09 Aug Hot products launch in summer's slow days
Never mind about the dog days of summer slowing the flow of news in the technology business. On Monday, both Macromedia and Fujitsu made significant product announcements.
Macromedia announced the much-anticipated Macromedia Studio 8, its development suite for web developers and designers, along with the upgrades to the various point products including Dreamweaver, Flash Professional, Fireworks, Contribute, and FlashPaper.
The release of Studio 8 offers several improvements driven by an intensive effort by Macromedia engineers to reconsider the way Macromedia customers were using the product.
For many months, the engineers held customer meetings and — most important — just watched how their programs were being used in everyday work. Those observations led to changes in Studio 8 designed to support and simplify a Web developer’s workflow and improve productivity.
Perhaps the biggest change is the addition of Contribute — an under-appreciated and highly-useful tool that lets a web designer give content owners direct update access to a website — and FlashPaper, a document conversion tool that translates printable documents into PDF or FlashPaper format for posting on the web. Both tools will help streamline the process of daily updates of sophisticated interactive sites. Gone from the suite is Freehand, a tool used primarily by graphic designers.
In addition to those productivity tools, the new Studio has performance-enhancing features, including new video encoding tools and visual authoring tools for XML. In a nod to the company’s desire to see the mobile Flash client gain ground, Studio 8 also includes tools that let developers author and test mobile content.
Along with Studio 8’s upgrade come improvements to the point products Dreamweaver 8, Flash Professional 8, and Fireworks 8.
Perhaps the best news in Monday’s Macromedia announcements is a much simpler pricing and upgrade policy. The company’s previous matrix of features and pricing has been replaced by a straightforward plan that prices Studio 8 at $999 with a $399 upgrade from any previous version of the product. Studio 8 is expected to ship in September. You’ll find all the details of the announcement at its website.
For its part, Fujitsu on Monday introduced the LifeBook P1500, a 2.2-pound notebook that converts to a tablet computer, making it the smallest, lightest convertible notebook. The P1500 runs Windows XP rather than the tablet version of the Windows OS, and offers a host of improvements — faster processor, more storage, more memory — over the forerunner P1000, which sold mainly into vertical applications.
This new computer is light, small, and ergonomically designed to function extremely well as a tablet. It fits comfortably in a one-hand grasp, leaving your writing hand-free for note taking and application navigation. To make the note-taking easier, Fujitsu has licensed EverNote’s EverNote Plus and ritePen applications and pre-loads them on the P1500. EverNote Plus is note-taking software that lets you capture, categorize and find all types of notes and content, and ritePen is the company’s next-generation handwriting recognition software. If EverNote sounds familiar to you, it’s perhaps because the company introduced the applications at DEMOmobile 2004.
The P1500 is such a nice tablet that it’s a little less interesting as a notebook computer. The keyboard is a bit tight for touch typing, and the screen a bit small. But those tradeoffs are well worth it for the excellent touch-screen navigation and note-taking capabilities the device offers.
The P1500 is available beginning today from the Fujitsu website and through its channel partners, at a starting price of $1,499.
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