Mac News Review

Danish Cops Use Macs, Mac Pro Hits 3.33 GHz, Data on Problematic Late 2009 iMacs, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2009.12.11

MacBook, PowerBook, iBook, 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

Tech Trends

Products & Services

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

Copenhagen police operations room Copenhagen Police Depend on Macs to Secure UN Environmental Conference

IT Pro's Nicole Kobie reports that the Danish Police Department will be relying on Macs and iPhones to coordinate security at the United Nations Climate Change conference in Copenhagen this week. Kobie notes that the Danish police force has been using Macs since 1996, when it switched from NeXTstep, and that the force's entire central command is now run by Mac Pros and Mac minis, with not a single PC to be seen.

Their current Mac-based system uses 25 Mac Pros and 73 Mac minis with an operations room featuring 14 workstations connected to multiple large displays.

British Luxury Hotel Dumps TVs, Installs iMacs

Macworld UK's Mark Hattersley reports that Macs are famous for lots of things, being the tool of choice for designers, writers, and video editors, and other creative types, popular in the education market, the stock-in-trade tool for the scientific community, and that the Mac plays a big, albeit mostly under-the-radar role in certain US government departments where security is a particular issue.

However, the hotel industry may be next. Hattersley reports that London's über-cool Bermondsey Square Hotel is taking out its room televisions and replacing them with iMacs, all networked to an in-house Xserve, observing that replacing TVs with a computerized system is an obvious choice for many hoteliers.

Wall-mounted iMacs are now the Bermondsey Square Hotel's mainstay, although some rooms have Mac minis.

Apple Updates Mac Pro with 3.33 GHz Quad-core Option

In another of its stealth hardware upgrades, late last week Apple quietly added a faster quad-core processor BTO option to its high-end Mac Pro tower.

The available 3.33 GHz quad-core Intel Xeon option adds $1,200 the base configuration price of $2,499. An optional 2.93 GHz processor remains available at $400 over the base 2.66 GHz quad-core Intel Xeon "Nehalem" CPU. With four cores and an integrated memory controller, the Quad-Core Intel Xeon Nehalem processor boosts performance nearly 2x.2

Two Quad-Core Intel Xeon Nehalem processors give you a total of eight processor cores:

  • One 2.66 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon
  • One 2.93 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon [Add $400.00]
  • One 3.33 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon [Add $1,200.00]
  • Two 2.26 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon
  • Two 2.66 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon [Add $1,400.00]
  • Two 2.93 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon [Add $2,600.00]

Other BTO options include up 32 GB of memory, up to 8 TB storage in four 2-terabyte hard drives, and a spectrum of AMD and Nvidia GPU options.

Website Collecting Data on Problematic iMacs

The Register's Cade Metz reports that what he characterizes as a "grassroots fanboi site" has been posted to document what would appear to be widespread hardware problems with Apple's latest iMac desktops.

There have been widespread reports and complaints of the latest generation iMacs arriving with cracked screens, flickering displays, and sometimes completely DOA.

The iMac consumer protest site imac.squeaked.com was launched by Bedford, Nova Scotia-based web designer Scott Pronych, a Mac user since 1984, whose new iMac arrived with a crack in the lower left-hand corner.

A recent summary of Late 2009 iMac issues posted by imac.squeaked.com includes:

  • Total: 572
  • Perfect (no issues): 94
  • Flickering display: 264
  • Cracked glass (bottom left): 63
  • Cracked glass (other location): 16
  • Noisy Screen: 28
  • Yellow screen: 27
  • DOA (won't boot): 18
  • Dead pixels: 13
  • Noisy hard drive: 12
  • Noisy fans: 7
  • Hard drive failure: 1
  • Other issue: 29

Editor's note: Bear in mind that iMac owners are less likely to post to a site such as this if they have no problems than if they do have problems, so this data does not reflect the overall problem rate for new iMacs, only the distribution of problems among reporting iMac users. dk

California Could Side with Apple on Smoker's Warranties

ZD Net's Jason D. O'Grady reports:

"Last week I reported that Apple denied warranty coverage on two customer's Macs because they had been exposed to smoke. Now it looks like the law may side with Apple on this one, in California anyway.

