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Video Toaster Report
Ken Krebs firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert Reiswig email@example.com
The K&R Report
Video Toaster User Expo '95
Universal City Hilton
November 1-4, 1995
Our idea for doing this "review" was to try to get a normal Amiga users
overview of the show, if there is such a thing. These are our views and
thoughts from the show with comments thrown in...
And we're on our way
Well when we heard that the Video Toaster User Expo '95 was on we had to
go. Of course this being the only major "Amiga" show in the USA this year,
how could we miss it?
The round trip was 680.4 miles and took 11 hours and 40 mins making for a
very long drive. It cost $35 USD in gas, along with $6 USD in parking and
$15 USD each to get into the Expo. Oh, and we made 6 or 7 pit stops along
the way for food and leg streches. If you do plan to take long drives with
someone, like we did, make sure you can chat with the other person. This
will make the time go by much faster. If you don't know what Interstate 5
(I-5) in California is like, just picture a _bad_ for, next loop with
interesting smells thrown in. Hundreds of miles of road with similar
looking scenery with cattle farms and rest stops to break the monotony.
We visted the Expo on Saturday November 4th 1995. We were there from
opening 10:00am to about 12:00pm. Approximately 2 hours.
Now for the review of the booths. If we left out a booth, it could be for
many reasons. Either the booth didn't catch our eye, didn't belong there
or it was very old news.
Let the browsing begin!
AMIGA TECHNOLOGIES GMBH / SERVICE MANAGEMENT GROUP, INC.
Ken: This was my second visit to a computer show of any kind. The first
show I ever visited was AmiExpo in Oakland. My ranking of this booth on a
scale of 1-10 would probably be about a 3. The booth consisted of 3 long
counters made into a square with a partition completing one side of the
square. On the counters, there were about 3 A4000Ts and about 2 A1200s.
All the computers seemed to be running Pinball Mania except for one running
some Scala advertisement. The weird thing was that NONE of these Amigas
had any speakers plugged into them! I told the guy in the booth that a set
of speakers would make loads of difference for their display, the guy said
"Well, it's loud enough here as it is! No need for us to add to the
noise." "WHOA!" I thought, "this guy needs to learn how to attract
someone's attention with a computer!" The first rule is to have your
display actually running something interesting. The second rule is to make
it LOUD! I had forgotten that the monitors were supposed to have speakers
in them too so I didn't look for that. Apparently, the guy forgot too :)
The A1200 looked just like any other A1200 I had seen. There's still a
blank key near the shift key. Wonder if they will ever get rid of that :-B
The A4000T looked pretty slick.. but as soon as you open the door, it
looks just like any other PC Tower case. This, of course, isn't all that
bad - it's just that I like to have Amiga's have their unique look to them.
(Like the Amiga 3000)
One cool thing was that they had several CU Amiga magazines out on the
counter as freebies. I thought that was a smart move. It made me happy,
Rob: After seeing many CBM booths at many shows I would rank this as a 3 or
a 4 on a scale of 1-10. I am sure this is due to the fact that it was
their first show. First, it was very good to see the A4000T in its "final"
stage. One thing that I heard was that the A4000T was still using the 880K
floppy, no one in the booth could answer questions about this. When we
visted the booth, Gilles Bourdin was giving a speech and Petro
Tyschtschenko was with him backing him up. The people helping in the booth
seemed to be a mix of everything from dealers to writers. They did have
the A4000T and A1200 up and running on the new M1438S 14" color monitor.
Also they had an open A4000T for people to look at. The case on the A4000T
was not as clean looking as the A3000's case but I did think it was better
then the A4000 case! One thing I did not understand is that it seemed all
the machines were running Pinball Mania, or whatever the pinball game is
that's bundled with the A1200. Even though I did not get any of my real
questions answered and the booth did not look like a million bucks I was
very glad to see Amiga Technologies was present and showing the Amiga in
the USA! It's only a matter of time until the Amiga is back at full steam
in the USA! (The spec sheets for the products were very nice!!)
Ken: Newtek's corner looked pretty cool. It was set up so there was a
bunch of chairs in front of an almost cylindrical type of booth where they
had a big monitor mounted so you can view what the demonstrator was
showing. They were mostly demoing the Flyer. It didn't keep my interest
much. I miss Kiki. She always seemed so much more alive than this guy.
Granted, if you want to know how something works, it shouldn't matter who's
demoing it. It's just that Kiki added a lively twist to demos - she was
extremely fun to watch.
