News Archive for: Tuesday Aug 14, 2007 (later added items first)
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More feedback on iMac Displays (brightness variations from top to bottom)
Although not all owners have mentioned this, a couple new iMac owners tonight wrote about variations in display backlighting (darker top/brighter bottom).

"Hi Mike, To add to the growing concern about the screen quality on the new 20" iMacs. I'm a designer and bought a 20" iMac on Friday. When I got it home I noticed the screen was darker at the top, fading to a lighter tint of that colour at the bottom. You can check this using a block of single colour filling the screen. As this was useless to design on I phoned Applecare to be told it was a fault (monitor calibration doesn't correct the fault) and to return it.
Before returning to the store I set up a quick test and ran this on the three 20" machines on the ground floor of the Regents Street store and they all produced the same fading result. The two 24" machines were absolutely fine. This is by no means conclusive, but if this is a universal problem (the Apple forums seem to suggest this is happening a lot and not just in London), for designers at least, these machines will be unusable as colour isn't remotely consistent from top to bottom.
With regards, Alex
London UK"

Could this be due to a difference in the assembly of the blacklight (variation in position/spacing ) or uneven pressure on the backlight/display? Regardless I'd personally choose the 24in model (larger screen, better viewing angle) instead of the 20in if your budget allows. (I've added Alex's comments to the previous page on new iMac 20in Displays which has notes/tips on display profiles to correct washed-out color, and notes/specs on new vs old/20in vs 24in viewing angles, etc.)

Update - a reader w/24in model wrote he's seeing the same variation (darker top/brighter bottom area)

"Hey Mike, Just wanted to let you know I received my 24" iMac today and I have the same problem as the 20" (earlier report above) the color fading at the bottom of the screen.
It's very noticeable with a dark background, almost like the light is leaking from the bezel.
I'm going to go to the Apple store Westfarms in CT and I'll let you know what they say.
-Steven M. "

I've not seen this personally but it almost sounds as if it's an assembly issue with some samples, but that's just my guess. I wrote another 24in owner tonight that had said his was (consistently) too bright to ask if he saw any variation like this.

" No, mine seems pretty good in general. It's essentially very similar in quality to my existing 23" Cinema Display although it's a bit sharper (due to the glossy finish I guess).
-Rob "

Another reply from a 20in owner:

"Hi there, I read Alex from London's post (above) about the 20" iMac and mine has the exact same problem (I believe it's probably just an artifact of the cheaper panel type). The colors, even after being calibrated, fade dramatically about 4-5" at the bottom of the screen. For example, without calibration the Finder's metal window almost appeared white at the bottom of the screen.

I work on a 23" cinema display so coming home to the iMac's cheaper display is quite noticeable. I'm contemplating returning the machine and opting for the 24" with the much nicer display.
Cheers, Will"

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First feedback on AirPort Base Station Update 2007-002
"Yesterday I installed the AirPort Base Station Update 2007-002 on OS X 10.4.10. With the previous software I had problems with connection with the Airdisk. (FAT32 formatted HD) It seems that this update solved that problem for me.

With the former software when trying to connect to my USB disk connection to my ABS would result in a restart of my ABS. One thing I noticed in this release is that the Airport Disk Utility waits a few seconds longer when automatically recognizing the connected disk.

I have a Hitachi 250GB Fat32 formated drive connected to the ABS. The housing I use is from Vantec called NexStar 3 (USB 2.0 + Firewire). The Airport Disk Utility says that an Initio 5DLAT80 2.23 is connected.

(I asked about any firmware updates)
when I started the AIrport Utility it searched for a firmware update, but it didn't find any. My firmware version is still 7.1.1 like it was before the update.

Maybe a point of attention...before the update giving 2 times a wrong password in the Airdisk utility would result in an ABS restart. After the update I forgot my password and typed 2 times the wrong password and nothing strange happened, just a message that the password was incorrect. The 3rd time I gave the correct password, in aprox. 20 seconds the connected Harddisk was on my desktop.
-Hendricus "

If you find this update improves (or breaks) anything, let me know the details.
(FYI - I've added this to a separate page of Airport Base Update 2007-002 feedback which has some later feedback also.)

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Newertech announces MiniStack NAS
(clip from their PR mail - updated with additional info/limitations)
"Newer Technology today announced the newest addition to its award-winning storage line, the miniStack NAS Network Attached Storage solution for storing and sharing music, videos, photos, and files at home or at the office. miniStack NAS easily connects to computers via Ethernet or USB 2.0 ports for Plug & Play storage and sharing of up to 750GB between up to 20 Windows or Mac users.
(the features page includes this note)
** Simultaneous Write access for up to 20 PCs is possible, Write access for Macs is limited to a single user at a time. Best performance in PC environment is obtained with fewest connections."

