Daily News from New York, New York on December 1, 1996 · 425
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Daily News from New York, New York · 425

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New York, New York
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Sunday, December 1, 1996
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425
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TECHSOTS' SOFTWARE SAiyiPLER g titaft Daft s mm spnr By GEORGE MANNES Daily New Buine Writer Let's face it: It's a Disney world, and we Just live in For years, you haven't been able to walk 3 feet In a toy "v store without tripping over a stack of dolls or a pair of pajamas tied to a Disney movie. And these days, you can't wander through an electronics store without seeing a Disney label, either. Now, in its attempt to rule the children's software market the way it rules the kids' video market, Disney has released a blizzard of new software in time for the holidays. These computerized spinoffs of "Toy Story," "101 Dalmatians" and other Disney titles are testament to the company's marketing might. But are they as good as promised by Disney's reputation? Here's a look at two titles. 101 DALMATIANS Released Just as Disney debuts the live-action version of the animated classic in theaters, "Disney's Animated Storybook: 101 Dalmatians" is a FT- , PRODUCT INrO: Disney's Animated Storybook: 101 Dalmatian (out of four stars) Windows, Macintosh Disney Interactive $39.95 (800) 900-9234 Disney's Activity Center: Toy Story Windows, Macintosh Disney Interactive $39.93 seamless pleasure for young readers and readers-to-be. Based on the 1961 original, the disc is an excellent example of the animated storybook genre. Just like pages in a printed children's book, the program presents a series of words and pictures that tell the story of Dalmatians Pongo and Perdy and, of course, the fur -crazy Cruella De Vil. The electronic difference is that in an animated storybook, the pictures move. Click on two kids frozen as they play soccer in the park, and they jump to life and start passing the ball back and forth. What makes this book better than most is the care that was taken in words, pictures and activities. For example, some of the more difficult words in the text, like "Dalmatian" and "bachelor," come with their very own poems to help kids understand what they mean. And one word per page is a miniature lesson in synonyms. If you keep clicking on the word "clothes" in one scene, you'll see and hear pronounced other words that could fit just as well: "garments," "fashions," and "apparel." Other entertaining features are the games found throughout the disc, along with the songs from the movie accompanied by lyrics and illustrations. TOY STORY ' ACTIVITIES Somewhat less satisfying is "Disney's Activity Center: Toy Story." It's not to be confused with the "Toy Story" animated storybook released earlier this 0i &y x,i" "" ,;"' ,: : l il. 4 v rmf CAMIM - : - y g l. ll .'I ... f Mfcrfv ' AN ANIMATED TAIL: In Disney's storybook on CD-ROM, "101 Dalmatians comes to life with moving pictures, games and even vocabulary lessons for young readers (see highlighted text, top). year or the "Toy Story" video game just released on CD-ROM. The activity center contains a series of games featuring characters, voice and animations drawn from last fall's hit movie. But the games and activities aren't consistently fun or engaging. The games include old standards dressed up as new toys, like the umpteenth variation on the old "Simon" game in which you try to remember an ever-lengthening sequence of blinking lights. This time around, they're the soda machines at the Pizza Planet restaurant Unfortunately, the disc's onscreen design makes it harder TEST DRIVE to play some of the other games, like the one in which the movie's green soldier toys face off against some little tykes in an attempt to get five pieces in a row on the checkerboard. The small size of the board, the large size of the pieces and the perspective of the game all make it difficult to get a clear view of the action. It's as if Disney just wanted to get its name on another title before the Christmas season.) Diminishing the experience on my computer were some technical problems, though jt ran fine on a second machine. Different scenes appeared op. my computer upside dowii, though the animation righted itself subsequently. And a de layed-reaction help system made it slow and annoying to find out how to operate some parts of certain games. . ft: .It If yoiioVe ttGtiifiiEsDifiig albouft HHoe TfeSmCsM a Each week In this section, the editors of Home Office Computing will present the most interesting pieces of computer equipment. This week we feature a top-of t he-line portable computer. IBM ThinkPad 36SX IDM, (800) 426-2968 $2,399 System configuration: Pentium 100MHz processor, 810MB of harddisc sp.ice, 8MB of EDO RAM, 10.4-litch active-matrix color screen, Track Point III Pointing Device, 16-blt audio Rating: t2 (out of four) The latest in IBM's ThinkPad 305 series serves up Pentium power at a palatable price. Although it costs $100 more than Compaq's Armada, the ThinkPad is superior in many ways, offering features that do more than make up for the d ill'erence in price. For starters, it employs EDO RAM, the new, highly charged memory that tests have shown can boost system memory by up to 15. Furthermore, it includes other important features: 16-bit stereo audio, an infrared dataport and the ability to add an optional external CD-ROM drive from IBM. The keyboard matches the Armada's in terms of comfortable, lull-size keys, but it lacks a wrist rest As a result, the rather crisp corners of the notebook tend to dig into your palms as you type. The ThinkPad employs an eraserhead-like pointing device for cursor control. The problems lie with the mouse buttons: They're stiff and unresponsive, making it difficult to know when you've registered a click. Along with sound capabilities, the ThinkPad features a built-in microphone, line-in and line-out jacks and a socket for an optional port replicator, which increases the notebook's expandability. According to IBM, the ThinkPad's nickel-metal-hydride battery is good for two and a half hours. Unfortunately, you have to raise the keyboard to get at the cell a process made awkward by the flimsy plastic claps that lock and unlock the keyboard. Bearing the fruits of the recent IBMLotus merger, the ThinkPad includes Lotus SmartSuite 96, a collection of powerful office applications. This generous offering could prove to be a mixed blessing if you're using a desktop system that doesn't have SmartSuite on it An extremely well-rounded notebook, this ThinkPad is a fine choice if you want portability, performance and software in the 3 $2,500 range. o 6 Homs OTAc Computing

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