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MacEdition Pro News : March 17, 2003

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Your stuff in print and photos

by MacEdition Staff (feedback)

In this issue

Feather in its cap

Extensis landed itself a neat little deal with Printable Technologies Inc. that will see the online print services company use PrintReady as the basis for its online file transfer and preflighting service.

“It is essential to e-business in the printing industry that it be very easy for print buyers to send files for production, and essential for printers to have as early a warning as possible of any problems with those files,” said Joe Fedor, product manager for Printable Technologies. “With PrintReady powering both PrintFlight and our standard file transfers, we’re able to provide both incredibly easy file transfer to print buyers and robust preflighting capabilities to printers.”

While the print service gets a well known tool that is already the weapon of choice for groups like the Associated Press, HarperCollins, Primedia and others, Extensis sees the deal as a stepping stone in getting smaller print firms to use the software as the foundation of their online services.

Stepping into the arena

Old ink-stained wretches of the print business who can easily recall the days when desktop publishers all brought their work in on SyQuest disks might marvel at the world of prepress today.

For those printers still locked in the days when Quark 3.1, Illustrator 5 and Photoshop 2.5 were top of the pops, there’s a company that will give you a month-long run at doing business the new way.

FilesDirect provides registrants with server space to which their clients can upload files rather than bringing the work to the shop. The service also will fire off a couple of emails to alert the recipients when files are delivered.

The design revolves around the idea that clients and contractors must be able to send and receive files easily without the hassles of logging in with an account. Only the organization will require an account with FilesDirect.

When an organization signs up with FilesDirect, the system generates a Web page specifically for that organization to send and receive files. When clients and contractors want to send files, they simply visit this Web page, select their files to send, and click “Send”. The files will be stored on the FilesDirect server and are accessible only by the organization.

FilesDirect automatically sends two emails: a confirmation to the sender and a notification to the receiver. The organization logs into its account and downloads the files as needed. These files are only removed from the server when the organization chooses to do so.

Regular rates for the service start at US$18 for 150MB worth of transfers and run up to US$200 per month for 10GB of files.

My art 4 sale

Independent photographers looking for a way to generate revenue from their work might want to take a look at a new service being launched by Shutterfly.

The online print order business is now setting up a service where a photographer can post her work and have people order prints without having to become a Net-connected guru or worry about payment processing.

Shutterfly will host the galleries and service the purchasing, printing and order fulfillment functions. Pro Galleries “partners” can create and manage their own galleries, complete with a vanity URL if they prefer. They can set their own pricing and create custom printed back and header messaging. Partners can then drive traffic to their galleries by email or by providing a link to the URL on their own Web site. Partners receive monthly payments for their share of the revenue generated from print orders from their galleries. Shutterfly generates revenue from setup and annual subscription fees, and print orders.

Those interested in the service should point their browsers to Shutterfly’s business solutions sign up page.

HP enters the photofinishing market

Hewlett-Packard is taking a trial run at stepping into the photofinishing business by setting up digital output kiosks in a chain of consumer electronics stores in Canada.

The kiosks will accept digital photos from a variety of media and then output them to a top-end inkjet printer. The Canada-wide HP test program is being conducted through Future Shop, a wholly owned subsidiary of US giant Best Buy.

Built on commercial thermal inkjet technology from HP, the Phogenix DFX solution is an affordable system that allows more retailers to participate in the exploding digital imaging market and benefits both traditional film and digital camera users who want cost-competitive, convenient digitization and printing options.

HP is also planning to launch a similar service in Europe sometime later this year with HP Indigo vending the kiosks to retailers in that region of the world.

Oh, and new cameras too

Hewlett-Packard added two new cameras to its Photosmart line, giving its new top end model, the Photosmart 935, a five-megapixel resolution and a 3X optical zoom lens made by camera giantPentax. The camera also incorporates a 7X digital zoom and uses Secure Digital memory cards.

