Mac News Review

Intel's mini Look-Alike, 10 Best Mac Accessories, Two PC emulators, AlchemyTV, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2005.06.03

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

PowerBook, iBook, iPod, and other portable computing is covered in The 'Book Review. iPod news is covered in The iNews Review.

News & Opinion

Reviews

Products and Services

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

Intel Preps Mac mini Look-Alike

Intel's mini PCImitation is the sincerest form of flattery dept.

Wired's Simon Burns reports:

"A new Wintel prototype that openly apes Apple Computer's popular Mac mini is due out this week, sources told Wired News, giving Intel a showcase to prove its chips are a match for anyone when it comes to tiny PC designs."

5 Apple Products among PC World's 100 Best Products of 2005

The Editors of PC World say:

When you're buying hardware, software, and services, you want the top combination of power, features, reliability, and value. That's what you'll find in these World Class Award winners - starting with the Product of the Year.

"What makes a product great? For 22 years, we've answered that question in the form of our World Class Awards. The products, technologies, and categories keep changing. But in 2005, as in 1983, great products meld practical features with innovation. They help you rather than annoy you. And they do it at a fair price. This year we chose 100 tools - the most in years - for work, home, and everywhere in between. Then we ranked them from 1 to 100, scrutinizing each product's design, features, performance, innovation, and price. The resulting honor roll is as wide-ranging as today's world of personal technology. (And 23 of our 100 winners have the best price of all: They're free.)

Product of the Year: Mozilla Firefox

WEB BROWSER (Free) Let the browser wars begin anew: This open-source program is streamlined, customizable, and just plain better. No wonder it has attracted millions of users in just a few months. Is it merely a coincidence that Microsoft finally plans to give the aging Internet Explorer the major overhaul it has needed for years?

Apple products in the Top 100: Apple Mac mini, Apple Mac OS X Version 10.4 (Tiger), Apple iPod photo, Apple iTunes, Apple iTunes Music Store

Mac mini, the Perfect Project Automation Server

Java Buzz Forum's Wolf Paulus says:

"So I couldn't resist and shortly after Apple had lowered the price for memory and hard drive upgrades just a bit I put my order in. I bought the 1.25 GHz Mac Mini configuration with memory and hard drive capacity doubled. And against the current trend, I'm not going to use the Mini as a domestic media server but as a development and project automation server instead.

"The Mini came with OS X 10.3 preinstalled - still the 10.4 Tiger Upgrade DVD was part of the package and a clean install took approximately 40 minutes. Ever since the OS install, the Mini runs pretty much 'headless'. SSH and once in a while ARD (Apple Remote Desktop) and Chicken of the VNC client make this easily possible."

The 10 Best Mac Accessories

The Independent's David Phelan has posted a list of his ten favorite Mac accessories:

  1. Griffin PowerMate, £37.60
  2. Mac OS X Tiger, £89
  3. AirPort Express, £88.99
  4. Epson RX620 all-in-one printer, £168
  5. iSight camera, £99.01
  6. Harman Multimedia JBL Creature Speakers II, £70
  7. iPod photo 60 GB, £309
  8. Vodafone 3G card, from £49 plus monthly subscription
  9. Microsoft Groovy wireless optical mouse, £35
  10. Iomega Micro Mini, £21.99

eMac Latest Revision New Features

The features that have changed from the previous eMac are listed here with links to the sections that describe them.

  • Microprocessor: The eMac has a PowerPC G4 microprocessor running at a clock speed of 1.25 GHz or 1.42 GHz.
  • Memory: The computer comes with 256 MB or 512 MB of DDR333 (PC2700) SDRAM installed in an internal 184-pin DIMM expansion slot; 512 MB and 1 GB memory is available as a build-to-order option. The second user-accessible slot accepts a DIMM up to 512 MB. The maximum supported memory is 1 GB.
  • Graphics acceleration: The video circuits provide built-in 2D and 3D acceleration using an ATI Radeon 9200 with 32 MB DDR memory or an ATI Radeon 9600 with 64 MB DDR memory.
  • SuperDrive (DVD+R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW): One configuration has an 8x SuperDrive, which supports DVR+R Double Layer (DL) format.
  • Bluetooth: Fully integrated Bluetooth is available as a build-to-order option to enable short-range wireless connections between desktop and laptop computers and a host of other peripheral devices.

iMac G5 Latest Revision New Hardware Features

Below is a list of the new hardware features of the iMac G5.

