Mac News Review

Apple Tops in Satisfaction, Apple Adding HDMI?, the Straight Scoop on PC vs. Mac, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2010.03.05

So we can post our three news roundups (Mac News Review, The 'Book Review, and iNews Review) earlier, we first do a quick proofread and link check, leaving out images. We add images later when time permits. dk

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

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News & Opinion

Apple Updates

Products & Services

Software

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

Apple Most Satisfactory Computer Manufacturer Again

InfoWorld's Christina Tynan-Wood reports that according to a recent study, customer experiences with the big six PC manufacturers leave plenty of room for improvement, noting that Forrester Research's recently released "Customer Experience Index 2010: PC Manufacturers" provides interesting insights into customers overall level of satisfaction with service received from Acer, Apple, Compaq, Dell, HP, and Toshiba in three categories: Meets Needs, Easy to Work With, and Enjoyability.

Happily, Apple came out on top for the second year in a row, with Dell also repeating at the bottom, but with none receiving an Excellent overall rating, the threshold for that being a customer experience index of 8% or above. Apple came closest at 78%.

Apple Admits to Yellow-tint iMac Issues

Macworld's Serenity Caldwell says:

"For all of you who bought a brand new iMac only to have something sickly and yellow-tinted show up, it looks like you may finally get some answers or at least, a public admission of the problem."

Apple: 27" iMac Display Issues Have Been Addressed

AppleInsider Staff report:

"After months of reported issues with flickering and yellowing on new 27-inch iMac displays, Apple has publicly stated that the problems have been fixed by its two software updates."

PC vs. Mac: The Straight Scoop

Technologizer's Harry McCracken takes a crack at comparing PCs and Macs for non-geeks, observing that egged on by both Apple and Microsoft advertising campaigns, Windows advocates accuse Mac users of belonging to a fancy-pants cult, while Mac contend Windows users are undiscerning owners of hunks of generic junk - a pretty undignified squabble in which McCracken declares himself cheerfully agnostic, variously recommending and using Windows PCs and Macs.

With PC vs. Mac debate having raged now for more than a quarter-century, he says making sense of it requires particular moment in time evaluation, and elaborates his take on things as of early 2010.

"Mac prices aren't out of whack with that of similar Windows machines"

For example, in the cost and value element of the debate, McCracken says that every time he does the math, he reaches the conclusion Mac prices aren't out of whack with that of similar Windows machines, and that in fact Windows laptops most directly comparable to Apple's MacBook Pro line actually cost more than roughly equivalent Macs.

McCracken also determines that the Mac comes out on top in terms of operating system (although less radically with Windows 7 than was the case with Vista), and that Mac owners running no security software are still vastly less likely malware attack victim than Windows users protected up to their eyeballs.

Apple: Capitalism Done Right

Yaron Brook, president of the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, and Don Watkins, an analyst with the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, writing in the Christian Science Monitor, observe that since the advent of capitalism, businessmen in general have have been denounced for the corrupt actions of a few political profiteers. To help understand that there is a distinction, they suggest we consider two characters in Ayn Rand's 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged, in which Rand describes two opposite kinds of businessmen - those she calls the producers and those she dubs looters. The authors contend that Apple acts like a producer while GM acts like a looter.

Editor's note: I wonder how Rand would categorize Microsoft and Dell? dk

Mozilla Ditches Mac OS X 10.4 Support for Firefox 3.7

The Register's Kelly Fiveash reports:

"Mozilla has officially ditched Firefox support for Apple Mac OS X 10.4 for upcoming versions of its browser, despite gripes from some web surfers.

"The open source group confirmed on Tuesday that, following heated discussion from the Mozilla community, it would only support Mac OS X 10.5 or later when it released the next iteration of its browser . . . even though the Mozilla Foundation estimated that nearly 1.5 million Mac OS X 10.4 users are still surfing the web with Firefox 3.5."

Editor's note: For my perspective on this issue, see Firefox 3.7 Drops Tiger Support: So What? Firefox 3.6, which works just fine with Tiger, is an excellent browser - as are Opera 10 (the last version with PowerPC support, and it still supports Mac OS X 10.3; Opera 10.5 will be Intel only) and Camino 2. dk

AppleInsider: Apple Prepping First Macs with HDMI

AppleInsider's Kasper Jade and Prince McLean report:

"Apple plans to introduce HDMI connectivity on some of its personal computers this year, embracing an emerging trend that has seen the high-definition audio/video interface crop up on an increasing number of systems from rival PC manufacturers, AppleInsider has learned

"More specifically, prototypes of a new Mac mini - Apple's smallest and most affordable system, commonly employed by tech savvy Mac users as an ad-hoc living room media server, has been making the rounds with an HDMI port in place of its legacy DVI connector, according to two people familiar with the matter."

