Mac News Review

G5 Quad Speed 'Immediately Noticeable', Power Mac G5 Firmware Update, White Kensington USB Keyboard, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2005.11.18

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

Reviews

Products

Desktop Mac Deals

News

Power Mac G5/1.8 GHz Single (Late 2004) Randomly Stop Responding

An updated Apple Knowledgebase article says:

"Some 1.8 GHz models of Power Mac G5 (Late 2004) computers may experience any of the following symptoms:

  • The computer may freeze when performing certain video-intensive tasks for extended periods of time, such as a full screen slideshows, QuickTime playback, or some games.
  • The optical drive may not eject when you've been using the computer for about two hours.
  • Internet Connect may become unresponsive when you've been using the computer for about two hours. (This issue can affect either internal or external modems that use PPP as well as DSL modems that connect using the PPPoE protocol.)
  • Attached displays may not wake up properly after the computer, running Mac OS X 10.4, has been sleeping for an extended period of time. The computer seems to wake up, but the display doesn't.

"A firmware update is available to address the symptoms described in this article. The Power Mac G5 System Firmware Update is only for the 1.8 GHz, 600 MHz bus single-processor Power Mac G5 (Late 2004) computer and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or Mac OS X 10.4.3 or later. Additional information about the firmware update and requirements are included with the download.

"The Power Mac G5 (Late 2004) System Firmware Update for 10.3.9 and the Power Mac G5 (Late 2004) System Firmware Update for 10.4.3 is available for download. If you are using an earlier version of Mac OS X 10.3 or Mac OS 10.4, update the Mac OS from Apple Software Downloads."

Link: Power Mac G5 (Late 2004) 1.8 GHz Models Stop Responding Randomly

Firmware Update for Power Mac G5/1.8 Single (Late 2004)

Apple says:

"This Power Mac G5 System Firmware Update is only for the 1.8 GHz (600 MHz bus), single-processor Power Mac G5 (Late 2004) computer. This update improves the reliability of your Power Mac G5, especially after it has been inactive for two hours.

"Before you install the Power Mac G5 System Firmware Update:

"Use Software Update to make sure you have Mac OS X v10.4.3 or later installed on your Mac. To use Software Update, choose Apple/ Software Update. The Software Update window opens and a list of available updates appears. Select the items you want to install, and then click Install.

"Note: Your Power Mac G5 must be connected to the Internet to use Software Update.

"To update the firmware on your Power Mac G5, follow the instructions below. You can print these instructions so they are available while you upgrade your firmware.

"System Requirements: Mac OS X 10.4.3 or later"

Link: Power Mac G5 (Late 2004) System Firmware Update for Mac OS X 10.4.3

Reviews

Power Mac G5 Quad: Increase in Speed Immediately Noticeable

Computerworld's Yuval Kossovsky reports:

"Yesterday, I had an hour to work with Apple Computer Inc.'s new Power Mac Quad G5, and for anyone in the broadcast, sciences, music, print and photography industries, I have some advice: Place your orders now!

"The latest Power Mac, unveiled last month and now shipping in limited quantities, offers substantial architecture improvements over its predecessor that deliver exponential performance increases - depending on the application being used or function performed. In addition to the use of dual dual-core G5 processors, the underlying upgrades are numerous, so I'll just list them here and then offer some commentary.

"It's also worth noting that Mac OS X 10.4 and the G5 architecture can support up to 4TB of RAM. The machine isn't built to hold that much, since 99.9% of the user base couldn't afford it, but if you fill the 533-Mhz Double Data Rate 2 RAM Error Correction Code slots with the full 16GB on memory the box can currently hold, you've still got quite a screamer...."

Link: The Power Mac G5 Quad: Seat Belt Not Included!

Products

Apple USB Modem Now Available Separately

PR: Apple's new USB Modem, introduced as an option with the last update of the iMac, which now has no modem included as standard equipment, is now available from the Apple Store as a standalone accessory purchase

Apple USB ModemThe Apple USB Modem is a simple, one-piece external USB modem for those who use a dialup connection to access the Internet and do email. Two of the three Mac mini models and some G5 PowerMacs also ship without modems.

Technical Specifications

  • Speed: Data up to 56kbps, fax at 14.4kbps
  • Supports caller ID, wake on ring, telephone answering (V.253), modem on hold
  • V.92 software support

System Requirements

  • Macintosh computer without a built-in modem (that's what Apple says, but I don't immediately see why it wouldn't work with any Mac running OS 10.4.3 and a USB port, but I haven't confirmed this.
  • Mac OS X 10.4.3 or later or Mac OS X 10.4.2 pre-installed on new iMac G5 and new PowerMac G5.

Price: $49

To order the modem, go to the online Apple Store, click on Mac Accessories, and then Exras.

