News Archive for: Tuesday January 9th, 2007 (later added items first)
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Axiotron and OWC Unveil the ModBook (Tablet Mac) at MWSF
OWC sent a press release on their demo/intro at the MWSF expo today (booth S2218) of the Axiotron ModBook, a Magnesium cased Mac Tablet notebook w/optional GPS. Initial suggested retail prices start at $2,279 but the ModBook page shows pre-reserve discounts. (Starting at $2199 w/free GPS upgrade - good until Jan 31st per note near the bottom of the press release.)
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Apple Keynote Webcast
I didn't notice it at first, but the lower right of the Apple iPhone page has a link to view a webcast of the Keynote at http://www.apple.com/iphone/keynote. (You can select the entire Keynote Address or the iPhone Introduction.)
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Reader comments on AppleTV limited Video Format support
A reader sent a mail regarding the AppleTV Video format support:

" Based on the specs released so far, Apple TV is a big disappointment for the following reasons:

1.) Only H.264 decoding. This locks out MPEG2 (EyeTV recordings, DVD VOB, etc.) without a slow and burdensome recoding.
(AppleTV specs page lists "Video formats supported: H.264 and protected H.264 (from iTunes Store): 640 by 480, 30 fps, LC version of Baseline Profile; 320 by 240, 30 fps, Baseline profile up to Level 1.3; 1280 by 720, 24 fps, Progressive Main Profile. MPEG-4: 640 by 480, 30 fps, Simple Profile")

2.) Although it will output to a 1080i display, it only supports H.264 up to 720p 24fps. This locks out many MPEG2 recorded HDTV sources even if you are willing to convert them to H.264 or MPEG-4, unless you are willing to perform a frame rate conversion (Mpeg Streamclip can do this, but slowly). The conversion from 1080i to 720p, then finally displayed at 1080i with an internal conversion, will undoubtedly cause a drop in quality.

3.) What happened to standards compliance? No mention of uPnP in the specs.

There are better boxes out there (D-Link 520, and a company that starts with Z that I can't remember) that are standards compliant and natively decode 1080i MPEG2 and DivX, and at a lower street price point. But no doubt, they will have clunky and buggy interfaces. EyeConnect will feed these boxes from a Mac.
Some EyeTV units can record in MPEG-4, but most people record in MPEG2 to be "DVD-ready." And the EyeTV 500 just captures the native DTV MPEG2 stream.
Thanks. - Paul

A reader replied:

" BTW, on the AppleTV issue, 2 notes:
1. EyeConnect from Elgato should let any UPnP device play with the Mac, including the Netgear or D-Link models noted. (Paul already mentioned EyeConnect for that above)

2. As "CS" has written you about before, Iodata makes some very handy network players that also feature a DVD drive, WMV HD, Divx HD, and much more:
http://www.iodata.com/usa/app/hometheater.php (Scroll down the page. There's been posts in the past on others here also)
They are wired ethernet, but should play fine with wireless setups. I have a LinkPlayer at home (with EyeConnect), and it works great... As a matter of fact, with EyeConnect it plays EyeTV material better than Elgato's own EyeHome (discontinued).
Hope this helps, Graham J. "

I've really not looked into getting anything like this personally yet, and like most all non-apple devices it doesn't support protected AAC files (no iTunes) but the recently announced ("coming soon") Netgear's Digital Entertainer HD EVA8000 has a decent list of supported video (MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG4, AVI, WMV, Xvid) and Audio (MP3, WAV, WMA, AAC (unprotected), FLAC) formats, UPnP AV, 802.11g wireless, USB, HDMI. Notes resolutions up to 1080p, although no Mac support listed. (See specs page.)
It was mentioned in a recent PCworld article linked on the Other News section here yesterday
("Netgear Box Plays YouTube, Other Content, on TVs - Netgear beats Apple to the punch with a streaming set-top-box that plays digital content and has wireless capabilities.")
Apple's iTunes support and typical slick designs will be a big selling feature for AppleTV though. (I suspect for most Mac users iTunes' file/video support is a requirement.) I wish there was some licensing of iTunes support for some of the non-apple hardware, even if it added to the cost a bit it would be worth it IMHO to buy one device that supports itunes and a wide array of other codecs.

