As reliable and glamorous as a battered old truck or a dog dozing on the rug by the fireside, black-and-white laser printers remain the king of the printing world. Mercifully, there were no huge innovations in black-ink lasers last year that I need to tell you about, or if there were, I have forgotten about them. Performance increased, price decreased, enough said. Inkjets are another story entirely. The past year has seen a veritable blizzard of stars and complex resolution-enhancing technologies. But behind the glitz, three things are undeniable - firstly, inkjets are getting faster (rated six to eight pages per minute), although generally not quite as fast as the numbers on the box would suggest (actually, one or two pages per minute). Secondly, quality is getting better in various ways - better inks, better papers and paper-handling, more colours, higher resolution and better software. Thirdly, things are shrinking, such as prices and ink cartridges. An Epson Stylus Color Pro which, as I recall, was discontinued late last year, cost more than twice as much as a similar model today. I looked at a machine the other day that had an ink cartridge that would barely fill my fountain pen. While black-ink lasers may be about as exciting as a sleeping dog, colour lasers are a different story. Two years ago, someone asked me for some advice about buying a colour laser printer for proofing documents and page layouts before sending them to the printing press. After I stopped laughing, I explained that it was not yet the time to be looking at colour lasers to undertake such tasks. Things have changed. Accurate colour resolution is no longer the pipe dream it was three or four years ago. Most importantly, colour lasers have become much cheaper. An A4-only model was more than $50,000 three years ago. Now $50,000 will get you an A3, something that was not even available until late this year, and an A4 can be had for less than $20,000. Digital cameras also have had a serious coming of age. Not long ago, most digitals wound up in the hands of businesses with a need for quick digital images and money to burn, or in the hands of serious geeks. These days I see tourists packing digitals on holidays. Features are becoming more innovative and designs such as the Kodak DC260 are being created to make the most of digital technology, rather than imitate traditional film cameras. Several cameras - the two-year-old Olympus C1400-L having been the first - can shoot pictures which meet or beat the quality of pro digital cameras made just two years ago (and which sold for nearly 30 times the price). Pro models also have moved up a notch. The Kodak DCS520 is the first camera to let users convert from film to digital with minimal compromises. This single model has started a stampede of wire services and newspapers towards digital cameras. Save the best for last, I say, and for my money the best is Photoshop 5 from Adobe Systems. You can buy a new digital camera or a new colour laser printer or a new inkjet, but this product has the ability to make all of your images look better, no matter where they came from or how they are reproduced. Photoshop 5 is the first version to uncouple the RGB colour space from the monitor and make it a device-independent colour space. Before 5, Photoshop could only reproduce colours that your monitor was capable of displaying. If your camera or scanner could capture colours that your monitor could not display, previous versions would basically throw them out. Not so with Photoshop 5. With Adobe RGB (1998), you will have a colour gamut that can handle anything a scanner or a camera can throw at it. Photoshop 5 also embeds a profile into your images which allows other users to see the image exactly as you did.