Mac News Review

Non-Intel Chips in Next Macs?, Dell Studio Hybrid Takes on Mac mini, Mac Buyer's Guide, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2008.08.01

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

Products

Software

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

Next-gen Macs May Have 'Something Special' Inside

AppleInsider's Kasper Jade says:

"A new generation of personal computers on the way from Apple Inc. may sport some of the most significant architectural changes since the Mac maker made the jump from PowerPC processors to those manufactured by Intel Corp., AppleInsider has learned.

"As part of its move to Intel chips in early 2006, the Cupertino-based company largely abandoned its practice of using custom motherboard chipsets to support the primary CPU in its Macs. Instead, it began to rely on slightly tweaked versions of industry-standard chipsets offered by Intel to the broad range of PC manufacturers that develop Intel-powered systems....

"However, with Apple striving to maintain Mac sales growth of more than two times the industry average, it's again looking to differentiate the architecture of its personal computer systems....

"...people familiar with these plans say an upcoming generation of Macs, lead by a trio of redesigned notebooks, won't adopt the Montevina chipset announced as part of Intel's Centrino 2 mobile platform earlier this month. What's more, those same people suggest the chipset employed by the new wave of Macs may have little or nothing to do with Intel at all. (This should not be confused with the primary CPU, which will continue to come from Intel.)

Custom Mac Chipsets Implausible

Cult-of-Mac's Pete Mortensen says:

"...the rumor circulating through the Intertubes this week . . . claims that Apple intends to use non-Intel silicon on its upcoming Macs. Not for the CPU, which will remain Intel, but for the rest of the chipset. While this rumor has slightly more credibility than it would if Apple had not recently purchased PA Semi or if AMD and VIA weren't pumping out chipsets like crazy. And as AppleInsider notes, such a move could help Apple to differentiate based on silicon. Everyone else is using Montevina, and Apple could have something unique. It sounds like good judgment.

"Except it's a waste of time and money. Worse, it's a losing strategy. After all, Apple doesn't need to differentiate on silicon. Industrial design and software is enough. To read why, click through...."

Can Apple Learn from Dell's Studio Hybrid?

Cult of Mac's Craig Grannell says:

"Although once famously proud of annihilating its R&D budget, it appears Dell is now in some cases reading from the Book of Apple, in taking existing ideas and - at least in some ways - improving them. In recent weeks, Dell Studio Hybridwe've seen the Dell Dock, taking the UI device from OS X that's loved and loathed in equal measure and adding handy auto-categorization. (And, yes, I'm well aware Apple didn't invent docks, but if you've been paying attention, that's kind of my point.)

Dell Studio Hybrid"However, while the Dell Dock is an interesting curiosity, the Studio Hybrid (depicted) is a rather more ballsy production, not only taking on the Mac mini and Apple TV, but exposing some of the shortcomings in Apple's range of highly consumer-oriented desktop machines."

Editor's note: The Studio Hybrid starts as $499 with a 1.86 GHz Pentium Dual Core CPU (we know it as Core Duo on the Mac), an 8x SuperDrive, 1 GB of RAM (shared with video), integrated X3100 graphics, a 160 GB 5400 rpm hard drive, Windows Vista Home Basic, and uses less than one-third as much electricity as "a typical desktop". Dimensions are 7.75" x 2.82" x 8.33" (vs. 6.5" x 6.5" x 2.0" for the Mac mini), and it weighs 4.8 lb. (vs. 2.9 for the Mac mini). It has one FireWire port, five USB 2.0 ports, and an HDMI video connector for digital TVs. WiFi is not a standard feature, but it does include a mouse and keyboard.

Customization options include color, 2.0 to 2.6 GHz Core 2 Duo CPUs, other versions of Vista, a Blu-ray drive, a Sound Blaster card, a TV tuner and remote, a wireless keyboard and mouse, and 802.11n WiFi. No indication on Dell's website about expansion slots or whether it uses a notebook hard drive (probably), but Apple should take notice and update the Mac mini in light of Dell's attention getting offering. dk

Don't Call it a Mac Clone: It's a 'Multi-Platform Desktop Computer'

PR: RSOL PC has announced the release of their low-cost Jive Series Multi-Platform desktop computer that has been tested to be capable of running all major operating systems like Windows XP, Windows Vista, popular Linux distributions of Ubuntu and Fedora, and even the modified version of Apple, Inc's OS X 10.5 Leopard, commonly known as "OSx86". The Jive Series Multi-Platform Desktop is available for purchase through the company's web site, and the first units are expected to ship on or around August 8, 2008.