"According to the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) California became the first state to declare secondhand smoke a toxic air pollutant on January 27, 2006."

Tech Trends

Canadian Reseller Posts Intel Core i3 Chip Details

Canadian mail order reseller A-Power Computer Online posted a product page - since removed - featuring the Intel Core I3 530 2.93 GHz dual-core processor at a discount price of C$152.19 (Regular Price: C$156.76)

A-Power Computer briefly listed the Intel i3 CPU on its website
A-Power Computer briefly listed the Intel i3 CPU on its website.

Specs cited include:

  • Model Number - Core i3-530
  • Frequency - 2933 MHz
  • L2 Cache - 2 x 256 KB
  • L3 Cache - 4 MB

Editor's note: Intel's i3 CPU is the entry-level "little brother" to the quad-core i5 and i7 CPUs used in top-end 27" iMacs. We know of no plans by Apple to use the i3 in future Macs, but Apple generally keeps mum on its plans for future products. The i3 is replacing Intel's Centrino brand for CPUs. dk

Products & Services

Gboard Dedicated Gmail Keyboard

GboardGboardPR: Gboard is a USB mini-keyboard dedicated to Google's Gmail email service, with 19 colored keys in a standard size numpad-only keypad. Clicking on the various keys executes a particular keyboard shortcut such as starring messages, launching a search, and switching between message threads. When used with other applications the Gboard's act as normal keyboard buttons, and will type in whatever letter or number corresponds with that shortcut.

The USB device requires no proprietary drivers, but keyboard shortcuts must be enables in Gmail's settings for it to work.

GboardDimensions (DxWxH)

  • Box: 6.9 x 4.75 x 0.88 in / 176 x 116 x 22 mm
  • Product: 4.88 x 3.5 x .38 in / 130 x 88 x 9 mm

Weight

  • 0.3 lb / 0.14 kg (product + packaging)

System Requirements

  • Recent Apple OS
  • Recent Windows OS
  • Current Browser
  • USB port

Gboard sells for $19.99.

RadTech ClearCal Antiglare Film for 21.5" and 27" iMacs

PR: ClearCal AG (antiglare) films greatly improve the viewability of glossy glass displays when used in brightly lit or outdoor environments. ClearCal films combine a tempered 2-mil matte finished, antireflection layer, permanently laminated to a 3-mil flexible transparent base. A blemish-healing siliconized adhesive provides an optically-correct, yet easily removable bond that conceals existing surface defects like abrasions and scratches. The siliconized adhesive is permanently bonded to the base layer and will never leave any residue behind if later removed.

ClearCal's tempered, optically-correct surface resists scratches and abrasions and is easy to clean. In addition to glare reduction, ClearCal provides a level of impact protection and minimizes the appearance of oils or streaking if the display is touched. Detailed, illustrated instructions included - installation video link located elsewhere on this page.

Features:

  • Provides good impact protection for glass displays
  • Significantly reduces glare in brightly lit or outdoor environments
  • Reduces eyestrain, flares and reflections
  • Blemish-healing siliconized adhesive layer conceals existing abrasions / scratches
  • Can be removed, cleaned and reapplied several times
  • Minimizes the appearance of oils and streaks if touched
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Also available for iPod touch and iPhone

ClearCal Antiglare Film for iMacsClearCal Specs:

  • Material: Laminated PETE
  • Film Thickness: 5 mil
  • Transmissivity: 94%
  • Size & Weight:
    • 13": 296 x 188mm / 114g
    • 15": 341 x 217mm / 116g
    • 17": 374 x 237mm / 122g
    • 20": 446 x 283mm / 187g
    • 21.5": 495 x 290mm / 190g
    • 24": 535 x 340mm / 204g
    • 27": 620 x 355mm / 213g
  • Fits:
    • 13" MacBook/Pro (unibody)
    • 15" MacBook Pro (unibody)
    • 17" MacBook Pro (unibody)
    • Apple 20" iMac (alum & glass)
    • Apple 21.5" iMac (alum & glass)
    • Apple 24" iMac (alum & glass)
    • Apple 27" iMac (alum & glass)
    • Apple 24" LED Display

