Mac News Review

Mac mini to Lure Mac-phobic, Mac mini with Plasma TV, Cell Processor in Apple's Future?, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2005.03.02

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

Mac mini News

General Mac News

Mac mini News

Mac mini Sure to Lure Mac-phobic Buyers

NEWS: The Sun-Times' Andy Ihnatko says:

"The Mac Mini is the first desktop computer that I've ever lost inside my sofa.

"I didn't have time to set it up on the day it arrived, and a week later I found myself nervously retracing my steps. ('OK. I know I was eager to look at it, so I took it out of the box. Then I took it upstairs with the rest of the mail, which I read while watching TV sitting on the ... no, it couldn't be there, could it?')

"Indeed it was, safely tucked between the cushion and the armrest. The Mini is without a doubt the smallest full-featured desktop I've ever seen. It disappears on your desk. If its footprint were any smaller, you'd have to fold your DVDs before inserting them.

"Apple engineers were very wise to stop where they did, winding up with a machine that's only 2 inches thick and 6.5 inches square....

"Yet - unlike the industry's previous attempts to make a minimum-footprint desktop - it's hard to think of anything that Apple left out. A combo drive is standard (with a DVD burner as an option), as is an ample supply of ports (Ethernet, FireWire, dual USBs, modem)...."

Mac mini Tower - the New Hotness

NEWS: iPodlounge's editors say:

"If a 'gimme' were to be defined in the dictionary outside of its golfing connotation, it would be an invention so smart, yet so natural, that the first person to sell it would almost certainly make a million dollars. Plasticsmith's new Mini Tower ($39.95) is a gimme: a clear acrylic Mac mini enclosure made for all 100 million people who lusted after Apple's G4 Cube computer back in 2000, but were deterred by the price.

"For a pittance, the Mini Tower makes the inexpensive Mac mini look plenty like the Cube, suspending it vertically above the surface of a table and turning its top and bottom Apple icons into left and right sides. The mini's top surface is obviously nicer looking than the bottom, but neither is unattractive, and the acrylic adds a ton of gloss and class to the already beautiful Apple case. Four rubber feet hold the Mini Tower still and prevent its polished bottom from being scratched."

How to Get the Most from the Least Expensive Mac mini

NEWS: Gannett News Service's Leonard Fischer says:

"Few new personal computers have garnered as much buzz in recent years as the Mac Mini, which was introduced in January and is now widely available at Apple's retail stores and online....

"For some buyers - those who are upgrading from an older system, for example - plugging in your existing keyboard, mouse and display might not be a big deal, but for prospective buyers who need to buy these essentials, it can balloon the Mini's pint-sized initial price.

"Is the Mini a smart value for you? After spending a week experimenting with the Mini, here's our take on how the Mini stacks up for several types of users

mini equipment setups are profiled for the following categories:

  • Entertainment geeks - Overall value: Excellent
  • Thrifty students - Overall value: Very good
  • Paranoid Internet surfers - Overall value: Excellent

Mac mini as Plasma ParasiteMac mini as Plasma Parasite

NEWS: Gizmodo says:

"There is a beauty here, to see this Mac mini violently seizing the back of this plasma screen. A tiny parasite, forcing its will onto the giant host, preempting sitcom reruns for flashing Jobsian indoctrination. And who would have thought the method of this plasma display's utter consumption would be two zip ties? They tie with deadly efficiency."

Spring Break Projects for You & Your Mac mini

NEWS: Nerd Vittles says:

"Well, it's that time of the year again. The Nerd Vittles staff (Larry, Curly & Me) will be taking a breather for a bit to recharge our batteries. But, in the finest college tradition, we're leaving you lots of homework in a pretty package. Here's a listing of what we've built thus far in our Mac mini ISP-In-A-Box project. So, while we're taking it easy, pick out a few projects you haven't tried and knock yourself out. And today's stumper: Why are some of the contestants holding their numbers upside down? Hint: Think Outside the Box."

Mac Mini SleeveCaseMac mini SleeveCase

PR: The Waterfield Designs Mac Mini SleeveCase is a neoprene and ballistic shell for the mini computer from Apple. Added protection comes from the flap.

Want a compliment, try the Mac Mini SleeveCase with the Small VertiGo. The perfect bag to carry around the Mac Mini SleeveCase and accessories.

Available in one size: 7.25" x 7.25" x 2.5"

Mac Mini Case: $39

General Mac News

MacOSX.com Launches Free Tech Support Service

PR: MacOSX.com announces free personal technical support services. The new free service feature is email based and provides individual attention by a Macintosh tech. Responses to issues are generally provided in less than 24 hours.

Support is not limited to the Mac only, but includes anything that runs on or attaches to a Mac, including connecting to networked devices such as Windows & Linux systems. Printers, scanners, modems, iPods, and displays are just a short list of hardware devices supported. Most software is covered including Adobe products, iLife applications, Microsoft and more.

