Macworld Expo Blog Bits (Part 1)

Macworld Expo may be over, but I am still sitting with a collection of notes and observations gathered over the course of the 5 days. Too many for one blog posting. Here's the first installment.

Thanks Paul. First, my hat goes off to Paul Kent, general manager of the Expo. He and his entire crew (I want to especially acknowledge Kathy Moran and Charlotte McCormack) did an absolutely fantastic job of hosting this Expo. Coming on the heels of Apple's announcements about pulling out of the Expo, Paul and company were under even more than the usual amount of pressure. Not to worry. All went well. Thanks for an Expo to remember.

iMacworld. iMacworld is a free app from the folks at Macworld Expo, available in the iPhone Store. It proved to be indispensible for me, completely eliminating the need to carry around any printed show guides. With it, I could pull up a map of the show floors, and tap on a booth to see who was in it. Conversely, I could locate any vendor in a list and tap a button to see where they were on the floor. Even after the Expo, the app remains useful as a directory of vendors -- complete with addresses, phone numbers and company Web sites.

No games. For the first time in at least the last several years, there was no Games Pavilion at the Expo. Feral Interactive was the only Mac games vendor I could even find. At a time when the Mac's overall market continues to grow, it was disappointing to see games so ill-represented. I hope this is not the start of a trend.

BusyCal. BusyMac, the people who brought you BusySync, are working on a new application: BusyCal. Due out this spring, it's a complete replacement for iCal. BusyCal has an uphill battle; it needs to compete with an application that comes free with Mac OS X. But the people at BusyMac appear up to the task. If you've ever wished that iCal would add some feature or improve its user interface, BusyCal should enable you to toss out your wish list. It looks that good.

Richard Solo iPhone batteries. While looking through the SkyMall magazine on a recent flight, I noticed an ad for RichardSolo batteries for the iPhone and iPod touch. These types of batteries are perfect for those times, such as on an airplane, when you need extra juice and there is no outlet to be had. But were the RichardSolo batteries really as good as they looked? Based on reviews I read online, apparently so.

Still, they are a bit pricey, at $50 for the original model and $70 for the larger capacity "1800" model. Going into Macworld Expo, I was still debating whether or not to get one. So imagine my surprise when I tripped over a RichardSolo booth in the North Hall -- selling the two models for $20 and $40 respectively, a savings of $30. I wound up buying several as gifts. You can still get a $20 discount (between now and January 30) by ordering online and entering "MacWorld" as the discount key code.

Matte screens for 15" MacBook Pro. Apple didn't deliver any matte screen option for the 15" MacBook Pro at the Expo. But if a glossy screen is a deal-breaker for you, and you can afford another $200, TechRestore has the answer. They will dump the MacBook Pro's glossy screen and replace it with a matte one. From the sample unit in their booth, it looks quite impressive. Macworld's Rob Griffiths agrees.

Toast 10 and EyeTV Hybrid. If you don't already own these two products, now is a good time to consider getting them. They were both upgraded in time for the Expo. Toast 10 is much more than a DVD-burning utility. You can use it to save videos from the Web, from TiVO recorders or from EyeTV -- and easily convert files to the exact format you want, such as for the iPhone. You can even use it to stream shows from an EyeTV or TiVo to your iPhone (I didn't see this demoed at the Expo, but that's the claim). The EyeTV Hybrid itself is a sleek, ultra-small unit that brings TV reception (and now FM radio) to your Mac.

To be continued tomorrow.

[Note: Overcoming my concerns about how much of a time-sucker it can be, I am now actively posting and following others on Twitter. You can follow me @tedlandau.]