Mac News Review

In-depth Mighty Mouse Review, 1.35 GHz iMac G4 Upgrade, 1.8 GHz Power Mac G4 Upgrade, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2005.08.05

PowerBook, iBook, iPod, and other portable computing is covered in The 'Book Review. News about Apple's transition to Intel CPUs and other Intel developments is covered in The Macintel Report. iPod news is covered in The iNews Review.

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News & Opinion

Products and Services

Software

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

Apple Mighty Mouse: The In Depth Review

ars technica's Jacqui Cheng reports:

"The debate over one-button versus multibutton mice has become extremely heated at times and has roots going back for almost as long as mice have been around. Proponents for both sides claim that their mice are 'easier to use' and promote productivity, although I am not personally aware of any extensive human-computer interface (HCI) studies done on multibutton mice that have come out in their favor....

"...Apple has released a multi-button mouse called the Mighty Mouse, breaking their usual stance of sticking to the ol' one-button wonder for simplicity's sake. I was fortunate enough to get my hands on a production model and have been mousing away ever since I got it....

"The scroll ball is the best part, if I must say so myself. As a matter of fact, I absolutely love it. Like a very miniature trackball built into the top of the mouse shell, it is extremely smooth and can move in all directions. Unlike most scroll wheels, there is no obviously distinctive clicking in the movement of the scroll ball, but it still provides just enough user feedback to keep you from questioning whether it's moving."

Products and Services

Daystar Ships 1.35 GHz iMac G4 Upgrade

PR: Daystar Technology, an Apple Authorized Reseller and Mac Technology Integrator, announced today, that it has launched its iMac Flat Panel CPU upgrades, announced last month. The upgrade utilizes the most powerful G4 CPU available, and delivers more than 2x performance for iMac G4 700 owners.

Daystar is using the latest and highest performing 745x series CPU available, the Freescale 7457. The CPU outperforms any 7457 shipped by Apple, and boasts a large 512 MB internal L2 cache. The large cache allows the iMac G4 to perform at full speed, even without an external L3 cache.

Like the MAChSpeed G4 Pismo and Lombard upgrades, the iMac Flat Panel upgrade is a full system upgrade. The user orders on line, then sends their system to Daystar via Daystar's custom shipping container.

The Cost of the upgrade is $548 Plus shipping options (empty box at $25 plus 2 way shipping at $35 each way).

Features included

  • Xbench Scores jump from low 70's to over 130.
  • Double performance for all OS operations and applications.
  • Highest performance 7457 G4 CPU available, rated to 105c!
  • Factory installation via Apple Certified Technicians.
  • Daystar 21 point system test and diagnostics.
  • Effortless shipping with Daystar's custom box and shipping.
  • Compatible with any Mac OS since 9.2... Including Tiger 10.4.x.
  • Supports dual boot systems - works with everything you own.
  • Includes XLR8 MAChSpeed Control for exclusive G4 performance.
  • All upgrades warranted with Daystar's exclusive 90/728 program.

"The iMac G4 is severely limited by its tiny CPU cache and lack of an external cache", said Gary Dailey, president of Daystar. "We've supercharged the unit with the fastest 7457 CPU available, which delivers 1.35 GHz and also doubles the CPU cache size - allowing the upgraded system to compete with a new G5."

Sonnet Releases 1.8 GHz G4 Upgrades

PR: Sonnet Technologies has announced two new top of the line single processor Encore™/ST processor upgrades - the Encore/ST G4 1.8 GHz (Part No. SG4-1800) for most "Sawtooth" Power Mac G4 systems, including AGP Graphics, Gigabit Ethernet, Digital Audio, and Quicksilver models, and the Encore/ST G4 1.8 GHz (Part No. SG4-C1800) made specifically for the Power Mac G4 Cube. These products represent a new high point in performance and value in Sonnet's most popular line of processor upgrades; each one is priced $50 less than the 1.7 GHz upgrade it replaces.

These cards, based on the latest and fastest PowerPC G4 processor (used in Apple's current PowerBook line) from Freescale Semiconductor, feature 512K of SRAM on-chip L2 cache and are compatible with Mac OS® 9.2, and Mac OS X Version 10.3.5 and higher. All Encore/ST G4 upgrades for Power Mac G4 tower computers include a factory-attached heat sink that fits seamlessly into all supported systems. The Encore/ST G4 1.8 GHz upgrade for Power Mac G4 Cube includes a quiet fan plus all required hardware, tools and detailed installation instructions (professional installation is recommended). Like all Sonnet processor upgrades, both new Encore/ST G4 models carry a three-year warranty.

