Mac News Review

3.2 Gbps FireWire, 4.8 Gbps USB Coming, Macs Cost Less to Use, a Core Image-based Image Editor, and More

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2007.09.28

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

Apple Updates

Products

Software

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

USB 3.0 Will Be 4.8 Gbps, Wireless USB 1.1 1 Gbps, and FireWire 3.2 Gbps

MacUser's Derik DeLong says:

"The ubiquitous USB marches on. The current '480 Mbps' wireless USB doesn't achieve speeds anywhere near the quoted spec. That's why although 1 Gbps wireless USB 1.1 will probably achieve nowhere near that spec either....

"Meanwhile, FireWire hasn't completely stagnated. The next version should support at least 3.2 Gbps and proposals for 10 Gbps are in the works...."

Coming Soonish: USB and FireWire for Speed Freaks

PCWorld says:

"....the 1394 Trade Association is currently working on a spec to bring the next generation of FireWire up to a speed of 3.2 Gb/s, and reviewing proposals for a 10 Gb/s spec as well. While it seems like a foregone conclusion that USB 3.0 will take the crown if they aim for a faster spec, other factors are also at play...."

Macs Less Expensive to Use Than Windows PCs

Mac 360's Kate MacKenzie says:

"I love a good argument that has plenty of pros and cons and factual evidence to consider. It gets the juices flowing.

"So it does with Macs vs. Windows PCs in the workplace. Macs are less expensive to use than Windows.

"Says who? The truth is exposed in glorious detail by CIO magazine. In total cost of ownership (TCO), Macs are less expensive to own and support than comparable Windows PCs....

"CIO lists Eight Financial Reasons Why You (CIOs) Should Use Mac OS. What is not surprising is the list of reasons why CIOs who think about their business and financial responsibilities are choosing more Macs. What's suprising is the response from readers."

Mac Sales Surging

The Street's Scott Moritz reports:

"iPhone fever may have obscured the robust growth in Apple's Macs.

"People familiar with the company say Apple is selling computers at a blockbuster pace. The Cupertino, Calif., company is expected to sell 2.35 million iMacs and MacBooks this quarter, TheStreet.com has learned.

"A sales number that high would beat analysts' estimates by nearly 400,000 units. Pegging the average Mac sales price at a conservative $1,500, a beat of that magnitude stands to boost Apple's top line by about $600 million. Analysts expect the company to post fiscal first-quarter revenue of $5.94 billion."

Editor's note: We have some anecdotal evidence of Mac growth from our site logs. From April through October 2006, Low End Mac had more visitors using Windows than Macs. Since Nov. 2006, visitors using Macs have outnumbered Windows users, and in three months this year over half of our visitors have been on Macs. (Linux and other operating systems average 6.5% of our traffic.)

Overall Mac users as a percentage of our site visitors has increased 9.5% (2006 vs. 2007), Windows traffic has declined by 5.9%, and Linux is up a whopping 34%. Mac use is increasing despite the fact that Intel Macs can easily run Windows now. dk

Intel Macs Begin to Consign PowerPC Macs to History

Insanely Great Mac's Remy Davison reports:

"A snapshot of MacIntel and Mac-PowerPC usage caught our eye over at MacBidouille (the English-language site is Hard Mac. Last June, for the first time, visits to MacBidouille on Intel Macs were on the verge of surpassing those of PowerPCs.

"Now it's at 52.5% for MacIntel and 47.5% for PowerPC. Certainly, with the replacement cycle, you would expect this to occur, although perhaps not so rapidly. One explanation is that Apple is selling Macs at a rate (a predicted 2.2 million for this quarter) not seen since the glory days of the early 1990s, when the Mac took over 10% market share (and early PowerBooks owned their segment)."

New iMac Offers Great Image Quality

PCWorld's Melissa J. Perenson says:

"The 24-inch iMac is the big boy of Apple's all-in-one desktop line. Despite a new design and upgraded specs, it constitutes a modest update. But this striking system will surely make you look twice.

"We tested the retail-store configuration of the 24-inch iMac: Priced at $1799, it comes with a 2.4-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7700 processor, 1 GB of memory, a 320 GB Serial ATA drive, an ATI Radeon HD 2600 Pro graphics card with 256 MB of GDDR3 memory, and a slot-loading DVD burner."

