Macworld Expo is here! As always, the Editors of iLounge have quietly been working behind the scenes to bring you the best possible coverage of North America’s biggest Apple-related trade show. Rather than forcing you to sift through lots of separate coverage in different sections of the site, our Complete Guide to Macworld Expo 2007 serves as our central hub for all the big announcements, booth details, and other surprises that are in store. We’ll update these pages regularly with tons of photos and new information, so bookmark the Guide and keep checking back through the end of the Expo!
This part (Part 1) of the Complete Guide covers Expo details, companies with names A through C, and the basics of our Best of Show Awards. Click here for Part 2 (letters D through O) and Part 3 (P through Z).
iLounge’s Best of Show 2007 Awards
iLounge has this morning announced the majority of the winners of its Best of Show 2007 Awards. Congratulations to these winners; full details are available in this linked article.
Alpine X001 Digital Media Receiver
Altec Lansing iM600 Portable Speaker System
Belkin Clear Acrylic and Brushed Metal Case for iPod nano
Elgato EyeTV 2.3.3
Harman Kardon Drive + Play 2
iSkin Cerulean Bluetooth Earphones
Lenntek Hookup Lanyard
Macally TunePro Flat Panel Stereo Speaker with AM/FM Alarm Clock
Power Support Silicone Jacket for iPod shuffle
Roxio Toast 8 Titanium
The following iLounge Best of Show 2007 Awards were presented to companies with innovative and impressively executed products that our editors felt were deserving of recognition despite higher-than-mainstream price levels.
Belkin Bluetooth Dock Adapter for iPod
Griffin Evolve Wireless Speaker System
What is Macworld Expo? Macworld Expo is a trade show for users, developers, and vendors of products related to Apple Computer’s Macintosh and iPod platforms, now in its 22nd year of operation. Run by a company called IDG World Expo – not Apple – the show is actually called the Macworld Conference and Expo, and runs this year from January 8-12. Though the Conference portion begins on January 8, the show’s highlight is on January 9, when a 9:00AM keynote speech by Steve Jobs will precede the opening of the Expo floor.
How big is Macworld Expo? Last year’s show was attended by 38,441 people, up from slightly under 36,000 in 2005, and down from the show’s peak of over 92,000* in 2001. Previously held twice a year, the Expo is now held only annually due to flagging attendance at its Summer event in Boston, and an announced “Macworld On Tour” version was also cancelled. Though it is eclipsed in attendance by Apple Expo Paris, which saw 2006 attendance of over 46,000 people, and over 56,500 in 2005, it remains the largest Apple-related trade show in the United States.
[* Editor’s Note: In a clarifying e-mail, Colin Crawford of IDG World Expo’s parent company International Data Group (IDG) told iLounge that whereas last year’s attendance number was audited for accuracy, the 2001 show’s count of over 92,000 attendees was based on ” ‘turnstyle’ accounting,” an inaccurate measure of attendance, and is therefore not comparable.]
Who is exhibiting iPod offerings at Macworld Expo? Over 60 exhibitors are expected to formally show iPod-related products at this year’s Expo, with additional exhibitors likely to make smaller appearences at private meetings. Our detailed list of exhibitors below allows you to click on virtually any company’s name to see additional details on the company and all of the products that have been featured on iLounge.
Maker of the iPod, numerous accessories, and of course Macintosh computers, Apple is the single most important exhibitor at the Expo, and always uses the event to announce brand new products following the close of the holiday shopping season. Uncharacteristically, the company pre-announced one product – the tentatively-named iTV home media device that officially debuted as Apple TV at the Expo – and then focused almost the entirety of its keynote on a revolutionary new telephone called iPhone. It also debuted a new Airport Extreme Base Station ($179) with 802.11n support, and announced that it had changed its corporate name to Apple, Inc. in recognition of its increasingly significant non-computer products.
Apple iPhone: Following literally years of speculation and rumors, Apple CEO Steve Jobs today introduced the iPhone, a sleek all-in-one device combining a mobile phone, widescreen iPod, and internet communicator. The iPhone boasts a 3.5-inch widescreen display and runs a version of Apple’s Mac OS X operating system with an innovative new user interface for using just a finger to control the device on-screen. iLounge’s full hands-on First Look is now available here, and a new video of the phone’s interface and body can be viewed here.
It comes in two capacities—4GB and 8GB—and includes support for quad-band GSM, EDGE, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.0 EDR wireless technologies. The iPhone also sports a built-in 2 megapixel camera and will work with Macs or PCs. Apple’s Jobs confirmed that the exclusive carrier for the iPhone will be Cingular.
