Mac News Review

Mac mini vs. $159 Linspire PC and Microsoft Media Center, OS X Through Linux Eyes, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2006.03.17

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

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News & Opinion

Mac mini Compared to $159 Linspire PC

Mac 360's Alexis Kayhill reports:

"Recent news about security hacks on OS X should have us on guard against grabber headlines, right? We can't help ourselves. We're suckers for screaming headlines.

"Now PC Magazine is in the act with 'Your Next PC Will Cost $159.' That's an implied assumption, if I've ever heard one. How can an iPod nano cost more than a 'fully equipped' PC?

"Remember that the iPod comes fully equipped. Even at $599, Apple's hot-selling Mac mini needs a keyboard, a mouse, and a monitor (not to mention a little more RAM).

"How should I react to a headline that screams, 'Your Next PC Will Cost $159.' A healthy dose of skepticism is a good start."

Link: Compared: Intel Mac mini to $159 Fry's Linspire PC

Intel-powered Mac mini Might Make You Switch

The Chicago Tribune's Eric Gwinn reports:

"Now that Apple's newest Mac mini sports a super fast Intel chip, Windows users may be thinking again about switching.

"The chip, coupled with the sleek Mac OS X Tiger operating system, will win you over if all you do is surf the Web, check your e-mail, download music and write Microsoft Word reports.

"The Mac is great for making your own music, movies and visual art, but steer clear if you play games and do a lot of business-y stuff with Windows computers. Most computer programs are aimed at the huge PC market, with versions for the Mac coming as cobbled-together afterthoughts, if at all."

Link: Intel-powered Mac mini Might Make You Switch

Mac mini vs. Microsoft Media Center

crave.cnet.co.uk reports:

"Microsoft has been desperate to claim the living-room as its trophy wife, but a series of attempts to nail the Media Center concept have largely failed. Noisy PCs with fans blaring don't really appeal to many of us.

"After a hard day at work, slaving in the sickly glow of an Excel spreadsheet, the last thing you want to do when you get home is run a spyware removal tool and edit the registry before you can get Shrek to play. Still, Microsoft was the only real option last year.

"We've decided to pit Microsoft's Media Center offerings against Apple's new Intel Core Duo Mac Mini. A newcomer to the PVR scene, the dual-core Mac Mini is no bigger than a Bible (indeed some Mac fans will consider it thus), and capable of running full 1080i high-definition video. It also comes with a bundled remote control. The Mini is practically fanless. Although a small fan will audibly kick in if things get very hot, in normal operation it's almost silent."

Link: Mac mini vs. Microsoft Media Center: Round 1

Apple Discontinues 20" iMac G5

The Register's Tony Smith reports:

"Bid farewell to the PowerPC-based iMac G5, ladies and gentlemen. Apple has dropped the 20in model from its online stores in the UK, Europe and Japan, though the machine remains on sale in the US. Not for long though, we'd guess.

"Apple pulled the 17in iMac G5 early in February, almost a month after introducing the Intel-based models in January. By the end of February, the 15in PowerBook G4 was gone from the retail site, and early this month the PowerPC G4-based Mac mini was dropped too."

Link: Apple Drops 20in iMac G5 in the UK, Europe and Japan

The Macintosh Through Linux Eyes

Linux Box Admin says:

"In twenty odd years of working with computers, I never owned an Apple computer. Frankly, until OS X, I was never interested. But the BSD underpinnings of OS X got my attention. The Mac finally got a 'real' operating system. It was interesting enough that several years after it debuted, I purchased my first Apple computer on eBay, a Mac mini, to dig a little deeper into the OS. Not only did Apple do something right with OS X, but it was smart marketing to introduce a cheap Mac that worked with PC hardware....

"The first thing that struck me was that all the hardware worked (with one minor exception) . . . As a Linux user, I am used to spending time to get all my desktop hardware to work. The Mac seemed to work better with my PC hardware than Windows; without endless, conflicting drivers and reboots....

"The second thing that struck me was that every Apple software application worked as advertised....

"Finally, the hardware was elegant....

"What matters most (to me) is the shell environment and the excellent selection of tools that are pre-installed. After firing up Terminal.app, the default terminal emulator, I was a surprised to find Bash as the default shell instead of a BSDish Csh or Tcsh. I was also surprised to find SSH and my favorite text editor, nano, ready to go. Once I customized the startup scripts (I had to modify /etc/bashrc to tell it to source $HOME/.bashrc), I felt right at home....

"The speed that I was able to become productive on OS X caused me to reflect a little about operating systems and my daily work . . . I will probably return to Linux on the desktop at some point, maybe with Yellow Dog on the G4 Mini. On the other hand, maybe it doesn't really matter."

Link: The Macintosh Through Linux Eyes

Apple Growing Storage Business

Smarthouse reports:

"Apple is more known for iPods than storage. But in the business market it is storage that is benefitting from a relationship with Apple.

"Given the stunning growth of iPod phenomenon and general good fiscal health of Apple, it is easy to overlook some of the progress the company is making in the business markets, especially when it comes to storage. According to some reports, Apple's storage products have been selling like hot croissants on a cold Parisian morning and at the end of 'second quarter of 2005, the company had shipped 76 petabytes of storage.' The sad part is that Apple itself doesn't keep people up to date on its progress in these markets."

