Mac News Review

Nvidia May Power New Mac mini and iMac, FireWire Firestorm, OS X on PCs, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2008.10.27

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

New Nvidia Motherboard May Offer Clue to Mac mini's Future

Macworld's Peter Cohen says:

"Nvidia this week introduced a desktop variation of the same motherboard design that debuted as part of Apple's new MacBook and MacBook Pro last week. Introduced Monday, the new GeForce 9-Series motherboards are coming from leading PC manufacturers this month.

new Nvidia motherboard"Apple's newest MacBook and MacBook Pro systems both share a motherboard design that features a motherboard-based graphics processing unit, or, in Nvidia's parlance, an mGPU. This enables the machines to work faster than previous MacBook systems could while still conserving energy, without having excessively slow integrated graphics.... The MacBook Pro also adds a discrete Nvidia graphics processor that users can turn on and off using Energy Saver controls if they prefer to have faster graphics....

"Companies Nvidia has announced that are manufacturing the motherboard include ASUS and Foxconn, two frequent manufacturing partners of Apple's.

"These last two items may provide some clues to the future of the long lamented Mac mini, which, according to one report, may be on its way out - at least in its current form...."

Nvidia Intros New Desktop Chipsets

AppleInsider's Sam Oliver reports:

"With its new mobile chipset platform now embedded in each of Apple's notebook families, Nvidia plans to step up its efforts to advance Mac game developments. Separately, the chipmaker has just announced similar GeForce 9400 and 9300 chipsets for desktop CPUs, which could find their way into new iMacs....

"Speaking to bi-tech.net last week, Nvidia General Manager for Notebook GPUs confirmed that his firm would proactively leverage its The Way It's Meant To Be Played program to encourage developers to release more titles for Mac...."

Due Next from Apple: Refreshed iMacs

AppleInsider reports:

"Assuming last minute snags are avoided, the coming weeks should bring new iMacs, rounding out Apple's 2008 hardware introductions as the company enters the holiday shopping season with one of its strongest product portfolios ever.

"Avid AppleInsider readers will notice that our little 2008 hardware roadmap . . . has thus far panned out quite nicely, clearing the way for new iMac models to edge their way to market sometime in the next four weeks."

The FireWire Firestorm

Mac Observer's Ted Landau says:

"Although I would prefer that FireWire remain an option - for all the commonly cited reasons (such as maintaining the capability to connect FireWire hard drives and FireWire-based camcorders), the complete demise of FireWire now appears inevitable. It absence from Apple's MacBooks is just the harbinger of what's coming down the road. So we might as well start getting used to it.

"...this ought not to be a big deal.

"Except there is one big deal here and it is a critical one for me: Target Disk Mode. As a troubleshooter, I am loathe to give up on this feature....

"If Apple could deliver an alternative to FireWire Target Disk Mode (allowing the mode to work via USB or Ethernet, if that's possible), I would not think twice about getting a MacBook sans FireWire. Without such an alternative, I won't be buying one, at least not until I have no other choice."

FireWire Isn't Alone: A Brief History of Features Apple Has Killed

Technologizer's Harry McCracken reports:

"Apple has a storied history of being the first company to introduce an array of new technologies in its computers, or among the very first, at least. It all started with color graphics in 1977's Apple II and continued features such as graphical user interfaces, FireWire, WiFi, Bluetooth, and light-up keyboards - and items such as the buttonless touchpads on its new laptops. But it's just as core to the company's character that it's often the first company to kill a technology if it appears to be heading for the dustbin of computing history.

"Which is causing a bit of a firestorm this week: The new MacBook has no FireWire port, and some Apple fans are very, very unhappy about that. In our T-Poll on the topic, 49% of respondents are pretty ticked off, and 85% think FireWire still has life in it; only 10 percent applaud Apple's decision....

"Like I say, Apple would clearly prefer to move too fast rather than too slowly when it comes to eliminating technologies that may be past their prime . . . I know of no instances in which feedback from angry customers caused it to reverse its decisions...."

No FireWire over Ethernet - Maybe in Snow Leopard

The Apple Core's Jason D. O'Grady says:

"Since Apple announced the new MacBook last week sans FireWire, there's been a backlash from the Apple community about the omission.

"Users love the high-speed data protocol for things like Target Disk Mode (TDM), transferring clips from digital video cameras and for connecting to external hard drives. Mac techs love FireWire because TDM is one of the best ways to diagnose a damaged hard drive (without having to physically remove it from the computer). In fact, over 60 percent of respondents to my recent poll said that they can't live without FireWire....

"Apple, in its infinite wisdom, decided that MacBooks don't need FireWire, and Steve Jobs claims that most camcorders are all USB, anyway. The problem is that it isn't true....

