|[2:45 PM] MACWORLD Expo Wrap-up: Our Best Of Show Awards, DV, FireWire, & More
MACWORLD Expo is over and The Mac Observer staff has stumbled home from an incredible week. One of the things that made the show so enjoyable were the incredible new products to be found. Although there were way too many new products for them all to be mentioned here, we are singling out a few individuals for special recognition.
Best Of Show: Our Best Of Show award goes to ADTX. ADTX is a company that many Mac users may not be familiar with in the States, but this Japanese-based US$155 million a year company is well known in Asia. The company was demonstrating the 1394DRD, a digital video storage device guaranteed to knock the socks off of serious hobbyists and professionals. The 1394DRD is a FireWire (called 1394 by part of the computing world) device that allows digital video to be recorded directly to it. The current model, not available in the US market, will record up to 90 minutes of video. The next version, which will be marketed in the US, will hold twice that, be half the size and half the price. Official pricing has not yet been set. The current model is priced at US$5000.
What makes 1394DRD so fantastic is the ability to use the device as a stand alone playback unit. 1394DRD includes standard VCR-like controls that allow forward, rewind, play, stop, pause, and record functions which turns the device into a FireWire DV VCR in effect. Not only can video be played directly to your computer for editing with any video editing software, it can be played back directly to a TV with a FireWire converter from Sony. Once TVs come equipped with FireWire ports on them, 1394DRD won't even need the converter.
On the technical side, the device uses two hard drives to which the DV signal is written. ADTX is using their own proprietary writing mechanism that allows both drives to be written on simultaneously to offer the best performance possible. Light enough to be carried on the belt, though somewhat bulky in its current configuration, the device includes a built-in rechargeable battery and can be linked with other 1394DRD units in a FireWire daisy chain for continuous recording.
This product is likely to be merely the first of many such devices, but ADTX is here now. 1394DRD earns our Best Of Show award due to its innovation and utter usefulness to the DV market. Current pricing at US$5000 on 1394DRD does put it in the range of serious DV users, but the next model should be priced around US$2500 making it more affordable. Our projections (not ADTX's) is that similar devices in one from or another will be available in the US$500 range within the next 36 months, if not sooner.
You can find more information on 1394DRD at ADTX's web site.
Best Of Show (Honorable Mention): VST also showed two great products. One was the Tri-Media Reader which almost won Best Of Show simply because it was so darn cool. This USB device reads and writes floppy disks, SmartMedia, and CompactFlash media. The Tri-Media reader is compact, attractive, and works well. One can use all three drive bays simultaneously and even copy from one to the other. The Tri-Media Reader will be released in March of this year at a price of US$189.95.
VST also showed off the VST Raid Array, a FireWire RAID Array for the Mac. Steve Jobs showed the product during his keynote address. In fact, one of the drives fell out while Mr. Jobs was holding the Array, but VST says the drive still works. This device uses VST's FireWire drives and will be sold with and without them for those that already own some of the units. Pricing and availability have not been released.
Best Announcement: 3Dfx's announcement of full support for the Mac market with the Voodoo4 and Voodoo5 product line easily won our Best Announcement Award. Mac OS X was outstanding as well, but we have long known about it. 3Dfx promises to bring more gamers and more games to the Mac market with the addition of their 3D technology. In addition, the company is not doing this in a halfhearted manner and has instead devoted enormous resources to their Mac development team. More Mac gamers and More Mac games will feed off each other to help bring the Mac platform closer to being even with the PC gaming world. That in turn will help Apple sell more Macs to the consumer world. The Mac Observer welcomes 3Dfx to the Mac market with open arms and applauds the effort they are making to make their Mac offerings as good as they possibly can be.
Best Announcement (Honorable Mention): Apple's unveiling of the Mac OS X interface gets an honorable mention. Mac OS X takes computing into uncharted waters that Microsoft or the Linux world will simply not be able to equal.
Best Announcement (Honorable Mention): Creative Labs introduction to the Mac market also gets an honorable mention. Great sound for Mac consumers is here at last!
Best Booth: Iomega gets the nod here with their Jaz theme booth. As already mentioned at The Mac Observer, the company had a Beatnik Jazz band that offered product information in a cool poetry fashion. They also had a very large booth with lots of product to play with and plenty of people to answer your questions. The addition of giving away 3 sets of Iomega products each day (A Zip, Jaz, and Jaz CDR drive in each package), and more t-shirts and berets than you can shake a stick at, not to mention free water and coffee to attendees of their presentation, made their entire experience an excellent one. That is part of why the company consistently had from 75 to 200 people in attendance at their presentations throughout the Expo.
Other great booths included (in no particular order) Apple, Palm, Microsoft, Guru.com, Visor, Bungie, Macsoft, Aspyr, Power On, and others.
The Mac Observer Spin: There were more truly excellent products and lots of great ones, but these caught our eyes.
Iomega - VST - 3Dfx - Creative Labs - MACWORLD Expo SF Special Report