Mac News Review

Apple Grows in Shrinking PC Market, Commodore 64 Recreated, Opera 11.10 Released, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2011.04.15

New Commodore 64
The new Commodore 64.

Who lived through the 1980s and doesn't remember the Commodore 64, which remains the best selling computer of all time? It was the top selling home computer for several years and also made significant inroads in the education market.

Well, it's back - sort of. The new Commodore 64 (covered below) looks a lot like the original, but it's a whole different beast under the hood: 1.83 GHz dual-core Atom CPU, Nvidia graphics, HD video output, and a built-in SuperDrive (Blu-ray is an option) put it in a whole different class than the 1 MHz original, although it has the same $599 list price.

Mac notebook and other portable computing is covered in The 'Book Review. iPad, iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV news is covered in The iNews Review.

News & Opinion

Tech Trends

Products & Services

Software

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

Vatican Hails Linux and Wiki Cultures

The Register's John Leyden reports that a Vatican magazine argues that "hackers of Linux coding and hardware modification type" are on a mission from God,* noting that Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, writing in the fortnightly magazine Civilta Cattolica, seeks to rehabilitate the term hacker and divorce it from its more common association with cybercriminal activities, drawing parallels between the ethics displayed by the Linux community and Wiki contributors with the teachings of Christianity.

* Publisher's note: Who could resist a Blues Brothers link here? dk

Year-Over-Year Decline in PC Shipments, but Apple Growing

PR: Worldwide PC shipments totaled 84.3 million units in the first quarter of 2011, a 1.1% decline from the first quarter of 2010, according to preliminary results from Gartner, Inc. Although the first quarter is traditionally a slow one for PC sales, these results indicate potential sluggishness, not just a normal seasonal slowdown. These figures are below Gartner's forecast for 3% growth in the first quarter of 2011.

Meanwhile, Apple's Mac sales grew a whopping 18.9% in Q1 '11 and were by far the strongest in the PC industry - and that's excluding iPad sales, with 1.49 million Macs shipped in the quarter (up from 1.25 million in 2010), and Apple's market share growing from 7.3% in 2010 to 9.3% in 2011.

The only other company to show market share growth in the first quarter was Toshiba, while HP fell 3.5%, Dell 12.1%, and Acer down 24.9%.

"Weak demand for consumer PCs was the biggest inhibitor of growth," said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. "Low prices for consumer PCs, which had long stimulated growth, no longer attracted buyers. Instead, consumers turned their attention to media tablets and other consumer electronics. With the launch of the iPad 2 in February, more consumers either switched to buying an alternative device or simply held back from buying PCs. We're investigating whether this trend is likely to have a long-term effect on the PC market."

Steady growth in the professional PC sector, driven by the replacement cycle, was a bright spot for the global PC market. Without the professional segment growth, the PC market could have experienced one of the worst declines in its recent history. Replacement sales will generally continue into late 2011 or the start of 2012, with some variations between different regions and market segments.

HP performed below the worldwide average but maintained the No. 1 position, accounting for 17.6% of worldwide PC shipments in the first quarter of 2011. HP was impacted by weak consumer PC demand, as well as growing issues in Asia/Pacific. Acer continued to face challenges as the mini-notebook (netbook) market was impacted by media tablets, and its shipments declined 12.2%.

In the first quarter of 2011, Dell experienced a shipment decline year-over-year for the first time in six quarters. Dell underperformed in the US; Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA); and Latin America, but it achieved strong growth in Asia/Pacific. Lenovo experienced the strongest growth among the top five vendors (16.6%) as it continued to price its products very competitively in both the consumer and professional sectors. It achieved strong growth across all regions.

In the US, PC shipments totaled 16.1 million units in the first quarter of 2011, a 6.1% decline from the first quarter of 2010. "As with the worldwide market, the US PC market was affected by the hype surrounding media tablets. This was the third consecutive quarter of mobile PC shipment declines in the US," Ms. Kitagawa said. "The US professional PC market showed steady growth across all sectors. However, the public sector showed more than the normal seasonal weakness due to budgetary issues."

HP continued to lead the US market with its market share increasing to 26.2%, despite a shipment decline of 3.5% in the first quarter. While HP struggled in the consumer PC market, it also encountered tough price competition in the professional segment, especially in the midmarket.

Dell faced tough competition in both the US consumer and professional markets. The challenge for Dell arose in the midmarket, where more vendors tried to squeeze in to benefit from professional PC refresh cycles.

Apple maintained strong shipment growth, even after the holiday season. The MacBook Pro refresh at the end of February accelerated already strong Mac growth.

PC shipments in EMEA totaled 26.1 million units in the first quarter of 2011, a 2.8% decline from the first quarter of 2010 (see Table 3).