Link: Apple Store

Kensington White SlimType Keyboard for Mac

Kensington SlimType KeyboardPR: A stylish Apple computer deserves an equally stylish keyboard. The Kensington SlimType Keyboard for Apple Computers takes its inspiration from Apple's distinctive sleek lines and contemporary design. That low-profile form is then packed with performance and convenience functions. Low-travel, scissor-switch technology delivers a crisp, responsive touch for faster typing. And multimedia hot keys provide intuitive, one-button control of audio and video playback.

Features

  • Sleek contemporary profile complements clean Apple styling
  • Scissor-switch technology delivers crisp, responsive touch typing
  • Laptop-style keys for faster typing with a lighter action
  • Intuitive hot keys for one-touch multimedia control
  • Convenient hot keys launch sleep and calculator modes
  • Easy USB connection

System Requirements:

  • Desktop computer
  • USB port

SlimType Keyboard - Mac is backed by the Kensington 5-Year Warranty and free technical support.

Price: $39.99

Link: Kensington SlimType Keyboard - Mac

US Modular Stainless Steel Look Mini Hard Drives

PR: US Modular, a designer and manufacturer of personal memory and storage products, has announced a new look for the company's award-winning line of mini drives. All of the Monstor and Dragon Drives, with storage space ranging from 2 to 120 gigs of storage, will now ship in the high-tech sleek look of stainless steel.

"The look is so high-tech and cool we think the new line of stainless steel compact drives reflects US Modular," said US Modular CEO Nick Payzant. "US Modular is known for quickly coming to market with cool high-tech products and this new look definitely shows just how well we do that."

The palm-sized drives are slim and compact, but large enough to hold tens of thousands of data files, music, pictures and more on the go. With the onboard USB 2.0 port, file transfers are fast and easy and completely portable. Ideal for MP3 or video files, important jpeg files, or even redundant storage for irreplaceable data, the Monstor and Dragon Drives require no external power and is both Mac and PC compatible - making its appeal universal. Proving that big things do come in small packages, these drives are the ideal mobile mass storage medium for executives, road warriors, students or anyone on the go. The drives are priced from $99 to $399.

The stainless steel drives will begin shipping in December and are available nationwide.

Link: US Modular

US Modular Dragon Drive Bus-powered Portable Drive

PR: US Modular, a leading designer and manufacturer of personal memory and storage products, announces that the company's award-winning Dragon Drive now comes with more firepower, a huge 120-gigabyte of storage space. The new 120-gigabyte drive has won the coveted Editor's Choice award in several magazines and is on the market for $399.

Dragon DriveThe BUS-powered portable external storage drive system is offered in massive sizes of 20-gigabyte to 100-gigabytes and comes in a stainless steel package. Dragon Drives are some of the tiniest portable auto-detectable combo (USB 2.0 + FireWire) hard drives (2.5" form factor) on the market today. Less than an inch high, these ultra slim high-performance hard drives are the ideal storage solution for palm-tops, notebooks or desktop PCs - at home, in the office or anywhere in between.

Unique in that they require no messy AC power cords (they are 100-percent powered through the two included USB 2.0 cables or FireWire cable), the Dragon Drives maintain a sleek footprint making them the perfect laptop or desktop companion. With both Hi-Speed USB 2.0 and FireWire connections, setup is a snap and data transfer is blazing fast. Dragon Drives are available in size configurations of 20-GB to 120-GB and will be priced at MSRPs of $99 to $399.

Features:

FireWire Features:

  • Compatible with 1394-1995 and 1394A Phys
  • SBP-2 Target Revision 4 Compliant Interface
  • Fully ATA-5 Compliant
  • Supports UDMA5 (ATA100)
  • Supports ATA PIO Modes 0-4, DMA Modes 0-2 and Ultra DMD modes 0-5
  • ORB co-processor to accelerate translation of ORBs to ATAPI Commands
  • Supports ORB chaining for increased performance
  • Transfer rate for high-speed IEEE1394 interface: up to 400 Mbps
  • Driver-less: Easy installation support Windows® 98SE/Me/2000/XP, Mac OS® 8.6 or later without driver

USB 2.0 Features:

  • USB 2.0 Transfer Rates up to 400 Mbps (40 times faster transfer rate than that of USB 1.1)
  • USB 2.0/IDE Compliant: Integrated USB Transceiver; High Speed (400Mbit) and Full Speed (12Mbit)
  • USB Suspend /Resume, Remote Wake Up
  • Easy Installation
  • Windows 98SE; Windows Me/2000/XP, Linux® and Mac OS (without driver)
  • ATA PIO modes 0-4: ATA Interface Operation Mode is automatically configured through firmware
  • UDMA modes 0-4 operation

Power Supply:

  • Power-less: Power by FireWire or USB bus power. No external power is required

Dimensions:

  • LxWxH: 133x78x21 mm (cable not included) or 5.2"x3"x0.8"
  • Weight: 4.6 ounces
  • Cable Length: Approx. 6-feet (1-FireWire and 2-USB 2.0 cables included)

Support:

  • One Year Warranty with 24/7 tech support

120-gigabyte Dragon Drives began shipping in October and will be available nationwide.

