Mac News Review

Reasons Apple Is Better, Big mini Announcement Expected at Expo, a 1.7 GHz Dual G4 Upgrade, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2005.12.23

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

Products

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

PCWorld: Few Manufacturers Excel Across the Board

PCWorld's Reliability and Service: The Best Companies to Buy From report says:

"It was a relatively good year for PCs made by small, independent shops: Even though such systems tended to have more than the average number of failed components, readers felt they received superior service from small companies on virtually all measures, an improvement over last year's results. Readers were satisfied with the reliability of Apple and Alienware computers, but Apple's scores for failed components and failed core components slipped into the average range, a drop from last year's high ratings, while Alienware customers were more satisfied with the reliability of their machines than they were last year. CyberPower, a high-end gaming PC manufacturer, earns the dubious distinction of having the worst reliability scores among desktops. Nearly 46 percent of CyberPower owners reported having at least one problem. ABS fell behind other manufacturers in reliability of components."

Link: Desktop PCs: Few PC Manufacturers Excel Across the Board

The Reasons Apple Is Better

The Inquirer's Charlie Demerjian says:

"Apple Really Is is the better way, but why? No, not for the trendy industrial design, not for the OS, not for the CPU, but for the money. It charges quite a bit, but it is not the 'reassuringly expensive' factor either, the price/performance is nothing to brag about. What makes Apple better is quite simply the fact that it doesn't compete.

"If you look at the PC world, they have some amazing deals out there. Even with the Windows tax, you can find sub $300 PCs that are functional if not stupendous. They work, and for a young child, or someone who just wants to surf, they will get the job done. They will also be cheap as hell, have a power supply that may cook after a few weeks, and dangerously sharp edges on the interior.

"The raw MIPS will be there though, as will the 'Windows experience'. Once it boots, and before it dies a smoky death, it will be just like any other Win box. Whoopee. This is what all PCs out there have to contend with, $299, even if they cost $2999. The same vicious cost cutting philosophy that brings you those price points pervades the rest of the motherboards, hard drives and components, Taiwanese ODMs will kill to save $.12/1000 on parts. Can you say bad caps?....

"Apple . . . is different. It doesn't compete against anything at all. The industrial design focus group is one turtleneck wielding man, not a watered down group of suburban housewives who fit into income category 12a, or teens in the hip-hop demographic. Nope, Apple needs to please one person."

Link: The Reasons Why Apple Is Better

Apple Sets the Pace in Consumer Electronics

AP's May Wong Says:

"Five years ago, Apple Computer Inc. was barely an afterthought in the halls of electronics companies. Not anymore.

"With its best-selling iPods and landmark licensing deals with music and television moguls propelling new ways of consuming digital media, Apple now is the pacesetter....

"If anything, the company's momentum accelerated in 2005. It gave us the iPod shuffle, the Mac mini, the nano, the video-playing iPod, a new iMac with a remote control and TV shows for sale on its iTunes online store.

"Steve Jobs, Apple's rainmaker, was even parodied in a 'Saturday Night Live' sketch, evidence of how the Cupertino-based outfit is ingrained in pop culture like no other tech company."

Link: Apple Sets Pace in Consumer Electronics

A Playful Use for the Mac mini

Hardmac's Lionel reports:

"The compact size of the Mac mini gives some people some very amusing ideas (thanks Lorelei).

"At the following address, http://home.digital.udk-berlin.de/~fredericeyl/moving_canvas/parasite_large.mov, you can see how the Mac mini was used to brighten a subway journey."

Link: A Playful Use for the Mac mini

Mac mini Could See Big Announcement at Macworld Expo

Forbes' Maya Roney says:

"Apple fans: Don't spend all of your holiday money on a video iPod - Wall Street analysts and Mac experts are predicting a surprise announcement of a new Intel-based Mac at MacWorld this January.

"Back in June, Apple Computer announced that it would have a Mac running on Intel chips by June 2006, but the Street and the geeks have a hunch that the company could make the transition much sooner.

"'Our extensive checks in the supply chain are pointing to a very possible early introduction of Intel-based Macs before the June 2006 target date, with a possible Intel-based Mac Mini introduced at MacWorld,' wrote UBS Analyst Ben Reitzes in a recent research report that got tongues wagging all over Mac rumor Web sites."

Reitzes isn't alone in his predictions....

Link: Mac mini Could See Big Announcement

Products

BenQ displayDedicated Display for Mac mini from BenQ

Hardmac's Lionel reports:

"Apple is not proposing a dedicated display that will fit with the price and the design of the Mac mini.

