Sutherland Lyall looks at Apple’s latest plans to provide bespoke hardware and at Nortel/Norwebs proposal to improve the quality and speed of communications.

The big picture: CalComp claims that its new CrystalJet 42 and ditto version 54 are the bees knees. The numbers refer to the paper widths they can cope with. They use the new piezo-based inkjet printing technology which is claimed to be better than the existing inkjet methods and is faster. Maximum image length is 15.2m. Nice touch: as long as the printer is under warranty or under a service contract, CalComp will replace the print head free.

Out of the frame: Adobe has now brought out FrameMaker’s English version 5.5 for Windows, Mac and UNIX, Japanese ditto. The new incarnation simultaneously creates content for both print and on-line media – conversion into such formats as html is automatic. Publishers particularly like it because it automatically creates cross-references, tables of contents and indices. The critical thing is that you can reformat with a single mouse click rather than doing it all page by page. New, the prices are 700 and 1700 respectively. Upgrade price is 140 – with sgml, the hi-tech scripting language, it’s 300 or so.

Quora cuties: Wacom’s rival in the tablet stakes is Quora, whose edge seems to be an ergonomically designed pen. It also does a giant whiteboard where you can do edits on a projected screen. Now the tablets come with interesting software: Suizz Mania, a Photoshop plug-in for distortions, Easy Sep for converting a variety of file formats, Squizz, Select and Textissimo, all Photoshop tools, Automask for Quark, Medley for photo compositing and a bunch of royalty-free images. Distributor is TDS Cad-Graphics on 01254 676 921.

Criss cross: With all that talk about Silicon Graphics (SGI) applications being ported to NT, it’s nice to report that old Mac favourite Premier, the non linear video-editing application, has been ported to the SGI O2 workstation as version 4.2. The O2 machine uses a version of UNIX (the operating system at the heart of Rhapsody) called IRIX 6.3 and this version of Premiere is closely integrated with it to the extent that although the features are much the same it has the SGI look and feel.

Zip Zip: However much you may regret the late start to the 120MB floppy drive, Iomega’s sub-100 Zip drive has really swept the boards. Seriously cheaper than the (former industry standard) Syquest, it’s even turning up on factory-produced Macs. And the Zip drive now comes as the Zip Plus drive which can auto-detect whether it is being attached to a parallel or SCSI cable and transmits data 40 per cent faster. Price will be around 20 more than at present. You have been able to buy OEM IDE versions mail-order, but Iomega has now announced that motherboard-makers (PCs that is) will soon allow you to boot from a Zip drive, neatly ousting the second last advantage of the aforesaid 120MB floppy.

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