Mac News Review

Much Praise for Intel iMac, Core Duo Keyboard Problem, PPC Emulator Adds Classic to Macintel, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2006.02.10

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

The Apple Store and several other vendors have run out of 17" G5 iMacs, and the Intel Core Duo models are receiving nearly universal accolades - along with warnings of slow Rosetta emulation and the absence of 'Classic' mode. On that front SheepShaver, a PowerPC emulator, is now available in an experimental Intel build that should make Classic available on Macintel hardware. dk

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

Software

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

Good-bye iMac G5

Ars Technica's Jacqui Cheng says:

"With stock of iMacs G5 dwindling and even selling out, the transition to Intel for the iMac line may be coming to a close. MacRumors is reporting that stock of 17" iMac G5s has completely run out at retail stores and is also no longer available from the Apple Store online. Additionally, 20" iMac G5s have been marked down US$1699 to $1499 (a fairly significant discount, in Apple-land) and running even cheaper out of the .edu store, which indicates a push for Apple to finally finish clearing out its iMac G5 inventory altogether sooner rather than later."

17" iMac G5 Is History

The Register's Tony Smith says:

"Apple has killed off the 17in iMac G5 - at least, the machine is no longer available from either the UK or the US online AppleStores, or stores throughout Europe and Asia-Pacific, though it remains listed on the main Apple website. The move comes just days after Apple cut the price of the 20in iMac G5 by $200 in the States and £150 in Britain.

"It was widely assumed that the price cuts were intended to help shift remaining stocks of the iMac G5 as Apple migrates to Intel-based machines. The Core Duo-equipped consumer desktop - known simply as the 'iMac' - was only launched in the second week of January and began shipping at that time, so Apple's done pretty well to rid itself of the 17in PowerPC-based model in a month."

Intel iMac 'Very Close to Perfect'

The Boston Herald's Eric Convey says:

"Apple's iMac has been a hit since long before the latest version came out, but some extremely important changes under the hood pushed the newest version to the top of the Inspecting Gadgets 'things I'd like to review' list.

"The iMac is the first Mac to employ Intel chips. With the faster speed the dual core processor brings, what was already a good computer is now very close to perfect."

Classic Incompatibility, Slow Rosetta Mean Wait on Intel iMac

The latest computer from Apple uses a powerful new processor, but The Washington Post's Rob Pegoraro suggests it may be worth waiting for it to be debugged.

"The extraordinary thing about Apple's new iMac is how ordinary it is to operate. It looks, sounds and works almost exactly like the version it replaces, to the point where many Mac users probably couldn't pick it out of a lineup....

"Most computer companies switch processor architectures only a little more often than human beings switch heads, and with good reason. Apple had done it back in the mid-1990s, when it moved to PowerPC chips - a prolonged, painful process with its own vocabulary of system-error messages - and Microsoft has yet to attempt it with any consumer flavor of Windows. The new iMac, however, makes this sort of brain surgery seem Band-Aid easy....

"But most Mac programs aren't yet available as 'universal' Intel-PowerPC releases. In those cases, the iMac and such other Intel-based machines as the MacBook Pro laptop due next month rely on a layer of software called Rosetta to translate PowerPC code into Intel instructions.

"Much of the time, Rosetta is invisible. Microsoft Office launched only a little slower than normal, then acted exactly as it would on a G4 or G5 Mac. The same went for a long list of other Mac programs tested. A Hewlett- Packard printer-scanner combo worked as usual, and I had no problem installing drivers for devices from HP and Epson....

"Rosetta could not, however, run demos of the games WWII Online and Doom 3 at any acceptable speed. LimeWire, a file-sharing program, and NeoOffice, a version of the OpenOffice suite, wouldn't start or crashed every time. Microsoft's Virtual PC emulation software doesn't work either. And Rosetta can't translate 'Classic' programs written for Mac OS 9 or older versions of Apple's operating system; Mac OS X actually stamps their icons with a 'forbidden' graphic....

"Don't even think of using an Intel-based Mac without a gigabyte of memory on board, not the 512 MB that would suffice on other models."

Intel Puts iMac on Steroids

BusinessWeek's Stephen H. Wildstrom says:

"The real payback of the new Intel-based Mac will be down the road when software developers have time to catch up

"The most remarkable thing about Apple Computer's newest iMac is that, even after using it for a while, it's hard to tell just how different it is from the identical-looking iMac G5 introduced last fall. Don't be deceived by the similarities. Hidden in the new iMac is a processor that will let this line of Macs grow and meet the increasing performance demands of software."

First Look at Intel iMac

Computerworld's Ken Mingis says:

"Quick Mac riddle: What looks like an iMac G5, sounds like an iMac G5 when it starts up, and feels faster than a Power Mac G5?

"Answer: The new Intel-based iMac that arrived recently from Apple Computer Inc. so I could get some hands-on time with the company's first Mactel machine - at least until those new (and newly renamed) MacBook Pro laptops arrive later this month...

