|New Gear for Macs
January 15, 2007
By Dan Pourhadi
Original Article Link: http://www.dailyherald.com/search/searchstory.asp?id=269796
News of Apple’s iPhone may have dominated the Macworld Conference and Expo last week in San Francisco, but that didn’t deter suburban companies from making splashes of their own at the annual technology show.
Woodstock-based Other World Computing, a Mac-focused technology reseller and support organization, launched ModBook, a tablet notebook for the Mac platform. Instead of controlling the device with a keyboard and mouse, users drag, click and draw on the screen with the included digital pen.
Engineered by Axiotron, a company established specifically to develop a tablet Mac, the ModBook is essentially a converted Apple MacBook laptop. When a user places an order through Other World, the company disassembles a MacBook and retools it as a tablet.
The ModBook’s technical specifications are nearly identical to the MacBook, but with a better display, added pen technology and an optional GPS module that connects with standard mapping software.
PC manufacturers have been developing Windows-based tablet devices for years, targeting them at the medical field and graphic design industries, and other areas where standard laptop portables may be impractical or unwieldy. But before the ModBook, Mac users looking for a similar solution were out of luck. “(The ModBook) now gives Mac users and companies developing Mac OS applications the ability to keep their clients on the Mac with this product,” said Other World President Larry O’Connor.
O’Connor founded the company two months before his 14th birthday in 1988, in response to what he considered a lack of consumer friendliness among technology resellers. Other World specializes in sales and support of various Mac-oriented devices, including iPods.
The ModBook, available in three different models — Good, Better and Best — ships in April and starts at $2,279, with an pre-reserve discount through January first.
A few booths over, Itasca-based NEC Displays Solutions of America Inc. unveiled two new lines of high-performance LCD displays.
The first, the NEC Multeos M40 and M46, are large, wide-format displays for high-end commercial use and advanced home-theater systems. They operate at “true” high definition and include a multitude of connection ports for various uses. They also feature an expansion slot for HD and standard definition tuners, as well as third-party devices.
The Multeos starts at $2,499 for the 40-inch model and $3,499 for the 46-inch, and the company said more sizes will become available.
NEC also announced the Multisync LCD2490WUXi and LCD2690WUXi, two displays, said Product Line Manager Todd Fender, aimed at providing superior color performance to visual professionals, and offers “the best color representation in the industry.”
The displays also are compatible with NEC’s SpecraView II, software designed to assist and maintain display calibration, which ensures top-quality color during the product’s lifetime.
Both will be available in February, starting at $1,699.
Two companies, Elk Grove Village-based Etymotic Research Inc. and Niles-based Shure Inc., debuted in-ear headphones targeted at users of Apple’s iPod music player.
Shure said its SE line of sound-isolating earphones are based on the company’s professional high-fidelity audio products.
The four SE products, which range in prince from $149 to $449, are the first to include a modular cable design that allows users to increase or decrease the length of the headphone line by switching out the cord itself.
The benefit of modularity, said Shure’s Senior Marketing Communication Specialist Ellen Mahon, is the ability to use the earphones in day-to-day activities such as exercise or travel without getting tangled up in the cord.
The SE products come in a variety of styles and colors. They also include Shure’s Fit Kit, a selection of ear tips that allow users to select a style that’s most comfortable, said Mahon.
Also, Etymotic took the wraps off ety8, a Bluetooth-enabled wireless earphones. The package, which retails for $299 for the iPod-specific version, includes an adapter that connects to the bottom of the iPod and transmits users’ music wirelessly to the in-ear devices.
The company works heavily with what they call noise isolation technology, or cutting off outside noise using flexible tips that seal off the ear. This allows users to better hear the music coming from the earphones without forcing them to turn up the volume.
Some earphones use noise reduction, an electronic process designed to lower outside volume and boost the audio coming from the earphones. But Etymotic Research founder and President Mead Killion, said it’s inefficient.
“We don’t do active noise reduction,” said Killion. “We stop the noise before it gets to your ear canal.”
The result, he said, allows higher decibel response without increasing volume, a problem that plagues many speakers and earphones and can cause damage to the ear.
“When you’re driving in a noisy car, you have to turn the radio way up, and when you come to a stop it’s very loud. Well, it was very loud before,” he said.
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