More ThunderBolt at CES 2012: Western Digital shows impressive speeds, Hitachi shows pro setups and Seagate shows off sleds

I had some time to demonstrate some of the upcoming Thunderbolt accessories from external drive makers at CES earlier today. We briefly discussed a few others from OCZ, LaCie, Belkin and Elgato earlier in the week. First up is the Western Digital MyBook Thunderbolt Duo:

These are going to compare nicely to the Promise RAID setup that has similar speeds, but it does not have a price or release date yet.  The vibe seemed to be like Q2 with perhaps an announcement at Macworld.

Next up is the Hitachi G-Drive series of Thunderbolt Drives, and these drives are 8TBs…

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Macworld Expo begins transition to new “iWorld” brand, registration opens to the public

Like everything else Apple, the Macworld Expo is moving in the direction of iOS devices with a new name: Macworld|iWorld, “the ultimate iFan event”. Today, Paul Kent, the event’s vice president and general manager said:

“The brand is evolving from Macworld [Expo] to Macworld|iWorld to illustrate that the show is about the whole ecosystem of Apple products” The exhibits and conference sessions that have characterized past expos remain with Macworld|iWorld. But show organizers are also adding elements aimed at providing what Kent characterized as a “dynamic culture experience. We have a great core audience, but there’s a great opportunity to evolve the event.”

While there will be added focus on the iOS device ecosystem, Kent was adamant about saying the show was still heavily focused on the Mac Platform. In fact, there is added attention to Mac Developers with the introduction of a new package for OS X developers “to encourage them to display their wares at the show without the expense of having an elaborate booth”.

The event will also retain its training sessions under the new moniker “Tech Talks” and have film and music venues as well.

Apple stopped participating in Macworld Expos in 2009 which changed the dynamic of the show. This move is another major shift.

The event kicks off on January 26th. You can register at the prices listed below. (Note that you’ll need to enter your information to see prices.) That’s up to $100 off and the same as last year’s early pricing model. Discount expires December 5. The prices:

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For those who travel internationally, a SIM unlocked iPhone from Verizon or Sprint may be the answer

Owning up to its ‘Worldphone’ capabilities, Macworld got the SIM unlock policies from Verizon and Sprint which may make the CDMA phone more attractive than one from AT&T that is SIM-locked.

But there’s a new wrinkle that potentially makes the international-roaming experience better on Sprint and Verizon iPhones than it is on AT&T. Sprint plans to sell the iPhone 4S with its micro-SIM slot unlocked; Verizon’s will be initially locked, but if you’ve been a customer in good standing for 60 days, you can call Verizon and ask for an “international unlock.” (A Verizon spokesperson told me that this is Verizon’s standard policy for all world phones—it’s just the first time it’s manifested itself on an iPhone.)

That’s interesting because for instance the Verizon Droid II Worldphone comes with a locked Vodafone (Verizon’s half parent company) SIM card. If you travel overseas you cannot exchange a local carrier’s SIM, you have to use Vodafone. Verizon may unlock these but it was my understanding that it was up to their discretion. Their policy might be two months old now but that could change on a whim (plus, what is “good standing” – seems shady).

AT&T of course won’t let you put in a local carrier’s SIM card and will charge you their high rates for roaming (though they’ve come down a bit over the past year).

When added to Sprint’s unlimited data plans, ol’ Yellow is looking pretty good, especially for those who travel internationally.

Update: Sprint refuted this claim to Ars Technica and says you will get a Sprint SIM and be charged Sprint Roaming charges, like AT&T.

Lion-optimized Intuit QuickBooks Mac 2012 arriving September 26

Intuit today announced QuickBooks for Mac 2012, the newest version of its accounting software for small businesses, enhanced for OS X Lion. More than fifty new features are part of the release, including better search with keywords and filters, customer and vendor history panels, transaction list, batch online banking transactions, progress invoicing and more. The software goes on sale September 26 as a digital download on the online Intuit store, Amazon.com, Apple’s online store and other outlets, priced at $230 for a single-user license. Boxed copies will hit store shelves on October 9.  Screenshots below.

Premier edition is also available (a Windows-only product), in addition to an add-on for QuickBooks Premier that lets you sync data with Salesforce. QuickBooks also has a cross platform Cloud edition which also shows some promise for Apple users.

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Macworld Mobile goes to Barcelona GSMA Mobile World Congress

IDG and GSMA Mobile World Congress are coming together to bring an Apple mobile presence to the yearly parade of mobile devices in Barcelona held every February.  Just like Macworld in San Francisco, this one won’t have an official Apple presence, but Macworld will be on hand to shepherd mobile apps developers and accessory makers who want to showcase their wares on the world stage.

We’ve always wanted an excuse to go to Barcelona in February!  Full press release below:

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