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September 16th, 1999

[4:30 PM] Diamond Ships Home Networking Solution

Diamond Multimedia has announced that their home networking solution for USB Macs is now shipping. HomeFree Phoneline USB allows USB Macs to network across the phone lines in their homes. The product comes with substantial software additions and is priced aggressively. According to Diamond:

Diamond Multimedia Systems, Inc. today announced shipment of HomeFree(tm) Phoneline USB, the PC industry's first USB home networking product with cross-platform support. Diamond's HomeFree Phoneline USB product allows consumers to quickly install home networking hardware and begin sharing Internet access, peripherals and multiplayer games between PC and Macintosh computers.

"Consumers don't need to open their computer cases to install this product," said Jim Cady, president of Diamond Multimedia's Communications Division. "If you can hook up an external modem, you can install HomeFree USB. Plug in the USB pin connector, plug in the phone cords, install the CD software, and you're off and running with simultaneous Internet access, gaming, printing and more - regardless of whether you have Macs or PCs." How Consumers Win with Cross-Platform USB

The HomeFree Phoneline USB product provides PC and Macintosh users with a solution that is easy to install and works across multiple platforms. HomeFree Phoneline USB simply plugs into a computer's USB port and is automatically detected at startup. The product CD then prompts the user to continue with installation. The connection permits sharing between Windows 95- and 98-based systems and iMac and Power Macintosh G3 computers. Now, for the first time, consumers can easily and affordably network a Macintosh with a Windows-based PC. Switch between Office and Home Networks

Many business professionals often need access to home and office networks from a single laptop computer. As a result, HomeFree USB includes AlterNet(tm), a Diamond-designed network switching software that allows consumers to easily change a mobile computer's network profile. With the touch of a button, consumers can quickly switch their network profile between the Ethernet environment at work and their Diamond HomeFree home networking setup at home. Pricing and Availability

Diamond's HomeFree Phoneline USB product features a Lite version of Miramar Systems' award-winning PC MACLAN software that enables PCs and Macintosh computers to share files, drives, printers and other peripherals.

Also included with the HomeFree Phoneline USB product are versions of Vicomsoft's SurfDoubler software for both Macintosh and for Windows that provides for the sharing of a single Internet connection between two computers, using a Macintosh computer as the Internet sharing PC.

Featuring AMD's PCnet(TM)-Home networking controller, the HomeFree Phoneline USB product uses existing home phonelines to link multiple computers and is based upon the HomePNA (Home Phoneline Networking Alliance) network standard, which stems from Tut System's HomeRun technology. AMD's PCnet-Home controller is the industry's first single chip solution that is based on the widely endorsed HomePNA specification and is the first HomePNA compliant product to receive Microsoft PC 98 certification. The HomeFree Phoneline USB product delivers fast throughput speeds of up to 1 Mbps at a range of up to 500 feet between each computer. Windows and Macintosh System Requirements

Mac system requirements include an available USB port and Mac OS 8.1. The recommended Mac system is an iMac or Power Macintosh G3 computer running Mac OS 8.5.

The product is priced at US$69.95 and is shipping to retailers now.

The Mac Observer Spin: Easy home networking is a powerful tool for consumers, especially those looking to easily share a single connection to the Internet. While we have not yet tested the system, it looks to be an excellent product.

Diamond Multimedia

[4:00 PM] Apple Stock Watch: Apple Regained Some Territory As Hurricane Floyd Advanced On Wall Street

Apple closed higher today in an unusual day of trading. The markets kept a close eye on Hurricane Floyd and much of New York actually closed up shop early. With tomorrow's trading session including what is known as a Triple Witching session in which contracts on stock options, index options, and index futures all expire.

Still, Apple regained some of yesterday's losses to close at 76 13/16, a gain of 1 7/16 or 1.91%. Volume was on the heavy side of moderate with 3,944,900 shares trading hands. Adobe Systems also had a good day after announcing record profits and a 2-for-1 stock split to take place on October 26th.

Motorola also traded higher, though Symantec and Macromedia ended the day down.

On the PC front, results were also mixed with Dell, Compaq, and Microsoft closing higher. IBM, Intel, Gateway 2000, and Hewlett-Packard all closed lower.