Jive Series Multi-Platform computerInside the Jive Series computers, endusers will find traditional PC hardware like an Intel E4600 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo CPU with 2 MB L2 cache, a 500 GB SATA II hard drive, a 20X DVD+/-RW SATA drive with LightScribe, 2 GB DDR2 memory (expandable to 8 GB), an Nvidia GeForce 7300GS 256 MB PCIe video card, Gigabit ethernet, 8-channel digital audio, a USB keyboard & mouse, 6 USB and 2 FireWire ports. The only thing that needs to be added by the enduser is a monitor and an operating system if that option was declined at the time of purchase. The base model will be retailing for $628 plus shipping and applicable sales taxes.

The Jive Series Multi-Platform Desktop offers generous technical capabilities at a relatively low cost, and RSOL PC will offer the pre-installation of Windows XP, Windows Vista, Fedora or Ubuntu from the factory. While the likelihood of endusers purchasing the Jive Series for the sole purpose of running OSx86 is low, RSOL PC has again cautioned that only properly licensed operating systems should be installed onto their computers.

Apple, Inc's software EULA for Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard specifically prohibits the installation of their operating system onto any computer that is not manufactured by Apple, Inc. Such licensing restrictions do not apply to any of the other mentioned compatible operating systems, but this particular requirement in Apple's EULA has been referenced in many online blogs during recent months due to the controversial release of an unauthorized "Mac clone" computer from South Florida PC manufacturer Psystar Corporation. Apple, Inc has subsequently charged Psystar with trademark and copyright infringements for allegedly distributing their 'Open Computer' with a preinstalled version of the modified Mac OS X operating system. The complaint was filed on July 3, 2008 in the US District Court, Northern District of California, case CV083251

A senior spokesperson from RSOL PC added "We've made it clear that our company and Apple, Inc are not affiliated in any manner, and anyone wishing to run Mac OS X is best advised to buy an authentic Mac computer from an Apple authorized retailer. Our computers are not 'Mac clones', and RSOL PC does not market them as such. We offer and recommend Microsoft Windows as the preferred operating system for our Jive Series because that's the only operating system we will be supporting through the product's limited warranty. We recognize the growing user interest in Linux distributions like Fedora or Ubuntu, so we offer to preinstall them also, but the enduser is responsible for obtaining their own software support. We are also not blind to the small group of folks that like to run OSx86, but if they want to go out and run OSx86 on our machine - which it's more than capable of doing - then that's their own choice. They just need to be aware and take full responsibility for essentially running a reverse-engineered version of a copyrighted operating system. They won't receive any software support from us, and it's unlikely they will receive any support from Apple. To be absolutely clear, the illegal distribution and use of Apple's operating system is not something we encourage or endorse at RSOL PC."

RSOL PC anticipates that even though there's a low cost base model (that does not include any preinstalled operating system), most models sold will actually be upgraded units that are preinstalled with Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium.

RSOL PC Services has been serving South Florida since 2003 and focuses on full service, computer sales and solutions for businesses and home users.

Apple Buyer's Guide: From MacBook Air to Xserve

InformationWeek's Richard Hoffman says:

"Maybe that most recent e-mail virus was the last straw. Maybe you've been longing for a computer that 'just works' and that you actually look forward to using. Maybe Microsoft Vista finally just sent you right around the bend. Perhaps it was that 'Mac guy' on the commercials. Or maybe you are the 'Mac guy.'

"For whatever reason, you've decided to buy a new computer from Apple and want a little help sorting out the different models. Well, you're in luck, because perhaps more than at any other time, Apple's product lineup is clear, logical, and targeted at distinct types of users and uses. The entire product line is one of the strongest Apple's ever had. Without hyperbole, it may be the best overall line of computers anyone has had, ever - there's not a bad Apple among the bunch, and some are truly superb....

