Archives for 2009 | MacGizmoGuy Blog

Ipevo's P2V Webcam For Mac/PC Does Macro Close-Ups

This next generation Mac and Windows compatible 2MP web cam from iPevo is unique among cameras: The IPEVO P2V USB Camera can zoom in closer than any other webcam on the market with a 2" focal range. Like it's predecessor, the POV -- it features a unique design for handheld demonstrations of detail -- Hence it's name: The Ipevo Point 2 View Webcam. It also includes a laptop clip and destop stand for more conventional video chat uses - and snapshot software for not only PC - but also for Mac OSX 10.5+ Leopard.

Ipevo Point 2 Vies 2MP PC and Mac Webcam
The P2V webcam has built-in hardware Auto-Focus with switch-selectable override for manual zoom - and a snapshot button (but alas, no microphone.)

Low-Cost SuperDrive DVD Burner For Mac

It happens. Mac DVD burners laser 'eye-balls' burn out and start giving disc burning errors. Or, your MacBook Air needs a drive that costs half of what Apple's $99 USB SuperDrive for MacBook Air does. Or, your Macs factory-installed burner is just getting temperamental and unreliable. Slot-Load SuperDrives are notorious for problems ejecting, discs getting hopelessly stuck, and at worst - damaged. It happens.

$50 Mac Compatible USB SuperDrive Replacement

USB Powered DVD Burner For Mac Computers
This Mac friendly Samsung USB 2.0 8x DVD Writer External Optical Drive gets all it's power from its USB cable.
. For some it's a viable and low-cost alternative to paying $200 or more to have a MacBook or iMac's Super-Drive replaced. It may be a good stopgap solution to still be able to read and burn DVD's and CD's on an aging Mac that you don't want to sink alot of repair money into, but still has some life left. T

Mac-2-School : The Changing Student Laptop Landscape

With Apple shipping nearly TEN MILLION Macs a year - I dare say College campuses are experiencing a huge shift in Mac use as the numbers just keep growing. It all just goes way beyond Student deals on MacBooks, iPods & iPhones - They're becoming utterly interwoven into the Higher-Ed landscape.

Mac adoption was always higher in education, but something is tipping on the scales and I think the 2010 school year is a year where Apple computers - and ever more student's exposure to them is part of a SNOWBALL that's really only begun rolling. Cuz these kids are gonna take their love for Mac into thier internships and careers to follow. Think Apple's stuck at oh, say 10% marketshare in the US? Think again. Apple's well on it's way to Fifteen -- and then Twenty Million Macs a year - Mark MacGizmo's words...

Best Price On OSX Snow Leopard : $25 At Amazon

Mac OS X version 10.6 Snow Leopard Upgrade Disc has shown up at Amazon available at $29 for Pre-order and they'll ship automatically when Apple offcially ships it in September.
Pre-order Snow Leopard Upgrade $29

Critical to note: Snow Leopard 10.6 Upgrade ONLY RUNS ON INTEL PROCESSOR MACS. Sorry G4 and G5 owners, it's the end of an era. But that spells great things for Intel Macs - Snow Leopard will strip out all the old PowerPC code for a faster, leaner OSX that will free up gigabytes of disk space during the upgrade process.

Mac VOIP = Vast Opportunity (for) Income Preservation

Voice Over Internet Protocol - VOIP for Mac - has been around a long time: Even since the days of dial-up modems, since speech doesn't require alot of bandwidth like music or video does. This Mac Gizmo Guy remembers his first 'Free Long Distance' voice phone call 5-some years back on a Slot-Load G3 iMac. I've saved A LOT of money using VOIP on my G5 iMac and MacBook since then.

Skype for Mac
has long been a great money saving option for long distance here in the USA and Canada using low-cost "Skype Out" minutes. The latest Yahoo Messenger v3 for Mac also offers cheap 1 cent/per minute across the nation calls to landlines and cell phones using Yahoo's "Call Out" options. Paired with a dedicated USB or Wireless IP phone - or with a decent headset you can have a great VOIP experience. But in a pinch, even a Mac with a built-in microphone and iSight webcam can get you started.

Other full-fleged OSX VO-IP options are out there with dedicated monthly VO-IP providers like Vonage and others who'll bundle a 'free' Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA) configured for their service as part of your startup package. Just plug in a regular analog phone and you're good to go. Many also offer a SIP - Software Internet Phone application for OSX that lets you make and receive calls directly on your MacBook iMac, Mac Pro or mini.

