Mac News Review

Apple TV Runs OS X, 8-core Mac Pro Benchmarks, Best Buy to Carry Apple Computers, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2007.04.13

In a bizarre twist, hackers have discovered a way to turn Apple TV into a Mac - sort of. You need to own an Intel Mac and OS X to do it, and the project involves putting the Apple TV in your Mac for the procedure. And it's not very fast. And a lot of features aren't supported. But it does run Mac OS X.

On the other end of the spectrum, Bare Feats benchmarks the 8-core Mac Pro, and OWC and Trans Intl now have the special RAM required by the 8-core Mac.

On the gadget side, there's a keyboard with an iPod dock, a hard drive styled by Pininfarina, and a Danish computer desk that even supports and aquarium. We do live in interesting times!

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

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News & Opinion

Reviews

Apple Updates

Products

iPod Accessories

Software

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

Hackers Turn Apple TV into the Cheapest Mac Ever

Wired's Rob Beschizza says:

"Apple TV is dead, long live the Mac Nano. Sort of.

"Just two weeks after Apple released its streaming media box to the public, hackers successfully installed OS X, Apple's desktop operating system, on the $300 device, making it the cheapest PC Cupertino has ever sold.

"'The breakthrough is done, OS X runs on Apple TV!' wrote 'Semthex,' the anonymous hacker responsible for the mod, at his website. 'Now we got (the) low-budget Mac we ever wanted.'

"The add-on may be of limited appeal to everyday users. It involves a laborious 13-step procedure, and the resulting installation is unable to take advantage of all the Apple TV's hardware. Without video acceleration, games can't floor the graphic chip's throttle. There's no audio or ethernet support either, making the box useless for its original purpose as a media hub."

'Buy a Macintosh'

Scobleizer Weblog says:

"Walt Mossberg says his Vista startup experience was pretty horrid because of the tons of ads and other things that OEMs load onto the OS. They do that to try to make a few extra bucks on each machine sold. Microsoft can't stop them because the DOJ made it impossible to push around the OEMs and keep them from ruining the startup experience.

"Solution? Buy a Macintosh. Buy Parallels. Buy your own copy of Vista straight from Microsoft."

Satisfaction: The Secret Behind Apple's Loyal Customer Base

Carl Howe of Blackfriars Communications on Seeking Alpha says:

"Pundits often refer to them as 'zealots' or 'fanboys.' The more polite references include 'Mac loyalists.' I am, of course, talking about Apple's more vocal customers, those who will defend the company and its products in any debate going on around them. What is it that drives their passion for most things Apple? Is it a deluded mind, warped by the Reality Distortion Field that Steve Jobs so successfully wraps every new product in? In short, the answer is no.

"The truth behind the scenes is not that Apple has a large group of customers that are too dedicated and passionate about their products, or the company as a whole. The reality is far more simple and obvious: Apple simply has a large group of very satisfied customers - and that's the secret ingredient left out of nearly every analysis or op-ed piece that mentions these 'zealots.'"

Macs Mean Less Hidden Costs and Higher Productivity

MacNewsWorld's Jack M. Germain reports:

"Switching to a Mac infrastructure may sound like an expensive proposition for a small-business owner. However, some businesses who have made the change say they made the right choice. The cost savings on security and ease-of-use quickly paid off incurred expenses, they said. Relearning some tasks that operate differently on a Mac may be a barrier, but Parallels comes in handy.

"In a perfect business world, computer users would have a hardware system that worked out of the box. That computer would enhance productivity without posing critical security risks to company data. The ideal business computer would not be one of hundreds of variants supported by a litany of development communities.

"However, the business world is far from perfect when it comes to computer technology. Today's small business owners are faced with usability, interoperability and cost issues when selecting a computer system. Often, business owners favor Microsoft Windows over Apple's Macintosh or the various Linux platforms to be in step with the vast installed user base that Windows has accumulated.

"Small-business owners also may be influenced by past notions about file incompatibility issues with their customers and partners. Apple's history of charging more for its proprietary hardware line might also deter small-business owners from using the Mac infrastructure.

"Advancements in the Mac operating system, however, along with software and hardware compatibility are changing the computing landscape. Small-business owners especially can opt to invest in the Mac infrastructure without leaving must-have Windows access on the same machines behind.

"Many SMB entrepreneurs have discovered that switching to Apple from Microsoft incurs far less hidden costs than anticipated and brings productivity and cost savings despite slightly higher purchase price on Mac computer tags."