Apple Updates

Apple Wireless Keyboards and Mouse System Requirements

A new Apple Knowledge Base article says:

"Learn about the system requirements for the Apple Wireless Keyboards and Apple Wireless Mouse.

"To use the Apple Wireless Keyboard or Apple Wireless Mouse you will need:

  • A Macintosh computer with built-in Bluetooth or a D-Link USB Bluetooth Adapter (part number DBT-120, rev. B2 or later)
  • Mac OS X 10.2.6 or later
  • A USB keyboard and mouse for setup
  • Two AA batteries for the Apple Wireless Mouse
  • Four AA batteries for the Apple Wireless Keyboard

"To use the aluminum Apple Wireless Keyboard you will need:

  • A Macintosh computer with built-in Bluetooth
  • Mac OS X 10.4.10 or later
  • Keyboard Software Update 1.2
  • Three AA batteries"

What to Do When Some of the Keys on Your Keyboard Don't Work

An updated Apple Knowledge Base article says:

"If some of the keys on your Apple keyboard don't seem to be working, these steps can help you troubleshoot the issue."

Products

OWC Introduces Full Line of 802.11n WiFi Solutions for Macs

PR: Other World Computing (OWC) has announced the availability of 802.11n WiFi Adapters that allow any Macintosh computer to upgrade to 802.11n wireless connectivity via USB, PCMCIA, or PCI card options.

OWC 802.11n WiFiPriced from $67.99, these new 802.11n WiFi Adapters offered by OWC also provide backwards compatibility for use on 802.11b and 802.11g networks. With 802.11n, indoor ranges of up to 220 feet (outdoor up to 500 feet) and performance of up to 300 Mbps are possible - or up to 5 times the range and performance of 802.11g. The 802.11n WiFi Adapters are fully tested and supported by OWC to work with any G3, G4, G5, or Intel processor-based Mac or PC with an available PCI, USB 2.0, or PCMCIA Card slot running Mac OS X 10.3.x or later or Windows 2000/XP and later.

OWC 802.11n WiFiApple first introduced support for the 802.11n wireless protocol in January 2007. Until recently, the only Macs able to utilize 802.11n were the Mac Pro Quad/8-Way Towers or MacBook/MacBook Pro/iMac models with a Core 2 Duo processor. These new RaLink chipset-based adapters available through OWC now bring the benefits of 802.11n wireless networking to be enjoyed by virtually any Mac or PC user.

In addition to 802.11 adapters, OWC also offers a full line of wireless base station/routers.

Iomega Unveils Mac-focused Products at Apple Expo 2007 in Paris

PR: Iomega Corporation has unveiled a dramatically expanded line of external storage products for the Mac community at the annual Apple Expo trade show in Paris.

Visitors to the Iomega booth at Apple Expo 2007 in Paris, which runs September 25 to 29, will see demonstrations of Iomega's new and existing single- and dual-drive products for Mac users in capacities of up to 1.5 TB*. With Mac-friendly features like the HFS+ file system, elegant designs, and an array of leading-edge interfaces to choose from, the new Iomega UltraMax and UltraMax Pro Desktop Hard Drive models represent Iomega's biggest advance to date in external storage for the Mac OS X computer user.

"Iomega storage products for Mac users are both functional and versatile with a focus on seamless implementation into a Mac product environment, as well as perfectly complementing the AppleDesign esthetic," said Romain Cholat, vice president of international sales, Iomega Corporation. "These innovative storage devices are real solutions to the ever-growing demand on storage capacity that Apple users and others are experiencing today in home and office settings. Our new lineup of external storage products on display at Apple Expo strike just the right balance between ease-of-use and functionality and attractive Mac-friendly designs that look great on the desktop."

Dual-Drive RAID Products

Iomega's new 1.5 TB UltraMax Pro Desktop Hard Drive, with FireWire 800, FireWire 400, and USB 2.0 interfaces, provides incredible performance and flexibility in a two-drive configuration.

