Archives for 2012 | MacGizmoGuy Blog

Top 10 Currently Shipping ThunderBolt Hard Drives

Apple ThunderBolt Port
Wanting to take advantage of Apple and Intel's ultra high-speed ThunderBolt interface on your Mac desktop or MacBook? Here's 10 currently shipping ThunderBolt external hard drives that range from surprisingly affordable to insanely fast - and expensive.

Presented somewhat in order of price, starting with the very affordable Buffalo miniStation combo drive under $200 and ranging up to the performance leading Pegasus Rx RAID series. In between, you'll find reasonably affordable consumer drive options under $500 and higher capacity ThunderBolt drive offerings for professional and business markets.

1. Buffalo MiniStation Combo Drive - USB 3.0 + ThunderBolt

2. Seagate Portable External Hard Drive, Dock and Cable

3. Elgato ThunderBolt 120 GB Solid State Drive

4. Seagate GoFlex Desk External Hard Drive, Dock and Cable

5. LaCie 1TB Little Big Disk Thunderbolt Dual Drive

6. Western Digital My Book Thunderbolt Duo

7. G-Tech G-RAID with Thunderbolt 4TB

8. LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt SSD 240GB

9. LaCie 2big Thunderbolt Series 6TB Drive

10. Promise Pegasus R4 ThunderBolt Drive Array

* Most of the drive models linked above come in various capacities from each manufacturer. ThunderBolt SSD's are typically 120GB or 240GB. Spinning platter drive options range from a modest 500GB to 3TB in the consumer market, and 4TB to 12TB and beyond in ThunderBolt RAID multi-drive systems.

** Check product details carefully. Many external ThunderBolt storage offerings do NOT include a ThunderBolt cable in the box and must be purchased separately. Currently, Buffalo ships both USB 3.0 and ThunderBollt cables in the box, as does Seagate's GoFlex drives when ordered as a bundle. Otherwise all higher-end drives are still selling the cable separately.

Slow Road To Mac USB 3.0 Accessories and Peripherals

The debut of SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports on Apple’s Mid-2012 MacBook models has been a long time in coming. It seems likely that before year’s end, we’ll see USB 3.0 iMac and Mac mini updates before the Holiday shopping season. The somewhat neglected Macintosh Pro is slated to get both ThunderBolt and USB 3.0 ports in early 2013. That’s the good news. USB 3.0 for Mac is well on it’s way to replace the decade-old USB 2.0 standard, while still maintaining backward compatibility with slower, legacy USB 2.0 gadgets.

USB 3.0 MacBook Air

$999 11.6" Display

USB 3.0 MacBook Pro 13"

Dual USB3-USB2 Ports

USB 3.0 Retina Display MacBook

New Ultra-Thin NoteBook

The bad news is the transition to a Mac SuperSpeed future is going to have a slow ramp-up phase, with some nasty glitches and got-cha’s along the way. For example, the Digital Music creation market is finding some of their legacy USB 2.0 audio hardware is not playing nice on either PC or Mac USB 3.0 ports even though they’re supposed to be fully backward compatible.

At least the external hard drive market embraced USB 3.0 whole-heartedly last year. As a result, most new backup drives now incorporate USB 3.0 as the defacto standard interface - usable on older and current systems - and ready to plug into the SuperSpeed future. That’s a good thing and anyone pondering a Mac backup drive solution ought to make sure it has USB 3.0 to ‘future-proof’ their purchase. The downside - as the Windows market already learned - is that in spite of USB 3.0’s Ten-Fold theoretical bandwidth increase over USB2, the real-world performance doesn’t come anywhere close to the specs on paper. Part of that is simply the limitations of mechanical hard drives which can’t fully leverage USB 3.0’s bandwidth potential. So realistically expect backing up your Mac to cut your data transfers and backup times in half, but no where near ‘a 10th of the time’ we were all hoping for. Solid-State SSD backup drives do leverage USB 3.0 bandwidth a lot better - but unless you can fit your Mac data onto a 120GB or 240GB SSD, you might find the more impressive performance of flash memory drives over USB 3.0 to be a bit too pricey.

There are USB 3.0 card readers that work well on a new Mac, however you’ll find most SD, SDHC, and SDXC cards don’t have data Read/Write speeds that can keep up with a USB3 port anyways. Other devices like USB keyboards, mice and graphics tablets simply don’t have the ability - nor the need - to max out USB 2.0 speeds, let alone USB 3.0.