The support service is staffed by volunteers who enjoy helping out fellow Mac users with troubleshooting problems as they may arise. Currently, over 70 volunteers are helping support the launch of the new service and even more volunteer techs are needed. Anyone with a desire to help others and technical know how for the Mac (even if specialized) is desired.

Is There a Cell Processor in Apple's Future?

NEWS: eWeek's John Rizzo says:

"Before and after this month's unveiling of the PowerPC-based 'Cell' processor, the Mac industry buzzed with predictions that the forthcoming chip would be adopted by Apple Computer as its next-generation computing platform.

"While the specs of the new chip are impressive, especially with its integrated support for virtualization and speedy video performance, analysts said differences between the Cell and the current PowerPC architectures will make any transition an unlikely prospect for the next few years.

"Besides, use of the Cell chip in a Mac would make sense only if Apple Computer Inc. could get its Mac OS X to run faster than it does on a PowerPC - a task that may prove more difficult than it sounds."

Miglia Technology announces Evolution TV

PR: Miglia Technology has announced Evolution TV, a fully featured digital video recorder for your Mac.

Evolution TVEric Ferraz, Product Marketing Director, Miglia Technology, commented: "Any USB 2.0 enabled Mac can now record TV programs and VHS videos to create digital files in industry standard formats. Evolution TV marks a big step forward in the TV tuner market, thanks to its full support for MPEG-2/4 and DivX encoding. Thanks to the wide availability of MPEG-4/DivX compatible DVD players, customers can now store several full length high quality movies on a single DVD and watch them directly on their TV!"

Delivering a clean and sharp picture, Evolution TV comes with fully featured software enabling you to watch and record live TV, schedule recordings, access online TV guides and much more.

Evolution TV will be shipping mid-March.

Compatibility:

  • Mac with USB 2.0
  • PowerPC G4/800 processor and higher
  • 256 MB of RAM
  • Mac OS X 10.3.x and higher

Pricing and availability: Evolution TV is available now from Miglia's distribution partners, refurb or online store, for a recommended retail price of €209, $279, and £149 (all prices are ex VAT).

All units carry a full 2 year RTB warranty. A list of distributors and resellers is available on Miglia's website.

MP3beamer

PR: MP3beamer is a music appliance that allows you to set up one machine to store all your music and then access that music from other computers, portable players, software programs, or even your own home stereo. With MP3beamer, you can organize your music collection in one location, access and play on different machines, stream music to multiple machines over the Internet, and even use a media receiver to access your music collection on your home stereo, and, of course, load your music onto portable MP3 players like iPods.

MP3beamerMP3beamer acts as a digital music recorder (DMR). Just as a digital video recorder (DVR) stores your video and allows you to play it back on TVs, a DMR stores your music collection and makes your music library instantly accessible from just about anywhere using any software or any device - including Windows, iPods/iTunes, web browsers, PDAs, and home stereos.

Once you've set it up, MP3beamer makes organizing your music simple. Not only can you save your entire CD collection on MP3beamer, the MP3beamer sends songs you've saved in your iTunes, Lsongs, or other online music libraries and sends them to your chosen device to play. Different people can access MP3beamer at the same time from different machines.

When you add music to MP3beamer, it will automatically copy it to all your computers through an action called "syncing." If the sync feature is on, then songs added to MP3beamer are auto-copied to iTunes or Lsongs and vice versa. MP3beamer can stream music to virtually any MP3 software including Windows Media, MusicMatch and Winamp.

It takes just minutes to set up MP3beamer. To load your music onto the machine, just drag and drop your existing music collection from a USB drive or over the network to the MP3beamer machine. You can also quickly rip your CDs by just inserting them into the CD-ROM drive and MP3beamer will automatically look up the track titles and convert all the tracks to a high-quality MP3 format.

You can listen to your music on the MP3beamer machine, but more importantly MP3beamer includes technology that beams your music library to other computers, devices and software programs so you can access your music in many ways from many places. Click here to see details on different devices and how they work with MP3beamer.

MP3beamer is also designed to work with media receivers, which means you can wireless access all of your music on your home stereo in brilliant digital quality. Just select your favorite playlists, artists or albums and all the music will be beamed from your MP3beamer machine to your receiver. See this chart for a list of recommended media receivers.

MP3beamer sells for $399.

Big Tiki Drive, a Flash Drive in the Form of a Grinning, Glowing Tiki Idol

PR: TikiMac has unveiled the Big Tiki Drive, the world's first hi-speed USB compatible storage device in the form of a big, grinning Tiki idol, complete with hypnotic glowing eyes and a blinking "aura" - for Macintosh and Windows PC-compatible computers and starting at $59. The Big Tiki Drive is simple and inexpensive way for users in home, business and educational settings to transport and share their data quickly and easily.

Big Tiki DriveThe Big Tiki Drive is 100% plug-and-play compatible with Macintosh systems running Mac OS X 10.x and OS 9.2.x without requiring any special drivers. It will also operate on PC-compatible computers running Windows ME, 2000, and XP. It supports hi-speed USB for fast data transfers and is backwards compatible with USB 1.1.

