The Macworld Unknown Best of Show

by Alan Graham

Apple no doubt dominates the press during Macworld, and why is the reason we all come here. However, there are a number of products on the show floor that might interest you, but don't necessarily get picked up by the mainstream press. Here's my list of the 5 Best Mac/Non-Mac items of Macworld 2005.

Number 1 with a Bullet: Sonos Digital Music System
Although not an actual Mac-related product (platform agnostic), I was so impressed with this technology that I spent at least 30 minutes with the Vice President, Thomas S. Cullen, going over the product's features again and again. This digital music system makes my iTunes/Airport Express look like a tinker toy. Made up of a wireless controller and a "Zone Player," this solution can play music in any room regardless of where that music is stored. Be it your Mac or simply a LAN based hard drive, this system is the ultimate digital music lovers tool. There is no way I can do justice to this device in a short paragraph. Just go visit their site to get an idea of how cool this thing is. And by the way, as cool as it appears on their person you can multiply that by a factor of 100. If you are on the fence about what to buy for your next music solution, this is it....hands down. Sonos has done what Bang and Olufsen would have done, but for thousands less.

This is a company to watch!

This handy little app allows you to browse the web and collect web pages that can be shared with others as documents. What truly delights me about this application is that I can also edit these pages. Remove unwanted images, text, ads, etc. Collect multiple pages or sites that you can later share with others as a pdf document.

wnex FireNEX-CAT5™ ! 100 Mbps 1394a Cat5 Repeater
Okay...get this...a Firewire to Ethernet converter. Yes that's right...convert your Firewire device to Cat5 and send up to 100Mbps up to 100 meters. While not something you might use for high end video editing, the other possible applications of this are astounding, especially if you already have a wired network.

iApp for Filemaker Pro
While this really will only appeal to Filemaker developers and users, it is still a big deal. iApp is a middleware solution for Apache 1.3 that allows you to bring web sharing back to Filemaker 7. Even better is the fact that you can now publish your database using regular HTML. The current version (I belive is shipping next week) supports only 5 concurrent users per 1 minute interval, however, I'm told they are working on a version for Filemaker Server 7 Advanced.

One other big deal here, since they use Apple Events to talk to Filemaker Pro, you have extended control over database scripts you never had with Filemaker before.

If this app works as advertised, it will no doubt turn mere mortal Filemaker users into powerful web programmers.

Ovolab's Phlink phone solution just keeps getting better and better. I had one of the early versions of this device (probably assembled in a garage somewhere in Italy), and it worked well. But the software is where the product really continues to shine. Not only does this device allow you to create a caller ID based phone answering system in your home or small office, it supports caller ID over the network. This means you can see who is calling no matter which Mac you happen to be sitting in front of. Tons of features and an attention to detail...this product is continuing to mature in a great direction. Oh yeah, and it supports home automation through Perceptive Automation's Indigo.

Honorable Mention: Mac Mini
Okay okay, I know the Mini got a bunch of press, but what amazed me was how little Steve Jobs talked about this little wonder, and how few media outlets covered one of the biggest aspects of this device. This is a hacker/third party developers dream. What Apple has done is no doubt created yet another sub-economy, similar to the iPod market. Expect to see the Mac Mini hacked into just about every possible device you could imagine. I know I've already got my own plans for one. I fully expect that one of the largest sales demographics for the Mini will be Linux hackers.

What are your favorites?


2005-01-14 15:40:44
You just can't keep these retirees down. John McFarlane - a thirty something retiree from Openwave/ with a few gazillion $$ in his back pocket is Sonos CEO. Looks like crackin' stuff.