There were a few more setups to the sides of the booth. Ppeople could go
one on one with Newtek reps and have features shown to them on demo
There was also a table set up at the front of the booth where two
Newtekkers were handing out brochures and answering questions.
This booth was pretty professional looking and gets a big thumbs up from
Rob: Newtek had a nice booth and as always there were a lot of people
around. All I can say is that I wish that I was rich enough to afford a
Flyer. James H. was showing how you could, within a matter of seconds,
edit together a segment of video... WOW!
Ken: Airworks Media was one of the first booths you see as you walk in the
door. They had a bunch of chairs set up and a lady sitting on a stool with
a microphone headset sort of deal. On display was their program called
TuneBuilder. TuneBuilder does just that - build tunes! This program is
great for those who need to add background music to animations or video
productions. The interface allows you to select the style, mood, speed,
etc. of the tune you need and then TuneBuilder will piece a tune together.
If you didn't like the way it came out, you can always just click on a
button and it will reassemble the tune in a different way. You could also
take pieces of the tune and manipulate them in the order you want.
TuneBuilder uses CD-DA from CD-ROMs and copies it to the hard disk to
assemble. So you need a lot of HD space. They have Mac, Windows and Amiga
versions of the program. Airworks sent me a beta of this a while back and
I was really impressed. They sent a CD-ROM with the Mac and Windows
versions and a disk with the Amiga version. It's nice to see companies
support all three platforms!
Rob: I did not look to close at this booth... I'm not really into making
ANTI GRAVITY PRODUCTS
Ken: This booth was basically an Amiga shop. It was easily the sloppiest
looking booth at the show. They were getting traffic though, so it must
not have been too bad. They had clear plastic walls that they taped their
product behind and put the price on them. Their prices were pretty decent.
Rob: These were the only guys at the show selling a mix of products at the
show. They did have some good deals. They had LinkIt! for $45 while the
Authors of LinkIt! were selling it for $50.
Ken: I didn't look at this booth too much. Just heard the high price of
MasterISO and kinda avoided the booth after that. :) Plus, there was
always someone blocking my way. I wanted to check out AsimCDFS, but didn't
have the patience to wait for the people to move.
Rob: They were showing Asim and MasterISO. This was a nice booth. I think
they were showing AsimCDFS 3.4. An idea to think about might be to release
a AsimCDFS Lite. Just the CD FS, this way you can use the other tools from
AmiNet or elsewhere and use their nice filesystem to access the cd.
B & H PHOTO-VIDEO
Ken: They had a whole wall lined up with video cameras and stuff. No one
seemed to be around so I just looked at the cameras as I passed by.
Rob: At all the shows that I've been to, these guys are always packing up
the booth before the last day of the show.
COMPUTER DISPLAY SOLUTIONS
Ken: They were displaying several monitors that support the Amiga modes. I
Just glanced at this booth. I was looking for CD-ROMs like Rob was :)
Rob: Funny thing about this booth is that it was referred to as the CD
SOLUTIONS booth. I kept looking for CD ROM drives :) The monitor they were
showing looked good. If you are looking for a monitor that displays all
the amigas resolutions you might take a look at them.
NEWTEK SYSTEMS GROUP/DESKSTATION TECHNOLOGIES
Ken: This display was just a whole bunch of Raptors and other computers set
up all ready for rendering. I didn't spend much time here, just watched
some people setting up an animation to render. Most of them were Raptors.
Man were these babies FAST!
Rob: WOW ... these guys put together some _fast_ machines! LightWave on a
300MHz Alpha 21164 running under NT is just SCREAMING!
Ken: I believe this booth was selling instructional video tapes. I didn't
stick around this booth much as the lady there was almost always talking to
someone. I don't blame 'em either, she was cute 8)
Rob: I take the 5th
Ken: Passed by the booth, didn't stop.
Rob: Did not stop by their booth, but it looked like they were selling a CD
with "killer" tracks.
LEGENDARY DESIGN TECHNOLOGIES
Ken: This booth was selling a few software products. One was PC-Task 3.1
and another was LinkIt! I was more interested in LinkIt! because it is a
file transfer program that will link between 2 Amigas, 2 PCs or between
Amiga and PC. I have been using TwinExpress to transfer files between my
Amiga and PC and it is extremely slow. LinkIt! is supposed to be able to
use the parallel ports to transfer files which is LOTS faster. If they had
a box with a parallel cable in it instead of a serial cable, I would have
bought one on the spot. The PC side requires Windows, Windows95 or
WindowsNT and the Amiga side just requires AmigaOS 2.04 and up I think.
