Mac News Review

'I Will Switch from Apple', AMD's 3-core CPU, Carbon Copy Cloner 3.0 Released, and More

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2007.09.21

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

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

Reviews

Products

Software

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

I Will Switch from Apple (Someday)

AppleMatters' James R. Stoup says:

"I really like Apple's products. I love the iPod. It rocks. I have three. I love Macs. They rock too. I have two (working on a third). The iPhone is amazing, iTV shows great promise, and just about every piece of software they make is wonderful. And in spite of all that, one day I see myself switching to Linux.

"I realize that is a bold statement, so let me clarify my position. When I say 'one day,' what I really mean is 'one day, after Steve Jobs leaves Apple.' Because as much as I don't want to admit it (and if you think I'm in denial, just imagine Apple's stockholders), Apple is going to become a radically different company once Jobs leaves. And, sadly, it will change for the worse. . . . In fact, I expect it will mirror the history of Disney after Walt Disney died...."

3-core CPUs: Why AMD Is 'the Smarter Choice'

PBCentral's Joe Leo says:

"The question of whether Apple, Inc. should have stayed with IBM for the PowerPC chip, or gone with the smarter choice of AMD - instead of making the leap ahead to Intel - may never be answered when the three different companies have all rolled out their own unique technologies over the course of the year. In the fast-growing world of technology, it's hard to keep up with all these, advanced devices. Much less, stay on top or ahead of the game.

"(One day you're the new iPod nano, the next day you're yesterday's new iPod nano).

"Case in point, when IBM announced their new 'Airgap Processor' technology - which allows for smaller and faster chips that don't use as much energy - back on May 4th of this year, it brought up the question on this site whether Apple should have stayed with their former chip maker. The week after? Intel, maker of the processors found inside all current Macs, announced news of their own that put everything back to the status quo.

"Intel's invention? A technological breakthrough that allowed for their Core 2 Duo processors to work faster but use less energy at the same time.

"Enter Advanced Micro Devices, or AMD as it's more commonly known, who rolled out a new - and currently unique to them (for now at least) - innovation that they feel will advance them in the department of processor technologies, proving why they are, to quote their own slogan, 'the smarter choice.'"

Reviews

New 24" iMac Disappointing

Hardmac's Eric reports:

One of our readers, Joe B., sent us his comments after comparing the previous iMac 24" Nvidia GF and the new iMac 24" Alu:

We just compared these side-by-side:

  1. The new iMac is significantly LESS bright at maximum setting than the older model, contrary to what I have seen written on the Web.
  2. The ATI GPU in the new iMac is about 1/2 to 1/3 as fast as the Nvidia GPU in the old iMac for volume rendering (tested with a 3D data set in OsiriX).
  3. The glare from the new screen is a distraction for professionals in the medical and graphics industries. I sure looks handsome, though, and will likely attract PC converts.
  4. The 2.8 GHz processor speeds routine computing tasks by about 20%, as expected. We like this, but it does not make up for the shortcomings.
  5. Overall, I am quite disappointed in the new iMac for my intended use....

New ATI Drivers Do Not Improve New iMac's 3D Performance

Hardmac's Lionel reports:

"With the release last week of new Mac drivers by ATI, we were expecting to see performance gain, as current results are significantly lower than what we could expect. As we reported last week, some 3D rendering are even slower with the new iMac 24" than the previous 24" model."

Apple's New Keyboards: Atrocious

The Apple Core's Jason D. O'Grady doesn't much like Apple's new aluminum keyboards.

"And boy, do Apple's new keyboards ever stink.

"I've tolerated the evolution of the Apple mouse from the very first model (complete with DB-9 connector), the ADB versions, the the carpel-inducing hockey puck design and the button-less, seven-button Mighty Mouse. Mostly because the complement the Mac well and usually work ok.

"Keyboards are a different story altogether...."

Apple Updates

Apple Releases iMac Software Update 1.1

Apple says: this update provides important bug fixes (but doesn't specify what they are) and is recommended for 20-inch and 24-inch iMac models with 2.0, 2.4, or 2.8 GHz processors.

System Requirements

  • Mac OS X 10.4.10
  • iMac (Mid 2007)

File Size: 5.1 MB

Products

QuickerTek Debuts 802.11a/b/g/n Wireless Solutions for Mac Pro

PR: QuickerTek have just created a complete wireless networking solution for Apple Mac Pro Intel-based computers. Available as either antenna upgrade for $129.95 or as a wireless card/antenna combination upgrade for $179.95.

The Mac Pro computers were available without wireless altogether, or with a special order 802.11g or n card. This QuickerTek upgrade adds an external antenna for a 50% improvement in wireless performance. This new upgrade card simply replaces the slower factory card and requires no extra steps to use in day-to-day wireless networking.

The Mac Pro Antenna Upgrade is a superior solution because it moves the antenna itself outside the confines of the Mac Pro case. The case is often a source of wireless signal degradation and the external antenna cable allows the antenna to be positioned up and out of way of typical office or home clutter that decreases wireless performance. This antenna also has three connectors to attach the antenna to the internal 802.11 wireless card, necessary for the highest wireless speeds.

