The best thing about attending Macworld Conference and Expo aside from mashed potatoes in martini glasses is discovering something on the show floor that you weren’t expecting. Being members of the media, we get a lot of invites to a lot of booths. But setting aside a day for exploration, you can find some really cool stuff you had no idea existed. Well…most of the time.
The most surprising thing about Macworld 2009 was the lack of announcements. Apple basically turned the gears a few times and pushed out a couple of obvious updates, and many companies followed suit by not having anything to announce. I mean sure, there were a number of products that were updated, like EyeTV and Parallels. And there were some announcements of future features like Eye-Fi’s video uploading and their iPhone app, and Delicious Monster’s iPhone apps as well.
But let’s be honest; for the most part, announcements like these are a little unexciting because we’ve been tainted by their previous awesomeness. All of these things are great, but they don’t blow me away. If you’re anything like me, then you live on new products, or features that only exist in your dreams. That didn’t happen at Macworld this year (with the possible exception of the ModBook Pro). I wasn’t left speechless anywhere on the floor, and I’m a little bit sad as a result. That’s why the only thing that surprised me at this year’s Macworld was that I wasn’t surprised by much of anything at all.
I partially agree with Jake, but my expectations were a bit lower to begin with. I tend to lean more heavily towards the software for what I consider to be the good finds; I recall being floored by the functionality of Toon Boom Studio way back when I first saw it at a Macworld Expo New York, the first floor demo I saw of Boinx’s iStopMotion was pretty wild. Because the exhibits this year leaned so heavily towards iPhone/iPod apps and gadgets, however, there was just less to be impressed by. And so, my pick is based entirely on sight. The “cool” factor, really. It’s Starking’s Dragon I music and video station for iPod, iTouch and MacBook.
I didn’t even get to hear them, and wouldn’t have been able to over the show floor noise (they’re only 5W per speaker), but they’re just so cool looking that the design stuck with me well after I returned from San Francisco. Reminiscent of War of the Worlds, the speakers can hover over your MacBook like UFOs, provided you’re willing to hide an iPod dock back there. But they can be positioned however you like, within reason, allowing you to not only get a look you prefer, but also giving you the ability to place position them for the best sound. And because of their flexibility, they can be adjusted to work on your computer desk, in a den, in the kitchen…wherever you listen to your iPod. It’s an approach to speaker design and placement I’ve never seen before, which is why it made such an impact.
I just hope they sound as good as they look.
The most surprising product I saw was probably the ModBook, something that truly qualifies as Sci Fi in terms of “wow” factor. Realistically I have no use for it—I’m a writer, not an illustrator, and I’d rather have a really nice keyboard than a smudged-up monitor—but that doesn’t negate the fact that the Modbook is a beautiful piece of engineering.