Gadgets & Gizmos

MacWorld still a draw for Apple junkies

The MacWorld Expo trade show 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. Here’s a round-up.

•  Jam for iPhone is the iOS Instagram for music, according to company representatives. It turns anyone, including the musically challenged, into rock stars by making their singing 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.


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

The body is a half-inch thick, and has a five-inch diagonal touchscreen LCD. Features include a powered magnetic mount.

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:; $379.99

•  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 Wi-Fi 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 backward, forward, up and down and it runs on an internal rechargeable battery. The company is promoting it as ideal for educators, conference calls and the medical world.


•  The 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:; $29.95

•  At first glance, the Twig looks like any other four-inch Apple 30-pin charge and sync cable. But you can see the usefulness when it folds out into a tripod to hold your iPhone or iPod in place.

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

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


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

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 hold of your data.

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


•  Boom’s Urchin is a Bluetooth, water-resistant speaker, described as “ready for anything.” It’s shaped like a bladder and includes hardware for mounting in your shower, strapping on your backpack and to a soon-to-be released bike mount.

If you are into colors, there are about 10 silicone skin options.

Oh, and it sounds really good.

Details:; $149.99, due out in mid-February

•  CrazyTalk7 lets you create animated facial images in just minutes.

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

It generates lip-synced, life-like animated videos.

Details:; $29.99

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

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


•  Just about every display had some sort of case or covering for computers and iDevices but the Slickwraps far and away stood out with innovative choices. These 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. Details:; $11.99 to $30

•  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 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 won’t peel off.

Details:; from $17.99

•  A company named Daiya has nothing to do with the electronics world, but I spent more time there than any other display.

A company representative said it was displaying dairy-free cheese-alternative products at the show because it wants 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.


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