In addition to the default mode of RAID 0, which stripes data across the UltraMax Pro's two SATA-II hard drives for high performance, other drive settings include RAID 1 (where all data is copied to both drives, or mirrored, for data redundancy), 'spanned' (where both hard drives are treated as a single volume), and 'simple' (where each hard drive is treated as its own drive letter). For ease of use, a manual RAID switch allows the user to turn off the RAID configuration and use the drive configured as JBOD.

The UltraMax Pro Desktop Hard Drive contains two FireWire 800 ports, one FireWire 400 port, and one USB 2.0 port; cables for all three interfaces are included in the box. The stackable drive enclosure complements the Mac Pro series of Apple computers as well as the older Power Mac series. The enclosure is metallic grey with a mesh grill, echoing the Mac Pro computer's industrial design. Hot-swappable SATA II hard drives minimize downtime when configured as a RAID 1 array.

Iomega is also shipping a companion product, the Iomega 1.5 TB UltraMax Pro Desktop Hard Drive, featuring eSATA 3 Gbits and USB 2.0 interfaces and formatted with the FAT32 file system for use in Mac or PC environments.

Single Drive, Four Interfaces

For the broadest possible range of interface options in a single-drive product, Iomega's new UltraMax Desktop Hard Drive is hard to beat with eSATA, FireWire 800, FireWire 400 and USB 2.0 ports on board.

Available in both 750 GB and 500 GB capacities, the new UltraMax Desktop Hard Drive comes with one eSATA port, two FireWire 800 ports, one FireWire 400 port and one USB 2.0 port; cables for all four interfaces are included in the box.

The new UltraMax Desktop Hard Drive is slim and elegant and designed like the UltraMax Pro to complement the Mac Pro series of Apple computers.

Single Drive, Dual Interface

The most economical drive in the UltraMax lineup is the dual interface 500 GB Iomega UltraMax Desktop Hard Drive. For simpler connectivity needs, or for situations that do not require the faster transfer rates of the eSATA and FireWire 800 interfaces, this FireWire 400 and USB 2.0 drive provides users with the same great design and quality at a lower price.

Iomega MiniMax Desktop Hard Drive

Also new is a 750 GB model of the Iomega MiniMax Desktop Hard Drive, which includes a hub with three USB 2.0 ports and three FireWire ports. The 750 GB version joins an existing 500 GB MiniMax Desktop Hard Drive dual interface with the same hub. The Iomega MiniMax Desktop Hard Drive features a form factor and industrial design that beautifully complements and stacks easily with the Apple Mac Mini computer. In addition, Iomega is offering the 500 GB Iomega MiniMax USB 2.0 + Hub, which has three USB 2.0 ports in its hub. The 500 GB MiniMax USB 2.0 + Hub is a great companion to the popular Mac AirPort Extreme, providing networked storage when the two devices are plugged together.

Iomega eGo Portable Hard Drive

Iomega is also introducing a new dual-interface version of its immensely popular 160 GB eGo Portable Hard Drive, adding FireWire 400 connectivity to the existing USB 2.0 interface option. Cables for both FireWire 400 and USB 2.0 operation are included in the box. Iomega is also announcing a higher capacity 250 GB version of the eGo drive. With its curvaceous cherry-red chassis and chrome endcaps, the eGo has an eye-catching style that sets it apart from other portable drives in its class. In European markets, Iomega will also offer the dual interface eGo Portable Hard Drive in various capacity and color combinations, including a 160 GB white version and 250 GB black and red versions. The new dual interface eGo models will be available later this year.

Backup Software: EMC Retrospect Express

For secure storage and worry-free backup and disaster recovery, Iomega includes EMC Retrospect Express software with all of the drives announced today. Retrospect Express delivers automated, reliable, cost-effective protection for Windows and Mac users. Its award-winning design makes it easy to set up and manage highly efficient backups on any PC, greatly simplifying disaster recovery. Users can back up open files, verify backup integrity during the backup, have scheduled backups proceed even without logging in, and recover individual files or a complete system to any point in time.

System requirements:

The Iomega UltraMax and eGo models are compatible with Mac OS X 10.1 and above; the UltraMax Pro models are compatible with Mac OS X 10.3 and above; and the MiniMax drive is compatible with Mac OS X 10.1.5 and above.

