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Macworld Expo 2008

on January 22, 2008 10:05 pm

Every year right after the holidays, it’s time for two trade shows that most gadgeteers look forward to either attending or reading about. These are The Consumer Electronics Show and Macworld. I’ve attended CES many times in the past, but this year I wanted to do something different… So, I decided to attend my very first Macworld in San Francisco, California. It’s about time, considering that I made the hop to OS X over two years ago.

I ended up getting some great accommodations at the Westin San Francisco Market Street Hotel.

macworld 2008

I found the room to be spacious and clean.

macworld 2008

Although I didn’t plan to watch much TV while on my trip, I appreciated the nice flat screen.

macworld 2008

Check out the view from my room. The building in the center of the picture is the Metreon. Right behind it is the Moscone Center where Macworld Conference and Expo is held. I was within super easy walking distance. Nice!

My only complaint about the Westin was their wifi. It was worse than dialup speeds… and no, I’m not exaggerating. Disappointing since it costs $15 a day…

macworld 2008

The expo was held in the West and South halls. As a veteran of CES and its millions of square footage of exhibits, I wasn’t sure what to expect with Macworld. So I laced up my New Balance sneaks, grabbed my camera and trotted over to the South hall after having ‘listened’ to Steve Jobs’ keynote on my laptop in the hotel.

macworld 2008

Nope, I wasn’t lucky enough to score a ticket to the keynote. That’s fine though, I hate standing in line for stuff and I was pretty much first in line to get onto the floor as soon as the exhibits opened.

macworld 2008

I did fear for my life a little with everyone piling up to get into the exhibit area. Once the let everyone in, I headed straight for the Right side of the room to begin my exploration.

macworld 2008

My first stop was the Comply booth. They sell soft foam replacement tips for earbuds and Whoomp! earbud enhancers.

macworld 2008

Do you remember Griffin’s EarJams, the little snap on caps that turned stock iPod earbuds into in-the-ear style buds? Whoomps are similar, but with flexible plastic instead of rigid, and soft foam buds instead of rubber buds. They also sound a lot better than the EarJams from what I recall of them.

macworld 2008

Next up was the eMedia booth. They were demoing a software title that helps kids learn to play guitar. But, when I learned that the software didn’t interface with the instrument, I quickly lost interest and moved on…

macworld 2008

…to the Kensington booth. Besides their wireless Ci70 desktop set and Ci75 notebook mouse that I have already reviewed, they were also showing their latest SlimBlade mice and keyboard. These mice have little track balls in them similar to Apple’s Mighty mouse. I use the Ci75 notebook mouse for travel and really like it, but I’m anxious to try one of these SlimBlade mice soon too.

macworld 2008

booq’s booth (say that 3 times fast…) was kinda creepy with Black mannequins sporting gear bags ;o) They were showing their latest Boa Slimcase bags that Dave just reviewed.

macworld 2008

h2oAudio were displaying some very cool looking waterproof iPod cases. I have to say that these look way better than the ones Otterbox offers. Sorry Otterbox…

macworld 2008

They have actual buttons instead of a membrane that you press through.

macworld 2008

I was happy to meet the folks from Sena. I’ve dealt with them for years and it was nice to meet them in person.

macworld 2008

They had some great looking iPhone cases on display. I’ll be posting a review of some of them in the next week or two, so stay tuned.

macworld 2008

There were many companies showing off laptop bags at the show like this booth from Mary Beth Designs. It’s always nice to see gear / laptop bags that cater to women.

macworld 2008

Griffin was in attendance with iPod accessories like this new version of the iTrip.

macworld 2008

Another company that I was happy to meet in person was Matias. They were showing off their iFold and folding keyboard.

macworld 2008

The iFold is a collapsable laptop stand this is available now

macworld 2008

The folding keyboard is due out soon. It’s USB and when folded is only 10.08” x 5” x 1.18”.

macworld 2008

I purposely did not seek out the Apple area right away as I knew it would be completely mobbed with people trying to get a look at the new Macbook Air. Of course by the time I got around to where it was being displayed, it was still swamped.

macworld 2008

I want several Macbook Airs hanging from my ceiling please.

macworld 2008

Dang these babies are thin!

macworld 2008

There was a long table with many, many Macbook Airs for people to try. I shoved my way into the mob so that I could get a look close up. I have to say wow. Seeing it in person is better than just looking at these pictures. The display is so bright and crisp that I didn’t even think that they were real working notebooks at first.

macworld 2008

The trackpad is significantly larger on this new notebook. The size allows for gesture use. You’re all familiar with the pinch and spread gestures on the iPhone to shrink and grow images and text? Well, you can use these same gestures now on the Macbook Air. Very cool.

macworld 2008

I own a Macbook Pro, so I’m not familiar with the new style keyboard that Macbooks and now the Macbook Air use. I wasn’t able to really test it there at the show, but I keep hearing how people really like it. I will say that the backlight feature is pretty sweet.

macworld 2008

Itty bitty magsafe power cord.

macworld 2008

Pop open earphone jack, USB port and proprietary micro DVI jack.