Link: US Modular Dragon Drive

QuickerTek Transceiver/Buffalo PCI Card Bundle for Power Macs

PR: QuickerTek has extended its long distance wireless network products with this bundle - ideal for Apple Power Mac users without built-in AirPort capability. These users can use the Buffalo 54g PCI Card and the QuickerTek 27dBm Transceiver for maximum wireless performance. This bundle is aggressively priced at $239.95 - a savings of $40.

The QuickerTek operates like a super antenna, pulling in signals that are up to a mile away - and providing full speed connections. The Buffalo PCI Card provides the means to connect the Transceiver to PCI Power Macs without AirPort capability. The QuickerTek Transceiver can be powered from the USB port or the AC power adapter supplied in the kit. The QuickerTek Transceiver is shipped with a 2dBi omni-directional antenna. You can use a higher gain or a directional antenna if needed.

The QuickerTek Transceiver requires no software to operate and produces 500milliwatts of RF transmitter power amplifying the incoming WiFi signal and sending it to the Buffalo card. So you get greater signal strength for both sides of the WiFi signal thus increasing speed and range. The Buffalo card offers 802.11g speed, reliability, and Mac 9 and OSX compatibility with all the Apple software. We have tested some third party wireless interface cards that don't work with common Mac apps (iTunes for example). Any Apple Power Mac with a PCI slot can use the Bufffalo PCI card.

The Buffalo card can be used without the QuickerTek Transceiver, but at this time it can't be used with internal AirPort card, as the software drivers have conflict and then the system crashes. The installation and use of the Buffalo and QuickerTek Transceiver is easy and straightforward. The card looks just like and AirPort or Extreme card in the wireless menu bar. The Transceiver connects to the antenna port on the PCI Card.

You can expect to gain several bars or MacStumbler points when using this QuickerTek Transceiver. Typical results from a stock Power Mac is normally 25 before and you can expect to see 50 or more when the Transceiver is in use.

Then QuickerTek Transceiver can be plugged and unplugged into the Buffalo card anytime without powering down the PowerBook. The QuickerTek Transceiver can be used without the Buffalo card and will connect to the internal AirPort or AirPort Extreme cards.

The same QuickerTek Transceiver in this bundle can also be used on the Power Mac G5, G4, Mac mini, AirPort Base Stations all (except the Express) with the correct adaptor cables. The Buffalo card and QuickerTek Transceiver with work with any access point/wireless router as long as it is rated 802.11b/g. Popular vendors of this equipment include Netgear, Linksys, and many others.

Like most QuickerTek products, the Transceiver in this bundle is backed with a one-year warranty on parts and labor.

QuickerTek has been a recognized leading innovator of antennas and RF products for Apple desktop and portable computers and now is breaking into the Windows PC world with laptop Transceivers. QuickerTek products can be purchased online.

Link: QuickerTek

BenQ Announces World's Fastest 19" LCD Monitor

PR: BenQ America announces the world's fastest 19-inch LCD monitor, the BenQ FP93G X, featuring ultra-fast 2ms gray-to-gray (GTG) response time, a super-slim 13mm bezel, and a high contrast ratio of 700:1. The FP93G X is the first LCD monitor with a 2ms GTG response time in the market and is targeting hardcore PC gamers who have high demands for superior display performances. The FP93G X breaks the limit of industry design with a 13mm bezel for optimum viewing.

"With a 2ms gray-to-gray response time, the LCD monitor is no longer a factor in limiting the clarity of the most demanding multimedia applications," said Thomas Han, vice president of displays for BenQ America.

The BenQ FP93G X employs original Advanced Motion Accelerator (AMA) technology that accelerates the twisting speed of liquid crystal by increasing the voltage and making it possible to shorten the GTG response time to 2ms. With this technological breakthrough, the FP93G X's performance is similar to that of the CRT monitor, enabling clearer, sharper images with no lagging and image blurring when playing PC games or watching videos.

With the slimmest 13mm bezel design in the market, the FP93G X offers optimum viewing experience and provides a refreshing, clean look, making it a great decor for both home and office.

In addition, the new FP93G X LCD monitor is equipped with both traditional D-Sub and next-generation DVI input support, a high contrast ratio of 700:1 and a brightness of 300 cd/m2 for crisp and excellent picture quality for PC games and media.

FP93G X Technical Specifications

  • 19" LCD Monitor
  • 2ms GTG Response Time
  • 1280 x 1024 Max. Resolution
  • 700:1 contrast ratio
  • Key for quick image auto adjusting
  • Dual input for both D-Sub and DVI-D single
  • PC and Mac compatible
  • VESA wall mounting compatible

The BenQ FP93G X will be available to consumers in January 2006 for an estimated MSRP of $419 and can be purchased through authorized BenQ distribution channels.

Link: BenQ

Desktop Mac Deals

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

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

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