Mac News Review

Safari 3.1 Fastest Browser?, Macs Smash Sales Record, Mac Pro Reviews, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2008.03.21

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

Apple Updates

Products

Software

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

Safari 3.1: The World's Fastest Browser?

PR: Apple on Tuesday introduced Safari 3.1, claming it to be the world's fastest web browser for Mac and Windows PCs. Safari loads web pages 1.9 times faster than IE 7 and 1.7 times faster than Firefox 2. Safari also runs JavaScript up to six times faster than other browsers and is the first browser to support the latest innovative web standards needed to deliver the next generation of highly interactive Web 2.0 experiences*. Safari 3.1 is available immediately as a free download for both Mac OS X and Windows.

"Safari 3.1 for Mac and Windows is blazingly fast, easy to use, and features an elegant user interface," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. "And best of all, Safari supports the latest audio, video, and animation standards for an industry-leading Web 2.0 experience."

To update to Safari 3.1, use Apple Software Update or a standalone installer [your editor highly recommends the latter]. You only need to use one of these methods to update your computer.

Software Update will automatically check for the latest Apple software using the Internet. (You might have followed a Software Update link to this article to learn more about the update.) If your computer is not up-to-date, other available software updates will appear.

Download the update installer and run it manually. This is a useful option when you need to update multiple computers but only want to download the update once [or just if you want to minimize the potential for problems - ed].

Safari software updates are delivered seamlessly through Apple's Software Update application, which automatically checks for updates.

Safari 3.1 for Mac OS X requires Mac OS X Leopard or Mac OS X Tiger version 10.4.11, a minimum of 256 MB of memory, and is designed to run on any Intel-based Mac or a Mac with a PowerPC G5, G4, or G3 processor and built-in FireWire. Safari 3.1 for Windows requires Windows XP or Windows Vista, a minimum of 256 MB of memory, and a system with at least a 500 MHz Intel Pentium processor.

(* Performance will vary based on system configuration, network connection and other factors. HTML and JavaScript benchmarks based on VeriTest's iBench Version 5.0 using default settings running on an iMac 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo system running Windows XP, with 1 GB of RAM.

Apple Smashes Mac Sales Record in February

tech.co.uk's Rob Mead reports:

"Mac sales are continuing to grow at a phenomenal rate, with US consumer sales up 60 per cent in the last 12 months, according to new numbers from market research firm NPD. The figures also show that Apple's market share now stands at 14 per cent - naysayers take note."

Mac Sales Soar to Capture 14% of US Retail Market

ZD Net's Adrian Kingsley-Hughes reports:

"Mac sales have now soared to account for 14% unit share and 25% dollar share of all US-based PC retail sales, that's according to market research firm NPD.

"Here's a breakdown of the data:

  • Mac unit share up from 9% in Feb 07 to 14% in Feb 08.
  • Mac dollar share up from 16% in Feb 07 to 25% in Feb 08.
  • Notebook unit sales up 64% (compared to 20% in the retail segment as a whole)
  • Notebook unit revenue up 67% (compared to 11% in the retail segment as a whole)
  • Desktop unit sales up 55% (compared to -5% in the retail segment as a whole)
  • Desktop unit revenue up 68% (compared to -2% in the retail segment as a whole)

"So, what's behind this?"

Could Rising Mac Sales Spell the End for the PC?

OnSoftware's Nicholas Mead says:

"Are the days of PCs and Windows really numbered? Will the world eventually convert to Macs? Maybe these sound like rather wild suggestions but what's clear is that Apple Macs are selling better than ever before - and in a time when economies around the world have started to slow down.

"Fortune recently reported that Mac sales worldwide went up 60% last month compared to the same period in 2007. At the same time, Apple's share of the US Market has almost doubled from 9% to 14% over the same period. Fortune reports that in dollar terms, Apple captured a full 25 percent of the US computer market last month."

Should Mac Users Run Antivirus Software?

