Mac News Review

Acer Calls Apple 'a Mutant Virus', Next Gen Intel Core CPUs Unveiled, WebKit Tops in HTML5, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2010.09.17

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

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News & Opinion

Products & Services

Software

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

Acer: Apple Products 'a Mutant Virus' that PCs Will Eventually Cure

DigiTimes' Yen-Shyang Hwang and Joseph Tsai cite Acer's founder Stan Shih, in a talk with reporters on September 8, commenting that Apple's strong popularity is mainly due to its products such as the iPad and iPhone. Shih compared these marquee Apple products to "mutant viruses" - difficult to find a cure for in the short-term, but Shih believes PC vendors will eventually find a way to isolate Apple and become immune.

Hwang and Tsai say Shih pointed out that Apple deserves to be respected, since it has a completely different strategy than other PC brands, with Apple CEO Steve Jobs always looking for revolution, while other PC brands evolve more conservatively and incrementally, which Shih contends is a more solid evolution, arguing that based on historical experience, a market that evolves naturally will always turn out to be much stronger.

Shih observed that Apple has always looked down on Microsoft's Windows for lacking creativity, but observed that Windows' open platform has attracted the adoption of most PC brands, while Apple's PC market has turned out to be limited. Shih also cites the 1980s the competition between video tape formats, with the "open" VHS standard winning out against Sony's technically superior but "closed" Betamax format.

Nevertheless, the DigiTimes reporters say that Shih still praised Apple's creativity and innovation, especially its highly integrated hardware and software and its completely established online application store and believes its strategy should be a good example for PC brands to learn from.

Convergence anyone?

Editor's note: Interesting tidbit - Sony invented both Betamax and VHS, which was initially called Alpha. Sony abandoned Alpha as inferior to Beta, then sold the Alpha technology to JVC. Both companies licensed their videotape technologies, but JVC charged less, making it more attractive to other manufacturers. Lower prices coupled with higher capacity tapes helped VHS win the videotape format wars despite Beta being technologically superior and beating VHS to market by two years (by 1980, VHS had 70% of the market). Despite Shih's claim, Beta was not a closed format, just one that was more expensive to license.

Further, mutations are the raw materials of evolution, not incremental changes such as faster CPU speeds, bigger hard drives, and more memory. And while most mutations in the biological world are not beneficial, those that are can provide huge survival and reproductive benefits, sometimes leading to the extinction of the earlier, unmutated strain. Interestingly, the PC world is full of slow, steady, incremental change - for instance, it has been based on Intel x86 architecture for 30 years - while the Mac has changed CPU families twice and completely overhauled it OS once in the past 20 years.

In other areas, just look at how the iPod nano has mutated from music player to player with video camera and on to touch-based music player without a camera. Apple takes risks, makes mistakes, learns from them, and does not fear change. The PC mindset can't comprehend that. dk

Next Generation Intel Core Processors Gain Stunning Built-in Graphics

PR: Intel Corporation revealed several significant design features for the company's 2011 2nd Generation Intel Core processor family at the Intel Developer Forum. The new and enhanced features will further extend Intel's chip performance and battery life leadership, also adding a number of visually related features built right into the chips.

Code named "Sandy Bridge", the chips will be based on Intel's first new visibly smart microarchitecture produced on the company's cutting-edge manufacturing factories (or fabs) at 32-nanometer (nm is a billionth of a meter) process technology with second-generation high-k metal gate transistors.

"The way people and businesses are using computers is evolving at an explosive rate, fueling demand for an even more powerful and visually appealing experience," said Dadi Perlmutter, executive vice president and general manager of the Intel Architecture Group. "Our upcoming 2nd Generation Intel Core processor family represents the biggest advance in computing performance and capabilities over any previous generation. In addition to offering these features inside Intel-based laptops, we plan to scale these advances across our server data center and embedded computing product portfolio."

The processor family will include a new "ring" architecture that allows the built-in processor graphics engine to share resources such as cache, or a memory reservoir, with the processor's core to increase a device's computing and graphics performance while maintaining energy efficiency.

