Just in case you didn’t receive your perfect holiday gift, tech and electronic companies kick off the new year with two festivals full of stuff you didn’t even know you couldn’t live without: CES and Macworld. CES is one of those mega-trade shows that’s legend, where all manner of must-have tech toys are debuted. And in recent years, thanks to the juggernaut that is the iPod and the growing demand for all things Apple, Macworld has been increasingly interesting to us, too.
While the great bulk of what’s to be seen at these shows isn’t strictly photographic in nature, there are a few gems we want to make sure you don’t miss. Each of these products offers something unique or paves the way for what’s to come.
Apple MacBook Air
Apple’s formula for success is simple: Select from among the best cutting-edge technologies and components and pack them into ultra-sleek, ever-decreasing form factors. The MacBook Air is the world’s thinnest notebook computer. Slick and polished, it’s just 0.76 inches at its thickest point and weighs only three pounds. The Air integrates a 13.3-inch screen, a full-sized keyboard with backlighting and a multitouch trackpad that lets you pinch, swipe, rotate and zoom items, which is great for viewing photos.
Although there are some things about the MacBook Air that are sacrificed-there’s no internal optical drive, only one USB port, no FireWire and a nonremovable battery-the Air is meant to be ultra-portable at its core. An optional external SuperDrive designed to match the Air reads and burns CDs/DVDs, or take wireless control of the optical drive in a nearby Mac when you need to load software. While we don’t recommend the MacBook Air as your primary workhorse, this is the dream laptop for taking your photography on the road. List Price: $1,799.
Casio EXILIM Pro EX-F1
Casio has set a new benchmark in catching fast-paced action, blurring the line between still and video cameras. The EXILIM Pro EX-F1 captures full 6-megapixel still images at an incredible 60 fps (or 7 fps if you’re using the built-in flash) and records HD video in both 720p and 1080i resolutions at 1200 fps and H.264 encoding.
Although it’s targeted at a wide audience, there’s a lot here for more serious photographers. The EXILIM Pro EX-F1 boasts a 12x optical zoom lens with a 35mm equivalent of 36-432mm, manual controls and a max shutter speed of 1?40,000 sec.—yes, that’s four zeroes. If you’re looking for a single camera that can do just about everything, the EX-F1 is hard to beat. List Price: $999.
Samsung Q1 Ultra UMPC
Looking more like a portable video game system than a computer, the Samsung Q1 Ultra ultra-mobile PC is a powerful little computer that fits comfortably in your hands. The size may fool you into thinking this 1.52-pound UMPC doesn’t pack any punch, but it’s running Windows XP Tablet OS, includes a 40 or 60 GB hard-drive option and 1 GB of RAM.
The Q1 Ultra features integrated wireless WiFi, Bluetooth and Ethernet support, an SD slot for expandable storage, a QWERTY keyboard that’s split on the left and right sides, and a 1.3-megapixel camera and webcam built-in. With the Q1, you can easily send e-mails, instant-message, type up documents and review, and organize and even edit your photos wherever you are. Estimated Street Price: $799.
PCs With Blu-Ray
The demise of HD DVDs puts Blu-ray on track for widespread adoption in computers. More and more companies are offering Blu-ray optical drives in their computers, especially PC models from Dell, HP and Sony, all of which have desktops and laptops available with these readers and recorders.
Blu-ray discs, with capacities of approximately 25 or 50 GB (single vs. dual layer) explode the storage limits of DVDs, which hold only about 4.7 GB of data. This expanded capacity makes them suitable for backing up an entire image library on a single disc.
Apple Time Capsule
The Apple Time Capsule is a blend of two great ideas: a wireless server-grade backup drive and an AirPort Extreme 802.11n WiFi Base Station. Available in 500 GB and 1 TB editions, the backup capability of the Time Capsule works in direct conjunction with Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard’s Time Machine software to automatically and wirelessly back up all of your Macs running Leopard. It’s one of the simplest and easiest backup solutions we’ve seen.
In addition to this terrific feature, Time Capsule has all the benefits of Apple’s AirPort Extreme, including ultra-fast wireless networking and the ability to share printers and external disks with every computer in your home. List Price: $299 (500 GB); $499 (1 TB).
We’ve all heard of Moore’s Law—double the transistors on an integrated circuit about every two years. In practical terms, it means that today’s laptops are smaller and faster than even desktop models of just a few years ago. Leaping from 65nm processors two years ago, Intel’s 45nm Penryn processor offers higher-core processor speeds, larger caches (reducing the average time to access memory) and faster buses (for data transfer between computer components inside a computer) in an eco-friendly processor that optimizes power.
Pretec 48 GB CompactFlash
Pretec now has the largest CompactFlash memory card available on the market to date with its 48 GB memory card. The 48 GB CF has 233x write and transfer speeds, plus unprecedented storage space to save your large photo files.
Do the math. If a typical 10-megapixel camera produces JPEGs of about 5 MB each, this card can log more than 9,000 images before you need to clear it. Estimated Street Price: $549.
Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 For Mac
Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 for Mac OS X will be available in the first half of ’08. Photoshop Elements skipped the Mac crowd with version 5, but thankfully has returned to Mac with the latest release. Elements is a terrific (and affordable) alternative to Photoshop.
New features in this version include Enhanced Photomerge technology, an application that allows you to quickly and easily combine parts of up to 10 photos to create one final image—particularly well-suited for group portraits where the best expression from each person is in a different shot. Elements 6 also includes step-by-step tutorials on how to fix common image problems by walking you through each step of the fix. Estimated Street Price: $69.
Olympus SP-570 UZ
One of the benefits of fixed-lens compact cameras versus SLRs is the ability of camera makers to pack a giant zoom range into a small camera and without a gigantic price tag
to match. The SP-570 UZ has a massive 20x optical zoom range equivalent to 26-520mm, giving you the ability to shoot wide shots or extreme telephoto images at 10.1 megapixels. The 13.5 fps continuous shooting mode lets you capture up to 30 consecutive 3-megapixel shots. The SP-570 UZ also has a dual image-stabilization mode that uses a combination of digital and sensor-shift stabilization, face detection, full manual control and the ability to shoot RAW. Estimated Street Price: $499.
| Adobe | (800) 833-6687 www.adobe.com
Apple | (800) MY-APPLE www.apple.com
Casio | (800) 435-7732 www.casio.com
Dell | (800) WWW-DELL www.dell.com
HP | (800) 752-0900 www.hp.com
| Intel | (800) 877-0155 www.intel.com
Olympus | (888) 553-4448 www.olympusamerica.com
Pretec | (510) 249-9055 www.ptiglobalusa.com
Samsung | (800) SAMSUNG www.samsung.com
Sony | (877) 865-SONY www.sonystyle.com