TidBits' Rich Mogull says:

"When people find out I'm a security expert, I can almost guarantee the ensuing conversation will evolve in one of three ways. If they are technologically illiterate, I'll have to explain I don't know anything about trading securities and can't help them with any hot tips. If they use Windows, I'll tell them to back up their data and reformat the system. But if they use Macs, the discussion usually becomes a little more complicated....

"The reality is that today the Mac platform is relatively safe. There are hundreds of thousands of viruses and other malicious software programs floating around for Windows, but less than 200 are known to target the Mac, and many of those are aimed at versions of the Mac OS prior to Mac OS X (and thus have no effect on a modern Mac)."

Apple Updates AirPort Express with 802.11n

PR: Apple has updated its AirPort Express mobile base station with 802.11n to deliver up to five times the performance and twice the range of the previous model*. Priced at just $99, AirPort Express is the world's smallest 802.11n-based mobile base station. It can be plugged directly into the wall for wireless Internet connectivity and USB printing at home or easily brought on the road for wireless freedom wherever there is an Internet connection. AirPort Express features AirTunes™, which works seamlessly with iTunes to give users a simple and inexpensive way to wirelessly stream iTunes music from a PC or Mac to any room in the house.

"Apple is leading the way with a broad range of innovative 802.11n base stations for almost any wireless networking need," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. "From the small and portable AirPort Express, to AirPort Extreme for workgroups of up to 50 users and the new Time Capsule for automated backups, Apple customers now have more great ways to extend their wireless networks with 802.11n."

AirPort Express features a single-piece, compact design weighing just 6.7 ounces, providing maximum portability. AirPort Express offers both PC and Mac users the ability to share a single DSL or cable broadband connection with up to 10 simultaneous users. Users can also share a printer wirelessly that is connected to the USB port. Apple's AirPort Utility software provides easy step-by-step instructions for setting up and configuring AirPort Express; and with its advanced security features, AirPort Express safeguards data on networked computers with support for WiFi Protected Access (WPA/WPA2), 128-bit WEP encryption and a built-in firewall. Apple now includes 802.11n as standard in its entire line of AirPort base stations and Mac notebooks as well as iMac, Apple TV and Time Capsule™.

AirPort Express includes a built-in combination digital and analog audio connector allowing users to connect to a home stereo or powered speakers. iTunes automatically detects remote speakers and displays them in a simple popup list for the user to select. Once the remote speakers are selected, AirTunes wirelessly streams iTunes music from the computer to the AirPort Express base station. Multiple AirPort Express base stations can be set up around a home, each connected to a set of powered speakers for a whole-home music experience. AirPort Express can also extend the range of an existing AirPort Extreme wireless network.

AirPort Express is available immediately through the Apple Store, Apple's retail stores, and Apple Authorized Resellers for a suggested retail price of $99.

*AirPort Express is based on an IEEE 802.11n draft specification. Actual performance will vary based on range, connection rate, site conditions, size of network and other factors.

Reviews

New Mac Pro a Speed Demon

Computerworld's Michael DeAgonia reports:

"The upgraded Mac Pro pushes apps to the limit with a pair of quad-core chips and up to 32 GB of RAM

"In front of me, two 30-in. Apple Cinema Displays glow softly at my desk. Beside me sits the fastest stock-configuration Macintosh that Apple has ever shipped: a superfast eight-core Mac Pro. Inside the Mac - and on full display on those screens - is Mac OS X 10.5, better known as Leopard, Apple's latest operating system. All around me is the work I've been putting off that is now getting done."

New Mac Pro Packs a Mighty Punch

IT Business.ca's Michael DeAgonia reports:

In front of me, two 30-in. Apple Cinema Displays glow softly at my desk. Beside me sits the fastest stock-configuration Macintosh that Apple Inc. has ever shipped: a superfast eight-core Mac Pro....

