Mac News Review

Explosive Mac Sales, 'Endless Fixes' Coming in 10.5.2, Build a Hackintosh for $950, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2008.01.28

PowerBook, iBook, MacBook, and other portable computing is covered in The 'Book Review. iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV news is covered in The iNews Review.

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News & Opinion

Reviews

Products

Software

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

Explosive Mac Sales and High Leopard Ratings

ChangeWave's Jim Woods and Paul Carton report:

"Nobody ever said Apple Mac users were a patient lot. But the waiting is over for the Leopard operating system - and judging by ChangeWave's latest consumer survey, Mac buyers found it well worth the wait.

"To gauge the initial reaction to Leopard and to take a fresh look at the ongoing slugfest between Apple, Dell and Hewlett-Packard, we surveyed ChangeWave Alliance consumers the week of January 2-8. A total of 4,604 participated.

"Here's what we found:

"Apple Mac Sales Skyrocket

"Past 90 Days: Consumer sales of Apple laptops (17%; up 3-pts) and desktops (16%; up 6-pts) took an astonishing leap over the holidays...."

Mac OS X 10.5.2 Update to Bring Endless List of Fixes

MacScoop says:

"During the Macworld SF, Apple has quietly seeded to developers a new build of the Mac OS X Leopard 10.5.2 update numbered 9C16. The seed-note lists an endless list of enhancements in almost any part of the system.

"According to the seed-note, the update 'focuses' (if we may call this focusing) on, Active Directory/Directory Services, AirPort, AppKit, Application, Firewall, Audio, Automator, Back To My Mac, Chinese Input Methods, CoreData, CoreFoundation, Dashboard Widgets, Data Detectors, Directory Services, Dock, Finder, Foundation, Grammar Checking, Graphics Drivers, High Level Toolbox, iCal, iChat, iDisk, Keyboard Layouts, Mail, Networking, Parental Controls, Podcast Producer, Printing/CUPS, Quick Look, Rosetta, Safari, SMB, Spotlight, SQLite, Terminal, Time Machine, X11....

"New issues fixed in this seed, as listed on the seed-note, are the following.... [Very long list. cm]

"This clearly represents by far the most significant revision update Apple has ever made on any of its operating systems with nearly 40 Applications involved and 100 bugs fixed. The only bad news is that the update weights as much as, hold your breathe . . . over 400 MB, a record size which could even grow further in the final build."

Mac OS Eating Linux Desktop's Lunch

ZD Net blogger Paul Murphy says:

"One side effect of Linux marketing by Red Hat and others has been the widespread belief that people transitioning from expensive old Unix servers running on proprietary chipsets to Linux on x86 do so mainly to get Linux. I don't believe that; on the contrary I think that most people assume x86 based hardware and then choose among available operating systems capable of running their applications mainly on cash cost, old antagonisms, recent disappointments, and their beliefs about how others will view each choice....

"With that in mind I want to venture a total speculation: that the same forces have created a situation in which Mac OS really has started to eat the Linux desktop lunch....

"Experience - Around our house, we have screens connected to Windows XP, OS X, and Ubuntu GNU/Linux. Ubuntu and OS X are easier to install, less trouble to maintain, and more pleasant to use. If we were tracking the time we spend maintaining these things, I'm willing to bet that Windows takes more care & feeding than the other two put together. Down the road we'll have Windows only for games, I think....

"We also provide tech support for our mothers, a local Pilates studio, and various random friends, local and remote. Wherever we can, we're steering them to OS X just because they'll experience less pain and be more productive...

"These days, when you live mostly on OS X & Ubuntu, XP is just incredibly irritating...."

Refurbed Mac Pro Not Such a Bargain

Hardmac's Lionel reports:

"If we like to proclaim the bargains from the Refurb shop, we must also point out when something isn't as cheap as it may seem."

Is Photoshop Elements Just Photoshop with a Big Discount?

Mac 360's Wil Gomez says:

"I'm a long time heavy user of Adobe's Photoshop, but I tried out the $89 Photoshop Elements 6 just to see the difference between Elements and the full on version of Photoshop.

"Is Photoshop Elements 6 for the Mac just a stripped down version of Photoshop, or does it offer most of Photoshop's capability at a huge discount?

"Photoshop Elements 6 for Mac users won't ship until sometime in March. From what we've been able to see of Elements, it will be worth the wait. If you have not upgraded to the full version of Photoshop and you're not a power user on steroids, Elements is a bargain at $89, even more so with the upgrade price of $69. ...The full version retail price of Photoshop CS3 is about $600."

Tutorial: Build a Hackintosh for Under a Grand

MacApper's Darwinian says:

"I was a bit hesitant about writing this article but the information (and results) are just too juicy not to give away. Half way through penning this I also noticed that Adam Pash at lifehacker did a similar story so I guess it's acceptable to write about this sort of thing - and it should be. In case you haven't guessed yet I'm going to detail for you my adventure building a Hackintosh box running Leopard that rivals the speed of a similarly configured Mac Pro.

