160GB MacBook Drives get Perpendicular (Updated)

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, July 11th, 2006, 20:55
Category: Hardware

mb-sata-hdd.jpgMCE is now selling 160GB (5400RPM) SATA hard drives for the MacBook, MBP and Mac mini for US$299. Previously the largest shipping notebook SATA drive was 120GB. In January MCE announced 160GB hard drives for PowerBooks but those drives are Ultra ATA/100 and won’t work in Apple’s newest iron. So if your MacBook’s hard drive is already full, image that bad boy and upgrade to the new 160GB drives. I recommend picking up a pair so that you can have a hot spare at home.
UPDATE: Suprisingly its not Seagate Momentus 5400.3 mechanism (although they’ve had a 160GB PATA version out for some time now.) The drive that MCE is selling is a Hitachi Travelstar 5K160 mechanism – they’re first perpendicular recording (PMR) hard drive.
Click through for the whole PR…

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15,000 Songs on your Credenza

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Date: Monday, May 1st, 2006, 08:22
Category: Hardware

iPods are great little sound machines, with the emphasis on little and they pack enough power to drive a pair of earbuds for hours and hours. If you don’t need portable, you can get a lot more bang far a lot less buck. Whether you use an all Apple solution or even a PC, older computers make cheap digital jukeboxes and iTunes is free. Keep in mind that most PCs used for computing tasks are attached to some seriously lo-fi speakers. This is not what I am talking about. I have cobbled together a number digital jukeboxes, many on the cheap.
My first digital music box came pre-configured. You see, I still have my Twentieth Anniversary Mac and it was designed to play music. The Bose sound system is decent, considering the size limitations of the small drivers in the TAM head unit. The fan in my TAM always runs because of a G3 upgrade, I only have a 20GB laptop drive in it and the version of Quicktime running on OS 9 does not support Apple’s Fair Play. But, with it’s built in remote control, CD drive and iTunes, it makes for an elegant integrated music system.
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Airport Express: When Blinking Green Means Stop

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Date: Friday, April 21st, 2006, 10:00
Category: Hardware

airport-express2.jpgAirport Express is a great product. Lots of us use it to set up wireless networks, play music and print. It’s easy to set up and works well — until it dies. When mine did, I did the usual. I looked on line, I checked all the wires, I called Apple support. They were helpful, but I was out of luck. My waranty had expired. I looked on Apple’s discussion forums and this seems very common. Shouldn’t Apple fix what appears to be a design problem?
Is this still happening with new Aiport Expresses?
Contributed by: Peter

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RadTech Impact HDD Enclosure w/64-bit Encryption (UPDATED)

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Date: Sunday, February 19th, 2006, 20:00
Category: Review

radtech-impact-enclosure.jpgRadTech has release a new and unique hard drive enclosure that’s perfect for an extra 2.5-inch hard drive that you might have as a result of upgrading the internal hard drive in your PowerBook. The Radtech Impact Hard Disk Drive Enclosure w/64-bit Encryption is different than any HDD enclosure I’ve ever seen because it adds a layer of physical security giving your data an extra level of protection.
Most people keep a complete backup of their PowerBook at home on a FireWire drive of some sort (and if you don’t, you should) but what happens if the backup drive is lost or stolen? It’s the same as having your PowerBook and all its precious data stolen – personal and private information can fall into the wrong hands.
This story has been updated with new information in the keys and getting replacements.
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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…
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Overnight HDD Upgrade for your 'Book

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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

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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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