2008. There’s something in the air.

teaser banner posted at the entrance to the exhibit hall

 

Well today is the big day! I’m here live getting ready for the Apple/Steve Jobs Keynote at Macworld Expo. I’m going to attempt live updates from the keynote using my iPhone. If all goes well you’ll get a blow-by-blow on what’s being announced.

So refresh this page often from 9AM-11AM PST…

8:26am I’m standing in line to get in.

9:05am Steve took the stage, thanked the software vendors for being native intel. MS Office 2008 for Mac is the last major app to be ported to intel Macs. He’s introducing 4 things today!

9:20 am Steve introduced Time Capsule – 500MB $299, 1TB $499 – This is an AirPort Extreme base station with a hard drive built-in. Its a companion to Time Machine backup appliance for Leopard.

9:21 am Steve announced 4 million iPhones sold today – 200th day today since the launch.

9:23 am Great new features being rolled out Today for the iPhone. The iPhone can now find your location. Webclips, Up to 9 total home screens, SMS multiple people, if your song has lyrics, they’ll display.

9:26am Steve is demoing the new maps feature with the “find my location” feature.

9:27am Now he’s demoing the new Web Clip feature for the iPhone. This allows you to ad websites directly to your home screen on the iPhone.

9:30am Now he’s demoing customizing the home screen on the iPhone.

9:30am Working with Google and Skyhook wireless to make the “find me” feature on the iPhone. This is using both cell tower technology and wi-fi hot spot beacon locators to triangulate your position on the map on the iPhone.

9:33am Just demoed bookmarking spots in movies on the iPhone. All of these iPhones updates are available today as free updates. “What can we do for the iPod touch today?” We’re adding 5 apps!

Adding Mail, Stocks, Notes & Weather, Maps with Wi-Fi location. Starting today it’s built-in to new ones. Available as a $20 update for existing users. That was the 2nd thing he wanted to talk about today!

#3 “it’s about iTunes!” Sold the 4 billionth song last week!

Sold 20 million songs on one day on Christmas day. A new record. Sold more TV shows and more Movies than anyone else!

iTunes movie rentals with 12 major movie studios -every major studio.

9:38am Flipping through all the great new titles.

9:39am Launching with over 1,000 films by the end of Feb. Films 30 days AFTER their DVD release (what?). You have 30 days to start to watch it. You have 24 hours to watch it after you start watching it as many times as you want within 24 hours. $2.99 for an older movie, $3.99 for a new release.

iTunes Movie Rentals Launches TODAY! Free update to iTunes – US Today, International later this year.

What about your TV? All of us have tried (MS, Apple, TiVo, Netflix, Blockbuster). We’ve all missed! We tried with Apple TV. It’s not what people wanted.

We’re back with Apple TV 2. No computer is required! It’s about Movies, Movies, Movies. You can rent movies directly on the TV. DVD quality AND HD Quality (Yeah!) with 5.1 surround sound.

Supports photos from your computer AND directly over the internet – Flickr and .Mac. Podcasts directly from Apple TV. as well as Buy TV shows and Music. All of the original features as well.

HD movies are $1 more ($3.99 & $4.99). You can choose either format. Now he’s showing the new interface.

The interface is pretty slick! It’s all about the movies. Now showing Blades of Glory description. You can preview the movie first.

Now he’s renting it. The movies is already ready to play. It’s playing now. So it downloads a little of it first and then you start watching it while it downloads the rest in the background. It looks very impressive! That was DVD quality. Now he’s showing Live Free or Die Hard in HD. Continuing to show the interface of the new Apple TV, including search.

9:50am Still talking about Apple TV and iTunes.

9:54am Now showing HD podcasts streaming on the Apple TV in HD.

9:55am Yep, he’s still talking about Apple TV. Now showing streaming photos and home movies over the web off .Mac & Flickr.

9:57am Oops, there’s a glitch. The Apple TV looks like it locked up only playing sound from a Flickr site, but no photos. Now he’s recapping the stuff you just read above!

