Mac News Review

Economic Crunch May Slow Mac Sales, a Recycled Cube, ToCA Race Driver 3 for Mac, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2008.10.10

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

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News & Opinion

Tech Trends

Products & Services

Software

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

Spending Slowdown May Slow Mac Sales

ChangeWave Research's Paul Carton says:

"Apple suddenly finds itself in a vulnerable position, just as the latest ChangeWave consumer survey shows another big leg downward for the beleaguered US consumer.

"ChangeWave's September 16-26 survey of 4,262 consumers focused on PC spending - and it shows Apple's real problem isn't Mac sales for the previous 90 days (sales are looking good), it's their outlook for Macs going forward.

"Past 90 Days - A Good Quarter for Mac Sales

"Among respondents who bought a computer over the past 90 days, 23% say they bought an Apple laptop and 17% a desktop - down 1-pt and 2-pts respectively from the August ChangeWave survey.

"But while the latest Mac results are down slightly, they're still quite close to the highs reached in both our July and August surveys - when the Mac halo effect caused by the release of the 3G iPhone was still in effect.

consumer buying - Apple computers purchasing past 90 days

"When you look at the July, August and September surveys in combination, the results say that Apple should meet its Mac sales numbers for the July 1 - September 30th quarter.

"However, the outlook for the next 90 days shows a much, much tougher environment going forward.

"Next 90 Days - It's All About Visibility

"Why the concern about Apple's outlook? Among respondents who plan to buy a PC over the next 90 days, just 29% say they'll purchase an Apple laptop - down a full 5-pts since August. Another 26% say they plan to buy a desktop, a 4-pt decline.

"These are the weakest looking numbers we've seen all year for Apple in terms of future buying - and the biggest drop in visibility in 2 1Ú2 years.

consumer buying - Apple computers purchasing next 90 days

"Compounding the matter, overall Consumer Electronics spending for the next 90 days is registering yet another big slowdown - just as the crucial holiday season gets underway.

consumer electronics spending by consumers last 16 surveys comparison

"Only 14% say they'll spend more on consumer electronics over the next 90 days compared to 40% who say less - a net 7-pt decline just since August, and the weakest 90-day outlook for electronics spending we've recorded in a ChangeWave survey.

"Most importantly, overall planned PC buying among consumers remains quite weak. Just 8% of respondents say they'll buy laptops in the next 90 days and 6% desktops - significantly below our findings from a year ago.

"Bittersweet Findings

"Despite an already severe 15 month contraction, our latest survey shows US consumer spending has suddenly taken a big turn for the worse. Better than half of US respondents (52%) now say they'll spend less money over the next 90 days. And spending on consumer electronics looks set to take the biggest hit.

"Within this environment, our July, August and September survey results measuring the past 90 days show that Apple should meet its Mac sales numbers for the quarter.

"But our September survey results for the next 90 days show Apple has a considerable visibility problem - which represents the real Achilles heel for Apple.

"Bottom line, while Apple's guidance is normally conservative, we expect it to be much more so on October 21st when it provides its Mac sales projections for the holiday season.

"Long term, the company still has a tremendous outlook. One example, our latest consumer cell phone survey shows the smart phone market thriving, and among respondents planning to buy a new smart phone in the next 90 days, more than a third (34%) say they'll get an Apple iPhone - the highest level of smart phone demand in the industry.

"Based on our data, we fully expect Apple's iPhone numbers will beat consensus estimates on October 21st. However, Mac sales projections going forward are the number one issue for the company, and that's where our survey results show Apple is vulnerable - caught in the fierce headwinds of the accelerating economic downturn."

Editor's note: This was published before Apple announced it's October 14 notebook event. This will be the first update to Apple's MacBook line since February and should unleash a wave of new sales. I know of several Mac fans who have been waiting for new 'Books since July and August. With a big presence in the notebook market, Apple should fare well in the holiday quarter. dk

How a Mac mini Can Beat a Quad-core Vista Behemoth

ZDnet's Adrian Kingsley-Hughes says:

"Here's a tale of how a humble Mac mini system outperformed my cutting-edge quad-core system. It's also a story of how Apple can't write good software for the Windows platform."

"So what's the deal? 1080p H.264 QuickTime movies play fine on the Mac mini through QuickTime, and they play fine on Windows when using third party media players. So the issue is here isn't which OS is best, or which platform is best, it's all down to Apple's QuickTime player for Windows not being up to the job."

Macintosh Tools Up with Plenty of Apps

news.com.au's John O'Brien says:

"'Lack of software' is one of those Mac myths that just refuses to die. There have always been thousands of programs for the Mac and today there are more than ever. You'll have to look online for most of them.

"Below is our pick of the top Mac apps that aren't available for Windows.