Jobs said the phone is 11.6mm thin—thinner than any smartphone available, including the Motorola Q and Samsung BlackJack. The iPhone has built-in sensors—an accelerometer, a proximity sensor and an ambient light sensor—that serve to automatically rotate the display from portrait to landscape, and to turn off the display to save power and prevent inadvertent touches. Battery life is said to be 5 hours for talk time, video or browsing, and 16 hours of audio playback.
The iPhone will be available in June. The 4GB iPhone model will sell for $499, while the 8GB model will sell for $599, each with 2-year contracts. Apple said Cingular will announce service plans for the iPhone before it begins shipping in June. The iPhone will be available in Europe in late 2007, and Asia in 2008. Jobs said he was announcing it today and shipping nearly six months from now because Apple needs FCC approval. The iPhone will sell in Apple Stores and Cingular stores.
Users are able to make calls in several different ways, including simply pointing at a name or number with their finger. The iPhone syncs contacts from a PC, Mac or Internet service, and allows users to easily create conference calls. Another new feature called Visual Voicemail lets users look at a list of their voicemails, choose which messages to listen to, then go directly to those messages without having to sit through prior messages. The iPhone also includes an SMS application with a full QWERTY screen-based touch keyboard to easily send and receive SMS messages in multiple sessions.
In addition to a mobile phone, the iPhone includes a major new iPod portion. The device features touch controls for play-pause, chapter forward-backward and volume. To go along with the iPhone’s widescreen display, there’s now a Cover Flow view for browsing your music library by album cover artwork. (The iPhone is switched automatically to Cover Flow view by simply rotating the device into its landscape position.) Movies and TV shows are obviously also now viewable in a full widescreen view.
The iPhone runs a slimmed-down version of Mac OS X, including email, web browsing, searching and maps. A rich HTML email client fetches email in the background from most POP3 or IMAP mail services and displays photos along with the text. The iPhone comes with a mobile version of Apple’s Safari web browser, allowing users to view web pages as they appear on a PC, and then zoom in to expand any section by simply tapping on iPhone’s multi- touch display with their finger. The iPhone also includes Google Maps for viewing maps, satellite images, traffic information and directions. The iPhone also includes a calendar application and a photo management application, which can be automatically synced with your PC or Mac.
Several iPhone accessories will also be available in June, including a new Bluetooth wireless headset and new pair of iPod-like earbuds with integrated microphone.
Apple TV: In addition to the iPhone, Apple CEO Steve Jobs also unveiled the retail version of the pre-announced iTV streaming media device. Now called the Apple TV, the living room gadget allows users to wirelessly play audio and video content from a Mac or PC on a television. Jobs said the device will begin shipping in February for $299.
Along with the features previously shown, including the interface and browsing, Jobs revealed that the Apple TV will have a 40GB hard drive (for up to 50 hours of video, 9,000 songs, 25,000 photos or a combination of each) and is capable of delivering high-definition 720p output. Jobs also said that using high-speed AirPort 802.11 wireless networking, the device can auto-sync content from one computer or stream content from up to five additional computers to a TV.
“Apple TV is like a DVD player for the 21st century—you connect it to your entertainment system just like a DVD player, but it plays digital content you get from the Internet rather than DVDs you get from a physical store,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “Apple TV plays the same iTunes content that users enjoy on their computers and iPods, so now they can even watch part of a movie in their living room, and watch the rest later on their iPod.”
Has a collection of iPod, nano, and shuffle cases, including SkinCaddy heat-sensitive cases, StealthCaddy colored cases, and ICON, a clip-on case with an FM transmitter, stereo speakers, a solar charger, and three-times battery pack for iPod nanos; the pieces come off the case. A shuffle armband with cable management and heat-sensitive colors was also on display.
This manufacturer of iPod cases and appliques is no longer actively covered by iLounge based on astroturfing – the company’s decision to post fake comments about either its own products, those of competitors, or both. Since truth in marketing is a critically important issue to iLounge’s readers and editors, we urge our readers to vote with their dollars and patronize honest companies.
This developer of iPod car integration solutions – including the past CDA-9855 – is a leader in bringing iPod menu navigation to automotive on-screen displays. Its products enable iPod audio – and in some cases, video – to be enjoyed while you’re driving. At this expo, Alpine highlighted the X001 Digital Media Receiver ($450), aka IDA-X001, a head unit with its own color screen for easy in-car navigation of an iPod’s menu system. The screen is larger than a nano’s, smaller than a 5G iPods, but has fonts maximized for better distance viewing, and a jog dial for iPod-like scrolling. A nice Mac OS X widget-like clock, full-screen album art, or standard Now Playing screen can be toggled through at your will; a search feature promises high-speed iPod navigation, albeit with fewer lines of text than on the company’s touchscreen-readied earlier units.
