Macworld Gear Guide 2006

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Gear Guide: Games, garments, and geeks

Our look at great gadgets and smart software continues, with gear from three distinct areas of the Mac universe. First, we look at hardware aimed at Mac gamers, followed by clothing designed with Mac users in mind. And because there’s a whole wide world of gadgets out there, we look at electronica beyond the Mac that’s sure to appeal to the geek in us all.

Gear for Gamers

None of these items will help you rack up high scores on the latest shoot-’em-up. But they’ll certainly make your gaming experience a lot more pleasant.

  • Gear for less than $30: World of Warcraft Trading Card Game
  • Gear for $61 to $150: iCush
    EyeTV Hybrid
  • Gear for $151 to $300: Radeon X1900 XT upgrade kit
  • A little rubdown with your fragging?

    The worlds of massage and Mac gaming don’t often intersect. But HoMedics, a maker of health-care and therapeutic products, has applied its massage-chair know-how to creating a game seat—a chair featuring built-in speakers and some subwoofer rumble.

    iCush
    But the iCush doesn’t just make noise—it massages your back, too. Three settings let you configure the seat’s massage motors; pressing an Audio Sync button will even sync them with music. The iCush accepts audio input from any source with a headphone jack, including a Mac or an iPod. You can use a wired remote to adjust intensity, speed, body-zone location, and volume control. And it’s portable, with a built-in handle and storage pouches, so you can share the love with your fellow gamers.—PETER COHEN

    iCush: $100; HoMedics

    Graphic improvements

    For people who find the graphics performance in their Mac Pros a little wanting, Apple offers a Radeon X1900 XT upgrade kit that should satisfy even the most demanding gamer. With twice the memory and about four times the memory bandwidth of the Nvidia GeForce 7300 GT that comes with the standard Mac Pro configuration, ATI’s Radeon X1900 XT makes Quake 4 and Doom 3 run a lot faster. But Mac users don’t live by frame rates alone—the Radeon’s improved OpenGL performance also pays off if you’re using Apple’s Motion motion-graphics tool, Autodesk’s Maya 3-D-animation tool, or any other applications that leverage OpenGL or OS X’s Core Image technology. The Radeon X1900 XT has two dual-link DVI interfaces, giving it enough oomph to drive a pair of 30-inch Apple Cinema HD displays. And if you just move that GeForce 7300 GT card down a slot, your Mac Pro can have four simultaneously connected displays.—PC

    Radeon X1900 XT

    Radeon X1900 XT upgrade kit: $399; Apple

    Offline gaming

    World of Warcraft
    Upper Deck Entertainment has teamed up with Blizzard Entertainment to make the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game (think ), based on Blizzard’s enormously popular online role-playing game. Just like the online World of Warcraft, the card game lets you control a hero of the world of Azeroth, go on quests with allies, kill monsters, and defeat opponents in mighty battles. Of course, booster packs that augment your hero’s skills are available. Each starter deck contains 33 cards customized for each of World of Warcraft’s nine character classes.—PC

    World of Warcraft Trading Card Game: $15; Upper Deck Entertainment

    Make your Mac a media centerpiece

    When it comes to digital video recorders (DVRs), there isn’t much Elgato’s EyeTV Hybrid can’t do—it lets you watch analog TV broadcast via cable or satellite, as well as digital terrestrial television broadcast over the air in your area. (And you get all this from a device that’s barely larger than a pack of gum.) Thanks to the EyeTV software, you can rewind and fast-forward programs, record shows to your hard drive, export shows to an iPod, and use a built-in programming guide to find shows you want to watch. The EyeTV Hybrid even works with the Apple Remote, included with many Macs these days. “Interesting,” you say. “But what does this have to do with gaming?” Well, if you want to use your Mac as a display with your favorite game console, the EyeTV Hybrid can help; it features composite-video and S-Video inputs with an included cable adapter. Best of all, this setup won’t introduce lag time into your game play, unlike some other third-party DVRs I could name.—PC

    eyetv hybrid

    EyeTV Hybrid: $150; Elgato Systems

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