The 2nd Generation Intel Core processor also includes an enhanced version of Intel Turbo Boost Technology. This feature automatically shifts or reallocates processor cores and processor graphics resources to accelerate performance, tailoring a workload to give users an immediate performance boost when needed.

Laptops and PCs powered by the 2nd Generation Intel Core processor family are expected to be available early next year.

Intel's new processor graphics delivers enhanced visual features focused on the areas where most users are computing today: HD video, 3-D, mainstream gaming, multitasking and online socializing and multimedia.

To obtain and view video faster, Perlmutter demonstrated hardware accelerated video editing using the architecture's dedicated silicon for media processing, which allows users to quickly convert video to other formats.

The 2011 chips also come with Intel Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX). AVX delivers improved performance, rich functionality and the ability to better manage, rearrange and sort data. A new 256-bit instruction set accelerates floating point intensive applications such as digital photo editing and content creation.

Intel also demonstrated a dual processor, next-generation Intel Xeon processor server running Vidyo video conferencing software that utilizes the 32 threads available on the system, and takes advantage of the AES New Instructions set (AESNI). Next-generation Xeon™ processors for 2 socket servers and workstations run 8 cores and 16 threads per processor and are on schedule for production in the second half of 2011.

Further Reading

WebKit Browsers Top HTML5 Benchmark

Fairer Platform says:

"When we last had a look at HTML5 support in the range of mainstream browsers for the Mac, WebKit-based products dominated. Over a month later, a lot of new and updated code has been pushed out and there's even a revised 377 (vs. 315) point testing scale - who's benefited and fallen in the standings?

"The report says the biggest movers this month have been Firefox 4 beta 5, which added 45 points to its score, followed by Google's Chrome 7 beta and Apple's WebKit which both posted strong incremental improvements with the former earning enough to take the lead by a nose."

Here are the scores (WebKit browsers in bold, Gecko/Mozilla browsers in italic):

  • Chrome 7 beta - 239 (222)
  • WebKit 9/9 Build - 237 (227)
  • Firefox 4 beta 5 - 235 (190)
  • Chrome 6 - 233 (202)
  • Firefox 4 beta 3 (last version to work well with PowerPC G4 and G5 Macs, downloadable from furbism.com - Firefox 4 requires OS X 10.5 Leopard) - 219 as tested at LEM headquarters this morning
  • Opera 10.6.2 - 203 (159)
  • Safari 5.0.2 - 220 (213)
  • iCab 4.8 - 220 (213)
  • Sunrise 2.1.5 - 220 (213)
  • Firefox 3.6.9 - 145 (139)
  • SeaMonkey 2.0.7 - 130 (126)
  • Camino 2.0.4 - 49 (N/A)

Freeware All Stars: Best Mac Apps in 10 Categories

Mac AppStorm's Joshua Johnson says:

"Recently we posted an enormous roundup of 100 free Mac applications. These types of articles are awesome for a quick overview of everything that's available, but sometimes you just want to know what the best free app is in a given genre.

"Today we'll answer this question by presenting our top picks for free applications across various categories . . . we'll take a look at the best of the best in free software and then give you the chance to join the discussion and cast your vote."

Here's AppStorm's list of categories:

  • Best Free Task Manager
  • Best Free Clipboard Manager
  • Best Free Launcher
  • Best Free Quick File Sharing App
  • Best Free Twitter Client
  • Best Free Mail Alternative
  • Best Free Dashboard Widget
  • Best Free RSS Reader
  • Best Free Text Editor
  • Best Free Maintenance Utility

Editor's note: I have to admit I hadn't heard of some of these. I agree with some of the choices; others not so much. However that's the point of this sort of list. cm

Using Nonstandard Optical Discs with Your Mac

MacFixIt's Topher Kessler says:

"Most optical discs are a standard 12cm in diameter, are round, and besides some potential manufacturing incompatibilities with certain optical drives, are expected to load and be recognized in most systems. Despite this, some companies will distribute device drivers or other content on mini or oddly shaped optical discs.

