|MacWorld Expo 2011 Show Coverage|
|News - Featured Website News|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Monday, 31 January 2011|
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There was some Mac stuff, although after 27 years of development, there's little really new. However, refinements of existing things can still be impressive.
NeatCo Neat Scanner
When I worked on the OmniPage OCR program at the long-defunct Caere Corporation, the cheapest duplex scanner (scans both sides of a page at once) we had was a huge Ricoh model that cost almost $5,000. Neat Company's Neat Desk scanner handles business cards, receipts, and regular paper (up to 22" long), performs OCR on the scanned image, and intelligently arranges the data for retrieval in the Neat Desk application. Everything you scan in is indexed and filed automatically. The sheet feeder will handle up to 10 sheets of paper, or 50 sheets if you remove the plastic business card/receipts guide. And yes, it works with Windows, too.
The idea of being able to toss everything into this scanner and have it all recognized and filed automatically is very attractive. Perhaps they will send us one to review.
Long-time Mac supporter Kensington was at the show:
Most of their products were chargers, cases, and stands for iPhones and iPads; the only Mac products they were showing were some trackballs and a laptop locking system.
Code Weavers Impersonator
This was probably the most interesting product I saw at the show. Code Weavers has implemented a large subset of the Windows API under OS X. What this means in real-world terms is that you can run Windows programs under OS X without having a copy of Windows.
"Impersonator" is not a new product; rather, it's the latest iteration of the Crossover Mac system. (Code Weavers helpfully explains that "Impersonator" denotes this specific version, akin to the whimsical names Ubuntu gives their Linux releases). A free 30 day trial of the product is available on the Code Weavers web site, and I've used it to install Internet Explorer 7 on my MacBook Air. It does work, although the (much more expensive) combination of Parallels Desktop and Windows 7 seems to offer better performance.
There were a fair number of vendors who seem to have wandered into the wrong show. To be fair, though, I've seen stuff like this at every computer show I've ever attended, including the National Computer Conference in the late 1970s, COMDEX in the 80s and 90s, and the Consumer Electronics Show last year.
Macworld Expo Conclusion
It was nostalgic and fun to attend MacWorld 2011, but the visceral thrill of the show is gone, I'm afraid. Part of this is due to the Mac's maturity as a platform (has it really been 27 years?): there's just very little that hasn't been done on the Mac, and these days, the Internet provides all the information on any product you need. While nothing can replace the "hands on" experience for hardware items, the time and expense of attending a trade show has driven most companies out. According to IDG figures, 53% of the companies exhibiting this year are attending MacWorld for the first time, and I'd expect similar figures for MacWorld 2012.
The one thing I took away from this show is that iOS development is the future of Apple. While the Mac as a platform is not going away, the real growth and excitement is in the iOS market. iOS-type features like the App Store are working their way into OS X, and the forthcoming OS X "Lion" version will adopt some iOS human interface conventions. Even Mac hardware such as the new MacBook Air computers are becoming more like iOS devices. And while I might mock products like iGrill and iFusion, similarly silly products were available for the Mac back in the day (I remember a computer-controlled sewing machine that would stitch any MacPaint drawing into cloth). With CES remaining as the only large computer show still around, I suspect we won't see many more MacWorlds.
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