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October 28, 2003

Table of Contents

NewTek and eyeon Software Extend LightWave 3D/DFX+ Professional Graphics Bundle
Memorex to Increase Recordable CD Media Pricing
Evatone Installs ODC Laserwave Mastering System for CD, DVD, and Flexplay DVD
New Epson Models Print on CD/DVD
Disc Makers brings CD duplication to the Web
Canto announces Cumulus 6
Addonics Launches 16-in-1 MFR – Multi Function Recorder
Archos Introduces Customizable MP3 Players
Transmission Films Launches a "Legit Napster" for Indie Movies
Review: NTI Dragon Burn for Mac OS X

NewTek and eyeon Software Extend LightWave 3D/DFX+ Professional Graphics Bundle

NewTek, Inc., manufacturer of industry-leading 3D animation and video products, announced that the special offer combining LightWave 3D with eyeon's DFX+ professional compositing package has been extended up to the date LightWave [8] is released. Currently in the beta test phase and expected to ship in the fourth quarter of this year, NewTek's LightWave [8] includes enhancements in dynamics, character animation, modeling workflow and tools, animation workflow, texturing tools, and more.

Since announcing and previewing LightWave [8], NewTek has offered purchasers of new or upgrade seats of LightWave a free electronic update to [8] when it ships, and also eyeon Software's professional compositing application, DFX+, a $995 value, with Module 1 - Visual Effects, a $495 value, and Module 4 - 3D Tools, a $295 value, at no additional charge (a total value of $1785.) NewTek's LightWave combines a state-of-the-art photo-realistic renderer with intuitive and powerful modeling and animation tools, and is used worldwide as a Complete 3D production solution for broadcast graphics, games, print, web, and Visual effects for film and television. Version [8] adds hard body dynamics to LightWave's suite of physical simulations tools, and enhances soft body dynamics with more intuitive controls and more versatile performance. The character animation system is improved with faster inverse and forward kinematics, a more powerful and flexible control system, and the ability to apply LightWave's dynamics to the skeletons of character or object meshes. Modeling workflow has been enhanced and a suite of new modeling tools added.

www.newtek.com 

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Memorex to Increase Recordable CD Media Pricing

Due to supply shortages, rising costs from overseas disc manufacturers and the stringent enforcement of patent royalties, Memorex is forced to increase CD-R and CD-RW media prices 10 to 15 percent beginning January 2004. The incremental increase in product pricing is intended to enable Memorex to continue to deliver the industry's leading blank CD media and still cooperate with its retail partners to actively market the products to consumers.

Manufacturing costs have increased 35 percent this year due to patent royalty fees, rising production costs for petroleum-based plastics used to make optical media, as well as transportation costs to deliver products to warehouse and retail facilities. Until now, Memorex has absorbed all of these increases instead of passing them on to customers.

 www.memorex.com 

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Evatone Installs ODC Laserwave Mastering System for CD, DVD, and Flexplay DVD

Optical Disc Corporation (ODC) has announced the successful installation of a LaserWave DVD Mastering System at Evatone, Inc., located in Clearwater, Florida. The ODC LaserWave M-5400 Mastering System will further the company's expansion of its DVD production. As part of their expanded DVD production, Evatone replaced an existing in-line photoresist mastering system with the ODC LaserWave System. The LaserWave features ODC's exclusive DRAW (Direct-Read-After-Write) mastering technology. This closed-loop technology provides tight process control using real-time quality checking and data monitoring which results in faster turnaround time and consistent high production yields.