Best Buy to Carry Apple Computers in 200 Stores

AP reports:

"Best Buy Co. said Wednesday it will carry Apple Inc. computers in 200 stores by this fall after a successful test last year.

"The nation's largest consumer electronics retailer has long carried iPods. But it stopped selling Apple computers in 1998 because sales were slow, and soon after Apple pulled out of most retailers."

VMware Launches Third Fusion Beta for Macs

eWeek's Scott Ferguson says:

"VMware has released a new beta of its Fusion virtualization software for Macs.

"Now officially called VMware Fusion, the latest beta version of the software adds several additional features and improved performance, the Palo Alto, Calif., company announced April 6."

Intel to Start 45nm Production This Year

newelectronics.co.uk's Graham Pitcher reports:

"Intel will begin production of its 45nm Penryn family of processors in the second half of this year. The processors, which will feature enhancements to the Intel Core microarchitecture, will take advantage of Hi-k process technology. The hafnium based high k and metal gate transistor design brings higher performance and more energy efficient operation."

Reviews

Early Test Results: 8 Core Mac Pro vs. 4 Core Mac Pro

Bare Feats' rob-ART Morgan reports:

"Our 8 core (dual quad-core) Mac Pro arrived ahead of schedule. We stayed up late last night testing it against the 4 core (dual dual-core) Mac Pro running at the same clock speed (3 GHz). We used the same 8 memory modules (total of 16 GB) and identical models of hard drive. The 8 core had the Quadro FX 4500 graphics card while the 4 core had the Radeon X1900 XT, but this first round of testing is strictly CPU intensive.

"Cinebench 9.5 UB used all 8 cores, dramatically illustrating it during the CPU render . . . it was rendering 8 different parts of the model simultaneously and registering 798% usage by Activity Monitor.

"However, when we compared the CB rating with the 4 core Mac Pro, the 8 core was only 45% faster. Geekbench, on the other hand, registered 600% CPU usage on the 8 core. The resulting rating was 56% faster than the 4 core."

Apple Updates

Transferring Data with Setup Assistant/Migration Assistant

An updated Apple Knowledge Base article says:

"Learn how some versions of Setup Assistant or Migration Assistant (included with Mac OS X 10.4 or later, in the Utilities folder) can easily transfer data from a previous Mac to a new one. This document applies to Mac OS X 10.4 and computers that ship with Mac OS X 10.3.4 or later, such as Power Mac G5 (June 2004) computers. Setup/Migration Assistant on these computers includes a data migration feature. The data copied by the Assistant is not deleted from your previous Mac.

"Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger tip: In Mac OS X 10.4, Setup Assistant runs after installing Mac OS X 10.4, just as in Mac OS X 10.3.4 or later. After that, Migration Assistant (found in the Utilities folder) can be used to transfer data from a different Mac (or partition that has a previous version of Mac OS X via the 'From another volume in this Mac' option)."

How to Transfer Files Between Bluetooth Devices

An updated Apple Knowledge Base article says:

"You can use the Bluetooth File Exchange application to transfer files between Bluetooth-enabled devices.

  1. Drag the file you want to copy onto the Bluetooth File Exchange icon, located in the Utilities folder, inside the Applications folder on your hard disk.
  2. Click Search in the Send Files dialog to find the Bluetooth-enabled devices in range, select the name of the device you want to send files to in the list, then click Send.
  3. If you need to enter a passkey, enter it and click Respond. You may need to enter the same passkey on the other Bluetooth device. You may also need to click Accept on the Bluetooth device, depending how it is set up.

"If there are no devices available, make sure they are in 'discoverable' mode. To make your computer discoverable, select Discoverable in the Settings tab of the Bluetooth preferences pane."

8-core Mac Pro Memory and Hard Drive Compatibility

A new Apple Knowledge Base article says:

"With the release of Mac Pro (8-core) computers, Apple has qualified additional memory and hard drive options. Apple memory and hard drive kits designed for Mac Pro (8-core) computers are compatible with all Mac Pro computers (quad-core or 8-core).

"Important: Mac Pro memory and hard drive kits designed for quad-core Mac Pro computers only are not qualified for use with a Mac Pro (8-core) computers."

Products

Razer Pro|TypeRazer Pro|Type: First Professional Keyboard with an Integrated iPod Dock

PR: The Razer Pro|Type is the first professional keyboard to feature an integrated docking station for the iPod. It is also highly customizable and has quick access media keys for convenience. Developed by a specialized team of professionals, the Razer Pro|Type™ delivers a superb innovation in functionality and ergonomics to take your efficiency and productivity to greater heights.

