Mac News Review

Value of AppleCare, iMac Your Car, $500 1.6 GHz Dual G4 Upgrade, Zero Tension Mouse, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2006.08.04

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

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News & Opinion

Products

iPod Accessories

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

The Value of AppleCare

PowerPage contributor Joshua Stein says:

"Do not underestimate the value of the AppleCare Protection Plan - particularly if you are going to buy a MacBook or MacBook Pro - there are just too many things that can go wrong and replacing notebooks and their parts can be very expensive.

"In 2004 I purchased a 15-inch Aluminum PowerBook 1.25 GHz and the main issue confronting me was whether or not I should purchase the AppleCare Protection Plan (APP). Buying AppleCare turns out to be one of the best purchases of my life, as some major issues began to crop up."

Note: Boy, did they! In this case, AppleCare paid off big time, but I remain a skeptic as to its value in general. cm

iMac in cariMac Your Car

BusinessWeek reports:

"A German company has developed a high-end in-car system based on an Apple iMac G5, whose entire hardware in turn is integrated into the 17-inch monitor that is only 5 centimeters thick"

Products

Sonnet Delivers $500 1.6 GHz Dual Processor Upgrade

PR: Sonnet Technologies announces the immediate availability of its new dual processor upgrade-the Encore/ST G4 Duet 1.6 GHz (Part No. SG4D-1600)-for most "Sawtooth" Power Mac G4 systems, including AGP Graphics, Gigabit Ethernet, Digital Audio and Quicksilver models. This product is Sonnet's lowest priced dual processor upgrade ever.

Encore/ST G4 DuetThis upgrade, using the latest PowerPC G4 7447A processors from Freescale Semiconductor, features 512K of SRAM on-chip L2 cache and is compatible with Mac OS 9.2, and Mac OS X Version 10.3.5 and higher. The Encore/ST G4 Duet 1.6 GHz fits seamlessly into all supported systems, and auto-configures to its host without the need for switches or jumpers. Like all Sonnet processor upgrades, this new Encore/ST G4 Duet model carries a three-year warranty and includes free technical support.

For more information on the Encore/ST G4 Duet 1.6 GHz, please visit Sonnet's website.

  • The Encore/ST G4 Duet 1.6 GHz (Part No. SG4D-1600) is available now with an MSRP of $499.95.

The price for Sonnet's fastest Encore/ST G4 Duet dual processor upgrade is as follows:

  • Encore/ST G4 Duet 1.8 GHz (Part No. SG4D-1800) at $599.95

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

  • Encore/ST G4 1.8 GHz (Part No. SG4C-1800, for Power Mac G4 Cube) at $399.95
  • Encore/ST G4 1.8 GHz (Part No. SG4-1800) at $399.95
  • Encore/ST G4 1.4 GHz (Part No. SG4-1400-2M) at $299.95
  • Encore/ST G4 1.2 GHz (Part No. SG4C-1200-2M, for Power Mac G4 Cube) at $249.95
  • Encore/ST G4 1.2 GHz (Part No. SG4-1200-2M) at $249.95
  • Encore/ST G4 1.0 GHz (Part No. SG4-1000-2M) at $199.95

Compatibility

The Encore/ST G4 Duet 1.6 GHz is compatible with the following Power Mac G4 models:

Mac OS Requirements and Compatibility

The Encore/ST G4 Duet 1.6 GHz requires Mac OS 9.2 for software installation and firmware updating. OS X compatibility requires Mac OS X Version 10.3.5 or later.

Zero Tension Mouse

PR: A few years ago Dr. Michael Leahy defined the cumulative injury cycle and explained why soft tissues like nerves and muscles became injured with repetitive motion. Until this time the standard treatments were ultrasound, electrical stimulation, massage and nerve and muscle stretching. In general the problem was not resolved.

three sizesThen came Active Release Techniques and all of a sudden surgeries were no longer needed and in general the problems were fixed in short order. Dr. Leahy then worked on how to prevent repetitive motion injuries from happening. He formulated the law of repetitive motion and defined the four factors involved in these injuries. The one factor that could be minimized was tension on the tissues or "relaxation" of the muscles. If the muscles could be relaxed during the activity but still maintain function then the problem could be avoided and the employer would still be happy with production.