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New Airport Extreme Base Station
Although it wasn't mentioned at the keynote, several readers (thanks John R./Jim T. /Chris) spotted a new Airport Extreme base at the Apple store. ($179, shipping in February.) It supports 802.11n (draft) as well as 802.11a/b/g with "Instant" USB Hard Drive sharing. (Like previous AE base, it has a 3-port 10/100 Ethernet (LAN) hub and USB printer sharing.) Case design is similar to the AppleTV. See the Airport Extreme product page for details as it's been revised for the new model but here's a short clip:

" With the new AirPort Extreme Base Station, you and up to 50 of your friends, colleagues, or family members can enjoy a robust wireless network offering up to five times the performance and up to twice the range of networks created with the earlier 802.11g standard.(1) "

Jim (a reader from the UK) sent a link to the UK Apple store item page that has a note I didn't see on the Apple (US) product page Tech Specs/Requirements:

" NO support (802.11n enabler) for 17inch 1.83 Ghz iMac, Strange !!!!, that rules me out.
    "...CD with AirPort Utility (Mac and Windows), 802.11n Enabler for Core 2 Duo and Xeon-based Macintosh computers (except 17-inch 1.83GHz iMac), Bonjour for Windows"
-Jim "

(Update) There is a note in the sidebar of Apple's 802.11n page that says the 802.11 enabler is not compatible with the 17in iMac 1.83GHz. That model's wireless chipset apparently isn't 802.11n compatible. (Not sure if it's on a replaceable module.) The new base is 802.11a/b/g compatible also but they note improved performance/range with 802.11n.

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Microsoft releases Mac Office 2004 v11.3.3, Mac Office X 10.1.9 Updates
Matthew sent a heads-up that Microsoft has posted Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac 11.3.3 Update and Microsoft Office v. X for Mac 10.1.9 Update today. Both have similar wording on changes:

"This update contains several improvements to enhance security and stability, including fixes for vulnerabilities that an attacker can use to overwrite the contents of your computer's memory with malicious code. In addition, this update includes all of the improvements released in all previous Office (2004 or v.X) updates."
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Apple announces AppleTV (aka iTV) and iPhone
(Update - Apple now has product pages online for AppleTV and Apple iPhone. The Apple store is back online now also.)
Jobs announced AppleTV (aka iTV) at the Expo keynote. 720p video, 40GB HD, Intel CPU, 802.11b/g/n, Ethernet, USB 2.0 and HDMI for $299. Taking orders today but not shipping until February. (See comments in later news item above on video format support.)
Jobs also announced the Apple "iPhone". (Linksys' "iPhone®" was announced last month. Although the Nightly Business news (PBS) on the 9th mentioned Apple had bought the rights to the name (undisclosed sum) - they were wrong. Cisco filed a lawsuit to protect the iPhone® Trademark.) Jobs called it 3 devices in one - a widescreen iPod with touch controls, mobile phone (quad-band , operates on GSM and EDGE network) and Internet communications device. The Apple iPhone runs Mac OS X . The iPhone has a 3.5in color screen and 2 megapixel digital camera on the back. The bottom has the speaker, microphone and Pod dock connection. It also has a proximity sensor that turns off the screen/touch sensor when you place the phone next to your face. It syncs with iTunes and iSync of course (features Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.0) and has "Visual Voicemail." Pricing: $499/4GB, $599/8GB (w/2-year Cingular contract mentioned), shipping in June. (FCC approval delay cited.) BTW - Apple stock was up $7.10 today on the new product news. The company also has dropped "computer" from their name to better reflect the current product line. SteveW sent a link to some nice iPhone pictures from the Keynote.
I was expecting Jobs to announce Quad-Core CPU Mac Pros (maybe as the "one more thing...") but nothing mentioned in the Keynote.
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OWC Macworld Expo Web Specials
(from site sponsor OWC)

"MW Web Specials! Good during the week of Macworld
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  • Popular Prosoft utilities including Drive Genius, Data Rescue II, Data Backup II, TuneTech from $19.00 and as much as 50% off RETAIL!
  • OWC, NewerTech, and PowerLogix G4 Upgrades 1.2GHz to 2.0GHz and Dual 1.8GHz from $159.99 to $549.99, up to $50 off!
  • A Variety of memory specials on 1GB, 2GB, 4GB Upgrades/Upgrade Kits
  • Super Savings on hard drives with 500GB from $145.00
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  • Apple Superdrives DVD 16X with Dual Layer, CDRW Burners for Towers and Desktops
  • SuperDrive 8X DVDRW+Dual Layer/CDRW Upgrades for iMac G5 and PowerBook G4s $99.00!
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    And this is just a sampling!"
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    Jobs interview on Nightline (ABC) Tonight
    (from a reader mail early this morning)
    " Nightline said that they would be talking to Jobs on Tues. night's show. ABC, 11:35 PM
    I'm sure he'll be on other shows as well, but this might be a little longer interview and may include a short profile as well. Just guessing based on what I often see as a regular viewer of the program. Certainly seems to portend something major!
    -Steve W. "

    (The focus was primarily on the new Apple iPhone.)

