News Archive for: Wednesday February 14th, 2007 (later added items first)
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Reader report on MCE Blu-Ray drive w/Toast 8
(First reader feedback on the MCE Blu-Ray drive announced in the Jan. 24th news page.)

" I received the MCE BDR drive bundled with Toast 8. The installation was a breeze, took less than 15 minutes in my dual core 2.3ghz G5. (Running OS X Tiger.)

It came with a 25GB TDK BD-RE and took about 40 minutes to burn 25GB of data. Toast 8 installs BDR extensions and requires a restart.
Burning speed on DVDs felt similar to the stock Superdrive, but on CDs it felt significantly slower (but still faster than the burning speed on my MBP).

I have the 50GB BD-R and 25GB BD-Rs on order. I paid $699.99 plus shipping,which is a lot less than the external Lacie BDR drive I was looking at ($1200 and not available yet). Anticipating the price drop in near future for such drives, I just couldn't wait any longer as I have TBs of files to be archived. But at $699 I think it's still worth it. Being able to read and burn BDR, DVD and CDs on one drive is priceless!

(I asked him some questions that had come up in the past here-Mike)

Q: It was said earlier this year that there's no support for burning Blu-Ray format video discs (only data blu-ray format burns currently supported)
A: I haven't tried (nor have the tools, other than what was shipped in Toast 8) to burn Blu-Ray movies.

Q: Have you burned a non-blu-ray (DVD+R, DVD-R, etc.) DVD movie?
(to verify it writes the correct DVD-ROM booktype on the disc - i.e. The burned DVD disc will play a dvd movie in home players, etc. This was an issue for some earlier drives - but may be fixed in firmware updates since then.)

A: I burned a DVD-R movie from an image file and it played back on a set top player fine.

Q: What is the actual drive mechanism they ship?
(Can you check ASP or Toast's drive info to see what the actual drive brand/model is? And firmware version just for the record.)

A: The drive is a Matshita BD-MTL SW-5582. The firmware version is BDB2

Hope this helps. Let me know if more questions.
-John C.
Team Photo "

Back in the Jan. 24th news page I mentioned a reader was told at MWSF Roxio booth this Matshita model was one of the 'preferred' drives. (Not checked prices lately but back in Jan. one dealer had it for $579.xx - but without Toast 8 included.)
Update: OWC later wrote they're selling the same Matshita (Panasonic) SW-5582 Blu-Ray drive also - as of mid-March 2007 the bare drive (no software) was $559.xx in black.

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New OWC Mercury Elite-AL FW800 RAID pricing
(from site sponsor OWC)

" The OWC Mercury Elite-AL 800 Pro RAID Solution is a reliable, high performance, plug and play FireWire 800/400 Hardware RAID solution available up to 1.5TB(1500GB). Fast and furious, this solidly built unit is compact too - only 9.0" L x 2.8" W x 5.8" Height!
High-reliability and exceptional performance results from utilization of the best hard disk mechanisms and an Oxford 912 chipset based custom bridge solution. All Elite-AL models are tested and certified for audio/video, music, movies, & more + have been EMC/Dantz Backup Certified for direct Retrospect support. Elite-AL Pro 800 RAID Solutions provide (2) FW800 ports, (1) FW400 Port, and include: FireWire 800 Cable, FireWire 400 Cable, Dantz/EMC Retrospect Backup, Intech HD Speedtools utility suite, Two Year OWC Warranty on total solution + additional 3yr Warranty on the HDs inside for the 320GB to 1.5TB solutions:
160GB with 16MB of Data Buffer was $209.99, now $199.99
320GB with 16MB of Data Buffer was $229.99, now $229.99
500GB with 32MB of Data Buffer remains $259.99
640GB with 32MB of Data Buffer was $329.99, now $319.99
800GB with 32MB of Data Buffer was $449.99, now $349.99 ***$100 Drop***
1.0TB with 32MB of Data Buffer was $499.99, now $449.99 - $50 Drop
1.5TB with 32MB of Data Buffer was $979.99, now $849.99 ***$130 Drop

Ground delivery within the 48 Continental states is $2.95 for any of the above solutions. 2nd Day Air delivery anywhere within the USA offered for $7.95 or less.
Also available, Elite-AL Pro 800 RAID Dual Drive Enclosure Kits WAS $119.99, Now $99.95 $20 Drop "

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Swapping in Core2 Duo MacBook Pro Wireless card in Core Duo MacBook Pro
(UPDATE: William Rivas sent a writeup with photos of upgrading his Core Duo MacBook Pro with a ($49) Airport Extreme (802.11n compatible) card for the Mac Pro.)

