Among the cooler products coming out of Macworld 2008 is DLO's iBoom Jukebox, an iPod-ready speaker dock expected to ship this spring. Style-wise, this unit certainly lives up to its name: It's shaped like a mini jukebox. It's a fun design, though the iBoom isn't all about form over function. Hidden beneath the grille wrapped over the speaker's arch, you get two 1-inch tweeters and two 3-inch woofers. The unit also includes a super sweet-looking RF remote that can be used from up to 100 feet away (even through walls) and features its own screen … Read more
Not content with the generally good marks it received for its first-gen Luna iPod clock radio, XtremeMac is back with the Luna X2. Boasting two separately programmable iPod alarms and a slew of customizable options such as volume control and play duration, the X2 can tailor to almost any specific wake-up preference. Also included in the package is an eight preset AM/FM tuner, remote, an adjustable brightness LCD display, and an auxiliary port for connecting other audio devices. The X2 is compatible with all of the new iPods including every previous model with a dock connector. The Luna X2 … Read more
If you want to look at how the personalities of Apple's two co-founders, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, differ, perhaps one way would be to measure their responses when asked to pose for pictures.
Let's start with Woz. Though he claims to have been acutely shy in his early life, these days Woz is a social butterfly. He shows up at tech event after tech event in Silicon Valley, such as the 30th anniversary of Apple, or the 25th anniversary of the Commodore 64, and is almost eager to glad-hand anyone who comes by. Want a picture of … Read more
I stumbled onto this booth and was immediately enchanted by the Escher meets Bruegel imagery and cardboard castle look. What could it be? There was no name on the outside, so you had to go in to find out. Hmm, sneaky...
Ah, of course, it's those whacky people from Crumpler, who make camera bags with names like Six Million Dollar Home. So the outside continues their irreverent and (apparently) random approach to branding themselves. But if you do random consistently and rigorously, it somehow comes together.
By the way, if you look closely at the outside you'll see … Read more
They were also showing (in beta) version 5 of their oddly-named but wonderful application OmniGraffle. This is usually described as diagramming application similar to Visio, but this does its wide range of applications an injustice. I use OmniGraffle all the time for all manner of activities, from … Read more
Here's something blasphemous: My favorite booth at Macworld was not Apple's, but Belkin's. It knocked my socks off.
Think back a few years: Belkin was a ho-hum manufacturer of unsexy cables and nondescript PC accessories. Then came the iPod, and the company recognized a good thing when it saw one. Belkin jumped on the iPod shooting star and produced a nice line of interesting, well-conceived accessories. But essentially, the company outsourced its aesthetic to the iPod, piggybacking visually as well as functionally on that core device.
Now, Belkin is turning into a design and innovation powerhouse in … Read more
A brief run through Macworld gave two major impressions:
1. It was packed. Even more crowded than CES (though much smaller of course). 2. The signal-to-noise ratio of interesting products was way better than CES.
Let's take a look at some of the things that caught my interest from a design point of view, starting with Apple.
The MacBook Air really is quite breathtaking. It feels great in the hand, and the break from pure rectangular geometry makes it more interesting to tumble in your hands. It's sort of a giant iPod, taking on the pillowed look. The … Read more
The iPod accessories are hitting hot and heavy at Macworld. DLO has used the occasion to take the wraps off its HomeDock HD. As you might guess from the name, the latest iteration of DLO's HomeDock Deluxe now offers upscaled HD video output (720p or 1080i) from an HDMI port built into the dock. (For those that still haven't made the leap to HDTV, it'll still connect to standard televisions via the composite or S-Video jacks.) In addition to playing back iPod-based videos on the big screen, the HomeDock HD also provides TV-based navigation to all of … Read more
One thing that struck me during Steve Jobs' keynote yesterday was this odd moment when Jobs was trying to rationalize many of the reasons MacBook Air owners would be happy not having an optical drive in their laptop. He was going down a list of things we need optical media for and replacing them one by one with various Apple creations. Apple's perceived solution for not having a drive would be to buy all your media through iTunes and play it on your iPod, delegate the task of reading discs to another computer in your house, or simplify things with a new and proprietary $99 external drive. Sounds simple, right?
It's commonly been referred to as the "Steve Jobs reality distortion field" and there hasn't really been a clearer example of it since Apple launched the "simpler" version of its one-button mouse that actually had five. In this case, it's the importance of optical media and the role it still plays in our lives. While I applaud Jobs and Apple trying to get rid of what's admittedly become a weak and cumbersome format, I'm a little disappointed that Apple hasn't decided to offer a real solution to the problem they're creating for novice computer users and road warriors who want to avoid optical media altogether--at least not yet.
What I'm getting at is that Apple's in the perfect position to start offering digital software downloads to the masses, and tie it into a software system that millions of people are comfortable with giving their credit card information to on a daily basis. I'm speaking of course, about iTunes.
Apple's got all the pieces in place to start offering people computer software the same way Valve's been doing with video games with its hugely successful Steam service for the last six years. I love Steam for many reasons, but primarily for its built-in updating tools and easy-to-navigate digital storefront that make it easy to buy software with one click and not have to worry about it again. If I could get the same performance from an app that's admittedly become a little bloated but already has a decent updating system, I'd be happy as a pig in mud.
Two things stick out in my mind as being good signs such a service is in the works via iTunes:
I've had a love/hate relationship with Apple TV since its release. Despite yesterday's price cut, the addition of the movie rental service, and computer-free content acquisition for things like Podcasts and music tracks, to me it's still not a necessary living-room entertainment device. The big deal-killer for me is still the closed system, which, for a modern-day streaming device, continues to act as if certain file formats don't exist, despite the competition's (including Microsoft) beginning to accept them with open arms.
However, the one thing that does interest me and gets me actually wanting … Read more