Things get more interesting in the Audio-Video market, where USB 3.0 accessories for A/V enviroments can and will take advantage of USB 3.0 for high-bandwidth, low-latency needs like multi-channel audio and high-definition HD video streams.

Best Speakers For iMac or ThunderBolt Cinema Display

Of all the Macintosh computer models, iMac desktop owners are probably the least likely to buy external computer speakers for their Mac. Among all of Apple’s computers the iMac has, well, the ‘best’ computer speakers built in of any Mac. For many, the audio quality, volume and frequency response is ‘Good Enough.” But for those who want more deep bass rumble and room filling presence, there’s no shortage of 2.0, 2.1 and Surround computer speakers to fit the bill. But which speakers are best for iMac and it’s design and aesthetic? Here’s my top pick:

Self-Powered USB iMac Speaker

Aux Input + Subwoofer Output

The xTremeMac TangoBar USB Speaker for iMac is a gorgeous and outright elegant addition to unobtrusively tuck under your iMac’s front bezel and compliment it with sleek aluminum styling and add zero additional footprint to your desk space. It’s also a great match for an Apple ThunderBolt or Cinema Display which lack built-in speakers. This self-powered sound-bar speaker features a right mounted volume/mute control, and 1/8” headphone and audio inputs, plus a sub-woofer output jack at the rear. The loudspeakers contain dual midrange and dual tweeter drivers as well as passive radiator woofers. With digital amplification from a USB port’s power, they claim up to 10 watts of room-filling audio - without needing an external power supply.

Some other good options styled right for an iMac might be a sleek, silver pair of affordable Bose Companion 2 speakers or possibly a Twelve South BassJump 2 to balance out an iMac’s low-frequencies somewhat.

OSX Speech Recognition For Mac Internet Marketing

The article you're reading here has been dictated into OSX Mountain Lion’s new Apple Dictation software without having to type a single sentence. An intriguing new feature in OSX system 10.8 is Apple’s Speech To Text Dictation Services. It has some interesting potential for those who create websites or promote and market content on their Mac.

You enable Speech To Text capabilities in System Preferences > Dictation & Speech preference pane. You can then begin speaking into any available text entry field in nearly any Mac application enviroment. Once Apple's Dictation services have been enabled, you simply tap the FN - Function key twice in any edible text field to begin recording. A pop-up microphone icon appears, ready to listen. When you're done speaking simply press the Function key again. Your voice recording is transmitted to Apple, processed, and the written version shows up on your Mac in mere seconds. (Note: you MUST have an active internet connection for translation to occur since it’s processed on Apple’s servers, not on your Mac.)

Speech To Text recognition can be a real timesaver when you want to add web page content, compose an article or write a post for your blog. As long as you are able to clearly structure your thoughts, speak distinctly, and create logical sentences on the fly - Apple's speech recognition performs admirably. Unlike other speech recognition products on the Mac, Apple dictation does not require any training sessions. It can recognize nearly anyone's voice without having to teach the system first. For example, IBM ViaVoice, Dragon Dictate for Mac and MacSpeech require a bit of training time so that it learns the patterns of your voice before you can begin using the program for dictation.

Punctuation commands can also be spoken in your stream of conversation. For example, I can say ‘comma’, or ‘exclamation point’ to add punctuation correctly as I'm speaking the sentence. Talking out your punctuation commands can be a bit confusing at first, but with a bit of practice you’ll be able to handle as-you-go sentence punctuation while you're speaking. Capitalization is automatic and surprisingly accurate as well.

The possibilities for using Apple dictation services in your website promotion and Internet Marketing plan are limitless. Any Apple OS X application that has a text input field can handle speech to text. That includes text fields on web pages within your Safari web browser, programs like Apple TextEdit, Microsoft Word for Mac, Stickies notes or any other text editing app on your Mac.

Social Media Marketing tasks can be performed with Apple's dictation by simply speaking a tweet that you’d like to send to Twitter or to compose a Facebook status update. The possibilities are endless. You could use your voice to create social bookmark titles and descriptions, tags and keywords by merely speaking into each of the appropriate text entry fields as you create your bookmark submission.

