Mac News Review

Core 2 iMac Praise, MS Vista 'a Pile of Crap', Cube Redux?, High Capacity iPod Battery, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2006.09.15

Reviewers are falling over themselves singing the praise of the Core 2 powered iMacs, not to mention the Mac Pro. It really is faster than the original Core Duo.

Rumor has it Apple will be reintroducing a cube-shaped computer. Time will tell....

And then there's the Microsoft programmer who left Microsoft, bought a Mac, and blogged his story. :-)

iFixit has disassembly guides and parts for iPods, and Sonnet has a new long-life battery for the video iPod.

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

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News & Opinion

Tips

Products

iPod Accessories

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

Core 2 Duo Really Is Faster Than Core Duo

MacUser's Derik DeLong reports:

"While Coke 2 may not be better than the original Coke, it looks like the Core 2 Duo is better than the original. According to Macworld's Speedmark benchmark, they're 10% faster (based upon a score of 232 by the 2 GHz Core 2 Duo versus 210 by the 2 GHz Core Duo). That's performance at the same clockspeed. It's great to see that Intel really is following through with the commitment to performance rather than clockspeed."

Test Driving the 24" iMac

Fortune Magazine's Peter Lewis looks at top-of-the-line iMacs and Dell PCs and concludes you'll get more for your money with Apple.

"Normally Steve Jobs concludes major Apple product introductions with a sly, 'Oh, there's just one more thing...' It's a Pavlovian phrase that causes the Macintosh faithful to bark and howl and salivate, having been trained to expect something new and wonderful and unlike anything else in the PC world....

"...Apple is making applesauce out of the old canard that Macs are a lot more expensive than Windows computers.

"Now that Macintoshes use the same Intel processors found in higher-end Windows machines, and can even run Windows XP and Windows applications, the old 'you can't compare apples and oranges' argument shrivels. In August, when it unveiled its new Mac Pro computers, Apple boasted that the high-end desktop machine actually cost nearly a thousand dollars less than a comparably equipped Dell Precision workstation....

"Sure, you can get a PC and monitor for less money, but not with anything close to the power and multimedia features and software and ease of use of the iMac.

"At the high end, the new Intel Core 2 Duo 24-inch iMac introduced last week is theoretically a consumer machine, although I suspect it will catch the attention of many graphic designers and other digital media mavens."

Core Changes Boost iMac's Speed

Macworld's James Galbraith reports:

"When unveiling the Core 2 Duo processor in July, Intel CEO Paul Otellini said that the next-generation Core Duo chip would deliver a 20 percent increase in laptop performance. Apple's newly unveiled iMacs - which use the mobile version of the Core 2 Duo touted by Otellini - don't quite approach that performance gain. But they do handily beat out the previous iMac Core Duo models, posting a 10 percent improvement in Macworld Lab's Speedmark test.

"Apple updated its iMac line earlier this week, replacing the dual-core chips with new Intel Core 2 Duo processors. Four models now make up the iMac line: a 1.83 GHz 17-inch iMac, a second 17-inch iMac with a 2 GHz chip, a 2.16 GHz 20-inch model, and a 2.16 GHz configuration with a 24-inch screen.

"To date, Macworld has received two of these all-in-one systems: the 17-inch 2 GHz model and the 2.16 GHz 20-inch offering. We're expecting the new 24-inch and 1.83 GHz 17-inch models next week. Until then, we have the test results for the two middle models, which are impressive."

New iMacs 'Stunning'

ForbesOnTech blog says:

"I've been kind of critical of Apple in my blog over the last year. Before Apple began shipping Intel-based iMacs and MacBook, I thought that Apple had been consumed by iPod madness. Also, I'm not a fan of the MacBook Pro (specifically, its one of the hottest notebooks I've ever used and I felt its WiFi implementation wasn't at least par with the three or four other notebooks I keep on hand as reference systems).

"Accordingly, I panned the MacBook Pro and promptly got flamed. It's not the first time this has happened to me and for damn sure it' s not the last.

