New multimedia products. (Multimedia PC)
by Polly Cillpam
Activision will develop and publish a series of interactive espionage thrillers under the direction of William Colby, the former director of the CIA. The first CD-ROM title is scheduled for early 1995.
"His firsthand experience makes him the key to successful, one-of-a-kind, true-to-life espionage thrillers," says Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision. "The William Colby line will have all the elements of a major motionpicture release: high-quality Hollywood production values, recognized talent, fea-ture-film-quality sound effects and music, and an intriguing script by a well-known screenwriter." Activision (310) 207-4500 Prices TBA Circle Reader Service Number 530
How about a pair of speakers for your PC that combine great price, magnetic shielding, and easy installation? That description fits the SP 100 Computer Speaker System from Sonic Products, which costs only $14.95. Most speakers aren't magnetically shielded and, therefore, aren't designed to be used with computers--their magnets can distort your monitor. And when a speaker's magnet gets too close to a floppy disk, it can cause irreparable damage to your files.
The SP 100 speakers use your sound card's amplifier. Every major sound card has a built-in amplifier, so why pay more for amplified speakers when your sound card has that feature built right in? Installation is easy because all the cables and connectors you need are included. Simply plug the speakers into your sound card and adjust the card's volume, and you're ready to go. No batteries or power adapters are required.
This speaker system works with all mono, stereo, 8-bit, and 16-bit sound cards, including Sound Blaster, Pro AudioSpectrum, and Windows Sound System. You can even use your SP 100 speakers with a consumer audio device, such as a Walkman or CD player. Simply plug the speakers into the headphone jack. Sonic Products (415) 948-0500 $14.95 Circle Reader Service Number 531
Did you ever want to go whale watching but were afraid it would be too risky? With the computer program In the Company of Whales, you can watch the whales and not even get wet!
This program is the first in a new series of CD-ROM products and represents the cream of the crop of Discovery Channel specials. The program consists of hypertext glossary words, 45 minutes of exclusive video, and more than 200 still images and graphics, allowing viewers to probe and explore the world of this spectacular species. It's narrated by actor Patrick Stewart and provides video segments of four experts and their thoughts on a variety of questions. Discovery Enterprises (301) 986-1999 $49.95 Circle Reader Service Number 532
Media Vision recently introduced the Reno Personal CD-ROM Player, which is a high-performance doublespeed external CD-ROM drive that can operate with either nicad batteries or AC power. Reno lets desktop and notebook PC users play CD-ROMs or standard audio CDs in their offices or homes, or on the road.
The strength of the Reno is its versatility. When it functions as a stand-alone audio CD player, it can play musical CDs either when it's stationary or while it's being carried. Lightweight and compact in size, the Reno player can be easily transported by hand, in a shoulder bag, or inside a briefcase.
When connected to a notebook or desktop computer via a SCSI connection, it can also function as a CD-ROM drive. As such, it offers high performance and reliability and meets the MPC Level 2 specifications. Media Vision (510) 252-4472 $349-$549 Circle Reader Service Number 533
A Multimedia Bargain
How about a 50-MHz 486DX2 multimedia computer for a song? Or close to it at $1,995! The new ALR MULTIMEDIA EXPRESS includes 4MB of RAM, localbus video, a 250MB hard drive, four CD-ROM titles, a two-button mouse, and a 14-inch color VGA monitor.
The EXPRESS exceeds the MPC Level 2 specifications, so it will be compatible with the next generation of multimedia software. Included are a multisession (Kodak Photo CD-compatible) doublespeed CD-ROM drive, a state-of-the-art 16-bit stereo audio card, and external stereo speakers. The advanced audio card uses a DSP (Digital Signal Processor) to accommodate future software upgrades, including wavetable synthesis, QSound multidimensional sound placement, and MPEG audio encode/decode compression. The audio card is also compatible with Sound Blaster, Ad Lib, and Windows Sound System.
In addition, the EXPRESS's hard drive comes preloaded with Windows 3.1, DOS 6.2, Voyetra Multimedia Sound Software, and HSC Interactive Special Edition. The four CD-ROM titles are Microsoft Bookshelf, Great Wonders of the World (Volume 1), The Animals, and Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? (Deluxe Edition). Advanced Logic Research (714) 581-6770 $1,995 Circle Reader Service Number 534
Inter Active Publishing has announced that it will introduce 50 CD-ROM titles before the end of the year and predicts that the industry as a whole will see 10,000 titles introduced by 1996.
Some of the products from InterActive Publishing that will be available this year are Beethoven's 5th, A Million Laughs, Eternam, Supersonic, How Things Grow, 250 World's Greatest Music Clips, 1000 World's Greatest Sound Effects, Interactivity Packs, Teddy's Big Day, Ask About Dinosaurs, and many more. The categories will include education, multimedia utilities, "Intertainment," and knowledge enrichment.
According to InterActive Publishing's chairman, Harry Gos, "From 1986, when CD-ROM drives were first introduced, through the end of 1993, fewer than 10 million units had been sold worldwide. We project that in 1994 alone 12 million units will be sold--with half of the total installed base in the hands of consumers. We further project that it will take until the end of this century for CD-ROM drives to achieve an 80-percent household penetration. By 1996, media superstores will regularly carry over 10,000 CD-ROM titles in various formats." InterActive Publishing (914) 426-0400 Prices vary. Circle Reader Service Number 535
A Freak Adventure
If you've always wanted to hang out with some true freaks, here's your chance. The Freak Show is an interactive comic book illustrated with animation, graphics, original sounds and music, startling characters, and unique stories. It's the first CD-ROM release by The Residents, the notorious San Francisco performance group. The artwork has a three-dimensional interface and was designed by award-winning computer graphics artist Jim Ludtke.
The Freak Show begins at a circus tent entrance. The Residents' iconic eyeball logo appears on the screen and lures you into the tent. Once inside, you interact with the freaks by clicking on five elaborate stages. For example, click on Wanda the Worm Woman's platform to call her from behind the stage curtain. Wanda then emerges to perform her worm-eating act. Other featured characters are Benny the Bemp, Jelly Jack, and Harry the Head. If you're the adventurous type, you can explore the freaks' trailers outside the main tent by sneaking past a NO ADMITTANCE sign. The trailers contain access points that are revealed by the eyeball icon. If you click on items within the trailers, you can discover the many eccentricities that shape the freaks' personal lives.
The Residents are known for their innovative music and their experimentation with film, video, and new technologies. They have released more than 20 albums as well as several video works, TV and commercial music scores, and a graphic novel. The Voyage Company (212) 431-5199 $39.95 Circle Reader Service Number 536