The ODC mastering system, well known for its high quality DVD mastering capability, does not require the use of a photoresist recording medium or other process chemicals such as adhesive promoters and developers. The LaserWave M-5400 automatically switches between CD and DVD mastering and is also capable of mastering Flexplay DVDs. Evatone has recently been selected by Flexplay Technologies, Inc. to manufacture, market, and distribute Flexplay's flexible play DVDs. A Flexplay enabled DVD is similar to a conventional DVD except that it has a 48-hour viewing window that begins when the disc is removed from its packaging. After 48 hours of play, the DVD is no longer readable by the player.

www.optical-disc.com 

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New Epson Models Print on CD/DVD

Epson America Inc. has added two new photo printers to its product line -- the EPSON Stylus Photo R300 and R300M. The EPSON Stylus Photo R300 and R300M are perfect for digital camera owners who want a flexible and easy to use photo solution. Both printers offer the same convenient and innovative features such as printing directly onto the surface of ink jet printable CDs and DVDs, and being able to print photos with or without a computer. The EPSON Stylus Photo R300M includes a 2.5" color preview monitor for viewing and selecting images before printing them. The preview monitor is not available on the EPSON Stylus Photo R300.

With the EPSON Stylus Photo R300 and R300M, customers can print directly onto the surface of ink-jet printable CD-R and DVD-R media, thus eliminating the expense, inconvenience, and risk of using adhesive labels. Customers can easily design professional-looking CDs and DVDs with customized text, colorful backgrounds and images by using the included CD software. Printing out the CDs is quick and simple with a front loading CD tray that comes standard with the printer models. The EPSON Stylus Photo R300 and R300M are available now for estimated street prices of $179 and $229, respectively, and can be purchased through Epson authorized dealers, mail order, computer superstores, photo specialty stores and on the Epson retail Web site (www.epsonstore.com). The printers carry a one-year warranty and are supported by the EPSON Connection,a customer support and technical assistance line.

www.epson.com 

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Disc Makers brings CD duplication to the Web

Disc Makers, a leading independent media manufacturer, has launched CD Self Service, an interactive Web service that gives its clients the chance to create their own CDs and place short-run duplication orders online from the convenience of their home or office.

CD Self Service offers CD-R duplication and printing for projects of 500 CDs or less with no minimum order and includes free online storage of audio and visual content, full-color on-disc printing and inserts, web-based 24/7 ordering, and a choice of five packaging options. CD Self Service provides a 48-hour turnaround time on all orders.

 http://duplication.discmakers.com/resellers/discmakers/index.jsp

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Canto announces Cumulus 6

Canto, a global leader in Digital Asset Management (DAM) solutions, has announced Cumulus 6. Workgroup and Enterprise Editions of this new version will be available at the end of November and are geared to professional users. Both editions offer many new features and explicit improvements that dramatically simplify the user' daily work when managing their assets. Administrators now have all possibilities to administer the settings of an entire solution at the server. Furthermore, Cumulus 6 incorporates a new central user management.

The newly introduced EJaP technology (Embedded Java PlugIn) enables both customers and especially system integrators to customize the available out-of-the-box solutions to meet customer needs. New functions can easily be added and Cumulus 6 can be integrated into any workflow, Enterprise Portal or Enterprise Content Management-solution. Also, with Cumulus 6 Mac OS X clients will be offered for the first time.

www.canto.com 

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Addonics Launches 16-in-1 MFR – Multi Function Recorder

Addonics Technologies has announced a multi-function digital media solution that does it all, whether you're a digital media professional or consumer electronics enthusiast. The Addonics MFR (Multi Function Recorder) is one of the most versatile data storage appliances on the market. The USB 2.0-compatible device merges the functions of a standalone Home Theater DVD Player, a USB 2.0 DVD/CDRW; an 8-in-1 format flash memory reader/writer, and MP3 music player into one powerful portable peripheral that can be used for a wide range of digital media applications.

With the Addonics MFR users have a single device that can read/write to all popular flash media as well as convert flash media with one touch recording to less expensive CDRW format. Two flash media slots accommodate eight types of flash media. The combined flash/DVD/CDRW/MP3 functions support more than 25 digital media types.

