I have a simple rule that I follow every year when I go to NAB—if a booth has a Mac in it, I stop in for a closer look. With so many PC-only products, I need some way to filter through the clutter. Here are a few of the cool things my Mac-focused eyes showed me this time around.
Blackmagic Design was showing off its new Multibridge hardware products. The $2,595 Multibridge Extreme and $3,495 Multibridge Studio are bidiectional (analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog) video converters that can also capture up to 10-bit uncompressed SD and HD video and 12-bit RGB 4:4:4 film-quality video. The difference between the two is in the number of analog and digital audio ports you’ll find on the back. Both products sport PCI Express connections, which support up to 10Gbps of bandwidth. (Macs don’t have PCI Express, so you can add the $150 PCI Express Bridge that plugs into one of the Power Mac G5’s PCI-X slots.) And with a dual-link DVI port, you can monitor your video on a 30-inch Apple Cinema HD Display and see every pixel of high-definition content. People often pay these prices (or more) just for a converter, so this should be a hot product when it comes out in July.
A small booth with a single Mac drew my attention to Backbone Radio, an OS X app for Internet radio broadcasting. Backbone Radio lets you create, record, control, and stream your own Internet radio station using MP3 and MPEG-4 (.m4a) audio. Starting at $795, it supports live and automated programming, easy playlist management, and does all the logging and reporting of song play and listener info required under broadcasting law. The new version was redone in Cocoa and will be out soon. It even includes integrated podcast creation from playlists.
Tucked away in a corner of one of the halls were half a dozen companies that sell music libraries for use in TV shows, commercials, corporate training, and the like. The one that caught my eye, though, was Omnimusic. Why? The iMac they were using to demo it. In addition to traditional multi-CD sound libraries, Omnimusic also offers a cool-looking Web site for searching, auditioning, and purchasing individual pieces of music—all of which is run from an Xserve.
On the storage side, G-Technology had two new FireWire 800 RAIDs. The G-Safe is a mirrored, two-drive system, and the G-RAID Pro is a five-drive redundant box. Both have built-in hardware RAID controllers, and will soon be able to have up to 500GB per drive (once those large drives are available starting in May).
SmartDisk also had some cool toys on display. The FlashTrax XT is an updated version of the company’s portable photo viewer, which can now also play MPEG-4, DivX, WMV9, and Xvid video, as well as MP3 files—it will be available in May (40GB for $400, and 80GB for $500). Their other neat product is the FotoChute, a 20GB digital photo storage device. Use your digicam’s USB cable to connect it to the $250 FotoChute, and dump your photos onto the drive. When you get home, just connect the USB 2.0 device to your computer and copy over your pictures. You can buy this one right now.
Although the show was filled with neat products (including a couple of news-filming helicopters), perhaps the coolest thing I saw was in the airport on the way out of town—biometric lockers. Instead of a key to store your stuff while waiting for your flight, you just user your fingerprint—which is important, because in a city where you’re pretty likely to lose your shirt, most people leave with their fingers intact.