The Dow and the Nasdaq ended the day in negative territory. The Dow closed at 10737.46, a loss of 63.96, while the Nasdaq closed at 2806.72, down 7.45.


[2: 45 PM] Eskape Labs Releases Consumer USB Video Capture For The Mac

Eskape Labs has announced a consumer video capture device for USB equipped G3 and up Macs. The new device is easy to use, features hardware encoding, and comes at an attractive price point. According to Eskape Labs:

Eskape Labs, Inc. today announced MyCapture II, a newly designed version of its industry-leading USB video capture device for the Macintosh.

Previously, Eskape's USB video capture device was only available with Avid Technology's Avid Cinema video editing solution. Now, with the release of MyCapture II, anyone can capture high-quality video on his or her Macintosh. MyCapture II's new compact design and portable emerald enclosure makes it easy to set up, without the need to open up the computer to install a video capture card. Users simply plug the USB device into a single USB port and are ready to capture video. MyCapture's plug-and-play capabilities enable users to attach and detach the device without having to shut down the computer.

MyCapture II offers superior quality and performance, providing full frame 30fps video capture at 320x240 VHS video resolutions while maintaining superior lip-sync sound synchronization. Powered by Zoran M-JPEG hardware compression, MyCapture's digital video quality and performance set a new level of expectation for USB capture solutions. Because MyCapture captures video in M-JPEG format, the digital file is superior for editing, adding titling, transitions and special effects. MyCapture supports both NTSC and PAL video formats and comes equipped with connections for both composite and S-video inputs.

Eskape Labs says that MyCapture II will be available in November of this year through retail outlets. Pricing for the device is set at US$129.95. Eskape Labs has not yet added information on MyCapture II, though they do have information on the original MyCapture product.

The Mac Observer Spin: Products like this are extremely important for the Mac market. Many computer users enjoy working with Video capture, and the lack of slots for such things as traditional video capture cards was a big complaint about the iMac. This device, and their are others available as well, is utterly superior to card base consumers for users who do not need high resolution solutions. Installation of a USB device is so much easier than installing a video card. The price point for this product also make it very affordable for many consumers. Eskape Labs should have a winner with MyCapture II.

Eskape Labs

[2:15 PM] MacP3 Gets An Update With Several New Features

The makers of MacP3, a shareware MP3 tool for the Mac, have released an update that brings several new features to the tool. According to MacP3:

MacP3 v1.3 is now available for download! MacP3 v1.3 is a complete suite of powerful MP3 tools. With this new update, MacP3 is now even stronger and easier to use. It offers features for any MP3 user and is powerful enough for even the professional collector/producer.

MacP3 v1.3 is a user-input release, combining over a dozen major user-requested enhancements and improvements. MacP3 is a new professional MP3 shareware utility for improving your Macintosh MP3 experience. MacP3 'maximizes' MP3s by Mac-ifying files, personalizing them, making important MP3 information easily accessible, renaming them correctly, setting opening applications, allowing ID3 tag addition/editing, and much more.

MacP3 v1.3 adds essential features such as...

  • New recursive folder scanning to go deeper and accomplish much more when 'maximizing' your MP3 folders and disks! Recursive folder scanning has been implemented in the Listfile catalog feature as well.
  • A completely redesigned ID3 tag add/edit feature, making it even more powerful. MacP3 ID3 Add/Edit now includes a browser-like interface, allowing easy and fast access and browsing of your entire MP3 collection. The ID3 features support all ID3 standards.
  • MacP3 Listfile includes more features! Listfile helps you catalog and locate MP3s on CD-ROMs, in folders, or on other volumes. Listfile is perfect for creating records, trade lists, and other catalog information. And it now features recursive folder scanning and more catalog options.
  • MacP3 v1.3 now recognizes any MP3 regardless or type or creator. It has better handling of all MP3 files. MacP3 also now handles longer titles as filenames and supports track number additions to filenames (if available).
  • MacP3 v1.3 offers batch processing for easily 'maximizing' your entire collection. Or, 'maximize' only one MP3 at a time... You have control.

You can find more information on MacP3 at the web site. The update is free to registered users. The full version is priced at US$12.95 (shareware). The company offers a 10 day fully functional demo.