"From design to function, from form to performance, you pretty much can't go wrong with anything Apple is currently selling. We've tested them all in our labs over the past months, and they're just that good. Read on and we'll help you choose the right one."

When Will Apple Fix the Mighty Mouse?

MacUser's David Dahlquist says:

"As I write this, I am awaiting the shipment of my third wireless Mighty Mouse, courtesy of AppleCare, in less than 16 months. I'm betting most of you who've owned a Mighty Mouse (wireless or not) for over 6 months will know what my issue has been. That's right: the trackball. It just stops working!"

"Apple: I agree that the Mighty Mouse, especially the wireless one, is an awesome idea, and the ability to scroll horizontally is nothing short of bad ass, but when I pay $70 for a mouse, I expect it to last more than 6 months. I feel especially sorry for those who purchased the Mighty Mouse separate from their Macs, thus leaving it uncovered by extended AppleCare."

IEEE 1394-2008 (FireWire) Standard Approved

PR: The IEEE has approved IEEE 1394, "Standard for High Performance Serial Bus." The revised specification combines and incorporates all previous IEEE 1394 standards developed since 1994.

Commercially known under the brand names of FireWire and i.LINK, the IEEE 1394 standard provides specifications for a high-speed serial bus which supports both asynchronous and isochronous communication and integrates well with most IEEE standard 32-bit and 64-bit parallel buses. More than 500 million IEEE 1394 ports have been produced since the standard was first published in 1995.

"The new standard includes all of the amendments, enhancements and more than 100 errata which have been added to the base standard over the last 12 years," said Les Baxter, chair of the working group which developed the standard. "This update provides developers with a single document they can rely upon for all of their application needs."

The 1394-2008 standard updates and revises all prior 1394 standards, including 1394a, 1394b, 1394c, enhanced UTP, and the 1394 beta plus PHY-Link interface. It also incorporates the complete specifications for S1600 (1.6 Gigabit/second bandwidth) and for S3200, which provides 3.2 Gigabit/second speeds.

The standard is expected to be available this October.

The IEEE Standards Association, a globally recognized standards-setting body, develops consensus standards through an open process that brings diverse parts of industry together. These standards set specifications and procedures based on current scientific and technological consensus. The IEEE-SA has a portfolio of over 870 active standards and more than 400 standards under development.

Products

MacSpeech Offers Samson Technologies' Airline 77 Wireless Microphone

PR: MacSpeech, Inc. has announced a new, approved wireless microphone option for use with MacSpeech Dictate. Now MacSpeech Dictate customers can choose an AirLine 77 wireless mic from Samson Technologies as an upgrade to the speech recognition solution's standard microphone. The AirLine 77 mic is available immediately for $349 directly from MacSpeech, Inc. at macspeech.com.

"Imagine using MacSpeech Dictate from nearly a football field away," explained Andrew Taylor, president and CEO of MacSpeech, Inc. "We're quite pleased to offer the AirLine 77 as a wireless mic option. MacSpeech Dictate includes an approved headset for quality input and accurate dictation results. For those who prefer a special or high-end mic, such as a freestanding desktop mic or a wireless mic, we offer several tested upgrade options directly from our web site. We are thrilled to add the AirLine 77 wireless mic option to our lineup."

The Samsom AirLine 77 is the first UHF wireless microphone certified for use with MacSpeech Dictate, allowing customers to dictate up to 300 feet away from their Mac. AirLine 77 is Samson's newest version of the AirLine series that features the first micro-technology transmitters in the industry. AirLine 77 provides a true wireless system with no belt-packs and no cables, allowing the user complete freedom.

MacSpeech Dictate is a new speech recognition product for the Macintosh, with underlying speech recognition powered by the dictation technology used in Dragon® NaturallySpeaking® from Nuance Communications, Inc. MacSpeech Dictate delivers a truly Mac user experience, and conforms to behaviors already familiar to Macintosh fans worldwide. Beyond dictation, MacSpeech Dictate lets people perform basic navigation of their Mac and control it with their voice to launch applications, open new windows, execute menu commands, etc.