  • The Encore/ST G4 1.8 GHz (Part No. SG4-1800) is available now with an MSRP of $399.95.
  • The Encore/ST G4 1.8 GHz for Cube (Part No. SG4-C1800) will be available August 8, 2005 with an MSRP of $399.95.

Prices for the rest of Sonnet's current Encore/ST G4 line of processor upgrades are as follows:

  • Encore/ST G4 Duet 1.3 GHz (Part No. SG4D-1300-2M) at $599.95 (price drop from $699.95)
  • Encore/ST G4 1.4 GHz (Part No. SG4-1400-2M) at $349.95 (price drop from $399.95)
  • Encore/ST G4 1.33 GHz (Part No. SG4-1333-2M) at $299.95 (price drop from $349.95)
  • Encore/ST G4 1.2 GHz (Part No. SG4-1200-2M) at $249.95 (price drop from $299.95)
  • Encore/ST G4 1.0 GHz (Part No. SG4-1000-2M) at $199.95

The Encore/ST G4 1.8 GHz (Part No. SG4-1800) is compatible with the following Power Mac G4 models:

  • Power Mac G4 (AGP Graphics)
  • Power Mac G4 (Gigabit Ethernet)
  • Power Mac G4 (Digital Audio)
  • Power Mac G4 (Quicksilver)

The Encore/ST G4 1.8 GHz (complete upgrade for Cube, Part No. SG4-C1800) is compatible with the following Power Mac G4 Model:

  • Power Mac G4 Cube

Mac OS Requirements and Compatibility

Both Encore/ST G4 1.8 GHz models require Mac OS 9.2 for software installation and firmware updating. Mac OS X compatibility requires Mac OS X Version 10.3.5 or later.

OWC Reduces Prices on Mercury Extreme G4 Upgrades

PR: Other World Computing (OWC) has announced it has reduced prices on its popular OWC Mercury Extreme G4 processor upgrades for the second time in four months.

The updated pricing, effective immediately is:

  • OWC Mercury Extreme G4/933 MHz-1.0 GHz, $195
  • OWC Mercury Extreme G4/1.0-1.2 GHz, $249
  • OWC Mercury Extreme G4/1.3-1.4 GHz, $299
  • OWC Mercury Extreme G4/1.4-1.5 GHz, $349

Each Mercury Extreme G4 includes 256 KB of 1:1 L2 cache on-chip and 2 MB of high-speed L3 Cache, and is covered by OWC's three-year limited warranty and 30-day 100% money-back guarantee.

All models are compatible with Apple Power Mac G4 AGP Graphics (Sawtooth), Gigabit Ethernet, Digital Audio, and Quicksilver models, and with Mac OS 9.2.1 or higher, all versions of OS X 10.0.4 and later including 10.4 Tiger.

Complete pricing, ordering and availability information for Mercury Extreme G4 processor upgrades is available online.

OWC Updates Mercury Elite Pro USB Line with 320 GB Model

PR: Other World Computing (OWC) has announced it has added a 320 gigabyte (GB) version to its line of Mercury Elite Pro USB 2.0/1.1 hard drives while reducing the prices on most of the remaining models.

The new lineup is:

  • 80 GB, 7200 RPM w/2 MB buffer, $99.99
  • 160 GB, 7200 RPM w/2 MB buffer, $139.99
  • 200 GB, 7200 RPM w/2 MB buffer, $159.99
  • 250 GB, 7200 RPM w/2 MB buffer, $189.99
  • 320 GB, 7200 RPM w/2 MB buffer, $229.99

All Elite Pro USB 2.0/1.1 models are covered by a two-year warranty, Dantz Backup-certified, and include Dantz/EMC Retrospect Backup, Intech Hard Disk SpeedTools and all connecting cables.

The drives also are compatible with Apple OS X 10.1 and later (including 'Tiger'), Windows 98SE and later, Linux. Mac OS X 10.2.8 or later or Windows 2000 or later are required for FireWire 800 performance.

MaxConnect Lite Drive Mounting Assembly for Power Mac G5 CPU Bay

PR: MaxUpgrades offers MaxConnect Lite, a CPU Bay internal storage expansion assembly for G5 Power Macs. MaxConnect Lite is made of PolyAcetal, a ThermoPlastic known for its high strength and stiffness. MaxConnect Lite, a CPU Bay internal storage expansion assembly enables three additional hard disk drives to be housed in the lower CPU bay.