"The PC market in EMEA had not exhibited decline since the third quarter of 2009 when the market declined 8.9%," said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner. "The excess inventory accumulated at the end of the fourth quarter of 2010 was reduced slowly, especially as some of the delayed Sandy Bridge products entered the market in March. The seasonal trend was also weaker than expected, indicating that the downward trend seen at the end of 2010 continued into the first quarter of 2011."

Western Europe remained the main area of weakness in EMEA, as consumers continued to delay spending disposable income on PCs or other products like media tablets, especially after the launch of the iPad 2. This is extending current PC life cycles.

In Asia/Pacific, PC shipments surpassed 28.2 million units in the first quarter of 2011, a 4.1% increase from the first quarter of 2010. PC purchases by consumers remained weak, especially in China and Taiwan. PCs were not high on consumers' shopping lists during the Chinese New Year holiday. In India, consumers were distracted by the Cricket World Cup. They also preferred to upgrade or purchase new TVs or other home electronics.

The PC market in Latin America grew 5.4% in the first quarter of 2011, as shipments totaled 8.1 million units. Brazil accounted for over 40% of Latin America's PC shipments. As PC vendors' interest in Brazil grows, so does competition. Local PC vendors are particularly vulnerable, as their strength lies in the production of desk-based PCs. Multinational vendors are making inroads by selling less-expensive mobile PCs.

PC shipments in Japan declined 13.1% in the first quarter of 2011, with shipments reaching 4 million units. The earthquake and tsunami on March 11 reduced PC shipments, and Gartner analysts are still investigating the scale of the impact on the market in first quarter. The impact of the disaster was most evident in the professional PC market, where the second half of March is the year's busiest procurement period.

These results are preliminary. Final statistics will be available soon to clients of Gartner's PC Quarterly Statistics Worldwide by Region program. This program offers a comprehensive and timely picture of the worldwide PC market, allowing product planning, distribution, marketing and sales organizations to keep abreast of key issues and their future implications around the globe. Additional research can be found on Gartner's Computing Hardware section on Gartner's website.

Tech Trends

Commodore USA Recreates the Legendary Commodore 64

New Commodore 64PR: The new Commodore 64 is a modern functional net-top PC designed to be as close to the original in design as humanly possible. It houses a modern mini-ITX PC motherboard featuring a 1.83 GHz Intel Dual-Core 525 Atom processor and the latest Nvidia Ion2 graphics chipset. It comes in the original taupe brown/beige color, with other colors to follow.

A Keyboard Better Than the Original

The new Commodore 64's keyboard features genuine Cherry brand mechanical key switches, which Commodore USA says provide a feel much better than the original, with that IBM classic "clicky" action and sound that some users relish. The keys are the exact same shape as the original and are color matched.

Modern Media for a Modern Day C64

New Commodore 64The new Commodore 64 also features a slot or tray load DVD±R/W (Blu-ray is optional) on the left side of the unit.

The base Commodore 64 comes with 2 GB of DDR3 memory and is expandable to 4 GB. A multiformat card reader/writer and a USB slot are provided on the right side of the unit. There are an additional 4 USB slots on the rear of the unit to cover peripheral needs. The classic power light is now the power button.

Connects to Today's TVs and Monitors

New Commodore 64The new Commodore 64 can be connected to the latest televisions and monitors, and supports 1080p HD quality video playback and 6 Channel High Definition Audio to enhance the home theater experience. It also incorporates wireless N WiFi for wireless home LAN and Internet video streaming support.

On the new Commodore 64 you can play your favorite 8-bit era games by either selecting the C64 icon from the boot menu to run a C64 emulator directly, or from a media center program within the Commodore Operating System. Commodore OS 1.0, along with emulation functionality and classic game package, will be mailed to purchasers when available. In the meantime, units come with the Ubuntu 10.04 LTS operating system on CD ready to install.

The Commodore 64 is intended to be a fully functional PC compatible, so you can install and use the latest versions of Windows if you really feel you need to. Commodore provides a graphical boot menu at start up from which Windows can be selected to run, so you needn't lose any of the functionality of the new C64's included Commodore operating systems.

Prices for the new Commodore 64 range from a base $250 (case, keyboard and motherboard) to $895 when spec'd out with with 1 TB data storage, 8 GB of memory, built-in 2.4 GHz 802.11n WiFi, and a Blu-ray drive, and three price points in between depending upon equipment levels.

Commodore VIC-Pro
Commodore VIC-Pro

Commodore VIC-Slim
Commodore VIC-Slim

For more performance, also offered are a VIC-Pro née Commodore Phoenix with a choice of Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad CPUs integrated graphics at $495 to $1195, and a VIC-Slim with essentially the same spec as the C64, but in a contemporary case form factor.

