Reviews

FireMax 500GB Quad

From Macworld

Pros: Quiet operation; small size.

Cons: Pricey; cramped power switch; heavy power adapter; no bundled software.

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Mac OS X 10.4.9--How Fast is It?

From Macs Only

Last week, Apple released Mac OS X 10.4.9 update (see our 3/14 edition) and we have now had a chance to test it extensively. The update, the first in five months, has many fixes and improvements, including new ATI and Nvidia graphics drivers.

Have the changes improved Mac OS X's performance? To find out we ran our standard set of speed tests to test the performance of Mac OS X 10.4.9 relative to that of Mac OS X 10.4.8 using our two Intel-based Macs.

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Painter X

From Macworld

Long the favourite of amateur painters, Corel Painter has nonetheless established itself as a significant tool for illustrators, and this latest edition strengthens that position.

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StuffIt Deluxe 11

From Macworld
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Pros: Improved, faster compression; optimized performance on Intel Macs; good JPEG compression; new utility for organizing archive collections.

Cons: None significant.

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JBL Reference 210 Earphones

From iLounge

We're not accustomed to using the words "disappointing" and JBL in the same sentence: the company's reputation for excellent speakers precedes its every release, its Austrian-developed AKG earphones are fairly consistent crowd-pleasers, and its earlier Reference-series earphones have been pretty good, too. So it's with a heavy heart that we report that its Reference 210 Earphones ($40) fail to live up to the family's reputation: these standard earbuds look nice, but don't sound as good as Apple's less expensive iPod Earphones.

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Griffin iKaraoke and DoPi Karaoke System

From PlayList

Long before countless Americans aspired to be the next American Idol, karaoke let music lovers be the stars of their own musical performances. A pair of new accessories for your iPod offer to bring the karaoke experience home for you to enjoy—instead of just passively listening to your music, you can participate in an interactive karaoke experience. Griffin Technology’s $50 iKaraoke and DoPi’s $60 DoPi Karaoke System take slightly different approaches to delivering karaoke, but with each, your iPod provides the songs and you provide the vocals.

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Nike+iPod Only for Fitness Runners

From TidBITS

I've been putting off this review, because it doesn't thrill me to warn even a subset of people away from a popular product. But that's exactly what I have to do - in short, although the Nike+iPod Sport Kit can be a fun addition for anyone who runs with an iPod or wants a bit more encouragement to run, competitive runners shouldn't bother with it. It simply isn't worthwhile as a training aid for anyone who values ease-of-use, lap counter features, and distance and pace accuracy.

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Griffin Technology EarThumps

From iLounge

Pros: Comfortable, sleek, and inexpensive iPod earbuds in your choice of black or white colors, each with a carrying case and three different silicone rubber molds for your ear canals. Good cable and headphone plug design.

Cons: Heavy bass slant to the audio that’s not as controlled as in better options we’ve tested, flattening sound and lacking for treble.

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OmniPlan 1.0

From Macworld

Pros: Intuitive interface; excellent scheduling and resource allocation.

Cons: Limited automated functionality; poor print customization features; no file linking.

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HP Photosmart D5160 Photo Printer

From Macworld

Pros: Easy and convenient CD/DVD printing; very good text and color-document quality; inexpensive; fast; attractive design.

Cons: Photos are oversharpened; reds look dark; control panel and included software have irksome limitations.

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My New Mobile

From The Guardian (UK)

...There is one device I just can't get comfortable with - my mobile phone. I'm not some medieval yeoman, infuriated by mobiles full stop. Just this particular model.

The trouble started the afternoon someone from Orange rang me up to say, "Hey, valued customer - do you want a free phone?" At first I wasn't interested, but he went on and on about how popular and great the Samsung E900 was, then promised me free texts at weekends for life if I said yes. So I gave in.

The phone arrived the next day and immediately began elbowing me in the ribs.

Click here to read more "My New Mobile"

iConcertCal: Your Gig-Going Pal

From TidBITS

Until recently, I haven't been a regular visitor to Apple's Mac OS X Downloads page, but after coming across their latest featured download, I may become a regular visitor. The program in question was a nifty iTunes plug-in called iConcertCal, which generates a personalized calendar of concert dates based on artists in your iTunes music library and your location.

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PDFpenPro 3.1

From The MacObserver

PDFpenPro lets you edit, modify, and sign the PDFs you work with - and it does all that with a user-friendly interface and an affordable price.

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Apple Sets Wi-Fi on Fire

From InfoWorld

At $179, Apple's AirPort Extreme 802.11 draft-n wireless base station is priced like brand X, but Cisco couldn't have done it any better. Apple's claim of 5X performance and 2X coverage relative to 802.11g is no mere boast; it was proven for this review.