For those into article marketing or blogging, Apple dictation services can be a godsend helping you rapidly create fresh new content for your blog or to distribute out on article or blog networks. Once you've spoken the article you want to publish, you’ll need to do a bit of editing and fine tuning to ensure all the capitalization, punctuation, sentence structure and voice interpretations are correct. After proof-reading a full version of your text, you could optionally use a Mac compatible article spinner such a SpinRewriter to create statistically and mathematically unique versions of your article prior to distribution.

Mac Speech To Text Recognition
In my testing, Apple's Dictation services works fairly well with my MacBook Air’s built-in microphone. However, you may wish to use an external microphone or headset to insure optimal recognition accuracy and avoid the possibility of background noise hampering your recording session. Please visit for some recommended external USB microphones and Mac compatible headsets to help with your speech recognition and dictation needs. Mac Dictation also seems to perform best when processing just one or two sentences at a time. You’ll get better results staying short and succinct, and not expecting it to recognize entire paragraphs or long streams of continuous speech.

Mac SSD Upgrades : Insanely Cheap Solid-State Drives

A lot has evolved in both the PC and Macintosh compatible SSD market during the past year. Lower flash memory material costs, vastly improved new generation SSD interface controller chips and firmware, faster data clock speeds, and increased data channels have permitted Mac SSD drives to deliver significant performance gains in Read/Write data rate at ever lower price points.

Apple SSD Application Performance
Image source:

For those who believed that Solid-State drive upgrades are way too costly - or too small to store your Mac's data, you may want to check again - SSD hard drive prices have come down significantly while performance has improved dramatically. Affordable SSD's in the 256GB, 400GB and 512GB range have plummeted recently. As such, the former high cost of SSD flash drive technology has gotten more affordable than ever, with many peak performing Flash drives now costing significantly under a dollar per Gig. Large volume of SSD drive demand by both computer manufacturing companies, external drive makers and consumers has caused a great degree of competition between all of the big name SSD manufacturers as of late. My top recommended SATA III SSD's for a Mac mini or MacBook Pro would be an OCZ Vertex4, Crucial M4, or SanDisk Extreme.

If huge storage capacity at more affordable pricing is important to you; check out the latest SSD Hybrid disk drive offerings from Seagate Technologies at Solid-State Hybrids combine both SSD flash memory technology with 500GB to 750GB conventional spinning platters to give your Mac desktop or laptop computer the advantages of both worlds. These models in the Momentus XT drive series are the 1st of many that will likely evolve to dominate the data storage market by merging the qualities of both technologies.

Depending on whether you're hoping to replace a slow and dying hard drive in a desktop Macintosh, or perhaps pondering an upgrade for an older Apple MacBook Pro, Air or Classic - your best investment for the long term is an SSD based on the newest SandForce or Marvell controller chips. With both Read and Write speeds near or exceeding 500Mbps, these leading-edge SSD models make the most of the available bandwidth of the SATA III connection used in recent PC and Mac computers within the the past several quarters.

Best USB Speaker For MacBook? Edifier USB SoundBar

USB Speaker For Apple MacBook Audio

Look closely at what's under the front grille of this cleverly engineered USB powered portable laptop speaker from Edifier. In a sleek aluminum chassis that will compliment any Apple MacBook - they've manage to put multiple, very high-quality sound drivers into a slim 1.75" x 10" sound-bar that's easily transportable.

Mac Laptop Speaker

Sound-To-Go SoundBar

This all-in-one USB speaker is fully portable and features an elegantly brushed aluminum chassis and dark metal front grille. A USB cable provides both power and pure digital audio streaming from any Apple laptop or desktop Macintosh's USB port. On it's side is a 1/8" audio in jack - as well as a manual volume control button.The auxiliary device input also allows use of other devices like your iPhone, iPad or iPod. The Edifier Sound To Go features a 3 x 1¼ inch oblong passive radiator subwoofer, dual 1¼ inch mid-range drivers and a pair of 1¼  inch tweeters with a built in digital amplifier to provide exceptional audio volume and frequency response far better than a MacBook's built-in speakers.

For the past few year's I've used an IPEVO Tubular Wireless Speaker as my 13" MacBook Pro's sound system. That can be nice for the wider sound-separation the detachable speakers provide. And occasionally I did use it wirelessly across the room. But powering on and occasionally having to futz with Bluetooth Pairing and Apple's Sound Preference Pane could be intermittently frustrating. I've got a new MacBook Air with ThunderBolt and USB 3.0 ports on order - and to celebrate I've decided to try this USB computer speaker instead.