9:59am Made a joke about Flickr – “when they’re serving up photos” – chuckle

FREE Software Update for existing Apple TV users! Way to go Steve – you rock!

Lowered the price to $229 from $299 of Apple TV. Software update available for free in two weeks.

Movie rentals can be watched on your computer, Apple TV, iPods and iPhones. “I think we’ve got it all together!” The first studio to sign up was 20th Century Fox. Jim Gianopulos (Chairman & CEO) is now taking the stage.

10:03am Jim is talking about the business model and what everyone wants.

10:06am People will still want DVDs (“Blu-ray looks like the winner”). Showing the Family Guy Blue Harvest DVD. This DVD contains a digital copy that can be moved to your iPod, etc.

Now for the 4th Thing! Here it comes.

“Apple makes the best notebooks on the planet” The MacBook Air

The world’s thinest notebook!

10:09am Going over the competition now. 3lbs is a good target!

MacBook air .76″ down to .16″ The thickest part of the MacBook Air is thinner than the thickest part of the Sony viao. He has it in a interoffice mail envelope! It just took it out. It’s insanely thin!

Full size keyboard – full size display.

13.3″ widescreen LED backlit display – instant on the minute you open. Built-in iSight. Magnetic, no physical latch. Has the ambient light sensor on the keyboard. Multi-touch gesture support on the trackpad.

You can set your preferences for the trackpad. You can rotate a photo by turning it on the trackpad, double tap to then move a window. 3 fingers to switch photos – pinch to zoom in and out all from the trackpad.

1.8″ hard drive. Ships with an 80GB HDD standard with an optional 64GB solid state drive (“it’s pricey”)

1.6GHz core 2 duo standard, with an option to go to 1.8GHz. 60% smaller package for the chip thanks to intel!

10:18am Paul Otellini intel CEO taking the stage and talking about the product.

USB 2 port and Micro DVI and Headphone jack, 802.11n, Bluetooh 2.1 + EDR, No Optical Drive. You can buy a USB powered optical drive fro $99.

Steve is going over the reasons why you don’t need an optical drive anymore. We’re going to install software wirelessly too. A new feature called Remote Disc. So you’ll be able to put the disc in another Mac and use it on your MacBook Air wirelessly! Even on a PC!

Battery life – 5 hours with everything on.

2GB of RAM standard!

Priced at $1,799!

Shipping in 2 weeks, taking orders today.

Now showing the new TV ad for the MacBook Air

Now going over the new Environmental efforts. Mercury-free display with arsenic-free glass, case is recyclable. Retail packing is 50% less volume.

MacBook Air – The thinest notebook in the world! “That is the 4th thing that I wanted to talk about today!”

Now reviewing the 1st 2 weeks of 2008 and their innovation. Recapping the new Mac Pros and everything announced today.

We’re done! Now bringing up – Randy Newman to perform a few songs.

10:31 Randy has just started playing.

So I’m wrapping this post up now and I’ll post more later on my opinions and take on all of the above! Have a great day!

I’m at Macworld Expo this week!

San Francisco Bay Bridge taken from Coit Tower (download the image, it has GPS data in the metadata)

Coit Tower – one of the coolest vantage points in the city – Thanks CZ for turning me on to this location!

 

I made it into San Francisco yesterday and got a chance to do a little shooting with my buddy Sarah K. before all the Mac (iPhone, iPod, Apple TV, etc.) madness kicks off.

Sarah grabbing some shots from atop Coit Tower.

 

I’m looking forward to the show and Apple has already put up a few teaser banners "2008: There’s something in the air". I’ve already given up speculating on what that could mean because we’ll all know by tomorrow. 🙂

Today is my first ever hands-on lab training session at Macworld. I’ll be doing Adobe CS3 tips and tricks from 2-4PM PST today at the conference. From 4-7PM PST I’ll be at the User Group reception at the Westin.