With the Zero Tension Mouse all of the muscles of the hand, arm and shoulder/neck can relax and, it is claimed, do so more effectively than with any other device in the world. In fact, nothing else comes close.

Let's start with the hand. When the hand is completely relaxed the fingers flex and the hand is half way between a fist and completely straight. This balances the tension between the flexors and extensors of the fingers. When the flexors are tight they can trap the median nerve and cause what is commonly but erroneously called "carpal tunnel syndrome." When the extensors are too tight they can cause epicondylitis or "tennis elbow." They can even trap the radial nerve and cause numbness in the hand. In order to prevent this the hand must be positioned so that it is not too straight and not closed too tight.

The Zero Tension Mouse exactly balances the flexors and extensors so that they can relax. A regular mouse causes the extensors to tighten in order to hold the fingers slightly above the mouse buttons. They are under slight tension all the time which causes the cumulative injury effect.

Next the wrist. With a regular mouse the wrist is usually extended slightly. This is not a major problem but the tension on the wrist extensors to maintain this position is definitely a problem. The Zero Tension Mouse eliminates this problem by placing the wrist in neutral between flexion and extension. It also places the wrist upright instead of flat so that the wrist extensors can relax instead of tightening to maintain position.

Zero Tension MouseThe wrist is upright instead of flat in order to balance the pronators and supinator. These muscles turn the palm up and down and in a regular mouse they twist the wrist palm down so that all three muscles are tight. Over time this becomes a significant problem causing that all too familiar syndrome called "carpal tunnel."

The thumb becomes a problem with mouse devices that require the thumb to be in position over a ball or multiple position switch that goes back and forth. These cause the muscles that extend or move the thumb sideways to tighten. These muscles don't tolerate this for very long and quickly become painful. The Zero Tension Mouse avoids this by giving it a special place to rest and relax. When scrolling a page, if desired, you can move the thumb onto the scroll wheel and move it up and down then rest the thumb next to the scroll wheel when done.

Probably the most important feature of the Zero Tension Mouse is its ability to relax the shoulder and neck. With a regular mouse the weight of the arm and shoulder is supported by the trapezius and levator scapulae muscles. The scalenes also tighten as the shoulder is supported. This is because you cannot rest the weight of the arm and shoulder on the mouse while using it. Almost everyone has felt that "burning" in the muscles between the neck and shoulder after using a regular mouse for any length of time. This causes damage to the tissues that builds up over time.

The Zero Tension Mouse allows you to rest the arm and shoulder on the cradle for the hand. If you keep the mouse relatively close to the body the entire arm, shoulder and neck will relax. The developer claims that most people feel an instant relief when switching to the Zero Tension Mouse.

buttonsSystem Requirements for the Zero Tension Mouse:

For a Apple Macintosh-based computer

One of the following operating systems:

  • Mac OS 8.6 to 9.2.2
  • Mac OS X 10.0 to 10.1.3
  • Mac OS X 10.2 to 10.3.x

An available Universal Serial Bus (USB) port

For a Microsoft Windows-based computer

One of the following operating systems:

  • Windows 98 or Windows Millennium Edition (Me) with a Pentium 133 MHz or higher processor and 32 MB of RAM
  • Windows 2000 Professional or Server with a Pentium 133 MHz or higher processor and 128 MB of RAM
  • Windows XP Home Edition or Professional with a Pentium 233 MHz or higher processor and 128 MB of RAM

An available Universal Serial Bus (USB) port

This mouse does not work with a PS2/USB connector!

(USB requires Windows 98, Windows Millennium Edition, Windows 2000, or Windows XP)

NOTE: This mouse will not work with Windows 95 or Windows NT.

Features:

  • Right and Left Mouse Buttons
  • Scroll Wheel Button
  • Compatible with all USB-enabled computers
  • Digital Optical Tracking

Dimensions: (small)

  • Height: 3.5"
  • Width: 2.75"
  • Depth: 4.75"

Dimensions: (medium & large)

  • Height: 4.5"
  • Width: 3.4"
  • Depth: 5.6"

Price: US$79.95/C$100 (available only in right-handed models)

ToughTech XE Drive Enclosure with eSATA, FireWire 800, and USB 2.0

ToughTech portsPR: WiebeTech's popular ToughTech desktop enclosure is now available with four ports: eSATA, dual FireWire 800 (400 compatible), and USB 2.0 over a screaming fast Oxford 924 bridge. The 924 outperforms the 922 in FireWire and USB, making the new ToughTech XE the all around most connectable and fastest ToughTech available.

