Mac News Review

OS X 10.4.5 Fixes Front Row Video Glitch on Intel iMac, Mac mini Inside an SE/30,'I'm Not Buying a Mac', and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2006.02.17

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

Apple Releases Mac OS X 10.4.5 Update

PR: Apple has released the Mac OS X 10.4.5 Update, which is recommended by Apple for all users and includes general operating system fixes, as well as specific fixes for the following applications and technologies:

  • iChat video conferencing
  • Safari rendering of web pages
  • usability of Dashboard and widgets
  • viewing of QuickTime streaming media behind a firewall
  • printing to some Epson printer models
  • iDisk and Portable Home Directory syncing
  • time zone and daylight savings for 2006 and 2007
  • VPN connections to Cisco servers when using NAT
  • using and mounting Windows formatted storage devices
  • compatibility with third party applications and devices
  • previous standalone security updates

This time, the incremental "Delta" updater, if you already have version 10.4.4 installed, is a modest 16 MB, but the Combo updater for upgrading earlier versions of Tiger is a whopping 125 MB.

The Delta update installer updates Mac OS X 10.4.4 to 10.4.5.

The Mac OS X 10.4.5 Update (combo) updates Mac OS X 10.4, 10.4.1, 10.4.2, 10.4.3, or 10.4.4 to version 10.4.5 on both Intel-based Macs and PowerPC-based Macs.

There are two ways to update to Mac OS X 10.4.5: Use Software Update or the standalone installer. You only need to use one of these methods to update your computer.

Automatic Software Update

Software Update, located in the Apple menu, will automatically download the latest Apple software. (Software Update might have linked you to this article to learn more about the update.) Note that the update's size may vary from computer to computer when installed using Software Update. Some updates must be installed prior to others, soyou may need to run Software Update more than once to get all of the available updates.

Standalone installer

Download the update installer and run it manually. This a useful option when you need to update multiple computers but only want to download the update once. Two versions of the standalone installer are available from Apple Downloads: a delta and combo at these links:

The OS 10.4.5 Delta Updater (only for updating OS 10.4.4 to 10.4.5 - 16MB) can be downloaded here:

http://www.apple.com/support/downloads/macosxupdate1045.html

The OS 10.4.5 Combo Updater (updates Mac OS X 10.4, 10.4.1, 10.4.2, 10.4.3, and 10.4.4 to 10.4.5. - 125MB ) can be downloaded here:

http://www.apple.com/support/downloads/macosxupdate1045combo.html

OS X 10.4.5 Fixes Front Row Video Glitch on Intel-based iMac

TechWeb.com's Gregg Keizer reports:

"Apple has fixed a well-publicized video glitch plaguing Front Row software running on its new Intel-based iMac machines. The fix comes in the form of an update to Apple's Mac OS X (aka Tiger), which revs the OS to version 10.4.5.

"The update had been anticipated by many Mac experts, who had said the issue was software related, rather than hardware based."

Link: Apple Fixes Intel-based iMac Video Problem

Mac mini Living Inside an SE/30

Mac mini inside SE/30 Mac mini inside SE/30

Mac OS X running on a Mac mini inside an SE/30Mac mini's optical drive accessible in SE/30 caseGizmodo reports:

"Thanks to the Mac mini, Apples are no longer getting the cold shoulder by case modders. A Japanese fellow put a Mac mini inside of an old-school Macintosh SE/30. Best of all, he managed to get the grayscale monitor to work with the Mini's DVI connection...."

iMac Core Duo Sometimes 'Twice as Fast' as iMac G5

Barefeats' Rob Art Morgan says:

"February 9th, 2006 - Our initial Doom 3 chart only showed a 83% gain of the iMac Core Duo 2.0 over the previous model of iMac (G5/2.1). That was at Medium Quality with Dynamic Shadowing disabled (1024 x 768). When we re-tested both models at High Quality with Dynamic Shadowing enabled, the iMac Core Do was 129% faster or '2.3 times' the frame rate of the previous model - just as Apple showed on their graph...."

'I'm Not Buying a Mac'

Reason Gone Mad's Bill Shein says:

"Look, you can pester me all you want, mock my stubbornness, and even point at me and laugh, but one thing is certain: I'm not buying a Mac.

"For more than 20 years, I have used only MS-DOS- and Windows-based computers. During that time, I have purchased enough Microsoft software to feed a small family for a year - assuming that I could somehow transform 600-page manuals and stacks of 3.5-inch floppy disks and those annoying 'Certificates of Authenticity' into edible human nourishment.