HP also released a 3.2-megapixel model, the 735, which uses a 3X optical zoom lens made by Pentax. The 735 has a 5X digital zoom and also uses the SD memory cards. Both cameras ship with software for Mac OS X and Mac OS Classic and will print directly to HP’s newer Photosmart printers.

Both cameras use USB to connect to the computer and can connect though the Photosmart 8886 camera dock. The dock also acts as a charging station for the rechargeable batteries that ship with the cameras.

The 935 and the camera dock are expected to reach the market in April and will retail for US$449 and US$79, respectively. The 735 will ship in June and retail at US$299.

Kodak cuts out the computer

Eastman Kodak Company announced a pair of 3.1-megapixel cameras and a unique dock/printer combination which does away with the need for a computer.

The dock/printer solution, the EasyShare 6000, will use thermal dye transfer for printing 4" x 6" snapshots and will have the ability to recharge the camera’s batteries. The US$199 printer docking unit will be compatible with Kodak’s 2003 camera family and is expected to hit the streets in May. Photo refill packs will allow the user to bang off as many as 80 prints. The camera dock will be available alone for US$79.

The two cameras, the EasyShare LS633 and DX6340, will share the same 3.1-megapixel lens (with 3X optical/3X digital zoom) but that’s about all that will be similar between the two models. The LS633 will feature a 2.2" screen and supports edge-to-edge prints at up to 11" x 14". The US$399 camera is expected to be available in Australia, Asia and Europe in April.

The auto-focusing DX6340 will feature a wider aperture (f2.2 to f13) and a flash capable of throwing light up to 20 feet, making it more suitable for indoor and low-light use. It will retail at US$329 and be available worldwide in May.

Canon fires up OS X scanner

Mac OS X users tired of waiting around for a high-resolution scanner that works in the new OS have no need to look any further than Canon’s new 9900F flatbed scanner.

The unit runs natively in Mac OS X 10.2, features FireWire 400 connectivity and sports a 3200x6400 dpi resolution. The 48-bit scanner also supports batch scans of 24 slides, works with medium-format and 4" x 5" film and can deliver a preview scan in about three seconds.

In addition to the usual quick-launch buttons, the 9900F scanner also supports new drivers which automatically retouch scans to eliminate grain and color correction for faded images. Dust and scratch removal features in the older versions of the drivers have been rolled into the new driver.

FARE level 2 helps deliver high quality scans from damaged originals and increases support adding compatibility for Kodachrome film. The Fading correction feature examines originals with faded color and intelligently rebuilds color quality, for example saturation where required, restoring the image to its original pre-faded color balance.

Grain correction examines and smoothes out the effects of film grain recorded and visible at higher scanning resolutions. The result is images which have smoother tones and higher overall quality. All three of these features are controlled through the driver and can be turned on and off at will.

The 9900F will ship with Adobe Photoshop Elements and OmniPage SE this month and is expected to retail at US$399.

Shapes of things to come

California chip maker Zoran Corp. is shipping samples of a chip that will enable digital camera makers to ship 16-megapixel cameras.

The new Zoran COACH 6p is built around a 32-bit RISC core, has an improved imaging pipeline and offers faster click-to-click exposure speeds. The chip is programmable, allowing manufacturers to embed their software into the camera. It also has built-in support for USB output, allowing direct-to-printer support for cameras built with the chip. The chip will also support wireless file transfer.

Zoran’s 6p chip is expected to be shipping in quantity in the later half of this year, and the company expects to begin signing manufacturers to OEM deals in the near future. The company counts Minolta, Ricoh, Agfa and Kodak among its regular clients.

Zoran also is sampling a lower-end version of the chip, which supports three-megapixel captures, and is aiming the COACH 6e at the entry level of the digital camera market.

Looking for old ProNews segments? Check out our index at http://old.macedition.com/news/. Do you have news releases or tidbits of interest to the Macintosh professional? Send them to pronewsnotes@macedition.com.

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