Adult Mac Video Chat Made Easy - ISPQ 9 For Mac

Best Webcam Chat Program For Mac OSX
Nanocom announced the official release iSpQ 9 for Mac OSX. ISPQ is a great online chat community that's been around for years. It offers PC and Mac compatible messaging and online video conferencing privately 1:1 or multi-party. Whether you're naughty or nice, Gay or Straight, there's a wide range of both General and Adult chat rooms to explore, meet and optionally play with others online. ISPQ recognizes your Cinema display or MacBook's built-in iSight webcam - or can be used with any number of OSX compatible USB external webcams for Mac which offer more flexibility in webcam angles and placement for showing your stuff.

Mac Compatible HD Webcam

Logitech HD Camera For Mac

iSpQ is unique for Mac while also offering great features such as quick messages, profiles and video chat cross-platform. One notable and much welcomed addition is a Gallery View of the directory so it is easy to quickly see thumbnails pictures of who's online. ISPQ offers a free edition through premium level paid accounts. There's also dozens of minor fixes. iSpQ Mac 9 is compatible with Intel Macs running MacOS 10.5 or higher - including the latest OSX 10.8 Mountain Lion release. The Windows or Mac version can be downloaded from this page.

Best External Mac Webcam? - Logitech C910 vs C920

Shopping for the absolute best Mac compatible webcam for your videoconferencing, online chat, and Mac Skype video needs? On it's simplest level, there's a handful of very specific Logitech web cameras that are OPTIMAL for Mac users to consider. Of these, two high-end HD USB 2.0 external web cams are offered.

The newest model, the Logitech C920 - may not be your best option at this time. Although it offers a higher resolution sensor, standard tripod camera mount, H.264 hardware video compression and improved 20-step autofocus -- it's NOT OFFICIALLY SUPPORTED on the Mac. (Note, it functions on the Mac, but is not 'Supported' by Logitech at this time.)

It's predecessor, the Logitech C910 is actually a better Mac webcam choice because of support for this specific model in Logitech's Webcam Software for Mac OSX. Although both external web cameras are UVC - USB Video Class compliant and recognized by most Mac video capture and chat programs, the Logitech software support for the C910 gives you the ability to do still captures and video recording at a wider variety of supported SD standard and particularly HD high-def resolutions. The latter allows you to better tap into higher 720p and 1080p HD capture modes and wide-screen aspect ratios that most other Mac video programs can't handle.

As of this writing, Logitech Mac Webcam Software simply doesn't recognize the C920 when you launch the program. It could be that Logitech just needs to update, test and release a new version to offer full Mac support for it's latest camera model. That's not unusual: Many USB device drivers and programs use 'Sense Codes' and 'Manufacturer Product ID codes' to ascertain and detect if a specific piece of USB hardware is connected before the program will operate. Official word onLogitech forum posts lean on 'not supported on the Mac at this time' - with no guarantee on the future.

The C920's support for H.264 hardware video compression on the Mac is still unknown. In theory, webcams with H.264 compress the data BEFORE it reaches your computer helping to drastically reduce disk space requirements and let you upload pristine quality video clips much quicker thanks to reduced file sizes.

It should be noted that the Logitech software for OSX doesn't offer ALOT of bells and whistles regardless: Mostly just enhanced still and video capture options at various HD resolutions. It does NOT support Special Webcam Effects or Image Control and Adjustment features for color, hue, white-balance, etc. as is common with their Windows webcam programs. But because both webcams handle imaging and autofocus completely in HARDWARE so Mac users will still achieve a balanced, razor-sharp and top-quality image with either camera without any software at all. Just plug it in and OSX's built-in UVC device drivers handle the basics.

As such - for the time being - the C910 remains the most versatile and best supported HD webcam for Mac OSX users. But its already becoming harder to find as it ceases to be manufactured and the C920 (and inevitably later models) take its place. You might have to scour Amazon's listings a bit to find New, Refurbished or Used models of the C910 at a good price.

Cheap ThunderBolt Hard Drive With USB 3.0 As Well

Combo Interface Mac ThunderBolt Drive
Combo interface hard drives are often a Mac users best shopping choice over the long haul. While many may only use a single interface - say USB or ThunderBolt or FireWire for their own use, sometimes when you need to transfer your data to a new Mac - or share files with someone else - the versatility of having more than one interface to choose from can come in very handy.

