MacRumors at Macworld Expo: Trip Report and Highlights

This was my first year attending Macworld as the "MacRumors guy." It was a great experience overall and I was also able to experience the Keynote in all its glory. I think this T-Shirt sums up the week best:

eatsleepmac

After a whirlwind week, we've put together this small report on the trip, and highlighted some other interesting products shown at Macworld. Obviously, the iPhone commanded the most attention from the event. Beyond that, the following products/companies are mentioned in this report, and may be of interest to readers:

- George by Chestnut Hill Sound - iPod speaker with a future
- Hookup Lanyard by Lenntek Coorporation - iPod + Cellphone integration
- Modbook by Axiotron - First tablet Mac
- Glance by Glance Networks - Screen sharing tool, now on Mac
- Toast 8 by Roxio - disc burning, now with Tivo2GoMacRumors at MacWorld San Francisco 2007

crowdlineMacRumors has had live-coverage of Macworld Keynotes for years now, and with the help of some very hard working site members, we've been able to steadily improve our system to withstand the massive traffic generated during a keynote event. This year, we incorporated near real-time photos into the keynote updates. With only minor glitches, we managed to rapidly deliver both text and photo updates to a record number of visitors. A full breakdown of the traffic statistics are available in a separate report.

Despite our sizeable audience, MacRumors.com is not recognized by MacworldExpo or Apple as an official media outlet, and so that meant we had to stand in line for the keynote, just like everybody else. By 5:30am the keynote line had already wrapped around one and a half city blocks and TV crews were there to cover the frenzy. To the regulars, the keynote line seemed much longer than in previous years. Indeed, it had been reported that Macworld pre-event registrations had grown 28% compared to just last year's event.

After the exciting keynote address, a few site updates, an interview, and various MWSF events, we finally managed to make our way to the Macworld Expo floor, and here are some of the highlights:

georgeGeorge from Chestnut Hill Sound

Chestnut Hill Sound introduced George, a new iPod speaker system. Another one? Well... yes, and no. Chestnut Hill Sound's tag line is "Products with a future". While George represents a high end product (at $549) in the iPod speaker market, it appears to distinguish itself and promises an upgradable future.

At first glance, George offers (yet) another iPod-dock speaker system, but also incorporates a detachable front panel which acts as an RF remote for the entire system. This remote (image) incorporates a scroll-wheel interface familiar to iPod users and full backlit graphical display to easily browse your playlist/library.

One interesting aspect is that George offers the possibility for future hardware and software updates. The details of the additional hardware modules were not yet available, but this, associated with a USB-connector (image) promises future upgrades to the entire system.

The system also includes an AM/FM radio, alarm clock, "brilliant sound" and comes in different styles (red image). More information is available at CHillSound.com

Hookup Lanyard angleLenntek Hookup Lanyard

Lenntek Coorporation introduced two new hands-free solutions for the iPod at Macworld San Francisco 2007. The one that caught my eye as well as being noted as an iLounge Best Of product was the Hookup Lanyard.

The Hookup Lanyard provides a lanyard attachment for the iPod Nano which appears to exactly match the new metallic iPod nanos. The bluetooth attachment connects to the bottom of your iPod and offers both headphones and necklace. The device pairs with your bluetooth cell phone in order to provide seemless cell phone answering while you are listening to your iPod.

No additional software or fireware is needed. Overall, the simplicity of the device was the great appeal. The product retails for $69.99. The company's website is at Lenntek

modbookAxiotron Modbook from OWC

The Axiotron Modbook (image) received a lot of hype in the week prior to Macworld, but the official release was a bit overshadowed by Apple's iPhone announcement.

The product was revealed at Macworld with fully functional demos at the Other World Computing booth. The Axiotron Modbook is a modified MacBook with a new 13.3" LCD, WACOM Digitizer, ForceGlass Screen, Digitizer Pen and optional GPS. The Axitron Modbook solution adds an $1100-$1200 premium over stock MacBook prices, but offers the only real tablet solution for the Mac. Complete solutions can be purchased from OWC with prices starting at $2199.

Overall, the product appears to be very well built, and while it does allow use of Mac OS X's Inkwell handwriting recognition, the actual practice of entering text appears somewhat awkward -- though my experience with it was very brief and limited. Readers may recall that Apple's handwriting technology is from Apple's now-discontinued Newton PDA. While the handwriting recognition itself remains good, the integration with Mac OS X (a desktop OS) is what may not be ideal. It seems the target audience for this tablet would be graphic designers or professionals who require standing/walking access to their Mac.

pressuremodbookThe WACOM screen appears to be very accurate, and offers 256 pressure levels, allowing pressure sensitive drawing (see image). The pen technology allows the user to "hover" the pen over the screen as the cursor is controlled, and resting your hand on the screen itself introduces no problems.

The product is available for pre-order now from MacSales and data sheet available at Axiotron.

Glance.net

Glance Networks announced the introduction of a Mac version of their Glance screen sharing tool at Macworld Expo. They offer a software application that now runs on the Mac that allows you to broadcast your computer screen live through their website. Guests simply log in through a Java web-based client on the Glance site. Simplicity appears to be the main appeal, with no special software required for guests. The service appears to be targeted at collaborative business meetings, creative review, product demos, slide presentations, and so on.

I can't honestly say I have much knowledge regarding this market, but as a new entry to the Mac market, it reflects important growth in the Mac community. Glance.net's service is $49/month and they offer a free trial.

tivoroxioRoxio Toast 8

Roxio launched the latest version of Toast at Macworld. Toast 8 introduces a number of new features to their disc burning software, but the one that has garnered the most attention was TivoToGo integration.

Mac users have been patiently waiting for an official method to take videos from their Tivos and transfer them to their DVDs and iPods.

Computerworld offers a first look at the software, which appears to be a simple and effective solution for Mac users with Tivos. Downloaded videos can be burnt to DVD, exported to iTunes and imported into your video iPod.

Toast 8 is available from Roxio for $79.99 after mail in rebate.

Buzz on the Macworld Floor

One of the most entertaining aspects of Macworld was the reactions and discussions from attendees regarding Apple's announcements.

The most interesting things are heard on the Macworld floor, including theories about why there was no word of Leopard during the keynote, and a general belief that iWork '07 and iLife '07 will be tied specifically to Leopard's release. Others believe that Apple was planning another media event "soon".

Unfortunately, none of these amount to much in the way of serious rumors, but they offer some hope for future announcements. Our offical rumor wrap up will be coming soon.

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