"So here's my secret: I'm a died-in-the-wool proponent of technology that makes computing more productive and much easier. So you see, I want Apple to succeed. In the words of Zepplin I want this to happen 'Way Down Inside'....

"It takes a lot to knock me off my feet, especially when if its something that comes from Apple Computer. Truth is, they've set the expectations bar so high that I look closely at the fine joints and points in all their technologies.

"Guess what? Apple's new 24, 20 and 17-inch-inch Intel Core Duo2 powered iMacs are great. And the 24-inch iMac knocks me out. It's perhaps the finest Macintosh implementation I've ever seen...."

Mac Pro's 'Pure, Unadulterated Power'

PCMag's Joel Santo Domingo reports:

"Apple's new Mac Pro ($7,578 direct, $8,577 with a 23-inch widescreen LCD monitor), the latest professional Macintosh desktop to emerge from the company's Cupertino, California, stables, sure is a workhorse. All Mac Pros are now 'quad core,' with two dual-core Xeon processors that are capable of holding up to 16 GB of DDR2 ECC SDRAM, and 2 terabytes of hard drive space. The Mac Pro starts out at $2,499 for a modestly configured system, but we thought it would be fun to run a totally tricked-out workstation - so we tested a system that pushes the $8,000 price point. The verdict? For the Mac professional, the extra expense is worth the pure, unadulterated power."

Windows Programmer Sees the Light, Abandons Microsoft, and Buys a Mac

The Inquirer's Nick Farrell reports:

"Microsoft developer and writer Pete Wright has had enough of Vole and has bought an Apple.

"Wright says that after nearly 15 years on Voleware, including working for Redmond, he has got thoroughly bored with the outfit....

"As a parting shot to Microsoft, Wright says that its super soaraway Vista operating system is a pile of crap compared to Mac OS X and Ubuntu with GLX."

'Vista Looks Like a Pile of Crap'

On his own blog, Pete Wright explains:

"So, today I resigned my job, and completely ended my Microsoft career. I have taken a role as Director with a company at the leading edge of the 'Web 2.0' curve. My team and I will write Ruby on Rails code, use Macintosh computers to do so, shun Microsoft technology completely, go to work in shorts and sandals and blast each other with nerf guns. My team is devoted to being the best it can be, to learning, to improving, to pushing boundaries. And it's not Microsoft.

"I'm writing this on my Mac using NeoOffice Writer while the PC under my desk is, for the last time ever, removing Windows and all the trappings that go with it to install Ubuntu Linux. My Microsoft career is now officially over.

"Microsoft don't innovate, in my opinion. Vista looks like a pile of crap compared to Mac OS X and Ubuntu with GLX. Their software is buggy, overpriced, and stress inducing. Their development tools are staid, designed and developed by committees to solve every problem you could ever conceive of, while being ideally suited to solving none...."

24" iMac's GPU Is Upgradeable? Not So Fast...

Ars Technica's Jeff Smykil says:

"When the 24" iMac was introduced the other day, our very own Kurt Hutchinson quickly made his opinion about it known here at the Orbiting HQ. Kurt wondered why the high-end beast's video card, an Nvidia GeForce 7300GT, was inferior to the less expensive middle-of-the-line iMacs ATI Radeon X1600. It is hard to tell whether Kurt's inclinations are true, as we don't yet know the GPU or memory speeds of the iMac's X1600. However, when we referenced TechSpot's benchmarks it seems that the 7300GT, at best, is not much of an upgrade and at worst slower then the X1600."

Apple Cube Reborn?

Mac Cube redux?unwiredview.com says:

"The famous Apple Cube Power Mac G4 computer may be reborn soon.

"When released in July 2000 Apple Cube was widely praised for it's unique design but did not sell very well. There were a lot of problems with it - high price, limited upgradability, cracking cases, etc. After selling only 150 000 units Apple seemed to abandon the idea and suspended Cube production indefinitely after one year.

"However, interest in Power Mac G4 Cube did not die. Third party vendors started experimenting with various upgrades and customers were pretty happy with the results.