Just released - and on the bleeding edge of high-speed connectivity - Buffalo Technologies is now shipping a portable laptop drive with dual interfaces - the Buffalo miniStation USB3 + TBolt drive. This portable external hard drive is now the cheapest ThunderBolt backup drive option available - AND - it's first to market which also offers a SuperSpeed USB 3.0 port, So it's the first combo interface storage solution ideal for nearly any Apple user.

COMBO Interface Laptop Drive

USB 3.0 + ThunderBolt Interface

With a 500GB drive currently selling for $210, and 1TB for $250 it's now the cheapest ThunderBolt drive Per-Gigabyte out there - with the added benefit of USB 3.0/2.0/1.1 connectivity - AND IT INCLUDES BOTH A USB 3.0 AND THUNDERBOLT CABLE as well for a complete TimeMachine and data backup solution. It's pre-formatted for Mac OSX, ready to use out of the box.

Remember, USB 3.0 is BACKWARD COMPATIBLE with slower USB 2.0 (and even USB 1.1) though they'll operate at slower speeds. That's perfect for the MAJORITY of older Macintosh systems and MacBooks out in use today - while offering future ultra-fast drive connectivity as well. It's also perfect for the current crop of both ThunderBolt and USB 3.0 enabled Apple MacBook Pro systems now shipping. Other desktop Macintosh models that will have both ThunderBolt and USB3 - namely the iMac and Mac mini - are expected to get revisions later in the year.

Cheap ThunderBolt Drive For Mac?

As of mid-2012 Apple users now have a fair selection of, well, cheap-er ThunderBolt storage products to choose from: These range from the now more affordable, long-standing Promise Technologies multi-drive RAID array that started it all -- down to cheaper dual and single disk ThunderBolt SSD and HDD external drives priced somewhat more reasonably for the average Mac consumer.

The cheapest ThunderBolt drive currently available is from Seagate with it's innovative and versatile GoFlex interface and drive bundles. Interchangeable interfaces are available for USB2 / USB 3.0, FireWire, eSATA - and now ThunderBolt. The bundling of either a desktop or laptop size ThunderBolt drive dock, a 1TB or 3TB HDD, AND the inclusion of a ThunderBolt cable make either the Portable ThunderBolt Drive Bundle or the ThunderBolt Desktop Drive Bundle offerings the cheapest TBolt solutions to date.

Cheapest Mac ThunderBolt Hard Drive Bundles
The closest competition for an affordable, single drive, cheap ThunderBolt HDD is from LaCie - and it's 1TB desktop size offering is nearly $100 more than Seagate's portable solution. And ElGato's single SSD ThunderBolt offering comes in under $500 - if 120GB of much faster storage is big enough for your needs.

The gotcha? With a single drive - and using mechanical platter hard drive technology - the drive itself becomes a bottle-neck. The 10Gbps per channel bandwidth of ThunderBolt is starved for data and under-utilized unless 2 or more hard disk or even SSD drives are paired in a striped RAID configuration. So the cheapest ThunderBolt drives certainly aren't anywhere near the fastest.

For many, Seagate's cheap ThunderBolt laptop drive will still offer the fastest data backups and transfers they've ever experienced - for under $300. But that's still pricey compared to what $100 or so will buy you in a USB 3.0 SuperSpeed drive at half the cost. In other posts, I talk about the bright future of Mac USB 3.0 ports. Ultimately, 5Gbps USB3 will likely satisfy far more Apple users in the decade ahead than more expensive 10Gbps ThunderBolt products will. But for those that want TBolt storage NOW - the cost of living on the bleeding edge has gotten a bit more tolerable.

It's been a slow road to the fast lane of high-speed ThunderBolt storage and accessories - at least for the average consumer. In the year and a half since Apple ThunderBolt ports were available on it's MacBook laptops then other models, the only products that reached the market were very high-end storage solutions geared towards enterprise and professional video and audio editing needs and costing nearly or more than $1000.

That's rather normal for any technology: The first-to-market products tend to be high-end, high-margin to recoup R&D costs quickly. So too with the ThunderBolt HDD and SSD drive scene. As volume shipping occurs and competition in the market heats up, downward price pressure and more affordable computer peripherals will become available.

