
The emphasis on this product is "superb picture quality". The package provides high resolution video of 720 by 480 and the standard DVD with 4.7Gb capacity can hold up to 135 minutes of MPEG-2 encoded movies. If the user's movie DVD and sound system supports Dolby Digital (AC-3) 5.1 channels, DVD Vision will enable virtual surround-sound. The product is capable of reading any conventional CD media and the multi-angle feature enables a choice of different camera angles. The story line can be changed with the Multististory feature, while Multilingual provides eight different languages and has a multisubtitle feature providing a choice of 32 sets of subtitles.
The RRP is approximately $1200.
Tel (02) 9955 3888 Fax (02) 9955 4233.
Digital Zoomed Video for mobile PCs
Zoomed Video has been developed using the CardBus solution. CardBus uses the existing PC-Card form factor and 68-pin interface to provide enhanced performance, while maintaining backward compatibility with older cards.
New applications available to notebook users with Zoomed Video include:l Live videoteleconferencingl streaming audio and video from web sitesl video capture for digital and analog sourcesl MPEG decompression playback.
Zoomed Video provides full-screen, full-motion MPEG playback, giving notebooks a performance comparable to multimedia desktops.
Digital provides full PC-Card support in Windows 95 and Windows NT.
Digital PC Action Line
Tel 13 2393
Multimedia upgrade kits
Creative Pacific kits
Sound Blaster CD Home 16/12x INTERNETed PnP is a 16-bit Sound Card and iNFRA 12x drive with 11 Microsoft Consumer titles. The kit comprises:l Sound Blaster 16 Value PnPl Creative Infra 1800 CD-ROM drive with remote controll InfraSuite softwarel stereo speakersl iNFRA Control Panel, iNFRA Multimedia Deck and iNFRA Web Software and a wide range of software from business to education to recreation.
RRP of this kit is $499.
Sound Blaster Value CD 16/12x INTERNETed PnPThis is an entry-level kit with 16-bit Sound Cards and iNFRA 12x drive. It includes:l Sound Blaster 16 Value PnPl Creative iNFRA1800 CD-ROM drive (iNFRA Remote is optional)l stereo speakersl bundled software which includes games and reference titles.
RRP is $399.
Two higher level kits are also available: Sound Blaster Discovery CD32/12x INTERNETed PnP (RRP $549) and Sound Blaster Performance CD 64/12 INTERNETed PnP (RRP $649)Creative Pacific Tel (02) 9906 8887 Fax (02) 9906 5577SoftwareLogic Quest MMXThe Learning Company announced on the 15th April that it is handling enhanced Logic Quest, an interactive learning game for children aged eight to 14, with Intel MMX media enhancement technology.
The enhanced version of Logic Quest provides richer colour and depth when played on machines using Intel MMX technology, as well as full screen view in both 800 by 600 and 1024 by 768 modes. (Originally the full screen view was only available in 640 by 480 mode). Logic Quest also takes advantage of Microsoft's DirectX libraries to optimise video capabilities and processing speed.
Logic Quest requires a PC with a 60MHz Pentium processor or better with 8Mb of RAM, double-speed CD-ROM drive, 256-colour SVGA monitor and Windows compatible sound card. The program requires DOS 5.0 or higher, Windows 3.1 or higher (including Windows 95) and a mouse (joystick optional). The RRP is $79.95.
Logic Quest is published by The Learning Company (formerly SoftKey International) and distributed by Dataflow Computer Services.
Tel (02) 9417 9700 Fax (02) 9417 9797
Philips Brilliance monitors
There's a new range of 15 to 21in monitors from Philips, offering increased scanning frequencies, USB and Philips' proprietary CustoMax interactive monitor software.
They also have multimedia speakers and a "smiling" microphone built in. They ship with power management and PowerFactor Correction circuitry.
Special features include: brightness uniformity (plus minus 5 per cent anywhere on the screen); colour uniformity; and geometry distortion below 1 per cent anywhere on the screen.
The USB connector will allow a single cable for monitor, mouse, printer, keyboard and so on. It is hot-pluggable, allowing devices to be added and removed while the system is running.
An example of the Brilliance range is the B105 15in (13.7in visible) monitor with resolution up to 1280 by 1024, horizontal scanning between 30 and 66KHz, vertical scanning between 50 and 110Hz and 0.28mm dot pitch. It also has front-firing speakers and microphone plus software. RRP ex tax is $538.
The B4500AX is a 14.5in colour LCD desktop screen, also with speakers. RRP is $5410 ex tax.
Philips distributors include: Vantage Point Technology (NSW, Vic and Qld), Focal Point Technology (NSW and Vic), Alpha Electronics (WA) and BMS Technology (SA).
Graphics suite for any office
Micrografx hopes that any business user wishing to escape corporate blandness will consider its Graphics Suite 2 for their graphics needs. Micrografx says Suite 2 is the only professional graphics package standardised on Microsoft's 32-bit products, with drag and drop integration of graphical elements into Microsoft office applications. Suite 2 also supports Microsoft's spelling corrector, the Office binder, and is compatible with the IntelliMouse pointing device.
The components that make up the Suite are: FlowCharter 7, Designer 7, Simply 3D 2, Picture Publisher 7, Media Manager 2 and QuickSilver 3. The final component provides plug-in and Active X control for the World Wide Web. The product also includes 35,000 clip art images and 250 typefaces.
Recommended retail price for Micrografx Graphics Suite 2 is $545, while the upgrade price for users of ABC Graphics Suite is $195.
Tel (02) 9415 2642 Fax (02) 9415 2641