MyMac Podcast 251 – Listener Invite 3 – Matt Larson

On July 31, 2009, in Podcast, by The MyMac Podcast


Download – Listen to the show here, or via iTunes
Listener Invite time! Matt Larson joins us to discuss his recent switch to the Mac, upgrading computers, Apple capturing over 90-percent of $1,000 computer sales, iPhone App Store approval process and decency standards, and technology in the church. Plus we have iPhone Picks of the week! Tim, Guy, and David host.

Macbook Upgrades from OWC!

iPhone App Picks:
Harbor Master $.99
Ragdoll Blaster $1.99
iMapMyRide $Free
Sentinel: Mars Defense $.99
Sentinel 2: Earth Defense $2.99

Links from the show:
www.jointheanthem.com

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PowerDuo Reserve – Review

On July 29, 2009, in Review, by Donny Yankellow

 

PowerDuo Reserve
Company:Griffin Technology

Price: $59.99
http://www.griffintechnology.com/products/powerduo-reserve

When it comes to iPod accessories one of the the first companies that comes to mind is Griffin Technology. In fact, the first car charger I bought was their PowerJolt for my iPod Mini. I just had to retire it because the firewire charger won’t work with my iPod Touch.

Of course, Griffin has updated the PowerJolt and added a new feature to it and its wall charger the PowerBlock. What feature could be added to a charger? How about a rechargeable/portable battery for your iPod!

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K518LE On-Ear Headphones – Review

On July 28, 2009, in Review, by John Nemerovski

 

K518LE On-Ear Headphones
Company: AKG

Price: $140
http://www.akg.com/

Amazon purchase

There is nothing wrong with a set of $140 headphones that a $250 set won’t cure. If your budget is $140, not $250, and you need on-ear headphones to be compact, folding, rich in bass, and strong in midrange, the “Limited Edition” K518LE series from AKG may satisfy your requirements.

The official description for this model is: “Closed-back earphones with isolating ear cups that attenuate ambient noise, keeping even quiet passages clearly audible.” Try saying that a hundred times in rapid succession! It is accurate, to be fair.

What you get for $140 is attractive, stylish, well-built headphones in your choice of color accents: blue, fuscia, green, orange, red, white, or yellow. See photo below for the red version being evaluated.

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Here are nine new affordable, innovative, portable products you’ve never seen, that are worth a good look. We present capsule reviews of: laptop USB cooler, phone and iPod battery booster, FM iPod tuner, noise isolating earphones, earbud foam tips, and laptop cases, with four photos.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Luxa2 USB Laptop Cooler Model M2
Company: Thermaltake

Price: $80
http://luxa2.com/products/laptopcooler/m2/design.html

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MyMac Podcast 250

On July 24, 2009, in Podcast, by The MyMac Podcast

Download the show here, and subscribe via iTunes
Our 250th weekly episode of the MyMac Podcast! Rather than make a big deal of it, we instead look at the weeks happening in the Apple Universe. David gives us his impressions on his new 13-inch Macbook Pro, Apple quarterly report, replacing a HD in a MBP, and much more. And if you are interested in coming on the podcast as part of our Listener Invite, please email us!

From the show: Hard Drive for Macbook Pro

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K 309 & K 311 Earbud style Headphones – Review

On July 23, 2009, in Review, by Mark Rudd

K 309 & K 311 Earbud style Headphones
Company: AKG

Price: $16.95 & $24.95
AKG K 309
AKG K 311

ADJUSTED EXPECTATIONS
I suppose this would be a good place to adjust our expectations. In terms of the AKG headphone product line, the K 309s and K 311s are at the bottom of the proverbial heap. It is important to remember that the retail pricing for these two products is low ($16.95 & $24.95). The street price for both is destined to be even lower. Therefore, going into the evaluation of these headphones, my expectations were realistic.

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Apple Store is down

On July 23, 2009, in Opinion, Original Blog, by Rich Lefko

Usually, when the Apple Store goes down, Apple is either refreshing it’s product lines or adding something new.

I wonder what is up today?

Do you have any ideas?

 

AudioBoo iPhone Application – Review

On July 22, 2009, in Apps, iPhone, Review, by Mike Breed

AudioBoo iPhone Application
Company: BestBefore Media Ltd.

Price: Free
http://audioboo.fm/

Perhaps some of the audience of the MyMac.com podcast can recall Tim’s request several weeks ago for people who would like to write for the website. I’ve been listening to the podcast since 2006. In fact, Tim and his crew actually helped me make the decision to switch over to the Mac platform. After debating the idea for a bit, I decided that I might as well give it a try.

