Mac News Review

FireWire Drive Boosts mini Performance, Power Mac G5 vs. Dual Xeon Dell, Macs Replace Linux Desktops, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2005.05.27

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

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

News & Opinion



Products and Services

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

Macs Replace University's Linux Desktops

Computerworld Today's Rodney Gedda reports:

"Hope of Linux tackling the desktop market has suffered a reality check with the University of Melbourne's Trinity College dumping the penguin in favor of Unix cousin Mac OS X, not x86-based rival, Windows.

"A lab of 20 PCs running Debian GNU/Linux will be replaced by G5 iMacs with the compelling reasons for the migration being a 'slick user interface' and ease of use, according to Trinity College systems administrator Tim Bell....

"An additional 33 eMacs are being purchased for the library and administration along with Xserve RAID storage systems for server backups."

Mac mini in Popular Science reports:

"The June issue of Popular Science Magazine has an article about the Mac mini entitled Mac of All Trades on pages 87-88. The article covers the Mac mini in the living room and in the car, as well as setting the mini up as a web server and phone switch box. We are pleased to report the article mentions"

Mac of All Trades: Tiny and Affordable mini Does It All

Popular Science's Mike Haney says:

"The most amazing thing about Apple's new Mac Mini isn't its diminutive size, although you can't help but be surprised at how small it is when you see it in person (about the size of a stack of five CDs). Nor is it the price, although it is the first Mac to break the $500 barrier (provided you supply your own display, keyboard and mouse). The most amazing thing is how an entry-level computer aimed at grandparents and switchers (PC users migrating to the Mac) has ignited the geek community into thinking outside the 6.5-square-inch box....

"One of the most popular ideas to emerge was using it as a living-room computer for recording TV and storing and playing back movies, music and photos. It even inspired an ad hoc group of programmers to begin working feverishly on a Mac equivalent to the Media Center Edition of Windows XP. Called CenterStage, the customizable, open-source app will provide a 10-foot interface to navigate your media with a remote control. (Follow the group's progress at Meanwhile, car tuners noticed that the Mini fit nicely in a glove box, kicking off a flurry of sleek "car-puter" installations. Sound like fun? On the next page you'll find details on what you need for these two projects and a couple others, as well as instructions for cracking open the Mini for home upgrades."


FireWire Drive Boosts mini Disk Performance by 75% says:

"While Apple's Mac Mini is a great little machine for the money, it comes with an excruciating slow hard drive. Upgrade options exist, but no single option seemed to be the obvious choice for me. I decided to go the FireWire Enclosure route after a lot of research. Here's my thought process and results. I spent way too long trying to figure out if this was a good option, maybe this'll help you make the decision faster and in a more informed way....


"A 75% increase in disk performance, making about a 15% overall performance (Xbench benchmark) increase for the entire system. A decent desktop disk in a FireWire Enclosure is 75% faster than the Apple supplied disk, and yes it was certainly worth the $50 something I ended up spending after tax seeing how I already had a drive. Even if you had to buy a drive, which I didn't, I think it would be well worth the money."

Installing Fedora Core Linux on the Mac mini's Colin Charles says:

"The Apple Mac mini is Apple's latest offer in the arena of groovy computing. It also serves a Linux geek's bliss: it sports an affordable PowerPC system in a small, quiet, stackable, and attractive case....

"Turning it on, you get automatically booted into Mac OS X. Don't get too used to it just yet, because to get Fedora on your Mac mini, the disk is going to have to be repartitioned.

"This only applies to those wanting to dual-boot Fedora Core alongside Mac OS X; if that's not you, skip over to the section called "Starting with Fedora". Seeing that the Fedora Core installer can't resize HFS+ partitions, and there's only one large partition in the factory default shipped mode, its time to get the installer DVD and reboot with it. When rebooting, hold down the "C" key to boot from the optical media drive....

"To install Fedora Core on your Mac mini, you need to download the ISOs. At the time of writing, the current release available is Fedora Core 4 Test 3, and it comes in a set of 5 CD downloads, or 1 DVD, and is available from Fedora Red Hat. While test releases are not recommended for general user installation (you even get a warning at the start of the installation), you can be relatively assured that most things work rather well in the test release - however, waiting for Fedora Core 4 to be released is also an option. Keep in mind that the PowerPC architecture port only made its way out since the Fedora Core 4 cycle; it was always previously based from the development tree."


Power Mac G5 Dual 2.7 GHz vs. Dual Xeon PC reports:

"....Apple has put a hot rod under the hood this time. It's the Nvidia GeForce 6800 Ultra DDL, with 256 MB of GDDR3 memory on board. Even though its AGP 8x spec still falls far short of the best graphics cards available on the PC platform today, this $450 option is certainly better than the run-of-the-mill cards usually found inside Macs....