Link: Apple Stacking on the Storage

Tips

Video on the Intel Mac mini

A new Apple Knowledge Base article says:

"The Mac mini (Early 2006) uses the Intel GMA 950 graphics processor for video output. This processor shares the main system memory, allocating a base amount of 80 MB for video and boot processes. This leaves 432 MB of SDRAM available to Mac OS X in a standard system (configured with 512 MB SDRAM).

"Memory available to Mac OS X may vary depending on graphics needs, as the card allocates additional memory to the graphics processor depending upon the application being used.

"For best graphics performance, your Mac mini (Early 2006) ships from Apple with two equal-sized SO-DIMMs installed, one in each slot, for each memory configuration offered from the Apple Store. If you upgrade the memory in your Mac mini (Early 2006), make sure you have matching size SO-DIMMs in each slot for best graphics performance."

Link: Mac mini (Early 2006): About the Video Processor

Reviews

20" 2 GHz iMac Core Duo vs. 1.25 GHz Mac mini G4

MacSpeedZone benchmarks the 2.0 GHz iMac Core Duo against a 1.25 GHz Mac mini built around a PowerPC G4 processor. It's slower when running PowerPC software, but lots faster with new software that supports Intel.

Read the comparison to find out how much faster.

Link: Mac Performance in the Raw - iMac Intel Core Duo 2 GHz 20" versus Mac mini G4 1.25 GHz

Products

Left Out? Logitech Introduces Cordless Laser Mouse for the Other Hand

PR: Logitech has announced the end of discrimination against the left hand. Some of the smartest and most creative people in the world favor their left hand, but they have always had to adapt to a world dominated by the right hand. While many have adapted well and become great achievers in spite of this hardship - Leonardo Da Vinci, Aristotle, Mahatmah Gandhi, Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, and Mozart, for example - left-handers finally have a choice when it comes to a computer mouse. Sculpted to fit the left hand, the Logitech MX610 Left-Hand Laser Cordless Mouse provides the same advantages afforded to the right hand, with Logitech's precision laser tracking system, advanced cordless technology, navigation controls, and email and instant message notifications.

Until now, most left-handed computer users, including Logitech president and chief executive officer Guerrino De Luca, have only had the choice of navigating with an ambidextrous-shaped mouse or unnaturally using their right hand to scroll, point, and click - which can be awkward and frustrating.

"The MX610 Left-Hand Laser Cordless Mouse is now my mouse of choice," De Luca said. "With people spending more time using a personal computer as they work, communicate and play, the comfort of a mouse has become increasingly important. Left-handers haven't had great mouse choices until now. This new mouse allows them to take advantage of the same advanced Logitech mouse technologies as our right-handed customers, while using their favored hand to make computer navigation more efficient and their experience richer."

Comfortable Design, Versatile Controls and Notifications

With contoured thumb and pinky-finger grips, the Logitech MX610 Left-Hand Laser Cordless Mouse fits naturally in the left hand. The mouse's soft-touch grips help make it more comfortable to hold over long periods of time.

A mirror image of the award-winning Logitech MX610 Laser Cordless Mouse, this versatile new mouse features 10 buttons, including e-mail and instant messaging buttons that illuminate when new messages are received within Microsoft Outlook, Windows Messenger, MSN Messenger, and Yahoo! Instant Messenger. With a wireless range of up to 30 feet, people can take the mouse as they step away from the computer, and still be notified when important messages arrives. The mouse also includes volume up, down and mute buttons for controlling music on the PC. Logitech's Tilt Wheel Plus Zoom scroll wheel allows people to effortlessly scroll left, right, up and down, and zoom in and out of images, Web pages and open documents.

Laser Tracking for Premium Performance

With Logitech's laser technology, the Logitech MX610 Left-Hand Laser Cordless Mouse tracks more precisely and will work on a wider variety of surfaces than optical mice. Logitech was the first company to introduce a mouse with laser tracking. The precise nature of laser light allows a laser mouse to see much greater surface detail than a typical optical mouse with a red light-emitting diode (LED).

Logitech 2.4 GHz Digital Cordless

The Logitech MX610 Left-Hand Laser Cordless Mouse includes a 2.4 GHz USB micro-receiver that reduces the possibility of wireless interference and latency. The receiver connects instantly with the mouse when it is plugged into a desktop or a notebook PC. As the mouse and wireless receiver send information back and forth, the mouse periodically may sense a wireless interruption or interference. In a matter of moments, the mouse seamlessly shifts the wireless channel until it finds one that is interference-free. The micro-receiver eliminates clutter created by larger corded receivers.

Smart Power Management

The Logitech MX610 Left-Hand Laser Cordless Mouse has an expected battery life of up to three months with regular use, a significant accomplishment considering its powerful Logitech MX Laser engine. The mouse achieves this long battery life by mimicking the power status of the computer to which it is connected. As it sends and receives wireless signals, the mouse can sense when the PC has gone into sleep mode or is shut down, and the mouse powers down accordingly. Also, when the mouse battery level is low - less than 10 percent of full charge - an indicator light on the mouse illuminates.

Pricing and Availability

The Logitech MX610 Left-Hand Laser Cordless Mouse will be available worldwide beginning in early April. Its suggested retail price in the US is $59.99.

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