FireWire Evolution Redux

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, January 26th, 2006, 09:00
Category: Hardware

firewire-logo.jpgContributed by: James Wiebe, CEO, WiebeTech LLC
15 months ago, I wrote a white paper which was entitled, ‘FireWire Evolution’. The paper contained a lot of information on the history of FireWire, and delved deeply into the marketing path which Apple had taken with FireWire 800.
I probably was a little too careful in my analysis; I tried not to ruffle feathers needlessly at Apple. In any case, it’s dangerous to predict the future.
This time, I am throwing caution to the wind and I will be a little more emphatic. If you are making storage decisions based on rollouts of FireWire 800 technology, your purchasing priorities are sadly out of order. Apple was the only champion of FireWire 800; a task it seemed to take reluctantly. Now, Apple is making marketplace moves that are absolving itself of FireWire 800.
One of the keen underlying technology themes at MacWorld 2006 is that Apple has begun to remove FireWire 800 from its product lineup. It was removed unceremoniously from the MacBook Pro, and I’m betting that it will soon be gone from the entire Macintosh product lineup, most specifically the desktop lineup.
No, I don’t have a secret line of communication with Steve, and I have absolutely no Apple engineers whispering in my ear. And I have no axe to grind with my own product line, because we do sell lots of FireWire 800 drive enclosures and docks every day. We also have some customers who are married to FireWire 800 technology for the right reasons and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future.
FireWire 800 was the right technology at the right time, but badly marred by marketing mistakes at the time it was launched. It had a viable upgrade path to even faster versions (none of which has ever happened).
So where to from here? Here’s my thoughts as to where Apple should go…
Read More….

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Overnight HDD Upgrade for your 'Book

Posted by:
Date: Monday, January 23rd, 2006, 19:18
Category: Hardware

Momentus_5400_3.jpgTechRestore, Inc. (a PowerPage sponsor) is now offering 160GB overnight hard drive upgrades for PowerBooks, iBooks and PC notebooks.
The service includes overnight pickup of your notebook from any location in the continental U.S., installation of the new 160GB drive, data transfer and return overnight shipping for US$490. Your old hard drive is returned so you’ll have a backup of your data.
The same service for other drives costs:
- 120GB (5400RPM) US$330
- 100GB (5400RPM) US$280
- 100GB (7200RPM) US$400
As an option you can have your old hard drive installed in a portable case for US$20. All upgrades are covered by a 1-year warranty from TechRestore and a 5-year warranty on the hard drive from the manufacturer.

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Sonnet 1.2GHz TiBook Processor Upgrade

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, January 17th, 2006, 23:58
Category: Hardware

Sonnet Technologies has announced a processor upgrade service for PowerBook G4 550 MHz and 667 MHz (Titanium) models. The upgrade features a Freescale 7457 G4 processor running at 1.2 GHz with 512K L2 cache (twice the original processor’s) running at full processor speed.

Until now, all of Sonnet’s processor upgrades have been standalone products created for DIY installation, and offer users a simply fast way to accelerate their Macs. Due to the complexity of replacing these PowerBook CPUs, Sonnet opted to start the PowerBook G4 TiBook upgrade service and take over the installation task. The service includes the purchase of the upgrade, and full installation and testing of the upgraded computer by highly trained technicians.
The TiBook upgrade service creates a path for PowerBook G4 owners to obtain faster clock speed and higher performance. The end result is maximum performance gains and 100% compatibility with existing hardware, RAM, and software–qualities that you have come to expect from a Sonnet upgrade.

The PowerBook G4 TiBook upgrade costs US$499.95 plus tax (where applicable) and shipping. More information about the PowerBook G4 TiBook Upgrade service is available on the Sonnet Web site.

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MCE Offers 160GB PowerBook HDD Upgrade

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, January 17th, 2006, 23:42
Category: Hardware

mshd_kit.jpgMCE Technologies, LLC (MCE) is now selling a 160GB 5400 RPM hard drive for the PowerBook, iBook and Mac mini. The MCE MobileStor 160GB/5400RPM drive (US$399) is the highest capacity 2.5-inch drive available for these machines and includes an 8MB cache buffer.

The drive’s engineers have developed a method of standing data bits on end within the disks platters as opposed to the previous method of hard disk data recording which was to lay the bits down horizontally, parallel to the platter. Since the platter’s depth is now used to store bits vertically through the platter, more bits can be packed into the platter… hence the higher capacity.
In addition, because a slightly thicker recording layer is used the risk of thermal decay is decreased and this greatly enhances reliability in demanding high temperature and rugged operating environments. The MCE MobileStor 160GB PowerBook hard drive has sustained data transfer rates of up to 44MB per second with burst transfer rates of up to 100MB per second. The drive is also designed with an 8MB read and write cache buffer. This allows the drive to anticipate what data will be requested next by the PowerBook and the drive will pre-load this data into its cache buffer.
If the PowerBook requests this pre-loaded data then the drive responds immediately, transmitting the data from its super-fast cache buffer, eliminating completely the latency involved in having to search for the data on its disk. The larger the cache, the greater chance the data will already be pre-loaded. Since most drives include only a 2MB buffer, the MobileStor 160GB’s 8MB buffer gives it a further performance advantage.

The mechanism is a Momentus 5400.3 from Seagate Technology LLC with an Ultra ATA/100 interface, so it won’t work in the new MacBook Pro. A second version with a faster Serial ATA interface will be available later this year according to Seagate.