Tomorrow is the big Steve Jobs keynote address and I’m going to attempt my first ever live blog update. I’ll be putting the iPhone to the test and updating my blog live from the keynote. So check back tomorrow and refresh the page Keynote Coverage Page (which will go up in the morning) from 9-11AM PST for my updates as fast as I can tap them out on the virtual keyboard (please no wise cracks about typos and mispellings OK? 🙂 ).

After the keynote, I’ll be on the show floor hanging out and checking out the latest and greatest advancements.

On Wednesday, be sure to check out my Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Workflow session at the Adobe booth as well as my iPhone tips and tricks session at the Peachpit booth at the end of the day.

If you’re here at the show and see me, holler!

Don’t forget to check out my Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 Walkthrough Video!

To get my movie rental business…

Yes, we’ve been hearing the rumors that Apple "may" launch a movie rental service via iTunes. So this got me thinking as to what it would take to get my movie rental business? It also got me thinking about the possibility of one vendor doing it all. Currently I do the bulk of my movie renting via Netflix. They won me over years ago by having a service with NO LATE FEES! Netflix has been just about perfect for me as I’m able to now rent the movies I want in Blu-ray, HD DVD and standard def DVD. Of course the biggest downside is actually having to wait for a disc to show up in the mail. It’s not that big of a deal, because I’ve been so busy lately that there is always a movie or two here to watch that I haven’t seen yet. However, there are those times when someone says, "you have to see _________!" They get me excited and I want to watch that movie right then and there that evening. Luckily with TiVo HD and Amazon Unbox, I can usually satisfy that need with a download directly to my TiVo box. However, there are some gotchas there too. Amazon doesn’t have everything available for rental. For example, I wanted to see the first National Treasure movie again before seeing the new one. So I figured I’d fire up Amazon Unbox and rent it and watch it that night. However, the movie couldn’t be found! I didn’t feel like going out to pick it up (even though Hollywood Video is walking distance from my house), so I bought it via iTunes and was watching it a few minutes later via my Apple TV. Also I don’t currently have a rental service that allows me to rent a movie and watch it while I’m traveling. There have been many times that I would like to have had the option of renting a movie, downloading it to my MacBook Pro and watching it on the flight home.

 

 

Apple could get my business, but here’s what it will take to get it all…

I really want to like Apple TV, but the biggest thing it’s missing (besides rental/HD content) is 5.1 surround sound (at least with the current content). This is a deal breaker for my home theater. So unless they come out with a new box or a firmware upgrade that adds it, it won’t ever be my first choice for watching a feature film on. Of course we have to also consider High Def. With Netflix if the movie I want is available on Blu-ray or HD DVD, that’s what they automatically send me. So I get to enjoy the movie rental (at no additional cost) at the highest possible quality with DVD extras (not a big deal to me, but some enjoy the extras). If Apple offers HD movie rentals my only concern will be the download size. Granted they could stream it directly to Apple TV so that you can start watching a few minutes after the download/stream starts so it may not be an issue, but what if I just want to rent a movie and watch it on my iPhone? Then an HD version would be a waste. So it would be great to be able to choose between standard def and HD for rentals.

Rumor has it that a New Apple TV is coming. Let’s hope it does the job. Once the hardware problem is solved, the next problem will be content. Steve has been doing a good job in rallying the movie houses, so this probably won’t be a problem. A large catalog of movies will be the key though.

Now let’s get to the really important stuff: Terms and Pricing. The $3.99/rental price has been kicked around. That’s not a bad price, however it would have to be that or less. Anything over $4 and you aren’t price competitive anymore. If I download a rental how long will I have to watch it before it disintegrates? With Amazon’s Unbox, you have 30 days to start watching it. Once you start watching it, you have 24 hours to finish watching it. So far this hasn’t been an issue. So Apple would at least need to match these terms.

I would really like to see the Netflix approach as an option as to where I pay a monthly price for all I can watch.

 

A killer iTunes movie rental service would be:

  • New or upgraded (don’t screw 1st gen buyers – Steve you promised updates along the way) Apple TV featuring 5.1 surround sound and 1080p resolution
  • A LARGE collection of titles with streaming trailers
  • HD Content as an option!
  • Liberal terms: 30 days to start watching/24 hours to finish
  • Decent pricing: $3.99 or less per movie/a monthly subscription option
  • Performance! It can’t take forever for the movies to download or stream.
  • Watch on any device: Apple TV, Mac/PC, iPod/iPhone, etc.