Editor's note: This would be the first time since Apple's ill-fated HDI-45 port and AudioVision displays that Apple has supported both audio and video output using a single connector. This would be a great move, Apple! dk

Sync Data with Macs, iPhones Using Google

Macworld's Joe Kissell says:

"If you have two or more Macs, or an iPhone or iPod touch, you ll undoubtedly want to keep your contacts and calendars on all your devices in sync. One way to do so is to use Apple's MobileMe service ($99 a year for individuals; $149 for the five-user Family Pack)....

"But what if you don't want to pay for MobileMe, or if you simply prefer using the free Google Contacts and Google Calendars (both accessible from any Gmail account)? Google lets your iPhone or iPod touch connect to your Gmail account (either with a gmail.com address, or an address at your own domain via Google Apps) using Exchange ActiveSync, which provides over-the-air push email, contact, and calendar data, just as MobileMe does."

"...you can replicate most of what MobileMe offers for contact and calendar syncing using Google's services and Snow Leopard."

Things We Won't See Again from Apple

Apple Investor blogger Sang Tang says:

"Despite its fairly strong record over the last decade, Apple has not been without its lapses and major changes. And, in the spirit of Conan O'Brien's 'Guests We'll Never Have Back,' let's take a look at 'Some Things We'll Never Have Back' on the Apple front.

  • G4 Cube
  • iPod HiFi
  • Motorola ROKR
  • Striped Apple logoThe Fatboy iPod nano
  • Internet Explorer for the Mac
  • Free stuff
  • Apple at the Macworld Expo
  • DRM
  • IBM/PowerPC
  • U2
  • The Color White ("Sometimes, white is the new black, and sometimes black is the new black. For Apple, aluminum is currently the new black")
  • The rainbow Apple logo"

Editor's note: Internet Explorer was never an Apple product, and although Apple has eliminated DRM from iTunes music, it is still present on videos. dk

Apple Updates

Startup Key Combinations for Intel-based Macs

A new Apple Knowledge Base article says:

Learn about the startup key combinations you can use with Intel-based Macs.

  • Press C during startup: Start up from a bootable CD or DVD, such as the Mac OS X Install disc that came with the computer.
  • Press D during startup: Start up in Apple Hardware Test (AHT), if the Install DVD 1 is in the computer.
  • Press Option-Command-P-R until you hear two beeps: Reset NVRAM
  • Press Option during startup: Starts into Startup Manager, where you can select a Mac OS X volume to start from. Note: Press N to make the the first bootable Network volume appear as well.
  • Press Eject, F12, or hold the mouse/trackpad button: Ejects any removable media, such as an optical disc.
  • Press N during startup: Attempt to start up from a compatible network server (NetBoot).
  • Press T during startup: Start up in FireWire Target Disk mode.
  • Press Shift during startup: Start up in Safe Boot mode and temporarily disable login items.
  • Press Command-V during startup: Start up in Verbose mode.
  • Press Command-S during startup: Start up in Single-User mode.
  • Press Option-N during startup: Start from a NetBoot server using the default boot image.

For the best experience with startup keys, press the keys immediately after you hear the startup tone.

Products & Services

Pentax Introduces 11th Generation Waterproof Optio Digicam and New Megazoom

PR: Pentax Imaging Company has announced the eleventh generation Pentax Optio waterproof digital camera built for rugged adventure in every way.

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The Pentax Optio W90 offers enhanced waterproof, shockproof, dustproof, and coldproof performance and features an inventive Digital Microscope mode with LED lighting to capture small but intriguing subjects. Designed with the look of mountaineering equipment, the Optio W90 kit includes a woven web fabric strap complete with a carabiner to attach the camera to a backpack and other outdoor gear. The rugged 12.1 megapixel Optio W90 with a 5x optical zoom (28-140mm equivalent) offers photographic performance, innovative features and style that surpass other outdoor compact digital cameras now available on the market.

w90dirty.jpg

Features:

  • Waterproof to 20 feet for reliable underwater photography
  • Shockproof to 4 feet withstanding the rigors of extreme use
  • Coldproof to subfreezing temperatures for use in wintery, snowy activities
  • Digital Microscope mode with LED lens lighting perfectly captures the smallest and closest macro subjects as near as 1cm from the camera
  • Eye-Fi wireless SD memory card connectivity
  • Large 2.7" LCD with 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio that is easy to view in strong light or underwater
  • Movie capture in widescreen 720p HD video at 30 frames per second
  • An HDMI port plays back beautiful high resolution images and video on HDTVs

Priced at $329.95, the Pentax Optio W90 will ship in April 2010. A waterproof infrared remote control (sold separately) for use with the Pentax Optio W90 and other infrared compatible Optio models will be available at the same time for $29.95.

