Summary: Once again Steve Jobs wowed the crowd at Macworld yesterday. FiringSquad's own Alexis Dang was on-hand to check out the event, and in today's article he reports back on a slew of topics, including dozens of iPod accessories, digital cameras and pigment printers from Canon and HP, monitors, and keyboards. Check it all out in this article!
Ironically, in the recent Apple TV ads, they have been trying to portray themselves to be very different from the PC world, using a “nerdy” looking actor portraying a PC, while using a young trendy looking guy to play the Mac. Funny thing though, at today’s event, there were more people who looked like the PC dude than the Mac dude walking around. In fact, at this event the majority of the exhibits were not for computers, but for audio and video accessories.
Even with this urge to be different, today’s Macs run Intel processors, use SATA interfaces, and are all the faster and more efficient due to this. Imagine where Apple would be today if they switched to the x86 platform earlier. What kept them from doing this is unclear, it is probably the same thing keeping them from putting more than one button on a mouse or a scroll wheel on a mouse…
In my visit to the MacWorld Expo, I wanted to give you guys a sense of the atmosphere, of what people were interested in. This week is a big one for trade shows, you have CES in Vegas, MacWorld in San Francisco, and the Detroit Auto Show. With all that, the biggest announcement of the week has probably been the iPhone.
From all the hype yesterday, you would have thought that Apple invented the telephone. They called the act of making a phone call the “killer app,” and that the iPhone had figured this secret out.
That said, this is a device that I would probably want.
I see it as a phone that is linked to my personal information manager, i.e. my contacts and calendar. Current solutions from Treo and Blackberry have been okay, but not great. It is my hope that the interface of the iPhone will take from the iPod the simplicity and make it a great device.
A few downsides are that this thing is reported to cost $600 for 8GB of flash ram. I can get a full featured laptop for that price! They did not have any prototype to play with or to touch on display at the show. The information available on Apple’s website was more than what you could directly get from the conference.
Digital music is what has saved Apple. The concept of digital music, of MP3s, of being able to store vast amounts of music was all required for the iPod to become successful. I would say the majority of the exhibits at the expo were dedicated to iPod accessories.
These accessories can be divided into two major categories. Clothing for the iPod, and speakers for the iPod. By turning the iPod into a fashion accessory, Steve Jobs created a whole new market.
Most of the iPod cases were form fitting devices that would help protect the iPod from bumps and scrapes, while adding a bit of fashion individuality. That was the theory actually, but every other vendor had some type of rubber case for the iPod. Some claimed their silicone was better than rubber, one had a “cashmere rubber” since it was a soft touch material. Here are a few from the show. I didn’t include everyone, I’m sorry, but do you ever get the feeling that when you get lost, you always seem to pass by the same corner again and again? I got that feeling with all these iPod cases even though I wasn’t lost, no really.
One that stood out for me were these wraps from a North Carolina company, iFanatic. Their material allowed for control of the track wheel through their case. This would be the best type of protection, while not compromising function. They say they are working on their collection of teams.
My favorite case was the aluminum case from Matias. I feel that aluminum will actually protect the iPod more than rubber. In addition, when I asked them if the color was powdercoated or anodized, they knew immediately what I was talking about and without having to check with the guy in the back, they told me it was anodized. Anodized aluminum is much more chip and scratch resistant than paint or powdercoat. I bet this cost them a little more to make, but if you want the ultimate case for show and function, I’d get this one.
Not to be left out of the fashion world, there was a great showing of companies making not just computer bags, but general bags and form fitting cases for the laptops. Again, we saw the same form fitting shells for the laptops as we saw for the iPods. These actually seem to give some protection for the laptops.
It’s almost like for some laptop users, what the laptop has on the outside is more important than what it has on the inside.
There was also a large collection of computer bags. Most didn’t look like computer bags, which is a good thing. Many looked like purses, which is just not my thing, not that there is anything wrong with that. Here are a couple that caught my eye.
Sports Illustrated has shown us that a painted on swim suit is just as good as a real swimsuit. In that light, here are a few custom paint jobs on a few Macs.
Unfortunately there were no new announcements for any new cameras or lenses at this event. When I asked the Canon guys about what the Mark III bodies would have they feigned ignorance. Actually, the reps there were probably more marketing folks than photographers since the ones at the Canon Lens table hadn’t even heard about Arca Swiss plates.
Camera bags have also come a long way. My favorites are the Kata and Crumpler series. Kata originated in Israel, where they began by making body armor for Israel Defense Forces and Israel “secret services.” You have to be serious about what you do to make body armor. On the opposite end of seriousness is Crumpler. The website is beyond the wackiness of a talking dog puppet. Other guys were giving out candy and mints at their booths, Crumpler was giving away matches...Of note, they told me that Crumpler of Europe is not the original Crumpler, and only bought the rights to use the name. The original Crumpler is Australian and that is what we have in the USA. Both brands make extremely high quality bags with plenty of padding and good looks.
I spoke with Canon about availability of their new Pixma Pro9500 pigment printer and they said that it should be shipping in a few months. All these printers honestly looked great. You would be hard-pressed to blame any of these printers for a bad image. I’ve always been partial to Epson although everyone of mine has died a painful death as a result of a clogged print head. I’ll probably try something else next time.
The longevity of these new pigment printers, using appropriate media, will exceed that of any “traditional” photograph except for specialized prints, printed with gold or black and while silver photos. HP is claiming 200 yrs behind glass, light fastness. Not too shabby.
NEC had the best monitors of the show with their LED backlight monitor. This has the widest color gamut for a LCD and they told me that it was now a bargain at $3300, down from the introductory price of $7000. For the common man they had a wide gamut cold cathode display that didn’t look too bad.
A couple more:
Well, one company decided to bring back the feel of the old IBM keyboard. Matias, also the folks with the anodized iPod cases, have created a new keyboard called the Tactile Pro 2.0 Each key has a mechanical switch instead of the membrane on many keyboards today. They previously used the ALPS keyswitch, but then decided to redesign it to make their own switch. I tried the key board, it feels as good as the old stuff, but isn’t as heavy and look a lot nicer. It was like hearing how good vinyl records sound on the right equipment. Sometimes old school is better. We hope to get this into our labs soon.
One keyboard that made it through our gauntlet was the Goldtouch keyboard. We tested a black one, so they wanted our readers to know that they now make a white keyboard for macs.
Mac specific furniture
So at the end of my visit, I would have to say that there wasn’t too many surprises at the show. Mac World has become more of an accessory trade show than one for new big ticket items. Oh well, that’s the price of convergence.
|© Copyright 2003 FS Media, Inc.|