The Macintosh Digital Hub
Book Review

The Macintosh Digital Hub
Jim Heid

PeachPit Press & Avondale Media
ISBN: 0-321-12529-0
Price: US $29.99

I hate it when a writer or reviewer refers to something as “The New Standard by which all other will be judged.” It sounds pretentious and over-bearing. In fact, when I read that sort of blanket statement, I almost want to rush out and buy / try whatever it is just to prove the slogan wrong. I am strange like that.

The Macintosh Digital Hub by Jim Heid sets not only the new standard by which all other Mac books should be judged, but is really the first new-breed of Book / DVD combination to hit the Macintosh landscape.

I hate myself sometimes, but I hate Jim Heid even more for making such a way-cool product that just forced me to write that. Thanks, Jim, for turning me into that which I despise. A book jacket blurb writer!

But MAN is this a great product, and I guess I cannot cry too much for using that slogan. I mean, this really is a new standard, one I will hold up and judge other products of this nature.

What is “The Macintosh Digital Hub?” It is a 144 full-color page book with an accompanying DVD, which will play just as easily on your Mac or home DVD player. The DVD itself is not so much bonus material for the book, as most discs that come with books are, but a full-fledged partner of content.

Picture this: A great book that goes into a good amount of detail on iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie, and iDVD to get even the most technophobe newbie up and running, but a DVD partner in which you can actually watch and learn how to do it yourself.

A part of me wanted to write this review and keep the book and DVD separate, focusing on the merits and shortcomings of each alone. But that really cannot be done, as the two are wed in a content marriage of blissful splendor. (By the way, I don’t think I have ever use either blissful or splendor in any review or article I have ever written, let along in the same sentence. Damn you Jim! You will rue the day!)

You can watch the DVD or read the book on its own, but using these two together is where the strength of The Macintosh Digital Hub comes out. They are both excellent examples of a writer not just chasing a paycheck, but one who really wants his or her readership to understand and enjoy the subject matter. (Damn it, Jim! I’m a reviewer, not a PR spokesman!)

The book is well written, in slightly larger text than other books of its kind. A welcome change for older eyes, which mine are getting. The book is full of color screen shots, diagrams, and other colorful items to help get the point of topic across in the easiest and most straightforward way. In fact, almost every page in The Macintosh Digital Hub has a color picture on it.

When I read a book of this type, I try to keep my Aunt Darlene in mind. Would Aunt Dar be able to use this book and understand the topic enough to learn how to use her Snow iMac better? Well, in the case of The Macintosh Digital Hub, the answer would be a definite maybe. But Aunt Dar is not a technology savvy person at all, and even pretty pictures laid out as well as they are in The Macintosh Digital Hub may not help her. Enter the DVD.

Aunt Dar is a watcher. When she has a problem with her Mac, and I have to fix it, she is not the type to take notes for the next time something happens. She has to watch me do it. At least twice. “Show me how to change my desktop picture again.” She will say, and I will show her again and again until she has it. This is why I know The Macintosh Digital Hub, with its DVD, will be of most benefit to her. She will be able to watch Jim perform his Macintosh Magic over and over until she either learns it, or starts dreaming about Jim at night. Scary…

The DVD is also broken up into four main chapters, the same as the book, and you can navigate directly via the menu to the segment within the chapter you want to watch. This is a nice DVD, easy to watch and learn by.

One of the problems I have had recently with books is the price. I totally agree that the content creators should be well compensated for their hard work. But the cost of some of the recent Photoshop book, for instance, is outrageous. How many books can us users afford (especially in this economy) when the cover price is US $55? Not very many, I think. But here again, The Macintosh Digital Hub shows not only great content, but also a price point to match. US $29.99. A penny shy of Thirty bucks for all this? Say it ain’t so! Poor Jim must be starving to death, selling this book / DVD this cheaply. I worry for him, I really do.

Finally, a book my Aunt Dar will get the full use of. A companion DVD that is not just sample files and software demos. All content, all the time, at half the price you would expect to pay. My hat is off to Jim Heid, PeachPit Press, and Avondale Media for a job well done.

I strongly recommend The Macintosh Digital Hub.

MacMice Rating: 5 out of 5

Tim Robertson

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