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Companies to watch, from the SXSW trade show floor


After a tour of the SXSW trade show floor, here are some of the companies we'll be profiling in the coming weeks. Of course, there's always a mix of companies at SXSW: some film, some music, many web services -- but far fewer social media companies than last year.

We've covered RedLaser and LaCie in the past, and while LaCie has new products (more hard drives, surprise!) and RedLaser has gone local, I'm going to focus on a few mobile apps and accessories you might not have heard of yet.

On the hardware front, there's a portable second monitor solution called CINQ on display. The CINQ attaches to your laptop screen with a sort of clamp, and it only needs a USB port to get video and power. It supports 1280x720 resolution and weighs a mere 15 oz. For a 10.1" secondary screen, that's not bad. I felt the backlight was a bit weak, but as someone who often enjoys working with two screens, it might be a portable solution for frequent travelers. Then again, at US$249 (and not available until a few months from now), it won't be cheap.

Perhaps the most intriguing and useful product I saw was from a company launched a couple of weeks ago. LifeProof enters a shockingly small market of durable, water-and-dirt-proof iPhone cases. Nowhere near as bulky as similar offerings from OtterBox and Griffin, the LifeProof case is shockproof (tested to 2 meters), waterproof down to 6 feet and keeps sand, mud and grit away. Based on the demo units sealed in with various elements, and my examination of the case, I would say this is an excellent "every day" use case for people who work outside. It also looks ideal if you climb, mountain bike or swim regularly. Shipping in a few weeks, the LifeProof case will cost $69.95.

I also had a quick chat with one of the three indie developers of TapCity, what looks to be a fun game coming soon available now on the App Store. You're able to "take over" locations, earn "rent" as people check in, or conduct battles for locations -- all with cute cartoon graphics of real places around you. No word on how many cities will be supported at launch, but we'll try to get a look at it soon.

Mophie (which you have likely heard of -- they make quality case/battery chargers for the iPhone) was showing an iPad stand at CES that also charged your iPad, but with the iPad 2 now available, they've pushed back release "a couple of weeks" to make sure their powerstand is a perfect fit. They were selling their iPhone case/chargers like hotcakes at SXSW, it seems.

Mygazines aims to take your PDFs and turn them into interactive, online magazines that are fully compatible with mobile devices. If only Adobe would do this!

I nearly walked by PCTools, as they are an anti-virus and security suite for PCs. But guess what? They also make a Mac AV tool called iAntiVirus. I've no idea if it's as resource-hogging as other AV applications for the Mac, but it looks like the cost is $29.99 a year per computer. You can download a free version and try it out, but with very few viruses and spyware apps for the Mac, your mileage will likely be low on this one.

If you're a fan of Flipboard you may want to check out Evri, a sort of build-it-yourself iPad magazine. Too bad I couldn't get any pics of the interface, and Evri doesn't seem to be tipping any of them online. The idea is that you "follow" topics, events and people to customize your news. We'll have to see how good the sources and the interface are before making a final judgement.

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