"BenQ thinks that there is a potential market for a TFT display 'made for the Mac mini'. "

Link: Mac mini: a Dedicated Display by BenQ

DiskGO! USB 2.0 Flash Drives Range from 64 MB to 8 GB

PR: The DiskGO! USB 2.0 Flash Drive is the perfect, portable storage solution for anyone on the GO! All of your valuable digital photos, songs, and important documents are easily stored and transferred from one PC to another. All DiskGO! flash drives are password protected by SecureGuard and backed by a lifetime warranty. Simply plug the DiskGO! flash drive into your USB port, download your files and GO! Travel light with the most reliable and stylish flash drive available today!

Product Versions /Availability/ Price

  • 8 GB DiskGO! USB 2.0 Flash Drive: $619.95
  • 4 GB DiskGO! USB 2.0 Flash Drive, Special Holiday Price: $264.95*
  • 2 GB DiskGO! USB 2.0 Flash Drive, Special Holiday Price: $119.95*
  • 1 GB DiskGO! USB 2.0 Flash Drive, Special Holiday Price: $59.95*
  • 512 MB DiskGO! USB 2.0 Flash Drive, Special Holiday Price: $34.95**
  • 256 MB DiskGO! USB 2.0 Flash Drive, Special Holiday Price: $19.95**
  • 128 MB DiskGO! USB 2.0 Flash Drive, Special Holiday Price: $9.95**
  • 64 MB DiskGO! USB 2.0 Flash Drive, Now: $17.95
  • 4 Pack - 128 MB DiskGO! USB 2.0 Flash Drive - Buy 3 Get 1 free! - $59.95
  • 6 Pack - 128 MB DiskGO! USB 2.0 Flash Drive, $89.95
* Price after $30 mail-in rebate
** Price after $10 mail-in rebate

Need more than one flash drive? Try our 128 MB Flash Drive 6 Pack. Six DiskGO! USB Flash Drives for one low price!

DiskGO! USB 2.0 Flash Drive Product Details

Product Advantages:

  • SIZE: As small as your favorite lip balm!
    • 3" (L) x 1" (W) x .4" (H)
    • 3.37" (L) x 1.05" (W) x .59" (H) (4 GB & 8 GB Flash Drives)
  • WEIGHT: Less than .5 oz
  • SECURITY: Includes SecureGuard password protection software - User Manual
  • STYLE: Sleek and silver, curved design
  • USE:
    • Plug 'n GO! - no need to restart
    • Hot-Swappable - allows for quick and easy insertion and removal!
  • SPEED: Hi-Speed USB 2.0
  • POWER: USB powered - no external supply needed
  • EXTRAS: Includes a durable keychain grommet, Easy Boot software, built-in pen clip, 3ft extension cable, lanyard, and removable cap
  • COMPATABILITY: PC & Mac Compatible
  • SUPPORT: Lifetime warranty & toll-free technical support

Technical Specifications:

  • Operating Systems: Windows 98SE (driver included), Windows ME, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Mac O/S 9.0+, & Linux 2.4+
  • Capacities: 64 MB / 128 MB / 256 MB / 512 MB / 1 GB / 2 GB / 4 GB
  • Interface: Universal Serial Bus(USB) Port 2.0, backwards compatible to USB 1.1
  • Data retention: 100,000 transfers
  • LED Indicator: Flashes when transferring data
Link: DiskGO! USB 2.0 Flash Drive

Sonnet Announces Top End 1.7 GHz Dual G4 Upgrade

PR: Sonnet Technologies announces the immediate availability of its new top-of-the-line dual processor upgrade-the Encore/ST G4 Duet 1.7 GHz-for most "Sawtooth" Power Mac G4 systems, including AGP Graphics, Gigabit Ethernet, Digital Audio and QuickSilver models. This product represents a new high point in performance and value in Sonnet's most popular line of processor upgrades; it is priced the same as the 1.3 GHz dual processor upgrade it replaces.

Encore/ST G4 Duet 1.7 GHzThis upgrade, based on the latest and fastest PowerPC G4 7447A processors (used in Apple's current PowerBook line) from Freescale Semiconductor, features 512K of SRAM on-chip L2 cache and is compatible with Mac OS® 9.2, and Mac OS X Version 10.3.5 and higher. All Encore/ST G4 upgrades for Power Mac G4 tower computers include a factory-attached heat sink and fit seamlessly into all supported systems. Like all Sonnet processor upgrades, this new Encore/ST G4 Duet model carries a three-year warranty and includes free technical support.

The Encore/ST G4 Duet 1.7 GHz (Part No. SG4D-1700) is available now with an MSRP of USD $599.95.

For more information on the Encore/ST G4 Duet 1.7 GHz model, visit the Sonnet website.

Sonnet also offers a full line of single processor Encore/ST G4 upgrades running at speeds up to 1.8 GHz. For more information, please visit the Sonnet website.