  • iPod Dock: Synchronize and charge your iPod easily
  • 10 Customizable Profiles: Configure keyboard profiles according to your needs
  • 10 Programmable Keys: Switch Profiles and launch applications with a touch of a button
  • Ultra Touch-sensitive keys: For enhanced and more precise key response
  • On-the-Fly Profile Switching: Auto swap keyboard profiles upon program detection
  • Multimedia Hub: Includes line-out and 2 USB ports for convenient connection to your peripherals
  • Media Hot Keys: Provide one-touch access to media programs

The Pro|Type keyboard will sell for $129.99

Razer Pro|TypeFrom now till 15 May, get a Razer Pro|Sock and 50% off all other Razer Pro|Solutions products with every purchase of the Razer Pro|Type™ Keyboard. Orders ship from 6 April 2007. Discounts will be automatically calculated upon checkout. No limit on purchase quantity. Promotion exclusive to the Razer store and valid till 15 May. While stocks last.

The Ultimate Mac Computer Desk

MILK Mac Computer DeskPR: The MILK Mac Computer Desk from Denmark upholds the tradition of avant-garde Scandinavian furniture design, with its brushed-metal finish, cable-hiding features, multipurpose bins and iPod drawer, powered height adjustment, even a built-in aquarium.

  • MILK measures 55-1/8 x 25-1/4 inches (140 x 80 centimetres)
  • MILK is white high-gloss lacquer RAL 9016 with a solid MDF table top.
  • No visible wires except power.
  • The height can be electrically adjusted in a range of 73-123 cm with an easy-to·find height adjustment button underneath the desk. The column is from LINAK, probably the best producer in the world of electric frames
  • Massive aluminium or chrome foot
  • Enjoy your fish! One of our daily pleasures is watching and feeding the fish! To provide air, just shift a glass of water every day and/or fill the tank with exotic plants from your fish-shop!
  • Massive aluminium or chrome lids (7610) are included in desk 7500. If you want another colour, just order an extra set of 7610

aquariumThe designer, Soren Kjaer a serial entrepreneur. He is the owner of new media agency In2media, and one of the Founders of Castit, an online casting agency, and the CEO at the photographic agency Trunk Images. He is also the driving force behind the project Dunny Show CPH, an exhibition in support of the UN's 2015 Millennium Development Goals

So depending on where and when you meet him, he's either an owner, founder or chief executive officer, but you can just call him Soren. Now, for the first time, he can add to his list of titles that of Furniture Designer, having partnered with Holmris Hansen A/S to create MILK. All of his endeavors are successful and he likes that, but he's fairly modest, so he doesn't really talk about it. But he will be quick to tell you that he enjoys driving really, really fast and recently completed the Paris Dakar Rally and East African Safari Rally.

MILK Mac Computer DeskSo go ahead, call him a race car driver. He'd like that.

Holmris Hansen A/S has been making furniture in Scandinavia for more than three generations. That's about 100 years, so obviously they know what they're doing. So we partnered with them to create MILK, which makes us pretty smart.

Price and US/international distribution to be announced.

Link: MILK

SimpleDrive Designed by Ferrari Stylist Pininfarina

PR: When I noticed that The sleek lines and ultra-low profile styling of the new Fabrik SimpleDrive were designed by Pininfarina, my interest was piqued. I'm a motorhead from way back, and Carozzeria Pininfarina is the Italian design house and coachbuilder that has styled most Ferrari automobiles beginning in 1952, as well as certain models of Maserati, Cadillac, Rolls-Royce, Nash, Peugeot, Austin, Morris, Riley, Wolseley, MG, Jaguar, Volvo, Alfa Romeo, Ford, Citroen, Fiat, Mitsubishi, Honda, and Lancia.

Over the past 76 years, Pininfarina has turned out hundreds or thousands of the most alluring automobile designs ever conceived. For a taste, check out the galleries and multimedia videos on their website.

In recent years Pininfarina has also worked in the fields of product and interior design, hence the new SimpleTech SimpleDrive External Hard Drive - designed by Pininfarina.

SimpleDrive is a stylish, high-performance external hard drive ideal for storing and backing up your music, video, photos and more. With Hi-Speed USB 2.0, setup is hot pluggable on the Mac and data transfer rates are fast and reliable.

SimpleTech's One-Click backup enables you to back up and protect your entire computer or only selected files with a single click, and the built-in capacity meter allows you to view the utilized disk space.

The different colors of the SimpleTech drive indicate its storage capacity:

  • Red (160 GB)
  • White (250 GB)
  • Sapphire (320 GB)
  • Onyx (500 GB)
  • Charcoal gray (750 GB).