"To date, I have endured 1.4 million system crashes, watched 19,874 word processing documents vanish into the ether - many of which would certainly have won prestigious literary prizes - and directed 455,391 expletives at 'Bill Gates' and 'Michael Dell' and 'any human being remotely involved in the creation of this hideous device.'

"Despite all this, every few years I replace my outdated PC with a new one. 'I already know how to do everything on a PC,' I say, echoing the most popular explanation for not switching to Apple."

"...I've had enough. If the only way to get you Mac people off my back is to go to apple.com, navigate the simple e-commerce interface, assemble the computer of my dreams, enter some credit card information, click 'Buy,' and then wait for FedEx to deliver my sleek new computer, well, fine. That's what I'll do."

Link: I'm Not Buying a Mac

iMac Core Duo 'Simply the Best'

The Detroit Free Press's Mike Wendland says:

"Apple's new iMac running the new Intel Core Duo microprocessor is the finest, most reliable, stable, elegant and intuitive personal computer available anywhere.

"There. I don't think I could say it any clearer....

"This new iMac, which marks the first time Apple has used Intel chips to power its machines, is simply astounding. As multimedia and digital entertainment becomes more mainstream, you will find no other machines as well suited to create, edit and display audio and video materials."

Link: Apple iMac Is Simply the Best

No iPod Dock for Intel Mac mini

The Register's Tony Smith reports:

"Upcoming Intel-based Mac minis will not sport an integrated iPod dock, a variety of sources said to be familiar with Apple's plans have claimed. Such a move was predicted late last year, with the precedent of discoveries made in March 2005 that the computer had the internal connections necessary for a built-in dock."

Link: Apple Drops Intel Mac mini's Built-in iPod Dock

When Tech Reviews Go Bad

connectedhomemag.com's Paul Thurrott says:

"For the past year or so, I've been pondering methods for writing addendums to my reviews of software products, hardware, and services. The problem is that we live in an interconnected world, and everyone expects to find reviews of new products on their favorite Web sites as soon as possible. In many cases, I'm able to work with companies such as Dell, Lenovo/ThinkPad, and Microsoft to ensure that I have early access to products so that my reviews can be timely but also benefit from actual real-world experience. In other cases - Apple is a typical example - the companies involved are secretive about new products.... I face other concerns. If I spend a few weeks with a new Apple iMac, a digital camera, or a laptop, and I experience no problems at all, it's to be expected that my review would be positive. But fairly often, problems begin to crop up with these products over time. And although I haven't settled on a method for recording such problems, they've often accumulated to the point at which I wish I could change an existing review to reflect the problems I've experienced. I think of these changes, or addendums, as my response to problems that have occurred '28 Days Later,' in honor of the movie of the same name. In that film, a virus appears to wipe out most of humanity, destroying society and forcing the few healthy remaining humans to fight for their survival. That's pretty much how I feel after a review goes bad.

"Let me give you a few examples. Recently, I reviewed Apple's stunning iMac Core Duo here in Connected Home Express...."

Link: Intel iMac 28 Days Later: When Tech Reviews Go Bad

Can the mini Pack a Giant Punch?

SpyMac's Michael Simon says:

"To be a real success, the Mac mini needs to be marketed as a capable, full-figured Mac, not a glorified iPod for Internet surfers.

"As I read through AppleInsider's report yesterday that Apple had scrapped plans to include an iPod dock on its Intel-based Mac mini, I found myself wondering two things: 1) why would anyone want a dock protruding from their computer; and 2) whatever happened to the mini?

"Back when it was unveiled at Macworld San Francisco in January 2005, it had so much promise....

"But in the 13 months of its existence, it's been largely ignored by its creator....

"Now, it's been more than a year, and the Mac mini has only seen an 80MHz speed bump, and that's only on some of the models.

"So what happened?"

Coming Next to the Mac: Linux and Windows?

Computerworld's Eric Lai says:

"Momentum is building, albeit unevenly, to bring alternate operating systems to the Intel-based Macintosh computers that Apple Computer recently released. Despite a lack of encouragement from Apple, operating system vendors and enthusiasts are working to make Linux or Windows run with the Mac OS X already installed on the latest Apple iMacs and MacBook Pro laptops. The iMacs are available now; the new laptops are due out later this month. Both of the 'Mactel' lines sport Core Duo processors from Intel.

"Mandriva, the third-largest Linux distributor, said its version of Linux is already compatible with the 32-bit dual-core Centrino processors....

"Canonical, which is behind the fast-rising Ubuntu Linux distribution, said that despite current technical hangups, a Mactel-compatible version of Ubuntu could be available within the next eight months....

