Mac News Review

Mac mini Keyboard/Guitar Rig, More on Mighty Mouse, New Mac mini Accessories, 2.0 GHz Upgrade, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2005.08.12

PowerBook, iBook, iPod, and other portable computing is covered in The 'Book Review. News about Apple's transition to Intel CPUs and other Intel developments is covered in The Macintel Report. iPod news is covered in The iNews Review.

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News & Opinion

Mighty Mouse

Reviews

Mac mini

Products and Services

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

Rack-Mounted Mac mini Keyboard/Guitar Rig with LCD

Create Digital Music's Peter Kirn says:

"Christopher Scheidel has created an impressive Mac mini-based rig for playing keyboards and guitars. He's documented the whole process at his site Heavylift. There's a lot to be learned there about how to do it yourself (including taking advantage of cheap LCDs for display)....

"The whole project fits in a VW Jetta's trunk - perfectly portable, and with all the sonic flexibility afforded by Guitar Rig and Logic. Guitar Rig...."

Looking at Mighty Mouse

Apple's Mouse Not as Mighty as Rival's

The Wall Street Journal's Walter S. Mossberg says:

"Apple Computer is the design champion of the computer world. But the company has had one blind spot: the mouse. From January 1983, when it introduced the industry's first mouse, through last month, Apple insisted on producing mice with just one button and no scroll wheel....

"On Tuesday, Apple finally gave in - sort of. The company released an optional, add-on mouse called Mighty Mouse that allows right-clicking and scrolling. But in a stubborn homage to the old dogma, AppleDesigned the Mighty Mouse so it looks like, and can work like, a one-button mouse. Those clashing design goals make the Mighty Mouse harder to use than competing mice.

"Meanwhile, Microsoft has also brought out a new mouse in the past few weeks, the Wireless Optical Mouse 5000. It isn't as slick-looking as Apple's new entry, but it's better, in my view. The Microsoft mouse has an innovation: It allows you to instantly magnify any portion of your screen without zooming into the whole display. That's a great help to people doing detail work, not to mention to the increasing number of baby boomers with declining vision."

Apple's Better Mouse Trap

The Motley Fool's Nathan Alderman says:

"For years, detractors of Apple's Macintosh computer have had one reliable complaint to fall back on: its one-button mouse. As computer interfaces grew increasingly complex, Windows PCs introduced two- and three-button mice, but Apple stuck with the same simple design it first unveiled in 1984. That all changed last Tuesday, when Apple introduced an ingenious mouse that can be all things for all people - and, perhaps, another foothold in its stealth attack on the PC market...

"In my opinion, the most intriguing aspect of Mighty Mouse lies almost hidden in the fine print on Apple's website: The device isn't limited to Macs alone. It's been built to work seamlessly with Microsoft's Windows as well. For years now, Apple's sleek monitors and trendy iPod have worked with Windows, and the Mac mini it introduced in January is designed to plug into PC-standard screens and keyboards. Analysts have even begun to note a 'halo effect' from the iPod's popularity, as a small but growing number of PC users switch to the Mac mini and other Apple computers.'

Dissecting Mighty Mouse

ars technica's Jacqui Cheng and Clint Ecker report:

"We all knew it was going to happen eventually, so we decided to beat our crazy, Domokun-loving friends across the pond to the punch and perform invasive surgery on our brand-new Apple Mighty Mouse. I'm afraid there's no chance of recovery - it's dead, Jim.

"First, it's important to note that if you decide to take your Mighty Mouse apart, do so at your own risk and be very aware that the process may involve breakage and/or sawing, so there's no turning back once you get started...."

Reviews

Power Mac G5 Impresses

The Advertiser's Chris Oaten says:

"Ask any Mac expert which system they would sell their grandmother for and they will have the answer out before you can say '64-bit processing' &endash; and it has been my great pleasure to have that very system for a test drive.

"Apple's top-shelf Mac, the Power Mac G5, is some seriously impressive hardware....

"The G5 handles the heavy lifting like a thoroughbred rips up the Melbourne Cup, with style, grace, and power in reserve. You appreciate this when editing high-definition 1080i source video or when tweaking sound effects on a multitrack composition.

"Married with Apple's latest OS, Tiger (10.4.2), and the pro video production suite Final Cut Studio (FCS, comprising Final Cut Pro, DVD Studio Pro, Soundtrack Pro and Motion), the test unit represented the best Apple has on offer."

Mac mini

Does the Mac mini Really Need 512 MB RAM with Tiger?

Macs Only! says:

"The requirements for running Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger list 512 MB of RAM. So Apple has now increased the minimum amount of RAM across all models of Macs, desktops and laptops, from 256 MB to 512 MB. It's a nice bonus but was it really needed for a Mac mini?

"We have shown previously that 256 MB of RAM runs Mac OS X just fine, at least through 10.3.x "Panther," when running simultaneously a large number of applications that consumer-level Mac users might run on a 1.25 GHz Mac mini. Not the professionals, mind you, who might be working with digital video and large images and RAM-hungry applications like Adobe Photoshop. We mean regular consumers who surf the Web, send email, write letters, do the home finances, listen to songs via iTunes or watch digital video via QuickTime Streaming, especially those entry-level Mac users who might buy a Mac mini.