"So how does the new iMac fare in regular use? This latest generation of Apple's all-in-one runs circles around its predecessor - most of the time."

New iMacs: Familiar Look Is Deceiving

Business Week's Stephen H. Wildstrom says:

"The most remarkable thing about Apple Computer's newest iMac is that even after using it for a while, it's hard to tell just how different it is from the identical-looking iMac G5 introduced last fall. Don't be deceived by the similarities. Hidden in the new iMac is a processor that will let this line of Macs grow and meet the increasing performance demands of software.

"The 17-inch (US$1,299) and 20-inch ($1,699) iMacs are all-in-one designs where the electronics are housed behind the display. These are the first Macs to hit the market using Intel chips - the Core Duo processors. A MacBook Pro notebook will be out in March, with prices starting at $1,999, to replace the 15-inch PowerBook G4....

"It's going to take software developers a while to convert their programs, especially if they take pains to optimize the code for performance on Intel's twin processors. For example, Microsoft has pledged to write a new, Intel-specific version of Office for the Mac, but it's not saying when it will be ready."

New iMac Has Hybrid Vigor

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iMac Core Duo Keyboard Problem

Hardmac's Lionel reports:

"Some users have been facing problems with the keyboard of their brand new iMac Core Duo. Randomly, but regularly, the keyboard freezes, and one needs to unplug it to solve the problem; till the next freeze."

Apple #1 in European Education

Macworld UK's Karen Haslam reports:

"Apple has confirmed that it's taken the number one spot in the western European education market.

"Apple's education market share in western Europe is now 15.2 per cent, relegating Dell, with 14.7 per cent, to second place.

"Gartner analyst Isabelle Durand confirmed: 'During the fourth quarter 2005, Apple became the number one PC vendor in the Western European Education market. The company has continued to grow very strongly (+22.4 per cent) and achieved a 15.2 per cent of market share in Q4 2005.'

"Durand also confirmed that according to Gartner figures, 'Apple market share in the UK education market during the fourth quarter 2005 was 12.5 per cent.'"

iMac Core Duo Worship

SpyMac's Kristie Masuda says:

"In the days approaching Valentine's Day, it seems it's the new iMac that everyone loves the most...

"What was already a good computer is now very close to perfect.

"Praise for Apple's recently released Intel-based iMac has been prevalent around the Web this week....

"With article titles such as 'Apple's Intel-based iMac is a Winner', 'It's iMac on Steroids' and 'iMac running on Intel is speedy', the iMac is not short of exaltation."

MacFixIt 2005 'Year of Fixes' Archive CD Now Available

PR: Last year, we introduced a new product: a CD-ROM archive of troubleshooting info published during the previous year on MacFixIt. Truth be told, we didn't really know how it would be received, but we knew we would find out pretty quickly. The response was quite clear: almost everyone who saw it wanted one, and expressed a lot of enthusiasm for the idea of us making this a regular product.

So we produced another one this year, and made it available as a premium to subscribers to the VersionTracker Pro/MacFixIt Pro Bundle. Now that that promotion is over, we are going to sell the remaining stock of CDs; they will go fast, so get your order in now.

Here's the deal: A Year of Fixes: the 2005 MacFixIt Archive CD-ROM, sells for $19.95 + shipping and handling ($2.95 for U.S. addresses, slightly higher for international addresses), and is available only through our websites. Click the blue button above (or the one below) to purchase.

The CD-ROM installs an Apple Help File on your system containing the best troubleshooting information from 2005, including:

  • All of the Special Reports
  • All of the Troubleshooting Reports
  • All of the Tutorials and Mini-Tutorials
  • All of the Late-Breakers and Odds & Ends

In addition, the CD-ROM contains installers for some of the most useful shareware/freeware troubleshooting apps from last year:

Products

Kanguru QuickSilver High Speed SATA/USB 2.0 Hard Drive

PR: The Kanguru QuickSilver features the latest in external hard drive technology with cutting edge SATA connectivity for the fastest throughput. The QuickSilver can take on your most demanding data transfer tasks with ease! Video streaming, photo editing and production, large-scale database access, the QuickSilver can do it all! As an added feature it also comes equipped with USB 2.0 for quick and easy connectivity to PCs and Macs without SATA ports.

Key Features

  • Various Capacity drive
  • USB 2.0 & eSATA Combo Interface
  • Supports SATA 1.5 Gb/s
  • Newly Designed Alloy case allows for better heat dissipation
  • Vibrant Blue Kanguru LED
  • Can be setup Horizontally or Vertically
  • User friendly setup
  • Lightweight and Durable Design
  • Plug and Play compatible
  • Hot swappable
  • Custom Carrying Case
  • Windows 98/98SE/ME/2000/XP & Mac OS 10.2 and later compatible

Package Includes

  • 1 - Kanguru QuickSilver
  • 1 - USB 2.0 Cable
  • 1 - eSATA Cable
  • 1 - Base Station
  • 1 - eSATA External Port
  • 1 - AC Power Supply (required)
  • 1 - Driver and Manual CD
  • 1 - User registration form

Price: $139.95

Plextor Hard Drive Offers Print Server, FTP, Back-up, and Security

PR: Plextor Corp., a leading developer and manufacturer of high-performance digital media equipment, today announced the PX-EH family of Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices. Available in two capacities - 250 GB and 400 GB - the external hard disk drives (HDD) are designed to allow multiple users to share data with fast performance assured by a high-speed processor and UltraDMA 133 HDD technology.