  • MaxConnect Lite disk drive attachment brackets are machined from single piece PolyAcetal.
  • Four bolt hard disk drive attachment of the disk drive to the drive bracket for maximum reliability and safety.
  • The brackets are designed to expose maximum area of the attached drive for heat dissipation without sacrificing strength and rigidity.
  • The disk drive brackets also provide with two guide pins for quick removal and attachment of the disk drive assembly to the base plate, a useful feature provided to mount and unmount disk drives to the base plate during installation or servicing, unlike press fitting directly to the base plate.
  • Two bolts securely attach disk drives with brackets to the base plate.

To power the additional three hard disk drives in the lower CPU Bay, optional custom power cables are included that splits power from the optical drive connector, power from the optical drive bay is routed into the lower CPU Bay via power cable that provides power to the three additional drives via standard hard disk 4-pin connector.

To tap the full potential of G5 Power Mac to obtain faster data transfer rates, along with MaxConnect disk drive mounting assembly the following is also needed.

SATA PCI-X Card that adds two, four or eight independent data channels to the G5 Power Macs, each channel can pump up to 60 MB/s or more data from the main storage subsystem of the G5 Power Mac to the CPU.

SATA Data Cables to connect the PCI-X card Data Channels to the disk drives installed in CPU or Optical Bay.

Power Cables to provide power to the disk drives housed in the Optical or the CPU Bay.

MaxConnect Lite P/N MaxConnect Lite with Optional Parts

SZ-MCCPUBAY3PAC0 MaxConnect Lite CPU Bay Disk Drive Mounting Assembly Only [PolyAcetal]

  • Three Hard Disk Drive Mounting Brackets with Base Plate
  • Mounting Screws
  • Hex Keys

SZ-MCCPUBAY3PAC1 MaxConnect Lite CPU Bay Disk Drive Mounting Assembly [PolyAcetal] w/ Power Cables

  • Three Hard Disk Drive Mounting Brackets with Base Plate
  • Standard 4-pin Power Cable for supplying power to the three additional hard disk drives in the lower CPU Bay
  • Mounting Screws
  • Hex Keys

SZ-MCCPUBAY3PAC2 MaxConnect Lite CPU Bay Disk Drive Mounting Assembly [PolyAcetal] w/ SATA Data Cables/ Power Cables

  • Three Hard Disk Drive Mounting Brackets with Base Plate
  • Standard 4-pin Power Cable for supplying power to the three additional hard disk drives in the lower CPU Bay
  • Four SATA II or eSATA Low profile Data Cables
  • Mounting Screws
  • Hex Keys

SZ-MCCPUBAY3PAC3 MaxConnect Lite CPU Bay Disk Drive Mounting Assembly [PolyAcetal] w/ SATA PCI-X Controller/SATA Data Cables/ Power Cables

  • Three Hard Disk Drive Mounting Brackets with Base Plate
  • Standard 4-pin Power Cable for supplying power to the three additional hard disk drives in the lower CPU Bay
  • 4-Internal Ports SATA PCI-X Host Card
  • Four SATA II or eSATA Low profile Data Cables
  • Mounting Screws
  • Hex Keys
Link: MaxConnect Lite CPU Bay Disk Drive Mounting Assembly

Samsung Announces Powerful New 16x External DVD Rewritable Drive

PR: Samsung Electronics Ltd. introduces its first external DVD rewritable disc drive, the 16x WriteMaster™ SE-W164C. This ultra-portable DVD drive is designed as an ideal companion for a laptop computer or desktop PC, allowing users to easily install and enjoy the benefits of a high-speed DVD burner without the hassle and expense associated with internal units.

The new drive is capable of reading and writing in both the DVD+ and DVD- formats with double layer 5x support, and is able to store up to 8.5 GB on one disc, which is two times more than a single-layer DVD and 12 times more than a CD. The SE-W164C is currently shipping with an Estimated Street Price of $199.

The SE-W164C offers users simple and convenient set up and connection to any laptop or PC via USB 2.0. With its compact and efficient design, the SE-W164C is terrific for users on the go or those with limited workspace. Offered in a stylish black color, the drive looks great with any ivory or black-tone PC. The drive can also be mounted vertically, saving precious desktop space.