"Because of Tiger's 512 MB RAM requirement, we decided to rerun our 1.25 GHz Mac mini RAM tests using Mac OS X 10.4.2 to see if there is a difference between 256 MB and 512 MB of RAM that our test can determine using the new operating system."

SportFolio Mac miniMarware's SportFolio Mac mini

[PR] Bring your Mac mini along

Offering the same rugged protection and durable neoprene construction as the rest of the SportFolio family, this case features two large interior storage pockets; one for the Mac mini, the other for the power supply and additional peripherals and cables. The exterior features a zippered pocket on the back of the case, and a stretchy, open pocket in front. Carrying handles and a removable shock-absorbing shoulder strap round out the features.

Available in black with a blue accent pocket.

Mini Pal for Mac mini

123macmini.com reports:

"AcomData introduces the mini Pal for Mac mini. With available storage up to 320 GB, 4 USB 2.0 ports and 3 FireWire ports, the mini Pal extends the capabilities of your Mac mini. Mini Pal is the same size (6.5" square), has the same shape, and features the same case materials and finish as the Mac mini."

Capacities from 80 GB to 320 GB.

Power Mac G5 Styled Case for Mac mini

123macmini.com reports:

"Out of Japan comes the Mon maccom And Mac mini. The Mac mini is [inside] a really cool looking Power Mac G5 styled case for the Apple Mac mini. The case has an open slot for the optical drive and open back for easy access to the ports and power button. Mon maccom's website says the And Mac mini is still in the 'trial manufacturing stage' at this time. Mon macccom makes similar Power Mac G5 cases for the Apple G4 Cube and iPod...."

Products and Services

PowerLogix Announces 2.0 GHz PowerForce G4 Upgrade

[PR] PowerLogix today announced immediate availability of the 2.0 GHz Single Processor PowerForce G4 7447A processor upgrade card.

The 2.0 GHz PowerForce G4 7447A utilizes the latest, fastest available Freescale PowerPC 7447A and includes 512K of onboard L2 cache. It is immediately available for $399 from Other World Computing.

Motorola/Freescale's new 7447/7447A G4 processor has allowed us to provide high performance upgrades at an extremely competitive price,2 said Larry O'Connor, president of OWC, master distributor for PowerLogix. "In addition to performance, PowerLogix 7447A CPU upgrades are the lowest power-consuming and coolest running upgrades in the industry. No competitor comes close."

The card features an onboard thermal sensor and real-time thermal monitoring. Dynamic Frequency Switching (DFS) is also supported for significantly reduced power demand. These features enable the PowerForce G4 7447A to operate at high speed and highest power efficiency, for the coolest possible operation. No other product on the market has even one of these of features, let alone the full combination.

CPU Director, PowerLogix' proprietary software utility, is included with the card. CPU Director enables the user to monitor the most important parameters of their CPU upgrade - real-time and historical temperature data.

The 2.0 GHz PowerForce G4 7447A is available for Power Mac G4 AGP Graphics (Sawtooth), Gigabit Ethernet, Digital Audio, Quicksilver and Quicksilver 2002 models. It is compatible with Mac OS 9.x and Mac OS X 10.3.5 and higher (Mac OS X 10.3.9 or higher is required for thermal monitoring and DFS features).

OWC also has available a 7447A 1.8 GHz for $339 and 7447A duals running from 1.2 to 1.8 GHz starting at $419.

"We are thrilled with the new product flow resulting from our relationship with a company so rich in design and engineering talent," O'Connor said. "These products are truly designed and produced as the best products on the market.

"We are so confident in the quality of these products, we offer a 30-day 100 percent money back guarantee in addition to directly supporting the three-year warranty these products include when purchased from OWC or any authorized reseller of these products."

PowerLogix products are available immediately through Other World Computing via its Web site at http://www.macsales.com/powerlogix

OWC is master distributor for PowerLogix and provides all product and warranty support for their products. Dealer Inquiries are welcome.

irock! Theater Sound 5.1 Surround Sound Headphones

[PR] The irock! 1051 gives you your own private version of big screen sound. Six speakers - each in an individual sound chamber - create virtual surround sound so real your movies and games will "jump off the screen". Just plug into your PC or Mac's USB port - No Sound Card Required! Enjoy DVD movies and gaming like never before!

Surround sound USB headphones great for PC gaming & portable home theatre.

