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Talkin' Smack: There and Back Again

The Creative Mac Macworld Expo roundup

by David Nagel
Executive Producer
[email protected]

So it appears I made it back in approximately one piece, give or take, from the great Mac extravaganza up North, a journey upon which I embarked half a fortnight ago with my colleague Paulo de Andrade, or, as I now know him, the Brazilian Fangio.

Although Fangio was best known for his championships won for Mercedes-Benz (the Macintosh of automobiles), I believe that he, like Paulo, would have very much enjoyed driving a rented Lincoln Town Car through the mountainous Grapevine of California at 2:30 a.m., keeping the cruise control on 75 as the snow and wind worked their darnedest to dash us into one of the myriad 18 wheelers weaving in and out of traffic beside us.

My arm ached from clutching the coat hangar in sheer terror of the situation, particularly in a Town Car, which had repeatedly demonstrated the irony of its "traction control" system, but, according to Paulo, all was well. To quote Paulo:

"You don't have to worry until the snow starts sticking to your windshield. That Canadian guy would probably be laughing right now."

I didn't even know which Canadian guy he was talking about!

Regardless, my life was flashing before me, part of which included the Macworld Expo from whence I was returning. So, having had some time to reflect in the clarity of a near-death experience, I think I am entirely qualified to review for you the essentials of what went down last week.

The actual Macworld roundup
I must say I was a bit confused when I returned to the office Friday afternoon and found everyone utterly unmoved by what had happened at Macworld—including the Mac guys. I resolved that this was owing to the fact that they had not been properly advised of the significance of ... well, everything and resolved further to indoctrinate them into the appropriate way of thinking. Let me do so for you as well, dear reader.

First off, there were Apple's announcements. I know I wrote here last week that I would be unimpressed by anything shy of 750 MHz in the new G4s, but I've changed my mind. Here's why:

1. Everything is faster in the new G4s—the system bus (now 133 MHz), the graphics (now 4x AGP), the chips themselves (now up to 733 MHz), the PCI architecture and the graphics card (now an Nvidea GeForce 2).

2. There's more of everything in the new G4s (except processors)—more RAM, more hard disk space and, not of small significance, an extra PCI slot. That's four PCI slots and one AGP 4x port, with Ethernet and sound still on the motherboard, unlike most peecees, which take up slots for those devices, although most peecees don't actually have gigabit Ethernet.

3. And, finally, there's the combo DVD-R/CD-RW.

It's this last little juicy nugget that ought to have every post house in the known earth seriously considering a G4. For less than the cost of a DVD-R—a lot less—you get the DVD-R, the authoring software and, as a special bonus, a top of the line G4.

Get it?

It's like offering a house free with the purchase of a dining room set. A really good dining room set at that. Only this offer is better because it happens to be a great tool for making money from clients who are starting to demand DVDs.

Now, consider this further. A low-cost DVD hardware encoder gives you lousy results. No debate there. Software encoding gives you great results, but it's slow, right? Not anymore. Enter the age of Velocitized DVD encoding. That is, encoding optimized for the G4's Velocity Engine. Suddenly you're encoding at half the speed of a great hardware encoder, but at the cost of zero dollars.

Now, I'll grant you that not everyone will be satisfied with the free iDVD authoring package; it's consumer-level stuff. (Did you ever think you'd read "DVD authoring" and "consumer-level" in the same sentence?) But then there's DVD Studio Pro, the $995 professional-level suite Apple has also introduced. Not a bad price at all, considering the competition. And not a bad piece of software either, from what I had a chance to witness at Apple's booth as Paulo and I tried to sneak away with some footage of a demo.

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