Macworld 08 wrap up

I have successfully returned from another Macworld. I’ve lost count exactly haw many I’ve been too but I think it’s around half a dozen. Interestingly, the first one I went to in Boston back in 1995 was by far the largest. But 2008 one was bigger than the last several.

Here’s a summary of what I was up to and products that caught my eye:

Aperture: I started out a day before the show opened with attending a two day workshop on Apple’s photo workflow software, Aperture. This was by far the highlight of the week for me. It’s really a super piece of software and the instructors, both professional photographers, were stellar. I’ll follow up on a seperate post later for details on what I learned.

Keynote: Bob and I tried to attend the Keynote about three years ago. We were foiled by being cast in an overflow room to watch on closed circuit TV. It sucked then. And yes, it sucked again. I got woken up by some Apple fan boys around 3:30am at my hotel so I figured I might as well get into line early since I was awake. I was in line by 5:30am and wasn’t even close at getting into the actual Keynote. If you’re ever interested in attending a Steve-note, make sure you’re VIP, part of the glamorati or media because otherwise, you won’t get in. Or get in line by 3-4am. Ridiculous.

iPhone supersession: I attended a conference session on iPhone tips. Yes, I don’t have one yet. But I was curious on any power features I hadn’t yet heard about. By far, the most questions from the audience were around syncing calendars and contacts–old school apps. But that’s what it looks like people are using the most on their iPhones. There’s not much out there to make syncing easy. Spanning Sync was mentioned as one app for people wanting to sync with their Google calendars. VisualHub was mentioned as a great video conversion utility. Videobox for downloading YouTube. You can get to all the slides from the session here. Oh, and my iPhone has just shipped. 🙂

MacBook Air: I had a chance to check out the big announcement at the show up close and in person. The machine really is as thin as it looks. It feels quite sturdy and LED display is very bright and easy to read. The multi-touch (pinch, swipe, zoom, etc.) is really more of a play thing than usable at all. But it’s a clearly a foreshadow of things to come in terms of multi-touch trackpads on Apple laptops. The keyboard is excellent and backlit. A few things I didn’t like about the machine: the mouse button is too narrow, processor is kind of pokey in comparison to my MacBook Pro 2.4Ghz and the hard drive small for the large media collections most people have today. This is definitely not a “pro” level machine. But I think it would make a great second machine if say you have an iMac or tower at home. Last note, I think the industrial design of the machine (curves very much like the old clamshell iBooks) is a signal of things to come for the next rev of the MacBook Pro line.

Apple TV 2.0: I saw a demo of an HD movie streaming from Apple TV to a plasma display and it was gorgeous. Alas, my prediction that the next rev of Apple TV would include a Blu-ray drive didn’t come true. Yes, it would have increased the cost of the device. But I think it would have been more attractive to consumers. Pretty much no one has Blu-ray players yet. Since no one rents movies online yet, easing people into that world with the safety net of a high definition DVD player would have been real attractive to a lot of people (I would think). But apparently, Stevo doesn’t think Blu-ray will ever go anywhere. Blu-ray probably won’t ever get as big as DVD, but it will be a sizable market nevertheless. Steve said Apple didn’t get version 1.0 right. I don’t think they got v2.0 right yet either minus Blu-ray and opening the device up to developers to extend. But they made a step in the right direction. If I were a power TiVo user, I’d probably pass on Apple TV. But since I don’t get cable, it’s a perfect device for me. Got mine on order. 🙂

Garmin: Garmin had a big booth at the show. What caught my eye was some new cycle computers they were about to release. The Edge 705 tracks your heart rate, distance cycled and maps out where you’ve been. You can also program in directions on where you want to go. It works equally well in the city or in the outback for mt. biking. You can use Garmin Connect to upload your work outs and share them with friends or you can use Garmin Training Center client for your PC/Mac. They also have some new beta software to help you map out your routes and upload them to your device. I was pretty impressed with their Mac support. The cool thing about the 605/705 is that you could use them just as easily for hiking or driving. So, it’s really a multipurpose device. There’s a good chance I’ll pick up one of these later in the year.

