December 2001 News
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DVD burning from Adaptec
Adaptec has introduced
a couple of affordable software/hardware editing packages that can capture
and edit DV footage, and create and burn video discs in DVD and VCD
formats (though not SVCD).
Apple upgrades laptop Macs
Apple has improved
the specs on both of its ranges of edit-ready Mac laptop computers,
each already featuring a built in FireWire port and came with Apple's
basic video editing software, iMovie 2.
LaCie offers DVD-R in FireWire case
A Pioneer A03 DVD-R/DVD-RW
burner (review, August 2001, p30) is at the heart of a FireWire DVD
writer from LaCie, carrying a suggested retail price of £763 (inc
LaCie cuts FireWire drive prices
LaCie has cut between
11 and 17 per cent from the prices of its two FireWire hard drive ranges.
The company's 10/20/30/40GByte PocketDrives now carry VAT-inclusive
SRPs of £175/£234/£293/£469, respectively. Its
four full-size FireWire models are now £199 (40GByte); £246
(60GByte); £293 (80GByte); and £399 (120GByte).
Our three-part series
on upgrading to Windows 2000 (September- November 2001) failed to mention
one important registry hack that should be carried out by users of Athlon-based
PCs, once they've upgraded. Making this change stops the PC hanging
when programs such as Ziff Davis 3D WinBench 2000 access the Accelerate
Graphics Port (AGP). Thanks to reader James Richards for pointing out
this oversight. The fix and a detailed explanation are available at:
Windows XP on October 25, backed by positive reviews in which it was
widely acclaimed as the company's best operating system yet, perhaps,
the best desktop OS ever sold. Initially, Home and Professional are
available with server versions to follow by the year's end. Home (around
£80 inc VAT as an upgrade and £164 for the full version)
is slightly more expensive than Win98SE or Me - which it's intended
to replace. But Pro (about £158/£233) is slightly cheaper
than Windows 2000. Home and Pro are based on the same underlying code
- unlike, for instance, Me and Win2K - but there are differences between
versions. Home has no support for dual processor or for Raiding hard
disk drives in software - two features that are available in Pro, and
This has already caught out a number of readers (see an example in Help and Letters, p24) who've blindly upgraded to XP without realising that no suitable editing card drivers are yet available. In truth, no upgrade should be carried out without trying hard to assess the difficulties that may be caused by hardware or software that won't run under a different OS. Readers considering a move to XP should closely read our Upgrading to Windows 2000 tutorial, which appeared in three parts between September and November 2001. Most of the tips and advice given in this series - including when NOT to upgrade - apply equally well to XP. Also, take advantage of Computer Video's free 24-hour self-help message board (www.computervideo.net) to ask outstanding questions BEFORE carrying out an upgrade, rather than after.
Microsoft is working hard to iron out bugs from the initial release. Eight updaters are already available and a Win XP version of the system tweaking utility Power Toys, which EVERY Win XP user should download (it's under 1Mbyte), gives a great deal of extra control over how Windows works, has some useful maintenance tools and even includes tricksy stuff such as being able to run four separate desktop configurations and switch between them instantly. It's available from: www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/pro/ downloads/powertoys.asp
Firing up XP for the first time can be a bowel-loosening experience for anyone familiar with any version of Windows from 95 to 2000, because the desktop, by default, is bare except for the Recycle Bin. With no standard icons to click on (My Computer, My Documents, Internet Explorer etc) the user can do little but try the Start button (now in a tasteful light green) - as Windows helpfully suggests! Doing so immediately presents a two-column pop-up menu, rather than the expected single-column. It is quite simple to return to a classic single-column Start menu, but new users should accept that they're going to flounder for a while until they understand what's going on, and why - and only then return to the old ways if necessary.
Microsoft attempting to put at the user's disposal a lot of the power that has long been built into Windows, but hidden from anyone who couldn't be bothered to use the on-screen help or customised the OS to any extent. The start menu is where the missing desktop icons have gone, and gives fast access to other common tasks and applications too, with icons for Help and Support; Control Panel; Search; My Music; and My Pictures, along with a list of frequently used programs.
Things are also very different when opening a folder, because the default view includes a column of small icons to the left - each with a meaningful description. These allow the user to carry out a number of everyday tasks, including many that were previous hidden away in drop-down menus or right-click, context-sensitive menus. XP offers some all-new features of its own, for example, after connecting digital media hardware devices. XP makes those that it recognises (and that's a much larger number than Win2K does) instantly available from within My Computer or from a relevant icon in an Explorer window, e.g. Scanners. Similarly, connecting a digital stills camera will allow instant access to the stills, with options to email or print via a web-based print shop. Popping in an audio CD doesn't just play it, but also gives options to rip the contents in compressed form (Windows Media, of course) to hard disk, and even - if a burner is fitted to the PC - to burn these ripped files to CD. DVD playback isn't provided by the OS, but can be added with DVD Xpack - a low-cost (US$15) plug-in from InterVideo
(www.intervideo.com). A DVD player is, of course, required. The company also sells an MP3 encoding and ripping plug-in for $10, and both are available together for $20.
Naturally, DV camcorders aren't left out, and connecting one up to an OHCI FireWire port fitted to the PC gives the user an option to run XP's own - very basic - video capture and editing program, Movie Maker. And, all this digital media stuff is done without having to install a single bit of extra software. Watch out for our full review of XP Home and Pro next month, and take great care if considering an upgrade before then.