AudioBoo is a fairly new audio blogging application that is available free of charge both online at AudioBoo and on the iTunes Store. AudioBoo allows users to quickly and easily record audio blogs that are up to five minutes in length. Your blogs can then be heard at AudioBoo’s website and on the iPhone application, once it is linked to your free account. Simply create an account and you’re ready to “boo the night away.” Your picture, or avatar, comes from Gravatar, which allows you to set up a customized avatar for a number of other websites. AudioBoo is very similar to TweetMic, an app that Tim introduced us to a couple of weeks ago, except AudioBoo is free. It’s not like 99 cents is going to break the bank, but there are a lot of us out there who are cheapskates.

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Verbatim Portable Hard Drive

On July 21, 2009, in Hard Drive, Review, by Rich Lefko

Verbatim Portable Hard Drive
Company: Verbatim

Price: $70.31 USD at Amazon.Com
http://www.verbatim.com


It seems like every company that sells hard drives are coming out with “portable” hard drives. These drives are usually promoted as “pocket” drives, or drives that are easy to carry around. For the most part, they are, but some just don’t fit in a pocket, and I’d have to wonder why you’d carry one around in your pocket anyway.

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MyMac Podcast 249
iProng Lee

On July 17, 2009, in Podcast, by The MyMac Podcast

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Lee Givens and Bill Palmer join in the fun this week with Tim, David, and Guy. Topics include Michael Jackson dominating iTunes sales chart, third-party hardware for the iPhone, what’s new from AOL, TomTom for iPhone, Macworld Expo, reader feedback, hot iPhones, and much more. A really great show!

From the show: Superlux HD681 Wired Headphones

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Links from the show:
AOL.com
iProng Magazine

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OWC On-The-Go Pro 500GB 7200RPM FW800/FW400/USB 2.0 Storage Solution
Company: Other World Computing

Price: $229.99
http://www.macsales.com/

How does that old adage go? “You want good, fast and cheap? Pick two.” OWC’s new 500GB 7200RPM Mercury On-The-Go Pro portable drive certainly has the “good” and the “fast” covered, although at $229 list, I can’t actually say this bus-powered, FireWire 400/800 and USB 1.1/2.0 drive is “cheap.” Still, it’s a remarkably reasonable price for this package, which includes connecting cables for all three interfaces and a handy carrying pouch, plus a software bundle for both Mac and Windows that contains backup and utility software along with nearly two gigabytes of Mac freeware, shareware, updates, icons and more.

As I’ve not yet encountered a portable (2.5″) drive with both a FireWire 800 interface and a 7200RPM drive mechanism, I conducted a fairly exhaustive search to determine if this new Mercury On-The-Go (MOTG) model has any competition when compared “apples to apples” (sorry, couldn’t resist) with similar drives. The closest device I could find was LaCie’s 500GB “Rugged All-Terrain” triple-interface portable drive, and although the LaCie also comes with three connecting cables and features a very rugged-looking, shock-resistant case, the drive mechanism is only 5400RPM with an 8MB cache, as compared to the MOTG’s 7200RPM drive with its 16MB cache. So that puts the LaCie ($199.99 list; “street” pricing may be lower) at a decided disadvantage in terms of speed, at least based on personal experience working with and comparing the relative performance of 5400RPM to 7200RPM mechanisms.

 

Hey, I thought you said this was a triple-interface drive? Yes, even though this MOTG Pro sports only FireWire 800 and USB 2.0 interfaces, FW 800 supports both 800Mbps and 400Mbps connections, and the nice OWC folks were thoughtful enough to include a FireWire 800 to 400 converter cable. In fact, since the USB 2.0 port supports USB 1.1 as well, you could even say this was a quadruple interface drive.

While we’re on the subject of mechanisms, this particular MOTG model uses the Seagate Momentus 7200.4 SATA drive, with its aforementioned 16MB cache—already one of, if not the fastest, 2.5″ SATA drives on the market today. Pair that with the FireWire 800 interface of this MOTG device, and you get an external drive that not only beats the pants off most other external portables, but rivals the performance of 7200RPM, 3.5″ desktop mechanisms. Using OWC’s own QuickBench utility (thoughtfully provided on the included CD as part of the Intech SpeedTools package), I did some benchmarking and was very impressed with the read and write speeds of the MOTG, although I should note that I was unable to achieve the performance benchmarks posted on OWC’s Web site.


OWC’s published benchmarks show this MOTG Pro 7200RPM drive, when connected via FireWire 800, achieving read speeds of over 79MB/sec and write speeds on the near side of 77MB/sec. Although I was unable to match those benchmarks in my own testing, rest assured, folks—this drive is fast.