UltraMax and UltraMax Pro drives come preformatted with HFS+, the native file system for the Mac OS X operating system. The HFS+ file system makes more efficient use of large hard drives and supports journaling under Mac OS X, which makes it easier to recover data in case of a problem. UltraMax Drives can be reformatted to NTFS or FAT32 for use with a PC (instructions included), making the drives compatible with Microsoft Windows 2000, Windows XP Home and XP Professional editions. FAT32 format allows cross-platform use.

The Iomega UltraMax Pro Desktop Hard Drive FireWire 800/FireWire 400/USB 2.0 1.5 TB is available now for $599.95; the UltraMax Pro Desktop Hard Drive eSATA 3 Gbits/USB 2.0 1.5 TB, is available for $599.95.

The Iomega UltraMax Desktop Hard Drive eSATA/FireWire 800/FireWire 400/USB 2.0 is expected to be available in October for $319.95. (750 GB) and $219.95 (500 GB) respectively. The dual-interface model, the UltraMax Desktop Hard Drive FireWire 400/USB 2.0 500 GB is expected in October for $189.95.

The Iomega MiniMax Desktop Hard Drive USB 2.0 500 GB is available now for $179.95. The Iomega eGo Portable Hard Drive 160 GB Hi-Speed USB 2.0/FireWire, Cherry Red, is expected in October for $159.95. The 250 GB USB 2.0 eGo Portable Hard Drive is expected to be available in late October for $259.95. The 250 GB Hi-Speed USB 2.0/FireWire dual interface version of the Iomega eGo Portable Hard Drive is expected to be available in the fourth quarter of this year. (All prices are suggested US retail.)

Western Digital My Book Studio Edition External Hard Drives

PR: You can't measure memories in gigabytes. But you can use those gigabytes to preserve the stuff that really matters - the photos, music, movies and documents that you never want to lose, never want to forget. My Book is full of life . . . your life.

My Book Studio EditionIt starts with research. How do people use external storage? How to they install it? How do they organize their data? Do they back up? We needed answers. We listened and learned as we interviewed people and watched them in action while they used their computers, digital cameras and MP3 players. We met with all kinds of people - photographers, artists, musicians, students, doctors, moms, dads, and business people. What did we learn? Make it elegant, friendly, engaging, and, above all else, keep it simple.

Simple to Use

Installation is a snap because you don't really "install" this drive, you just plug it in and it's ready to use. On most editions, there is no CD . . . the included software loads from the drive the first time you plug it in. It's so simple and integrated that the drive even turns on and off with your computer.

Elegant and Engaging

This compact drive, iconic of a book, takes up less space on your desk and allows two or more drives to nestle neatly together like volumes on a shelf.

Environmentally Friendly

To save power most editions go into standby mode after 10 minutes of inactivity. My Book is designed without environment contaminants.

High Quality Inside and Out

We make drives. Protecting your data is in our DNA. With years of experience building drives that watch over data, we understand the exacting requirements needed to keep your data safe. Dropping, jarring, jostling - the usual bumps of everyday life - may leave no marks or obvious damage on an external drive, but damage can happen where you can't see it, and over time this damage can cause data loss.

My Book is designed to provide the maximum shock protection for the valuable data you're storing. In addition, the heat-dissipating enclosure keeps our drives cool. Cool drives mean safer data. That prevents heat buildup . . . another data killer. We don't skimp on quality when designing enclosures; we know how important your data is.

My Book Studio Edition is available formatted for the Mac in capacities from 320 GB to 1 terabyte (TB)

Prices range from $199.99 to $399.99.

zCover TypeOn Keyboard Skin for Apple Wireless Keyboard

PR: Protect your keyboard from spills, crumbs, and dust

TypeOn Keyboard Skin features:

  • It is compatible with the Aluminum Apple Wireless Keyboard.
  • It is not compatible with the oldest Apple Pro Keyboard and Apple USB Keyboard.
  • It is not compatible with the previous plastic keyboard and plastic wireless Keyboard.
  • zCover silicone skin are crafted from nontoxic, durable high-grade silicone rubber. It is safe.
  • Ultra thin (0.6mm) skin touch feeling, durable,
  • Made of 100% high grade silicone,
  • Full shock-absorbing, tear-resistant protection,
  • Molded t specifically fit every point,
  • removable easy on and off for cleaning,
  • Stays in place and does not shift around,
  • Washable _ you can wash zCover silicone TypeOn skin by hand. Make sure it's dried out before put it on your keyboard.