Rick Estes, QuickerTek president, said, "The Mac Pro Antenna Upgrade is essential for any Mac Pro user who wants to experience wireless networking the way it's supposed to work. Just getting the antenna up and away from the stuff in most offices is a huge win, but using a tri-band antenna really does the trick. But, if only the best will do, then go for the new wireless card with [802.11] a speed and the tri-band antenna for the absolute best wireless anywhere," Estes continued.

These wireless networking upgrades are made to the same specifications as the Apple factory networking products. They work with all 802.11/b/g/n WiFi equipment including Apple AirPort, AirPort Extreme and the latest 802.11n version of AirPort Extreme, as well as wireless hardware from Linksys, Belkin and other popular brands found in wireless networks across the country.

Like most QuickerTek products, these 802.11b/g/n wireless upgrades are backed with a one-year warranty on parts and labor.

QuickerTek has been a recognized leading innovator of antennas and RF products for Apple Power Macintosh, Mac Pro, iMac PPC and Intel, PowerBook, MacBook and MacBook Pro computers. QuickerTek products can be purchased online and from authorized dealers.

Software

Carbon Copy Cloner 3.0 Released

PR: Unlike our old free and easy practise in the Classic Mac OS, you can't use the Finder to drag a copy of an OS X System Folder or even an entire Mac OS X boot volume to another drive or partition while retaining bootability. However, there is a way, namely Mike Bombich's Carbon Copy Cloner software, CCC as it's colloquially known - which can copy your System Folder preserving data, permissions, ownership, and bootability. Version 3.0 of CCC has just been released.

CCC can also perform regular backups of your data. When you select a source disk in CCC, you are presented with the contents of that disk (hidden items too). Simply uncheck the items that you do not want to backup, and CCC will provide ample indication what will and will not be copied. Select a target disk to which you would like to backup, then press the clone button.

CCC 3.0 features a new interface designed to make the cloning procedure as well as scheduled data backups more intuitive and more responsive. Users have better control over what gets backed up, and are provided with detailed information about the progress of their backup. In addition to general backup, CCC can also clone one hard drive to another, copying every single block or file to create an exact replica of your source hard drive. CCC's block-level copy offers the absolute best fidelity in the industry!

Among the new features are:

  • Support for block-level disk-to-disk clones.
  • Synchronization built-in, not bolted on.
  • Support for backing up across the network to another Macintosh.
  • Advanced scheduling capabilities - Backup tasks can now be scheduled on an hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly basis, or you can indicate that a backup task should run when the backup device is attached (e.g. an iPod).
  • CCC recognizes iPods specifically, allowing time for the iPod:iTunes synchronization to complete.
  • The ability to drill down into folders to select exactly what gets copied and what doesn't (you can drill down indefinitely).
  • Built-in software update feature notifies you when updates are available.

Carbon Copy Cloner is now available as a Universal binary. As with previous versions, Carbon Copy Cloner is labeled "Uncrippled shareware" - try the full-featured product until you trust it, then consider a donation to the Bombich Software Tip Jar.

System requirements: Mac OS 10.4.8 or later.

System support: PPC/Intel

CCC is considered donation-ware (uncrippled shareware). I worked hard developing CCC and its methodology and documenting it on the internet for the rest of the Mac OS X community. If you find CCC indispensable, please consider making a donation. Please note that if you are using CCC for an educational institution, you should not donate to Bombich Software. My heart is in Education and all software that I write shall always be free to Education.

Sweet Home 3D: Free Interior Design Software

PR: Sweet Home 3D is an interior design Java application for quickly choosing and placing furniture on a house 2D plan drawn by the enduser, with a final 3D preview.

Sweet Home 3D screen image

The Website is pretty light on descriptive documentation. I've downloaded the application and will report on it soon. It appears to do a few of the same things as Belight Software's Live Interior 3D, which I recently reviewed for Applelinks.

System requirements: Mac OS X 10.4 or later

Available in English and French.

MacSpeech Releases iListen 1.7.1 Dictation Software

PR: MacSpeech has announced the immediate availability of iListen 1.7.1, the latest version of the top-selling speech recognition solution for Mac OS X. Version 1.7.1 of iListen includes bug fixes to address issues that were discovered since the release of version 1.7.0. Various issues in the documentation have also been addressed, a new QuickStart Guide, and a QuickPick for Apple's backup program have also been added.

Summary of Changes

  • All bug fixes included in the 1.701 through 1.706 "fixers" are included in this release.
  • Full versions of iListen are now installed by dragging the iListen folder to your Applications folder. This addresses a rare permissions issue that occurred on a small percentage of Macs.
  • The MSRegistration program now displays the Read Me and the End User License Agreement, and had other changes to improve performance and stability, including a better user interface and changes to address an incompatibility with the new version of web kit that is installed with Safari 3.0.
  • The MSSupport program has been modified to provide a better user interface and more information for our technical support team.
  • We made a small change to the search routines iListen uses to locate existing Voice Profiles to prevent it from timing out when searching folders with many nested folders inside them.
  • WAV files will now be correctly recognized on Intel Macs when the optional TranscriptionPak is installed
  • Added a new MacSpeech QuickPick for Apple's Backup program that allows .mac users to easily backup their iListen Voice Profile Packages to their iDisk. This QuickPick can be found inside the Extras folder on the iListen CD or disk image.
  • Other minor enhancements to improve performance and accuracy.