[Review] Documents To Go, An Excellent Solution For Viewing Documents On Your Palm

The Palm is a great solution for those who need to keep their appointments, contact info, to-do lists and notes in a handheld package. With the March 1999 introduction of the Palm MacPac Version 2, Mac users are at least on par, if not beyond, their Windows counterparts when it comes to desktop functionality. But the Palm Desktop software does have limitations. What if you want to store and view documents from desktop applications like Word, ClarisWorks, Excel or even SimpleText on your Palm? Sure, you could get into a marathon cut-and-paste session, but Documents to Go provides a better solution. Read more in the Full Review.

[11:50 AM] Direct From France: Apple Expo Day One Wrap-up
by Philippe Bogdan

As we were waiting under the rain for the doors of Paris' Palais des Sport to open for Steve Job Keynote, I spoke to the lady next to me who happened to be in charge of the computer Department of the University of Social Sciences in Paris. She attends the Apple Expo every year to keep in touch with the latest Apple hardware and software.

"Most of the people attending the Apple Expo are already Mac users," she told me, "actually the Apple Expo is almost like a 'cult.' We have lots of Macs in the University I'm working in. The researchers can't be bothered by using a PC. But we have everything from old Mac Pluses that are used as a typewriter to G3s for crunching numbers. I have a G4 in my office because I'm testing it before putting it to use in the research programs."

She also told me that one chain of book, CD and computer stores called the FNAC announced that 25% of their computer sales this year came from the iMac. "But this just could concern the FNAC in Paris" she adds, "because lots of people are complaining about the lack of Macs on display in FNAC in other cities." Even more important is the fact that most of sales people in this FNAC don't really have the expertise to do a proper demo on the iMac or the iBook. Paris is still the center of Art and Information in France, and it's no wonder that the Mac community is larger here than in the rest of the country.

We finally got in the auditorium, nearly 6000 of us waiting for Steve Jobs to appear while listening to Buddy Holly singing "It's so easy to fall in love." Hanging on either side of the stage were two "Think Different" posters, and the white Apple logo was displayed between 2 iBook Apple color logos on the projection screens. Nothing new I guess.

Steve Jobs received of standing ovation as he came on stage and started with a Corporate Overview stating that Apple had 5 days of inventory now, when Compact had a 28 days and Dell 8-9 days.

He than announced that Apple will launch the QuickTime 4 Stars War trailer in France for the upcoming Stars War French version. Leaving QuickTime, he presented OS 9's new Internet and multiple users preferences features. He then went on to cover Apple's simplified product strategy, mentioning that 90% of US iMac users are on the Internet, and that 33% are first time computer buyers.

Then came something slightly different from the other expos, something catered to the French. IBM gave a demo - in French - of their speech recognition software, Via Voice, on the Mac. This was a very impressive demonstration that struck a responsive chord in the French audience.

After each demo the crowd cheered except when Mr. Jobs praised the FNAC and Darty, another French reseller, for doing such a good job in selling iMacs. The crowd booed and whistled their disagrement because this is not true outside of Paris and a very few university towns in France. Mr, Jobs, the consumate showman that he is, launched into another impressive demo of the iBook and AirPort. This got the crowd cheering again, and here too the emphasis was placed on the Internet.

Apple has already logged 160,000 iBook pre orders (not including Japan) and, more importantly, started shipping the first iBook today (September 15th) in the US. To the delight of the French audience, Mr. Jobs said that the iBook should ship in Europe in just 2 more weeks. Apple will use a French version of the same iBook campaign announced in the States that asks the question: "Is it possible to fall in love with a computer? Oh yes, it is possible." The TV add will also feature an orange and a blue iBook.

The rest of the presentation was geared toward the new G4, with quite a few demos of Photoshop and QuickTime Movie encoder running simultaneously on a G4 and a Pentium III. Just as in the States, the G4 won each time due to its "super computer" structure.

The G4 will come in 3 flavors in Europe :

  • 400 Mhz, with 64 Mo of RAM, a 10 Gb HD, CD Rom and a 1700 Euro price tag.
  • 450 Mhz, with 128 Mo of RAM, a 20 Gb HD, DVD Rom and a 2700 Euro price tag.
  • 500 Mhz, with 256 Mo of RAM, a 27 Gb HD, DVD RAM and a 3700 Euro price tag.

The 400 Mhs model is available in Europe today, the 450 will ship in October and the 500 in November, all roughly 2 weeks behind the States.

