Although most of the following new USB devices being shown at Macworld expo are not quite ready for primetime, their smart translucent and blue plastics served as lures for the scores of potential customers trolling the show floor.
Bucking the trend of non-availability is a product that is currently shipping, the $99.95 iMac USB floppy drive from VST ( www.vsttech.com, booth # 3735).
Rising from the ashes of SyQuest is Castlewood system ( www.castlewood.com, booth #2007) who are showing their Orb removeable drive. Shipping in Q2 for $199.95, the USB version will likely deliver a throughput commensurate with the upper limit of USB combined with system overhead: about 800kb/second according to the company. This is not indicative of the top performance of this device, which which really show it's stuff with the firewire version of the Orb, scheduled to become available at about the same time. Additional 2GB cartridges will cost $29.95.
Miro 's iBug display calibrator for iMac ( www.mirodisplays.com, booth #3651) is set to ship at the end of February for $119. It's gun level adjustments to the iMac's internal RGB bias and gain controls transform the iMac into a color-accurate graphics workstation.
The first 900Mhz iMac telephone, the McPiper from Singapore Shinei Sangyo Pte, Ltd ( www.shinei.com.sq, booth #337) is set to ship in April for $219. It's base provides a connection to the USB port on the iMac, and it promises an extensive feature set including caller ID logging, communication between the handset and your contact database, and Mac-based voice mail.
Set to ship in February, Fantom Drives ( www.fantomdrives.com ) touted USB hard drives in several capacites. They will also ship a USB based CD-RW device around the same time.
The Microtech ( www.microtech-pc.com, Apple's Consumer Showcase) $79 USB Express SCSI is set to ship in March, while their $199 USB Zip 100 is slated for intro at the end of January. The east coast arm of Microtech (www.microtechint.com, booth #3526) showed their $79 USB CameraMate compact flash card reader which is set to ship in March.
Newertech ( www.newertech.com ) displayed their line of Compact flash and smart media readers, their USB to SCSI cable, as well as their attractive bondi blue USB floppy drive. The entire line is set to launch in March.
Wacom ( www.wacom.com, booth #4026) was accepting orders for their new $99.95 PenPartner USB tablet. Based on their popular Art-Z line of tablets, it features 1024 levels of pressure and is currently their smallest footprint device. It is set to ship in 8 to 10 weeks.
AVer Media ( www.aver.com ) showed a composite video capture module for USB. Shipping in March for $200, it features built-in motion JPEG compression capable of capturing a 320 x 240 compressed stream of video at 30 fps or a 640 x 480 format compressed video stream at 15 fps.
Avid ( www.avidcinema.com ) demoed their new Avid Cinema for iMac, which features an external USB S-video digitizer box developed by Eskape technologies, a startup founded by refugees from ixMicro. Priced at $299, the product is scheduled for April delivery.
In Apple's Consumer Showcase section of the show, Ariston ( www.ariston.com ) displayed the iView, a $109 USB video digitizer said to capture an S-video stream at 160 x 120 at 30fps. The iSee, a $119 USB web camera due in about 1 month, will deliver 352 x 288 @ 30fps.
The scanner folks at Microtek Lab ( www.microtekusa.com, booth #1643) showed their new USB SlimScan C6. Set to ship in 4-6 weeks, this 36-bit USB scanner is less than 2 inches high.
Sophisticated circuits ( www.sophisticated.com ) showed Kick-off, a $199 USB device set to ship in April which can reset a crashed iMac after a programmed interval.