Products & Services

OWC Mount Pro Drive Sled Adds 2.5" SATA Drives to 2009 and 2010 Mac Pro

PR: Other World Computing (OWC) has announced the OWC Mount Pro drive sled for adding any 2.5" Serial ATA (SATA) hard disk drive or Solid State Drive (SSD) to 2009 and later Apple Mac Pro 'Nehalem' and 'Westmere' models. Manufactured with the highest quality processes and materials including powder coated aircraft grade aluminum, the $24.99 MSRP bracket comes backed by a lifetime warranty.

OWC Mount Pro 2.5"These high quality brackets really make adding a 2.5" drive to a 2009 and later Mac Pro Plug and Play easy," says Larry O'Connor, Founder and CEO, Other World Computing. "When you consider the dramatic results adding an OWC Mercury Extreme Pro SSD to a Mac Pro can achieve, the OWC Mount Pro is really the key to unlocking Mac Pro performance."

Offers Plug & Play Addition of Performance Boosting OWC SSD

Mac Pro owners seeking to dramatically increase system performance can use the Mount Pro to add one of the fastest SSDs on the market, the OWC Mercury Extreme Pro SSD, and experience data rates up to 285 MB/s. The bracket comes with four drive mounting screws and replaces an existing 3.5" drive tray. The OWC Mount Pro perfectly aligns the SATA connector on the mounted 2.5" drive into the back plane SATA ports on the Mac Pro.

With a highly durable blue powder coated finish, the OWC Mount Pro looks great while also offering at a glance verification of which Mac Pro drive bays contain 2.5" form factor drives. The open design of the Mount Pro aids in drive heat dissipation.

Proclaimed The Best Solution by Leading Mac Performance Site

Leading Mac testing and benchmarking site, MacPerformancGuide.com, called the OWC Mount Pro by far the best mounting solution yet for installing up to four 2.5" drives into a Mac Pro. The sled bolts the drive in securely and allows far superior air flow to any other design.

The OWC Mount Pro is immediately available priced at $24.99 MSRP from Other World Computing. It is compatible with all 2009 and later Apple Mac Pros with Model ID 4,1 and 5,1.

For more information on OWC Mercury Extreme Pro SSDs, visit http://bit.ly/dvo4Pj

For more information on nearly 200 upgrades and accessories from OWC for the Apple Mac Pro, visit: https://eshop.macsales.com/search/Mac+Pro

Software

Opera 11.10 Released

PR: This latest new release of Opera brings enhancements and new features. Here are some highlights:

Speed Dial 2.0

Opera's popular Speed Dial has been greatly enhanced; your favorite pages now have clearer previews, and dials can even dynamically show live content for websites.

There is now no limit to how many dials you can use, and it is simple to adjust the Speed Dial view to best fit your setup.

Opera Turbo Enhanced

With improved compression, Opera Turbo is faster than ever. Boost your browsing speed on crowded WiFi, hotspots, tethered mobile phones or dial-up connections.

Simple Plugin Installation

Opera have made it easier to install and use plugins. With this release, the most popular plugin, Adobe Flash Player, installs seamlessly and automatically.

Great New CSS3 Support

This version of the Opera browser now supports CSS3 linear gradients and multiple columns. The Opera browser shows webpages using the latest and greatest standards in their full glory.

New Features

  • Opera Presto 2.8 rendering engine
  • Plugin installation wizard
  • Added Search field to error pages
  • Added support for SOCKS Protocol v.5
  • Opera CSS cursor property values:
    • "zoom-in"
    • "zoom-out"
  • User JavaScript:
    • Added event: BeforeCSS
    • Added event: AfterCSS
  • URL Filter API for Opera extensions
  • WebP
  • W3C CSS Multicolumn Layout
  • W3C CSS Device Adaptation (viewport)
  • W3C CSS3 Gradients (partial support)
  • W3C Web Open Font Format (WOFF)
  • W3C File API (partial support)

Improvements

  • Declarative UI
  • Opera Dragonfly beta 1

Opera Mail

  • Phrase searching support
  • CJK search improvements
  • Mail panel improvements

Speed Dial

  • Added a new "logo finder" to dials
  • Added ability to create custom titles
  • Added animation
  • Added column number adjustment
  • Added zoom
  • Improved flow layout
  • New dialog when adding/editing
  • Sites can now reload Speed Dials automatically
  • The thumbnail/icon can now be chosen

PDF Editor for Macintosh Lets Users Edit PDF Documents and Extract to Microsoft Word

PR: Wondershare Software Co., Ltd. has announced the availability of its new PDF Editor application for the Macintosh platform. Scores of Adobe PDF document users around the globe have been frustrated by the inability to edit PDF files or convert them to the de facto industry-standard Microsoft Word format for editing. Even annotating or adding comments to PDF documents can be a hassle without upgrading to an expensive full version of Adobe Acrobat. The simple, more affordable solution is Wondershare's PDF Editor, which allows Mac users a simple, no-hassle way to edit text and images embedded in a PDF document, add comments or annotations, or even extract the contents of a PDF to a Microsoft Word 2008/2011 document for editing, preserving the original fonts and formatting in most cases.