  • Adium
  • Aperture
  • Bento
  • ComicBookLover
  • Delicious Library
  • iLife
  • iWork
  • Pixelmator
  • Transmission
  • Twitterific"

Why You Shouldn't Buy RAM from Apple

Ramseeker.com blog says:

"This is why ramseeker exists. Because I'm too cheap to pay for 'Apple' Memory. And you should be too.

"Here's the pricing for iMac Memory as listed at the Apple Store.

  • Apple Store. 1gb - $100.
  • Apple Store. 2gb - $200
  • Apple Store. 4gb - $400.

"Now, let's compare the same memory from our vendors we list on ramseeker

  • Cheapest 1gb memory upgrade for iMac - 15.49
  • Most Expensive 1gb memory upgrade for iMac - 39.00
  • Cheapest 2gb memory upgrade for iMac- $30.99
  • Most Expensive 2gb memory upgrade for iMac - $75.00
  • Cheapest 4gb Memory Upgrade for iMac KITS - $62.99
  • Most Expensive 4gb Memory Upgrade for iMac KITS - $115.99."

G4 Cube repurposed as an aquariumHow to Recycle a Cube

Hardmac's Lionel says:

"Apple is regularly updating the list of unsupported hardware, indicating that such computer can not be service anymore, and one will not find spare parts. As illustrated by this Power Mac G4 Cube, not being to replace dead pieces does not necessarily mean it can not be useful anymore:...."

5 Easy Ways to Customize the Look of Your New Mac

My First Mac's Chris Kerins says:

"One of my top reasons for buying Apple products is that every aspect of their products is designed to perfection. The design direction coming out of Apple HQ is strong and clear. But what do you do if you don't like what they deliver? In most cases, not much. If you don't like Steve's vision, tough luck.

"Fortunately, Apple has loosened its grip (somewhat) when it comes to OS X. Certainly not to the extent that many critics would like, but you can customize what your Mac looks like on screen. Let's take a look at some easy ways to customize the way your new Mac looks."

Advice for SheepShaver, OS 9 on Intel Macs

MacWindows reports:

"Michael Goodine of Emaculation.com is hosting new builds of the free open-source PowerPC emulator, SheepShaver, which can run Mac OS 9 on Intel Macs. Goodine responded to our reader reports of instability, and suggests trying the newer builds:

"It's very neat to see a 'special report' about SheepShaver on your site! I've noticed that the reactions are mixed regarding SheepShaver on the Intel Macs...."

Editor's note: Also see SheepShaver Brings Classic Mac OS to Intel Macs and Leopard here on Low End Mac. dk

Stinky Mac Pro: 'Definitely Not Benzene'

Hardmac's Eric reports:

"Following our previous news, we have received several reports originating from different places all over the world from Mac Pro owners having contacted Apple Care as they wanted to get additional information about the weird smelling produced by their computer. According to those reports and our sources, it seems that Apple has internally communicated about this issue, clearly stating that it does NOT involve benzene. Hereafter is an example of such report, originating from Bill, a Hardmac reader:

"'I just called AppleCare about it....

"When I asked about the benzene issue, the manager said that the advice coming down from Apple's engineers was to tell customers that it's 'definitely not benzene', and not to worry about it. I asked the rep to email this info to me, but understandably (I guess) he wasn't prepared to do so - in fact, he joked that he'd probably already said too much....'"

Tech Trends

Fujitsu Spinning Out of Hard Drive Business?

Channel Register's Chris Mellor reports:

"Fujitsu is thought to be planning to scale down its storage business after reports that it may sell its hard disk drive business to Western Digital for ¥70bn to ¥100bn ($662-945.5m).

"Fujitsu issued a statement today, saying: 'There was an article in the Nihon Keizai Shimbun newspaper today regarding Fujitsu's hard disk drive business. This article is not based on information released by Fujitsu. At the current time, there is no factual basis for this media report.'

"WD is the world's number two HDD manufacturer, with a 22 per cent market share, behind Seagate with 34 per cent. Fujitsu, ranked sixth, has 6.6 per cent....

"It is moving to focus more on 2.5in mobile drives where Seagate and WD are competing strongly, both having released 500 GB products recently. Fujitsu started shipping its SATA 500 GB 2.5in, 4200 rpm product in May....

"There is a medium-to-long term threat to the 2.5in hard drive business from faster flash solid state drives, and HDDs need to energetically grow their capacity so as to retain their substantial cost/GB advantage over flash...."

Products & Services

MacTribe Expands Reach with Print Edition

PR: MacTribe, the first Mac magazine and website to combine the traditional format of reviews, news, and usage tips with culture, art, profiles, and interviews, will launch its new print edition at newsstands this month. MacTribe is the ultimate product and lifestyle magazine for Mac enthusiasts and will now be widely distributed by Source Interlink Companies, one of the largest magazine distributors and publishers in the US. This will result in a wider-reach to the Mac community.