 

None of the above is rocket science and Apple could easily pull this off. So let’s hope that I have a new rental service to use next week!

 



Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 for Mac

Adobe has officially announced Photoshop Elements 6 for Macintosh. This new version is the Universal Binary version (native to both Intel and Power PC based Macs) that Mac users have been waiting for. I’ll be showing this new version at Macworld Expo next week and who knows, if time permits I may even record a sneak peek podcast before then on my Adobe Creative Suite Podcast. So stay tuned. In the meantime, check out all that’s new here.

This new version is slated to ship early in the second quarter of 2008 and will sell for $90 ($70 upgrades).

Apple pushes out faster Macs before the big show

Yesterday, Apple rolled out faster Mac Pro systems now with 8 cores standard starting at $2,799. I generally skip at least one generation of Mac towers and lucky for me that was the last one. So that means I’m up for a new desktop Mac this year and these new systems are screamers. However, I just configured the one that I would buy and it tipped the scales at over $6,000. So I will at least wait to see what comes out next week at Macworld before making a final decision and placing an order. My current Mac Pro is pretty beefy and I’m not feeling any slowness, but I’m always up for faster render times for video editing. Usually by skipping every other update, I end up with one that is at least twice as fast as the one I had and this one should be no exception.

It’s no surprise to me that Apple decided to roll these new systems out before Macworld Expo. Although I’m sure they are blazing fast and all, they are just speed bumps. No new case design takes the excitement down. Nothing really significant that would warrant time during the annual Stevenote. So of course this begs the question: What will Steve have to introduce at Macworld? I’ve given up on this guessing game for the most part. It’s just more fun to sit back and watch from my chair in the keynote address. However, let’s look at some of the speculation and see where everyone’s head is at:

  • iTunes Movie Rentals – I would say this one is probably a go
  • Updated Apple TV – I’m all for it if it has 5.1 surround sound support!
  • New sub notebook – possible, but I don’t really care. So for those that do, I’m pulling for you.
  • New MacBook Pros – Yes, these are due, so bring them on!
  • Blu-ray drives and support in the OS – I’m less likely to believe this now that the new Mac Pros are out without that option, but who knows? This is another reason I’m waiting.
  • 16GB iPhone – possible, but not keynote worthy – unless there is more to it.
  • 3G iPhone – possible, but I think it’s too soon yet. I hope I’m wrong!
  • iPhone 1.1.3 software update – this is a good bet to keep the momentum going.
  • iPhone update for business users, syncing with MS Exchange and being able to add them to AT&T business account plans – I can only dream!
  • Something NEW that no one is thinking of – this is always a good bet

 

As with most rumors, they are more wishful thinking than based upon fact. So just like every year we’ll have to wait and see as to what actually comes out of Cupertino this year. I’ll be on the spot delivering the news to this blog. As usual my goal will be to seek out the really cool and useful items that don’t necessarily get all the fanfare.

Wacom Cintiq 12WX rocks!

I really took vacation over the past couple of weeks and just really shut down to recharge. However, I did pursue one of my passions and that was digital photography. I worked in a couple of model shoots and of course that meant that I had some retouching to do. Right before the holidays the great folks at Wacom were kind enough to ship me a New Cintiq 12WX to play with and demonstrate at my upcoming Macworld Expo sessions. I was already a big fan of the Wacom Cintiq 21UX and the Intuos line of tablets. However, as much as I love the 21UX, I just don’t find myself at my desk as much as I’d like to be. I’m on my MacBook Pro in different rooms depending on my mood. So until now I would mostly use my Intuos 4×6 which is also a great size to travel with. However, that all changed for me on Friday. I fell in love with the new Cintiq 12WX. It’s just the right size and the built-in LCD is gorgeous! The best way to describe it is to take a Intuos 6×11 and replace the tablet area with an LCD display that is also a pressure senstive tablet and you have the Cintiq 12WX.