I’m hearing as many people praising this new laptop as those dissing it. I have to say that after lugging around my Macbook Pro through the airport, I would welcome something so thin and light weight. For me, I don’t care that it doesn’t have a removable battery or a built in ethernet jack. I know that many people like to have a spare battery, but this isn’t important to me since I don’t typically find myself on flights longer than 4-5hrs at a time. Regarding the ethernet jack, I can’t remember the last time I used mine… wifi all the way baby :o) Will I be buying one? Yeah probably at some point…

Next up was the XtremeMac booth…

macworld 2008

Oh look, they have a new X2Luna iPod clock radio. I reviewed their previous version and found it to be one of my favorite products in this category.

macworld 2008

Their Tango Studio speaker looked nice as well. One cool feature is that the LED display shines through the speaker material. It stays lit for a few seconds whenever a setting is changed, and then fades to Black.

macworld 2008

The Tango X2 has the same display feature.

macworld 2008

More laptop bags. These are from (I think…) STM. I don’t see these particular bags on their website though.

At this point my eyes were starting to glaze over as I was getting a bit bored of all the laptop bags, iPod / iPhone cases and iPod speakers everyone was showing. But as I turned the corner, my eyes instantly brightened when I saw Axiotron’s booth for the Modbook.

macworld 2008

They had a couple devices on display so that people could try them out. I was surprised that I didn’t have to actually touch the stylus to the display in order to write on it.

I even got the opportunity to talk to the man that builds the Modbooks…

macworld 2008

They had an artist giving a demonstration using the Modbook and Photoshop.

macworld 2008

Creative was showing off their XDock HD iPod video dock.

macworld 2008

They had it showing Mission Impossible III on a flat screen TV and I have to say it looked really sharp. Too bad it’s not available until sometime this Spring.

macworld 2008

The ZIVIO Bluetooth headset from Joby caught my eye as I walked past their booth.

macworld 2008

The interesting thing about the ZIVIO is that it has a telescoping microphone that extends from the body of the headset. As you extend the microphone, it adjusts the gain accordingly.

macworld 2008

When I was looking at the laptop bags in the STM booth, one of the guys there had asked if I had seen the really cool office chair that was being demoed somewhere on the floor. So, when I saw the booth with a banner with Swing Seat emblazoned on it, I stopped for a closer look. As soon as someone vacated one, I tested it myself. The seat and back both pivot up/down, back and forth as you move or adjust your position. It was kind of odd, but at the same time quite comfortable. I still haven’t purchased a new office chair for gadgeteer hq, so I might have to look into one of these…

macworld 2008

These little pop open x-mini iPod speakers are cute and sounded surprisingly good.

macworld 2008

I was happy to see the folks from audioengine at the show. Their A5 speakers remain my favorites.

macworld 2008

I almost started drooling when I saw that they are going to offer the A5′s in bamboo. Nice!

At this point, I realized that I had seen all the booths. I think I might have set a record as it only took me about 4 hours to do the whole show. Wow, compare that to 2-3 days for CES (and even then you don’t see EVERYTHING), I was sure that I had to have missed a bunch! So I grabbed my handy guide book with the floor plans and exhibitor’s listing and carefully checked to see if I had skipped anything important. Nope, I had seen it all…

macworld 2008

Near the door was the pzizz booth. I had reviewed one of their handheld nap personal Life Coach devices, but they were also showing these wacky looking nap pod things. They are called Metro Naps. I don’t know if I could fall asleep in one of those things. I’d be thinking that there were people outside pointing and laughing at the goober (me) inside. ;o)

I found Macworld to be quite a bit less stressful than CES. Of course that’s because it’s much smaller. But that said, I wasn’t really blown away by anything at the show. I would have loved to see more unique accessories and gadgets. As it were, there were too many iPhone cases, speakers and laptop bags for my taste. There was only a very short list of things that made my gadget senses tingle. The Macbook Air was one of them, along with the Modbook, ZIVIO Bluetooth headset and Audioengine bamboo speakers. If I hadn’t come to San Francisco to spend a few days doing other things, then I would have been somewhat disappointed. I’m not sure I’ll return in 2009, but I do know I’ll definitely make the trip west again at some point to attend this show.

For those of you that attended, what were you favorite things?

Comments

  1. 1
    anson says:

    Zivio headset does look cool!!!…but without a hand/face point of reference, it’s hard to tell how small/large the earpiece really is.

  2. 2
    Julie says:

    anson:

    If you check out Joby’s website, they have pix of people wearing the ZIVIO headset. It’s neither tiny or huge.

  3. 3
    Andrew Baker says:

    Awe man Julie,

    Wish I knew you were coming, I’d have taken you out for lunch (or one of those $9 expo hot dogs) Give you a little hard time about your old BBS days. ;)

    Hope you had fun. Did you visit the Metron?

    Maybe you will be back for Linux World in August. ;)

  4. 4
    Julie says:

    Andrew:
    Nope, I didn’t check out the Metron except for eating at the Mel’s Diner which I think is in it… They had great chicken noodle soup btw! :o)

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