Pentax X90

Pentax also announced the latest model in the manufacturer's megazoom digital camera line: the Pentax X90.

x90_3qleftview_flashup_sm.jpg

With an extra-wide zoom, longer battery life than its predecessor and an electronic viewfinder, the X90 delivers effortless picture-taking in a wide variety of situations to photographers of all levels. The key feature of the Pentax X90 is the 26x megazoom, super-telephoto lens (26-676mm equivalent) also designed with a Macro mode that focuses to less than one inch away to capture images of subjects that are near or far. Other important features of the Pentax X90 include:

  • 12.1 megapixel sensor, ideal for large prints or cropping flexibility
  • 2.7 inch LCD with antireflection coating or electronic viewfinder with new diopter adjustment for composing and playback of images and video
  • Triple Shake Reduction technology includes a high quality mechanical sensor-shift SR mechanism, Digital Pixel Track and high ISO SR, and Movie SR
  • High speed continuous shooting up to 11 frames per second
  • Powerful, lightweight Lithium Ion battery and improved power efficiency
  • Like the Optio W90, the Pentax X90 features Eye-Fi connectivity and an HDMI port.

x90_topview_sm.jpg

Priced at $399.95, the Pentax X90 will ship in April 2010.

MacSpeech Calisto Headset Savings Continue

PR: <img src="{filedir_4}323th.jpg" border="0" alt="image" name="image" width="98" height="81" align="left" hspace="10" /> Last month, MacSpeech offered you $50 savings on the Plantronics Calisto Headset with Bluetooth USB Adapter. This offer is just so darned popular, they've decided to keep the it going. Through March 31, MacSpeech will continue to deduct a Grant (as in President Ulysses S. Grant, featured on the face of the 50-dollar bill) when you enter the coupon code CALISTO30 at check-out.

3192.jpg

The Calisto headset is perfect for anyone who likes to walk and talk: it lets you roam up to 33 feet away from your Mac and it weighs less than an ounce. It also features up to eight hours of talk time and 240 hours of standby time. The Calisto even doubles as a multipoint device so you can pair it with another Bluetooth device, such as a cell phone, when you're not using it to dictate.

The MacSpeech Dictate family of products provides unparalleled freedom; freedom from your mouse, freedom from your keyboard. And now MacSpeech Dictate provides unmatched freedom of movement when used with the Plantronics Calisto Bluetooth headset bundle that includes a pre-paired USB adapter.

System Requirements: Plantronics Calisto Headset with Bluetooth USB Adapter requires MacSpeech Dictate speech recognition solution 1.5.5 or greater; Intel-based Mac with Mac OS X 10.5.6 Leopard through Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. The included Bluetooth USB Adapter is required for using the headset with MacSpeech Dictate.

Certified for a Great Experience

MacSpeech exclusively certifies the Plantronics Calisto headset with USB Bluetooth adapter for use with the entire MacSpeech Dictate family of superior speech recognition products.

Fantasic Quality and Features

The Calisto headset provides these state-of-the-art features:

  • Industry leading sound clarity thanks to its extended microphone boom and noise canceling technology
  • Range of up to 10 meters (up to 33 feet) from headset to adapter
  • Lightweight- only 0.67 ounces
  • Exceptional battery life of up to 8 hours of talk time, and up to 240 hours of standby time
  • Extremely comfortable ear interface
  • Single button control for volume
  • Easily adjustable for left and right ear
  • Includes USB charging cable

What's more, the Calisto headset is a multipoint device. That means you can pair it with the Plantronics Bluetooth USB Adapter and one other Bluetooth device, such as your cell phone, smartphone or iPhone. The Calisto headset even sports answer, end call, and redial capabilities via its single button user interface.

Go Solo with the Calisto Headset

Already have a MacSpeech Dictate product, version 1.5.5 or later? Add the Calisto headset to your setup.

$149

Calisto Headset bundled with MacSpeech dictate - $299

MacSpeech Dictate supports 13 different English dialects, provides near perfect accuracy of up to 99%, works with the apps you already have, and much more, and comes bundled with the Plantronics Calisto Headset with Bluetooth USB Adapter.