The Addonics MFR is also an external, portable DVD (8X)/ CDRW (24X10X24) for any computer with up to USB 2.0 data speeds; a stand alone MP3 player; and a DVD player with direct S-Video or A/V cable connections to TV sets. The device also provides direct playback of digital images in flash memory or CDRW over TV sets or digital projectors. Together with remote control, 2.5-hour rechargeable battery pack, and carrying case the Addonics MFR can be used anywhere. The complete package includes the Addonics MFR unit, remote control unit, rechargeable battery, 110/220 power adapter, three-foot USB cable, combo A/V cable, S-video cable, driver CD, Power DVD and Nero Express software, user guide, and carrying bag. The MSRP is $249.

www.addonics.com 

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Archos Introduces Customizable MP3 Players

Archos, Inc., a global provider of innovative handheld entertainment and storage solutions, introduced a new line of portable MP3 players that can be customized to suit individual preferences. The GMINI 220 and GMINI 120 players are the first to offer music fans add-on accessories for creating a custom player with music, radio and photo options, and an icon-based interface for easy navigation.

The GMINI 120 is available today at major U.S. retailers, or at www.archos.com. The GMINI 220, the industry's smallest 20-gigabyte MP3 player, will be available in November. The GMINI Series is designed for music fans who want a specific player And price customized to them.

The GMINI 220 is the smallest 20-gigabyte MP3 player on the market, and weighs only six ounces. With the GMINI Series, Archos introduces an icon-based interface and the ARCLibrary, an advanced music management program that allows for controlling and organizing music directly on the device. The GMINI devices can store 5,000 songs,or 500 full-length CDs or 300 hours of audio.

www.archos.com 

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Transmission Films Launches a "Legit Napster" for Indie Movies

Transmission Films, Inc, an integrated broadband company, announced online film distribution service, featuring peer-to-peer technology, progressive downloading for immediate playback, and two-pass encoding for superior image and sound quality. Unlike other peer-to-peer services that usually require users to wait many hours before receiving large video files, Transmission Films' technology is powered by Jibe, Inc.'s Edgeburst software and downloads films to end users at lightning fast speeds.

Files from Transmission Films not only arrive quickly, they can be viewed full screen or even on a TV screen with image quality on par with DVD. Files are encrypted using Microsoft's DRM technology and currently can only be viewed using Microsoft's Window Media Player (Versions 7.0 and 9.0). Rather than slapping together a random collection of movies of varying quality as many sites do, Transmission Films is a curated library of high-quality independent, international and cult films that stays true to a defined niche.

Costs are just $1.99 for a five-day rental, $4.99 a month for all-access subscription, and $9.99 for a Permanent Download, an exclusive Transmission Films feature whereby the customer owns the film forever. Users who are sick and tired of rentals and late fees and who prefer to collect and own their favorite films requested the Permanent Download option more than any other during the company's ten-month Beta Phase.

www.transmissionfilms.com 

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Review: NTI Dragon Burn for Mac OS X

Synopsis: Aside from video capture and DVD authoring, Dragon Burn for OS X offers nearly everything Toast 6 offers, save for Toast's video capture and very limited DVD authoring. But since Dragon Burn sells for $49 and so does Apple's own iDVD, you can get all that functionality for the same price as Toast 6. Only time will tell whether Dragon Burn for OS X will be able to steal users away from Toast. But there's finally another viable recording option for Mac users, and to that we can only say "It's about time."

Perhaps nowhere is the dearth of Mac software so evident as in the realm of CD recording. Here in the EMedia offices, we've got all manner of PC software for burning CDs. There's Roxio's Easy CD Creator, NTI's CD Maker, Stomp's RecordNow MAX, Ahead's Nero… the list goes on. But it's all in the editor's office, since he's the only one with a PC.

Here I sit, forlorn, at my G4.

Don't get me wrong, I've been a Mac user for years, and don't see that changing any time soon. And Roxio's Toast 5 [on the Web, we'll add a link here to your Toast 6 review] has always served me well—it's reliable and robust, with a GUI that makes up in elegance what it lacks in flash. Recent improvements in iTunes have made it my second choice when it comes to making music CDs, and it occupies the #1 slot when that music's in MP3 form, since it's what I use to play and organize all of those files, anyway.

From there, the dropoff has always been pretty steep. Limited versions of Nero and B's Gold that come bundled with external drives hardly seem worth installing when Toast is already up and running. And Charismac's Discribe has given me nothing but headaches in every version I've tested—more often than not, it wouldn't even recognize the external drives, no matter what drivers I installed. I haven't used it since I bought my first 2X CD-R/RW drive (a Sony Spressa) that came bundled with the software back in 2000.