MacTribe MagazineMacTribe has grown steadily as a website for three years. In addition to the usual Mac magazine fare such as product reviews and news from Cupertino, MacTribe Magazine now offers in-depth interviews with creative professionals, expanded coverage about design and photography, features on tech culture, and more.

Daniel Robillard, founder and publisher, commented, "Mac users exist as a type of subculture with similar tastes, interests, and ideas. MacTribe has created a unique approach to serving them the content they crave in a stylish 21st century format. The end result is a virtual and print world where our tribe can come together as a community."

With the continued growth of Apple and the culture surrounding the company, it is evident that the time has come for a new media channel to provide more to the Apple community. The new print edition of MacTribe will reflect the sophisticated aesthetic valued by Mac users, while taking Mac coverage to a new level. The coverage is not only about computers, it is about Mac culture and user community.

Look for the latest print edition at newsstands in the middle of October.

The print and web version feature excellent writing, knowledgeable insight and education with sections such as: Techie Trendy, Interviews, Apple Product Guide, Stock Photography, Multimedia, Digital Design, and All Things Apple.

MacTribe launched in 2005 as an alternative to traditional coverage of the Mac market. MacTribe's mission is to provide in-depth coverage not only of the developments at Apple but also of the Mac user's world and community, from consumers to creative professionals. Now distributed by widely respected Source Interlink Companies, MacTribe Magazine will reach a greater audience than ever before, further establishing itself as "A New Mac Magazine for a New Apple Era." MacTribe Magazine is published 8 times a year and the subscription cost is $29.95.

To learn more about joining the MacTribe explore www.mactribe.com, MacTriber Weekly newsletter, and MacTribe Magazine

Sonnet Aria Extreme Draft 802.11n Wireless PCI Card

PR: Sonnet Technologies announces the immediate availability of the Aria Extreme N PCI 802.11n wireless PCI card. This easy to install adapter delivers draft 802.11n wireless network connectivity to Power Mac G5, Power Mac G4, and Windows desktop computers with an available PCI or PCI-X slot. Configuration is completed in a few simple steps, and for maximum compatibility and convenience, Aria Extreme N PCI is backward compatible with 802.11b and 802.11g routers and other equipment.

Sonnet Aria Extreme N PCI 802.11nDraft 802.11n networking offers significantly enhanced performance compared to 802.11g, the previous wireless network standard. When used in 802.11n networks, Aria Extreme N PCI can achieve up to two-and-a-half times the speed and twice the range than when used in an 802.11g network. Sonnet's Aria Extreme N PCI features three antennas (2TX/3RX) to maximize its performance with 802.11n routers that also feature multiple radios and antennas. 802.11n devices utilize MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) technology that enables multiple concurrent data stream transmission, and provides enough bandwidth to allow simultaneous high-speed Internet access, HD video streaming, large file transferring, VoIP telephony, and more. Aria Extreme N PCI supports WEP, WPA and WPA2 security protocols along with AES and TKIP encryption for secure network configuration, so users can work wirelessly with confidence.

Aria Extreme N PCI Key Benefits

  • Simple way to add 802.11n wireless networking capability to any compatible computer
  • Delivers up to 2.5x the speed and 2x the range of an 802.11g network adapter
  • Works with all AirPort Extreme and AirPort Express base stations and equivalent wireless hubs
  • Backward compatible with 802.11b and 802.11g devices
  • Mac Compatibility
  • Power Mac G5 with PCI or PCI-X slots
  • Power Mac G4 (except Cube)
  • Mac OS 10.4 and later
  • PC Compatibility
  • Desktop computer with PCI or PCI-X slots
  • Windows XP SP2 or Windows Vista

Pricing and Availability: Aria Extreme N PCI (part number N80211-PCI) is available now for the suggested retail price of $99.95.

TransIntl SATA II Pro Drive

TransIntl SATA II Pro DrivePR: Pro Drive, a dual drive RAID enclosure,accommodates up to two 2.5" SATA hard drives. Pro Drive can be used as redundant drive to protect against drive failure(RAID 1) or Striped to become one high performance drive(RAID 0). RAID 0 and RAID 1 configurations are controlled by a simple dip switch easily accessible on the back of the unit.

Pro Drive enclosures are designed for Mac Pro to enhance the performance of Mac Pro internal drives. Pro Drives offers phenomenal performance when Four Pro Drives(RAID 0) are Striped together to blazing over 400 MB/sec of data transfer. Or they can be used as individual drives with RAID 1 for worry free, automatic, instant data security.