Combo Mac Drive Enclosure With USB 3.0 And FireWire

I recently came across one of the emerging, new FireWire + USB 3.0 hard drive enclosure options. This combo interface 2.5" laptop drive case is ideal for do-it-yourselfers. The tide is turning AWAY from USB 2.0 towards USB 3.0 and it's happening faster than you might think. USB 3's backward compatibility with slower USB 2.0 and even 1.1 ports makes embracing the future a no-brainer.

Combo USB3 + FireWire Enclosure

2.5" Laptop USB 3 + Dual FW800

Apple users will appreciate the SuperSpeed HDD enclosure's nicely styled aluminum heat-sink case to compliment your MacBook. It's bundled with USB 3.0 Y-Cable to assure enough power if needed. With fast 2.5" laptop drives now available in up to 1TB capacities, it can be a spacious OSX TimeMachine backup solution. It can be even better when you choose a 2.5" SATA Hybrid SSD drive mechanism or a top-performing SSD to put inside it.

There is also another version of this enclosure available in a FULL-SIZE 3.5" desktop SuperSpeed drive model featuring USB 3.0, FireWire and eSATA as well.

Akitio Triple-Interface Enclosure

3.5" USB3 + eSATA + FW800

Either are great for Mac users wanting to build their own versatile external backup drive with a SuperSpeed future.

The New USB 3.0 MacBook Lineup

SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports on the new MacBook Pro, Air and Retina Display models might be a bigger deal than you think. Although Apple only seemed to mention its inclusion in passing, the future numbers of USB 3.0 devices by the end of the decade is going to be staggering. The performance leap (and other technical benefits) over USB 2.0 will make you realize just how slow and outdated the USB 2.0 standard had become. But that all changes with the inclusion of USB 3.0 ports on the new MacBook lineup.

USB 3.0 MacBook Air

$999 11.6" Display

USB 3.0 MacBook Pro 13"

Dual USB3-USB2 Ports

USB 3.0 Retina Display MacBook

New Ultra-Thin NoteBook

Currently, the dominant USB 3.0 peripherals for Mac (besides cards and cables) are USB 3.0 backup drives. Most are spinning platter external drives. Some SSD solid-state flash memory and USB3 keychain drives and card-readers are available as well. There's also a fair number of shipping USB 3.0 hubs - but until other kinds of Mac accessories become USB 3.0 enabled, there isn't much need for multi-port device sharing - yet.

When the iPad, iPhone and iPod starts to take advantage of the benefits of USB 3.0 remains to be seen. (But it'll be soon I bet to capture the Holiday shopping season…)

Other Mac accessories - be it Printers and All-In-Ones, HD TV tuners, Scanners, Video Capture and other bandwidth hungry gadgets get full device and USB 3.0 driver support for OSX Lion and Leopard might take awhile. But as new models of all sorts of computer peripherals are introduced, using a back-ward compatible USB 3.0 chipset is going to be a no brainer. The cost differential of USB2 vs USB3 chips in a product are mere pennies. And there's not much point in computer device manufacturers to cripple their products with Last Decade's connectivity standard.

Mac USB 3.0 Enabled MacBooks Now Shipping

The recent announcement of revised MacBooks with USB 3.0 support opens up a whole new generation of computer peripherals and accessories for the Macintosh platform. Dubbed 'SuperSpeed' - the new Universal Serial Bus standard offers some compelling benefits to Apple users that really were not clearly conveyed in Apple's WWDC keynote speech.

USB 3.0 MacBook

The appeal of the updated Ivy-Bridge Intel architecture is its in-built support for USB 3 which we'll see explode across both Mac and Intel PC desktops and laptops in the year ahead. They're projecting BILLIONS of USB 3.0 enabled computers and gadgets by the end of the decade - and that's nothing to sniff at.

Beyond sheer data transfer speed improvements - approximately 10 TIMES the current USB 2.0 spec, there's also more 5 volt power (milliamps technically) available on the port to provide more current to recharge battery powered USB devices faster and reduce the likelihood of self-powered peripherals complaining with 'There's insufficient power available…' messages you occasionally see when connecting a USB device. Internally the USB3 spec also handles power-management better than USB2, offering more sleep and low-power idle modes to prolong battery life in laptops and gizmos.

Perhaps the biggest benefit is simply backward compatibility with slower legacy USB 1.1 and USB 2.0 devices - all will operate at their usable speeds on a USB 3 port, thus preserving your investment in legacy Apple accessories.

