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Macworld Expo 2008

It’s that time of the year for another Macworld convention in San Francisco. The Moscone South and West arrangement was confusing, though, with many visitors (such as ourselves) going between the two, trying to find registration and/or not realizing that both buildings contained exhibitors.

  • Played with the MacBook Air. Oh, my, it felt thinner than I was expecting! This is the slimmest, lightest computer I’ve held since Akkana’s Vaio. Its specifications aren’t enough for my own needs, but I think the MacBook Air would be perfect for MacBook-level users, or those who already have a primary desktop and need to travel frequently with a lighter secondary machine. The bevel (frame) around the display seems too wide (similar to the MacBook). I wonder what technical limitations prevented Apple from maximizing the monitor area?
  • The Time Capsule has a cute, low profile design. I’d prefer more than 1 Terabyte of storage; then again, my crazy storage philosophy is to obtain at least four to ten times capacity than I think I’ll need. >:-) It also seems expensive at $500, but I’m confident that capacity will inevitably increase, along with a price decrease. Er, make that hopeful. Wonder if one could backup non-Mac machines, like Linux and Windows? On a related note, Simon visited the Drobo booth, which has a similar networked storage system.
  • I acquired a collection of handbag brochures, mostly for friends who might be seeking a briefcase with laptop capacity (Kathleen? Sonya?). My attention to iPod accessories was at a minimum this year, as I’ve found that the iPod shuffle’s clip is the best way to have portable, less obtrusive music as I exercise.
  • Kensington had an Expert Mouse (trackball) hooked up to a MacBook Pro running Leopard. It behaved fine, except for weird pointer jumps due to other users playing with nearby wireless mice. I also noticed that they didn’t install (on purpose?) their own MouseWorks software on the computer. I asked the rep if there were plans to update that package for Leopard, and the response was (my paraphrasing), “Yes, sometime soon we’ll upload a new version to the site.” Sadly, I forgot to ask if there were plans to make a wireless version of the Expert Mouse.
  • Living-e AG, makers of MAMP, were not present. Not too surprising, as they’re based in Germany, and haven’t released any major upgrades. MAMP 1.7.1, though, was released back in December (or November, or…?), which I haven’t installed yet. The website and forum remain out of date (without RSS) and full of spam, respectively. 🙁
  • I wish I lingered longer at the MacSpeech booth, which was impressively bigger than in previous years. They have discontinued their speech recognition application iListen and replaced it with Dictate. I bought iListen a few years ago, but gave up because of its long training period, slow performance and just-enough-to-be-disruptive error rate. Dictate, which is based on Dragon Naturally Speaking, is currently in beta, but touts better accuracy and speed. I’d like to give MacSpeech’s product another try! Will need to dig around to see if I could participate in any beta testing. Ars Technica’s Jacqui Cheng wrote a good article describing the new Dictate project, which won Best of Show for Macworld 2008. (Odd for an application that isn’t released yet, hmm?)

Addendum (24-Jan-2008): I don’t mind the MacBook Air’s footprint, especially since I prefer a large display. (Rarely traveling with a laptop influences this opinion, of course.) Thin form and low weight are very important to me —seeing and holding the MacBook Air made me gasp with wonder. Certain features, namely the small hard drive, slower processor, Remote Disc limitations and lack of Firewire port, hold me from wanting one. (I’m usually a slow, late adopter of computing gadgetry, thus my less-than-two-year-old MacBook Pro suffices for now.) But I look forward to (i.e., hope for) future computers, especially in the professional series, that will use the MacBook Air as a model of space and power efficiency. A computer that can be rolled up like a towel: well, I can dream.

2 comments

  1. K.J. wrote:

    I used Dragon Naturally Speaking some years ago and was very happy with it. At the time, I had really wanted a Mac version, but it didn’t exist. If Dictate is anywhere near as good, I bet you’d like it.

    Though not currently in the market for a new laptop/shoulder bag, I’m always happy to peruse my options…

    Thursday, 17 January 2008 at 4:01 pm | Permalink
  2. sairuh wrote:

    I’ve often found dragging and dropping, as well as dragging for selection awkward with a mouse (hence the trackball). I wonder how well Dictate would handle those tasks? How well did Dragon Naturally Speaking handle dragging?

    Friday, 18 January 2008 at 10:20 am | Permalink

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