"And it seems that Apple too did not completely forget the Cube idea. Recent patent filing for 'Ultra compact computer arrangement' shows that Apple is working on another Cube computer which solves many of the problems that plagued it's predecessor."

The Return of Apple's Cube May Be at Hand

Ars technica's Charles Jade reports:

"While the Power Macintosh G4 Cube was lauded by many for its compact design, unique form factor, and silent operation, few people were willing to pay the $1800 price for that form and function. A year after its introduction in July of 2000, having sold fewer than 200,000 units, the Cube was quietly discontinued, never to be seen again. Or possibly not."

Running Windows Vista on Your Intel Mac with Parallels Desktop

TUAW's David Chartier reports:

"I managed to get Vista running on my MacBook Pro in both a copy of Parallels Desktop and Boot Camp, but this post is only going to cover the Parallels side of things; my Boot Camp post is still in the kettle.

"For the most part, I would say Vista runs in Parallels Desktop just 'ok,' as opposed to 'really well' or 'it made an un-switcher out of me.' Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to offer full support for high-end graphics cards yet, so you won't get any of the fancy 3D effects or what I like to call Translucent Everything Technology (TET) that Vista boasts.

"Read on for a walkthrough of setting up, installing and running Microsoft Windows Vista on your Intel Mac via Parallels Desktop, including some catches to watch out for and just how far you can actually push this software, given Vista's still more or less beta/RC1 status and Parallels' as-yet experimental support."

Parallels Desktop Adds Support for Mac Pro

PR: Parallels has announced that it is making available the Update Release Candidate (RC) for Parallels Desktop for Mac, the first solution that enables users to run Windows and other operating systems at the same time as OS X on any Intel-powered Mac, without rebooting.

The update RC, which is free for all Parallels Desktop users, adds support the recently released quad-processor Mac Pro towers outfitted with up to 3,5 GB of RAM. With the addition of support for Mac Pro towers, Parallels Desktop for Mac is now compatible with all Intel-powered Apple computers, which in addition to the Mac Pro includes the MacBook, MacBook Pro, iMac, and Mac Mini.

The update RC also offers full compatibility with the developer builds of Mac OS X 10.5, code-named "Leopard." Leopard, which was previewed in Steve Jobs' keynote address at the 2006 Apple Worldwide Developer Forum, is expected to be ship in Spring 2007.

"By adding support for Mac Pro towers and OS X 'Leopard', we've shown once again that Parallels Desktop is not only a great productivity tool for any Intel-Mac user, but also for Mac software developers who need to work with Apple's next-generation OS." said Benjamin Rudolph, Marketing Manager, Parallels. "Now, anyone using a Mac Pro, Mac Mini, MacBook, MacBook Pro or iMac can run any version of Windows alongside any Intel-compatible version of OS X, including 10.4 'Tiger' or the upcoming 10.5 'Leopard'."

In addition, the Parallels Desktop for Mac update release candidate includes experimental guest OS support for the beta builds of Windows Vista, the next-generation of Microsoft's Windows operating system. Vista is due to be generally available in 2007.

The Update RC also offers number of other important performance-enhancing upgrades, including:

  • Solaris guest OS no longer hangs after suspend/resume
  • An improved Parallels Tools package
  • Full support for OpenBSD 3.8 as a guest operating system
  • G4U hard disk cloning tool now works in virtual machines

Users can download the update of Parallels Desktop at http://www.parallels.com/en/products/desktop/update/. Active Parallels Desktop users should note that upgrading will not require a reinstall of any guest operating systems or their applications. Users should also reinstall Parallels Tools after upgrading to the update release candidate.

The final release of the update is expected in the next few weeks. Users who have Parallels Desktop auto-update enabled will receive the final update automatically. Users who do not have auto-update enabled will be able to manually download the update by clicking "Check for Updates" in the "Help" tab of the Parallels menu bar.

