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Archive for June, 2014

by Tom Nelson

Looking through the Apple refurb store this week reminded me of the Island of Misfit Toys, that special place where toys that no one wants were sent. The refurb store has plenty of notebooks, desktops, even a Mac mini, but only one item struck me as being a real deal. I guess we’re just in the summer doldrums, waiting on Apple to release new products, which we hope will drive down prices in the refurb store.

AppleRefurb

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Best Deals of the Week

The best deal this week is a 2013 13.3 MacBook Pro with Retina display, available for 27% off its original price.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

Mac news weekly roundup for June 27, 2014.

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Image courtesy of Apple

Apple may enter home automation market, Microsoft is buying MacBook Airs, and Aperture is riding off into the sunset.

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by Tom Nelson

At the 2014 WWDC, Apple unveiled HomeKit, software that will be included with iOS 8. HomeKit allows home automation developers to tie their devices back to an iOS device, providing a simple control system that you’re likely to have with you most of the time.

HomeKit

Image courtesy of Apple

HomeKit offers more than simple remote control capabilities, however; it can provide the smarts for creating a complex interactive home that can respond to your needs.

When HomeKit was announced, there were only a few hardware manufacturers who either had, or pledged to produce, compatible hardware devices. Now, according to the folks at 9to5Mac, Apple is planning on entering the home hardware automation market directly, and is in the process of designing devices that will work with HomeKit.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

OWC (Other World Computing) has long been a go-to place for Mac-related peripherals, so when the company started producing its own Thunderbolt-based external drive enclosures, my interest was piqued.

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Image courtesy of OWC

Thunderbolt has been part of the Mac’s I/O capabilities since early 2011, and is now part of every current Mac model. Its big promise was to provide the fastest connection system between external devices and the Mac, but aside from Apple’s own Thunderbolt display, and a handful of Thunderbolt external drives in various RAID configurations, there haven’t been many Thunderbolt devices available.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

With both larger and high-resolution displays becoming the norm, you may have noticed your mouse pointer is getting smaller. On both the newer 27-inch iMacs and the 27-inch and larger displays that are now available, the monitor’s native resolution is high enough that your mouse cursor can be difficult to locate as it scurries across the screen. There is, however, a way to make the mouse pointer larger, so it’s easier to spot.

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Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Universal Access

Apple includes a system preference pane known as Universal Access that allows Mac users with vision or hearing difficulties to configure their Macs to better respond to their needs. The Universal Access preference pane is also handy for those of us whose age is starting to affect the quality of our eyesight, making us hunt for the mouse cursor that once was so easy to see.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

Microsoft has started offering a store credit of up to $650 for used MacBook Airs, with the credit to be used towards the purchase of a Surface Pro 3 tablet. The company hasn’t specified what criteria is being used to decide on the amount of credit, only that it’s “up to $650,” and that the MacBook Air must turn on and not have display or water damage.

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Image courtesy of Apple

It’s not that unusual for companies to offer a trade-in program on competing products, but in this case, Microsoft is offering a tablet in exchange for a notebook computer. And it appears to be hoping you that won’t notice the huge price discrepancy of this “deal.”

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

This week the Mac refurb store has a couple of surprises. First, there’s no price reduction in the current generation iMacs to reflect the inexpensive 21.5-inch model introduced earlier this week. I wasn’t really expecting to see any price movement, but I did hold out a bit of hope.

There were some minor price reductions in the store, however; $20 off here, $30 off there, so check pricing carefully when you visit the store.

Mac minis, specifically one of the server configurations, are back in stock, and while I can’t give it deal of the week status, it’s still good to see the popular Mac mini again. Remember, just because it says “server” doesn’t mean you must use it as a server; it will work just fine as a normal desktop Mac.

AppleRefurb

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Best Deals of the Week

Deals this week come in the 13.3-inch MacBook Air model, where you can find a third off the retail price on a nicely configured 2012 MacBook Air. The second deal is also in the Mac notebook lineup, with a 2013 13.3 MacBook Pro with Retina display available for 27% off its original price.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

ChronoSync from Econ Technologies has been around a long time. It even made an appearance on our annual Readers’ Choice Awards in 2011, as a candidate for best backup software. But it has never quite become a well-known Mac app.

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Image courtesy of Econ Technologies

That may be changing, because of the extremely versatile nature of ChonoSync, and its ability to mimic cloud-based syncing services without the need for a remote storage system, one over which you have no control.

ChronoSync can sync your files between folders on your Mac, between multiple Macs, and between multiple devices. Think your Mac at home, your Windows computer at work, and the iPad you use when traveling.

Syncing files ensures that you’re always working with the most current document, which is critical when you have duplicates of a file in multiple locations. But what sets ChronoSync apart from all the other sync services is that you get to set the rules for syncing.

Read more on About: Macs.

 

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by Tom Nelson

Mac news weekly roundup for June 20, 2014.

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Image courtesy of Apple

Apple’s discussion community gets a makeover, and rumors about the iWatch keep rolling in. Also, Apple added a new low-cost iMac to its hardware lineup, but we wonder if the $200 price drop is worth the loss of a few features.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

The newest and least expensive iMac has been torn down by OWC to reveal a few secrets. It has also undergone benchmark testing by Primate Labs, to see how well it performs.

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Image courtesy of Apple

iMac Teardown

Yesterday, when I mentioned the release of the new low-end, low-cost 21.5-inch iMac, I noted that the RAM is limited to a single 8 GB size. There’s no option for extending the RAM to 16 GB, which is the maximum supported by the i5-4260U processor used in the new iMac. Turns out the reason for this limitation is the elimination of the plug-in memory modules used in the rest of the iMac lineup. As revealed by our friends at OWC during a teardown of the new iMac, the memory is soldered directly to the computer’s motherboard, eliminating any DIY memory upgrade options. However, I think I should point out that 8 GB of RAM is more than sufficient for most applications, including games and photo editing, and that this iMac model wasn’t designed for professional users, but for general home and business use.

The 2.5-inch 5400 RPM hard drive, however, could be replaced with a larger 2.5-inch drive, or even better, a well-performing SSD. An SSD would really help in this iMac’s general performance and is available as an option when ordering.

Read more on About: Macs.

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