Software

Pure Vinyl Recorder Makes High Quality Transcriptions of Vinyl Recordings

PR: Pure Vinyl is the first software of its kind to directly link audiophile caliber analog vinyl playback and the advantages of high-resolution (192 KHz / 24 bit) digital audio reproduction and recording / archival.

making_t.jpeg

Used with a quality audio interface, Pure Vinyl is capable of providing stunningly dynamic, detailed music reproduction, faithfully preserving and conveying all of the music contained in the grooves of your vinyl records.

And it's fun: Pure Vinyl uses the audio information in the sound file to recreate a realistic-looking and -spinning replica of the vinyl recording. The image assists in editing and provides a tonearm style cueing controller and display during playback.

Pure Vinyl has a no-compromise 64-bit internal signal path. This will, of course, transport unchanged native format (up to 192 KHz 24 bit) audio; or also upsample lower resolution audio to the best quality (up to 192 KHz, 24 or 32 bit) available for your particular audio interface / DAC, using our painstakingly developed high quality 64-bit upsampling algorithm.

pv3pr2dT.jpg

Pure Vinyl provides a single point of integration for your analog and your digitally sourced music.

Besides being specifically tailored to high quality vinyl playback, Pure Vinyl 3 also functions as a music server, for automated, "jukebox" style playback of tracks from your iTunes music library, including high-resolution downloads, music from CDs, or purchased from iTunes.

pv3pr2vT.jpeg

High - Quality Playback

Pure Vinyl applies an extremely accurate inverse - RIAA vinyl correction curve in real-time during playback. Your music is reproduced as accurately as possible, by eliminating the distortion and frequency response errors of analog based hardware.

Does Using Software RIAA Correction 'Reduce Resolution?'

No - as can easily be determined via listening, and as proven in a technical paper (available on our downloads page) that was presented at the Audio Engineering Society (AES) Convention in 2007. (Also see the Pure Vinyl FAQ for more information.)

  • Recording Pure Vinyl was designed specifically for creating high-resolution, archival quality transcriptions of your precious vinyl, at sample rates up to 192 KHz (or higher). Pure Vinyl automatically can downsample and mirror to CD or DVD-A formats during recording, for digital jukebox use. Pure Vinyl uses standard audio file formats: AIFF, Sound Designer II, m4a (losslessly compressed) and Apple CoreAudio format (either uncompressed or losslessly compressed).
  • "Revolutionary" Editing / Exporting Pure Vinyl uses the "scratch" style, grab-and-spin metaphor employed by professional DJs, with "needle drop" track cueing. It's an intuitive, fun way to assign track markers - instead of being unnecessarily tedious, as with conventional, linear-style waveform editors. After editing, individual tracks automatically can be extracted and exported from the original file.
  • Peak Detection / Normalization / Pop and Click Removal Pure Vinyl incorporates features to streamline this tedious (but ultimately rewarding) task. The built-in peak finder and waveform inspector is useful for setting proper normalization levels.

All editing, normalization, and click removal operations are nondestructive to the original file.

playsys.jpeg

General:

  • Supports 192 KHz 24 bit Sampling for State of the Art, High-Resolution Digital Quality
  • Painstakingly Designed to Preserve the Warmth, Clarity and Dynamics of Vinyl Reproduction
  • Precision Optimized 64-Bit RIAA Vinyl Correction Curve* (IIR design, with phase response identical to analog RIAA correction)
  • Pristine, 64-bit (Double Precision) Floating-Point Internal Signal Path for No Added Distortion*
  • Helps Optimize Turntable Setup by Providing a Repeatable Baseline: Just Record and Compare

Features:

  • Unique, "Scratch" Style, Grab & Spin "Vinyl Cueing" Nondestructive Audio Editor: Cueing Trigger "Noise Gate" feature Automates Recording Process; Just Lift Stylus and Flip the Record
  • Integrated, High Quality 64-Bit Sample Rate Converter for Exporting CD Format Tracks to Digital Players (iTunes, iPod, CD-R): ZEPHRR Zero Phase Shift 64-Bit Rumble Filter for Resampling; Adjustable Frequency, up to 96 dB / octave slope
  • Adjustable Noise-Shaped Dithering for Word-Length Reduction: Includes Dozens of Built-In Correction Curves for pre-1955 Vinyl / Shellac
  • Bonus: Upsampling (to 88.2, 96, 176.4 or 192 KHz, using 64-bit math) Player for Highest Quality Playback of iTunes Tracks
  • Another Bonus: Built-In Subwoofer Crossover (with 64-bit internal resolution and Adjustable Time / Phase Alignment) for Multichannel Audio Interfaces

*Perfect interchannel phase and amplitude match (zero interchannel error); no capacitors needed in the signal chain! The residual distortion with double precision (64-bit) processing is too small to measure; far below the resolution threshold of 24 bit audio interfaces, and superior to the 32 bit ("single precision") signal processing used in most other audio applications.

