Mac News Review

550 MHz G4 Upgrade for G3 iMacs, Add AirPort to Mac mini, Epson Ditches Mac Support at Low End, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2005.03.24

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

FastMac Announces 550 MHz G4 Upgrade for Slot-Loading iMacs

PR: FastMac announces availability of a G4 processor upgrade for the Apple Slot-Loading iMac G3 computer. For $199.95, the FastMac upgrade replaces the original G3 CPU with a G4 CPU operating at 550 MHz and doubles the backside cache from 512 KB to 1 MB, resulting in a 3-4 times boost in speed & performance.

"This upgrade gives your Slot-Loading iMac the speed it needs to run the latest applications and OS" said Michael Lowdermilk, Business Development Manager for FastMac Performance Upgrades. "Not only is it affordable, but with our advance exchange program, there is zero downtime."

The FastMac upgrade takes full advantage of the G4 AltiVec Velocity Engine, allowing the machine to now run programs it could not run before, including GarageBand, iChat AV with iSight, and others. The upgrade is 100% compatible with OS 9 and X, and is warranted for one year.

FastMac's G4 CPU upgrade for Slot-Loading G3 iMacs requires the original main logic board and is priced at $199.95. It is compatible with the following Slot-Loading G3 iMacs:

  • iMac G3 350, 400, and 450 MHz (all models)
  • iMac G3 500 (all models except Flower Power and Blue Dalmatian systems)

Add AirPort Extreme to Your Mac mini

NEWS: MacsOnly's Bill Fox reports:

"Our base Mac mini came without AirPort Extreme Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless capability. Only base Mac mini's were available from the Apple Stores at the time of their release and the stores did not have the kits necessary to install AirPort or Bluetooth. But since we already had an extra AirPort Extreme card, we figured that we could just install it for wireless networking. Wrong! When we cracked open the Mac mini's case we found that it was not a simple matter to just plug in the card like in other Macs. The mezanine board that the card plugs into was missing along with an AirPort antenna. So we have been using our Mac mini wired to our network....

"For those who wish to add AirPort wireless networking themselves to their base Mac mini, it is not difficult. "

Epson Ditches Mac Support on Low-end Printers

NEWS: Epson's Stylus C66 FAQ says:

"Q: Why isn't the Epson Stylus C66 compatible with Macintosh computers?

"A: Epson America works closely with Apple to deliver digital imaging products that meet their customer's needs. Based on feedback from Apple and its customers, Epson determined that Mac users were not interested in lower-end printers such as the $69 Epson Stylus C66.

"Many other Epson printers are Mac compatible, however, for a general-purpose inexpensive Mac-compatible printer Epson recommends the Epson Stylus C86 which retails for $99. The Stylus C86 is compatible with Macintosh System 8.6 to 9.x and OS X 10.1 .3 to 10.3.x."

Mac mini Could Boost Apple's 2006 Earnings 5-8%

NEWS: Forbes reports:

"Banc of America reiterated a 'buy' rating and $48.50 target price on Apple Computer, saying the Mac Mini computer could experience the same level of success as the iPod in non-Apple channels."

iPod to Boost Apple's Desktop Share

NEWS: CNET's Peter Judge reports:

"Apple Computer can look forward to gaining market share on the desktop as iPod users ditch their PCs in favor of Macs, according to a new survey.

"Analyst firm Morgan Stanley forecast Friday that the Mac, which currently makes up 3 three percent of all desktops, could win its way to 5 percent of desktop sales this year. This was based on a survey of 400 iPod users, 19 percent of whom expect to convert from PC to Macintosh. This conversion factor is double that previously expected by analysts.

"Statistics released by other analysts suggest the iPod may already be having a healthy effect on Apple's desktop business...."

OWC SuperDrives Let You Read and Write CDs at up to 40x, DVDs at up to 16x

PR: Other World Computing satisfies the Mac-user's need for speed with its full line of Apple-compatible internal and external burning solutions.

OWC offers internal 'SuperDrive' DVD and CD burners for the PowerMac G3, G4, and G5; eMac G4; iMac G4 and G5; Mac mini; G4 Cube; and PowerBook G4. Internal drives start as low as $75 and feature up to 16x DVD (4.7 GB per disc) burn speeds, up to 6x DVD Dual Layer (8.5 GB per disc) burn speeds and up to 40x CD burn speeds.

Both bare drives and complete solutions featuring software and media are available. Instructions, including free Apple Quicktime movie installation guides, are available at OWC's tech center for most systems.

External solutions also are available starting from $129.99 for virtually any Mac or PC that operates on FireWire or USB2 ports.

Compatible with popular software from Apple and third parties, OWC's solutions are a great way to either add CD and/or DVD burning capabilities to a system currently without them, or to upgrade for faster operation from an existing drive

"Just like us, our customers are busy folks and today's fast burners certainly can save a lot of time otherwise spent waiting around," said Larry O'Connor, president of OWC. "Be it on the road with your PowerBook, or in the office with your tower, it's nice to burn what you need quickly and without hassle."