A pioneer in iPod portable speaker development, Altec created the popular inMotion series of travel speakers, as well as the M602 all-in-one home speaker system and multi-component FX6021 Mac-matching speakers. The company has also dabbled in iPod-matching earphones, including the Etymotic-developed iM716 and its own designs, such as the iM202s.
This year, the company has announced three new iPod-ready speaker systems: the iMV712 video speaker dock, the M812 wireless home system, and the iM600 portable audio system with FM radio. Release dates were not announced as of press time. It has also premiered a new line of Upgrader Series earphones (UHP101, $30; UHP302, $60; UHP306 (formerly UE metro.fi 2), $90; UHP336 (apparently super.fi 3 studio), $130), the latter two with technology developed by Ultimate Ears.
• iMV712 – Following the lead of companies such as Sonic Impact, Altec’s iMV712 ($350) combines a 8.5” “high-resolution” LCD panel with 3” neodymium speakers, an integrated 4” subwoofer, and an iPod dock to deliver a better-than-iPod-quality audio/video experience. With a wireless remote control, the iMV712 can be controlled from a distance, enabling you to watch iPod video content from near or afar, while the speakers are designed to deliver audio quality superior to competing video docks.
• M812 – As the latest in several similar accessories, the M812 ($400) wireless home system uses 2.4 GHz wireless technology to transmit a docked iPod’s “brilliant sound” up to 100 feet away through twin 3.5” woofers and 1” tweeters, which can be placed in your choice of additional locations. A “full-featured learning remote” provides access to the system’s iPod dock, FM radio, and auxiliary input features, interestingly simply by being pointed at the speakers, wherever they may be. A wall mounting kit is included for the speakers, and up to three additional speakers can be added to the system.
• iM600 – With styling extremely similar to the company’s smaller, iPod nano-specific iM500 speakers, iM600 ($150) has room for a full-fledged iPod dock on its front bottom, plus an integrated, stylish digital FM radio tuner on its front top. The new model preserves iM500’s flip open/flip closed mechanism for convenient storage and carrying, and now includes a wireless remote control with iPod, system, and FM radio buttons, plus a Sound Field Expander button to create artificial spacialization. A rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery can be used for power on the go, or the included AC power supply can provide power when you’re near an outlet indoors. Auxiliary input, subwoofer output, composite video output and mini USB ports are included, too.
Best known for its toilet paper holder and speaker system iCarta, Atech Flash also makes iPod-ready card readers and keyboards, and has repeatedly – if sometimes comically – demonstrated an ability to think outside the box with new products. This year, the company showed iDuo Hub, an alternatve version of the iDuo iPod dock with an Infrared remote control and 3-port USB 2.0 hub, plus the iDuo Folio Case, a flip-closed leather design that is intriguingly built to carry two specific popular devices – the iPod nano and a Motorola RAZR phone. Original iDuo docks were being shown in various new bright colors, as well.
Once considered the undisputed champion of iPod-ready battery packs, Battery Technology (BTI) almost fell off the radar screen in 2006, while competitors released more aggressively designed cells for battery hungry, video-ready iPods. However, its iPod Battery ii has been modestly updated as IP-V01, and still offers impressive performance. No substantially new products were on show this year.
Named the 2006 iPod Accessory Maker of the Year, Belkin is one of the heaviest hitters in the iPod accessory business, responsible for numerous FM transmitters, audio recorders, cases, power and car accessories. It is one of very few third-party developers to have collaborated directly with Apple on the development of iPod accessories, most notably the Belkin Voice Recorder, the first peripheral to bring audio recording to the iPod platform.
Just prior to the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show, Belkin introduced the TuneStudio, a four-channel audio mixer that allows users to create digital recordings directly to a fifth-generation iPod. Physically large and interestingly colored, the mixer accepts up to four different instruments or audio sources, provides three equalization bands per source, and records the resulting audio to the iPod in 16-bit, 44kHz quality for instant playback. It’s designed to be rugged enough to resist real-world use by bands, podcasters, and other recorders, and expected to be released this summer for$180.