"While the novelty of nonstandard discs is fun, it does pose a problem for many systems that cannot read them. While there is no difference in the way the discs are read, the odd shapes will get them stuck in many slot-loading drives seen in MacBooks, MacBook Pros, Mac minis, and iMac systems...."

In short, you need a Mac or PC with a tray-loading optical drive. The slot-loading drives found in most recent Macs will not work with oddly sized or shaped discs.

Mac Evangelists: How Many Converts Have You Made?

AppStorm's David Appleyard says:

"We're kicking off a new weekly poll today, getting our readers opinion on a different topic each week. Hopefully this will give us all a chance to talk about a relevant issue, share our thoughts, and generally have a chat in the comments!

"Today I'm asking something fairly general - how many people have you converted to the Mac platform? I've almost lost count of the number of people I've tried to haggle and persuade into buying a Mac - friends, family, colleagues - no-one is safe from my persistent nagging!

"Do they all make the switch? Not everyone. But I reckon the number of loyal switchers I've managed to convert made the jump into double figures quite some time ago."

Asetek to Release Liquid-cooled Core i7 Hackintosh

Tom's Hardware's Marcus Yam notes that Apple hasn't taken very kindly to entrepreneurs making "Hackintosh" Mac clone computers and then selling them - notably the erstwhile Psystar - but reports that a company called Quo Computer is pressing ahead with a new, high-end Mac Pro clone, the $3,765 maxQ2 with a Core i7-powered chassis by Asetek Liquid Coolers. It is billed as able to run Mac OS X, Linux, and Windows 7, but with a disclaimer attached to the Mac OS compatibility, observing that the Asetek design's quiet operation and thermal headroom for overclocking - thanks to its sealed liquid cooling loop - is reliable, eliminates customer maintenance, and "is the type of elegance Apple enthusiasts treasure," and with Asetek's Director of Marketing Steve Branton cited by Yam saying "QUO's liquid cooled maxQ2 computers enable Mac OS X enthusiasts to get the benefits of liquid cooling in an extremely powerful computer without the effort of retrofitting liquid cooling into an existing Mac Pro."

Products & Services

Logitech Unveils New M570 Wireless Trackball

PR: Logitech has unveiled the new Logitech Wireless Trackball M570 as an alternative to touchpads or traditional mice and featuring the leave-in Logitech Unifying wireless USB receiver.

The M570 is heavily based on Logitech's old TrackMan Wheel trackball design, which was available in both hard-wired and wireless versions. You can read my full review here. It's most unique feature is that the trackball is designed to be manipulated by the thumb rather than the fore and middle fingers as is the case with conventional trackballs.

Logitech M570 Wireless Trackball"Based on overwhelming demand from our dedicated trackball users, we're delighted to announce the introduction of a new wireless trackball - the Logitech Wireless Trackball M570," says Rory Dooley, senior vice president and general manager of Logitech's control devices business unit. "Everything about our newest trackball is built to improve the experience and give trackball enthusiasts the comfort and control they deserve."

For those who haven't tried a trackball, one of the many benefits is that it stays put - you don't have to move your arm to move your cursor. Consequently, it's a great space saver if you have a small or cluttered desk or work in other space-constrained environments and, unlike a traditional mouse, you can keep your arm stationary. Plus, the sculpted shape supports your hand comfortably all day long.

The Logitech Wireless Trackball M570 also delivers precise cursor control wherever you want so hard tables, comfy sofas and lumpy beds are all no problem. The laser tracking sensor uses the ball, rather than a surface, to guide movement - so you can use it almost anywhere.

Logitech's newest trackball also has a convenient scroll wheel and convenient, easy-to-reach Back/Forward buttons.

Also enhancing convenience, the Wireless Trackball M570 uses the tiny Logitech Unifying wireless receiver that stays in your laptop, so there's no need to unplug it when you go mobile, and the advanced 2.4 GHz wireless means a robust connection with no dropouts from up to 30 feet away. Plus, you can easily add a compatible keyboard, number pad or additional mouse using the same receiver so you don't fill up all your USB ports. To reduce the hassle of changing batteries, you can go for up to 18 months without replacing the M570's included AA battery - and the convenient battery indicator ensures that you'll never be caught off guard with a flat battery.