New in version 3.0PR5g:

  • improves usability and fixes a channel routing problem when using the crossover feature (namely, if the multichannel routing were set so that a higher-numbered pair of channels was configured to produce flat output, that setting would be ignored, and the output of the crossover filter applied to that pair of channels, as well).
  • Corrects a problem causing a TASCAM US-144 USB audio interface to not be properly initialized (the symptom being no input or output).
  • RME FireFace users only: this release also adds support for the DDS sample rate feature of the RME audio interfaces. DDS permits plus or minus 4 percent audio pitch control at any supported sample rate. This is accomplished not by resampling the audio, but by changing the frequency of the sample rate clock, using the DDS pane of the RME Fireface settings application. If you choose to use this feature, be certain the DDS frequency multiplier and base sample rate are correctly set for the file's nominal sample rate - unless you want to play something drastically speeded up or slowed down! Note that if Pure Vinyl changes the hardware sample rate in response to encountering a different audio file sample rate, the DDS Active check box will automatically be turned off, and will have to manually be rechecked again to continue with a modified sample rate.

System Requirements:

  • Mac OS X 10.5 or later.
  • G4, G5, or Intel processor.

Platform Support: PPC/Intel

$229 demoware

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 for Mac: Achieve Photo Perfection at a $20 Discount

PR: Make the most of your memories by upgrading to Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 for Mac. Works great with iPhoto - Save $20 - $79.99 after $20 mail-in rebate

51EXMQhXhqL._SL500_AA280__.jpg

  • Fix flaws fast. Get just the photo fixes you're looking for with the new one-step shortcuts that whiten teeth and make skies a vibrant blue.
  • Recompose. Change the size or orientation of a photo - even go from landscape to portrait or vice versa - without distorting key subjects like people or buildings.
  • Get the best exposure. Snap one photo with the flash on and one with the flash off and automatically combine the shots into a perfectly lit photo.
  • Clean the scene. Easily brush away any distracting elements that changed positions between multiple photos - like cars or pedestrians - and create a single composite with just the look you want.
  • Use a single stroke. Simultaneously select a specific photo area and apply incredible effects with a single stroke. With over 50 sophisticated effects, you have endless options.

Terms and Conditions

$20 Mail-in Rebate Terms and Conditions: Mail-in Rebate offer valid in the United States, Canada (excluding Quebec), and the territory of Puerto Rico only. Offer void where prohibited or restricted by law. Offer valid for purchases made from September 23, 2009 through October 31, 2010. All rebate claims must be postmarked no later than six weeks from the date of purchase of Photoshop Elements 8, Photoshop Elements 8 for Mac, or Adobe Premiere Elements 8 software (the "Software"). Consumers who purchase the Software from any one of the following retail establishments are not eligible for a rebate: Best Buy, BestBuy.com, BJ's, Sam's Club, OfficeMax, and Walmart. Submissions that include receipts from any one of the above retail establishments will be rejected. The rebate is paid in US currency only.

For complete redemption instructions for both Electronic Software

For each email confirmation order number, only one rebate per eligible product is allowed. Consumer is responsible for any applicable taxes. Allow up to eight weeks from the date you mailed your rebate submission to receive your rebate. Rebate will be mailed to the address provided on the Rebate Claim Form. Lost, late, misdirected, torn, mutilated, incomplete, invalid, damaged, postage due, or illegible claims are not the responsibility of Adobe Systems Incorporated and will not be eligible for the rebate. For questions regarding the status of your rebate claim, visit www.web-rebates.com/adobe or call 866-599-3906. Adobe reserves the right to change the terms of this offer or suspend this offer at any time. Offer not subject to terms or claims of individual retailers. Offer not valid with any other Adobe promotional offer. This rebate offer is not valid for licensees of education or volume licensing versions of Photoshop Elements. All obligations of Adobe will be discharged by issuing the rebate and mailing it to the address you provide on the Rebate Claim Form. To register your software, choose Help > Registration in the product.

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For deals on current and discontinued 'Books, see our 13" MacBook and MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, 13" MacBook Pro, 15" MacBook Pro, 17" MacBook Pro, 12" PowerBook G4, 15" PowerBook G4, 17" PowerBook G4, titanium PowerBook G4, iBook G4, PowerBook G3, and iBook G3 deals.

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