Compatibility

The Encore/ST G4 Duet 1.7 GHz (Part No. SG4D-1700) is compatible with the following Power Mac G4 models:

*Some AGP Graphics systems will not support the Encore/ST G4 Duet. For complete details, see Troubleshooting a Power Mac G4 System with Disabled Multiprocessing.

Mac OS Requirements and Compatibility: The Encore/ST G4 Duet 1.7 GHz requires Mac OS 9.2 for software installation and firmware updating. Mac OS X compatibility requires Mac OS X Version 10.3.5 or later.

Link: Sonnet Encore/ST G4 Duet

Mac mini SleeveCase

Mac mini SleeveCasePR: Protection for the Digital Life. The Mac mini SleeveCase is light, compact and provides just the right amount of protection. The durable ballistic nylon exterior protects against scuffs and scrapes, and a soft lined 6mm neoprene interior gently cushions your Mac Mini.

Want a compliment? Try the Mac mini SleeveCase with the Small VertiGo. Inside is enough room to carry around the Mac mini SleeveCase, power supply and other needed accessories.

Heading out with just your Mac mini? The Mac mini Sleevecase is available with an optional 1.5" wide simple shoulder strap which attaches with metal snap-hooks and d-rings.

Available in one size: 7.25" x 7.25" x 2.5"Mac Mini Case $39

Link: Mac mini SleeveCase

iDrops Cleaner/Polish for iPods, iMacs, eMacs, Power Macs, and More

PR: PodShop, makers of specialized accessories for portable audio electronics and computing devices, today announced the immediate availability of their updated iDrops product - an all-in-one cleaning, polishing, and scratch removing solution specifically designed for use on the plastic/acrylic surfaces of Apple's iPod (all models), iBook, eMac, and iMac (G3/G5), Mac mini, and Power Mac (G3/G4).

iDrops is a two ounce bottle of "liquid health" for plastic/acrylic surfaces that features a dropper top, allowing easy, mess-free use for helping to repair and restore your blemished, scuffed, or scratched product. iDrops can also be used on the plastic/acrylic surfaces of CD/DVD media, cell phones, Game Boy, PSP, and numerous other items.

iDrops - introduced in November 2004 - features improvements throughout the entire product, including updated iDrops solution, bottle, dropper, and label. Priced at $14.95, iDrops is available from the company's website.

Link: iDrops

SwiftData 200 Allows Three More Internal Hard Drives in G5 Power Macs, Up to 2 TB of Storage

PR: SwiftData200 and SwiftData200R addresses Power Mac G5's internal storage issue by allowing three (3) more internal hard disk drives to be added to the computer. Now, a total of five (5) internal drives running successfully within the G5 case has been achieved by the Swiftdata200 without modifying, replacing, or sacrificing the Power Mac G5's components.

With SwiftData200 and SwiftData200R, over 2 Terabytes of internal storage is possible, which is enough hard drive space for over 140 hours of Digital Video, and for audio professionals, this translates to over 3000 hours of stereo PCM audio.

These drives can be used as RAID type 0 for blinding speed (more then fast enough to capture 10 bit uncompressed video), as a RAID type 1, 5, 10 ( RAID 5 & 10 available for G5 Dual and Quad core) or individual drives where large storage space is required, but the demand for speed is lessened.

The Swift Data200 and SwiftData200R are custom designed mass storage solution made of aluminum. It ships with Trans International's uniquely designed 15pin SATA power cable and SATA II compliant data cables, installation instruction movie CD and manual.

By striping 8 SATA II (RAID 0) drives [using the SwiftData200 internal drives and the miniG (4 bay) external SATA II storage solution], a sustained data transfer rate of 8X (549 MB/s) can be achieved.

Benefits

  • Increase G5, G5 Dual/Quad Core internal data storage
  • Economical
  • Blinding speed
  • Ease of use
  • Space saver
  • Enhances G5, G5 Dual/Quad Core capabilities
  • Adds value to the G5, G5 Dual/Quad Core

Applications

  • Professional Non-Linear Video Editing and Production: produce, or archive video projects for uncompressed, broadcast-quality and high-definition formats
  • High Definition Production: easily meets demand for higher throughput and capacity standards
  • DVD authoring: : ample storage capability and performance features allow full-length features and multimedia features to be authored and written
  • 2D/3D animation: reduces rendering and storage of even the most sophisticated animation designs with its high-performance transfer times and capacities
  • Digital Illustration: Store thousands of finely-layered, rendered illustrations using professional illustration tools
  • Audio Production: Storage capacity and performance permits studio-quality recording and playback rates
  • Interactive Game Development: High-resolution graphics and complex coding require huge amounts of data storage to satisfy game authoring requirements
  • Pre-Press: Handles storage requirements for large-format and professional page composition, layout, production, and scanning
  • Digital Image/Music Libraries: saves huge digital and audio libraries for archiving, display, and editing of entire digital and music collections
  • Small Studio/Home Studio: consumer-based workstations now support HD content as well as Digital Video, requiring a smaller form factor storage and affordable price offered by the Swiftdata200 and SwiftData200R.
  • Research Data: Capture and analyze real-time data streams for a variety of scientific and engineering applications - including seismic, environmental, chemical, biological, and medical applications
  • File Backup: Conventional data backup pales in comparison with the storage capacities capable with Swiftdata200 and SwiftData200R as a RAID type1

