Much of the emphasis at the San Francisco trade show will be on FireWire, a next-generation connection technology.
At the last Macworld, products featuring Universal Serial Bus (USB) dominated. But taking center stage this time is FireWire, also known as IEEE 1394, a means of connecting devices such as camcorders and disk drives to computers at up to 400 megabits per second (mbps) vs. about 12 mbps for Universal Serial Bus.
USB and FireWire are both alternative means of connecting devices to computers, with USB heralded as the replacement for serial and parallel ports. Both are considerably faster than older connection standards. Speed is important for transferring large amounts of data, such as color printing or digital camera image capture.
Macworld, which begins tomorrow and runs through Friday, is traditionally Apple's showcase for displaying new products. Last year, for instance, it used the event to debut more iMacs, in five colors. Apple has declined to comment on what it plans to unveil this year.
But other companies are not being so quiet. Apple in October upped its support for FireWire by adding FireWire connectors to the iMac DV as part of a push to create a market for products that enable so-called personal broadcasting. Next on the list: Apple is expected to add support for FireWire when it revises its PowerBook line of notebooks for business and high-end customers, an event that could possibly happen as soon as this week.
Apple has said there are already about 7 million digital camcorders with FireWire connections on the market. This means a large number of consumers can easily tape events and use the computer for editing and playback. Users then can go back to tape to store the edited material.
With Apple having taken the leap first, third-party developers are now following suit. Among the announcements at Macworld are as follows:
Video conferencing provider Ariston unveiled the iSee-Exec FireWire camera and the FireCard, a FireWire adapter for notebooks running MacOS 8.6 and higher. The FireWire camera offers the ability to capture full-motion video images at a resolution of 640 by 480 pixels. It sells for $399.
Digital Storage Group said it has begun shipping the PowerFile C200, a DVD/CD changer that connects via FireWire to the Mac. The C200, which retails for $1,499, features two DVD-ROM drives capable of 1 terabyte of storage. Also, QPS is offering a rewritable CD drive that connects via FireWire.
Epson unveiled the Expression 1600 Special Edition, a 1,600-by-3,200 dots-per-inch scanner supporting FireWire connectivity. The scanner, which offers 36-bit color and is available for both Mac OS and Windows-based systems, sells for $799.
Umax unveiled the PowerLook 1100, a FireWire scanner for Macs and PCs. The $999 scanner supports 42-bit and 1200 x 2400 dpi output.
VST enhanced its line of FireWire hard drives, with full-size models storing up to 37-GB of data and slimline drives up to 25 GB. The company also introduced its first supporting both USB and FireWire.
QPS upped the performance of its Que! SCSI CD-RW drives, with a 12x4x32 model, which is expected to sell for $499. QPS also added translucent bezel faceplates to its USB Que! 4x4x8 CD-RW and FireWire Que!4x4x24 CD-RW drives.
In other news, the Mac is gaining storage and printing options galore at the Macworld show. Among the devices on tap:
Canon introduced four new products--the BJC-85 Color Bubble Jet portable inkjet printer, the BJC-3000 Color Bubble Jet printer, the CanoScan FB 630Ui color scanner and the MultiPass C545 multifunction printer. The products are aimed at iBook, PowerBook and iMac users.
Focus Enhancements said it has begun shipping the iTView-DV, a PC-to-TV video converter for the iMac DV. Geared for the education market, the $139 device lets users display DVD movies, QuickTime videos or software programs run from the iMac DV on a TV.
EricX Corporation showed off the VXA-1 external SCSI tape backup drive, with a 66-GB per tape capacity and transfer rate of 6 MB per second. EricX will bundle the drive with Dantz Development's Retrospect Desktop Backup software, SCSI cable and cleaning cartridge for $1,199. The drive is expected to ship next month, with a FireWire version slated for the second half of 2000.
OnStream announced its first Mac-compatible storage drives, the Echo 30GB SCSI drive. The Echo, with 30-GB capacity per disk and transfer rates up to 2 MB per second, supports SCSI-equipped PowerMac G3 and G4 computers and the PowerBook portable. The drive sells for $699.
Fuji Photo jumped into the DVD-RAM market--the rewritable DVD storage technology offered on some PowerMac G4 computers--by offering 5.2-GB DVD-RAM discs.
MacPublishing, DSL provider Covad Communications and router maker Netopia banded together to offer Mac users high-speed Internet products. The group set up a Web site to help users find Mac-compatible services.
Pervasive Software announced availability of Tango 2000, development software for building e-commerce e Web sites.
Connectix said it would update its popular Virtual PC emulation software to support Windows 2000 and Linux. The Windows 2000 version will sell for $329 and VirtualPC for Linux will go for $99.
MicroTouch Systems updated the TouchStation touch-screen solution for the iMac DV. The TouchStation is designed for use in self-service and public information kiosks and point-of-sale systems.