"Interest is also growing among Windows users, who cite the operating system's unparalleled selection of software and want to port it to run on Apple's stylish hardware. A Microsoft spokesman confirmed that neither Windows Vista nor XP will work 'out of the box' with the MacIntels. The reason, said Microsoft, is because Apple decided not to install a piece of firmware optional to EFI called a Compatibility Support Module that was available from Intel."

Link: Coming Next to the Mac: Linux and Windows?

Products

miniStack V2 Makes a Good Drive Enclosure Even Better

PR: Other World Computing (OWC) and Newer Technology Inc. (NewerTech) have announced the highly anticipated immediate retail availability of the miniStack™ V2, the 2006 upgrade to the award-winning miniStack computer enhancement storage solution.

The newly upgraded NewerTech miniStack V2 is engineered to increase drive capacity 80- to 500GB while adding integrated 2-Port FireWire and 3-Port USB 2.0/1.1 powered hubs that are ergonomically divided between rear and side configurations.

Although designed to maximize the Apple Mac mini, the NewerTech miniStack works with any Apple or PC computer with an available FireWire or USB port including any iMac, iMac Intel, mini PC, desktop PC, or portable MacBook Pro (Intel), iBook, notebook, or PowerBook.

The NewerTech miniStack was named Accessory of the Year by 123Macmini, Editors' Choice by MacAddict, and Top Product by Macworld in 2005.

OWC and NewerTech premiered the new 2006 sleek upgraded miniStack V2 design at the Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco and the Showstoppers media event at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

"The NewerTech miniStack V2 is more than a new design, it's a newer design from NewerTech. The miniStack V2 is an improvement on a revolutionary NewerTech design that has already been proven to be one of the most valuable storage solutions available," says Larry O'Connor, CEO of OWC.

The NewerTech miniStack V2 retails for $135.99 for an 80 GB version and is available in capacities up to 500GB at 7200RPM. An economical "add your own hard drive" kit is available for $79.95. The advantageous dimensions of the NewerTech miniStack are 6.5" x 6.5" x 1.5".

NewerTech also offers a full line of accessories and professional installation services.

The NewerTech miniStack V2 is available through Other World Computing and other fine retailers.

Logitech's White Cordless Desktop Laser Keyboard/Mouse Combo

PR: Logitech has released the Cordless Desktop S 530 Laser - a cordless keyboard and mouse combo designed especially for the Mac mini.

Cordless Desktop S 530 LaserLogitech Cordless Desktop S 530 Laser for Mac Features:

  • USB
  • Cordless
  • Multimedia Control
  • Zero Degree Tilt
  • Scroll wheel
  • Internet Forward/Back
  • Audio Control
  • Right-Handed Comfort Grip
  • Laser Technology

Designed specifically for your Mac, the Cordless Desktop S 530 Laser includes a comfortable ultra-flat keyboard and a high-performance laser mouse. The stylish white and silver design perfectly matches both consumer and pro Macs.

Dedicated One-Touch Controls for Your Mac

The one-touch controls on the Cordless Desktop S 530 Mac have been specifically designed to work with iTunes and iPhoto, giving you instant access to your music and photos. Dedicated keys launch Safari, Mail, Spotlight, or any other application with a single press. And all direct-access keys can be easily reprogrammed with the included software.

Ergonomic Low-Profile, Zero-Degree Tilt Design

The great styling of the keyboard is matched by the outstanding quality and feel of the Logitech typing experience. Delivering maximum comfort through unique design, this ultra-flat keyboard is less than 3/4" (19 mm) high to minimize wrist extension, and the built-in palm rest provides added convenience.

Sculpted Laser Mouse for Superior Comfort and Precision

The sculpted right-handed mouse follows the natural shape of your hand and delivers outstanding comfort. Logitech´s High Performance Laser tracking delivers pixel-precise navigation on virtually any surface. The innovative Tilt Wheel lets you scroll pages top-to-bottom or side-to-side. Five re-programmable buttons let you control volume and web browser back and forward without taking your hand off the mouse.

Extended Battery Life

Sophisticated battery management technologies mean that batteries last up to 6 months, or even longer! Both keyboard and mouse include convenient LED battery level indicators. When flashing, the LED gives approximately ten days´ notice before batteries need changing. Additionally, the mouse features an on/off switch to further extend battery life.

USB Mini-Receiver for Added Flexibility

The USB mini-receiver plugs easily into any Mac with a USB port, eliminating clutter on your desk. If you use a PowerBook or iBook, you also have the option of easily taking the mouse and mini-receiver with you when you´re on the go!