Specifications

  • Drives: 2 x 9.5mm 2.5" SATA II
  • Max Capacity: 1 TB (2 x 500 GB)
  • RAID Mode 0 & 1
  • Compatibility: Mac OS 10.5
  • Dimensions: 104 mm (W) x 31 mm (H) x 156 mm (D)
  • Warranty: 1 Year

Prices start at $333 for a 240 GB unit and go up to $537 for a 1 TB drive.

My Apple Space Social Networking Website Announced

PR: Denmark-based Apple enthusiast Brian Floe introduces My Apple Space, a social networking website for Apple enthusiasts. My Apple Space is aimed at providing Apple users around the globe a place to connect, cultivate relationships, build a strong sense of community and designed to be the ultimate switcher machine on the internet. Membership to My Apple Space is free.

My Apple Space is a great resource for finding out about the latest Mac Hardware, news, latest software updates or just meeting new friends. For members, it offers a lively Forum, Music, Photo and Movie uploads, Live Chat, Groups, as well as a excellent Blogging platform. Any blog that is written by a member is collected into one mutual blog that is featured on the My Apple Space home page.

"The Apple buying experience is an event unto itself", states Floe. "We want to further that experience by offering the ultimate Apple user network, geared towards helping out and making friends in the wonderful world that is Apple."

My Apple Space is designed by Apple users for Apple users. iPhotos, iMovies, GarageBand, and Blogging are all available including one click integration with today's popular social networks like Facebook, My Space and 15 other social networks. Share photos like on alternative networks, but with the security of Facebook for private photos, as well as sharing Apple related photos that go into a collective photo album for all to enjoy.

And likewise with iMovies. Upload movies and choose them to be "private" so only your friends can view them. It's a great way for members to show off their homespun movies with other Mac enthusiasts. Members meet at My Apple Space for live chat at 9 p.m. according to their own time zone around the globe, every night, 7 days a week.

My Apple Space also endears to help switchers get to know their Macs by answering common questions and solving problems. As new software releases become available, My Apple Space provides press releases to their members as well. My Apple Space groups have a unique opportunity to embed within their own groups from other social networks. This feature is available for the average Apple user to the software vendor, game developers, and more.

Software

Accordance Bible Software Releases Piper Sermons and Grudem Theology

PR: OakTree Software, Inc. announces the release of The John Piper Manuscript Library (Mac) CD-ROM and Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem.

The ministry of John Piper and Desiring God has a wide and growing influence through sermons, books, radio, and other media. Piper Sermons presents 1,150 John Piper Sermon manuscripts preached over more than 28 years, from 1980 to 2008. Free updates of future John Piper sermon manuscripts will be available from time to time. The sermons are arranged chronologically with an accessible topical and series index, and they are easily searchable for the message text or any other content.

Wayne Grudem is research professor of Bible and theology at Phoenix Seminary in Phoenix, Arizona. His award-winning Systematic Theology combines his wealth of learning and love for theology with thirty years of teaching, preaching, and speaking nationally and abroad. Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem is now available for download.

Accordance is the leading Bible study program for Macintosh computers, offering features for everything from high-end academic analysis to personal Bible study.

ToCA Race Driver 3 for Mac Coming October 24th

PR: Feral Interactive has announced Friday, October 24th as the worldwide release date for the Mac version of ToCA Race Driver 3, the exciting wheel-to-wheel, single-player and multiplayer racing game developed by Codemasters.

ToCA Race Driver 3With 70 licensed cars and 80 licensed tracks, ToCA Race Driver 3 is the racing game for the Mac and offers the greatest range of motorsports of any game; GT, Off Road, Touring Cars, Classics, Open Wheel, Rally, and Oval are just a few of the more than 35 types of racing featured. And the quality is just as impressive as the quantity with real-world physics giving players an authentic handling experience for each individual car.

With its online, multiplayer capability, ToCA Race Driver 3 for Mac delivers an added dimension of live competition with other drivers across the globe.

"The ToCA Race Driver series has an outstanding reputation and we are thrilled to be bringing it to the Mac for the first time," said Feral Interactive's David Stephen.

"Codemasters understands and appreciates that the Mac user demands their gaming experience to be as clean and visually stunning as all of their day to day Apple applications. As such, we are happy to partner with to Feral Interactive knowing the quality that they deliver to," said Peter Chan Director, Business Development, Codemasters.

The game will retail in North America for $49.95, £4.99 (incl. VAT) in the UK and €9.95 (incl. VAT) throughout Europe. It is currently available to pre-order from Feral's online store.

Minimum system requirements call for a 1.8 GHz Intel Mac only, 512 MB RAM, 128 MB graphics card, DVD drive and Mac OS X v10.4.8 or later. The game does not support Intel GMA processors.

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