"As a leading optical drive manufacturer, Samsung is able to offer consumers a complete lineup of DVD writers and players. The introduction of the new SE-W164C external DVD drive further complements our product offerings in the DVD burner category," said Albert Kim, National Sales Manager, Storage Systems for Samsung SSI. "As an external drive, the SE-W164C is perfect for any user who wants to view and burn DVDs without the stress of a complex or expensive installation process."

The SE-W164C sports a large air vent on the back of the drive for maximum air circulation to prevent overheating when the drive is running at high speeds. The drive also incorporates a groove on the side of the front door and the back of the bezel, which helps to reduce noise and prevents dust from entering the unit.

The SE-W164C provides a speedy 16x DVD+R and DVD-R write speed, can write DVD+RW at 8x and 6x on a DVD-RW disc. Armed with 5X dual layer speed recording, the SE-W164C helps to cut down on timing issues, such as backup recording.

The SE-W164C utilizes many high-end technologies to ensure fast and reliable performance and top notch quality: Speed Adjustment Technology (SAT), which automatically optimizes the speed according to the disc quality; Tilt Actuator Compensation (TAC), which gives the disc a tilt with the objective lens for the most reliable writing condition; and Double Optimum Power Control (OPC), which strengthens the writing performance by controlling the laser power in the inner and outer sides of the disc. The drive also includes a power save function and technology to prevent Buffer Under Run Error.

As part of its overall environmentally friendly corporate philosophy, the SE-W164C is lead-free.

Software

One Finger Snap Right Mouse Button for One Button Mice and Trackpads

PR: One Finger Snap is a Preference Pane that brings up the contextual menu whenever you click and hold down the mouse button. This means that you can do everything with a single-button mouse that you can do with a 2-button mouse.

Many new Mac buyers find that the first purchase they make is for a 2-button mouse so they can have quick access to the contextual menu. Sure, you can hold down the control key when you click, but let's face it, a two button mouse makes the contextual menu so much easier to get to. Now with One Finger Snap, you can just click and hold down that one button to get to the contextual menu. And that way you can hold onto that beautiful Apple mouse, too.

Great For PowerBook Users:

At the office, you have a nice two-button mouse, and you use it every day. Now you take your PowerBook on the road, and your right mouse button finger is just twitching. You get things done so much faster with the contextual menu. Don't you wish there was an easy way to get to it from the track pad? One Finger Snap works as well with a one-button track pad as it does with a one-button mouse. So you can click and hold the trackpad button rather than carry along another piece of equipment.

For Ex-windows Users:

So you took the plunge and switched to the Mac. Good for you. While you like Mac OS X on your new Mac Mini, you can't help but miss that old 2-button mouse. Don't go back to Windows, just try One Finger Snap. It's much cheaper, and it has fewer viruses.

But I Already Have A 7-Button, Wireless Mouse With A Scroll Wheel:

Oh, you übergeek you. One Finger Snap can still help you. Wouldn't it be nice to have just one more button? Turn on One Finger Snap, and you no longer need that right mouse button for the contextual menu. Now you can reassign it to something more useful (like sshing your web browser, or opening AppKiDo, or reading joyoftech).

Version 1.1.1 is a compatibility release that makes One Finger Snap work much more smoothly with many commonly used Mac applications.

  • Improved compatibility with many applications, including Word, Excel, BBEdit and PowerMail.
  • Improved compatibility with the Finder.
  • One Finger Snap will no longer fire if you click and hold on the menu bar.
  • One Finger Snap will no longer fire in most cases when you click and hold on the Dock, since the Dock offers its own click & hold functionality.
  • Added some safety checks that may help prevent a rare situation where One Finger Snap would confuse the OS and suddenly the mouse would not be recognized at all.
  • Added a German localization. Thanks Joern.

New With One Finger Snap 1.1

Users had some good ideas how to improve One Finger Snap right away, so version 1.1 adds a lot of those ideas for our early adopters.

  • Added an option to change the amount of time to hold down the mouse button before the contextual menu appears.
  • Added options to turn off the screen flash and the sound that gets played when the menu appears.
  • Changed the user interface to be more responsive and to support the changes listed above.
  • Firefox and OmniWeb already offer this functionality within their own windows, so One Finger Snap no longer simulates a right mouse click in those applications.

System Requirements: Mac OS X 10.3 Panther or 10.4 Tiger.

One finger snap is $6.85 shareware.

Desktop Mac Deals

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

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

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