"In a piece written before the new MacBooks were announced some were speculating that Apple could support FireWire over Ethernet if the FireWire port was indeed dropped from the new MacBook. Unfortunately it has come to light that it's currently impossible to run FireWire over Ethernet....

"There is hope though...."

How to Turn Your Mac into a WiFi Access Point

InformationWeek's Mitch Wagner reports:

"No WiFi for your Apple? No problem. Make your Macintosh share its Internet connection, wirelessly, by following this step-by-step, illustrated guide."

Run Mac OS X on a PC

The Register's Brian Hurley says:

"Want to run Mac OS X on a PC? Perhaps you don't want to pay the premium for Apple's hardware - or Apple doesn't make the kind of computer you need, such as a netbook. Because of its native roots in Motorola and PowerPC code, this has traditionally required instruction level emulation. Two things have changed. Apple based Mac OS X on NeXT code, which could run on Intel. And since 2006 Apple has been making Intel PCs. In theory, installing Mac OS X on a PC is much easier....

"Should you try this? As a minimum, I'd recommend the following: You are comfortable editing BIOS settings and knowing the details of your hardware and chipsets. You're not afraid of the Unix command line (not a definite requirement, but many of the troubleshooting guides out there mention it, so you'll probably have to use it at some point). And probably the most important: You have a lot of time...."

EFI-X Dongle Co-Creator Asserts It's Legal to Run OS X on PCs

Softpedia's Filip Truta reports:

"Muzzle, a Dutch Hackintosh community site, has posted an interview with Davide Rutigliano, the co-creator of the EFI-X hack dongle and CEO of Art Studios Entertainment Media. Davide weighs in on the legality of the product and on what its future may be. Clearly a PC running Mac OS X is an intriguing subject, so we encourage you to read on.

"The EFi-X dongle is the last step towards porting Mac OS X to the PC without leaving anything important behind. Certain system requirements have to be met, of course, but if you pack the necessary hardware, reviewers say the experience is much better than with a typical Hackintosh. In fact, some say it works perfectly! Think this sounds too good to be true, or . . . legal? Think again, says Davide...."

Products

iKey Releases Keyboard with Trackpad and Bluetooth Technology

PR: iKey, Ltd. officially released a new industrial keyboard featuring Bluetooth wireless technology. It is the world's first fully sealed, wireless industrial keyboard with an integrated touchpad.

BT-87-TP keyboard

The new BT-87-TP keyboard is specially sealed to be dust proof and submersible. It features an integrated touchpad and 87 keys, including 12 function keys.

"The key difference between the BT-87-TP and our other wireless models is the Bluetooth technology," said Joel East of iKey Business Development. "It does not require a dongle or other external receiver and will connect easily with any Bluetooth-enabled computers, allowing users to carry the keyboard from workstation to workstation."

The compact case design and internal Bluetooth module make the BT-87-TP highly portable. It can be easily mounted or carried and can connect to any Bluetooth-enabled computer. This makes the new mobile keyboard an ideal fit for material handling, medical, food/beverage processing, and other environments where rugged flexibility is important.

Measuring roughly 12" x 7.75" x 2", the BT-87-TP is designed for mobility. The industrial keyboard features a rugged ABS polycarbonate case with an easy-to-clean silicon rubber key overlay, and is built to withstand harsh, dirty, dusty, wet, and corrosive environments.

Additionally, the keyboard can be used with enclosure-housed computers and machines that are separated by a barrier for safety, security, or environmental reasons. Each BT-87-TP requires two AA batteries.

MacWay Announces SilverDrive Quattro 1.5 TB

PR: MacWay has announced an industry first with the immediate availability of its SilverDrive Quattro 1.5 TB, the world's first 1.5 Terabyte quad interface single drive external Hard drive. It's High-end electronic featuring FireWire 800, FireWire 400, USB 2.0 and eSATA interfaces combined with a whooping 1.5 TB hard drive, makes it the fastest, the biggest an the most versatile external Hard drive offering on the market today.

SilverDrive QuattroThe SilverDrive Quattro 1.5 TB is the latest member of the SilverDrive Quattro lineup praised by the press (it got the Editor's pick award of the famous SVM Mac magazine) and users.

It's the industry's first whopping 1.5 TB capacity, offering 50% more hard drive space than the biggest competing single-drive products. Moreover, the exceptional speed of the hard drive sets new records.

The quad interfaces allows the SilverDrive Quattro to be connected to any computer using the best speed available. From the universal USB 2.0, the practical FireWire 400 to the speedy FireWire 800 and the fastest eSATA connection, the SilverDrive Quattro does it all.

Finally, all these technological breakthroughs ship alongside a very stylish enclosure 100% made of high-grade aluminum that allows it to skip a fan, thanks to its passive cooling properties, for the most silent operation possible.