Min requirements:

  • G5, G5 Dual/Quad Core Power Macintosh
  • One (1) open PCI, PCIX or PCI Express slot.
Link: Swift Data 200 Allows Three More Internal Hard Disk Drives in G5 Power Macs

GVS90004U Power G5 w/SAN RAID + Rackmount

PR: GVS-Grande Vitesse Systems, Inc.'s PowerPC G5 4XCPU with 4-14 internal drive bays all in a 4U RACK. With a processor speed of Quad-core 2.5GHz PowerPC G5 motherboard, in less than 8.0", the GVS90004U PPC is the only product of its kind available in the market today.

The GVS9000 PowerPC comes with Quad 2.5GHz PowerPC G5 processors running at speeds of up to 76.6 GBps, 1,000KB of dedicated L2 cache memory per processor, three full-length PCI-e and one 16X PCI-e slots, and 8 GB of DDR ECC SDRAM which can be upgraded to 32 GB . Plus 6x500 GB SATAII drives, up to 1500RPM, configured as an internal SAN RAID holding about 3,000 GB of shared disk space. Three hot-plug on the front with secure door, and one 4x500 GB SATAII drive with 4 GB Fiber Channel internal controller and an upgrade option of up to 14 total internal, dual Gigabit Ethernet up to 2, 4, 8, 14xSATAII drive interface, 4 GB Fiber Channel drive interfaces (optional), up to 8xDVI and VGA display interface, dual gigabit standards-based network services in OS X, or Linux operating systems.

The GVS9000 4XCPU 2.5GHz Power G5 models take efficient data access one step further, exceeding data access over 5.4Gbit/sec ideal for most applications such as Aerospace, Animation , Audio/Video 2K & HD editing, Biotechnology, Communications, Defense, Education, Manufacturing, Medical Imaging, Mobile equipment, Oil & Gas, Pharmaceutical, Stereo Video imaging, TV Station, Visualization, as well as SAN meta-data controller and Server, ideal video and audio uncompressed 4.4.4 recording. It's ideal for the road, containing everything you need in a portable, rugged design 19" rack mount or a tower unit with less than 19" depth.

The 4XCPU 2.5GHz PowerPC models include RAM support of 16 GB up to 4TB, internal storage up to 9TB with optional 15,000 RPM hot-swap drives running at speeds of 720 MB/sec making it ideal for High Performance Computing (HPC) in scientific and technical environments, as well as for VTR, 3D Design, Film Colorist, Animation and Visualization applications. The unique feature of the GVS90004XCPU is the internal 4Gbit Fiber Storage that allows you to instantaneously share your content and have your project available to everyone on the SAN Fiber network, at speeds that are usually only available on very high end fiber RAID products, but are a standard part of the GVS 4XCPU product. The benefit of having the internal 4Gbit Fiber is that you can configure your GVS9000 as an Xsan meta data controller and run GVSAN and Xsan in conjunction to deliver HFS+ volume as well as XSAN volume at the same time. Add AJA, Blackmagic or any number of PCI-e capture cards and you have yourself a complete VTR.

Includes:

  • Quad-core 2.5GHz PowerPC® G5 Processors
  • 4 PCI-e 16x, 4x, 8x, 4x slots
  • 14x internal up to 500 GB SATAII, 4 GB Fibre or U320 removable drive bay.
  • Dual 2 GB Fibre PCI-e card option
  • 14x500 GB SATA 7200RPM removable drives
  • 4 GB Fiber channel drive interfaces
  • PCMCI Micro, MS, SD, MS DUO, MMC, and SM removable drives
  • 2x SATA drive interface on front
  • Hardware RAID 0, 1, 3, 5, 6 0+1
  • 14 removable drive bays
  • 12 hot-swap drive bays option
  • Quadro FX 4500 512 MB SDRAM
  • Single or dual power supplies
  • Up to 16 GB 8 DIMM sockets
  • 56Kbps Modem Internal
  • DVD/RW-CD/RW drive
  • Front LCD display states
  • DFirewire 800, 4xFirewire 400(2xon Front) 4xUSB2 (2xon front)
  • System software OSX or Linux
  • 1 year limited warranty software
Link: GVS90004U Power G5 w/SAN RAID + Rackmount

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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