"But for less than 1/3rd the cost!

"You might want to grab a coffee as this tutorial is quite large. It was also designed with both the novice and newbie in mind, and therefore is full of plenty of screenshots to help you along.

"Disclaimer: Please note that I am not interested at all in cries of software piracy or license misuse involved with using a patched Leopard DVD to run OS X on a PC. I have bought more than my share of Jaguar, Tiger and now Leopard software to really have much of a problem with it. If I am making you queasy already then you might want to read Apple's OS X SLA and go back to watching Cosby Show reruns with your sister."

MacSpeech to Bring NaturallySpeaking Capabilities to Mac OS X

MacUser's Aayush Arya reports:

"Nuance Communications, makers of the reputable Dragon NaturallySpeaking, has signed a licensing agreement with MacSpeech which allows the latter to integrate the Windows application's advanced speech recognition capabilities into their new product, Dictate. MacSpeech has decided to halt development of their other speech recognition product, iListen, and customers of the company who had bought iListen in the past are being offered substantial discounts on the retail price ($199) of MacSpeech Dictate...."

NewerTech Guardian Maximus Wins 2008 Macsimum Macworld Award

PR: "Live Activity" RAID Backup Honored for speed and design by Macsimum News site, online expert on all things Mac

Newer Technology, Inc. (NewerTech) has announced that the Guardian MAXimus, the first low-cost FireWire and USB 2.0 External RAID-1 storage for consumers and professionals, was named as a winner in the prestigious 2008 Macsimum Macworld Awards. The award was presented January 17 as part of the 24th Annual Macworld Expo & Conference, held January 14-18, at the Moscone Center, San Francisco.

Guardian MaximusThe 3rd Annual Macsimum Macworld Awards recognized companies that brought the best of the best to Macworld. In its awards announcement, the Macsimum News site called NewerTech's Guardian MAXimus, "the fastest drive with the biggest oomph in the smallest form we've seen." Macsimum News site founder Dennis Sellers added, "We found the Guardian MAXimus offered the best performance and most power for its size." "We are pleased to receive the recognition for the Guardian MAXimus" said NewerTech President Larry O'Connor. "Bringing high quality products like this to the Mac community is what NewerTech is all about, and we will continue to do so."

The NewerTech Guardian MAXimus 2008 Macsimum Macworld Award comes straight off the heels of the Guardian MAXimus being honored as a Finalist in the Storage Visions 2008 Awards, announced last week at 2008 Consumer Electronics Show. The Guardian MAXimus was honored at that time for advancing the state of the art in storage technologies utilized in consumer electronics, the media and entertainment industries, and visionary products for the digital content value chain.

The Guardian MAXimus RAID-1 mirror storage solution is a Plug and Play "Live Activity" backup solution for creative professionals. Always guarding against data loss and costly system downtime, Guardian MAXimus writes the same information in real-time to two separate drives for a "mirrored" copy. With up to 1.0 TB dual SATA drives, data transfer rates of up to 100 MB/s, OS X Leopard Time Machine readiness, and FireWire 800/400 and USB 2.0 ports, Guardian MAXimus offers the ultimate in performance, flexibility, and reliability for critical data backup.

Guardian MAXimus - Winner of Numerous Awards

In addition to the 2008 Macsimum Macworld Award and Storage Visions 2008 Finalist Award honors, the NewerTech Guardian MAXimus has also received numerous awards and accolades since it was introduced in May 2007, including awards from: The Mac Observer; MyMac.com; American Photo; and Photoshop User magazine. In awarding Guardian MAXimus its top Five Star Rating in the December 2007 issue, Photoshop User said, "Easy to use, incredibly fast, and offers a lot of space for the price ... the perfect space-to-speed ratio that's so important to graphics professionals, digital photographers, and designers."

Guardian MAXimus is available immediately in seven preconfigured solutions, from 250 GB to 1 TB, priced starting at $319.99 MSRP from NewerTech's exclusive distributor, Other World Computing, as well as through the retail channel. The 0 GB "Add Your Own Drives" kit is also available for $149.99 MSRP. Guardian MAXimus is compatible with Apple OS 8.6 to 9.2.2, OS X 10.1.x and later (10.2 or later required for FW800 and USB 2.0), and Windows ME and later operating systems. It includes ProSoft Engineering Data Backup 3, NovaStor NovaBACKUP, and Intech SpeedTools Utilities software (a $200 retail value).