ToughTech XE provides FlexMount anti-shock protection for any 3.5" SATA drive and fully supports SATA 1 and 2 drives with transfer rates up to 1.5 or 3.0 Gbps.

"We are pleased to offer yet another model in our ToughTech series," said James Wiebe, CEO of WiebeTech. "The new ToughTech XE gives the most flexible connectivity and fastest data transfer rates as well as offering users anti-shock protection for their valuable data."

ToughTech XEToughTech XE is fully compatible with any Mac or PC with an eSATA, FireWire, or USB 2.0 port. FlexMount protection offers a shock absorber that mounts between the drive and the enclosure that protects the drive from bumps and vibrations.

The new ToughTech XE joins WiebeTech's popular existing line of ToughTech desktop enclosures: ToughTech 400 with dual FireWire 400 ports for IDE drives, ToughTech 800 with dual FireWire 800 (400 compatible) ports for IDE drives and ToughTech eSATA with a single eSATA port for SATA drives.

  • ToughTech XE, user configurable, TTXE-0, $119.95
  • ToughTech XE with 250 GB SATA drive, TTXE-250 // $252.95
  • ToughTech XE with 500 GB SATA drive, TTXE-500 // $455.95
  • ToughTech XE with 750 GB SATA drive, TTXE-750 // $784.95

All versions are in stock and ready to ship.

Dealers may purchase WiebeTech products from Synnex or Dr. Bott. End users may purchase from PCMall, MacMall or PC Connection. Government customers are encouraged to purchase from Lyme Computer, CDW-G or PCMallGov. All products are available directly from WiebeTech.

GizMac Accessories 25U Server Rack Noise Reduction Enclosure Cabinet

PR: GizMac Accessories LLC, designer and manufacturer of noise reduction server rack enclosure cabinets, announces the start of pre-ordering on their new 25U XRackPro server rack cabinet.

Joining the 4U and 12U XRackPro server rack enclosure cabinets, the 25U XRackPro server rack will more than double the capacity of the of the largest currently available XRackPro server rack. The soon to be released 25U server rack enclosure will give new and existing customers a much needed solution to quiet larger amounts of noisy server rack mount equipment.

"The preorder for the new 25U XRackPro2 server rack cabinet begins today," says Ken Vitto, Director of Marketing for GizMac Accessories, "Our new 25U size noise reduction server rack enclosure cabinet will join GizMac's 4U and 12U XRack server rack enclosures in reducing noise pollution in the work environment."

XRackPro2 25U server rack is a noise reduction solution for rackmount Apple, Windows, Linux, Sun, SGI and other servers as well as RAID storage, tape and disk backup, networking, battery backup and other rackmount systems. Although the XRackPro2 server rack was designed primarily for rackmount equipment, the height of the 25U XRackPro2 will allow some vertically standing non-rackmount equipment to fit inside the rackmount enclosure.

By reducing noise levels, the 25U XRackPro2 rackmount enclosure allows computer, audio / video, medical and other equipment to be placed in areas that require low noise. Post production in film, video and audio editing; television, cable and radio broadcasting; health care, dental and veterinary locations; military, education and government or any other environment that requires low noise will benefit from the GizMac noise reduction rackmount enclosure cabinet.

Pricing for the 25U XRackPro2 server rack mount cabinet is $2,199 US retail and preorders can be made on the GizMac XRackPro website and by calling the corporate headquarters at (800) 475-1677.

iPod Accessories

Listen to Your iPod Underwater

PR: If you've ever taken your iPod (nano or 5G) swimming, you probably found it didn't enjoy the experience as much as you did, right? And although our Repairs Team might be able to fix it, prevention is surely better than cure.

Enter the H2O Waterproof Case, (available for nano and 5G 30/60 GB) which combines LatchTight Locking Closure with an internal rubber seal to offer guaranteed waterproofing to 3 metres/10 feet (even with your headphones attached) combined with impact protection.

You don't need to be worried about getting your head near the water either - Proporta has taken care of that as well. The new H2 Waterproof Headphones are totally waterproof... just plug them into your H2O Waterproof Case and you can listen to your music in the pool, in the sea or just in the pouring rain of an English summer.