Included USB stand

For improved range or better accessibility, the included USB stand sits neatly on your desktop.

System Requirements

  • Mac OS X 10.2.8 or above
  • 1 available USB port
  • CD-ROM drive
  • Logitech S 530 cordless keyboard for Mac
  • Logitech MX 600 cordless laser mouse
  • USB mini-receiver
  • USB desk stand
  • 2 AAA (keyboard) and 2 AA (mouse) batteries
  • CD with software, comfort guidelines, and help center
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Five-year limited hardware warranty

Price: $99.99

Link: Cordless Desktop S 530 Laser

RadTech Hard Drives Feature 64-bit Hardware-based Encryption

PR: The Enova X-Wall engine provides real-time, hardware-based encryption and decryption. X-Wall shuttles encrypted data as fast as a standard enclosure.

RadTech driveUnlike easily circumvented and platform dependant software-based encryption, Impact enclosures strong encrypt (DES) every bit and byte on the hard drive. The included Secure Token is a physical key which must be present to read from, or write to the drive. Without the secure key, the drive and its data are rendered useless and unreadable - 2 keys are included with each enclosure.

Impact 2.5in Encrypted HDD Enclosure

Ruggedized mobile storage enclosures combine multi-layer hardware protection and secure 64-bit data encryption.

Impact ruggedized storage enclosures provide the ultimate physical and thermal protection for your valuable data. Protection starts with Impact's tough, yet lightweight heat-dissipating 1mm thick extruded 6075 Aluminum alloy shell. The tubular shell features 2mm thick, full-length stiffening runners, providing exceptional load-bearing capibilities and physical crush resistance.

A full-length bridgeboard features anti-shock damper strips and is suspended within the enclosure by full-length radial Aluminum stand-off ribs. An array of self-limiting shoulder screws are provided to prevent stripped screw guides and properly load the shock-absorbing damper strips. This arrangement forms an effective anti-shock chamber, further guarding the HDD and electronics from impact and crush damage.

Self-aligning guide rails and a high profile IDE connector assure hassle-free installation of virtually all 2.5 inch Hard Disk Drives. Horizontally stackable or vertically standable via the included rubber-footed base, Impact enclosures deliver the flexibility you need to be productive.

Easy Set-up: Installing your Hard Disk Drive into the Impact enclosure is fast and easy.

All hardware and high-quality connection cables are included

A #0 and #1 Phillips screwdriver are required (not included) to access the enclosure and mount your drive.

Features:

  • Maximum physical, thermal and encrypted data protection with top-speed data transfer performance.
  • Certified by the National Institute of Standards & Technology and the Canadian Security Establishment
  • Rugged extruded Aluminum enclosure provides exceptional crush and impact protection.
  • Heat dissipating design keeps hard drives running cool - extending their lifespan.
  • Easy HDD installation - all hardware and high-quality connection cables included.
  • Stack horizontally, or stand vertically using included stand base.
  • All Impact models are fully boot capable for Mac OS 9 and 10.
  • Front panel-mounted status LED provides positive visual feedback.
  • Non-encrypted models also available

Model 2.5in USB 2.0 Encrypted 2.5in USB 2.0 & FireWire 800 Encrypted

Features

  • Supports Hi-Speed USB data transfer speed of up to 480Mbps, and FireWire 800 data transfer speed up to 800Mbps.
  • Allows driverless installation as a USB Mass Storage Class device under Windows XP, 2000 and ME.
  • Supports most 2.5â€? HDDs, and ultra high capacity HDDs larger than 137GB.
  • Connects easily with plug-n-play.
  • Combines enclosure and 1394 repeater functionality.
  • Enables 1394 bus power via built-in DC-DC converter.
  • Maximizes thermal protection with Aluminum construction.
  • Provides robust HDD fixing mechanism to reduce risk of HDD damage during movement.
  • Prevents drop damage to HDD with anti-shock design.
  • Supports DES hardware encryption security.

Specifications

  • Bridge Chipset:
    • Cypress EZ-USBAT2+ ENOVA X-WALL LX (encryption)
    • Oxford UF922 ENOVA X-WALL LX (encryption)
  • Bus Interface:
    • USB 2.0 Port: 12Mb/480Mbps
    • IEEE 1394b (FireWire 800) port: 100/200/400/800 Mbps
  • Connectors:
    • One USB mini-B receptacle
    • One security key receptacle in 6-pin 1394a form
    • One USB mini-B receptacle
    • Two 9-pin 1394b connectors
  • IDE Standard Compliant with ATA-6
  • LBA-48 Bit (large capacity 137 GB)
  • UDMA: 66/100/133 models
  • HED Support ATA-6, 9.5mm high 2.5" HDD
  • LED Power on/Security Error/Access
  • Power Supply 5V/2A Full Range AC Adapter or Bus Power from Host via Y-cable 5V/2A 110V - 240V Full Range AC Adapter or 1394 Bus Power
  • Dimensions: (L x W x H) 130 x 83 x 23 mm 148 x 83 X 23 mm
  • Weight: (w/o HDD) 210g 240g
  • Certifications
    • NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology)
    • CSE (Canadian Security Establishment)
    • FCC/CE

