From The Floor

by: Todd Stauffer ([email protected])

How's this for a tease -- cool new systems from the Brit's number one Mac CPU vendor are hot and cheap -- it's a shame you can't actually buy one yet. At the show to shop for a distributor, Computer Warehouse Group is demonstrating its multi-colored, multi-media Mac OS workstations.

From their press release, "With the incredible success we've had in Europe, it makes sense to focus on the US now," says Johnathan Cole, Director of Computer Warehouse.

"Maximum performance, minimum dollars" may not sound like much of a slogan, but take a quick look and be your own judge:

  • The Manhattan: 604e/200, 80 MB RAM, 2MB SGRAM, 256K level 2 cache, 16x CD-ROM, 4.3 GB hard drive, mTropolis multimedia authoring software, Macromedia Freehand graphics studio and Mac OS, minitower -- $2295.
  • The Rome: 604e/200, 16 MB RAM, 2MB SGRAM, 8x CD-ROM, 1.2 GB hard drive, 3 PCI expansion slots, Mac OS, desktop -- $1395.

They offer many other systems, although it isn't clear what colors are available in what configurations. Many of the bundles are aimed directly at video producers and multimedia professionals. We can attest to seeing "rather red," "garish grey" and "bloody blue" systems (our names, not theirs). Target for US availability is the 4th quarter, says a CW spokesperson.

Total Impact is offering a show special on their PowerUP processor upgrade board for Power Mac. The 225 Mhx 604e upgrade card works in nearly any daughtercard-based system, and is going for $649.99 at the show. Check the Web site -- -- to see if you can get the deal direct.

Maybe we were the last to know, but the eMate is definitely available to consumers -- a number of vendors are selling the "power purse" here on the floor. If we can remember to ask, we'll try to drum up a price. MicroCenter is selling MessagePad 130s at the show for $379 -- not awful for something that's only a bit behind the current technology. (We're producing these updates on a MessagePad 2000, and we're thrilled to have it.)

Apple tells us that DVD drives will show up in new Macs around the beginning of the year -- they're currently showing 8600s upgraded with the CoolDVD kit from E4.

The CoolDVD stat sheet seems translated from the original Spanish, but the kit includes player software, a CoolDVD decompression card (apparently a Mac/PC hybrid PCI adapter) and the ability to play numerous languages and subtitle tracks from a single disc. System requirements are steep -- 603/300 according to the literature.

Quick update on ClarisWorks Office -- Claris' official PR says its shipping in September -- at the booth, they say, more specifically, the first or second week. Is it a Microsoft Office killer? It sure looks good, especially with the new toolbar. It's nice to pick fonts and formatting without heading to a menu.

Finally, we sat through a fabulous demo for Multi-Ad's Creator2, where much noise was made of the program's superiority to Quark. Having worked recently in a high-speed ROP ad shop, we can relate to Creator2, which was designed to quickly generate ROP ads that require product blocks -- think groceries, automotive and classifieds. Pre-release show price is $550 per station -- if you're currently a big fan of AppleScript, Quark and style libraries, you might want to look into Creator2 -- on the Web.