The one Mac tool I hadn't tried was NTI's Dragon Burn. I'd heard great things about NTI CD-Maker 6 Platinum (see review, October 2002, pp. 60-61), but by the time that rolled out, I was using Mac's OS X, so I figured I'd wait until the Jaguar version of Dragon Burn came out to give it a shot. Not that I was eager to leave Toast behind, but it's always good to have options.

Welcome to the Machine
What Dragon Burn for Mac OS X does, first and foremost, is make its options known to you from the menu screen in a way that Toast 5 didn't, though Roxio seems to have finally figured out what users want with Toast 6, which finally puts all of its options out front. The menu offers CD/DVD Copy, Data CD/DVD, Audio CD, Mixed Mode, CD Extra and MP3 CD options, along with pop-up (well, pop-down is more accurate) descriptions of each, as opposed to Toast's Data, Audio, Copy, and Other selections. Dragon Burn OS X offers nowhere near as many choices as CD-Maker; missing are the PC program's VideoCD and Slideshow VCD options, among others.

Better to focus on what it does offer, and how well it does it, than what it's missing, though. I started my testing with a simple disc-to-disc copy. The first window allows you to choose both source and destination recorders, and in this case we burned from a factory-installed SuperDrive on my 1.25gHz G4 to a QPS 540E CD-R/RW 40X FireWire drive, In addition to the usual Track-at-Once and Disc-at-Once options, Dragon Burn suggests a "Smart" burning speed so you don't exceed the limits of your set up. Initially, I was disappointed that Dragon Burn didn't offer any speed options higher than 12X, even with the 40X drive attached. After all, Toast lets you choose any speed up to the limits of the destination drive. But what Dragon Burn makes clear is that Toast is misleading—after all, no amount of buffering will let you burn at 40X from a source drive that only reads at 4X or 8X. Think about it: Toast may indicate that a project will be completed in 4 minutes, but just watch the minutes:seconds digits progress and compare them to a stopwatch. Heck, if you don't want to use a stopwatch, do the old "one-Mississippi, two-Mississippi" trick. You'll find you can often fit a lot of Mississippis in one of Toast's "seconds." Dragon Burn, on the other hand, gives you both an accurate prediction and an accurate accounting of the time it takes to complete a project.

A typical test result occurred when I tried to make a copy of Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here (for research purposes only, of course), a 389.3MB disc. Though the recommended speeds available for the QPS went all the way up to 12X, the burn with buffer underrun protection selected took nearly 11 minutes; with buffer underrun protection turned off, it took just under ten. Your other option is to make a CD image first and copy from there, but the net result of that combination was nearly the same as the direct disc-to-disc copy. I did the same project with Toast 5, and despite that software's promise that the copy would take just under three minutes, the actually recording time was almost identical to Dragon Burn's.

Driver's Seat
While a beta version of Dragon Burn for OS X sometimes had difficulty recognizing external drives, the final version 3.0 shook hands with the CD-R and DVD-R drive I plugged into both my iMac's and my G4's FireWire ports. Anyone who's ever tried to use Charismac's dreadful Discribe can attest to the fact that this most basic of recording-software achivements is one that's not always been so readily accomplished, and Dragon Burn's Dynamic Drive Support reliability is reason enough to recommend it.

Not that Dragon Burn doesn't have plenty more going for it, and it passed all of our other tests—DVD copying, data CD and DVD burning, and audio and MP3 CD creation from iTunes playlists—with flying colors. It also offers a Live Audio option for converting cassettes and LPs to disc. All of which means that, aside from video capture and DVD authoring, Dragon Burn for OS X offers nearly everything Toast 6 offers, save for Toast's video capture and very limited DVD authoring. But since Dragon Burn sells for $49 and so does Apple's own iDVD, you can get all that functionality for the same price as Toast 6.

Only time will tell whether Dragon Burn for OS X will be able to steal users away from Toast. But there's finally another viable recording option for Mac users, and to that we can only say "It's about time."

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