Macworld Expo 2004 Show Floor Report
Apple Stores, The Net & Macworld Exhibits
The exhibit halls were noticeably smaller this year. In fact, all of the exhibits in the North Hall could have easily fit into the South Hall. There were fewer giant hanging banners, and freebies were harder to find. Microsoft provided a nice giveaway of Entourage v.X to every booth visitor that Apple bested with 1984 posters packaged in white tubes. Alas, no Iomega buttonsno Iomegaalthough Mac Mall succeeded in standing out with their all yellow paper bags, some of the only free bags to be had. Not that there was really a need.
The Exhibit Halls were still well worth the price of admission. The Internet has made the world a smaller place for the majority of Net-savvy Mac users, and Apple Stores have made it easier to experience a virtual Macworld show floor close to home, most anytime of the year. Smaller/smarter marketing budgets, Apple/IDG Macworld management drama, and that other consumer electronics in the desert show may have also contributed to fewer booths this year.
Notes From The Floor
The iPod mini was one of many great Mac-related products featured at Macworld.
The Altec Lansing inMotion portable iPod stereo speakers sound great for their size. They can run off of AA batteries or AC power, according to an Altec Lansing booth representative.
Aspyr announced that they’re bringing the popular (on the PC) World War II game, Call of Duty, to the Mac. It’s based on the Quake III engine so it should run more efficiently than Aspyr’s Halo without sacrificing visual splendor. Also on deck from Aspyr is Command & Conquer: Generals, a real-time strategy game with a Cold War era theme. C&C Generals is in beta and should ship next month.
According to an ATI booth representative, Halo 1.0 currently disables pixel shaders on a certain competitor’s video cards. Indeed, Halo looked a lot better on the ATI cards by visual comparison, and played especially well on a G5 equipped with ATI’s top of the line Radeon 9800. Now if only they could get one of those into a PowerBook with a G5.
Use your Mac with your existing wireless service. Blue Mobility promises solutions that work with most major carriers (with data plans) and devices. The booth representative claimed that there’s a $130 kit to get an AT&T Wireless GPRS Treo 600 working with a 15” AlBook although their website doesn’t seem to be updated….
Dension Audio Systems
The Dension ice>Link is truly the ultimate audio kit for your car sound system. ice>Link leverages your deck’s existing CD changer interface to display your iPod info in-dash. Yes, you can also control your iPod with your system’s existing controls! A booth representative claimed that support for Pioneer’s P-Bus is on the roadmap as soon as they finish adapters for popular stock sound systems.
The Elgato EyeTV 200 DVR for your Mac might be a deal since it also doubles as a box to digitize video. However, this TiVo user was disappointed that an unsupported third party IR adapter is needed to control an external receiver as the eyetv 200 only has an analog tuner. Tivo Home Media Option-like features are also available for Mac with the addition of the Elgato eyehome. Stream video, photos and music to your Mac; AAC is supported. iTunes Music Store AAC music is not.
A Griffin booth representative claimed that their new iTalk mic for iPod would work better than Belkin’s counterpart, the plainly named Voice Recorder for iPod w/Dock Connector. The iTalk certainly sports more style. However, confusion ensued after conflicted reports of recorder compatibility. Griffin had not yet determined if iTalk would work with iPod mini. An Apple booth rep claimed that Belkin’s recorder wouldn’t work with the iPod mini. A Belkin booth rep contradicted everyone by claiming theirs did indeed work based on information from a higher authority at Apple. Of course, all may be moot later this spring if Belkin produces a rumored line-in adapter for iPod/mini so iPod users can use a microphone of their choice, or any other compatible audio input device.
Hate programming remote controls? Plug a Harmony remote into your Mac’s USB port and download settings for all of your electronics from the Net.
Use your PowerBook outdoors, in the sun. Hoodman Sun Shades eliminate glare similar to the monitor shades you see at outdoor sporting events. They’re light, fold-flat, and fit the entire PowerBook line.
The makers of Klear Screen advanced display cleaning solution introduced the Micro Klear Kloth polishing material that provides a reusable alternative to their disposable polishing towels.
According to a Microsoft booth representative, the new G5-compatible VirtualPC will require a Mac with at least 700 MHz and 512 MB RAM. No idea yet on whether Longhorn betas will be supported although it’s doubtful due to beefy system requirements. Entourage 2004 will get all of the enhancements everyone has asked for including an improved HTML rendering engine (based on IE), better Exchange compatibility, and Project Center. The last new feature takes Entourage linking to a new level leveraging the entire Office 2004 suite into a sort of personal Microsoft Project. Unfortunately, the Project Center View will not sync with Palm OS devices, as there is currently no equivalent Palm app. There also appeared to be no effort to work with bundled Mac OS X apps like Address Book.
MacKiev showed off The Print Shop for Mac OS X. It’s a worthy companion to your iLife for creating a multitude of different print projects with ease.
Read: transmit stereo audio wirelessly/digitally via Bluetooth from your iPod/Mac/etc. to your stereo/headpones/etc. An Xtreme Mac booth representative promised to turn their prototype at Macworld into a shipping product by March/April so the masses can enjoy wireless digital audio that leverages the benefits of Bluetooth. Goodbye crappy RF headphones!
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