The Logitech Wireless Trackball M570 is expected to be available in the US, Canada, and Europe in September for a suggested retail price of $59.99 ($69.99 in Canada).

Further Reading

NewerTech Guardian MAXimus mini Bus-Powered Portable RAID Storage Solution

PR: Newer Technology, Inc. (NewerTech), has expanded its award-winning storage solution line with the new Guardian MAXimus mini bus-powered portable hardware RAID storage solution for live activity backup/data redundancy of critical data. Featuring hardware RAID-1 redundancy for a MAXProtect mirrored copy of data or RAID-0 for MAXPerform speed and a Quad Interface of FireWire 800/400, USB 2.0, & eSATA connections, the Guardian MAXimus mini offers Mac and PC users Plug and Play storage capacity up to 1.5 TB and data transfer speeds up to 300 MB/s.

The NewerTech Guardian MAXimus mini is available immediately in six preconfigured hard drive and Solid State Drive (SSD) models with up to 1.5 TB of storage capacity starting at $249.99 MSRP from NewerTech's exclusive distributor, Other World Computing (OWC), as well as through the retail channel.

Live Activity Backup for Maximum Data Protection

Guardian MAXimus mini comes factory set as a RAID-1 Plug And Play live activity data redundant/backup solution for financial records, medical files, business projects - any critical data that consumer and professional users simply cannot risk losing. Always guarding against data loss and costly system downtime, the Guardian MAXimus mini MAXProtect mode writes the same information in real-time to two separate 2.5" SATA drives, each offering up to 750 GB of storage capacity, for a mirrored copy.

MAXPerform for High Speed Data Transfers

For Mac and PC users seeking ultimate performance over redundancy, Guardian MAXimus mini can be easily switched via the front panel LCD screen menu to the RAID-0 MAXPerform mode for up to 1.5 TB of high speed storage.

MAXimum Flexibility & Portability

Guardian MAXimus mini provides maximum data protection with minimal use of desktop space thanks to a shock resistant, compact 5.2" x 3.5" x 2.1" footprint. And if a mobile storage sentinel is needed, Guardian MAXimus mini offers maximum portability with a 1.50 pound weight and bus powered, fanless operation.

MAXimum Compatibility

With a Quad Interface of two FireWire 800, one FireWire 400, one USB 2.0, and one eSATA ports and all connecting cables included, Guardian MAXimus mini doesn't require any complicated setup and is ready for Plug and Play use with legacy Macs, the latest 2010 Mac models, as well as PCs. It provides data transfer speeds up to 300 MB/s and can be moved between different systems utilizing its supported interfaces with complete interoperability for maximum data backup performance and flexibility.

The new Guardian MAXimus mini upholds the award-winning, expert reviewed reputation established over the last three years by the desktop sized namesake model, said Grant Dahlke, Brand Manager, Newer Technology Inc. With its lightweight, bus powered design, the new Guardian MAXimus mini is the ideal solution for in-the-field creative professionals requiring highly portable, highly reliable, and high performance data backup and storage.

Guardian MAXimus mini Features

  • Up to 1.5 TB of storage capacity via two paired 2.5" SATA drives
  • Up to 16 MB of drive cache (8 MB per drive)
  • Selectable MAXProtect RAID-1 or MAXPerform RAID-0 modes
  • 2 FireWire 800 9 pin ports
  • 1 USB 2.0 "B" port - backwards compatible with USB 1.1
  • 1 eSATA port
  • High quality interface connecting cables
  • Front panel LCD display for system status
  • Brushed aluminum, impact resistant, heat dissipating, super quiet fanless enclosure
  • RoHS certified
  • Lightweight, (1.50 lb. with drives) compact, 5.2 3(D) x 3.5 3(W) x 2.1 3(H) and bus powered for portable use
  • External US/International 2 Amp UL listed power adapter
  • 3 year solution warranty
  • Includes $200 retail value utility software bundle consisting of Prosoft Engineering Data Backup 3, NovaStor NovaBACKUP, Intech SpeedTools Utilities™, and Carbon Copy Cloner.

