2002 End of Year Review
May 19, 2003 at 02:49 pm by
Slimp?s Year End Review of Products
At the turn of each year, I dedicate a column to my favorite products of the past year. Basically I ask myself, ?If I were starting a newspaper from scratch, what hardware and software would I purchase?? As I reflect on the choices available over the past year, I try to take several factors into consideration. In most cases, the selection is based on overall quality, with attention given to product economy. While the best scanner on the market might be a $60,000 drum scanner, it?s not realistic to think most newspapers can make that type of investment, nor should they. With that in mind, these are my favorite products currently on the market:
Computer: Apple Dual 867MHz PowerPC G4
Packed with all the power you need for those memory intensive Photoshop files, the Apple G4 comes with a 60 Gb hard drive and 256 Mb RAM at a msrp of $1,699. I would upgrade to a 120 Gb hard drive, a $150 add-on, and 1 Gb RAM ($300). New programs require a lot of RAM, and this is not an area where you want to cut expenses. Resist the temptation to buy one of Apple?s expensive monitors and look for a good sale at CompUSA or other local computer dealer. www.apple.com
Laptop Computer: 1GHz PowerPC G4 Powerbook
Loaded with 512 Mb RAM memory and a 60 GB hard drive, the 1GHz Powerbook is ready for your most demanding projects. I know it?s tempting to save $1,000 and purchase the less expensive iBook, but professionals need the power of a G4 processor (the iBook comes with the older, G3 processor). The Powerbook lists for $2,799. www.apple.com
Digital Camera: Canon EOS D60
The D60 may be the closest thing to perfect for newspapers who are looking for a great camera without breaking the bank. At 6.3 megapixels, the camera can produce a high-resolution print at 12 by 18 inches. The D60?s auto focus system is three times more sensitive than the D30?s. The D60?s burst mode can capture up to eight consecutive images at three frames per second at all image qualities. The camera also boasts the ability to take up to three images per second. Quite a boost over the cameras we?ve been using. The lithium battery pack, which is included with the camera, provides enough power to take 500-600 images under normal conditions. msrp is $2,199 (does not include lens). www.canon.com
Digital Camera: Olympus C-5050
If you?re looking for a digital camera under $1,000, the Olympus C-5050 Zoom might be just what you?re looking for. The 5050 provides full manual and advanced photographic control, while still providing easy-to-use automated picture modes and an easy to use menu and control system. While not up to par with the Canon D60, a very good camera for the under $1,000 market. www.olympus.com
Desktop Scanner: Epson Perfection 2400 or 2450 Photo Scanner
Epson makes the best desktop scanners. Depending on the price you want to pay, you can find acceptable Epson scanners for the newspaper market from $129 to $2,900. My overall favorite is the Epson Perfection 2450 Photo Scanner. The 48 bit Perfection 2450 boasts 2400 X 4800 resolution, with both USB and Firewire compatibility for $399. If you?re not interested in enhancing the scanning speed with Firewire, save $170 and buy the Epson Perfection 2400. It lists for $229. www.epson.com
External Hard Drive: Lacie Firewire Drive
I purchase a lot of external hard drives for my staff. Every time I?ve bought a drive by someone other than Lacie, I?ve wanted to kick myself. Lacie sells Firewire drives up to 250 Gb in size. For the money, the 120 Gb drive is the best deal, listing at $269. Firewire drives by Lacie are fast, hold a lot of information, and connect without a hassle. I also like the Lacie CD writers. www.lacie.com
Pagination Software: Adobe InDesign 2.0
The best, hands down. I understand that folks aren?t in hurry to switch from Quark Xpress, a product they?ve been using for years. But if I were starting an operation from scratch, and I?ve helped start many, InDesign is the software of choice. It leaves all others dangling in its dust. Lists for $699. Order a new Apple G4 by December 31, 2002 and receive InDesign 2.0 free (you?ll need to send in a coupon, available at www.adobe.com).
Photo Editing Software: Adobe Photoshop 7.0
The ?browse? feature makes this new version worth the $149 upgrade price. Several vendors have come out with lower-priced competitors to Photoshop, but none quite live up to the standard. The next best, in my opinion, is Corel PhotoPaint ($249). Photoshop 7 lists for $609. www.adobe.com
Font Management Software: Extensis Suitecase
Extensis Suitcase 10 takes most of the work out of working with fonts. Packed with automated features that make activating, organizing and previewing fonts a snap, Suitcase is a quick way to work with fonts in today?s creative applications. Suitcase 10 provides true font management, supporting both OS X and Classic applications. Single user version lists for $99. Server version is available for $999. www.extensis.com
CD Creation Software: Toast Titanium
Toast 5 Titanium is the comprehensive, all-in-one DVD and CD burner software that enables Mac users to create, organize, share and store all of your digital content on CDs or DVDs. The same company, Roxio, offers Easy CD Creator for the Windows user. Both are $99. www.roxio.com
Other ?Must Have? Software Titles
Adobe Acrobat 5 (full version) - I can?t imagine any newspaper not having the full version of Adobe Acrobat.
MacLink Plus Deluxe - MacLinkPlus Deluxe is the top selling utility to convert and use Windows files on a Mac. Also allows user to convert incompatible file types, such as WordPerfect or Microsoft Works, to most other formats. www.dataviz.com
MacDrive for Windows - MacDrive software makes Mac disks readable on Windows-based machines, so it?s a great way to get files both from Macs to PCs and from PCs to Macs. MacDrive wins the award for simplicity as well as power. www.media4.com
So there you have it. My end of the year list for 2002. I left out a couple of categories this year. I?ve decided that ad layout software has as much to do with personal preference as anything else. My favorite program developed primarily for ad layout is Creator 6. Frankly, since I began using InDesign three years ago, it?s rare that I turn to another program for creating ads. I still use Illustrator, CorelDraw and FreeHand on occasion. The same goes with word processors. I prefer Microsoft Word OS X, but it?s due more to familiarity than anything else.
One last piece of advice. When buying hardware, I normally turn to www.pricescan.com to get a list of price comparisons on most products. Pricescan has saved me a lot of money over the years. I don?t usually order from the lowest priced vendor, but look for a good price from a vendor I?ve had luck with in the past.