zCover colorszCover colors:

  • Original Ice Clear
  • Original Ice Pink
  • Original Ice Blue
  • Original Ice Green
  • Original Ice Purple
  • Original Ice Yellow

$19.99

Software

Pixelmator: Core Image-Based Image Editing

PR: Pixelmator is a beautifully designed, easy-to-use, fast and powerful image editor for Mac OS X has everything you need to create, edit and enhance your images. Supports layers.

Pixelmator

Precise selection tools

Someone who is editing images must be able to select the right shapes, portions or objects in images. With Pixelmator's powerful, pixel-accurate collection of selection tools you can quickly and easily select any part of your images. That means you can edit and apply special effects to portions of your pictures, remove unwanted objects or even cut out objects from one picture to put on another. Thanks to the masks palette in Pixelmator, you can even save your selections for later. Now, that's handy.

Full assortment of painting tools

Another bunch of tools in Pixelmator are painting tools. The real greatness of these tools is the ability to use different brush sizes, shapes, hardness, even blending modes when painting. You can paint with Pixelmator as you would traditionally, play with beautiful gradients or even fill colors with other ones. There has never been a more satisfying way to paint. What's more, Pixelmator's painting tools can be used not only for any style of painting, but also for improving your selections with masks or even retouching.

Retouching tools

It is a snap to perfect your aging or buggy photos with Pixelmator. With its advanced retouching tools you can easily blur hard edges or sharpen fuzzy areas of your image. Or paint with a sample of an image to remove wrinkles from faces or scratches in your photos. In fact, you can use any of the adjustment or painting tools to polish or to refine your images.

Every tool you need

The coolest image editor comes not only with handy and powerful selection, painting and retouching tools, but it also has everything you need for typing text on your pictures, analysing colors, cropping, transforming, moving anything in your pictures or navigating through your images.

With Pixelmator's easy-to-use but powerful tools you can do a lot more with your images than you ever could before.

Layers paletteLayers

Of course, Pixelmator is a layer-based image editor. You can quickly create layers from your photos, other pictures, from selections or even your iSight. Yes, Pixelmator can add a layer to your composition directly from your Mac's little camera. Not only can you link and arrange added layers, but Pixelmator allows you to blend layers, change their opacity, create clipping masks or even add layer masks to hide some portions of layer.

Powerful color correction tools

Pixelmator features a simple and elegant collection of intuitive color correction tools. Using these tools you can fine-tune hue, saturation, and luminance; adjust exposure, color levels, brightness and contrast; use automatic color corrections such as Auto Levels, Auto Color and Auto Contrast; even use Channel Mixer and much more.

Breathtaking filters and effects

Pixelmator is the real filter-machine. It has over 50 filters and special effects for your needs. Just choose any of nicely designed distortion, blur, sharpen, color, stylize, halftone, tile, generator and transition filters and boom - you see the result in real-time. Filters in Pixelmator are very, very fast.

Compatible with everything

One more thing: Pixelmator supports over 100 different file formats. You can open and save in PSD, TIFF, JPEG, PNG, PDF, EPS and scores of other image formats. Above all, Pixelmator can open and save Photoshop files with layers. You are never alone with Pixelmator.

System Requirements

  • Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger or later
  • Core Image supported graphics card (recommended)
  • Some features require iLife.

Because the Pixelmator Team is so serious about improving Pixelmator, every 1.X update will be given an unusual software name. For example, the first version of Pixelmator, codenamed Firestarter, is called Pixelmator 1.0 Firestarter. Pixelmator's next version will be named Pixelmator 1.1 the code_name, and so on. What's more, the code_name gives a hint about features that are built into Pixelmator.

And, of course, Pixelmator 1.X updates are free for registered users.