MacSpeech Dictate requires Intel-based Macintosh hardware and requires Mac OS X 10.4.11 or higher, including Mac OS X 10.5. MacSpeech Dictate is currently available in English at in the US, at in the UK, and in other English-speaking countries through International resellers and distributors listed at .

Plantronics .Audio 85 USB Stereo Headset Now 20% Off at MacSpeech

PR: Need a lightweight headset that will let you use MacSpeech Dictate everywhere you travel with your laptop? Take a look at the Plantronics .Audio 85 USB stereo headset , which is now $20 off at the MacSpeech online store. Through August 1, 2008, enter the coupon code AUDIO20 at checkout to buy the .Audio 85 for $39, instead of the regular $59 price.

The headset includes an adjustable noise-canceling microphone, which helps improve accuracy, along with inline volume and mute controls. It also features a lightweight frame that can be easily folded and stuffed in a backpack or briefcase.

The Audio 85 headset is a USB based lightweight, foldable headset that is compatible with both Macintosh and Windows based computers as well as iPods, iChat, video conferencing, multiplayer games and music listening. The headset comes with an adjustable microphone and an inline volume and mute adjuster.

The .Audio 85 features a lightweight frame, noise-canceling microphone, inline volume and mute control and compatibility with a number of popular programs such as Apple's iChat, iTunes, multiplayer video games, video conferencing and more. Unlike traditional headsets, the Audio 85 is a foldable analog or digital headset that you operate through your computer's USB port.

A great microphone for MacSpeech Dictate!

Features:

  • Noise-canceling microphone
  • Ultra-lightweight design
  • USB plug and play
  • Digital Signal Processing
  • Inline volume and mute controls
  • Lightweight, foldable and comfortable headset

Warranty: One year from Plantronics

Software

Free Pre-release Rescue Kit for Mac and CampTune for Mac

PR: Try the brand new recovery solution for Mac. You can't afford to lose all information on your computer. Lost productivity can be devastating, to say the least. Rescue Kit for Mac OS X Lite restores your system to its original state and rescues sensitive data enabling you to be up and running. It can safely and easily backup both Mac and Windows data to any media, including USB, FireWire and network storages. It does what it says - and comes to the rescue with a variety of solutions.

  • Rescue Kit for MacSmart Backup
  • Fast Restore
  • Backup your critical data
  • Unique: Backup your entire system with ability to boot from the created image!
  • Dramatically improved data safety technology
  • Recover individual files
  • Return your system to a stable and usable state
  • Valuable: Off-load folders/files to other partitions or drives before re-imaging or reinstalling the whole system
  • Easily redistribute space between Boot Camp and the Mac system partition with CampTune

Paragon CampTune is designed for dual-boot customers running both Mac OS and Windows on their Intel-based Mac. Paragon CampTune solves frequent maintenance problem arising when Boot Camp users run out of free space. With Paragon CampTune Mac users can easily redistribute free space between Macintosh and Windows partitions without data loss, so just in few minutes free megabytes can be added to Windows or Macintosh partition.

Bootable CD

Partitioning: Get high performance and minimal system overhead

With Rescue Kit for Mac, you can create a backup image of your Mac hard disk or separate partition. It provides the ability of bare metal restore in case of software or hardware malfunction. Paragon Software offers a bootable Rescue Environment on CD that will help you take an immediate action in case of a system crash.

Bring your system and data back to life with enhanced recovery:

  • Receive effective, uncomplicated system tool that can rescue your sensitive data from the worst stages of disaster and return your system to a stable and usable state
  • Off-load folders or files to other partitions or drives before re-imaging or reinstalling the whole system
  • Recover individual files in minutes from a corrupted disk by copying them to any external media or CD/DVD disk or to a local drive
  • Easily avoid the need to reload or re-image your system with enhanced recovery features for unparalleled protection: you can restore your data without having to install any additional software, even Paragon Rescue Kit for Mac doesn't need to be installed.