In my initial testing, with the drive connected via FireWire 800, QuickBench indicated that the MOTG 500GB was able to sustain an average read speed of 65MB/sec, and an average write of 53MB/sec, both quite remarkable for a bus-powered, 2.5″ external drive. When compared to my trusty NewerTech miniStack v3, equipped with a 3.5″ 7200RPM SATA mechanism and also connected via FireWire 800, I was even more impressed to discover that although the MOTG could not quite equal the performance of the miniStack’s 3.5″ mechanism, it was certainly in the same ballpark in terms of both read and write speed (75MB/sec read and 59 MB/sec write for the miniStack, as compared to 65MB/sec read and 53MB/sec write for the MOTG).

As a final performance comparison, I elected to pit this MOTG against what I would consider a “typical” 2.5″ portable drive; in this case, a Western Digital 320GB, 5400RPM My Passport Essential drive connected via USB 2.0. As you might have already guessed, the MOTG 500GB blew the doors off the Passport, with the WD 5400 RPM mechanism and USB 2 interface able to achieve only a 12MB/sec read and 11MB/sec write speed, approximately 1/5 of the MOTG’s benchmarked performance via FW 800. Even with the MOTG Pro connected via USB 2.0, it still easily bested the WD Passport, achieving 22MB/sec read and 18MB/sec write benchmarks.

At this point I think I’ve safely established that the drive is “fast,” although not necessarily “cheap,” so let’s focus on the “good.” In my experience, too many external drives listed as Mac-compatible come pre-formatted for Windows machines, and often without instructions on how to reformat them for your Mac. Not only does this MOTG Pro come with a printed owner’s manual, it also includes
printed “cheat sheets” that describe how to format the drive for Windows users and how to determine whether to use an APM or GUID partition if you want to use it for booting your Mac. They even include a bundle of custom drive icons to match each style of drive they offer, a special treat for those anal-retentive like me who simply must have the icon of every mounted drive look precisely like the physical drive it represents.


How much bundled software does the OWC MOTG Pro 500GB actually ship with? Enough that the OWC folks needed to provide an index to help you sort through it all.

The bundled software accompanying externals is often Windows-only as well, or a poorly-executed port of a Windows program included on the disk seemingly as an afterthought. Not so with OWC drives; the MOTG Pro comes with two backup applications (DataBackup from Prosoft and Carbon Copy Cloner, both excellent backup utilities), the Intech Speed Tools noted above, and so much additional Mac software that the OWC folks felt compelled to provide an index to all the goodies contained on the disk. Three interface cables are also included; as the drive has two FW 800 ports but no FW 400 ports, one cable serves as a FW800 to 400 converter, and the drive and cables all fit neatly into the included carrying pouch.

While we’re on the subject of cables, I should mention that I connected the MOTG Pro to two different laptops using both the FireWire 400 and USB 2.0 cables (still haven’t sprung for that FW800 laptop) in order to confirm that the drive operates normally while on bus power only. I’ve never had issues with a portable FireWire drive, but I’ve encountered numerous problems where a USB portable either required the dreaded “two-headed” USB cable (one for connectivity and one for power) to spin up, or would not spin up at all—regardless of cable type—due to lack of power. OWC does sell an optional AC adapter for this drive, but based on my testing you’ll never need it.

As I’ve gotten plenty of mileage out of the “Want it good/fast/cheap? Pick two” adage already, I’m going to segue into “the good, the bad and the ugly” for just a moment. We’ve clearly documented the “good,” and there’s really no “bad” to speak of with this device. But when it comes down to the clear acrylic enclosure itself, I think it’s time to talk “ugly.” Maybe it’s just me, but I find it really unattractive, to the point where I wouldn’t want it sitting on my desk. It forces me to look at the drive’s innards, it doesn’t complement any of my equipment, it looks “cheap,” and it frankly gives the impression that this is a prototype of an external hard drive for which the developers haven’t yet established the final case design.


Bottom view of the MOTG Pro showing the metal heat-sink (7200RPM drives generate quite a bit more heat than their slower 5400 RPM brethren). Am I the only one out there who thinks clear acrylic cases that show all of a drive’s innards are just plain ugly? In fact, with the sleek heat-sink obscuring all that nasty circuitry, I submit this drive actually looks better when turned upside-down.

But don’t let my rarified aesthetics dissuade you from making this your next external hard drive purchase. At this price point, with a Seagate 7200RPM mechanism, 500GB of storage space, support for three interfaces including FireWire 800, and a comprehensive package with cables/carrying pouch and tons of software that’s actually useful to Mac owners, this MOTG Pro is the only way to go if you’re looking for the ultimate in portable storage.