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    Mac Mini (Intel) ATX MiniTower Case Conversion
    Eduard sent a link to his (7 part) article on a Mac Mini (Intel CPU) to ATX Minitower case (Aopen G325) conversion. The original aticle is in Spanish, but here's a (rough) Babelfish english translation. (Refresh the Babelfish'd page if you don't see any content initially.)
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    Reader comments/tips on Apple Backup 3.1 (Problems restoring)
    I've never personally used Apple Backup but posting this as a FYI to anyone that has had problems with it.

    " I don't know if you'd like me to write an article on this subject, but I believe that it's something that needs to be addressed to all serious Mac-users. Apples own Backup-application avaliable through .mac is not a serious help regarding backup. If you have backed all your data up using Apple Backup for several years believing that you'll be able to restore everything, you're in for a big surprise.

    You'll find that most of the time you'll get an error message telling you that restoring simply failed - no additional information. A quick google search for "Apple Backup problems" will confirm this picture from people who are much more tech-savvy than this writer.

    But don't panic - and don't try to do anything weird in order to restore files. All you files are saved, so this is at least a help. If you can't get Backup to restore them, simply rename all backup-files (named yourbackup.fullbackup or yourbackup.incrementalbackup) with the extension tar.gz (e.g. yourbackup.tar.gz). You'll be promted to confirm this - please do so.
    Your backup files will now turn into folders. Please locate the "contents" folder inside the backup folder. Double click it, and double click again on the "contents" folder inside that. Now you should have a file named backup.sparseimage. Double click on the file, and it will mount as a drive on your desktop. On this drive you'll find all data contained in this particular backup-session, nicely put in the folder hierachy that it was backed up from.
    Copy whatever's important back to your main drive, and problem should be solved.

    If, however, you have a corrupted .sparseimage-file, please read this article ("Some possible fixes if Filevault goes awry"). You'll be able to rescue a lot af files if you follow this article. OS X' s own Disk Utility and a donation ware application called File Juicer will locate most of what you might believe was lost on any drive. If the damage is even more serious, Disk Warrior is a very helpful tool that can restore almost any corrupted drive. Finally, FileSalvage is a great tool for picking up lost files on deleted or formatted drives.
    I hope this will help people who, like I, believed Apple to be a serious app developer. Backup sucks big time - don't ever use it.
    Regards, Henning W.
    Denmark "

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    More Mac user reports on NAS (WD Netcenter, Buffalo Linkstation Pro, ReadyNAS NV+)
    I've updated the Mac user reports on NAS & Wireless connected NAS again this morning with reader reports on a WD Netcenter 160GB, Buffalo Linkstation Pro 320GB and ReadyNAS NV+.
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    Rate Your CPU Upgrade Reports Database Updated
    The Rate Your CPU Upgrade database has been updated with 1 new report this morning. Total to date: 10,283. Here's a summary of the latest addition (search database by upgrade brand, mac model, etc. for a complete listing of all user reports on matching criteria (latest reports first).

    • PowerLogix G4 1.8GHz (7447A) in (Quicksilver) G4/AGP (rated 5)
      (already had 1.3GHz 7455 w/2MB L3, disappointed in 7447A 1.8 performance in comparison. 745x upgrades do well against much higher clock speed 7447A's as shown in this summer 2005 review of 7447A and 7457 upgrades)

      (Full reviews of G4 and G3 upgrades compared to stock CPUs, including real world apps/game tests, install info, etc. are linked at the CPU upgrades page. OC/CPU module articles are on the Systems page.)

    You can find the full reports by searching the database selecting the indicated Mac model and upgrade card brand/type. If you've upgraded the CPU on your Mac, send a review with your experience (performance/stability/installation, etc.), Mac Model/Upgrade brand info and overall rating (1= worst to 10=best). Search the database for entries from most every upgradable Mac model *before* you buy. (Searchable by mac model/upgrade brand).

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    Other Net News
    (uodated 7PM Eastern, later added Mac items first)

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    Recent Reviews and Articles:
    Listing/links to recent articles and reviews you may have missed.
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