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Aperture 1.5.2

From Macworld

Pros: Many bug fixes; more-flexible approach to supporting new Raw formats.

Cons: Inadequate printed documentation; needs more zoom options and keyboard shortcuts for adjustments; adjusting large Raw-format images requires a fast Mac and a high-end video card.

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Photoshop Lightroom 1.0

From Macworld

Pros: Excellent photo-management and -importing capabilities; strong editing functionality, including innovative Targeted Adjustment tool and intuitive Spot Removal brush; good printing and Web creation features; performs well across wide range of Macs.

Cons: Interface has a few minor inconsistencies; skimpy Slideshow module; needs more-comprehensive documentation; no secure FTP; image backup options are only during import.

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TypeIt4Me 3.1

From Macworld

Pros: Saves time; powerful special characters allows complex abbreviations; supports application-specific abbreviations.

Cons: Interface is a bit complex; price may seem high to some users.

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Stand Up

From Macworld

I’ve been testing Griffin’s successor to the iCurve, the new $40 Elevator, for a few weeks now, and it’s a significant improvement over its predecessor. Instead of an all-plastic design, the Elevator uses two U-shaped aluminum arm/leg pieces braced in front by a clear-plastic base. The Elevator raises your laptop nearly six inches off your desk for better screen viewing (and, thanks to a design that keeps the bottom of your laptop exposed, better cooling). Open space underneath the stand gives you a place to store your external keyboard when not in use.

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HP LP3065 30" Flat Panel Display

From Macworld

Pros: Adjustable stand; includes dual-link DVI cables.

Cons: Requires system with dual-link DVI graphics support; display’s external controls offer limited amount of adjustment.

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Photoshop Lightroom 1.0

From Macworld

Pros: Excellent photo-management and -importing capabilities; strong editing functionality, including innovative Targeted Adjustment tool and intuitive Spot Removal brush; good printing and Web creation features; performs well across wide range of Macs.

Cons: Interface has a few minor inconsistencies; skimpy Slideshow module; needs more-comprehensive documentation; no secure FTP; image backup options are only during import.

Click here to read more "Photoshop Lightroom 1.0"

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

From Ars Technica

Lightroom is a really great program that is just short of a nine or ten. I don't doubt that this is going to be a very popular program and for Windows users, it's a no-brainer for professional photographers. Mac users on older hardware will also appreciate its low system requirements. Lightroom is off to a very promising start and it's definitely one of the better ways to spend 43 megabytes.

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Roxio Toast Titanium 8 for Mac

From CNET

The good: Roxio Toast Titanium 8 stays current with support for TiVoToGo, Blu-ray discs, and LightScribe drives, while delivering much-appreciated new features such as the ability to recover bad CDs or DVDs, and the ability to catalog the contents of burned discs. Audio-mixing features formerly found in Roxio Jam have now been folded in.

The bad: The revised interface in Roxio Toast Titanium 8 feels sterile, and it can be hard to find help information since support documents are spread between the printed manual, the support site, and the various applications' electronic files. The audio-mixing tools could be more robust and offer easier previews.

The bottom line: Roxio continues to improve a strong suite and keep Toast current with the release of version 8. If the Mac OS and Apple's bundled apps don't meet your disc-creation needs, pick up Toast at once.

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Mac Virtualization: VMware vs. Parallels

From Macworld

The biggest difference between them right now is that Parallels’ product is finished while VMware’s Fusion is still in beta testing. In fact, Parallels recently announced the availability of the third beta version of the next release of its software, which includes support for upgrading a virtual Windows XP system to Windows Vista, among other features.

The fact that Fusion is still in beta is rather evident. Several configuration dialogs include the sentence, “This device will be editable in a future release,” and there are some minor stability problems.

Performance is another major difference, and it is linked to the fact that Fusion is still in beta. Although the time it takes to install or boot Windows or to run most applications is similar between both Parallels and Fusion, some actions that involve redrawing the screen are slower in Fusion, sometimes resulting in a sluggish feel by comparison.

Running benchmark tests within similarly configured virtual machines under each application reveals dramatic differences in some processor and graphics functions.

Click here to read more "Mac Virtualization: VMware vs. Parallels"

Nikon D40 DSLR

From Macworld

Pros: Affordable, impressive image quality; small; light; bright, easy-to-see 2.5-inch LCD; full-featured; comfortable; solid build with rubberized grip; handy information display; built-in help system.

Cons: No top-mounted status display; lower pixel count than most pro-level DSLRs; no depth of field preview.

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AirPort Extreme Base Station

By Glenn Fleishman

Pros: Significantly faster than previous model; better wireless range; simpler configuration; easy printer and hard drive sharing across network.

Cons: No gigabit Ethernet; lacks protection for individual folders on shared hard drives.

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