"After taking the scenic route through the insides of this veritable essay of industrial design, it was time to harness it to the test bench and see what it could do. For the first time ever, here at the Midwest Test Facility, could this new Mac beat the fastest PC? Well, yes and no. It came close, and beat our eight-month-old Dell dual Xeon 3.6 GHz test machine in some of the benchmarks, but overall, it still isn't as fast as our fastest, albeit elderly PC. It's certainly telling that Intel's Xeon chips from last year are still faster than the nearly speed-stuck IBM PowerPC chips inhabiting Macintoshes. We can only hope that somehow Apple will decide to start using Intel or even AMD chips in its computers and at the same time find a way to quickly and efficiently adapt all its magnificent software to a processor manufacturer that has proven to be a more dependable source of continuous speed and efficiency upgrades.... Irony of ironies, it's IBM , that evil empire alluded to in Apple's 1984 commercial so many years ago, that's supplying these chips that can't keep up and are holding Apple back from its true potential. All that said, it's still worth it to use a Mac because of its excellent operating system, its futuristic industrial design, and its growing collection some of the best software in the world. Even better, the hardware and software are all now available at prices that are, at the high end, lower than those on the Windows platform."

Products and Services

PaperHub: USB 2.0 Hub, FireWire Hub, and Paper Tray

PaperHubPR: Introducing the PaperHub, the first Art-Techo product from Pressure Drop. The Patent Pending idea to wrap state-of-the-art technology in what the unknowing eye will assume is a very cool office accessory, wasn't enough for us. We fused style into every line and every arc, and built the unit from solid aluminum to give you a peripheral you will want to show off- not hide behind your desk amidst a tangle of cables like an evil technology-spider waiting to bite your leg.


  • 4 FireWire 400 downstream ports
  • 4 USB 2.0/1.1 downstream ports
  • The most ports of any hub today
  • 2) hubs use just 1 power supply
  • U.S. Letter-sized paper trays top and bottom
  • Environmentally friendly aluminum, anodized for protection
  • Polyurethane feet protect fine furniture
  • One year warranty

Now shipping.

Price: $149.99

Newer Technology Introduces Accessories for Mac mini

PR: Other World Computing (OWC) and Newer Technology (NewerTech) are offering four acrylic accessories for Apple Computer's popular mini - the NuStand mini, NuClear mini, NuBlue mini and NuShelf mini. Prices range from $24.95 to $39.95.

"The biggest appeal of the mini is its size, said Larry O'Connor, president of OWC. "Our new accessories take advantage of that size to improve its functionality. You can hide it under your monitor, sneak it under a desk or put it on a pedestal."

The NuStand mini is a curved acrylic stand that allows you to slip the mini underneath and a monitor on top. The stand supports CRT displays up to 22 inches and LCD displays up to 30 inches. It retails for $39.95.

NuShelf miniThe NuShelf mini attaches to the bottom of a desktop or shelf and allows you to slip the mini inside. It retails for $34.95.

The NuClear mini is a perfectly cut 0.75" piece of acrylic plastic that raises your mini off the desk. It retails for $24.95. The NuBlue mini is the same perfectly cut acrylic base but with a cool blue glow. It retails for $29.95.

Save with AppleCare Direct at The Mac Support Store

PR: Most people buy AppleCare that ships in a box. What's in the box? A registration postcard and a diagnostic CD.

But did you know you can buy the same coverage for less money when you buy AppleCare Direct from The Mac Support Store?

It's very simple -

  1. Enter your name, address, and serial number
  2. We'll confirm if your Mac is eligible for AppleCare
  3. Buy AppleCare Direct
  4. You're covered on order completion

AppleCare Protection Plan extends your computer's 90 days of complimentary support and one-year warranty to up to three years of world-class support - and provides you with long-term peace of mind.

AppleCare in a box: Mac mini $149, iMac/eMac $169, iBook $249, Power Mac $249, PowerBook $349

  • Plus Shipping Costs
  • Delayed Coverage
  • Confirmation by Mail

AppleCare Direct Mac mini $138.17, iMac/eMac $157.11, iBook $219.32, Power Mac $219.04, PowerBook $321.11

  • No Shipping Costs
  • Instant Coverage
  • Confirmation by Email and Mail

After you buy AppleCare Direct, we'll email you a store receipt and a separate email with an enclosed PDF of your official confirmation with Apple Computer.

In 6-10 weeks, you'll also receive a mailed notice from Apple confirming the previous AppleCare enrollment date.