"Hi Mike, I read with interest Julian's account of upgrading his core duo MacBook Pro (Julian later said he owned a Macbook) to 802.11n using a Dell card. A couple of days ago I installed an Apple Airport Extreme card from a Core2Duo MacBook Pro into my CoreDuo 2.16GHz MacBook Pro.
(I asked him were he bought it and how much-Mike)
I work for an Apple Service Centre in Australia so I ordered a stock part from Apple. Cost was AUS $170. (Another reader (William R.) said he's ordering one from Di-No but didn't have a price/Part no. yet. He promised to take some photos of the replacement also. lists a Macbook Airport Extreme card for $164, but doesn't say it's the 802.11n compatible model from the later core2 duo MacBook. I wrote to ask but suspect it's the original model (not N compatible). Ifixit doesn't currently sell the core2 duo model's wireless card.-Mike)

The card itself physically fits perfectly but on the 802.11n card there are 3 antenna connections.
(the Mac Pro tower module has only two antenna connections (broadcom chip based module), although isn't there an unused wire in the Mac Pro? (The dell 1500 uses broadcom chip as does Mac Pro - OEM Macbook/Macbook Pro core2 wireless card is Atheros based.) A photo of the dell 1500 card at an ebay auction showed only 2 antenna connections, unless there was another that isn't seen in the photo.-Mike)
The only reason I can think that the MacBook Pro is using three antenna and the rest of the line is not is because of the aluminium housing. I owned a PowerBook Alu previous to this MacBook Pro and both have fairly poor reception. (the Mac Pro tower is alum housing also and unlike the G5 tower (which had a removable "T" antenna), it doesn't use an external antenna protruding from the case. I think it's just that some modules have 3 connections, others only 2. I'm not sure if all support MIMO.-Mike)

In my MacBook Pro I have only 2 antennas. The card was recognised and using Pacifist I installed the enabler and re-booted. Network utility now shows the card as a/b/g/n supported. I noticed straight away that I had better range with the 802.11g networks I have access to as well as finding far more networks than the standard card. I have not yet been able to test with an 802.11n router (no new Airport Extremes yet where I work in Australia) and I feel that because of the lack of the third antenna the important MIMO part of 802.11n is missing and will effect my ability to get full 802.11n speeds.
(MIMO is Multiple Input Multiple Output, a smart antenna technique to increase speed, range, reliability and spectral efficiency.-Mike)
I will let you know when I have tested with an Airport Extreme when they arrive and also if I find a suitable antenna I can add and fit inside the already cramped MacBook Pro. If any of your readers can suggest a suitable antenna, that would be fantastic.
(I don't have a Macbook/Pro but asked Jeremy how is the antenna attached. I.E. is it possible/practical to replace the antenna from a core2 duo model?-Mike)
Antennas for the MacBook Pro are not a part that can be ordered as they are part of the display housing which would require me to buy a new display! It aint gunna happen!

If anyone has any comments, let me know.

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Belkin 802.11n Expresscard
William R. sent a note about Belkin's Draft-N ExpressCard (readers said they were showing their N line at MWSF last month), but the page had a note about no guarantees their 802.11n draft products could be updated to the final 802.11n spec. (But this may just be a cautious disclaimer about forward compatibility.)

" *Belkin N1 Products: N1 Wireless Router (F5D8231-4), N1 Wireless Notebook Card (F5D8011), N1 Wireless Desktop Card (F5D8001), and the N1 Wireless ExpressCard (F5D8071) are compliant to the IEEE 802.11n draft specification.
Although Belkin incorporates all mandatory elements of the IEEE 802.11n draft specification and designs the software to be upgradeable once the standard is finalized, Belkin cannot guarantee upgradeability. "

There's also the question of OS X drivers for it. (I wasn't at MWSF to know if they demo'd it installed in a Macbook Pro.) The Feb 1st news page had a note that there may be Mac Drivers for Ralink 802.11n adapters by end of February, but that remains to be seen.

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Other News/Misc. Software Updates
(Updated 8:30PM Eastern, includes apple kbase docs revised today)

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