Sonnet 1.2GHz TiBook Processor Upgrade

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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

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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

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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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REVIEW: ToughSkin for Treo 650

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Date: Wednesday, December 14th, 2005, 10:38
Category: Review

speck-toughskin-treo.jpgThere’s two schools of thought we it comes to cases, you either use them and swear by them, or you simply take your chances. Readers of these pages know that I am a big fan of cases and I almost never take my electronics out of the house without a case. It’s partially because I’m a klutz and drop all my electronics on the first day I have them, and partially to protect their resale value. This case fetish is part of the reason that I was so disappointed with the lack of cases when the iPod nano was announced.
The SkinTight line of silicone cases from Speck Products provide good protection all around, but their ToughSkin line of cases provide even more coverage. I recently got a ToughSkin for my Treo 650 and find it to be one of best cases out there. It’s a bit bigger than a standard silicone case, but it looks like it would survive a throw at a wall (which is NOT recommended, btw.)
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REVIEW: Griffin EarThumps

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Date: Wednesday, December 14th, 2005, 09:12
Category: Review

griffin-earthumps.jpgIf you’re looking for a pair of replacement earphones for your new iPod, you should check out the new EarThumps from Griffin Technology. They’re affordable at only US$19.99 and sound great. They’re not in the sound quality strata of the XtremeMac FS.1s (US$149) or the Future Sonic Ears Model EM3 ($99) but for the price you simply can’t beat them.
EarThumps were designed specifically for use with iPod and have excellent noise isolation and responsive bass. They ship with three different-sized silicone inserts to fit all ear sizes and include a cool nylon zippered carrying case.
EarThumps come in both white and black to match any iPod. I recommend the black models if you live in an area that has been plagued by Podjackings like New York City or the UK.

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O'Reilly: Aperture on a PowerBook, Pt. 1

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Date: Sunday, December 4th, 2005, 08:34
Category: Review

O’Reilly’s Derrick Story has posted an excellent review of Aperture on a PowerBook:

I finally had a chance to spend a whole day with Apple’s new professional photo software, Aperture. As I had mentioned in an earlier post, I’m using a 17″ PowerBook for all of my photo work. This is the first in a series of posts describing my experiences with Aperture on a laptop.
Fortunately, my laptop is only about a year old. It’s a 1.5 GHz PowerPC G4 with 1.5 GB DDR SDRAM and a 80 GB hard drive. I have the ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 graphics card with 64 MB VRAM. I have Mac OS X 10.4.3 loaded. And finally, I’m using two LaCie FireWire external drives for “vault” backups.
To be honest, I was nervous about Aperture’s performance on this computer. The recommended system, a Dual 2GHz Power Mac G5 with a ATI Radeon 9800 XT or 9800 Pro, blows the doors off my 17″ laptop. But after a day’s worth of work, everything seems just fine.

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REVIEW: 45-days with GreenCine

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Date: Friday, December 2nd, 2005, 06:22
Category: Review

There are two types of people in the internet world; people who don’t rent DVDs on-line and hard-core “Oh-my-God, I love NetFlix” types. For a long time the only real option for on-line movie rentals was NetFlix. Well, for those of you who are considered getting that NetFlix tattoo, I’d hold off on that trip to the parlor and check out GreenCine.
GreenCine is a San Francisco based DVD rental company that specializes in genres that may be hard to find on NetFlix. In addition to the regular genres that your friendly, neighborhood Blockbuster carries, GreenCine’s genres have fun/realistic titles like Comic Books, Cult, Espionage, Biopics and Quest to name a few. New DVD titles aren’t highlighted on their web-site, but they’re in there. I did a side-by-side comparison and found many, but not all, of the same new releases that the competition has on their site. Another notable difference between GreenCine and NetFlix is the adult-targeted materials. GreenCine refers to it as “BlueCine”.
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REVIEW: Aces Texas Hold'em – No Limit for Treo

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Date: Monday, November 28th, 2005, 22:56
Category: Review

aces-texas-hold-em.jpgOne of the single best reasons to own a smartphone is because it makes waiting in line enjoyable. There, I said it. Granted it’s not as fun as sitting on the couch vegging out to the Discovery channel in high-def, so maybe tolerable is more accurate.
I carry a smartphone to keep up with email and surfing the Web, but gaming is the icing on the cake. In fact, my Treo 650 keeps me from pulling my hair out any time I have to get into a queue. Smartphones are a great way to keep productive, especially when the person in front of you seems to have forgotten how to use the ATM, but they’re also great for blowing off steam.
While I’m not a huge gamer, I am a huge fan of poker. Nothing is better on a smartphone than playing poker—Texas Hold’em to be exact. Perhaps it’s my proximity to Atlantic City, or maybe just my addictive personality, but I find gambling games to be quite entertaining on my smartphone.
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REVIEW: Griffin SmartDeck Save Lives?

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Date: Monday, November 28th, 2005, 00:34
Category: Review

Griffin SmartDeckHow many people do distracting things like using their iPod while driving? C’mon, you know who you are! How many people still have a cassette player in their car? Enough. How many people don’t have a auxiliary input jack available on their head unit? Most, especially those with a cassette head unit. How many people have serious problems with interference and sound quality using an FM transmitter to get iTunes music to their car stereo? Tons, especially in major urban areas. How many people have US$30 to spend on in-car iPod connectivity?
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Review: EDGE Dock & Multi Flash Card Reader for iPod

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Date: Tuesday, November 22nd, 2005, 01:40
Category: Review

ipod-dock-flash-card-reader.jpgEdgeTech’s new Dock & Multi Flash Card Reader for iPod is like a traditional iPod dock with the additional functionality of being a flash memory card reader. If you keep a flash media reader on your desk, the $45 dock provides a nice way to get rid of an extra peripheral and clean up some of the clutter on your desk.
The Dock & Multi Flash Card Reader charges and syncs the iPods, nano, mini and photo. It’s USB powered and has an S-Video output for viewing photos on a TV. The main difference between it and the Apple iPod dock is that it reads most flash memory cards including: xD Picture Card, SD Memory Cards, MultiMedia (MMC) Cards, Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, Memory Stick Duo, SmartMedia Cards, Type I/II CompactFlash Cards, and IBM Microdrive.
Unfortunately it doesn’t act like Apple’s iPod Camera Connector accessory and allow you to transfer images directly from your digital camera’s memory card to an iPod. Maybe in version 2.0.
I was a little disappointed that it won’t sync my iPod with the included standard USB cable (despite the fact that all iPods are now USB only). Instead it requires using Apple’s expensive, proprietary 30-pin “docking cable” (which I’d rather keep in my bag). The standard USB cable is reserved for the card reading functionality only.
All-in-all it’s a good iPod dock for users that also use a lot of media cards and don’t want an extra accessory cluttering up their workspace. However, if you only use a single style of media card or if you usually cable up your camera or use a PC card reader to sync your photos, you’d be better off with Apple’s US$39 Universal Dock.

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