The update is free to registered users of version 1.7.0 through 1.7.0.7. Those who have versions of iListen older than 1.7.0 can purchase an upgrade to version 1.7.1 starting at only $39.95 from the MacSpeech website.

Code Rebel's iRAPP 1.0 Networks Macs and PCs

PR: Do you have both a Mac and a PC at home or at work? Do you wish you could work on all of your computing devices at the same time? iRAPP is an innovative software application, which enables you to do just that - sit on your PC and work on both your PC applications as well as on your Mac applications at the same time. What is even better, if you have several Macs, you can control and work on all of them at the same time. All you need is the iRAPP software and place all of your computers onto a same local network.

iRAPP's unique and innovative event handling technology allows you to work on individual Mac and PC applications side by side, as if they were part of the same operating system.

As the computing platforms evolve, and the price of PCs and Macs continue to decline, there are increasingly more people who have and use more than one computer regularly. With the recent revival and popularity of Apple's Mac computers, both consumers, and increasingly working professionals find themselves in a situation where they not only have multiple devices with the same OS, but also have both a Mac and a PC.

iRAPP application seeks to simplify the working environment for these "multiplatform", "multi-device" users. iRAPP essentially replaces a hardware KVM switch and gives you valuable additional flexibility. First, it gets rid of a mess of monitor and keyboard/mouse cables. Second, you can de-clutter your desk by placing your Mac computers away from your desk (the only requirement is that they stay connected to your network, wirelessly or via the ethernet cable). Third, iRAPP's unique event handling technology gives you a superior user experience. Since you can open individual Mac and PC applications side by side, it appears as if you are working on a single computer. As a user, you are both device and operating system independent.

With iRAPP 1.0, you can:

  • Work on both your Mac and your PC at the same time, using one screen and one keyboard
  • Control and work on a single or multiple Mac machines directly from your PC
  • Cut and paste text and images from Mac applications to PC applications
  • Access printers, USB devices and other peripherals that are attached only to your Mac device

iRAPP 1.0 Features

  • Connect to your remote Mac machine from your PC and work simultaneously on both your Mac and your PC applications using the same keyboard, screen and a mouse (both PC and Mac have to reside on the same local network)
  • Open and work on any Mac application directly in your PC environment
  • View Mac navigation bar and Mac desktop icons on your PC
  • Float the Mac menu anywhere on your PC system via OS X Smart Menu Bar, or dock it at the top of the screen (just like the default position on the Mac itself)
  • Place OS X Menu Bar to be topmost in the windows desktop
  • Copy and paste text (plain text, Unicode text, RTF, HTML) between Mac and PC applications
  • Copy and paste photos and other graphics between Mac and PC applications
  • Choose to display Mac-only environment, PC-only environment, or both environments fused together
  • Support for multi monitor displays (you can assign Mac and PC to different monitors, drag Mac applications across two monitors; and stretch applications across multiple monitors)
  • Connect to multiple accounts on the same Mac OS X system simultaneously from a single PC. iRAPP application allows you to easily switch between active Mac accounts or assign them to different screens if you have a multi monitor system
  • Simultaneously connect from your PC to multiple OS X systems on your network
  • Print from any Mac application to a printer that is connected to your Mac (physically or via WiFi)
  • Access peripherals/USB devices that are connected to your Mac
  • Resize and move the iRAPP workspace on your PC desktop, or dock it at the top of the screen
  • Define and store preferred monitor and iRAPP workspace options for each connection address
  • Choose preferred screen mode on the Mac side to set it automatically at the session start
  • Keep your user session working on the Mac even when you are disconnected and then reconnect to the same user-session later

System Requirements

PC: iRAPP Client system requirements

  1. Supported operating systems: Windows 2000/XP/2003/Vista
  2. Minimum recommended CPU: Pentium(R) 4, 1.8 GHz
  3. Minimum free HDD space: 3 MB

In addition, we recommend that you have a graphics card with DirectDraw hardware acceleration support.

Mac: iRAPP Server system requirements

  1. Supported operating systems: Mac OS X 10.4.8 or higher
  2. Supported devices: Mac mini, iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro, Mac Pro
  3. Minimum recommended CPU: Intel Core Solo 1.5 GHz
  4. Minimum free HDD space: 2 MB

Network: speed requirements

The mouse movements and keyboard strokes will be faster at higher network speeds, although iRAPP will work in a lower bandwidth environment down to 128 kB/s. At the recommended network speed or higher, you will experience minimal delays and hence you will get a similar user experience as if you were sitting and working directly on your Mac.

  1. Lowest supported speed: 1024 kbit/s (128 kB/s)
  2. Recommended speed: 10 Mbit/s (1.2 MB/s)

iRAPP sells for $79.95 and includes Server software for Mac OS X 10.4.8 and up.

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