  • Processor speed: The microprocessor in the iMac G5 is a PowerPC G5 with a clock speed of 1.8 GHz or 2.0 GHz.
  • Memory: The computer comes with 512 MB of DDR400 (PC3200) SDRAM installed in one 184-pin DIMM expansion slot; a second slot is available for expansion. The maximum supported memory is 2 GB.
  • AirPort Extreme: The computer comes standard with 54 Mbps AirPort Extreme.
  • Graphics IC: The computer comes standard with the ATI Radeon 9600 with 128 MB DDR RAM.
  • SuperDrive (DVD+R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW): The 20" configuration and some 17" configurations of the iMac G5 have a 8x SuperDrive. The SuperDrive supports DVR+R Double Layer (DL) format.
  • Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR: The computer comes standard with fully integrated Bluetooth 2.0 with enhanced data rate (EDR) to enable short-range wireless connections between desktop and laptop computers and a host of other peripheral devices.
  • Hard disk storage: The computer has a 7200 rpm, built-in Serial ATA (SATA) hard disk with a capacity of 160 GB or 250 GB, and build-to-order options of 250 GB or 400 GB.
  • Ethernet: The iMac G5 has a built in Ethernet port for a 10Base-T, 100Base-TX and 1000Base-T Gigabit operation.
  • Ambient light sensor: The computer has an ambient light sensor that adjusts the brightness of the sleep indicator to light conditions.

Reviews

PC Magazine: Apple eMac Review

"Users on a $999 budget should look hard at the Apple eMac with DL SuperDrive. The eMac will make a great digital hub for your iPod, DV camera, digital still camera, and is also a very good all-in-one basic computing solution."

PC Magazine: Apple iMac 2 GHz Review

"Apple took its five-star, class-defining desktop and upgraded it. What's better than that?"

Products and Services

External FireWire Drive, Hub with Backup Button for Mac mini

minipartnerPR: MacWay, a French leader in storage solutions, has announced the immediate availability of its minipartner™, an external hard disk and port extender with backup button designed to provide Apple's Mac mini with up to 400 GB extra fast storage, 4 USB 2.0 ports, and 3 FireWire ports Hub.

The minipartner perfectly matches the elegant design of the Mac mini. "Now, Mac mini owners benefit from an ultra-fast and secure backup solution," said Vincent Lugnier, MacWay's Product Manager. "Our innovative backup button offers peace of mind with Dantz Retrospect Express™ (Mac & PC). The minipartner expands Mac mini connectivity as an attractive workstation."

  • Host Interface: FireWire (IEEE 1394)
  • Expansion Ports: 4xUSB 2.0 - 3xFireWire
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 in x 6.5 in x 1.5 in
  • Warranty: one (1) year limited

Pricing (VAT excl.):

  • minipartner 80 Go 7200 rpm, €108
  • minipartner 160 Go 7200 rpm, €133
  • minipartner 200 Go 7200 rpm, €150
  • minipartner 250 Go 7200 rpm, €183
  • minipartner 400 Go 7200 rpm, €334

minipartner is available from MacWay worldwide.

AlchemyTV: TV on Your Mac

PR: Televio have reached an exclusive agreement with Miglia, who will now sell Televio with the product name AlchemyTV.

Alchemy TV is the only product available that enhances Apple's Power Mac computers with a full size and high grade TV picture with stereo audio, an IR remote (only for AlchemyTV DVR) that controls all Mac applications, and a stereo FM radio.

The 125 channel TV tuner and the 9-bit Philips ADC stream a crystal-clear TV video stream with a full 640 x 480 size and 29.97 fps frame rate (NTSC) resp. 736 x 576 with 25 fps (PAL). The stereo TV sound is decoded by 2 x 16-bit 32 MHz audio ADC.

The integrated 24-key IR remote is able to send key events to every Mac application.

To digitize your analog video just connect it to the S-video input or to the composite video input on the AlchemyTV card.

The video is displayed with a special AlchemyTV QuickTime video digitizer component (a.k.a. vdig) and thus available in third-party Mac applications such as BTV Pro. You can capture movies with every QuickTime codec available on your system.

TV audio and FM radio, as well as the onboard line audio input, are available as a sound input in every Mac application.

thumbnails

The AlchemyTV channel preview shows a lot of channels at a glance. Channels are represented by thumbnails, which are updated at regular intervals. Watch interesting programs directly in the channel preview or double-click to switch to the TV window.

Watch TV in the Dock, as long as you are working with other applications. Don't miss your favorite program while working with the text editor.

You get full remote feedback with the AlchemyTV On-Screen-Display (OSD). You can see the volume and the chosen station directly in the TV window.

AlchemyTV Highlight Features:

  • 24-Key IR remote included (only for AlchemyTV DVR)
  • Stereo TV audio, secondary audio program (SAP) supported
  • Stereo FM Radio
  • Captures to QuickTime movies
  • Channel preview (thumbnails of selected channels in one window)
  • Uses little CPU power in preview mode
  • S-video and composite video input
  • Additional audio input
  • Versions for NTSC, PAL, and SECAM TV standards available

AlchemyTV is distributed through Miglia.

Keyspan USB PS/2 Adapter for PC and Macintosh

PR: Keyspan has announced it is now shipping its new USB PS/2 Adapter. Supporting both PC and Macintosh computers, the USB PS/2 Adapter makes it easy to connect a PS/2 keyboard and PS/2 mouse to a single USB port.

The Keyspan USB PS/2 Adapter solves a connectivity problem resulting from the lack of PS/2 ports on most new PC laptops and desktops, and Apple's new Mac mini ships without a keyboard or mouse. The USB PS/2 Adapter enables users to easily connect a PS/2 keyboard and PS/2 mouse to a Mac mini's USB port.

