Are we having fun, yet? (multimedia applications) (includes related article on previously reviewed multimedia applications) (Software Review) (Compute's Getting Started With: Multimedia Applications) (Evaluation)
by David English, Richard O. Mann, David Sears, Carol Ellison, Clayton Walnum
It's been less than a year since we put together our last "COMPUTE's Getting Started With Multimedia Applications," but we had no problem finding enough new and interesting CD-ROM programs to fill out another 16 pages. In addition to the many popular programs that are being beefed up for multimedia, we're seeing more made-for-multimedia titles, such as Microsoft Encarta Multimedia Encyclopedia, The 7th Guest, European Racers, and Microsoft Dinosaurs. It takes a long time to create a first-class 650MB CD-ROM program with high-resolution sound, graphics, and animation. Many of these large projects are just coming to market, with many more scheduled for release in 1994. With the growing number of knock-your-socks-off titles, we're about to reach the critical mass that will guarantee success for the new medium. By 1994, you can expect most of the real innovation to come from the multimedia side of the pond.
In addition to great software, lower prices for CD-ROM drives and sound cards also are driving multimedia's growth. CD-ROM drives that meet the MPC specifications sell for as low as $200. Some sound cards sell for less than $50. Many computer manufacturers are shipping CD-ROM drives and sound cards as standard equipment on their high-end models. We're rapidly approaching the point where most new PCs will be multimedia PCs.
Have there been any significant trends in CD-ROM software since our last look in December? When MPC officially was launched in October 1991, it was assumed that the titles would be evenly distributed among business, education, and entertainment (or as the Multimedia PC Titles Catalog put it "working," "learning," and "playing"). Today we see far more games and reference CD-ROMs than we see business and productivity CD-ROMs. Businesses have been slow to adopt multimedia PCs. With the exception of presentation programs, few business applications support sound. Homes and schools, on the other hand, have witnessed an explosion in quality entertainment and educational CD-ROMs.
My friends-and-family indicator tells me that a lot of multimedia PCs are going into homes. Each year, people I know call me to ask about the machines they're thinking of buying. This year, they're asking about the multimedia PC, so I know that must be the new under-$2,000 PC. Many of them are impressed by the new educational CD-ROM titles. Looks like all the hype about multimedia is beginning to pay off.
New Multimedia Section
In our next issue, COMPUTE will introduce a monthly eight-page multimedia section. This is in addition to our regular reviews, choice reviews, and special sections (such as the one you're reading now) that cover multimedia. The "Multimedia PC" section will include a one-page monthly column called "Fast Forward," a four-page feature with emphasis on how-to and product-round-up articles, a one-page multimedia spotlight review, and two pages of new multimedia products. See you there!