Lensbabies: I’ve known about Lensbabies for quite awhile but never saw one up close. They allow you to take pretty cool off focus photos with your 35mm camera. The 3G model looks like the best as it allows you to lock the lens once you get your shot set up. But it costs $350 bucks. Way too much for something you can do in Photoshop.

Time Capsule: Time Capsule is Apple’s new wireless router with built-in 500GB or 1TB drive. It’s a perfect companion for 10.5’s Time Machine. I’ll definitely be picking one up later in the year. This didn’t get much attention at the show. But it’s a very elegant solution for wirelessly backing up your machine.

Ear buds: There were several high end ear bug manufacturers at the show. Both Ultimate Ears and Shure build ear buds for professional musicians. I tried products from each and their mid range products (~$200) were pretty nice. Although, not good enough to get me to plunk down the cost of an entire iPod.

OmniFocus: If you follow David Allen’s GTD system, then you should buy OmniFocus. It’s the latest app from Seattle’s Omni Group. I picked a discounted copy at the show.

Nikon: Nikon had a big booth at the show as did Canon. I got to play around with the D300. It’s noticeably lighter than the D200 to me. The preview screen is gorgeous and has more features than I could probably ever use. I’ll be picking on up by the end of the year. But first I’ll be picking up some flash devices to start shooting with additional lighting so I can do stuff like this.

Canon: I’ve heard a lot of good things about the new G9. I’ve been casually looking around for a new compact camera. The G9 shoots RAW and it’s camera controls are very intuitive and nicely integrated with the 3″ display–far nicer than any point and shoot I’ve ever seen. The deal breaker for me will likely be it can’t go wider than 35mm. I’m a wide angle freak so I’ll keep looking.

HP Printers: The instructors in my class were raving about the HP B9180 large format photo printer. Apparently you can get them for around $500 bucks. The output is great. Although, the printer is pretty bulky being a large format device. I’ve been thinking about getting back into home printing. The HP folks said that the printer always stays perfectly accurate. So, if you make a print today and next year, they will look identical. Most importantly, inks don’t dry out so the constant buying of new ink cartridges (like in the old Epson inkjet world) shouldn’t be a problem any longer. I may get one if I find myself doing a lot of printing this year. Getting quality 11 x 14s from Ivey costs about $70 bucks per print. So, it would absolutely save me money in the long run. We’ll see.

iBank: A small software house, IGG Software, will shortly be releasing a new version (3.0) of their home banking product, iBank. It’s basically a nice version of Quicken. They require a bit too much work in categorization of all your transactions. Why can’t someone just do all that for me automatically? In any event, Quicken sucks. So, I may give it a try when it ships later in February.

Blizzard: I asked the Blizzard rep when the new version of Starcraft was going to be released. “We don’t have a ship date yet.” That’s the one thing that cracks me up about that company. It’s the only one I know who’s motto is, “we’ll ship when we’re done–no sooner, no later.” I remember asking the same question about Diablo II at a previous Macworld. And that was their exact same answer! At least they’re consistent. I actually think it’s kind of cool.

Bags: There were lots of bag manufacturers at the show. I liked stuff from XtremeMac, Booq and Crumpler. For photo bags, Crumpler had the best photo bag I’ve seen yet. Basically you take any of their standard sized messenger bags and buy a second photo back that fits in it (looks like this). That way, when you’re not lugging your photo equipment around, you have a first class messenger bag. This is a pretty hip solution.


2 Comments on “Macworld 08 wrap up”

  1. jim says:

    The Garmin 705’s improved battery life, color and moving map look great.
    I have had a 305 for about a year, and it’s a huge improvement over my older eTrex Vista: battery life is about 10-12 hours, it doesn’t lose reception on tree-lined roads, and the time for it to cold boot is about 1-2 minutes (versus 5+ for the eTrex).

  2. Sam Pardue says:

    Hey there Andrej,
    We are happy Lensbabies caught your eye at MacWorld. One little correction: Lensbaby 3G costs $270, and we have other lens models available for $150 and $96.
    The biggest difference between a Lensbaby and software is the process of taking a photo. With a Lensbaby you can move around your subject in 3D and move the sweetspot all around while seeing what it looks like. If you’d like to try one out, we have free shipping right now and a 30 day no hassle return policy. It would be great to have you give it a try and then let people know what you think!
    (a Lensbaby employee who stumbled on this post)

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