Right now, new MacBook owners can take advantage of USB 3.0 drives, hard disk enclosures, cables and hubs that are currently on the market. (Visit this USB 3.0 site for SuperSpeed external drive options.) Before year's end we're likely to see a much broader range of shipping SuperSpeed peripherals such as USB 3.0 TV tuners for Mac, Audio and Sound Recording gear, Video Capture devices, Flash Card Readers, Printers, Scanners and more. The era of USB 3 on a Mac is just beginning… Expect Apple to continue to roll out USB 3 iMac and Mac mini desktop systems before the Holiday shopping season starts...

Slow Road To The Fast Lane : Apple ThunderBolt Accessories

Computer market leaders Intel and Apple introduced a bleeding edge computer data interface named ThunderBolt about a year or so back. Capable of transfer speeds of up to 10Gbps on each of its dual channels, it promises twice the bandwidth of its nearest competitor - the 5Gbps emerging USB 3.0 SuperSpeed standard. Unfortunately, it's been a long, slow road to the fast lane their ThunderBolt computer interface technology. Only a handful of hard drives have reached consumers. Other ThunderBolt accessories and adapters have been announced, but few if any have shipped.

Computer Interface Speed Comparison Chart

These ThunderBolt ports are an extension of either a Mac or PC computers internal PCI Express bus. Because of this, it provides a rather direct and multiple-lane freeway to a computer's memory and CPU. Think of it as an expansion card slot that's just a little external port on the side of your laptop or desktop system. Perhaps the days of having to open up a desktop computer to insert a card into a slot are behind us.

ThunderBolt technology originally debuted on Apple's MacBook laptop - and later - Macintosh desktop system as a ThunderBolt port where the DisplayPort used to be. That's an important thing to note: ThunderBolt can also drive ultra-hi-resolution external computer monitors. There's also promise of other ThunderBolt peripheral and drive adapters that can connect to other eSATA, USB 3.0, FireWire and Ethernet accessories. And ThunderBolt is not exclusive to the Mac platform. Intel and other PC makers will soon be shipping motherboards with ThunderBolt ports built-in.

The largest performance gains will be in the data storage area. A ThunderBolt backup drive using this interface promises insanely rapid data transfer and backup speeds, especially when paired with solid-state SSD flash drives. A full DVD of data can be copied in seconds, an entire Terabyte backup drive worth of videos, music and photos in just a few minutes. Expect other high-demand Thunderbolt peripherals for Mac and PC such as HD TV tuners, High-Def and other high demand devices to hit the market to take advantage of the speed ThunderBolt technology offers.

Shopping For A Mac Compatible Printer Solution

Macintosh Compatible Printer
Typically one of the first and most important peripherals new Apple Macintosh computer buyers are most likely to want is a Mac compatible printer for their hard copy needs. With literally hundreds of print drivers now included with OSX Lion and Leopard, printing compatibility is largely automatic for all but the most recent latest printer models.

With Apple's rapidly exploding market-share - and proprietary Mac-specific printer interfaces a thing of the past, Apple's full embrace of industry standards have decidedly made choosing a printer for your Apple iMac, Mac Pro tower, MacBook laptop or Mac mini far, far easier than ever before. A few simple things should assist Apple users determine the optimal printing solution:

Type of Interface Connectivity - USB is the most common way to connect a printing peripheral. A network Ethernet printer port is ideal for shared and business office settings. But Apple users have a notable affinity for Wi-Fi wireless gadgets. There are now many affordable wireless printers for Mac that don't tie one to a desktop.

What Kind Of Output - Are you needing plain-paper or photo-quality prints for iPhoto and other Macintosh graphics applications? Pro and Amateur Photographers will most definitely want photo ink-jets with 6 or more tanks for top-quality photo reproduction on photo-grade archival papers.

Cost Of Printed Output - Nothing beats a simple Black and White Mac compatible laser printer for lowest per-page output. But recent price drops can let you find the best color laser for Mac for well under $200, less than many B&W models used to cost.

Printer Portability - A few vendors such as HP and Canon make battery-powered options for printing on the go. Review these portable MacBook printer vendors for laptop travel needs.

CES 2012 Preview : PC and Mac ThunderBolt Accessories

ThunderBolt Products at CES 2012
Intel and Apple's ThunderBolt interface had a rocky debut year in 2011. Although Apple managed to ship millions upon millions of ThunderBolt enabled MacBooks and desktop Macintosh systems through the year, products to plug into this new high-speed interface were in desperately short supply.