2.8 GHz Mac Pro 'Delivers Significantly Higher Performance'

AMUG's Michael Bean reports:

"On January 8, 2008 Apple announced the release of a new Mac Pro model with eight processor cores and a new system architecture that delivers significantly higher performance. The base Apple Mac Pro 2.8 GHz model MA970LL/A is $2,799. For those looking for slightly higher processor speeds, 3.0 GHz ($3,599) and 3.2 GHz ($4,399) models are also available. Apple offers custom configurations at the Apple Store which include a single quad-core Intel Xeon processor (-$500), additional memory, an $800 four-channel internal RAID 5 card, hard drive upgrades, video card upgrades, displays, wireless, fibre channel, modem, software, printers, AppleCare and more. Selecting all of the available options for the Mac Pro at the Apple Store can raise the final price to over $28,000. During this review the Apple Mac Pro 2.8 GHz model was tested to determine how it compares to the original Mac Pro 2.66 GHz model."

Apple Updates

Security Update 2008-002 for Leopard and Tiger

PR: Apple Security Updater 2008-002 is recommended for all users and improves the security of Mac OS X. Previous security updates have been incorporated into this security update.

Security Update 2008-002 v1.0

Security Update 2008-002 is recommended for all users and improves the security of Mac OS X. Previous security updates have been incorporated into this security update.

Security Update 2008-002 v1.0 Server

Security Update 2008-002 is recommended for all servers and improves the security of Mac OS X. Previous security updates have been incorporated into this security update.

Products

Miglia TVMini HD Express: One Touch TV for Your Mac or iPod

PR: Miglia, a leading brand in digital media products, has announced the release of the Mac only TV Mini HD Express for US "free to air" digital television users. Shipping with The Tube software the TVMini HD Express puts you in control of where, when and how you watch TV. Users can watch, pause, rewind, skip forward and even record live digital TV. With the new TubeToGo feature you can now watch your prerecorded TV anywhere in the world with just a web browser and a WiFi connection.

TVMini HD ExpressMiglia, a leading brand in digital media products, has announced the release of the Mac only TV Mini HD Express for US "free to air" digital television users.

Shipping with The Tube software the TVMini HD Express puts you in control of where, when and how you watch TV: you can watch, pause, rewind, skip forward and even record live digital TV. With the new TubeToGo feature you can now watch your prerecorded TV anywhere in the world with just a web browser and a WiFi connection.

Don't have time to watch the recording? No problem, with the easy exports option you have your content, on your iPod easily and quickly, ready to watch at your convenience. A new approach to watching TV that puts the control, not just the remote control, in your hands!

Key features

  • Watch, Pause, Rewind, Skip forward, Live HD TV
  • Record your favourite shows
  • Change channels, volume and pause live TV using your Apple Remote
  • Made for your Mac
  • Small portable Aluminum enclosure

Technical Specifications

  • Built in USB 2.0 connectivity
  • USB A Type
  • ATSC free to air digital TV
  • Standard definition 720p, 1080i resolution
  • Connect via antenna or cable
  • Record MPEG-2, export h.264 or MPEG-4
  • USB powered, no external power supply required

The TVMini HD Express is available from Miglia's distribution partners or online store, with a retail price of $99. A list of distributors and resellers is available on Miglia's website. If you wish to write a review of the TVMini HD Express for your magazine or online site, please do not hesitate to contact Miglia directly at their website or by phone at +44 (0) 1422 892 592.

Mercury Elite-AL Pro FireWire+USB 2.0 Reaches 1 TB

PR: Other World Computing (OWC) has announced the introduction and immediate availability of its new OWC Mercury Elite-AL Pro FireWire+USB 2.0 Combo storage drives featuring SATA technology with a starting price of $107.99 and capacities up to 1.0 TB for Plug 'N Play, hot swappable storage.

The latest in the OWC Mercury Elite-AL storage line, the Mercury Elite-AL Pro FireWire+USB 2.0 Combo storage drives feature the latest Oxford 934 performance chipset, the best SATA mechanisms available, two FireWire 400 1394A 6 Pin, and one USB 2.0 port. Drives may be stacked or stood vertically (stand included) and measure only 9.3" (length) x 1.4" (height) x 5.6" (width) or 237mm x 36mm x 142mm.