(Are people still using 1.3 and lower???)
Rob: They were selling and showing their new product Link It! This looks
like a commercial TwinExpress. What it does is let you "link" an Amiga to
an Amiga or an Amiga to a PC. It does have a GUI interface for both PC and
Amiga. I was going to pick one up but they were only selling the Serial
version. They do support parallel transfers (twin does not do this). Also
the interface looked like it was locked to 640x200 and 600x400 screens. So
if you run CyberGraphX or EGS, it might not take advantage of bigger
Ken: They had the DraCo on display! Unfortunately, I didn't get to play
with it. It seems they had one with the case open to look at. I must have
missed the one they had running :( I really wanted to play with it to get a
feel for how fast and compatible it is.
Rob: I was hoping to see one of the DraCo machines up and running... but
there was not one when I stoped by. I asked if they were shipping and they
were... Also they are working on an 040 option to get more out the door
(guess they cant get 060s either). Thanks to Doug for answering my silly
Ken: This was a simple, but nice looking booth with flyers galore. The
author was there demoing ImageFX. Nice to see them present at the show.
Rob: I was glad to see the author of ImageFX at the show answering
questions and showing his great work.
LOS ANGELES VIDEO TOASTER USERS GROUP
Ken: At this booth they were handing out copies of their newsletter and
also copies of Video Toaster Magazine. I made sure to get those. :) They
were also signing people up to the group. Other than that, not much to
Rob: Every time I walk by their booth at a show.. I always wonder if its
ok to take a Magazine. They needed a sign with "Free Samples" on it :).
Ken: Now this booth was a real treat. 2 or 3 systems set up running WCS.
I was mostly impressed by the looping videotape they had. It showed the
power of World Construction Set. The output from this program looked LOTS
better than Kai's Power Tools: BRYCE. In the tape, they were showing
beaches with waves rolling onto them! Yes, these waves even had whitecaps
and would break on the beach! The clouds were fantastic, too! You could
even see the shadows the clouds would make when they passed in front of the
sun. Other features of this program are: Astronomical Features (sun, moon,
planets), Trees (a whole library of them! You can even add your own.), and
Rock. As Rob mentions below, the learning curve of this program is pretty
high. But if you want the best Amiga landscaping program, WCS is it. Oh,
one more thing... it uses MUI. That will probably make a lot of people
cringe, but oh well. :)
Rob: This is the company that makes World Construction Set (WCS). They
were running demo video tapes showing animations that WCS had rendered.
They looked very nice. What they didn't really show was the large learning
curve that you need to overcome to make such a nice anim. They are porting
WCS to "Intel NT/3.1/3.11/95", MIPS/PowerPC/Alpha running NT and UNIX/SGI.
SILENT PAW PRODUCTIONS
Ken: Well, one of the main things I had wanted to see was this PAWS
portable solution for Amigas. I've been seeing advertizements in Amiga
mags for quite a while now and haven't really heard many facts about it.
Well, I finally was able to see 'em for my own eyes. They had cases for
the A600, A1200 and A4000 on display. The A600 and A1200 cases were made
out of formed sheet metal and were heavy as can be. The A1200 version is
supposedly 14 pounds for a fully loaded system and the A600 version is 11
pounds. The Active Matrix LCD screens measured 10.4" and have a resolution
of 640x480. It has provisions to use 2 Duracell DR31 laptop batteries
common in Compaq portables. He said they provide about 1.25 hours of
running time. (That's with the thing sitting there turned on.) He said
they were supposed to be ready "next month." Yeah right. :) Not a single
one was running. You'd think a person would have a working prototype when
the real ones would be ready "next month." The A4000 case was big and
apparently, from what the guy said, is a standard luggable pc case. It was
made out of molded plastic and looked pretty decent. Maybe it shouldn't be
called luggable, but draggable. These things are HEAVY and could use a set
of wheels on em. :) I wanted to see the Gecko video converter running but
alas, nothing. Also available was the PAWStrac trackball. It's basically
a mouse with a small trackball on the top with 3 buttons around the ball.
He had a pile of PAWS pins sitting there and I snagged one. I'm a sucker
for freebies :-B
Rob: After seeing this product last year and thinking "WHY?" I was glad to
see it was much better this year! By better I mean it did not look like a
high school shop project. The cases looked very nice. I was hoping to see
one up and running, but none were. Also the price (around $2800us) seemed
a bit high... but if there is a market this it will sell.
STORAGE PATH BY SYS CORP.