Broad your data protection with easy backup and data safety tools:

  • Perform complete system backup - create even a bootable sector based image
  • Safely and easily backup both your Mac OS and Windows OS and data to any media including USB, FireWire devices or network shares
  • Browse backup images and restore separate files and folders from them
  • Export the necessary files and folders from a backup image
  • With its easy-to-use interface and proven Paragon imaging and recovery technology, now you can have a dramatic improvement in data safety and ability to restore partitions /Individual Files/Folder Restore.

Key Features and Benefits of Paragon Rescue Kit For Mac OS X Lite:

  • Bootable Recovery Media: Perform a full backup/restore and/or file/folder rescue even if your operating system cannot be booted.
  • Complete system backup: Create even a bootable sector based image
  • File Transfer Wizard: Get complete access to any file system (even if they are unmounted or corrupted).
  • Data Backup: Safely and easily backup both your Mac OS and Windows OS and data to any media.
  • Individual File/Folder Restore: Built-in image browser to quickly find and restore individual files and/or folders.
  • Network Support: Easily backup and restore from any accessible network.
  • Backup to any media: Backup vital data to any media, including USB, FireWire devices or network shares.
  • All file systems are supported: Get access to the most commonly used file systems (FAT 16, FAT 32, NTFS, HPFS, EXT2FS, EXT3FS, Reiser, including Apple HFS(+)).
  • Easy-to-use: Intuitive, easy-to-use Wizards handle the most common and even complex tasks.

Full features list

Key features

  • Supports GPT and MBR hard disks
  • Supports USB 2.0 hard drives
  • Supports USB flash drives with GPT and MBR partition structures
  • Backup a separate partition including service data of the file system
  • Perform any Restore operations in case of the operating system corruption or other boot problems
  • Backup to any media, including USB and FireWire devices
  • Restore a partition or separate files from the backup archive

User friendly interface. Easily understandable icons and wizards accompany all functions of the program;

Easy-to-use, straightforward Backup and Restore Wizards provide a unique possibility to carry out these technically complicated operations even to a novice user;

Easily browse an archive of a separate partition getting access to its contents and copying the required information wherever you want to;

Access all file systems at once - just boot Recovery CD;

Network support;

DVD+/-R (DL) Support.

Basic Backup Features

  • Backup a separate partition
  • Backup all kinds of volumes
  • Save backup images to local drives
  • Save backup image to remote USB or FireWire device
  • Save backup images to network
  • Burn a backup archive to CD/DVDs (or write them to ISO-image files for later burning)
  • Compressing backup image
  • Set archive names and add comments
  • Interrupt backup operations if necessary.

Basic Recovery Features

  • Restore a separate partition from any accessible location
  • Browse backup images by File Transfer Wizard
  • Restore separate files and folders from backup archives by File Transfer Wizard.

User Interface Features

  • Wizard driven User Interface
  • Wizards for the majority of operations
  • Display estimated archive size
  • Display operation progress in graphic form and step by step
  • Display archive information.

System requirements:

Supported Operating Systems

  • Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger
  • Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard.

Supported hard drives and removable media

  • Parallel ATA (IDE) HDD (MBR and GPT based)
  • Serial ATA (SATA) HDD (MBR and GPT based)
  • SCSI HDD (MBR and GPT based)
  • All levels of SCSI, IDE and SATA RAID controllers
  • CD-R/RW
  • DVD-R/RW
  • DVD+R/RW
  • DVD+/-R (DL)
  • USB 1.0/2.0 and IEEE 1394 (FireWire) devices (MBR and GPT based)
  • PC card storage devices.
  • Supported File Systems
  • NTFS (all versions)
  • FAT16
  • FAT32
  • Linux Ext2FS
  • Linux Ext3FS
  • Linux Swap
  • HPFS
  • Apple HFS (+)
  • Other file systems (in Sector-by-Sector mode).

System Requirements

  • CPU: Intel based Macs
  • RAM: 256 MB
  • CD/DVD-ROM.

Restrictions

  • Backup an entire hard disk is not supported
  • Backup image can be restored to the same partition it was made
  • Backup of the first EFI (FAT32) partition (for GPT disks) is prohibited. There is no need to backup/restore this partition.

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