The SilverDrive Quattro is priced at €299 (19.6% VAT included) for the brand new capacity of 1.5 TB and with quad interfaces

Specs

  • 100% high grade aluminum stylish enclosure
  • Passive cooling to avoid the use of a fan and allow the most silent operation
  • Excellent speed - eSATA mode is as fast as internal SATA
  • Excellent connectivity thanks to its eSATA, FireWire 800 (x2), FireWire 400 and USB 2.0 ports
  • Removable standing feet allowing vertical positioning for a footprint on the desk.

The SilverDrive Quattro hard drives are available worldwide through MacWay's www.macway.com online store or its Paris and Strasbourg retail stores :

  • SilverDrive Quattro 1.5 TB 7200 rpm : €299
  • SilverDrive Quattro 1 TB 7200 rpm : €189
  • SilverDrive Quattro 750 GB 7200 rpm : €169
  • SilverDrive Quattro 500 GB 7200 rpm: €129
  • SilverDrive Quattro 320 GB 7200 rpm: €109

Software

MacSpeech Ships First Major Update to MacSpeech Dictate

PR: MacSpeech, Inc. has released MacSpeech Dictate v1.2, the first major update to the premier speech recognition solution for the Macintosh. Now for the first time, MacSpeech Dictate customers can dictate any specific word, no matter how obscure, by spelling it letter-by-letter with the new Spelling mode.

The new version 1.2 update also introduces Phrase Training, which helps increase accuracy even more as one uses MacSpeech Dictate. The MacSpeech Dictate 1.2 update is also a maintenance release that fixes reported issues and introduces a new "Move" command for easier verbal editing of a document. The MacSpeech Dictate 1.2 update is free of charge and now available for registered customers, using the "Check for Updates" feature.

"MacSpeech Dictate 1.2 makes amazing accuracy get even better as you use it," explained Andrew Taylor, founder and CEO of MacSpeech, Inc. "We're thrilled with the huge leap forward this update provides our customers, who can now dictate precise spellings, move their cursor using their voice and improve their recognition accuracy toward the holy grail of 99%."

The new Spelling mode in version 1.2 makes it easy to spell-out acronyms, names and unusual words. The new Move command, introduced in version 1.2, allows people to use their voice to relocate the cursor within a document for easier vocal editing.

Version 1.2 includes new Phrase Training, what speech recognition applications on other platforms refer to as "Correction," to improve speech recognition accuracy over time. The new Phrase Training capabilities empower people to act immediately, when they notice text has been recognized differently than intended, and promptly train the application to recognize the word or phrase.

Recognition accuracy increases as a person uses MacSpeech Dictate, notices misrecognitions and trains the application right away. The applicable profile stores the Phrase Training data for future reference. Using Phrase Training as one uses MacSpeech Dictate continually increases accuracy over time from what was established during the initial voice training, or from specific execution of vocabulary training.

The MacSpeech Dictate 1.2 update also includes significant interface enhancements for a more efficient, intuitive experience.

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.

System requirements: MacSpeech Dictate requires Intel-based Macintosh hardware and requires Mac OS X 10.4.11 or Mac OS X 10.5.2 and higher.

MacSpeech Dictate is currently available in English in the US, in the UK, and in other English-speaking countries through International resellers and distributors.

PopCard 3.0 Brings iCards to the Masses

PR: Pixaria Software has announced the release of PopCard 3.0, a free to use, PHP script that gives website owners an easy way to add Apple 'iCards' style electronic greetings cards to their sites. The free PopCard 3.0 PHP script represents a great alternative for anyone looking to set up a similar service for visitors to their own site.

Pixaria Software announces the release of PopCard 3.0, a free to use, PHP script that gives website owners an easy way to add Apple 'iCards' style electronic greetings cards to their sites. With the recent demise of Apple's .mac iCards website as the company completes its transition to MobileMe, PopCard 3.0 represents a great alternative for anyone looking to set up a similar service for visitors to their own site.

What makes PopCard different from the wealth of other free and commercial electronic greeting card scripts is that with PopCard, the recipient isn't required to visit the website from which the card was originally sent. Instead, the image and the sender's personalised message arrive in the recipient's e-mail inbox as a beautifully rendered JPEG image attachment, resulting in more personal and user friendly message.

As well as providing a simple interface to pick from a selection of predefined images, PopCard can also be configured to securely use any JPEG image that can be accessed over the web. This makes it a snap to integrate with existing photo galleries such as Pixaria, Coppermine, Gallery 2 or even Flickr.

PopCard 3.0 is a complete rewrite of the original script (first released in 2004) and brings major performance and security enhancements, full Unicode support and greatly improved e-mail client support including all the major webmail services.

PopCard is available as a free download from the Pixaria Software website and support is provided via the Pixaria user forums.

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