From: $19.95

Harman Kardon GLA-55 Speaker System: Audio Luxury for the High-End Consumer

Harman Kardon GLA-55 Speaker SystemPR: Harman Kardon, a division of Harman International, released the GLA-55, a high-end two piece speaker system for computer, MP3 player, and home entertainment use. Offering versatility in its function, the Harman Kardon GLA-55 is a stylized multimedia focal point, boasting breathtaking beauty, impeccable sound technology and functionality. Combining numerous proprietary technologies to provide the highest audio quality, GLA-55 delivers with astonishing bass and clear accurate sound in any direction. Offering the very best of any 2.0 speaker system in today's market, the GLA-55 integrates beautifully with home and office decor.

Harman Kardon GLA-55 Speaker SystemCompatible with virtually any audio device with an analog output, (MP3 and CD players, desktop and laptop computers, satellite radio and other home audio systems) the GLA-55 belts out high quality audio while exuding luxury and refinement. From the facets of the bass reflex enclosure and custom copper tubing, to the powerful bass of its Atlas woofers and crystal-clear highs of the CMMD tweeters, the GLA-55 is an expert in both beauty and sound. The system delivers with a powerfully tuned digital audio path; the clean and compact digital amplification coupled with DSP (digital signal processing) equalization efficiently provides the systems transducers with cool-running power. For added bass response, the subwoofer output allows connection to most standalone subwoofer systems. Touch-sensitive volume controls provides an easy user experience; touch both volume controls simultaneously to mute the audio output and touch again to unmute. From the chrome base to the fully visible audio engine and port, the clear diamond like design leaves no detail unrefined.

From inception to final product, Harman's design and engineering team worked in tandem to create the aesthetics for GLA-55, said Christopher M. Dragon, director of field marketing for the Harman International. Our goal was to create a high-end product that not only has stunning sound and visual appeal, but versatility in its use as well. GLA-55 does just that by delivering pure Harman sound while displaying simplicity and class.

While in the design lab, the creative minds at Harman Kardon were determined to create an audio system that inspires creativity and beauty along with great sound, said Kurt Sollund, vice president of industrial design for Harman International. With its unique design and cut glass motif, we see GLA-55 as a piece of art that will add aesthetic appeal to any surrounding.

Harman Kardon GLA-55 Speaker SystemGLA-55 combines many proprietary technologies to provide the highest quality sound featuring:

Atlas AL and CMMD Transducers

The CMMD drivers provide accurate high frequencies while capable of low frequency extension to four octaves compared with traditional powered tweeters. The Atlas AL driver is capable of nearly 1 peak-to-peak travel for tight, accurate bass reproduction. This desktop pairing provides a full rich frequency response from the lowest bass to highest highs.

Slipstream Port Design

The GLA-55 port minimizes boundary layer separation providing high output bass with low distortion, for all to see and hear.

COE (Computer Optimized Equalization)

The GLA-55 system equalization is computer optimized to provide a rich, complete sound stage over a wide range of listening positions.

OCT (Optimized Compression Topology)

The GLA-55 utilizes a proprietary compression technology to insure clean accurate sound at high output levels.

Available in clear with chrome accents, the Harman Kardon GLA-55 is compatible with MP3 and CD players, desktop computers (all platforms), satellite radio and laptops. The Harman Kardon GLA-55 has a suggested retail price of $999.99; it will be available online at Amazon.com and harmanaudio.com as well as in-store at quality retailers nationwide.

Purchase link: Currently $999 shipped from Amazon.com, the Apple Store, and J&R Computer/Music World.

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