NEWS! - MacWorld Expo 2002 Live Coverage
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MACWORLD EXPO OPENING DAY

A Hands-On Show

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This Checker cab's top fin is really a big eye, so we ran around the side to avoid any red-eye

By MIKE PASINI
Editor
Imaging Resource Digital Photography Newsletter

SAN FRANCISCO -- The doors to the Expo floor officially opened today and were immediately bombarded by attendees keen to get their hands on the new iMac and all the other goodies assembled for their amusement.

That's one of the key benefits (and part of the fun) of the Expo.

Not only can you saunter up to any manufacturer's digital camera counter and view the product lineup, but (unlike the Superstore) all the cameras have batteries and cards in them, the scanners are connected and the printers have paper. So you can get a feel for how the thing operates.

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Kaidan's 360 One on a Nikon 990

PUT YOUR HANDS UP
& DON'T TURN AROUND

Which can lead to some, well, unique experiences.

We rushed over to the Kaidan booth to see their single-shot immersive panoramic 360 One (that's one press of the shutter to get a full panorama). We saw it sticking its head above the crowd of curious photographers, attached to a Nikon 990.

There are a couple of interesting design points about the attachment.

It obscures the flash sensor and viewfinder on the 990 (and Coolpix 995 and 5000), but that's not a problem. You have to focus manually (without flash) anyway at 14mm. In this case, we exposed for 1/4 second at f4 but you can also shoot in aperture priority mode.

It can see 50 degrees above and below the horizon through a clear optical plastic mount to an optical grade, high precision coated optical surface.

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The Kaidan Booth ... and beyond!
(Click to find Mike in Virtual Reality by dragging your cursor in the image)

We didn't think you'd believe us, so we asked Salvatore DiPaolo, Kaidan vice president, to put our CompactFlash card in his camera and take a shot for us. Kaidan subsequently sent us the processed file. Click on the thumbnail above to see just what this device does.

You need Kaidan's software to turn the image into a QuickTime VR or Java viewable 360-degree panorama -- but you don't have to stitch anything! Except your pocketbook. The 360 One is priced at $999.95.

But for half that price (and even half of that if you chose to pay per image), SurroundPhoto from Sunpak provides a parabolic reflector that captures 360 degrees in one shot, too.

Made entirely of plastic, the unit screws onto any threaded lens barrel (or, lacking that, attached to a black box with a mirror that works with any camera). It unscrews so you can pack it compactly for travel, too.

Stop down your lens, focus and you get not quite the range of the Kaidan but a similar effect. A revised reflector with a higher and lower angle of coverage will be shipped shortly to SurroundPhoto owners, we were told.

Again, images have to be processed in software to reverse the mirror image and turn them into QuickTime VR panoramas. But SurroundPhoto provides that free. Their revenue model is based either on an upfront purchase of the product or a per-image charge.

We're planning to review both attachments (which ).

WACOM INTRODUCES DESIGNER PEN

In recent newsletter review of the Wacom Intuos2 graphic tablet, we observed you don't have to be an artist to profit from a graphic tablet. But today we learned you don't have to be a designer, either.

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Designers don't erase

That's because Wacom introduced a brushed aluminum designer pen with all the features of their standard Intuos2 pen except the eraser.

They told us they had a few for sale but none on display. But we didn't fall for that line. We wrestled one out of Burt Holmes' pocket and just happened to find a hand model taking a break at the Wacom booth to get you this nearly exclusive picture of the thing.

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Of course, if you are an artist ...

OPTICALLY MOUSING

Optical mice are all the rage. They're precise and don't need no stinking pad and never need cleaning either.

And once you wean yourself from Apple's $60 pro mouse, you'll find less expensive miniatures that have two buttons and a scroll wheel. We really like scroll wheels (partly because we really don't like scroll bars).

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Little mouse

Both Kensington and Macally had cute little optical mice. Kensington's $25 PocketMouse has an opaque metallic sheen where MacAlly's $39 iOpti Jr. is clear. And there were others in the same range.

MORE IN LESS

But mice aren't the only things getting smaller. FireWire drives, some with USB options, are shrinking from the size of a hefty 5.25-inch peripheral like external CD-RWs to the size of an iPod.

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Two small drives
FireFly and FireLite

Indeed we found the same drive the iPod uses in the new 5-GB FireFly drive from SmartDisk. The $299.95 device (available either with FireWire or USB) doesn't use the famed Oxford 911 bridge but use a Texas Instrument chip with comparable performance (4200 RPM, read/write about 12-MB/second with either FireWire or USB 2.0), according to SmartDisk.

The beauty of this small storage solution is you don't need a power brick. And unlike the iPod, there's no battery to recharge when you plug it into your FireWire port.

SmartDisk also introduced the slightly larger FireLite line of 4200 RPM drives. The $279 20-GB, $349 30-GB and $429 40-GB FireLites are all 3.25x5.0x0.75-inches small. These FireWire drives read and write an average 22-MB/second.

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La Cie's PocketDrives

La Cie also showed a lineup of small external drives. Sporting both FirWire and USB 2.0 interfaces, the 3.5x5.75x1-inch PocketDrives range include a $249 20-GB, $299 30-GB and $449 40-GB model.

La Cie also introduced a 12 oz. 60-GB model with transfer rates up to 35-MB/second at the show. Available in Feb. for $749, the drive includes Silverliing Pro, which can manage USB, IDE, SCSI and FireWire peripherals at the same time.

LCD SPYDER

Patone is showing the Colorvision Spyder, which can now calibrate both CRT and LCD monitors with PhotoCAL software. A special show price drops the package from $288 to $230.40.

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The LCD Spyder

  1.0-GB CompactFlash

1-GB COMPACTFLASH

Well, not quite yet, but SanDisk said they'd be shipping their 1.0-GB CompactFlash by the end of March.

SanDisk has also recently introduced a line of high performance CompactFlash cards called San Disk Ultra. The cards offer roughly double the write speed in capacities from 128-MB to 512-MB for about a 25 percent increase in price over their standard speed cards.

You can get Expo savings of 20 percent on their currently shipping cards (from 16-MB CompactFlash for $19.99 to 512-MB for $449).

ONE MORE DEAL

We recently received three Photoshop training CD titles from lynda.com for review. We've only seen part of the first but it's enough to recommend them.

During the show you can order any of their CD-ROMs for 20 percent off. That brings Learning Photoshop 6 or Advanced Photoshop 6 down from $149.95 to $119.95, for example. To order, visit the site or call (888) 33-LYNDA.

MISCELLANEOUS NOTES

We didn't get a chance to check everything out today, so we're going back tomorrow for more hands-on action. Meanwhile here are a few other items that caught our (not red) eye:

  • Dantz has a Mac OS X Preview version of Retrospect Backup on CD for the asking.
  • Scansoft is showing the a version of OmniPage running under OS X, returning the product to the Mac platform.
  • Connectix is demoing Virtual PC 5.0 at their booth. We've installed it here and are half-way through a review.
  • Why wait for Adobe? Binuscan is selling PhotoRetouch Pro for OS X. 48-bit histograms and ICC profile creation are just two features found in this latest incarnation of these professional imaging algorithms.
  • Printers. We took a look at new offerings from Hewlett-Packard and visited Epson and Lexmark and Olympus. We'll have photos and more info tomorrow.
  • Scanners. Didn't see anything new but it's always interesting to see what has survived. More on the most interesting tomorrow.












Top 3 photos this month win:

1 $300 Adorama Gift Certificate

2 $200 Adorama Gift Certificate

3 $100 Adorama Gift Certificate