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The Aisle Less Traveled: A Macworld Expo Floor Report

by Nan Barber, coauthor of Office X for Macintosh: The Missing Manual

New product announcements at the July 2002 Macworld Expo in New York City were overshadowed by a big, furry X. Literally. The poster for Apple's latest OS was the tallest single object in the exhibit hall. Of course, if you wanted to read about Jaguar, you'd have gone to

In the absence of major players such as Adobe and Macromedia, who declined to show at this summer's Expo, innovative products from smaller vendors seemed to stand a little taller and do a little showing off, reveling in the attention of Macintosh fans who had more time to linger in each booth.

Here's a virtual tour of some of the interesting things I found as I explored the Javits Expo floor in search of delights yet discovered.

El Gato EyeTV

This device (roughly the same size and shape as an early Zip drive) and its accompanying software give you TiVo-like capabilities on your Mac--without the monthly fee.

For a one-time price of about $200, you can hook up your TV (broadcast or cable), DirecTV, camcorder, VCR or DVD player, and EyeTV ( digitizes the video and sends it to your Mac. There, with the help of the onscreen remote, you can do instant replay, pause, skip commercials, and all that TiVo stuff. (At 650MB, EyeTV can hold an hour of video.) If you're the multitasking type, you can receive live TV in one window and watch a recorded program in another.

An EyeTV tuner/encoder.
The EyeTV tuner/encoder is about the same size and shape as an early Zip drive.

Perhaps the best part of EyeTV happens later, when you save the video on your Mac. You can create a library of your favorite video, burn it onto a VideoCD (playable on most DVD players), or export it in QuickTime format. So, although the EyeTV unit itself is portable, all you really need to carry on the road are CDs to view your favorite programs on the PowerBook.

Meanwhile, your EyeTV can stay hooked up to your Mac at home, recording your selections while you're away. El Gato has partnered with Titan TV, which looks up the schedule of whatever broadcast or cable service that you're signed up with. To set EyeTV to record a program, just click it on the schedule, up to 14 days in advance. As an alternative to TiVo, EyeTV gives you the ability to save video and burn it onto CDs. The drawback (or benefit, depending on how you look at it) is that your Mac becomes your TV set.

Canon S200 Digital Camera

Both Canon and Nikon were drawing lots of attention from show attendees, many of whom wanted to know the best digital camera to buy so they could get started with iPhoto. I polled Derrick Story, coauthor of iPhoto: The Missing Manual, and he recommended the Canon S200.

This little 2-megapixel wonder fits in your shirt pocket and weighs in at a svelte 6.4 ounces. Yet it has many advanced features such as long shutter mode, custom white balance, QuickTime movie recording, spot meter, adjustable ISO ratings, and sequence shooting. Or you can set it on "Auto" and just click away.

Photo of the camera.
The Canon S200 fits in a shirt pocket yet includes many advanced features.

The S200 uses Compact Flash memory cards and retails at the Apple Store for $349, but was seen for as little as $314. If you want a beautiful camera for on the go, this is Derrick's top recommendation.

SmartDisk USB Universal Media Reader

SmartDisk USB Universal Media Reader.
The SmartDisk universal media reader

If you find yourself juggling lots of different memory cards, then the SmartDisk Universal Reader might be your next "must-have" item. Since it's a mass storage device, it doesn't require any drivers for Mac OS X, Mac OS 9, Windows XP, 2000, or ME. But it can read four different types of memory cards including Compact Flash and SmartMedia. You connect it to your Mac via a USB cable.

The Universal Media Reader normally sells for $49, but the show special was a very reasonable $39.

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