On Windows, there is no software to install. Users simply plug in the adapter to a USB port on the PC and then plug the keyboard and mouse into the color-coded connectors on the adapter.

For Macintosh users, a software utility is provided that remaps the PS/2 keyboard and mouse for optimal use on a Mac. This utility, HID Helper, is available as a free download from the Keyspan website. HID Helper functions include: Swap windows/alt keys; map media keys to the pull down menu of QuickTime, DVD Player, and Safari; map volume/mute keys to OS X equivalents; map F12 to Eject, Map mouse right click to option-left click, and Map mouse middle/wheel to scroll up/down (page up/down).

"We've done the little things that make this adapter special," noted Mike Ridenhour, president at Keyspan. "It features a power LED, dual color coded PS/2 connectors, and simple software that makes a PS/2 keyboard act like a Mac keyboard when connected to a Mac."

Retailing at $19.99, the Keyspan USB PS/2 Adapter is available to resellers through Ingram Micro, D&H, and Wynit, and it is available to end users from CDW, Amazon.com, Fry's, Apple Specialist Resellers, and other leading computer products retailers.

PatchBurn Enables Unsupported Drives in iTunes, Disc Burner

PR: PatchBurn is a tool to patch existing CD/DVD drivers (under Mac OS X 10.2.x) or to generate and install new device profiles (under Mac OS X 10.3.x and later)

It allows many otherwise unsupported burners to be used directly with Mac OS X, iTunes, and DiscBurner.

New in this version:

  • PatchBurn will now create profiles for any writer shown up in the list, even if it is already supported. This feature is useful for certain writers to unlock specific features (e.g. DVD-RAM writing capability).
  • added a new advanced setting "DRDeviceOverrideCanWriteDVDRAM". You may use this option, if your drive features DVD-RAM writing, but Mac OS X does not recognize this feature. It may work on certain drives but I can't give any guarantee. Use this at your own risk!
  • PatchBurn will now overwrite existing profiles, you don't have to remove all profiles any more
  • added some more debug information
  • changed the window size in experts mode. It is now much larger to show more information of the debug log.
  • This alpha version still does not have the final feature set yet. It will expire at 1.8.2005

System requirements: Mac OS X 10.4 or later

PatchBurn is free.

RocketFM: FM Transmitter for Computers with USB

PR: RocketFM uses any available FM frequency to transmit audio through your home, car, or office stereo system. Applications such as iTunes, GarageBand, video soundtracks, and even streaming Internet radio can be conveniently broadcast with RocketFM.

RocketFMLaptop users will find the RocketFM invaluable for travel. Use any available radio in your hotel room or temporary office space as wireless speakers. The RocketFM is small and light, and it requires no additional power source.

Use RocketFM to broadcast sound for a presentation, or just kick back and listen to your tunes outside on your portable radio. Any Mac or PC with USB can use the RocketFM, and with the full range of FM frequencies available, you can be sure to find a channel all your own. Discover the easy way to play your audio wirelessly, at home or in your travels.

Price: $39

Bochs 2.2 Open Source x86 PC Emulator

PR: Bochs is a highly portable open source IA-32 (x86) PC emulator written in C++ that runs on most popular platforms. It includes emulation of the Intel x86 CPU, common I/O devices, and a custom BIOS. Currently, Bochs can be compiled to emulate a 386, 486, Pentium, Pentium Pro, or AMD64 CPU, including optional MMX, SSE, SSE2, and 3DNow! instructions.

Bochs is capable of running most operating systems inside the emulation including Linux, Windows 95, DOS, and Windows NT 4. Bochs was written by Kevin Lawton and is currently maintained by this project.

Bochs can be compiled and used in a variety of modes, some which are still in development. The 'typical' use of Bochs is to provide complete x86 PC emulation, including the x86 processor, hardware devices, and memory. This allows you to run OS's and software within the emulator on your workstation, much like you have a machine inside of a machine. For instance, let's say your workstation is a Unix/X11 workstation, but you want to run Win95 applications. Bochs will allow you to run Win 95 and associated software on your Unix/X11 workstation, displaying a window on your workstation, simulating a monitor on a PC.

Bochs 2.2 released on May 28, 2005

iEmulator PC Emulator

PR: iEmulator 1.7.6 is a high-performance PC emulator for Macs running OS X 10.3.0 or later. It has been tested with Windows 98, 2000, XP, and various flavors of Linux. iEmulator is a low-cost solution for Mac users that require the use of Windows-only applications.

The complete iEmulator 1.7.6 package includes:

  • The iEmulator 1.7.6 Application
  • A DOS operating systems, including a boot disk for Windows 9X installation
  • Comprehensive documentation, including step-by-step instructions for installing Windows 98, 2000, and XP
  • Fast-response email support
  • Unlimited free updates

System requirements: Mac OS X 10.3 or higher, "Tiger" Compatible

iEmulator sells for $23.95

Desktop Mac Deals

Low End Mac updates the following price trackers every two weeks:

For deals on laptops, see our Best PowerBook G4 Deals, Best iBook G4 Deals, and Best iBook G3 Deals. For deals on iPods, see our Best iPod Deals.

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