New users can download a free 15-day trial version of Parallels Desktop at ( www.parallels.com/en/download/desktop/ ). Full versions of the product can be purchased at ( www.parallels.com/en/buyonline ), or in any Apple Store, Staples, Office Depot, Micro Center, Fry's Electronics, or CompUSA location. The Suggested Retail Price (SRP) for Parallels Desktop is $79.99.

PowerLogix CPU Director Update Statement

PR: Status of CPU Director Support for Apple OS X 10.4.7

At this time we do not have a definite release date for the next update of CPU Director required for 10.4.7 compatibility. Rest assured that the next CPU Director version will be released as soon as such a release is possible.

Please do not email asking when this release will occur and rather please visit this site for such update as it will be posted here first when the update is approaching release and/or is posted for download.

PowerLogix G4 7447, 7455, and 7457 single and dual processor upgrades do not require CPU Director for proper operation or performance. Upgrading to 10.4.7 will not cause loss of settings or performance, but will disable CPU Director and it's temperature view pane as well as Dynamic Frequency Switching feature (DFS is a 7447 only option).

Owners of certain PowerLogix G3/800 MHz to G3/1.1 GHz PCI, Pismo, and ZIF upgrades may require CPU Director at startup to enable the higher processor speed of the PowerLogix G3 750FX or 750GX based upgrade. If your are using OS X, we highly recommend waiting for our next release prior to installing the 10.4.7 upgrade.

Your patience and support is appreciated. Please visit this site for updates to the CPU Director software status.

For more information, visit:

Tips

iMac (Late 2006): Memory Specifications

A new Apple Knowledge Base article says:

This article outlines the memory specifications for the following products:

  • iMac (17-inch Late 2006)
  • iMac (20-inch Late 2006)
  • iMac (24-inch)

These iMac (Late 2006) computers have two SDRAM slots in the bottom of the computer, and comes with at least 512 MB DDR2 SDRAM installed into the top slot.

Although these iMacs will accept up to a 2 GB SODIMM in each of the two memory slots, the iMac will only support 3 GB total memory. If you want to maximize the amount of SDRAM in your computer, install a 2 GB SODIMM in one slot and a 1 GB SODIMM in the other.

iMac (Late 2006): External Ports and Connectors

A new Apple Knowledge Base article says:

In this article we'll describe the external ports and connectors on the iMac (Late 2006) model of computers:

  • iMac (Mid 2006)
  • iMac (17-inch Late 2006 CD)
  • iMac (17-inch Late 2006)
  • iMac (20-inch Late 2006)
  • iMac (24-inch)

You can find the ports on the bottom right side of the back of the computer, known as the Input/Output (I/O) panel.

Ports and connectors

  1. Mini-DVI video output port
  2. Ethernet Port (10/100/1000 Gigabit Base-T)
  3. Audio in / optical audio in port
  4. Headphone out / optical audio out port
  5. USB 2.0 ports (three ports)
  6. FireWire ports (two ports)

Products

Sonnet Introduces Dual G4 CPU Upgrade for MDD and Xserve G4s

PR: At Apple Expo Sonnet Technologies announced a new line of dual processor upgrade cards - the Encore/MDX G4 Duet 1.6 GHz and 1.8 GHz - the first high-speed processor cards for Apple's popular Power Mac G4 MDD (Mirrored Drive Door) and Xserve G4.

The Encore/MDX G4 Duet comes complete for installation into either tower or server. The original MDDs and G4 XServes were shipped in 2003 and 2004 in single and dual CPU configurations starting at 867 MHz and 1 GHz, respectively. States Robert Farnsworth, Sonnet CEO, "Like all of our CPU upgrades, the Encore/MDX is a simple and economical speed bump for someone invested in a hardware and software configuration. Upgrading a single 1 GHz to a dual 1.8 GHz can yield significant performance improvements."

Encore/MDX G4 Duet upgrades are based on the Freescale Semiconductor (formerly a division of Motorola) PowerPC G4 7447A processors, featuring 512K of SRAM on-chip L2 cache per processor. They are compatible with Mac OS 9.2, and Mac OS X Version 10.3.5 and higher. Each upgrade includes a factory-attached heat sink, fan, and mounting bracket for either MDD or Xserve installation.