Guardian MAXimus Features:

  • Up to 1.0 TB dual-drive solution
  • Up to 64 MB of drive cache (32 MB per drive)
  • Custom Oxford 924 based bridge solution
  • 2 FireWire 800 9 pin ports
  • 1 FireWire 400 6 pin port
  • 1 USB 2.0 "B" port - backwards compatible with USB 1.1
  • Front panel drive status LEDs
  • Quiet operation
  • 9.3" x 2.8" x 5.6" size, shock-resistant for maximum portability
  • US/International 90~240V 4.2A UL- listed power supply
  • 36" FireWire 800, FireWire 400, and USB 2.0/1.1 double shielded connecting cables included
  • Compatible with Apple OS 8.6 to 9.2.2, OS X 10.1.x and later (10.2 or later required for FW800 and USB 2.0), and Windows ME and later operating systems. Includes ProSoft Engineering Data Backup 3, NovaStor NovaBACKUP, and Intech SpeedTools Utilities software (a $200 retail value)

Reviews

Mac Pro 3.2 GHz 'Harpertown' versus Other Mac Towers

Bare Feats' rob-ART Morgan reports:

"We just received our new 8-core Mac Pro 3.2 GHz 'Harpertown' on Monday, January 14th. We've compared it to other 'pro' Mac towers....

"Though the core frequency gain of the 3.2 GHz 'Harpertown' is only 6.7% compared to the 3.0 GHz 'Clovertown,' the speed advantage in the tests ranged from 12% to 24%. That shows what a faster frontside bus and faster memory bus brings to the party."

Products

iTornado, the First 'No Software to Load' Device for Transferring Files Between PCs and Macs

PR: Providing a seamless solution to the challenge of transferring files from one computer to another, regardless of whether either machine is a PC or a Mac, Data Drive Thru introduced iTornado at the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show. The device is the ultimate accessory for those replacing old computers, or switching between operating systems from Windows to Mac or Mac to Windows, that need to move their files of all types, including documents, music and pictures to their new Mac or PC.

iTornado is a file transfer micro computer that connects to two computers in a matter of seconds simply by plugging the retractable USB cables into the USB ports of each computer without the need to load any software.

"Our research shows that each day as many as 14,000 computer users worldwide switch to Macs from PCs when purchasing a new machine. This underscores the tremendous need and market for a quick and easy file transfer solution between the two systems," said Paul L. Andrus, Founder and CEO of Data Drive Thru. "We've solved the problem using our patented NSTL Technology. The 'universal' nature of iTornado makes it an indispensable tool for use in the home or offices of any size."

When connected to the USB ports of two computers, iTornado immediately initiates a peer-to-peer network via its patented No Software To LoadTM, or NSTL Technology, which auto-loads and auto-runs the software and drivers needed to move the data bi-directionally from one computer to another via a user-friendly split-screen display that within seconds appears on the monitor of both machines showing the contents of each machine. From this interface, files can be dragged and dropped from one machine to another at speeds of up to 25 Mb/sec. The iTornado also can be used to quickly create back-up files and is compatible with most Apple® and Microsoft operating system programs.

"Our original award winning PC-to-PC file transfer product we introduced last year, The Tornado, received rave reviews from end-users, computer experts and press for its ease-of-use, reliability and moderate cost," said Clint Hughes, Vice President of Marketing for Data Drive Thru. "iTornado, which extends the use of this tool to work with any two computers - PC or Mac - makes a world class file transfer solution even better. There are other exciting features being built inside the NSTL platform that will be soon unveiled to make life even easier for PC and Mac users."

iTornado, which retails for $79.95 will start shipping in March and will be available at TheTornado.com and at computer products retailers nationwide. Like The Tornado, iTornado comes with a separate bonus copy of PC Eraser that can clean files from Windows based PC computers to US Government Department of Defense standards allowing consumers to dispose of or donate their old computer free of the fear of their personal files falling int o the hands of identity thieves.

Eye-Fi Offers Wireless Photo Delivery to iPhoto and Support for Leopard and Safari

PR: Eye-Fi, makers of the world's first wireless memory card for digital cameras, today announced new capabilities for Mac users, including wireless photo uploads directly into iPhoto and support for Safari and Leopard. This week, Eye-Fi will be demonstrating the Eye-Fi Card at booth number 1338 at the Macworld Conference and Expo in San Francisco.

Eye-fiPhotos shouldn't be trapped in your camera. Set them free.

The Eye-Fi Card is a wireless memory card. It automatically uploads pictures from your digital camera to your PC or Mac and to your favorite photo sharing, printing, blogging or social networking site.

No cables, no waiting, no hassles.

Yes, there really is WiFi inside that tiny little card. We think it's going to change the way people take, save and share photos.

The Eye-Fi Card comes with everything needed to make it simple to set up and connect to your home WiFi network. After that, pop the card into your digital camera and start capturing those memories. It stores pictures like a regular SD card no matter where you are, and uploads your photos automatically as soon as you return to your home network. All you have to do is turn the camera on.

