When it comes to gadgets with massive sex appeal, Apple knows how to get our motors running. The new MacBook Air, is certainly high in style and by far the skinniest laptop I've seen. But like other ultraportable notebooks, it compromises some features for svelte design.
A few Macworld attendees I talked to said the Air simply won't replace their desktop computer. "The Air would be useful for people whose primary needs involve word processing and Web browsing," said Nick P., a composer and audio professional who's been attending Macworld for the past 20 years. (He asked us not to reveal his last name.) he added. "Or it's a pricey toy for rich nerds," he added.
While Apple's latest offerings—also including Time Capsule, iTunes Movie Rentals and software updates to the iPhone, iPod Touch and Apple TV—attracted hordes of Mac loyalists, other vendors unleashed their own hot products.
See the entire list after the jump.—Grace Aquino
LaCie Little Disk
One of the smallest storage devices on the market today, the Little Disk is about the size of a Zippo lighter and uses a 1.3-inch Samsung hard disk drive. It plugs into a USB port and works on Windows, Mac and Linux platforms. Preloaded with LaCie's backup, synchronization and encryption tools, Little Disk is available now, at $120 for the 30-gigabyte version and $140 for the 40-gig.
Eye-Fi Wireless Memory Card for Digital Cameras
The Eye-Fi has gotten a lot of attention lately, including a Best of Macworld Award for 2008. Well deserved, in my opinion. The $100 Eye-Fi is both a 2GB memory card and a wireless gizmo that lets users send images from their digital camera to their computer or a photo sharing or social networking site. The card now supports the Mac OS so users can upload directly to iPhoto and change the card's settings using the Safari browser. Current owners can download the free software upgrade at www.eye.fi. New cards have the Mac support built in.
Artists can appreciate this slate-style tablet Mac for its speed, precision and durability. The latest version runs Mac OS X Leopard and features a 13.3-inch display, DVD drive, iSight camera, GPS, 2-GHz or 2.2-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, a digitizer pen, 512 levels of pen pressure sensitivity and three types of pen tips. Made of magnesium alloy, the Modbook is tough, heavy, and scratch-resistant. It will be available in February, starting at $2,290.
JiWire Now on iPhone, iPod Touch
JiWire extends its free, ad-supported Wi-Fi access to iPhone and iPod Touch users. The service allows users to connect to certain Wi-Fi hotspots, such as Boingo Wireless, at several U.S. airports (including New York, Chicago and Atlanta), hotels and cafes in exchange for viewing an ad on their browser. Though the service currently doesn't impose a time limit on Wi-Fi access, JiWire says the network operators may eventually set one.
Speech recognition software seems to have fallen off the grid, but MacSpeech Dictate was alive and kicking. It won a Macworld Best of Show Award for 2008, in fact. The company says it takes little time for the software to get used to the user's speech, and it can easily distinguish between spoken commands (for example, saying "cut" or "paste" in a word processing program) and word-for-word dictation. The app and microphone headset will be available in February for $199.
Big Displays for Graphics Pros
Both NEC and Samsung introduced new large-screen LCDs that offer a wide color gamut. Samsung just launched the 25.5-inch SyncMaster 2693HM and the 24-inch SyncMaster 2493HM monitors. Each delivers high-def (1900x1200-pixel) resolution, a 10,000:1 contrast ratio, HDMI inputs and built-in speakers. The 2693HM sells for $699 and the 2493HM for $599. NEC goes even bigger with the 30-inch MultiSync LCD3090WQXi. It features a 2560x1600 resolution, DVI inputs and on-the-monitor color calibration. It will ship next month for $2,200.
Etymotic etyBLU Bluetooth Headset
Although the market is flooded with Bluetooth gear at the moment, it didn't stop Etymotic from adding another product to the fray. The $129 etyBLU headset promises to isolate noise and provide clear conversations on your iPhone and other Bluetooth-capable handsets.
Data Recovery Tools for iPods and iPhones
If your iPod or iPhone goes kaput, rescue your data by using recovery software or a service. Stellar's $39 Phoenix iPod Recovery app is designed to retrieve your tunes, videos, podcasts and audiobooks. Meanwhile, DriveSavers extends its data recovery service to the iPhone. Prices depend on the situation; call for an estimate.
Handmark Pocket Express for iPhone, iPod Touch
The all-in-one travel-planning app is now available free for the iPhone and the iPod Touch. The app provides access to the Official Airlines Guide's flight status database, hotel info, phone numbers of big-name travel resources in the U.S. such as car rentals and airlines, a daily-updated currency converter, a travel reservation service and exclusive travelogues from Handmark writers. To download the app on your handheld, just hop to www.pocketexpress.com.
Targus Eco-Friendly Bags
Targus launched a new line of Radius EcoSmart bags for MacBooks and MacBook Pros that are PVC-free and made of 100 percent recycled polyester, recyclable plastic and nickel-free metal. They will be available in February and priced between $100 and $130.
A few software makers refreshed their tools for the Mac crowd. Microsoft introduced Office 2008, while Adobe unleashed Photoshop Elements 6. On the gaming side, EA announced that it will offer its upcoming Spore game on the Mac platform.