Cosmetically based upon the company’s recently-released TuneStage 2 wireless home stereo kit, the new Bluetooth Dock Adapter for iPod ($130, March) combines an iPod-mounted Bluetooth 2.0+EDR transmitter with a unique receiver that can be connected to virtually any iPod-ready, Dock Connecting audio accessory, such as a speaker dock. With the Adapter, you can walk over 30 feet away from the speakers while still holding your iPod and using its controls to navigate music; the Bluetooth wireless connection allows you to hear your music without interruption. No additional batteries are required, however, like TuneStage 2, play time is limited by your iPod’s internal battery, which will last for a maximum of 5 hours of wireless broadcasting on current models.
The company also showed a huge collection of new cases, including metal-faced, multi-colored 5G and nano cases with a swirled finish, plus several conceptual products, one for iPod. The iPod Grommet Dock, like the company’s concept USB Hub Grommet Dock, fits in the cupholder-sized holes found in many desks, and could be used to dock an iPod in very low profile for connection to a wire-managed audio system. No price or release date for the concept Grommet Dock was announced.
Boomwave is a developer of unique iPod and iPod nano cases, and announced a new case design in its Podstar series at the Expo: Bearaphim, a bear-shaped case for the second-generation nano, as well as replaceable silicone wheel inserts for its prior cases, allowing you to customize your Podstar Diablo Spectrum colors further than before.
A maker of interesting iPod and computer cases, BOOQ has previously concentrated most of its development effort on laptop bags rather than new iPod products.
Case-mate makes iPod and nano leather cases that have, in the past, borne an uncanny resemblance to more expensive offerings from Argentina’s Vaja. The company’s most recent second-generation iPod nano cases, as well as its Exotic and Patriot lines of iPod 5G cases, have started to diverge from its previously derivative offerings; this time, it featured some interesting Signature Shuffle wraps made of genuine Italian Pebblestone leather for the iPod shuffle, each with an integrated small lobster clip for attachment to clothing or keys.
Previously unknown in the iPod market, Chestnut Hill Sound has pre-announced “George,” a $549 clock radio with a screened, iPod-like remote control.
Showed off its brand new second-generation iPod nano aluminum cases ($15), which snap together rather than requiring a hinge, and come in six impressive colors. Also showed a fifth-generation iPod case with a top-mounted hinge ($25), and a prototype iPod shuffle holder which resembles Mophie’s Wraptor, only in shuffle-matching aluminum.
Having joined Apple’s Made For iPod accessory development program in mid-2006, former rival Creative Technology will be showing its audio enhancer Xmod plus the new Xdock Wireless, a new iPod audio system that transmits music in the company’s “Xtreme Fidelity” format, which claims to restore compressed audio files such as MP3s to “better than CD” quality sound, and add 3-D spacialization as an option. The system consists of a main unit with a universal iPod dock, and up to several X-Fi Wireless Receivers in other rooms. Xdock Wireless comes with a remote and plays music up to 100 feet away; it also connects directly to a powered speaker system or home theater system to play video, photos and music in DTS surround-sound.
The Creative Xdock Wireless will sell for $200. X-Fi Wireless Receivers will be available for $100 each. An Xdock Wireless with an X-Fi Wireless Receiver will be available for less than $300. The system is expected to be available this spring.
Creative’s Macworld booth was stocked with a huge array of iPod-ready speakers – some with integrated iPod docks, some without – as the company appears to have retrofitted past Zen-ready designs for sale to iPod users. TravelDock was being shown for iPod shuffle, PlayDock I as a Bose SoundDock-styled competitor for the iPod, and Zen Aurvana earphones were being shown with iPods at the booth – no Zen hardware. The company’s Xmod Wireless docking and audio enhancement system was also on display.
Its most interesting iPod speaker system was the X-Fi Sound System i600, a 130-watt audio system with integrated X-Fi, two speakers, a subwoofer, and a stylish iPod dock in the center. Less interesting was the SoundWorks Radio CD 745i, a standard Cambridge Soundworks-branded radio and CD deck with a separate iPod dock.
This Australian developer of computer bags frequently appears at Apple-related trade shows, but seldom releases iPod-specific products – only small multipurpose holsters suited to digital cameras, big cell phones, or generic MP3 players. Would this year be any different? Answer: no; the same iPod-sized cases appeared again.
The maker of budget-priced iRhythms speakers such as A302/A303 is expected to show additional multimedia and iPod systems this year.
[Editor’s Note: We want to be as inclusive as possible. If your company’s name is not linked above, or otherwise not listed here, please follow the Add Your Company and Submission Guidelines links in The iPod Directory, and contact the author of this article once you’ve submitted your Directory entry. If you have a product to announce at Expo, please contact the author of this article immediately to secure inclusion. Unlike other services, there is no charge for listing your name or any of your products with iLounge.]