From Your iSight to Your Composition

Ever thought about what else you could do with that little camera on your Mac's display? Sure, you could use it to videoconference with your friends or take photos of yourself with funny faces. But now you can also use iSight with Pixelmator. One click, and Pixelmator takes a picture of you via iSight and adds it as layer into your composition. When you've done that you can, for example, cut yourself out, put in another background and create postcard for your friends. It couldn't be easier!

Photo Browser

The Photo Browser palette in Pixelmator offers quick access to your iPhoto Library, events, albums, Smart Albums and pictures in your Pictures folder. Best of all, just drag-and-drop any of those images as layers to your Pixelmator composition.

Reign of Mac OS X Technologies

Pixelmator harnesses the full power of Mac OS X. It takes advantage not only of Core Image, Open GL or Automator, it also supports, ColorSync, Spotlight and many other technologies. Pixelmator was built exclusively for Mac OS X, and it shows.

Automator: Pixelmator's Best Friend

Your personal automation expert - Automator working hand in hand with your personal imagery expert - Pixelmator does those boring tasks for you. Using very powerful Pixelmator actions in Automator you can quickly enhance, resize, or transform your images, add any special effects or even export your images to over 100 different file formats. You can do that to as many images at one time as you wish.

The World's First GPU-Powered Image Editor

Pixelmator is based on Core Image technology that uses your Mac's video card for image processing. Core Image utilizes the graphics card for image processing operations, freeing the CPU for other tasks. And if you have a high-performance card with increased video memory (VRAM), you'll find real-time responsiveness across a wide variety of Pixelmator operations. Pixelmator is blistering-fast on the latest PowerPC and all Intel-based Mac's.

Pixelmator Loves Open Source

Just like your beloved Mac OS X, Pixelmator is also built on open source. It uses a very sophisticated foundation to provide you with the most powerful image editing tools available. More than 15 years of development have gone into Pixelmator.

System requirements: Mac OS X 10.4 or later, Core Image supported graphics card (recommended), some features require iLife.

System support: PPC/Intel

$59 demoware

theWord Audio Bible Software

PR: theWord is an audio Bible, unlike any other you may have used before. Instead of simply being a recording of someone reading the Bible, theWord uses Apple's powerful voice synthesis to "read" the Bible to you. Using it's built in database, theWord can navigate to the exact book, chapter, and verse you want to hear.

Because it uses voice syntheses, instead of recordings, it is a very small download, and does not use excess space on your computer. A traditional audio bible recording can span many CDs.

A traditional audio recording of the bible also makes it difficult to listen to your favorite passages. It is broken up in to tracks based on the chapter. theWord can index the entire bible by verse, so you can pinpoint the passage you want to hear, and create a "bookmark" of that passage. You can store many bookmarks in a playlist called "mybookmarks".

If you have no experience with The Bible, theWord includes many built in playlists with suggested readings, historical highlights, helpful passages. With the built in daily reading calendar, you can listen to the entire bible in one year without any problem. Put it on your iPod, and you could listen to it during your commute, at the gym, or whenever.

Playlists

Along the left hand side of the window are the playlists. These are all built in, and can't be edited, except for "my bookmarks". These playlists are included here to help you if you have no experience with the Bible. The playlists include: (list them and describe)

  • Suggested Readings
  • Historical Highlights
  • Spiritual Standards
  • Dynamic Doctrines
  • Practical Precepts
  • Help in Time of Need
  • Practical Teachings
  • Where to Find help
  • Life's Problems
  • Christian Virtues
  • Bible Reading Calendar - theWord includes daily bible readings for both the Old Testament and the New Testament
  • My Bookmarks - Your own favorites

Bookmarks

Each play list contains bookmarks, which are specific bible passages. When you select a playlist, the bookmarks are displayed in the bookmark table. When you double-click a bookmark, it is loaded into the "current passage"

Current Passage

This displays the current book, chapter, and verse of the current passage being read

Controls

  • Play/Pause - This starts and stops the reading. Reading always starts from the beginning of a verse
  • Forward/Reverse - These move the reading marker forward and backward by one verse for each time it is clicked
  • Voices - There are many voices built into the Mac OS. Use this menu to chose one. We highly recommend "vicki", as it is the most natural voice.

System requirements: Mac OS X 10.4 or later.

System Support: PPC/Intel

Free

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