The drive's two FireWire ports allow it to be daisy-chained to any additional FireWire devices. Its Oxford chipset allows Plug 'N Play compatibility with virtually any Mac, PC, and Linux-based computer that supports either a FireWire or USB 2.0 Interface. Data may be accessed/read/written interchangeably between any of the FireWire and USB 2.0 ports allowing the seamless use of the drives between multiple systems or for upgrading corresponding computer systems.

OWC Mercury Elite-AL Pro FireWire+USB 2.0 Combo Drives Pricing:

  • 80 GB 7200 rpm 8 MB cache, $107.99
  • 160 GB 7200 rpm 8 MB cache, $117.99
  • 250 GB 7200 rpm 8 MB cache, $137.99
  • 320 GB 7200 rpm 16 MB cache, $147.99
  • 400 GB 7200 rpm 16 MB cache, $159.99
  • 500 GB 7200 rpm 16 MB cache, $175.99
  • 750 GB 7200 rpm 16 MB cache, $239.99
  • 1.0 TB 7200 rpm 32 MB cache, $369.99 ($339.99 after limited time rebate)

All OWC Mercury Elite-AL drives are tested and certified for demanding audio/video, backup, movies, graphics, music, photography, data, and more. The drive's sleek aluminum design optimizes function with fanless heat dissipation while aesthetically enhancing the desktop, and is specifically built to safely endure the rigorous demands of portability.

OWC Mercury Elite-AL Pro storage drive solutions are available from Other World Computing with everything needed for immediate Plug 'N Play operation: FireWire and USB 2.0 cables; Intech HD SpeedTools utility suite; Prosoft Data Backup for Mac OS X(r); NovaStor NovaBackup for Windows; and a full 2-year warranty.

NewerTech Lowers Price on MAXPower 802.11n Wireless Line

PR: Newer Technology, Inc. has announced new lower pricing on its MAXPower 802.11n/g/b Wireless line of router and adapters. The lowest-priced fully Mac OS X supported WiFi products available on the market, MAXPower delivers up to 4 times the range and the fastest data transfer rates for wireless home and office networking.

The NewerTech MAXPower 802.11n/g/b Wireless Line includes:

  • MAXPower Router: MAXPower 802.11n/g/b Wireless Router, now priced at $89.99.
  • MAXPower Adapters:
    • MAXPower 802.11n/g/b Wireless USB 2.0 Stick Adapter & Extension Cradle, now $57.99.
    • MAXPower 802.11n/g/b Wireless PCMCIA Laptop CardBus Adapter, now $54.99.
    • MAXPower 802.11n/g/b Wireless PCI Adapter with moveable antenna base for desktop computers, now $54.99.

Maximum Range and Fastest Data Transfer Rate of 300 Mbps

NewerTech MAXPower 802.11n/g/b Wireless Router and Adapters utilize MIMO, a signal processing and smart antenna technology, to transfer multiple data streams through multiple antennas. By efficiently utilizing the clearest data path in all environments, the MAXPower 802.11n/g/b Wireless Router and Adapters offer the fastest, most reliable wireless data transfer rate of up to 300 Mbps, with an up to four times greater reception range over 802.11g. Network users can share Internet access, media files and network resources, such as printers and storage drives simultaneously, even from the furthest room in a home or office, without needing additional costly repeaters.

Because the NewerTech MAXPower 802.11n/g/b Wireless Router and Adapters are backwards compatible with earlier 802.11g/b wireless standards, users can add MAXPower products to their current network, while still maintaining their existing investment. All products are Plug & Play easy to install with setup through onscreen menus.