Pricing & Availability

The Encore/MDX G4 Duet line will be available in early October with the following retail prices:

  • Encore/MDX G4 Duet 1.6 GHz (Part No. XG4D-1600) - $499.95
  • Encore/MDX G4 Duet 1.8 GHz (Part No. XG4D-1800) - $599.95

Compatibility

The Encore/MDX G4 Duet 1.6 GHz (Part No. XG4D-1600) and Encore/MDX G4 Duet 1.8 GHz (Part No. XG4D-1800) are compatible with the following Power Mac and Xserve models:

  • Power Mac G4 MDD (all models)
  • Xserve (all G4 models)

Mac OS Compatibility: The Encore/MDX G4 Duet 1.6 GHz and 1.8 GHz supports Mac OS X Version 10.3.5 or later, or Mac OS 9.2.

Iomega's Innovative External RAID Storage for Mac OS X Computers

PR: Iomega Corporation has announced the new Iomega UltraMax 640 GB* Desktop Hard Drive, providing Mac users with secure, high-capacity storage in a rugged enclosure that complements the Apple Mac Pro and Power Mac series of computers. With RAID 0 and a built-in Hi-Speed USB (USB 2.0) hub for future expansion, Iomega's UltraMax drive helps users excel in digital content creation, graphic design, and other disk-intensive tasks.

"The new Iomega UltraMax Desktop Hard Drive is an amazing external hard drive with lots of capacity, flexible volume configurations, and useful USB 2.0 ports," said Peter Wharton, Vice President of Marketing, Iomega Corporation. "Large file transfers put a premium on data throughput. The UltraMax drive uses the Mac HFS+ file system and RAID 0 for incredible power right out of the box, striping data across two hard drives for faster performance. The UltraMax is both functional and versatile - the kind of advanced storage solution our customers expect from Iomega." In addition to the default mode of RAID 0, which stripes data across the UltraMax's two 7200-RPM SATA hard drives, other drive settings include 'spanned' (both hard drives are treated as a single volume), and 'simple' (each hard drive is treated as its own drive letter).

For ease of use, the new Iomega UltraMax Desktop Hard Drive has a manual RAID switch, allowing the user to turn off the RAID configuration and use the drive configured as JBOD. The Iomega UltraMax Hard Drive is preformatted with Apple's HFS+ file system for Mac OS X users. "HFS+ makes more efficient use of large hard drives and supports journaling under Mac OS X, which makes it easier to recover data in case of a problem, and that makes the UltraMax the no-compromise choice for Mac environments," Wharton added.

PC users can reformat the Iomega UltraMax Drive to NTFS for use with Windows, or can set up cross-platform use with an included FAT32 format tool. The stackable UltraMax drive enclosure complements the new Mac Pro series of Apple computers as well as the older Power Mac series. The enclosure is metallic grey with a mesh grill, an echo of the Mac Pro computer's industrial design. Its three interfaces include FireWire 800, FireWire 400, and Hi-Speed USB (USB 2.0), and it provides users with a three-port Hi-Speed USB hub for easy expansion. Cables for FireWire 800, FireWire 400, and USB 2.0 operation are included with the drive. For secure storage and worry-free backup and disaster recovery, Iomega also includes EMC Retrospect Express software with the new UltraMax drive. Retrospect Express delivers automated, reliable, cost-effective protection for Windows and Mac users. Its award-winning design makes it easy to set up and manage highly efficient backups on any PC, greatly simplifying disaster recovery. Users can back up open files, verify backup integrity during the backup, have scheduled backups proceed even without logging in, and recover individual files or a complete system to any point in time.

System requirements:

The UltraMax 640 GB Desktop Hard Drive is compatible with Mac OS X 10.1 or above on Apple computers with an Intel processor or G3 processor or higher and a built-in USB or FireWire connection. The UltraMax Drive can be reformatted to NTFS or FAT32 for use with a PC (instructions included), making it compatible with Microsoft Windows 2000, Windows XP Home and XP Professional editions. FAT32 format allows cross-platform use.