PDF Editor for MacintoshWondershare's PDF Editor Mac is an indispensable tool for businesses and consumers who regularly work with PDF documents. Key features of PDF Editor Mac include:

  • Easily edit PDF documents (even encrypted ones), with the ability to add, delete, copy, and move text within the PDF with automatic font matching;
  • Add, delete, crop, resize or move images within a PDF;
  • Extract a PDF (even encrypted ones) into a fully editable Microsoft Word 2008/2011 document while preserving fonts and document formatting/layout;
  • Add comments to PDF files including highlighting text, underline, or strike-through. Annotate PDF documents with drawing tools including arrows, lines, ovals, and more. Even add links to PDF files for easier navigation.
  • Add, correct, copy, move, and delete text in PDF files directly
  • Support auto-matching system fonts for editing embedded font text
  • Insert, crop, resize, move, and delete images and graphics (.jpg, .png, .tif, .bmp, etc.)
  • Add and modify PDF properties

PDF Editor for MacintoshConvert PDF to Word Features:

  • Preserve all the contents including layout and formatting after conversion
  • Able to convert encrypted PDF files to Word documents
  • Allow to convert selected pages or page ranges from multipage PDF files
  • Support MS Word for Mac 2008/2011

Markup and Annotate Features

  • Highlight, underline, and strike through text in PDF files
  • Add Sticky Note and Text Box to share your comments
  • Annotate with drawing tools: Arrow, Line, Rectangle, Oval, Polygon, Cloud, Pencil, and Pencil Eraser
  • Able to customize color and line-weight for all the markups and annotations
  • Add any links to PDF files for quicker navigation

More Features

  • Bookmarking
  • Add or remove bookmarks in PDF files for easier reading.
  • 4 display types
  • Single Page, Single Page Continuous, Double Pages, Double Pages Continuous

PDF Editor Mac is currently available for $49.95 from the Wondershare online store. A fully functional demo version is also available allowing users to fully explore the capabilities of the PDF Editor application; however, a watermark will be added to edited/extracted documents (removed when upgraded to the full paid version).

Accordance Bible Software 9.3 Adds Simplified Interface, Daily Readings, and More

PR: Accordance continues to be on the leading edge of Bible Software, both for the power of the searches and analysis of the texts, the unique original language texts available, and the wide range of available tools such as lexicons, commentaries, and journals. The interactive and customizable Atlas and Timeline integrate with different collections of images to illustrate the background of the Bible.

Accordance 9 was a major upgrade offering more speed, power, convenience, and aesthetic appeal than ever before. Improvements in Accordance 9 include:

  • Workspace zones make it easy to keep your Bibles, commentaries, lexicons, and other study aids neatly arranged yet easily accessible.
  • The revamped Search All feature lets you search thousands of resources in seconds and quickly browse the results to find what you're looking for.
  • Easy Install lets you install new resources over the web as soon as you purchase them, with no physical media to ship or unlocking codes to enter.
  • Support for new syntactical analyses of original language texts takes you beyond the meaning of individual words to show you how those words function together.

Accordance Bible Software has released Accordance 9.3, a free update to its industry-leading Macintosh Bible study software. Accordance 9.3 adds the following new features:

  • The Assistant Window offers a more approachable interface for new users
  • Daily readings, accessible on startup, through the Assistant window, or via a menu item, presents a new Bible reading or devotional for each day of the year.
  • Support for Asian language Bibles
  • Global searches can now be sorted by several criteria, making it easier to find the most relevant results
  • A completely revamped and updated Help system
  • Syncing between Mac and iOS applications enables users to keep their modules and notes consistent across platforms
  • The compare texts feature, which highlights differences between Bibles, has been expanded to compare 3 or more texts at a time.

Accordance 9.3 can be downloaded from accordancebible.com, and is a free update for all users of Accordance 9.0 or above. iOS syncing also requires version 1.2 of Accordance for iOS (free).

Accordance Bible Software is designed for Mac and iOS, offering powerful Bible study tools to pastors, scholars, and individuals who want to go deeper in their personal devotions.

Toll free orders (877)339-5855.

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