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Gear Roundup: Macworld SF 2006

Goodbye Moto; Intel 'set free'; pro gear all but absent By Dave Nagel
For about the last four years running, the focus of Macworld Expo has veered more and more away from Apple's core users--creative professionals--and toward the consumer side of the market. With Apple storing up its big pro announcements for more significant industry event, the pickings at Macworld SF get slimmer each year. If it weren't for the big iMac/MacBook Pro news, I'd almost be exempt from writing a Macworld roundup article at all. Thanks a lot, Apple.

Pro gear (or lack thereof)
Beyond the obviously gargantuan Intel-related announcements from Apple, there was little happening on the show floor in terms of newsworthy new gear for creative pros. Many vendors have taken their cue from Apple itself, saving up the more juicy product debuts for events that generate a higher concentration of professional users in specific industries (NAMM later in January, NAB in April, etc.). But there were still a few significant announcements coming out of this year's show.

The announcement that will impact the greatest number of users was probably that of Adobe's Lightroom. For those of you who've been asleep since last Monday when it was first announced, Lightroom is an app targeted toward professional photographers and aiming to compete directly with Apple's own recently released Aperture. With the apparent lukewarm reception Aperture has so far received, timing couldn't be much better for Adobe. The new software borrows several features from Photoshop and Adobe Bridge to create a more targeted high-end digital photography workflow. In a move clearly designed to lure potential Aperture purchasers, Adobe has made Lightroom available as a public beta only for Macintosh users. A Windows version will be released at a later (unspecified) date.

More information: http://labs.macromedia.com/technologies/lightroom/

Also of significance was the announcement of AJA's Kona 3 uncompressed HD/SD board. The new version of the popular Kona adds critical support for PCI Express and a dramatic increase in performance and new features. AJA says the new board offers 40 percent more processing power than the Kona 2. It comes in a four-lane PCIe configuration with integrated AJA QuickTime drivers for use with Apple's Final Cut Pro on the latest generation of Power Mac G5 systems. It includes:

? SDI, HD-SDI, Dual Link HD-SDI 4:4:4 and 4:4:4:4;
? Hardware acceleration for DVCProHD and HDV;
? RT Extreme hardware acceleration;
? 10-bit hardware upconversion and downconversion;
? 12-bit HD component and SD component/composite analog output;
? 10-bit HD/SD video/key output;
? Internal HD/SD live hardware keyer;
? Eight-channel 24-bit AES and embedded audio.

The Kona 3 will be available Jan. 30 for $2,990.

More information: http://www.aja.com/products_kona.html

And Extensis unveiled Suitcase Fusion, a new font management tools resulting from the integration of Suitcase and Font Reserve. The new software combines the capabilities of both suites into a single-user package, offering features like automatic font activation in major creative applications, collection of fonts for output, font verification and repair and various organizational features. Suitcase Fusion is available now for Mac OS X for $99.95. A 30-day trial version is also available.

More information: http://www.extensis.com

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Related Keywords:macworld sf 2006, apple imac core duo, macbook pro, macbookpro, aperture, mac os x, aja kona 3, adobe lightroom beta

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