This year was no different, and now that the week of madness is over, we’re taking a short look back over the highlights of the show, focusing on some of the coolest gadgets and accessories that will be available for your Mac and iOS device in the next few months and years.
Before we start, we also think it’s worth mentioning that while Apple didn’t have a stand of any kind at the show, and officially weren’t present, it was revealed during the week that they actually had around 250 employees circulating the show floor, scouting out everything on show. One keen-eyed journalist managed to spot Greg Joswiak, Head of iOS Product Marketing at Apple, and chat with him briefly about why he was there.
Apple are, of course, very interested in keeping an eye on developments in the tech industry, but Joswiak was specifically observing how companies were representing themselves, from things like booth layout to which products were highlighted. The reporter noted that he didn’t seem all that impressed by Sony’s stand, but didn’t get much more from the Apple man.
Anyway, onto the products that we’ll hopefully be reviewing in the next few months…
LaCie 2Big Thunderbolt RAID array
Because it’s a RAID system, speeds won’t be quite as high as the norm for Thunderbolt (which is around 700 MB/s), but LaCie have said we can expect around 311 MB/s, which is still three times faster than we are used to with FireWire 800. It will come in flavours up to 8TB, and allow for daisychaining, so you can add more storage if necessary. LaCie also announced a Thunderbolt Hub that includes support for eSATA drives, which will surely please users who have a range of drives that they’d love to connect up to their Mac. We saw a lot of Thunderbolt accessories on display at CES, but LaCie’s are some of the most exciting, closely followed by this…
Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock
Until now, pretty much the only way to use the full potential of your Thunderbolt port was to buy an Apple Thunderbolt display for nigh on £900/$1000. Thankfully, that is set to no longer be the case when Belkin release their Thunderbolt Dock in September of this year. The small dock houses one FireWire 800, one HDMI, one Gigabit Ethernet, one 3.5mm audio, one Thunderbolt and three USB ports. This is set to really change the way people work with Thunderbolt, and when the dock, which will reportedly cost around $299 (around £200), is released in a few months we will finally see people using the full power of their new Macs.
Mobee Magic Feet and Power Bar
We’ve been big fans of Mobee‘s products for a while now, after they released solutions for one of the most consistent annoyances with our Macs – the wireless Magic Mouse and Keyboard using hundreds of batteries. Their solution involved inductive charging technology that allows you to simply place your accessory onto a powered charging station and watch as they filled with extra juice. Not only did this save money in the long-run, it was also an incredibly slick procedure. Now the company have a new way to power up your Magic Trackpad (called the Power Bar), plus an all-in-one solution for your Wireless Keyboard and Magic Mouse – the Magic Feet. The latter does look a little on the large side, but the Power Bar looks both incredibly slick and exceedingly simple to use, without losing the wireless nature of the accessory. We’re really looking forward to trying these out when they’re released in late March; you may find a huge pile of dead batteries outside iCreate Towers if you happen to be passing on the day, too.
Oregon Scientific Time and Wireless Charging Station+
Another one to jump on the brilliant bandwagon that is inductive charging, Oregon Scientific announced the first charging mat that actually functions as something useful when your iPhone isn’t sitting on it. The iPhone case included with the charging-clock also doesn’t look bad at all, meaning it’s something you might, potentially, consider having on your phone at all times. The mat/clock itself is a little on the large side, so you might have to reorganise your bedside table a little to get it on, but it looks great in action and will be available with cases for the 4 (and 4S), the 3G (and 3GS), as well as a few Android and Blackberry handsets, if you fancy mixing things up. This isn’t their first charging mat and clock combo, so we have high hopes for the new design.
Padintosh iPad case
Blue Spark Digital
The iCADE Arcade Cabinet garnered a fair bit of attention last year when it launched for the iPad and added an old-skool arcade stick and buttons to go along with an app that let you play loads of retro games. Now, iCade is back, and this time it’s going portable. The iCade Mobile add-on allows you to slot in an iPhone 4/4S, or an iPod Touch, connecting via Bluetooth to your device. The pad adds buttons, a directional pad, and shoulder triggers to your iOS device, and allows you to rotate your screen into both portrait and landscape modes. It doesn’t look like it’s going to win any design awards, but it’s worth noting that it’s still in the development stage and may look quite different by the time it launches in May for $79.99. It will also only work with around 100 games at launch, which is a bit of a shame, but if you’re one of the many people who don’t like gaming on the iPhone or iPod simply because of the way the touch screen works you may enjoy using this little peripheral.
Parrot AR Drone 2.0
Now, onto AirPlay, which really dominated the Apple-based announcements this year…
Band & Olufsen Play: BeoLit12 Speaker
Klipsch Stadium Speaker
We’re big fans of Klipsch‘s products, after we tired a few of their headphones in a recent issue of iCreate, so we are naturally very excited about the prospect of their new AirPlay speaker – especially because it looks like it might be seriously powerful. With two 1-inch tweeters, two 3-inch mid-range woofers and two 5.25-inch subwoofers this isn’t going to be one for the faint hearted. Plus, as they’re all uncovered, you’re likely to feel these at the same time as you hear them. The AirPlay functionality means there is no ugly dock sticking out anywhere, but there is a USB port for when you’re not in range of your computer, offering a tethered connection that will also charge iPhones and iPods (but probably not the power-hungry iPads). It should be out around September, and there are no announcements on pricing just yet so expect something around £300 (our estimate, based on no facts at all).
ZIK Parrot Headphones by Starck
Keep an eye out for future issues of iCreate Magazine, as we’re already excited about getting out hands on all these products for review.