H2O Waterproof Case Features

  • Waterproof (3m/10') and snowproof - ideal for swimming, surfing, all watersports, skiing, snowboarding...
  • View and use your iPod Click Wheel - even underwater
  • Includes neoprene arm band - ideal for jogging and beach use

H2O Waterproof Headphones Features

  • Waterproof (3m/10') and snowproof
  • Listen to music even under water
  • Waterproof speakers around the earphones guide high quality audio directly to your ear
  • Standard 3.5mm jack - can be used with almost any stereo device (can also be converted with Proporta adaptors)
  • Adjustable ear clips and a lanyard (neck strap) - for secure attachment during sports
  • Compatible with Aquapac MP3 Waterproof Case

PS: For non-iPod MP3 users, the Proporta Aquapac MP3 Waterproof Case offers waterproof protection to 5 metres (15 feet) to devices in a variety of sizes, and you can get a 10% discount on a Aquapac MP3 Player Waterproof Belt System when you buy.

H2O Waterproof Headphones

H2O Waterproof HeadphonesCombine these H2O Audio Series Waterproof Headphones, with H2O Audio Waterproof Housing to listen to your MP3 player under water.

Combine these H2O Audio Series Waterproof Headphones, with H2O Audio Waterproof Housing to listen to your MP3 player under water. Waterproof up to a depth of 3m (10') you can now listen to your music wherever you are, essential for active sports such as skiing, surfing and swimming.

Waterproof speakers surround the earphones, guiding audio directly to your ear, allowing you to listen safely under the water. Adjustable earclips and neckstrap allow the headphones to be adjusted to provide the perfect fit, ensuring they stay secure during even the most active sports.

The 3.5mm audio jack allows these headphones to be used with any audio device with the same size headphone jack. When used with the H2O Audio Waterproof Housing, the waterproof connector ensures that your device remains fully waterproof.

$44.95

H2O Waterproof Case (iPod nano)

H2O Waterproof Case (iPod nano)Protect your iPod nano from damage with this H2O Audio Waterproof Case, so you can listen to your music on the slopes, on the beach or even under the sea (use with H2O Audio Series Waterproof Headphones).

Protect your iPod nano from damage with this H2O Audio Waterproof Case, so you can listen to your music on the slopes, on the beach or even under the sea (use with H2O Audio Series Waterproof Headphones). Your iPod remains fully functional in the case, as the Commander Scroll Wheel Control allows you full use of the Click-Wheel, so you can skip tracks or adjust the volume.

A LatchTight Locking Closure and internal rubber seal ensures that your iPod nano stays completely waterproof. A SealTight Connector also allows you to connect H2O Audio Series Waterproof Headphones, so you can listen to your iPod nano underwater.

The Crystal Clear Case allows you to see the screen of your iPod nano at all times. Also included is a neoprene armband, allowing you to strap your protected iPod nano to your arm in the knowledge it will be safe and secure. Perfect for active sports such as skiing, swimming, rafting or surfing.

$89.95

Aquapac MP3 Waterproof Case

Aquapac MP3 Waterproof CaseSuitable for your standard and mini digital audio devices, the Aquapac MP3 Waterproof Case is fully waterproof. Maximum player size is 2.5" x 4.25" x 0.75".

The new slim-line plastic quick-action sealing system, called the Aquaclip™, makes each case 100% waterproof with a simple twist of two levers. The innovative design of the Aquaclip™ ensures that the Aquapac always stays in one piece, even when open, eliminating the need for loose screws or folding of the case. All Aquapac cases sealed with the Aquaclip™ are guaranteed submersible to at least 5m (15ft).

$69.95

Receive a 10% discount when purchased with Aquapac MP3 Player Waterproof Belt System.

Aquapac MP3 Player Waterproof Belt System

Aquapac MP3 Player Waterproof Belt SystemFully Waterproof your MP3 player with hands free mobility.

Fully Waterproof your MP3 player with hands free mobility.

$34.95

Compatible with the Aquapac MP3 Waterproof Case, the Aquapac MP3 Player Waterproof Belt System allows the case to worn as a belt or across the torso for hands free usability. Made from tough neoprene and Velcro® zip, the belt system securely holds the digital audio device whilst keeping it fully waterproof.

Shipping: $4.95

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 deals, 15" MacBook Pro deals, 17" 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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