For those of us who don't want to cough up $100 or more a month for Cable/DSL * 'Unlimited' IP phone bundle packages, or pay the outrageous rates your local phone company may charge - there's a decent range of pay as you go, pay very little by the minute VOIP options for Apple computers that can save you REAL MONEY month after month, call after call.

You Deserve BETTER - Dump Apples iPod Headphones

Seinheiser Cheap But Great Earbuds

I HAVE HAD IT WITH APPLE'S CRAPPY iPOD HEADPHONES! They fell out of my ear canals for the last time - and I made sure they fell right into the garbage can! Ear-BUDS are the way to go for not just good fit and enhanced frequency response - but for superior sound isolation as well. You just don't know what you're missing till you've upgraded from Apple's dissappointing 'Oops they fell out again!' earphones. Best bang for the buck replacement? These Awesome Sennheiser CX300-B Earbuds with that thoughtful right-angled plug really take your listening to the next level. I'd owned 2 sets of Skull-Candy's Smokin Buds and thought they were pretty decent. But these Seinheiser buds response is just noticeably better across the frequency response range. Love 'em!

A2DP iPhone and Mac Bluetooth Wireless Speaker Audio Options

Wireless STEREO sound via Bluetooh has taken awhile on the Mac platform. Until a year ago, most were limited to monophonic sound. OSX Leopard 10.5 finally delivered critical A2DP protocol stereo support in the operating system. Just this week, iPhone 3.0 OS has enabled Bluetooth stereo on 2nd Generation iPod Touch and iPhones. Other dock connector iPods can take advantage of dual-channel streaming audio with compact A2DP enabled Bluetooth dock transmitters. So we now have alot of ways to get sound from a Bluetooth device to...

Check out these Stereo Bluetooth wireless speaker systems and headsets! There's a wide range of A2DP stereo devices now available - whether you're interested in a portable battery powered Bluetooth speaker system to take on a picnic - or more audiophile grade Bluetooth speaker options for home stereo use.

Sony CMT-BX50BTI Bluetooth Micro Hi-Fi Shelf System

It's important to remember Bluetooth is a PAN - a PERSONAL Area Network scheme - not a Wide Area one like 802.11 WiFi. So Bluetooth is designed to operate at a personal CLOSE RANGE - generally in 30 feet or less between Bluetooth devices. So while great for in-room listening, A2DP isn't the solution to cover an entire house or office environment. Keep that in mind as you shop for Bluetooth speakers and headphones, you CAN enjoy wireless listening freedom - within reason.

Tritton Improves Sound Bite Portable USB Speaker

The original SoundBite USB travel speaker was already a world-class product that produced GREAT sound you could hold in the palm of your hand. Now with the next iteration: The xTreme takes mobile travel speakers to the next level. USB bus-powered convenience with both pure digital 2.1 stereo audio and power all from a single USB cable.
Tritton SoundBite Speaker
TRITON Sound Bite eXtreme USB speaker TRI-UA212
The Sound Bite Xtreme USB w/ MP3 Input & Headphone Jack: This best-selling mini speaker with 52mm sub-woofer is now even better: It features a sleek black redesign with side-mounted volume control and optional headphone-out jack -- AND -- MP3 stereo input jack. Note the tweeters are now protected from curious pokey-poke fingers with a metal grille. Nice! The original SoundByte model (which I owned myself for several years - and think very highly of) has long been a deserved best-seller at my Portable Computer Speakers website.

Kudo's to Tritton Technologies for improving an already great product with your smart, thoughtful engineering and high-quality speaker drivers! For those of you frustrated and disappointed with the abysmal speakers built-in to your MacBook-Pro, this is a fantastic upgrade. ((also available at NewEgg). Oh and did I mention the speaker's USB cable stores neatly in the base? This is exactly what happens when too many corporate brains really sit down and focus on what a customer might want, or need!

What Mac speaker system do YOU own? What do you love about it, what dissappoints you? Leave a comment...

10.6 Killer Snow Leopard Enhancements You'll LOVE

Apple made it quite clear: The next version of OS X 10.6 is ONLY for Intel-based Macintosh computers - and this 10.6 upcoming version of '"Snow" Leopard is about focusing on things 'under the hood' and not a skrillion of new features piled ontop of OS X. And that's a good thing. Here's why:

PRE-Order 10.6 $29

Snow Leopard Upgrade For INTEL Macs

1. It's optimized for Intel Core family processors only. It will eat far less disk of your shrinking disk space by eliminating a TON of code written to check for and load instructions for previous generation G4 and G5 Power PC processors.

