All Eyes Were on iPad at This Year’s Macworld

Macworld Expo 2011 has drawn to a close and, despite its name, this year the show had little to do with the Mac. This year’s theme was instead best described as “iPad everywhere,” and gave a great glimpse into the future of the supporting players in the Apple ecosystem.

While travelling the show floor, I was awestruck by the number and variety of iPad accessories. There were a few standard silicone and silkscreened cases from usual suspects Gelaskins and Musicskins, or the Subcostume that let you design your own case based on images of your choosing. And it was no surprise to see large industry players such as Monster and Sennheiser were showing off their latest headphones. However, the primary focus of the show was more about making the iPad part of your daily lifestyle.

Some vendors like Revena, Modulr and Vogel’s created a “system” by which you can easily mount your iPad on your desk, in your car, or on your wall without having to make any modifications to your iPad. The PadBracket was a straightforward bracket to safely hold your iPad in every room in the house as your move from place to place. Other vendors offered more specialized iPad environmental solutions like turning the iPad into a kiosk with Launchpad or using the iPad underwater or perhaps around the tub with DryCase.

Handstand, Us+U and Sleeve360 make devices that give you the ability to carry around your iPad like you would a portfolio so you can both easily work on it and quickly “spin” the iPad to show others. I really saw the value in these because, while I often will show people something on my iPad, I’m not too keen on letting the expensive device out of my hands. More than once my iPad has been dropped during that transfer. Fortunately I have the Otterbox (who was also at the show) Defender case for it, so drops usually don’t result in damage.

For the truly paranoid, you don’t even need to let your iPad leave your body as Alphyn had a pullover that allowed you to keep your iPad connected to you at all times. While it makes you look like something from the cyberpunk genre, the product has real practical applications in fields such as law enforcement. My favorite though was the ROKBed by Rokform (pictured above). This is an iPhone and iPad stand that is made out of aluminum gears and holds your iDevice in a multitude of positions. It just looks really cool sitting on your desk and will serve as a great conversation piece.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the darling of the show: the iGrill. The iGrill is a Bluetooth device that works with temperature probes to report back to your iPhone or iPad the status of dinner.

Vendors, of course realize that all this integrating your iPad into your daily life takes power, and lots of it. Kensington, Dexim, Boostcase, Hyperjuice, Technocel, and others all showed off their iPad and iPhone external battery solutions. I’ll be doing a few articles on these later.

The key takeaway from all these products is that more than a laptop or even an iPhone, people want to use the iPad everywhere they can. The iPad’s mix of power, usability, and downright fun accounts for its appeal in this regard.

While the iPad was everywhere, Mac solutions were barely noticeable. Companies like Adobe and Microsoft were absent this year (s adbe) (s msft), as Weldon noted earlier. Some specialized solutions for the music and enterprise communities were on display, but overall consumer-oriented solutions were few and far between on the show floor.

While Macworld may have very little to do with the Mac today, the show is still extremely important to the Apple community. Apple’s “curated” retail environment leaves out key products and accessories that for one reason or another, Apple doesn’t carry. Industry events like Macworld show there are great products out there that can really enhance and improve our overall user experience. What caught your eye at Macworld that’s missing from this list?

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