  • Plugs into a USB port - no sound card required
  • PC & Mac compatible

FEATURES:

  • Compact, lightweight unit
  • Extremely lightweight, comfortable, and collapsible
  • 5.1 virtual surround sound with PC or Mac via USB port
  • Six speakers create incredible 3D sound
  • Easy to adjust volume for each speaker
  • Power on LED indicator
  • USB version 2.0 full speed compliant
  • Equalizer offers simulated effects such as Jazz, Rock, Rap, Dance, and Vocal
  • Xear 3D™ driver software offers 3D sound configuration
  • Supports Master volume, Subwoofer effects, and Mute control
  • Support for Microsoft® DirectSound® and DirectSound 3D® audio technology
  • Supports EAX® 1.0 and 2.0
  • Supports A3D

Specifications:

  • Front, Rear, and Bass Driver speakers:
    • Diameter: 40mm/13mm
    • Impedance: 32 ohms/8 ohms ± 20%
  • Center Driver speaker:
    • Diameter: 13mm
    • Impedance: 16 ohms ± 20%
  • Connector: 1 USB Port, Type B
  • Headphone Dimensions: 5.1 x 5.1 x 32 inches
  • Cable length: 6.5 Feet
  • Signal to Noise Ratio >85 dB

System Requirements:

  • PC Windows XP Home/XP Pro or Mac OS X (v10.1 or later)
  • Intel Pentium III/ AMD K6 500CPU or greater
  • At least 128 MB RAM
  • 50 MB available Hard Disk Drive space
  • USB Port
  • CD-ROM drive (4x or faster)

Price: $49.99

Sonnet Upgrades eSATA Controllers

[PR] Sonnet Technologies, a worldwide leader in upgrades for Apple Macintosh computers and iPod digital music players, announces the release of its upgraded Tempo-X eSATA line of high-performance Serial ATA (SATA) host controllers, now enhanced with added support for SATA II drives and Windows XP. The Tempo-X eSATA 4+4 features 4 internal plus 4 external ports, while the Tempo-X eSATA 8 features 8 external ports; both offer unparalleled flexibility in connecting additional data storage capacity in Mac and Windows environments. These host controllers' ports are independently capable of transferring data at up to 300 MB/s, and can achieve much higher transfer rates when connected drives are grouped in a striped RAID array, making them fantastic choices for users working with High Definition video editing and authoring applications. Tempo-X eSATA cards also utilize the PCI-X interface to take advantage of its enhanced performance capability, while retaining compatibility in standard PCI slots.

While Mac users have enjoyed the benefits offered by Sonnet's Tempo-X line for several months, PC users can now take advantage of these eSATA host controllers' unique features. Many Windows-compatible SATA controllers have only internal ports that were never intended for use in external applications, but Tempo-X cards occupy just one slot - all their external ports accessible through the card's mounting bracket. Use of eSATA (external Serial ATA) connectors assures long-term reliability and provides enhanced EMI (electromagnetic interference) protection.

Tempo-X eSATA host controllers are fantastic choices for users working with High Definition video editing and authoring applications. Attached drives can be formatted for individual use, but the benefit of grouping them in RAID 0 (Stripe) arrays is clear - 8-drive arrays can sustain read/write speeds in excess of 545 MB/s - offering more than enough performance to capture and process uncompressed 10-bit High Definition video without dropping a frame. "Consumers and resellers alike requested Windows-compatible versions of our Tempo-X eSATA cards," states Robert Farnsworth, Sonnet CEO. "With the release of these two upgraded cards, we delivered improved performance to a wider audience."

Support for SATA II drives improved data transfer speeds represents Sonnet's step into the next generation. "SATA II drives are just now starting to penetrate the market, consisting mostly of the highest capacity models, but the transition to the new standard shouldn't take too long," states Steve Garceau, Sonnet Product Manager. Tempo-X SATA host controllers are backward compatible with SATA I drives. "Users looking for an external storage solution that supports SATA II drives should consider a Tempo-X eSATA host controller and one or two of Sonnet's Fusion 400 4-bay Serial ATA hot-swap drive enclosures," declares Garceau.

Tempo-X eSATA Host Controllers' Key Features

  • 8 ports (8 external eSATA connectors for Tempo-X eSATA 8, 4 internal plus 4 external eSATA connectors for Tempo-X eSATA 4+4) to support up to 4 TB of storage
  • 64-bit, 133 MHz PCI-X Serial ATA host controller
  • Works in any PCI-X or PCI slot
  • Mac OS X and Windows XP compatible
  • Supports SATA II and SATA I drives
  • 48-bit LBA support for drives with a capacity larger than 137 GB
  • Supports RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 10, and JBOD (Just a Bunch Of Disks) through operating system
  • Supports hot-swap drive connection
  • Upgradable firmware enables future enhancements

OS Compatibility

  • Mac: Compatible with Mac OS X Version 10.2 and higher
  • Windows: Compatible with Windows XP and Windows XP x64

Hardware Compatibility

  • Macintosh models:
    • Power Macintosh G3 Blue & White
    • Power Mac G4 (all models except Cube)
    • Power Mac G5
  • PC Compatibility
    • Any PC with an available PCI-X or PCI slot

Pricing and Availability

  • Tempo-X eSATA 4+4 (Part no. TSATAII-X44) is available immediately with a retail price of $199.95.
  • Tempo-X eSATA 8 (Part no. TSATAII-X8) will be available in September with a retail price of $299.95.
Link: Sonnet Tempo-X eSATA 4+4
Link: Sonnet Tempo-X eSATA 8
Link: Sonnet Fusion 400 4-Bay Serial ATA Hot-Swap Drive Enclosure

Desktop Mac Deals

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

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

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