I spent all day (and I mean ALL DAY) with it Friday retouching photos in Adobe Photoshop CS3. I had the Cintiq connected to my MacBook Pro via DVI and USB (for the tablet functions). I used it as my main display and the display on my MacBook Pro as the secondary display (yes it also supports mirroring). I kept Adobe Photoshop Lightroom open on the MacBook Pro display and Adobe Photoshop CS3 open on the Cintiq. Although it comes with an easel type stand, I found it most comfortable to just hold it in my left arm while I used the pen in my right hand. There were times also where I just laid it flat on the table and worked.

As with all the latest professional tablets from Wacom, I found the touch strips and side buttons to be indispensable. I configured the left touch strip to change brush size and the right one for zooming in and out. I configured the left buttons to the Brush Tool, Healing Brush, Clone Stamp, Space bar (for quick panning) and Undo. I configured the pen rocker switch for Option-Click. This setup meant that I rarely had to touch the keyboard and NEVER had to touch the trackpad.

The Cintiq performed FLAWELESSLY throughout the day. It did get a little warm, but nothing alarming and no where near hot. My only minor criticism (c’mon you know me. There would have to be at least one, otherwise you wouldn’t think I was doing an honest review) is that the breakout box seems a little cluttered. I don’t necessarily have a better design in mind and I do appreciate the fact that there is only one cable attached to the display itself, but when I looked at the box laying on my table it looked like an octopus. The breakout box is where you connect power, the display, the DVI/VGA cable and the USB cable. These are all necessary, so like I said, I don’t know of a better way to do it. OK, I lied there is one other small thing. I would like to see a way to connect this to a projector at the same time. I have to call the folks at Wacom and see if there is a way to be connected to the Cintiq AND a projector at the same time. Otherwise, I won’t have any way of demoing it to the masses. The breakout box connects to the video out on your Mac or PC, but doesn’t provide a pass-through or video out to go out to a another display or projector. Other than those two minor things (and the second one really won’t affect most), this new Cintiq is PERFECT!

 

The Bottom Line

If you need (OK, want) an integrated display and tablet, there simply isn’t a better choice! I love the Intuos line and the bigger Cintiq, but this new Cintiq 12WX hits the sweet spot on portability AND price. Amazon has it for $985.70 (list is $999). I couldn’t imaging retouching another image without it!

My 1st Favorite Gadget of the New Year!

First off let me start this by saying Happy New Year to all of you and your families! I’m looking forward to another exciting tech year and I will try to cover as much of it as I can here. So let’s get started.

I woke up this morning (well actually more like this afternoon), to this wonderful snow (not really! I’m not really a fan of snow, but let’s play along). Shrugging my shoulders, I knew it was time to go fire up the Toro and plow the driveway. Then I remembered that I had gotten in my brand new 180s Tec Stretch Earmuff Headphones for just such a day! So I grabbed them and my iPod nano and I was gone. This otherwise mundane chore went much quicker with warmer ears filled with my jams (I’m dreaming of a White Christmas – NOT!).

My Toro isn’t very quiet (read loud) and I was still able to hear quite well. If you’re into winter activities and music, these are a must have! $24.95 at Amazon.com

 

Happy New Year!

iPhone firmware 1.1.3 may be close!

It appears that the folks over at GearLive.com have snagged a release of the upcoming iPhone 1.1.3 firmware and have put together this video walkthrough of the new features. So you better watch it before the Apple Legal folks make them yank it down.

So what’d you get?

OK, so what new gadgets, tech, photography gear, cool stuff did you get this year?

I know I haven’t posted anything in a few days and I do have a couple cool pieces of gear to review, however, I’ve just been spending time with family and friends and resting up. I was getting pretty burned out and once I just stopped doing stuff, I could really feel it. I do feel much more rested now and wil get back in the game soon. Enough about me, let’s hear what you got and what’s exciting in your world? Hit me with some comments below. I feed off your energy and excitment.