* Up to 750GB storage.
* Up to 16MB of data cache.
* Ximeta NDAS 2011 network chipset for extra security.
* One RJ-45 10/100Base-TX auto switching MDI/MDI-X port.
* One USB 2.0/1.1 port.
* Data transfer speed up to 100Mb/s.
* Up to 20 simultaneous Mac or PC users. (see note above)
* Front panel LED status lights.
* External auto-switching 100-240V 50-60Hz 3 amp UL listed power supply.
* Small footprint: 6.5" x 6.5" x 1.5" size.
* Auto-Power on/off automatically with computer.
* Intelligent thermal monitoring for minimal fan power consumption.
* Whisper quiet operation.
* Kensington Security Slot.
* Ethernet RJ-45 and USB 2.0 cables included.
* Stackable design.

miniStack NAS is available in seven pre-configured 7200RPM solutions, from 80GB to 750GB, priced starting at $119.99 MSRP. A 0GB "Add Your Own Drive" kit is also available for $79.99 MSRP.

miniStack NAS is compatible with Macintosh computers running OS 8.6 and later with an available USB port, OS 10.2.8 and later required for network operation or Windows ME, Windows XP, Windows 2000 (Home or Professional), or Windows Vista with an available USB port or via network. All pre-configured and certain OGB kit miniStack NAS models include a $200 retail value utility software bundle comprised of ProSoft Engineering Data Backup 3 (OS X), NovaStor NovaBACKUP (windows), and Intech SpeedTools Utilities."

There's a note on the page about installing software on clients, so I wrote them to ask for more information on that:

"The miniStack NAS actually uses NDAS technology which requires software instead of using an IP address to identify the device (IP based is less secure and has slower speeds). Each miniStack NAS has a unique hardware ID. The ID is entered into the software and allows the Mac or PC (must be installed on all machines) to see the miniStack NAS drive.
This technology not only makes it about 6x faster than older NAS IP based drives, but it makes it more secure as you would have to know the device hardware ID that is stickered on the enclosure (16 Digit key + 4 digit write key I believe). On Older IP based NAS drives all a hacker has to do is enter the IP address of the drive or do a scan to find it. If you have any further questions please let me know. Gigabit is definitely on the wish list here as well.
-Brian "

A reader asked if the driver was PPC or Universal Binary. I wrote Brian to ask about that late tonight and he replied:

" Mike, I am not entirely sure on why the restriction is present, however my guess is that it is a combination of the Mac OS and the NDAS technology. The drivers are UB. (Universal Binary)

FYI - There's a previous page here of Mac user reports on NAS & Wireless connected NAS, and the drive database has some NAS reports also.

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New iMac (20in/2.4GHz) owner comments on heat, graphics/game performance
After the comments in reviews of the new iMac (2.4GHz) being very hot to the touch and disappointing gaming performance of the Radeon HD 2xxx series graphics (even in PC/Windows machines, as even the 2600 "Pro" is a low priced/budget card), I wrote one of the readers with a new iMac (20in/2.4GHz) for his comments on the subject:

"Hi, Mike, I haven't had a chance to play WoW since Friday night. But yes, after a few of hours the iMac was VERY hot to the touch on top. I also did suffer one crash after a couple of hours of WoW. It's possible that it was heat related. According to Blizzard, crashes are usually heat or hardware related.

On thing I noticed is that, even though the iMac was extremely hot, the fans were barely audible with my ear right against the iMac, and no air seemed to be coming out of the top ventilation slot. I've just installed SMC Fan Control, and it seems to be working. I've cranked up the fan speed sliders about halfway and air is now moving out of the slot. (It's still pretty dang quiet.) I'll see if this helps keep it cooler when I play WoW next. It would have to help. And the good news is that fan control is something Apple can adjust in an update. Still, to your point about reliability, I advise getting AppleCare.
(BTW - I wrote the author of Temperature Monitor (free) and Hardware Monitor asking if he's working on an update for the new machines - he replied he doesn't have one yet but has gotten some initial feedback that they work on the new iMacs although no info yet from a Core 2 Extreme (2.8GHz) owner. Marcel usually updates these utilities for new mac models in cases where sensors or features have changed.-Mike)

As for the HD2600 PRO... The bad news is that none of the current midrange cards are very strong (8600GT/GTS or HD2600PRO/XT). The HD2600XT is comparable to the 8600GT, and the HD2600PRO is below that. The good news is that Apple is using faster GDDR3 RAM, not slower GDDR2. The only difference between the 2600XT and PRO is memory speed and core clock speed. Most benchmarks on the web were done with cards using GDDR2. So it's possible the card in the iMac is a bit faster than your usual 2600PRO, given the better video memory.
(FYI for Bootcamp users, ATI yesterday updated Catalyst ref. drivers for Vista and XP for improved performance and better Radeon HD 2xxx support-Mike)

That said, one shouldn't expect miracles. For WoW, the card is great. 40-70fps with fairly high quality settings. And I'm sure the drivers still need optimization. For new, graphics-intensive games, or for running things like Oblivion in BootCamp, it will be weak. I'm going to install Windows XP later this week. I'll do some tests with 3dMark and, when I get a chance, Oblivion. That will help us compare the HD2600PRO in the iMac to other cards out there. I'll keep you posted.

I know there's been the usual string of new hardware concerns (screen, heat, graphics) but sitting in front of the new iMac, it's hard not to be impressed by how sleek and attractive it is, and how pleasant to use. And I am loving the new keyboard, by the way!

I welcome other feedback from owners of the new iMac.
(BTW - I've added this to a separate page of 2007 iMac owner reports.)

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DIY iBook server booklet
I missed this earlier as the mail didn't have a subject line but Jonas sent a link to an article on a Do It Yourself iBook server booklet. (iBook in a book binder.)
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Other News/Software Updates
(Updated 2:45PM Eastern)

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Recent Articles and Reviews
Listing/links to recent articles and reviews you may have missed.
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