The Eye-Fi Card allows users to wirelessly and automatically send photos directly from their digital camera to their Mac or favorite online photo sharing site using their home WiFi network. The new downloadable Mac upgrade will enable iPhoto to automatically import photos uploaded wirelessly to the Mac, eliminating a manual process and saving iPhoto users time. In addition to iPhoto, Eye-Fi users can upload to any one of 19 leading online photo sharing, printing, social networking or blogging sites.

The Mac upgrade will also allow Mac users to use the Safari 3 browser to access the Web-based Eye-Fi Manager for managing card settings and upload preferences. And, it offers full Eye-Fi software and service compatibility with the new Leopard Mac OS X (10.5). The downloadable upgrade is free to current Eye-Fi Card users and will be included in new Eye-Fi Cards.

"With iPhoto, Apple has made saving and managing photos a cornerstone of the Mac experience, so adding new Mac capabilities is an important step for Eye-Fi," said Ben Bajarin, analyst for Creative Strategies. "This new automatic import feature for iPhoto will save users time and hassle and deliver the seamless experience that Apple customers demand."

"We know that Mac users especially cherish the kind of simplicity and effortlessness we strive for. We think this is one of the reasons the Eye-Fi Card has been so popular with Mac users," said Jef Holove, CEO of Eye-Fi. "The Mac community is dear to us and the Mac upgrade will give Mac and iPhoto users the very best experience when saving and sharing their memories."

Features

  • Uploads photos automatically from Eye-Fi Card inside your camera. Built-in WiFi connects to your home network.
  • Provides free and unlimited photo uploads to your computer and your favorite photo or social networking website via the Eye-Fi Service. Photo transmission is secure and private.
  • Supports sharing and printing websites, including KODAK Gallery, Shutterfly, Walmart, Snapfish, Photobucket, Facebook, Webshots, Picasa Web Albums, SmugMug, Flickr, Fotki, TypePad, VOX, dotPhoto, Phanfare, Sharpcast, and Gallery.
  • Handles full-resolution JPEG images and intelligently resizes photos if limited by your chosen photo or social networking website.
  • Features Eye-Fi Manager for easy setup of wireless network and photo upload preferences.
  • Fits digital cameras that use SD memory cards.
  • Offers 2 GB of memory to store photos on the card.
  • Includes USB memory card reader to make setup easy.

Technical Specifications

  • WiFi Security: Static WEP 40/104/128, WPA-PSK, WPA2-PSK
  • Range: 90+ feet outdoors and 45+ feet indoors
  • Storage Capacity: 2.0 GB (1 GB is defined as 10^9 Bytes)
  • Power: advanced power management optimizes use of camera power
  • Card Dimensions: SD standard 32mm x 24mm x 2.1mm
  • Card Weight: 0.1 oz.

Requirements

  • Eye-Fi Card requires Internet connection to setup and WiFi network for wireless transfers
  • Eye-Fi Card works with virtually all digital cameras accepting SD memory cards
  • Eye-Fi Card works with 802.11g, 802.11b and backwards-compatible 802.11n wireless networks
  • Eye-Fi software works with Windows XP, Windows Vista, Mac OS X (10.3 and 10.4)
  • Eye-Fi software works with Internet Explorer 6 and 7 (Windows only), Firefox 2.0 (Windows and Macintosh)

The 2 GB Eye-Fi wireless SD memory card for digital cameras recently won the Yahoo! Tech "Last Gadget Standing" competition at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The Eye-Fi Card retails for $99.99.

Software

Crucial.com Unveils New Crucial System Scanner Tool for Mac OS

PR: Lexar Media has announced the launch of its unique Crucial System Scanner tool for Mac OS X.

The new easy-to-use online tool scans memory-hungry Mac OS X desktops and notebooks for hardware component information and delivers a listing of possible memory upgrade options. The Crucial System Scanner tool for Mac OS X is one of many user-friendly tools made available to customers by The Memory Experts at Crucial.com.

The Crucial System Scanner tool for Mac OS X represents the first online tool from a memory manufacturer to provide a self-help scanning instrument exclusively for Mac users. In a few easy steps, the Crucial System Scanner tool determines the amount of preinstalled memory and the available memory options for maximizing the Mac's performance. Crucial.com now not only offers an easy and reliable solution for finding guaranteed compatible and Apple-certified RAM, but also simplifies the process of finding the right upgrade.

"There are literally thousands of memory upgrades on the market, and many Mac users are unsure about what type of memory is required by their system and what is their maximum capacity. The Crucial System Scanner tool empowers Mac users to maximize their system's performance while saving money by doing their own upgrades," stated John Egan, Crucial's Web Manager. "Demand for Crucial memory upgrades for Mac OS X is rapidly growing thanks to our guarantee of reliable memory at a competitive price point."

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