Pricing starts at $99.

Trans International Releases RAM for 8-Core Mac Pro

PR: Trans International announced the availability of DDR2 667 MHz, 72 Bit ECC Fully-Buffered DIMM (FB-DIMM) for Apple's new Mac Pro quad-core Intel Xeon (8-core) processor.

Trans International has the Fully - Buffered DIMMs for the Mac Pro Quad-core Intel Xeon (8-core) with specially designed heat spreaders (Heat-Sink) which conforms to JADEC standards as well as Apple's stringent thermal, mechanical, electrical design specifications and guidelines. More cooling surface on these heat spreaders allow better heat dissipation, providing efficient cooling for the components. Cooler operation enhances memory performance.

Mac Pro quad-core Memory Upgrade kits from 2 GB to 16 GB are currently shipping.

OWC Announces Apple-Qualified Memory Upgrades for 8-Core Mac Pro

OWC memoryPR: Other World Computing (OWC) has announced availability of OWC Apple-Qualified Memory Upgrade Modules for the new Mac Pro 8-Way Xeon (new Mac Pro model announced earlier this week), as well as lower pricing for memory for the existing Mac Pro Quad Xeon models. Priced as low as $118.75 per GB, OWC is offering upgrades at a savings of well over 50% as compared to factory-installed and other competitors. The OWC (FB-DIMM) 667 MHz DDR2 72-Bit ECC fully-buffered Memory Upgrade Modules are available in matched sets of 512 MB, 1 GB, and 2 GB modules for up to 16 GB of total memory (see full pricing info below).

OWC has been providing memory to upgrade Apple computers for nearly 20 years. Last August, OWC was the first to provide true Apple-Qualified memory for the new Apple Mac Pro Quad Xeon computers at independent prices and now without delay, has certified memory available for the new Apple Mac Pro 8-Way Xeon models as well. OWC Memory Upgrade Kits provide premium quality, fully-tested modules that completely meet and/or exceed all Apple specifications. Utilizing superior components, including true Apple-Qualified heat spreaders, the modules provide a lifetime of high-performance, reliable operation backed by OWC's Lifetime Advance Replacement Warranty.

Cash Back Trade-In Rebate

A cash-back rebate of up to $145 per set is also available from OWC for the trade-in of Apple factory memory. Available immediately, the OWC Memory Upgrade Kits consist of matched pairs of FB-DIMM modules manufactured to Apple's stringent Mac Pro specifications, far exceeding JEDEC (the leading developer of solid-state industry standards) specifications.

OWC Memory Module New Pricing:

(up to 16 GB of memory is supported by the Apple Mac Pro Quad Xeon)

  • 1 GB Matched Sets (512 MB Module x 2) for as low as $159.75/GB
  • 2 GB Matched Sets (1 GB Module x 2) for as low as $118.75/GB
  • 4 GB Matched Sets (2 GB Module x 2) for as low as $128.06/GB

Software

Google Desktop for the Mac

PR: Google Desktop is a desktop search application that gives you easy access to information on your Mac and from the Web. Desktop makes searching your own email, files, music, photos, and more as easy as searching the web with Google.

You have lots of information on your computer, and you see a lot more on the web. With Google Desktop, you can quickly and easily find all this stuff right when you need it, including your files, emails, and web pages you've seen. When you look at a web page, read an email or edit a file, Desktop indexes that item and copies its contents into your local cache, where all this information will be instantly searchable, including older versions of files and web pages.

Once you've installed Desktop, it automatically starts indexing items that were already on your computer. It also indexes new items in real time as you see them. For example, it will find a web page immediately after you view it, or an email right after you read it (if you don't see the Desktop tab on your browser, restart the browser).

Depending on how much data your computer contains, Desktop can take up to several hours to index all your existing information. This one-time indexing is designed to peacefully coexist with your normal work, so you can keep on using your Mac while the indexing takes place.

You can tell Google Desktop not to index certain items simply by adding them to Spotlight's privacy list. You can also have Desktop remove specific files, folders, and URLs from its cache.

Quick Search Box

The Quick Search Box is your fastest way to do web and desktop searches and launch applications. You can call it up by pressing the ⌘ key twice, and hide it by pressing ⌘ twice again. Type a few letters or words into the search box and your top results pop up instantly, including applications. For example, you can launch iTunes simply by typing "itu" into the Quick Search Box and pressing Return when iTunes appears as the first result.