Maximum Security and Privacy in One Touch

The latest encryption and security features are built into the MAXPower Router and Adapters to protect the network and individual computers from hackers and unauthorized users. With a simple press of the WPS (WiFi Protected Setup) button on the MAXPower Router, a wireless network is automatically configured with a network name (SSID) and WPA data encryption and authentication.

Access the Internet Wherever You Go

The MAXPower Wireless PCMCIA Laptop CardBus Adapter or the USB 2.0 Stick Adapter and Extension Cradle can be used to access the Internet and your email wirelessly in public locations, such as coffee shops, airports, and hotels. The included Extension Cradle also lets you position the Wireless USB 2.0 Stick for optimal reception wherever you go.

The NewerTech MAXPower 802.11n/g/b Wireless line is available immediately from NewerTech's exclusive distributor, Other World Computing.

New Rolleiflex MiniDigi Twin Lens Reflex Released

Rolleiflex MiniDigiPR: Direct Source Marketing, the US distributor for medium and large format Horseman and Rolleiflex professional cameras, today announced the MiniDigi AF 5.0, a three-inch high, fully functional digital replica of the original and classic twin reflex camera. Not only is it small, it takes "cool" to another level with its red or black casing.

Rolleiflex MiniDigiIn 2006, Rolleiflex introduced the original MiniDigi, which looked like the original but, due to popular demand it quickly sold out. The new MiniDigi AF (auto focus) 5.0 has been given some significant performance upgrades, including a 5 MP image file from a 3 MP CMOS sensor; auto focus (between 10cm and infinity); and a clear 1.1 inch TFT, which allows you to preview and review images on a very clear 1.1 inch monitor, which is located at the top of the camera as it is on the full-sized Rolleiflex TLR.

It is available through specialty retailers. Pricing is expected to be $399 MSRP.

The classic Rollei twin reflex camera has been a favorite of professional photographers since it was introduced in 1929 to this day. The original camera's two lenses, one above the other; a hand crank lever; shutter release; hooded viewfinder; the coal-black casing, and the Rolleiflex logo have always set it apart. The new Rolleiflex MiniDigi has the look and feel of the original, but easily fits in the palm of your hand or pocket. Most importantly, it's a camera with features that are not only nostalgic, but also unique in the digital world.

Rolleiflex MiniDigi

Take the hand crank. Like its parent, the hand crank is an integral part of the camera, but instead of advancing film (which it obviously doesn't have), the Rollei MiniDigi's crank prepares the camera for the next shot. Another unique feature is the classic popup hood and viewfinder. The hood means no stray light gets in the way.

Still another nostalgic design feature that has modern applications is the square format. The square format means no shutter opportunities or valuable seconds are lost having to choose between horizontal or vertical position. You simply look downward into the viewfinder at waist level, aim, and then shoot from the waist.

Besides the features unique to Rolleiflex, the MiniDigi incorporates digital camera technology - Mini SD memory cards w/SD card adapter, white balance, fast shutter speeds, 3 MP sensor, LCD monitor, etc.

Though it's not intended to be a full-featured digital camera, it takes good pictures and is an attention-getter and conversation piece.

Software

AlSoft Releases DiskWarrior 4.1 CD Updater

PR: AlSoft has released the DiskWarrior 4.1 CD updater for registered DiskWarrior 4 version 4.0 users as a free download. This updater will allow you to create a new startup CD containing the updated DiskWarrior application.

Note that the new startup CD will start up the same set of Macs as your current DiskWarrior CD. Your new CD will not start up any Mac that your current DiskWarrior CD can not.

DiskWarrior 4 version 4.1 is now shipping on DiskWarrior CD revision 42. This CD is a universal startup CD that can start up both PowerPC and Intel Macs. All Mac models meeting the system requirements for DiskWarrior except the new Mac Pro and Xserve models introduced on 01/08/2008, the MacBook Air introduced on 01/15/2008, and the MacBook/MacBook Pro models introduced on 02/26/2008 can be started from the CD.

Desktop Mac Deals

Low End Mac updates the following price trackers monthly:

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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