There is some discussion of this at Jackwhispers:

Pleiades USB-FX 3.5" USB 2.0 Hard Drive Enclosure

Pleiades hard drive enclosurePR: The Pleiades USB-FX, a slim, stylish and powerful aluminum enclosure for your 3.5" Serial or Parallel ATA hard drive. Features fanless design and passive cooling, ideal for multimedia users and quiet working environments.

Ports: 1 USB 2.0 High Speed (4-pin)

Data Transfer

  • USB 2.0 up to 480 Mbps (60 MB/s)
  • USB 1.1 up to 12 Mbps (1.5 MB/s)

Windows Requirements

  • USB 2.0: Windows 98SE/ME/2000/XP
  • USB 1.1: Windows 98SE/ME/2000/XP
  • Your hardware device must have proper port or PCI card

Mac Requirements

  • USB 2.0: Mac OS 10.2 or higher
  • USB 1.1: Mac OS 9.1 or higher (You must update the USB extension to v1.41 or higher between Mac OS 8.6 and Mac OS 9.04)
  • Your hardware device must have proper port or PCI card

Power Supply

  • External Power Adapter universal auto-switching (UL, cUL, CE, TUV approved)
  • Input: AC 100-240V, 1.2A, 50-60 Hz
  • Output: DC +5V/2A, +12V/2A

Enclosure Size: 22.8 cm x 13.7 cm x 3.5 cm

Packing Accessories

  • Pleiades USB 2.0 Enclosure
  • USB 2.0 cable (4-pin x 4-pin)
  • Power adapter plus cord, feet, screw package, driver CD, manual

Bridge Chipset: J-Micron 20338

Case Material: Aluminum with internal metal chassis for optimized heat dissipation

Application: Any single 3.5" Parallel or Serial ATA Hard Drive (Desktop size) ATA-6 compatible! Only one hard drive can be installed, either a Serial ATA hard drive or a parallel ATA hard drive.

Western Digital's Simple-to-Use Network Hard Drive

PR: Western Digital Corp. introduced its NetCenter network hard drives for small office and home users. NetCenter network drives are the newest addition to the WD Essential external hard drive product family. In just three simple steps, WD's NetCenter network hard drives make it easy to share and save digital pictures, video and MP3 files, and printers across small office and home networks using a wired or wireless router. Users simply plug in WD's NetCenter network drive, run the installation wizard and use WD's EasyLink utility to set up the NetCenter network drive as a local drive on any PC and Macintosh computer on the network.

Western Digital NetCenterWD's NetCenter network drives will be available next month (June 2005) in capacities ranging from 160 to 320 GB and are perfect for small office and home users who want to centralize and share their digital files and/or connect and share up to two printers on a computer network. With WD's NetCenter network drives, users can also create private, password-protected folders; back up files from any computer on the network; access files anytime from any computer on the network, even when all other computers are powered off; and connect additional external hard drives to increase storage capacity for multiple computers on the network. WD's NetCenter network drives also allow for real-time duplication of data.

NetCenter network drives feature:

  • WD Caviar SE 7,200 RPM hard drive inside for fast, quiet and cool operation without a fan
  • 10/100Base-T Ethernet connection
  • Common Internet File System (CIFS) for platform-independent file sharing
  • Two hot-swappable USB host ports
  • WD EasyLink utility to set up NetCenter as a local drive on any computer on the network
  • NetCenter Manager software to easily view system status, share folders and printers, set up mirroring for real-time duplication of disk data, create and resize volumes
  • Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) client for automatic assignment of TCP/IP addresses
  • Automatic power management when the NetCenter hard drive is idle
  • Kensington security slot

Suggested retail pricing is $399 USD for WD's NetCenter network drive with 320 GB capacity (model WDXE3200JBN). To mark the introduction of WD's NetCenter network drives, customers who preorder a NetCenter network drive 320 GB capacity from WD's online store by May 31, 2005, will receive $30 off and free standard shipping.

"Storage networking has never been easier," said Lonnie Arima, vice president and general manager for WD's retail products group. "Today's PC and Mac users want the convenience and flexibility a network offers, without the hassle. With NetCenter network drives, that's exactly what they get. In just a few simple steps, users can be up-and-running, sharing files across a network."

WD Caviar SE hard drives were recently lauded by independent hardware reviewer Tom's Hardware Guide (link below) which concluded that WD Caviar SE desktop hard drives are "very fast and nearly silent." Designed to provide the best desktop computer performance, WD Caviar SE hard drives are equipped with 8 MB cache, FDB (fluid dynamic bearing) motors and Shock Guard which allows instantaneous data protection at high shock value. Data Lifeguard embedded error detection and repair features automatically find, isolate and repair problem areas that may develop over extended use of the hard drive.

A demonstration of the new NetCenter network drive is available during E3 Expo being held in Los Angeles May 18-20, 2005. A demonstration may also be viewed on the company's website.

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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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