Big Tiki Drives are currently available in 256 MB, 512 MB, 1 GB, 2 GB and 4 GB capacities, include a 6' illuminated "Lava USB" data cable in either red, white or blue, a soft drawstring pouch for storage and transport, a protective connector "end cap" and comes with a 2 year limited warranty and unlimited technical support.

Pricing and Availability: The Big Tiki Drive is available now through TikiMac authorized resellers, specialist stores and its online web store. It is available in 256 MB($59), 512 MB ($79), 1 GB ($119), 2 GB ($229) and 4 GB ($429) capacities.

radioSHARK AM/FM Radio with Time Shift Recording

PR: The radio airwaves will never be safe again. radioSHARK adds an AM/FM radio to any Mac or PC* - but that's just the beginning.

RadioSHARKThe radioSHARK can record any AM or FM radio broadcast in real time. You can also program it to record a scheduled show, or to 'pause' live radio so you can return right where you left off moments or even hours before (See 'What is Time-Shift Recording?' sidebar above).

radioSHARK includes a full-featured application that controls all radio and recording functions. Favorite station presets can be set with the click of a mouse, and new stations can be scanned and tuned with ease. The application is also where you program Time-Shift Recording, either to take a break without missing any of a show or to record your favorite broadcast to listen to later.

The radioSHARK connects to and is powered by USB. The fin-shaped device acts as an antenna and can be positioned for best reception and recording. Any recorded broadcast can be transferred to an iPod or any other AIFF-compatible digital music player to replay on the go.

radioSHARK gives you control of how and when you listen to your favorite radio shows. Dive in today and take a bite out of the airwaves!

Simply put, time-shift recording allows you to pause a live broadcast and return to it moments-or even hours-later and continue exactly where you left off. (it's a lot like a popular TV accessory whose name we can't say&but rhymes with Steve-O.)

radioSHARK also allows you to start and stop recording at any time while you are listening, and lets you schedule recording so you won't miss your favorite radio show.

* Mac OS X (10.2.8 or higher) or PC running Windows XP

Hamrick Software's VueScan adds PDF File Creation

PR: VueScan now supports the creation of Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) files, a popular feature request from VueScan users. Users can now create single and multipage PDF files in one step, directly from the scanner, without having to spend hundreds of dollars to purchase products like Adobe Acrobat 7.0.

VueScan 8.1.36 now supports the creation of Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) files, a popular feature request from VueScan users around the world. Now users can create single and multipage PDF files in one step, directly from the scanner, without having to spend hundreds of dollars to purchase Adobe Acrobat 7.0 or a comparative product. Used extensively by professional photographers, film processing labs and consumers around the world, VueScan 8.1.36 now offers an enhanced, user-friendly interface with support for raw files for 142 digital cameras, and support for 414 scanners.

The Standard Edition of VueScan costs US$49.95 and the Professional Edition costs US$89.95 for a single user license. Multi-user licenses are available. A fully functional, trial copy of VueScan can be downloaded from <http://www.hamrick.com/>.

VueScan is available for Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux. It automatically adjusts images to optimum color balance, which reduces the need to manually do this in Photoshop. VueScan includes built-in color calibration of scanners, producing colors that look true to life. Supporting more than 100 brands of negative film, VueScan offers options for scanning faded slides and prints; batch scanning, IT8 color calibration and other advanced scanning features.

DVForge Announces Major Price Reductions

PR: DVForge, Inc. announced that it has reduced pricing on most of the products marketed under the company's MacMice and JamPod brands.

"During 2004, we experienced over 660% sales growth over our 2003 levels," said Chuck Leonard, Executive Vice President for DVForge, Inc. "One result of that growth is that we have had major improvements in most areas of our company operations, such as lower production costs (from higher quantities), and reduced shipping costs from our factories. After looking at our current actual costs, we realized that we could offer our customers substantially lower prices on nearly everything we make, and still earn about the same margins we have previously earned. We want to thank the many tens of thousands of customers who have increased our business to the point where we can build our products in high enough numbers to pass along these savings in the way of reduced prices."

The following products now have new, lower pricing: The Mouse USB mouse, reduced from $39.99 to $29.99. The SightFlex iSight web cam stand, reduced from $29.99 to $19.99. The iFlex iSight holder for PowerBooks, reduced from $19.99 to $12.99. The MicFlex USB microphone, reduced from $49.99 to $39.99. The iBreeze acrylic PowerBook cooling stand, reduced from $29.99 to $24.99. The JamPlug miniature guitar amplifier, reduced from $49.99 to $39.99. The GuitarPlug and MicPlug USB audio interfaces, reduced from $49.99 to $39.99.

The stated price reductions are now in effect, and any of the affected DVForge products can be ordered from the DVForge website or from any DVForge reseller worldwide.

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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