The Iomega UltraMax 640 GB Desktop Hard Drive is expected to be available later this month for $449.95 (U.S. suggested retail). More information about the Iomega UltraMax 640 GB Desktop Hard Drive will be available on Monday, Sept. 11.

iPod Accessories

iFixit Launches iPod Disassembly Guides, Parts Store

PR: iFixit, the Mac do-it-yourself company, has announced its entrance into the iPod industry with a complete line of free iPod Fixit Guides and over 100 iPod parts.

iFixit now sells parts for every iPod that Apple has shipped - from the 1st Gen iPod to the iPod Video, and even the iPod Shuffle. iFixit sells logic boards, hard drives, case replacements, batteries, and more.

inside an iPod miniThe iPod Fixit Guide series is immediately available for free online at www.iFixit.com. Each Guide walks you through the process of getting inside and replacing any part in your iPod.

"We're making iPod repair available to the masses - our Guides are going to significantly change how people use iPods. Instead of chucking your iPod when it breaks, you'll be able to buy inexpensive parts to fix it from us, and use our free Guides to repair it yourself," said Kyle Wiens, iFixit's CEO. "We are completely focused on helping our customers keep their devices running longer."

iFixit Guides are available for these iPods:

  • iPod 1st Generation (Click Wheel)
  • iPod 2nd Generation (Touch Wheel)
  • iPod 3rd Generation
  • iPod 4th Generation / iPod photo
  • iPod Video (5th Generation)
  • iPod mini
  • iPod Shuffle
  • iPod nano

Parts are also immediately available for each iPod model. iPod parts in stock now include logic boards, LCDs, case components, headphone jacks, batteries, and more.

New iPod nano Disassembled: Internal Photos from iFixit

PR: iFixit has posted the first internal photos of Apple's 'Completely Remastered' iPod nano, along with disassembly instructions. The Nano disassembly is immediately available at:

iFixit has also announced repair parts for the new Nano will be available immediately. Remastered Nano parts including the logic board, casing, and screens are in stock and ready to ship. The new parts complement iFixit's wide selection of parts for every iPod that Apple has shipped.

Fixit Guides for every iPod and Mac laptop are available free online.

Volta Battery for Video iPod Offers Unmatched Viewing Time

PR: At Apple Expo Sonnet Technologies announced Volta for iPod with video. Combined with a charged video iPod, Volta increases the total video play time up to 16 hours.

iPod with Volta batterySonnet's Volta rechargeable battery provides an elegant and powerful booster battery solution for iPod with video. Featuring a slim and sleek design, Volta's case is made from rugged aluminum with a glossy black finish. The iPod simply docks to Volta, which clips to the back of the iPod (a spacer pad is included for the slimmer iPod model). A fully charged Volta will power the iPod as though connected to a computer or AC adapter. The combined unit stands for easy viewing.

As a complete booster battery solution, Volta includes a charging cable that can be used with any computer, AC adapter, or car charger with a USB port. Additionally, it comes with a detachable belt clip for easy portability. Unlike some otherbooster battery solutions, Volta is rechargeable.

"Consumers show a growing interest in taking their digital video on the road," states Robert Farnsworth, CEO, Sonnet Technologies. "Sonnet's Volta for iPod with video provides a simple way for them to love their video iPods even longer."

Other highlights of Volta include four LEDs on the front to indicate charging status and remaining charge level. The 2100 mAh Lithium-polymer, Volta battery retails for $69.95 and will be available September 15, 2006. For more information on the Volta or to purchase the product, visit:

Desktop Mac Deals

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For deals on current and discontinued 'Books, see our 13" MacBook and MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, 13" MacBook Pro, 15" MacBook Pro, 17" MacBook Pro, 12" PowerBook G4, 15" PowerBook G4, 17" PowerBook G4, titanium PowerBook G4, iBook G4, PowerBook G3, and iBook G3 deals.

We also track iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, iPod classic, iPod nano, and iPod shuffle deals.

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