The Apple Store in London's Regent Street is the world's largest, and it seems strange that the company still bothers with a big third-party show like MacExpo (October 26-28) when it has several of its own open all year round. As a noted control freak I'm guessing that Apple prefers to keep its customers in its own sealed environment rather than in a dusty hall outside the centre of the city.
However, an Apple show is the perfect place to get to grips with an iMac, MacBook, or iPod shuffle, and query the experts on all sorts of matters: RAM, video cards, USB, wireless networking, screen compatibility, storage solutions, and so on. You have to book ahead and wait in line if you want to do this stuff at an Apple Store.
Follow Macworld’s advice, and your visit to MacExpo will be a pleasure, as well as helping you buy the right hardware and software. Here’s ten things to make sure it’s not just your feet you’re thinking about after visiting MacExpo:
1. Arrive early. You could rush around the whole show in 15 minutes – but why not just run round your back garden instead, and save yourself having to leave home. If your Mac is more than just cool-white furniture, one of the exhibiting companies is sure to have something that could change the way your computer works for you – be it via hardware, software, consultancy, repair or training.
2. Wear comfortable shoes. When you’re not walking a lot at MacExpo, you’ll be standing up. Most of Olympia is carpeted, but it’s not a beanbag showroom. See also Point 6.
3. Don’t enter the venue thirsty – the mineral water costs more than a monthly ISP account. Gulp! But beware over-filling – the toilets are often a five-to-ten-minute walk away up and down more stairs than in an Escher drawing.
4. Plan ahead. Peruse Macworld's show guide (given out for free to all show attendees), and take a look at the floorplan before venturing into the hall. There’s plenty to see, and if you wander aimlessly, you may miss something you were really interested in.
5. Don’t pick up a bag, literature, or products until late in the day. If you grab a free, colourful bag the moment you walk in the door, you’ll be tempted to put things in it. Why weigh yourself down for hours? Make a note of stuff you want to take home, and pick it up towards the end of the day.
6. Touring the show floor can be very tiring. Take a break every now and again, and find a place to sit down. Head for the café, but check-out the exorbitant prices, though – see Point 3.
7. The best break you can have is outside of the show. Plan on having lunch somewhere close-by. The food will be cheaper, and, believe me, you’ll need the air. There’s less oxygen in a show venue than there is a breached mini-submarine. After an hour, you’re breathing the air you brought in with you, and that’s already gone through 100 strangers and even some Windows users. Step outside, and get some fresh air. Find a pub or restaurant, and take-in refreshments.
8. You’re taking a break for lunch in pub over the road. Don’t think that doing a show will be easier after five pints. Save the drinking for after the show – it’s so much more fun. You’ve still got things to pick-up, and just because you’re seeing double doesn’t make that single-core Mac mini a quad Mac Pro.
9. You’ve restricted yourself to a shandy with your BLT, so it should be easy to remember not to leave your bags in the pub… or your show pass – you won’t get back in without it, and you’ll have to register all over again.
10. Don’t leave the show with that nagging question still troubling your mind. There really will be someone at MacExpo who knows the answer, and will be more than happy to speak to you. They might try to sell you something – but, who knows, maybe you need it…