The last annoucement was quite exciting; the new "Apple Cinema Display" was saved for last, and once again it found a receptive audience in the French crowd. At 22" of beautiful LCD screen, the Cinema Display is wonderfully designed and sports an incredibly good image. I saw some on display in the Expo and they are amazing!

According to Steve Jobs the Apple Cinema Display is Twice as bright and sharp as other LCD screens, has 0% flickering, boasts a 1600 by 1024 pixels resolution and is digitaly connected directly to the G4.

Price tag : 4300 Euro.

A limited supply of the displays will be avaialbe in October only through the Apple Stores bundled with a 450 G4.

The Mac Observer Spin: 2 remarks regarding Steve Jobs Paris Keynote :

1. One third of the presentation - at least - was geared toward the Internet. The problem with this is that Internet connections are really expensive in Europe. The majority of French people cannot afford to spend US$200 a month on Internet communication. According to official statistics, a French Internet user is someone who has connected to the Net once in the last 6 months!

2. Only Graphic and Video Artists were especially mentioned as potential G4 users. Graphic artists are among the people who have been Mac faithfull users from the start and will surely stay faithfull. But they are really few compared to the number of computer users in France.

Will Apple continue to remain strong in this market if it doesn't try to reach consumers outside of Internet users and artists? I honestly don't think so. Existing Mac users will continue to update their systems, but until the business world gets the message that Macs are easier to use than PCs, "Think Different" will not mean much to the majority of French computer users.

I'm afraid that Apple's current approach will do nothing to change the 70's image people still have about Apple. We call this a "Baba Cool" attitude in France. Not very compatible with the business world, unfortunately...

Maybe Apple is becomming a cult after all.

Philippe Bogdan lives and work in France. His exclusive coverage of The Apple Expo comes direct from Paris.

Apple France

[Column] Ask Dave--Yellow Monitors, And Dave Gets Corrected

Hello folks! This week we have the final word on a common monitor problem, plus we have some GREAT suggestions from readers about items that have been addresses in prior columns. Should you have a question of your own, send it in, otherwise, read on and enjoy! Read more in this week's Ask Dave.

[8:45 AM] VST Ships FireWire 250MB Zip And Full Height Hard Drives

The good people at VST have announced that they are shipping their full line of full-height hard drives as well as their 250MB Zip FireWire drives. VST offers two lines of FireWire hard drives, with the full-height models designed to be high-performance and less expensive. The new Zip drive offers Blue & White and G4 owners full use of the popular Zip line without having to add a SCSI card. According to VST:

VST Technologies, Inc. today announced the shipment of the full-height, high-performance FireWire(R) Hard Drives and a 250MB full-height FireWire Zip Drive. Along with these FireWire shipments comes a $100 price reduction on the 14 and 22 Gigabytes (GB) Hard Drives.

The affordable full-height FireWire Hard Drives are designed for high-end video editing, audio and multi-media applications. These drives are now available in 14 and 22 GB capacities and feature hot plug/unplug at blazing transfer speeds up to 15 MB/sec. This unparalleled combination provides seamless storage performance for any FireWire-equipped computer. Users can simply cable the drive and the computer together and the volume mounts automatically, making the unit ready for high-speed file transfers.

The 250MB FireWire Zip Drive offers Apple Power Macintosh(R) G3 and G4 users hot-plug/unplug capability in high performance removable-media storage technology regardless of platform. As with the Hard Drives, the volume mounts automatically, ready for high-speed file transfers. In January, Apple began shipping FireWire (IEEE 1394) as a key built-in feature to every Power Macintosh G3 series professional desktop computer. VST's new FireWire Zip Drives are the industry's first 1394 compliant removable media drive to take full advantage of Apples new FireWire capable CPU's. Additionally, the drive is FireWire cable bus powered, and does not require an external power supply.

You can find more information on the 250MB FireWire Zip drive and the new line of full-height FireWire hard drives at the company's web site. 250MB FireWire Zip Drive is priced at US$349.95. The 14GB FireWire Hard Drive is priced at US$599.95. The 22GB FireWire Hard Drive is priced at US$699.95.

The Mac Observer Spin: These products are attractive and VST is known for their quality. It's good to have new FireWire options available as momentum has been slower to build for FireWire than it was for USB.

VST Technologies

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