External drives are plug and play. Internal solutions are user installable with the help of OWC's instructions, but OWC does offer installation services for those who may feel uncomfortable doing it themselves. Also, OWC offers up to a $90 rebate/trade for the optional return of an existing drive.

Power Mac G4 and G5 Get Max Wireless Signal Boost from QuickerTek Plug and Play 27dBm Transceiver

PR: QuickerTek has announced the third in a series of super high output transceivers for Macintosh Airport wireless networking users. This new $160 27dBm Transceiver is designed to simply plug into the Apple Power Macintosh G5 and G4 desktop computers.

This 27dBm G4 and G5 Transceiver is compatible with all Apple Airport Base Stations and maximizes the wireless power available under Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X. This Transceiver adds 500Mw of power to the Airport capability of the array of G4 and G5 desktops and operates on all 2.4 GHz, Wi-Fi systems. The transceiver supports both 802.11g and 802.11b wireless networks. Apple Airport wireless products have RF output of only 30mW, while this new transceiver outputs a whopping 500mW.

"We have the best customers! They give us constant feedback and product suggestions and requests," said Rick Estes, president, QuickerTek. "Why would anyone buy an external antenna for G4 or G5 desktop when they can get a 27 dBm QuickerTek transceiver with 500 miiliwatts of power. And get a complete package with a desktop mount, transceiver and antenna?"

The Transceiver does not require any installation software.

"The 27dBm G4 and G5 Transceiver is available right now for only $160. Jack Putnam of TechnoWarehouse said, "The growing popularity of Apple Airport wireless technology has created a huge demand for higher performance products and TechnoWarehouse has them. We're excited to offer our customers a solution that kicks wireless performance up a notch."

QuickerTek is a recognized leading innovator of antennas and RF products for Apple desktop and portable computers. QuickerTek products can be purchased at Mac dealers such as Small Dog Electronics, TechnoWarehouse, PowerBook Medic, and many others.

New Eclipse Keyboard Allows Users to Read Keys in the Dark

PR: Saitek Industries Ltd has announced that it will begin shipping the Eclipse keyboard - an innovative computer keyboard designed to be used in total darkness. Originally shown under non-disclosure as a technology demonstration during the International CES 2005 show, Saitek's Eclipse keyboard has entered production and will begin shipping to the consumer channel in April. Available at Circuit City, Best Buy and other channel partners, the Eclipse keyboard will sell for approximately $59.

Eclipse keyboardInspired by the backlit Gamer's Keyboard introduced in Q3 2004, the Eclipse features a host of technology enhancements and redesigns that allow for keyboarding, not just in low-light conditions, but now in total darkness. Whereas the Gamer's Keyboard featured cool blue backlighting to aid gamers playing under low-light situations, the new Eclipse features TruVu keys that actually allow the ultra-blue hue to glow through each laser-etched key - making it now possible to read keys in the dark.

The Eclipse is perfect for projector presentations where lights have been extinguished to favor the screen, programmers (who favor working in the dark), office environments where workers commonly extinguish the harsh overhead fluorescent lighting in favor of a more soothing, darker environment and restaurant hostess areas, where reservation taking has moved into the computer age. The Eclipse's value is clear to see in any low-light situation where accurate keyboard use is demanded.

The key to this technology lies in the filtered and laser-etched keys that allow just the right amount of light to pass through the etched lettering - too much and it becomes a blur, not enough and it's inconsequential - the Eclipse finds the perfect balance for true view ability. In addition, this keyboard will include two levels of illumination to meet a variety of settings and lighting needs.

Officially supported by Windows 98, SE, ME, 2000 and XP, this is a USB keyboard, so it should work with Macs as well, but likely not all features will be supported.

1394b FireWire Cable Port Isolator

PR: The 1394b FireWire Isolator cable helps to protect your computer's FireWire ports. You can continue to hot-swap FireWire devices using self powered FireWire devices (this FireWire cable does not pass bus power). And the FireWire isolator cable will even help you weed out those bad FireWire cables you have (a poorly made FireWire cable that does not adhere to the spec will fail using the FireWire isolator cable)

This isolator cable fixes problems in long chains of many self powered FireWire devices. These isolators prevent noise from the interconnected power lines from causing problems in long chains or where major differences (+10% on 1 supply and -10% on another is worse case) exist between connected devices.

The FireWire isolator cable has been designed to prevent charges from bad FireWire cables and faulty FireWire devices from going back up line and damaging the FireWireport on the motherboard (such as the reported PowerBook problem many users have encountered)

For bus powered FireWire devices, we strongly recommend using the Isolator cable and then either the power supply that comes with your bus powered FireWire device or a powered FireWire hub/repeater - the FireWire isolator cable does not pass bus power

This is a 9 pin male to 9 pin female FireWire cable, approx 9" long, so you can attach this cable to the FireWire port on your computer, and then attach another FireWire cable to the Isolator to go to your FireWire hub or FireWire device(s).

Price: $32.

Desktop Mac Deals

Low End Mac updates the following price trackers every two weeks:

For deals on laptops, see our Best PowerBook G4 Deals, Best iBook G4 Deals, and Best iBook G3 Deals. For deals on iPods, see our Best iPod Deals.

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