2. It will run FASTER on your existing Mac by eliminating much of the above code and CPU cycles wasted checking for, conditionally branching to, and tripping-over older legacy CPU code. As popular programs get updated for Intel-only, they too will be smaller and faster.

3. It's "Grand Central" multi-core technology is going to make far more efficient use of Intel Core Duo processors. The Snow operating system itself will be far more saavy and efficient in handling multiple tasks -- And application developers will benefit with easier and faster implementation of their most CPU intensive code.

4. 64-Bit technology allows a Mac to address a HUGE amount of RAM memory: Up to 16TB - TERABYTES. Few of us need that, few applications need to exploit that, few of us could even AFFORD that much memory. But it's there for massive sets of data that Mac can chew on without having to resort to poky old virtual memory sitting on a hard disk drive.

5. QuickTime X and it's enhanced codecs are going to play back video smoother, at better quality. Decoding, encoding and transcoding video files will be faster and more efficient - something that's desperately needed for one of the most intensive processes we subject our computers to.

6. Perhaps most interesting: Open CL (Open Computing Language) will allow Snow Leopard to leverage the the enormous computational horsepower modern Graphics card chips are capable of. Your Mac's graphics chip can become a 'Co-Processor' to handle certain types of tasks more smoothly - relieving your CPU from having to do ALL the heavy lifting.

7. Snow Leopard's JavaScript will get a great performance boost for web applications - the fastest JS interpretation we've seen yet. This means good things for some very powerful and complex applications that can run right inside a Safari browser window.

8. Microsoft Exchange support built-in will matter a lot to Enterprise, Business and Education users who's mail system runs on Exchange Server - whether they're accessing it at their desktop - or on an iPhone.

9. Although Apple is (pre)marketing Snow Leopard as more of a technology enhancement upgrade rather than touting adding hundreds of new features as they have in the past: You'll be glad they spent the time reinforcing the foundation of OS X's truly state of the art operating system. Still, there are a handful of new features of note: a slick new QuickTime Player interface, improved implementation of Stack navigation - and some eye-candy to shine up the Finder and Desktop.

10. You'll love Snow Leopard 'cuz it's going to *FEEL* LIKE GETTING A NEW COMPUTER!

10.6 ??? Well, this may not deserve a full point. 'Cuz you may find you have to move up to an Intel MacBook, Pro, iMac or Mac Mini computer to even be able to run Snow Leopard and take full advantage of all it's benefits. BUMMER! But hey --10 out of 10.6 ain't bad.

Normally, MacGizmoGuy prefers not to yap about Mac stuff you can't buy yet... But Snow Lepoard (even if you misspell it) is worth planning ahead for.

Do you look forward to OS X upgrades? Do you feel it's worth the $129? Leave a comment...

Green Energy Smart Solar iPod-Touch-iPhone Charger

I'd been researching solar-powered LED landscaping lights for a site I'm working on when an iPhone owning friend sent me a link to this very affordable $20 iPhone, iPod, Touch USB solar panel recharger

Hybrid USB + Solar

You can charge via Sun or USB cable and recharge a huge range of Apple gadgets, Blackberry, Nokia cell-phones, and others with it's included adapters, cables, and dock connector. It has it's own INTERNAL BATTERY making it a HYBRID unit that's sure to provide much needed power on the go - whether there's sun or not! SMART product.

Is keeping your iPod, iPhone or Bluetooth headset charged a problem? How do you manage rechargeable gadgets? Leave a comment...

A High-Speed SSD Disk For Your Mac

OCZ Mac Edition SSD

Solid-State Drive

Incredibly fast, Fast, FAST start-up. Insanely rapid application launch. No moving parts. Silent operation. Less heat. Better battery liife: These are some of the many benefits of a Solid-State hard disk drive for your MacBook, Pro tower, iMac or Mac mini. SSD drives are hitting the consumer market in full force in 2009 - and Apple is starting to offer SSD's in the Mac laptop lines as a Build To Order SSD option at the Apple Store.

Someday - and it's not far off, spinning platter drives will lose ground as solid-state disks become the preferred storage on Macs. Should your Mac's current hard drive croak and needs replacing - seriously consider an SSD instead. Or, as you ponder your next Apple computer, an SSD disk offers such a dramatic improvement in your computer's overall speed, you'll be glad you did!

Do it yourselfer? Check out these 'off the shelf' options for installing an affordable SSD upgrade for your Mac.

Are you familiar with SSD hard drive options for your Mac? Does your Mac's hard drive feel fast - or pokey? Leave a comment...