Ken: Boxes. Big expensive boxes with blinking lights. My eyes glazed over
at this booth because I knew that these things were almost the price of a
Rob: They were showing a RAID setup. While saving a file to the drives you
could pull out a drive and it would continue to work. This is one of the
booths that you need to win the lottery to really get interested in.
Ken: When I came to this booth there was a guy there who immediately
started yapping away. I just wanted to look at what was in the booth but
the guy kept trying to make conversation. Unfortunately, this made me want
to walk away and I did. I avoided the booth after that.
Rob: TS had a small but packed booth showing many things... They had DPS's
new digital video card, Perception (very nice). They are a dealer in
Hollywood that realy look like they support the Amiga. As always James
answerd all my questions.
VIDEO TOASTER USER MAGAZINE
Ken: Free Magazines. Whee. :)
Rob: I take the 5th (They need a "Free Sample" sign too.)
Ken: Visiting the VillageTronic booth was quite a surprise. They had 2
computers set up, one Mac and one Amiga and each was running their own
Picasso card. Yes, you heard right - the Mac was running a MacPicasso
card. This was pretty impressive. It was able to genlock and overlay
computer images onto video. They were using a very nice looping animation
of a rendered dinosaur to show it off. The animation was running very
smooth on the Mac but very choppy on the Amiga. One of the other things I
saw them demo was a toaster like effect of making it seem like an old film.
It had lint and particles and things all over the screen. Didn't look too
convincing but I bet with some work, it would look pretty cool. They
seemed to be more interested in pushing the Mac version of the Picasso
card. I don't blame them, there's a bigger market there. I just wish they
had put a little more emphasis on the Amiga version. Around the booth were
empty boxes of AmigaOS 3.1, AmiTCP/IP and I think I saw an Ariadne box too.
Rob: This booth looked the same as it had in the last 3 or 4 shows that I
have seen them at. They had the Picasso II running along with their new
board, the MacPicasso. The card uses a Cirrus chip (better than the Amiga
Picasso). It's a "Picasso" for NuBus/PCI/PDS and does 640x480 up to
1280x1024. 24bits at 1024x768, 16bits at 1152x900 and 8bit at 1280x1024.
It comes with 2MB and can be expanded to 4MB. They had AmiTCP box there
and the other products they sell. Not sure if Holgers German to English
was correct but he said that the MacPicasso features would be available on
the Amiga maybe in late Spring.
Ken: I was looking for this booth but didn't find it at the show. I was
kind of anxious to see what a big name graphics company like Xaos would
have for Lightwave. Unfortunately I found out later that Xaos was
supposedly in the Newtek booth. :( Wish I could have seen 'em.
Rob: I take the 5th
Ken: After we left the expo, I felt a bit let down. I was hoping to see a
much flashier Amiga Technologies booth, but I guess they just didn't get
too much time to prepare it. The expo was also a bit smaller than I
expected. Still, it's good to see Amiga Technologies participating in the
Having left the expo, we decided to visit Fry's Electronics in Woodland
Hills. This is the Disney Land of hi-tech electronics and computer
equipment. I used to work for Fry's up in the Bay Area and actually had a
hand in setting up the Software Department at the Woodland Hills store.
Inside it's decorated in an Alice in Wonderland theme and looks like you've
just walked into a Theme Park with computers, software and electronics
everywhere. It's HUGE and and is a must visit place for those visiting the
Driving home was the worst part of the trip. I had been up for 24 hours
and I felt like a limp rag. After arriving at Rob's house, I had yet
another hour to drive home. I didn't even go to sleep when I got home - I
went straight to my Amiga and logged into IRC to tell my #Amiga buddies of
our Video Toaster Expo Adventure. :)
Rob: The show was about what I expected to see. Not the best show ever but
worth a visit if you were close.
What I did not understand is why they don't push the "amiga" part of the
show more. It was the _only_ show where Amiga people could come and show
there stuff in the USA.
Some Pointers releated to the review:
Speech by Petro Tyschtschenko in Los Angeles
AmigaTechBroch.lha docs/anno 314K+AmigaTech Product Brochures
Or next review might be of MUIwine95 1.0oj, an MUI uninstaller.
If you are interested in getting your product/program or service reviewed
by The K&R Report you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
This review is )1995 By Ken Krebs and Robert Resiwig. This review may not
be reproduced without expressed consent by the authors. You may contact us
individually at the following addresses:
Ken Krebs (email@example.com)
Robert Reiswig (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This review is dedicated to:
Ken: Heidi and Biggus.
Rob: Vic and Al