Oh, and did I mention that it’s fast?

MyMac.com Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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MyMac Podcast 248 – Chromed

On July 10, 2009, in Podcast, by The MyMac Podcast


Download the show here, and subscribe via iTunes
Tim, Guy, and David discuss the Google Chrome OS announcement, the news of Steve Jobs returning to Apple, more on Listener Invite, Networking Problems, MacSkull, LifeAfterAfter.com, and upgrading to a MacBook Pro.

From the show: OWC Express

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Links from the show:
MacSkull.com
MyLifeEverAfter.com
Google Chrome OS

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easy VHS to DVD for Mac – Review

On July 8, 2009, in Review, by Larry Grinnell

 

easy VHS to DVD for Mac
Company: Roxio

Price: $79.95
http://www.roxio.com

This review could have gone very, very badly, had it not been for Roxio’s excellent support website, and their intrepid PR person, who kept the dialog going when I was ready to wash my hands of the whole thing.

That said, the last thing I wanted to do was start yet another review with: “I really wanted to like this product, but…”

Over the last four months, when I unfortunately had a lot of time on my hands (a victim of the current economic unpleasantness, since resolved, and I am again very happily employed), I decided I needed to regain some storage space in my increasingly cramped townhouse. My collection of several hundred VHS tapes had to go. There were, however, 40-50 titles I wanted to keep and decided to put them on DVD. I had planned on doing this almost two years ago, and found a superior (and expensive!) analog to digital video converter, a Canopus ADVC-300, which I was able to find at a very acceptable price on eBay. I set up my VHS deck in my computer room, connected the video and audio outputs to the ADVC-300 inputs, and sent the output to my dual 2.0 GHz Mac G5 tower’s Firewire port (still running Mac OSX 10.4), and into my copy of iMovie HD (from iLife ’06). Each two hour tape took up 25 GB of disk space in the DV file format. I quickly trimmed unwanted video at the start and end, and inserted chapter markers when the tapes had multiple programs, or if I was putting two 1 hour tapes on a single two hour DVD. These chapter markers directly imported into iDVD where I picked a theme, edited the captions, and burned the final DVD. On my G5 tower, the process of rendering two hours of video before the DVD could be burned, took 4-6 hours.

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Mastering the Nikon D700 – Review

On July 8, 2009, in Review, by Artie Alinikoff


Mastering the Nikon D700
rockynook NikoniansPress

ISBN: 978-1-933952-23-9
www.rockynook.com
Price: US $39.95, CAN $47.95
244 pages

I got my Nikon D700 just in time for a trip to Norway with my band. I know it’s going to be a lot to lug around in comparison to my hip-hugging Fuji f100fd, but that’s the price you pay for wanting superior images.

Getting those images is challenging enough with learning how to use a new camera and thumbing through the manual to find out what this term and that term means. Many of them were totally unfamiliar to this old film winder. Then I got the book.

The book I refer to is the rockynook NikoniansPress publication, Mastering the Nikon D700, by Darrell Young and James Johnson.

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EOS Wireless iPod Speakers – Review

On July 6, 2009, in Review, by Tim Robertson

 

EOS Wireless iPod Speakers
Company: EOS Wireless

Price: $249.99 Base + $129.99 Additional Speakers
www.EOSwireless.com

I was looking forward to checking out the EOS Wireless iPod Speaker system. With all my music on my iPod, I wanted a complete solution for playing music in multiple rooms without having multiple iPod docking speakers. Does the EOS fit the bill? Read on!

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MyMac Podcast 247 – Listener Invite 2 – Dan Rodriguez

On July 3, 2009, in Podcast, by The MyMac Podcast

Download the show here, and subscribe in iTunes here
Listener Invite 2! Dan Rodriguez joins Tim, David, and Guy for a lively one-hour chat about a ton of subjects, including how to record podcasts, Dan’s Beyond Diet Podcast, iPhones, Sony DVD Recorders and DRM, and much more.

From the show: Elgato Video Capture from Other World Computing

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Beyond Diet Podcast

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Geekiest Show Ever 10 – iPhone and Time Travel

On July 3, 2009, in Podcast, by Tim Robertson

Check out the Geekiest Show Ever 10 – iPhone and Time Travel. Tim Robertson, Owen Rubin, and Guy Serle discuss the Apple iPhone, Time Travel movies and TV shows, and other random tidbits.

Download it via iTunes here.

 

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