Using Skype For Mac - When iChat AV Don't Work

Got a Mac compatible webcam or built-in iSight? It takes only a few minutes to download Skype for Mac - set up a free Skype account and begin enjoying the most reliable cross-platform Voice, Video Chat and VOIP calling experience. Anyone who’s tried iChat AV with Windows users on AOL - AIM know just how flakey or impossible it is to connect. Skype wins hands-down for delivering the best cross-platform way to connect 1-On-1 with friends and family near and far.

Video chatting was added rather recently to Skype's features so be sure you're running Skype for Mac v2.7 or later

Download the latest version here

Do you use video chat? Or do you feel uncomfortable being seen on camera? Leave a comment...

The Day The Macintosh Computer Became A Computer Peripheral... For The iPhone

I didn't see this coming -- Not even with the iPod's amazing success as it's sales numbers began to outstrip sales of Mac computers. But something happened with the iPhone once it passed 10 Million... and it didn't take long... somehow the Apple Macintosh computing platform we've stood by for a quarter of a century has in many ways simply become a convenient add-on ACCESSORY that any iPhone user will enjoy to complete their iPhone purchase.

Apple's free iPhone 3.0 Software Update will make it clear: When you put THAT much computing power, THAT sophisticated of an OSX operating system, THAT huge selection of applications, on THAT large of a screen, with THAT easy to use input device known as your finger together -- You have a major computing platform that you can truly hold in the palm of your hand. I've had clients who actually used an iPhone for weeks on end before they actually got around to using it as something more than a loaded cell phone itself -- and finally got around to getting help syncing it up to 'the other stuff' that they eventually wanted to: from their computer.

Imagine that. The laptop or desktop computer simply became a really-cool add-on gizmo that unlocked even more value in the cellular phone they bought. I never thought I'd see the day when iPhone sales outstripped Mac's 10 to 1 - and now the Mac is just a passenger in the backseat of a bus rolling down a mountainside, down a landslide of iPhone sales. FYI: HandHelditems specializes in a staggering array of accessories for mobile 'pod and cellular folk.

What do you like - or hate most about the iPhone? Do tell, leave a comment...

New iMac, mini, Pro Tower Rumor Mongering

Apple Online Store

Mac Gizmo Guy tries not to engage in Mac rumors... rather just speculate on the INEVITABLE APPLE PRODUCT REFRESHES that lurk on the horizon. The Aluminum iMacs are just spectacular computers as-is, any updates will likely be frosting on the frosting, though a QUAD-CORE iMac will be an ideal Pro Graphics Designer, CAD workstation, Video Editing powerhouse dream come true. In many ways the Dual-Core iMac models have supplanted the Pro Tower series for many many users - delivering 90% of the computing and graphics power for a fraction of the cost.

But WHERE'S THE NEW MAC mini??? It's just soooooooo long-overdue and neglected and in this tough American economy, Apple's most affordable Mac desperately-desperately needs to be refreshed and deliver more for less. Soon...

Well, today Apple delivered in spades: all 3 Desktop lines got revamped. Of note and a first for Apple: the Mac mini getting FIVE USB PORTS - which will eliminate the need for the clutter of an A/C powered USB hub for many. And thank god they KEPT FIREWIRE, but upped the speed to Fire Wire 800. Fortunately Firewire Adapters are readily available for about $12 to keep using older 6-pin Firewire gizmos.

Do you own a Desktop - Or a Laptop Mac? Why did you choose one over the other. Leave a comment...

Why Apple's Apple MacBook STILL Rocks!

Apple revamped the MacBook recently, it's: Classic White MacBook
This 'Book delivers MORE VALUE in an Apple laptop than ever before - and delivers 85% of what you'd pay twice as much for getting a 'Pro' model. For about $975 shipped free from Amazon - This update delivers in spades: 2ghz Core 2 brain, LARGER 120gb drive, PLENTY OF MEMORY with 2gb RAM standard, a VASTLY BETTER GRAPHICS CHIP to please 3D gamers in particular, standard DVD-buring SuperDrive (finally!) - AND - retains the highly desirable FireWire 400 port for legacy drives, iSights and DV camcorders. In many ways it's a BETTER, MORE VERSATILE MAC than the sexier but pricier 2ghz Aluminum MacBook - for several hundred dollars less. Smart Money.

I Love My EyeTV Hybrid TV Tuner Improvements

ElGato Systems MacWorld 2009 Expo introduction of the revised 2009 Model 10020974 EyeTV Hybrid TV Tuner Stick for Analog, HDTV and FM Radio Reception takes HDTV viewing on the Macintosh to the next level. Post Expo, these were initially ONLY available direct from ElGato's Online Store. But within a few weeks, Amazon now lists this TV tuner for Apple Mac OSX: t's available, in-stock, less than full retail, and eligible for free shipping. The best HD computer TV tuner for Mac just got better - and cheaper.