Search Your Gmail and Web History

Not everything you're looking for lives on your Mac. Whether you're searching your computer or the web, Desktop helps you find it by searching your Gmail and web history along with your hard drive. Also because your index is stored locally on your own computer, you can even access your Gmail and web history while you're offline.

Many File Types

Google Desktop automatically indexes and allows you to search the full text of virtually all your files, including the following types:

  • Gmail
  • text files (.txt)
  • PDF
  • HTML
  • email from Apple Mail and Microsoft Entourage
  • iChat transcripts
  • Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint
  • music and video files, including artist and song names
  • Address Book contacts
  • system preference panes
  • file and folder names

Google Desktop also searches file types that have a Spotlight importer.

Familiar Results

When you do a Desktop search, you'll see a list of search results. Each result, just like Google web search results, includes the file name and a brief snippet with your search terms highlighted. You can also filter for a particular type of item - only emails, for instance - by using the links at the top of your Desktop search results page.

Smart Indexing

After you install Google Desktop, it starts indexing the files that are already on your Mac. This one-time indexing is designed to peacefully coexist with your normal work, so you can continue working while indexing takes place. Depending on how many files and other items you have on your computer, this process can take up to several hours. Once it's done, Desktop makes sure your index stays up to date by adding new email as you receive it, files as you update them, and web pages as you view them.

Google Integration

What if you already have the information you're looking for but don't realize it? When there are useful results on your Mac related to your Google web search, Google Desktop will include these files with your search results. There's also a simple command center for searching your computer, which you can access by clicking "Desktop" above the search box on Google.com.

File Versioning

Google Desktop creates cached copies (snapshots) of your files and other items each time you view them, and stores these copies on your Mac's hard drive. As a result, you can often use Desktop to find previous versions of your files or ones you've accidentally deleted.

  • Fast and easy search for your computer like Google.com for the web
  • Launch applications and files with just a few keystrokes

System requirements: Requires Mac OS X 10.4+

Free - and takes seconds to install with Google Updater

Griffin Proxi Provides Greater Control Over Peripherals

PR: Griffin's Proxi is a new application designed to give you a greater degree of control over not just your Griffin peripherals, but many of the most popular applications and features of Mac OS X.

The software is designed to let you configure all of your Griffin devices in one easy to use interface. Not only that, but Proxi allows you to define custom hot keys, monitor Mail, iChat, and RSS feeds, execute a repeating task, and much more.

Proxi works by allowing you to define one or more tasks that will execute in response to a trigger. Most triggers and tasks offer a variety of customization options allowing you to tailor Proxi to your specifics needs.

Proxi supports the following triggers as of version 1.4:

  • AirClick
  • Apple Remote Control
  • AppleScript
  • Battery Monitor
  • Folder Monitor
  • Hotkey Monitor
  • iChat Monitor
  • iTunes Monitor
  • Mail Monitor
  • Network Monitor
  • PowerMate
  • radioSHARK
  • RSS Monitor
  • Sleep Monitor
  • Scheduled
  • Skype Monitor
  • Speech Recognition
  • Twitter Monitor

Proxi supports the following tasks as of version 1.4:

  • AppleScript
  • Bubbles!
  • Copy / Move Files
  • Growl Notification
  • iChat Control
  • iTunes Control
  • Key Press
  • Launch Application
  • Load Clipboard
  • Open File
  • Open URL
  • Post Tweet
  • PowerMate Light
  • radioSHARK Control
  • Screen Message
  • Scroller
  • Skype
  • Sound Play
  • Speak Message
  • Spotlight
  • Store Value
  • Write to File

System requirements: Proxi is compatible with any Macintosh running Mac OS X 10.4 or later.

Freeware

VM2Go, a Utility for Parallels Desktop for the Mac

PR: BriteMac LLC has announced the release of VM2Go? (v1.2) for Mac OS X 10.4 or later. VM2Go is a virtual machine management utility for virtual machines created with Parallels Desktop for Mac. With Parallels Desktop users can run Windows (and other operating systems) on their Intel-based Macintosh computer.

VM2Go features the ability to transfer a virtual machine to an iPod, USB thumb drive, or external hard drive. It configures the transferred virtual machine so you can run it directly from the device.

Additionally, with VM2Go, you can back up and restore your virtual machine to and from DVD discs. By using this feature you always have a clean version of Windows (or other operating system) available in a form that can be easily restored.

System requirements include Mac OS X v10.4.3 or later and an Intel-based Macintosh computer with Parallels Desktop installed. VM2Go is a Universal binary and has been available for download as part of a public beta since November 2006.

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.

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