System Requirements

  • Mac - Macintosh PowerPC processor
    • Mac OS 9.X or higher
    • Macintosh PowerPC processor
    • One available USB port or IEEE 1394b port
  • PC
    • 266Mhz or Faster CPU
    • 64MB of RAM
    • Microsoft Windows 98SE, ME, 2000, XP
    • One Available USB port or IEEE 1394b port

Mac OS:

  • To operate HDD enclosure via USB2.0, Mac OS X 10.3, or 10.1.5/10.2.x with USB 2.0 driver installed is required to support high speed USB2.0. Mac OS 9.x supports full speed only. Mac OS supports USB 2.0 driver since Mac OS X 10.2.8.
  • Connection of HDD enclosure via FireWire cable requires FireWire HDD enclosures support driver. Mac OS 8.6 users may need to download FireWire support driver in order to access HDD enclosure.
  • Operation of HDD enclosure via FireWire 800 (1394b) requires Mac OS X 10.2.4 or newer to support FireWire 800 speed.

RadTech Impact 2.5in Encrypted HDD Enclosure

Standard and Encrypted Hard Drive Enclosures in both Firewire 800/400 and USB 2.0 models. Features two sizes and internal shock absorber.

Impact Secure Hard Drive Enclosure 2.5in Encrypted Specs:

  • Material: Extruded 6075 Aluminum
  • Enclosure Wall Thickness: 1-2mm
  • Dimensions: 148 x 83 x 23mm
  • Weight: 240g w/o HDD
  • Power Source: Bus or Ext 5VDC Source
  • HDD Supported: ATA-6 2.5in x 9.5mm
  • Bus Interfaces: USB1/2 & FW400 or 800
  • Bus Ports:
    • 1 - USB mini-B
    • 2 - 9-pin 1394b (FW800)
  • Data Transfer Speeds:
  • USB1: ² 12 Mb/s USB2: ² 480 Mb/s
  • FW800: ² 800 Mb/s
  • Power Supply Input: 110-240VAC 50-60Hz
  • Power Supply Output: 5VDC-2A
  • Product of Taiwan

Price: $59.95 - $99.95

Link: RadTech Encrypted Hard Drives Feature 64-bit Hardware-Based Encryption

Software

USB Overdrive X Universal Binary USB Device Driver

PR: Take full advantage of any USB mouse, trackball, joystick, or gamepad

The USB Overdrive X is a device driver for Mac OS X (Jaguar, Panther and Tiger) that handles any USB mouse, trackball, joystick and gamepad from any manufacturer and lets you configure them either globally or on a per-application basis.

It reads all kinds of wheels, buttons, switches and controls and supports scrolling, keyboard emulation, launching and all the usual stuff like clicking, control-clicking and so forth. The USB Overdrive can easily handle several USB devices at once.

The Classic version of the USB Overdrive has most of the features of the Mac OS X version when used in Mac OS 9, and enables scrolling with the mouse wheel when installed in the Classic environment under Mac OS X 10.2 or later.

Bluetooth support and the native Preference Pane are almost ready. I know you've been waiting for over two years and they are still not released- sorry about that. Family sometimes comes first. But I've been working on the Overdrive all along and I won't stop doing so.

Next on the list are interface improvements, support for multiple devices, better mouse speed and acceleration, chording, and so forth.

Now supports Intel-based Macs and Apple's Mighty Mouse

The new Universal Binary version of the USB Overdrive fully supports Apple's new Intel-based machines.

Bluetooth support and a native Preference Pane are coming soon (I know I said that before, but other things have kept me busy for a while).

New in version 10.4.5 (February 2006):

  • workaround added for Mac OS X 10.4.5 loading problem on Intel

New in version 10.4.4 (January 2006):

  • universal binary for Intel-based macs
  • better support for left-handed Mighty Mouse configurations
  • added specific support for Logitech MX-518 and G5 mice

System requirements: Mac OS X 10.2.8 or later

System support: PPC/Intel

$20 shareware

Previous releases are available for Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X 10.1.

Link: USB Overdrive X

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