This year's Las Vega Consumer Electronics Show gave hope that A LOT more ThunderBolt accessories are on their way. CES 2012 had a diverse range of ThunderBolt product announcements from several high-profile companies that spell good things for the TBolt market in the year ahead.

Proof that ThunderBolt isn't just a market for Macintosh -- The Acer Aspire S5 Windows notebook was featured as one of the first PC laptops that will incorporate a built-in ThunderBolt port.

A surprising twist for a company known for their awesome Mac TV Tuner products, ElGato announced a ThunderBolt SSD drive in a compact, laptop size format for release later this year.

OCZ Technologies - the clear leader in the Solid-State PC and Mac SSD drive market also announced a laptop-sized SSD drive with ThunderBolt port, the LightFoot series.

Peripheral maker Belkin trotted out a multi-port ThunderBolt Hub and docking station that offers HDMI, USB 2.0, FireWire 800, Analog audio and Gigabit Ethernet ports in a sleek case - that's sadly slated to ship near the END of 2012.

Promised to ship MUCH sooner - Seagate showed off it's GoFlex ThunderBolt drive adapter to reach the market by the end of Q1 2012. The GoFlex desktop and portable drive series is already a great line of hard drive storage products with interchangeable USB2, USB 3.0, FireWire and eSATA adapters currently available. ThunderBolt adapters will help preserve and extend the value of GoFlex drive owners.

LaCie - one of the few companies besides Promise Technologies to actually ship ThunderBolt hard drive and SSD storage products in 2011- announced an interesting ThunderBolt eSATA hub/ converter that features dual ThunderBolt ports and twin eSATA ports to offer very direct drive transfers at maximum speeds.

Currently shipping, Sonnet Technology showed off it's Sonnet Echo ExpressCard/34 Thunderbolt Adapter - a great intermediary solution for those with eSATA, FireWire or USB 3.0 Express cards and drives to convert to ThunderBolt at a reasonably affordable price point.

While still proving to be a slow-road to the fast lane of truly high-speed Mac computer peripherals, ThunderBolt *IS* gaining momentum and traction - if you can wait it out and afford these products when they arrive. However, I still think the not-so dark horse in this race is USB 3.0 which is MUCH further ahead in the market and will deliver a far wider range of computer peripherals - more affordably and sooner - to the Mac (and PC) consumer marketplace.

CES 2012 And USB 3.0 For Mac - The Road Ahead

The 2012 CES Consumer Electronics Show opens in Las Vegas this week - And MacWorld Expo 2012 follows up at the end of the month. Many of the things announced and displayed at CES give a hint to where Apple technology will be leaning in the year ahead. I'm betting USB 3.0 will finally make it to the Mac - and take it's rightful place alongside the ThunderBolt ports Apple's been implementing across their computer line.
USB 3.0 Mac
SuperSpeed USB 3.0 is a technological inevitability that will find its place on billions of computers and consumer electronic devices by the end of the decade. But it's mass adoption has largely been stalled-out by heel-dragging on the part of Intel and Apple. Although hundreds of USB3 hard drives and peripherals are already available, without direct logic-board support for built-in USB3 ports, the market has struggled for years to attain critical mass. But that's about to change with Intel's upcoming Ivy-Bridge chipset with direct onboard support for USB 3.0 in the chipset. We'll see both Macs and Windows PC with USB3 ports as standard equipment on nearly all new mid and high-end computers by year's end.

5GBps USB 3.0 offers up to 10 times the bandwidth of the aging USB 2.0 specification. But it's benefits go beyond that with battery-saving power modes for more efficiency in portable devices, more milliamps to self-power hungrier USB gadgets, and most importantly - it preserves backward compatibility with legacy USB 1.1 and 2.0 peripherals. Low-Speed, High-Speed, Super-Speed can all share a USB 3.0 port or hub, and co-exist with their bandwidth differences peacefully.

For more demanding needs we'll have 10GBps ThunderBolt accessories to handle truly data-intensive computing scenarios, especially in the enterprise and professional audio and video production environments. However technically superior ThunderBolt may be, it will still be dwarfed by what the average Mac computer user wants and needs: Cheap, familiar, faster and backward compatible gadget technology. And that's exactly what SuperSpeed USB 3.0 is going to deliver in the months ahead.