Wheels Away Enhances iMac Carrier Case

PR: The iMac as a portable computer? Well, sort of, and there is precedent. If you've been in the Mac orbit for long enough, you may recall that the original compact Macs back in the '80s were available with a carrying case, and I remember even seeing a photo of someone packing his iMac, encased, on a bicycle, perhaps on the way to a meeting of his local MUG.

Wheels Away iMac Carrier CaseNow out-of-business Canadian computer case maker Willow Design also offered a carrying case for teardrop iMac back in the early '90s.

Now Wayzata, Minnesota based McGovern Photography, owned by Mary McGovern, has brought the iMac carry case concept forward with its new Wheels Away carriers for the current aluminum and glass 21.5", 24" and 27" iMac computers, has enhanced their 27" product by adding a detachable shoulder strap and making the interior sleeves larger. The iMac carriers are waterproof, durable, lightweight, silver, and stylishly sleek. Wheels Away has a 30 day warranty. The products can be purchased online at wheelsaway.com. Custom requests are handled by phone or email.

"The popularity of these products is phenomenal," says Mary McGovern. "We have sold products all over the United States and in other countries. Our customers are graphic artists, musicians, photographers, and web designers to name a few."

The iMac Carrying case was invented by Mary because she was frustrated with trying to lug her 21.5" iMac around when she went to the Apple Store for classes. She wanted something functional, yet classy so she designed the case for its aesthetic appeal as well as for its functional durability. Apparently there are a lot of other people who had the same frustration as Mary as her product continues to sell across a wide range of demographics.

Wheels Away iMac Carrier CaseThe carrying case weighs less than 9 lb., the wheels and handles are detachable and the waterproof case is very durable. There is plenty of high quality foam padding to protect the computer as well as the keyboard and accessories.

Features:

  • Weight: 9.5 lb.
  • Dimensions: 6" deep by 22" wide by 19" high (21.5")
  • Color: Silver
  • Wheels/handles are detachable
  • Waterproof
  • One outside utility pocket
  • Two foam sleeves on inside (for keyboard and accessories)
  • Made of durable textured fabric
  • Foam padding on all sides

The iMac Carriers are available online and can be purchased using PayPal. For more information about this product you can go to the company's website or call 612-991-3383 or 612-819-6445.

Software

VMware Offers Competitive Upgrade from Parallels Desktop for Mac for $9.99

PR: VMware, Inc. has announced a new $9.99 VMware Fusion Upgrade Program for users of any version of Parallels Desktop for Mac.

For a limited time, users can make the switch to VMware Fusion - the best way to run Windows on the Mac - for only $9.99, a $30 cost saving from the usual VMware Fusion upgrade and a $40 cost savings from upgrading to Parallels Desktop 6. More information on the VMware Fusion Upgrade Program can be found online.

"We're excited to offer the Mac community - including both VMware and Parallels customers - the ability to upgrade to VMware Fusion 3 for only $9.99," says Pat Lee, director, Personal Desktop Products for VMware. "Most new features now available in Parallels Desktop 6 have already been in use by VMware Fusion customers since last year. Parallels customers now have an easy upgrade path to the most reliable and proven way to run Windows on a Mac."

VMware Fusion has been widely adopted by users ranging from consumers to Fortune 500 enterprises and government organizations as it delivers the stability, performance and ease-of-use users have come to expect from the global leader in virtualization.

For a limited time, eligible users of any version of Parallels Desktop for Mac and users of VMware Fusion 1 or VMware Fusion 2 can also purchase the discounted upgrade.

For new users of Windows on Mac software, VMware Fusion 3 is available at http://www.vmware.com/fusion, the Apple Online Store, Apple retail stores, Amazon.com, and other authorized resellers. The suggested retail price of $79.99 includes all of the software needed to switch from a PC to a Mac.

Desktop Mac Deals

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.

We also track iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, iPod classic, iPod nano, and iPod shuffle deals.

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