In all of MacGizmoGuy's years of Apple computer life, only a few really dramatically transformed my Mac experience. The introduction of the first iPod and iTunes was a huge shift that clearly impacted hundreds of millions of people world-wide. But it was the addition of a USB TV tuner - video capture gizmo right around the year 2000 that really changed the way I enjoy TV - Forever.

Do you own a computer TV tuner or a DVR/Tivo? Have you thought about TV on your Mac? Leave a comment...

All-In-One Printer-Fax-Scanners You Can Live With

Nearly every client of mine buys an All-In-One multifunction inkjet printer device. Which is unfortunate because some people really should just have a simple, straight-forward printer that doesn't overwhelm them. Did you know? Printing problems is the singularly most common computer problem my clients have! Printing. Multi-function devices compounds those problems exponentially.

But all-in-ones are great to have, space-saving and versatile. Unfortunately, many high-end models are over-kill and OVERWHELMING for most: With too many buttons, too many features, too complex of controls. Even those with the now-common LCD screen are a bear to navigate: "Over, over, down, right, enter, down, down, OK." All that just to get to a specific print, scan, or photo card transfer or whatnot. SOMETIMES LESS IS MORE - and the lower-cost All-In-Ones tend to be simpler, easier to use and more pleasant to live with on a day to day basis.

Tip: Do you REALLY need Fax functions? Cuz if you only send 1 or 2 faxes a YEAR -- a basic AIO without Fax functions will cost less, simplify the front panel and ease day to day operation considerably.

HP is my top-pick for any Mac user: The print quality, machine reliability, and very usable software add up to a smart buying decision. But there's a cutoff point. The easiest to use models are in the $69-129 range, and deliver the most bang for the buck without unecessary 'Buttonitis'. At the higher price tiers the complexity of Hewlett-Packard AIO's skyrockets, the number of front-panel buttons becomes easily overwhelming. So much so that video-tutorials are now built into the LCD panel.

Lexmark - is just substandard in print quality, though like HP, they use ink CARTRIDGES so you replace both the nozzles and tank at the same time. MacGizmo does like the fact that Lexmark is delivering the most affordable WIRELESS pritners and All-In-One devices that are Mac compatible; well under $100.

Brother Inkjets are tough to recommend - Their All-In-One Mac software is just VERY STRANGE and not very 'Mac-Like'. (Alothough I like Brother laser printers ALOT.)

Canon - I like Canon's product engineering. World class well-made hardware. But their Scan/Print software too is often not as Mac-Like as it should be. For years Canon used replaceable ink TANKS, but they too have switched to carts to improve consistency of output.

Epson - a tough call. I think well of Epson's scanning software. Still, I've advised so many Epson owners HOPELESSLY CLOGGED NOZZLE Epsons - to just cut your losses, throw them away after a year or two of service. Because you can easily spend another $40-60 in ink just to find out how hopelessly clogged your nozzels are. With Epson's print-head absolutely bolted to the railing, there's NO WAY to physically get at the gunked up nozzles. Give up! Surrender!

What's the BEST printer you've ever owned? Why? Leave a comment...

Why Buy Microsoft Office Mac Home Edition?

MacGizmoGuy just can't think of running his business or life without the best Productivity application suite for Mac: Microsoft's implementation of Apple's Sync Services in Entourage 2008 and 2004 enables many Macintosh folk to enjoy the benefits of iPod/iPhone synchronization, compatibility with .mac aka MobileMe services -- without having to juggle 3 separate programs that Apple Mail, AddressBook and iCal imply. With a LOW-COST so cheap it's a BARGAIN price on Microsoft Office 2008 HOME EDITION - it's a no brainer. Especially as Office's new DOCX, PPTX, and XLSX XML-based file formats take hold, Office Mac 2008 is a smart buy to stay compatible with the world's defacto-standard for business and personal correspondence.

Which Webcams Are Mac Compatible?

A rapidly emerging standard: UVC USB 2.0 Video Class Webcams which are Mac compatible - They're driverless plug and play for modern Apple computers running OS X 10.5 Leopard or 10.4 Tiger. But not all video chat webcams that are Mac friendly are identified as such, not all web cameras use UVC sensors. YET. But the standard is taking hold. So if you don't own a Mac with a built-in iSight (like a Mac Pro tower or Mac mini) -- check out the webcams for Mac link above.