Plextor PX-EH seriesThe Plextor PX-EH series of NAS devices are designed for professionals and small businesses that require extra data storage capacity and easy backup capability. In addition to providing instantly accessible shared storage across the network, the devices include a print server that can share a USB-connected printer. Other built-in functions include an automated backup scheduler, administrative security, and the ability to configure the device as a dedicated FTP server. Throughput for FTP transfers is a fast 94.5 Mbps, compared to 60-85 Mbps for comparable products.

The Plextor PX-EH Network Attached Storage devices are compatible with both Microsoft Windows and Apple Macintosh operating systems. Users enjoy silent operation thanks to the heat-releasing aluminum case and convection cooling design, which eliminates the need for a noisy fan. Set up is easy for customers with a DHCP server - just connect to the network and power up the unit.

"As a leader in the data storage market, Plextor's mission is to help users secure and make the most of their valuable data," said Pete Schwartz, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development. "Plextor has now expanded its product lineup to include professional network hard disk drives. This product line extension complements our award-winning family of optical disk drives and gives our customers more choices for data storage applications."

The Plextor PX-EH Network Attached Storage device family is shipping to distributors in North and South America on March 1st. The PX-EH25, with 250 GB capacity, has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $299. The PX-EH40L, with 400 GB capacity, has a MSRP of $449. All retail packages include two-year full warranty and unlimited toll-free technical support.

Software

SheepShaver PowerPC Emulator Brings Classic to Intel Macs

PR: SheepShaver is an Open Source PowerPC MacOS run-time environment. That is, it enables you to run PowerPC Classic MacOS software on your computer, even if you are using a different operating system. However, you still need a copy of Mac OS and a Power Macintosh ROM image to use this program. SheepShaver is distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL).

If you are using a PowerPC-based system, applications will run at native speeds (i.e. without any emulation involved). On other systems, SheepShaver provides the first PowerPC G4 emulator, though without MMU, to enable the execution of MacOS Classic. Performance with the current CPU emulator using basic just-in-time (JIT) translation techniques is roughly 1/8-th of native speeds.

The following platforms are currently supported: Linux (i386, ppc, x86_64), MacOS X (i386, ppc), Darwin, NetBSD 2.0, FreeBSD 5.3 and Windows for x86. Please note that I am pretty careless of the Windows version since I am not a Windows developer. You are heartily invited to join the effort!

FLASH: Port to MacOS X for Intel

An experimental port to Mac OS X 10.4.4 for Intel is now available. Please see the file README.html included in the distribution for details.

Features:

  • SheepShaver runs Mac OS 7.5.2 thru Mac OS 9.0.4
  • PowerPC G4 emulation on non-PowerPC platforms, direct execution otherwise
  • Basic but portable JIT engine (x86, x86_64, mips)
  • Copy and paste of text between Mac OS and the host OS
  • File exchange with the host OS via a Unix icon on the Mac desktop
  • Color video display with support for run-time resolution switching
  • Run-time depth switching from 1 bpp to current host depth settings
  • Native QuickDraw 2D acceleration for BitBlt and FillRect operations
  • CD-quality stereo sound output
  • Networking: SheepShaver supports Internet and LAN networking via Ethernet and PPP with all Open Transport compatible MacOS applications

If you are using a PowerPC-based system, applications will run at native speeds (i.e., without any emulation involved). On other systems, SheepShaver provides the first PowerPC G4 emulator, though without MMU, to enable the execution of Mac OS Classic. Performance with the current CPU emulator using basic just-in-time (JIT) translation techniques is roughly 1/8-th of native speeds.

The following platforms are currently supported: Linux (i386, ppc, x86_64), MacOS X (i386, ppc), Darwin, NetBSD 2.0, FreeBSD 5.3 and Windows for x86. Please note that I am pretty careless of the Windows version since I am not a Windows developer. You are heartily invited to join the effort!

System requirements: Mac OS X 10.2.8 or later.

System support: PPC, Intel support in testing

SheepShaver is free.

Desktop Mac Deals

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

For more deals on current, recently discontinued, and older notebooks, see our MacBook Pro deals, 12" PowerBook G4 deals, 15" aluminum PowerBook G4 deals, 17" PowerBook G4 deals, titanium PowerBook G4 deals, iBook G4 deals, PowerBook G3 deals, and iBook G3 deals.

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