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EVDO Cards for the ExpressCard/34 Slot

Posted by:
Date: Monday, January 16th, 2006, 00:32
Category: Hardware

Verizon-PC5220.jpgWith the announcement of the MacBook Pro a lot of people are wondering what they’re going to do with their EVDO PC cards. The Verizon PC5220 is one of the more popular EVDO PC cards and some have speculated that the U132 adapter would work in a pinch.
According to sources the Verizon PC5220 will work in the U132, but only with Windows. There are currently no Mac OS drivers for the U132 adapter and no established plan or timeline for them. The U132 will not be shipping until next month but it is available for pre-order now.
Luckily the MacBook Pro isn’t the first notebook to use the ExpressCard/34 slot. The following PC notebooks also ship with an ExpressCard/34 slot:
- Dell Inspiron 1300
- Dell Inspiron B130
- Dell Inspiron B120
- LifeBook N3511
- Toshiba Terca M3
- ThinkPad T32 (supports both PCMCIA & ExpressCard)
- Acer TravelMate 8204WLMi
EVDOInfo.com has posted a page tracking developments on EVDO cards for the new ExpressCard/34 slot.

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New PowerBooks! New PowerBooks! Oh and PowerMacs too…

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, October 19th, 2005, 21:46
Category: Hardware

Apple used a press event in New York today to announce some new hardware and software. The event was held at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in Manhattan on the eve of PhotoPlus Expo, a large photography trade show. The new announcements included new PowerBook G4s, PowerMac G5s and a new professional post production photo application called Aperture. Specifications are as follows:
powerbook-g4-17-oct05.pngPowerBook G4 (15-inch)
- 1.67MHz
- 1440 x 960 pixel display, providing 26 percent more resolution
- DVI output with dual link for Apple 30″ Cinema display support
- 512MB PC2-4200 DDR2 SDRAM @ 333MHz, expandable to 2GB
- 80GB Ultra ATA/100 (5400 RPM) hard drive w/Sudden Motion Sensor
- 8x SuperDrive with double-layer support
- 22% greater battery life (an extra hour of run time)
- US$1,999 (down from US$2,299)
PowerBook G4 (17-inch)
- 1.67MHz
- 1680 x 1050 pixel display, providing 26 percent more resolution (The same resolution as Apple 20″ Cinema Display.)
- DVI output with dual link for Apple 30″ Cinema display support
- 512MB PC2-4200 DDR2 SDRAM @ 333MHz, expandable to 2GB
- 120GB Ultra ATA/100 (5400 RPM) hard drive w/Sudden Motion Sensor
- 8x SuperDrive with double-layer support
- 22% greater battery life (an extra hour of run time)
- US$2,499 (down from US$2,699)
The new 15 and 17-inch PowerBooks are available with 100 and 120GB (5400RPM) hard drives and up to 2GB of SDRAM as built-to-order options.
The PowerBook 12-inch (1.5GHz) remains the same but is available with a 100GB/5400RPM hard drive and up to 1.25GB of RAM as built-to-order options. US$1,499 (down from US$1,699). All three PowerBook models had their prices lowered by $200.
Apple also announced new PowerMacs G5s today with dual-core processors. Click through for all the specs…

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The Apple Core: The Mac mini

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, October 6th, 2005, 12:49
Category: Hardware

It appears that Apple has quietly released an upgrade to the Mac mini – and they’re not fessing up to it. Rather than do it with their usual press release and updated product page Apple’s quietly rolling out the zippier 1.5GHz minis in the 1.42GHz packaging. Read more…

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Sirius Previews s50 Portable Satellite Radio

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, September 29th, 2005, 13:36
Category: Hardware

Sirius s50 portable satellite receiverThe new Sirius s50 portable satellite radio looks like a very cool little gadget. the Sirius Web site is vague on the details but I’m sure we’ll hear more as the release date approaches. Here’s the quick skinny from their Web site:
- Save up to 50 hours of your favorite programming by simply pressing the (heart shape) button. Or save individual songs and programs, then sort and replay by artist, title or genre.
- Use the Media Dial, or simply turn/tilt your S50 to pause, rewind and fast-forward.
- Bring your own MP3 or WMA library (when docked to PC) via USB cable
- Combine audio files to make customized playlist.
- Game Alerts – Prompts when your favorite teams are playing
- Sports Ticker – Get up to the minute score updates of your favorite teams without changing the channel
- 30 channel presets
- One touch JUMP to access traffic and weather reports for your city or use to tune to your favorite SIRIUS channel
- 6 hours battery life in portable mode

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MIT's US$100 Laptop

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, September 29th, 2005, 11:26
Category: Hardware

MIT's $100 Notebook ComputerThe MIT Media Lab has launched a new research initiative to develop a $100 notebook computer with a built in hand-crank as a option if there is no outlet for the AC adapter. The guys at MIT have really done a wonderful thing to help children in developing nations.

The proposed $100 machine will be a Linux-based, full-color, full-screen laptop that will use innovative power (including wind-up) and will be able to do most everything except store huge amounts of data. These rugged laptops will be WiFi- and cell phone-enabled, and have USB ports galore. Its current specifications are: 500MHz, 1GB, 1 Megapixel.

Jump to their site and read up on what other innovative hardware and concepts they will use to make this happen.

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OQO revises their Ultra PC Model 01

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, September 29th, 2005, 10:43
Category: Hardware

OQO Model 1+ UltraPCFrom former Apple employees (TiBook designers) comes a revolutionary product: OQO Ultra PC
Ultra PC is a full featured desktop machine in your hand, includes: Small 200dpi 5-inch LCD, 4-pin Firewire port, USB 2.0, video/audio out, ethernet, microphone, speaker, and a digital pen. Wireless connectivity is implemented via Bluetooth & 802.11b. The battery life is so-so at only three hours, so you’re limited to what you can do without a power outlet. The Lithium Polymer battery is removable so buying a second one will allow you to swap it out and work longer. The OQO is powered by a 1GHz Transmeta Crusoe chip.
Click on the headline to read more…

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