- The Washington Times - Monday, December 10, 2001

Hanukkah began last night. Christmas Eve is 14 days away. Kwanzaa follows on the heels of Christmas, and Ramadan's end is to be marked next weekend by Eid-al-Fatir.
Got any gift shopping to do? Well, here are some do's and one, sad to say, don't.
Extreme Media Digital Studio, from Broderbund Software (www.broderbund.com) is an $80 (list) software suite that lets users capture, edit, manage and personalize digital content including photographs, videos and music and then burn a CD to view or listen to it on a PC, DVD player or stereo system. The software, which keys into the multimedia features of Microsoft Windows XP, offers a bunch of features.
The program has a very simple, streamlined interface that's easy to use. Among the features, the software lets users enhance video clips that are on a PC with graphics, photos and MP3 tracks, or create a slide show with transitions and sounds.
For music, Digital Studio lets users organize a music library with song titles and artist information downloaded from the Gracenote CDDB Music Recognition Service Internet music database, which is one of the largest such databases online. You can then create a customized play list of stored songs and listen to them on a PC or export MP3 files to popular portable players.
The program also allows users to burn videos onto the Video CD or Super Video CD formats that can be played on most PC-based DVD/VCD players, as well as burn music and data CDs. Once a disc is created, the user can design and print custom CD jewel case inserts plus labels for CDs and DVDs.
The package is available at online stores such as www.amazon.com and a $20 mail-in rebate is currently offered. For those who want to get more involved with digital media, this is good software to have.
Also available from Broderbund is Print Shop Pro Publisher 12, a tool that many in small businesses or home offices might enjoy. The software offers a creative library, including over 250,000 images and over 14,500 layouts for various projects. There's an integrated photo editor, a "Color Set Creator" that allows coordination of colors in a set of items, and a custom paper wizard to allow you to work with specialized papers.
I used Print Shop Pro Publisher 12 under rather rushed circumstances and was very pleased with the results. On the eve of a trade show, I was short of business cards and had to run off a bunch quickly. My traditional desktop publishing program no names, please developed a glitch that wouldn't let me print on the paper stock I wanted to use.
Print Shop Pro Publisher 12 installed within minutes, let me create a design in a jiffy, supported the paper I used, and ran off cards without a hitch. When time was of the essence, the program came through. List price on the software, available widely at retail and online, is $70, and it's worth checking out.
I wish I could say the same about a new product from Logitech (www.logitech.com). It's good, but it needs to get better, in my opinion.
The company claims its new, $80, Cordless Telephone and PC Headset System "simplifies communication by enabling hands-free telephone calling or Internet voice chat with automatic switching between the telephone and the PC." It includes a cordless headset and telephone adapter, 10-channel auto-scanning 900 MHz transmission, a boom microphone with noise canceling and amplification technology to filter out background noise for audio input. It has a six-hour battery life and up to 100 feet of cordless range.
The device is a good cordless telephone headset the transmitter clips onto a belt for easy carrying while walking around but there's no way to hang up (or answer) a voice call when away from your desk, and no dial pad with which one can place a call. Having the integration with a PC is nice, and I may yet be won over, but more needs to be done, in my view at least, to make this a great home-office device.
Next week, more gift ideas, since the clock is ticking after all.
Write to Mark Kellner in care of The Washington Times, Business Desk, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; send e-mail to [email protected], or visit the writer's Web page, www.kellner2000.com. Talk back live to Mark on www.adrenaline-radio.com every Thursday from 8 to 9 p.m. EST.


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