Gadgets:: MacWorld still a draw for Apple junkies

By GREGG ELLMAN
Twitter.com/greggellman

The MacWorld Expo trade show (last week in San Francisco) isn’t what it used to be, but if you’re an Apple junkie it still has a lot of appeal.It’s pretty much all Apple, with a little PC thrown in here and there.The show featured an endless number of innovative features your Mac or iOS device, even cooking, cleaning and singing. Here’s a round-up.

JAM MAKES EVERYONE MUSICIANS

Jam for iPhone is the iOS Instagram for music, according to company representatives. It turns anyone, including those like me who are musically challenged, into rock stars by turning their singing into musical masterpieces.

Your lyrics are recorded and then the app turns into a song based on the melody, scale and cords supported in it, and can add musical instruments such as trumpets and guitars.

After you’re done it can be saved to social media or just made into an MP3.

The app is free and extra features can be added for 99 cents each.

Details: www.dreamwalk.com.au

GARMIN GPS SLIMS DOWN

Garmin 3597The super thin Garmin Nuvi 3597 does everything needed to get you where you need to be, with directions that now include specific points of interest such as recognizable landmarks, stop signs and traffic lights.

It’s built with an incredibly thin body of a half-inch thick, and has a five-inch diagonal touchscreen LCD.

Features include a new powered magnetic mount, which has a pass-through charging.

It directs you in friendly tones, telling (and showing) you what lane to be in, landmarks to look for before turning and when a street light is approaching.

Right out of the box, it’s loaded with detailed maps of North American and includes free lifetime updates.

Details: www.Garmin.com $379.99

A VIRTUAL YOUDouble

For $2,000 you can put your iPad in the driver’s seat with the Double from Double Robotics.

It looks like a Segway, except there is no human on top just your iPad, which is controlled remotely from anywhere in the world with WiFi via an app.

Described as “the simplest, most elegant way to be somewhere else in the world without flying there,” you can use it to watch your sick kids at home while you’re at work, roam around an office or directly face anyone speaking in a conference call.

The controls let it go backwards, forwards, up and down and runs on an internal rechargeable battery. The company is promoting it as ideal for educators, conference calls and the medical world.

Details: www.doublerobotics.com

EYEPIECE ADDS TO PHONE-AS-CAMERA MOVEMENT

Daylight ViewfinderThe Daylight Viewfinder helps iPhoneographers take photos in high-glare or bright conditions.

It’s an eyepiece that works as an extended viewfinder, which you can adjust like a diopter for each user.

After you download the free app, it works with Apple devices with retina displays and attaches to the touch screen like a suction cup and doesn’t scratch your screen.

Details: www.daylightviewfinder.com $29.95

TWIG CHARGE CABLE BENDS TO HOLD YOUR PHONE

TwigAt first glance, the Twig looks like any other four-inch Apple 30-pin charge and sync cable.

But after unpacking it, you can see the usefulness when it folds out into a tripod to hold your iPhone or iPod in place.

Each leg is wire so you can bend it in any direction or just leave them flat. It’s strong enough to plug it into an AC outlet, bend it upward and you can have an instant wall charging dock.

It’s available in six colors for $20 each in the 30-pin charging model. A Twig lighting connection is expected later this year.

Details: www.richardtracybrand.com

PROTECT YOURSELF ON PUBLIC WI-FI

Cloak is software for Mac and iOS to prevent hackers from watching what you are doing while on public Wi-Fi networks.

Once it’s loaded, everything you do is encrypted and decrypted in their cloud and then sent to where you want it to go. It will automatically detect unsafe conditions and secure them before the bad guys can get ahold of your data.

Depending on the level of safety needed, it will cost you $7.99 up to $14.99 a month.

Details: www.GetCloak.com

WATER-RESISTANT SPEAKER GOES ANYWHERE

Boom UrchinBoom’s Urchin is a Bluetooth, water-resistant speaker, which is described as “ready for anything” in their company catalog.

It’s shaped like a bladder and includes hardware for mounting in your shower, strapping it on your backpack and a soon-to-be released bike mount.

If you are into colors, this one is for you, with about 10 silicone skin options.

Oh, and it sounds really good.

Details: www.BoomMovement.com $149.99, due out in mid-February

GET ANIMATED

CrazyTalk7 lets you create your own animated facial images in just minutes.

Just import a digital image, work with the software to create a grid in the image specifying specific facial feature points. Then add music or any audio you want for up to a five minute clip.

It automatically generates lip-synced life-like talking animated videos.

Details: www.Reallusion.com $29.99

MOSHI’S EARBUDS LOOK, SOUND GOOD

Moshi MythroMoshi’s Mythro earbuds are one of the many I tried at the show but these had the combination of sounding good, looking good with its aluminum body and had a reasonable price of $29.99.

They include an in-line mic and are available in multiple color combinations.

Details: www.moshimonde.com

WRAP YOUR DEVICE

Just about every display had some sort of case or covering for computers and iDevices but the Slickwraps far and away stood out from the others with innovative choices.

This included a sandpaper/skateboard, ostrich and an ultra suede finish, which was just as you’d see on furniture.

The coverings are made for just about any device to keep it scratch free and looking good.

All the products are USA made and even come in glow-in-the-dark choices to glow for about 8 hours before needing a 10 minute charge of light.

Details: www.Slickwraps.com $11.99 to $30 depending on the device you want covered

PERSONALIZE, PROTECT YOUR PHONE

My iPhone 5 has a nice new case, which features a nice photo I supplied of my dog, thanks to PhotoUSA.

The process takes any photo and in a matter of minutes turns it into a permanent case for just about any portable electronic gadget.

It’s done with a dye-sub printing system, heat transfer process but only takes a few minutes. The finished product is a fully wrapped image, which can’t and won’t peel off.

Details: www.vivoprint.com pricing starts at $17.99

WHAT GOES BEST WITH AN APPLE? CHEESE, OF COURSE

A company named Daiya has nothing to do with the electronics world, but since I spent more time there than any other display, I thought it’s worth mentioning.

A company representative said they were displaying their dairy-free cheese-alternative products at the show because they want to share the product with people who like innovative products.

The company’s slogan is “deliciously dairy free” and after sampling more than my share of pizza and grilled cheese sandwiches, I was certain that if you didn’t know what the product was, you’d think it was made with 100 percent natural cheese.

The ingredients are all plant-based, making it vegetarian, lactose-free, kosher and cholesterol friendly.

Details: www.daiyafoods.com

Contact Gregg Ellman at greggellman@mac.com. Follow him on Twitter: @greggellman

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