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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2006-01-25
Apple Slices: Macworld 2006
By Darrell Miho
My iBook is slow. My hard drive is maxed out. Three external hard drives sit idle and useless for various reasons. It's time to upgrade. At the end of last year, I had been researching the latest Apple laptops trying to figure out which model would best fit my needs and budget. With the notion that Apple would soon be introducing new computers built around an Intel chip, I decided I needed to wait until Macworld to see what new products Steve Jobs had up his sleeve.
Photo by Darrell Miho
iPod fun at Macworld
So I eagerly awaited Jobs' keynote speech at Macworld while I read all the rumors about the next "Mactel" computers that could be introduced. The rumors centered around the new Intel chips being introduced in iBooks and Mac Minis first and then into iMacs and PowerBooks.
While part of me thought that would be cool, the other more optimistic half was thinking surely Apple could do better than that. So I actually sat in front of my computer and watched as Steve Jobs' keynote speech was updated every minute and loosely translated via text only on the MacRumors website.
I waited and waited until finally towards the end, the news had come. Yiiihaaaa!!! A dual core Intel chip in an iMac AND PowerBooks!!! I was very excited about the announcement. So I jumped in my car on Wednesday morning and headed up the I-5 to Macworld. Ok, it wasn't a spur of the moment decision, I was already planning on attending to do research on the new computers and new products.
Then reality hit. No modem. Huh? No Firewire 800 port. What? Express34 instead of a PCMCIA slot. WTF???
Thanks to Apple's ad campaign, the question of the week was "What's an Intel chip doing inside a Mac?" The answer? It depends on who you ask. If you ask Apple's advertising agency "A whole lot more than it's ever done in a PC." If you ask a photojournalist, "Not a whole heckuvalot.".
While the speed aspect of the MacBook Pro is great, until applications like Photoshop and Photo Mechanic are native for the new Intel platform, the speed issue is moot. Add to that the loss of the Firewire 800 port, modem and the Express34 slot replacing the PCMCIA slot, it seems that the new MacBook is probably not suited for the working photojournalist. Well, at least not yet.
But all is not lost. If you're patient and have deep pockets and just have to have the latest and greatest, then you won't be completely out in the dark.
Just as OSX allowed users to continue to use OS9 applications, Rosetta will allow users to continue using their Power PC based apps, but users won't see a significant speed increase because emulating the Power PC work environment eats up a lot of the speed advantage from the dual core Intel chip.
One of the biggest reasons I need to upgrade is the need to transmit photos on site. The loss of the PCMCIA card slot really dampened the appeal of the new MacBooks, but there are several solutions in the works, which are expected to hit the streets about the same time as the MacBooks.
Duel-Systems is actively developing three new adapter devices:
# An adapter to connect a Compact Flash Card to the new ExpressCard interface.
# An adapter to connect a current PCMCIA card to the new ExpressCard interface.
# An adaptor to connect the new ExpressCard interface to a standard USB type "dongle" plug.
The U-132 is a USB to PCMCIA adapter. Please check the website for compatible aircards as well as its limitations before ordering. It currently does not support Mac, only Windows 2000 and XP. Expected to ship in February.
While these are in the works, it is still unknown whether or not they will be Mac compatible. As of this writing, they are not. That doesn't necessarily mean they won't be, it only means that my limited research and resources cannot confirm Mac drivers will be available.
The people at Belkin (http://www.belkin.com) also had a few Express34 adapters on display that are Mac compatible and I have been told that they should be available when the MacBooks are released. On display were a Gigabit Ethernet Express Card, SATA II Raid 2-port PCI Express Card, Firewire Express Card and a USB 2.0 5-port PCI Express Card
I also sent out an email to the people at pcmcia.org regarding my questions on the new Express34 slot and this is the email reply I received.
The PCMCIA (PC Card) and ExpressCard slots are not compatible (this link http://www.pcmcia.org/faq.htm#expresscard explains some of the differences). PCMCIA cards will not work at all in an ExpressCard slot.
There are a few adapters for PCMCIA cards that are available that work with the USB port. There are many adapters available that will read flash memory PCMCIA cards, and one USB adapter that works with a limited number of wireless WAN cards (see http://www.elandigitalsystems.com/usb/u132.php).
Otherwise, you will need to wait for your desired ExpressCard application to be released. There have been some modules released
(see http://www.expresscard.org/web/do/pub/resourcedirectory), but we are expecting many more applications to be released this year.
Say hello to EV-DO
What is EVDO? In a nutshell, it is wireless broadband internet access. For the full explanation, go here: http://www.evdoinfo.com/EVDO/Info/What_is_EVDO_2005021237/
While Verizon has been leading the way for wireless broadband access, Sprint Nextel has been playing catch up lately and has introduced it's own handheld EVDO phones and PowerVision service plans that allow high speed internet access that can be tethered to your laptop via a USB cable. As a SprintNextel customer, I find this very promising and am continuing to research this as a viable option.
The people at the EVDOinfo.com booth were very helpful, as is their website, with information on the latest broadband access products. You can purchase products directly from them, (they are authorized Verizon and Sprint Nextel dealers) and gain the advantage of their tech support.
One new product that caught my eye was the soon to be released Kyocera wireless router. Insert your wireless card in the PCMCIA slot and it becomes a hi-speed wireless internet hub (provided you are within a broadband access area for your particular carrier) plus it has 4 Ethernet outputs.
For more information on EVDO and Express34 check out the following links.
Last but not least, Research in Motion, the makers of the Blackberry, officially announced Mac support January 12, 2006.
While the press release only covers the ability to sync your Blackberry to your Mac, sources within Blackberry say that the ability to tether your Blackberry as a modem using the Verizon 7130E or 7250 unit is available on PCs but could not confirm or deny compatibility for the Mac.
This of course could be pointless should they lose their appeal case in US Courts. RIM is currently trying to avoid a possible injunction, the result of a long-running infringement case won by NTP Inc. that would force them to halt operation in the US.
Other Macworld sightings
Keeping in tune with Apple's ad campaign, I couldn't help but think "What the heck is a car doing inside a Macworld expo?" Not to mention a bus. The answer in one word - iPod.
While walking around the Macworld exhibit hall, one couldn't help but notice all the cool and wacky iPod products on display. Next year they should just change the name to iPodworld. There were iPod cases galore. Rubber cases. Neoprene cases. Even leapord skin cases. There were iPod sound systems for the home. This being California where we jump in our car to go to the corner market, it was also fitting that there were iPod accessories for the car, hence the cars at the Macworld expo.
For the ultimate iPod fanatic, there was even an iPod player for the bathroom cleverly designed as a toilet paper dispenser. That's right, you can listen to your favorite tunes AND read your favorite magazine while you commune with Mother Nature. The only thing left is an internet connection so you can read the latest news on Sportsshooter.com?
As for the bus? Well, that belonged to the touring John Lennon Songwriting Contest that rolled in to town for a stop at the Macworld expo.
While John Lennon had the bus, Belkin had a Scion and Apple was out in full force with computers and demonstrators up the ying yang, the coolest booth, and I use the term booth loosely, had to go to the makers of Crumpler bags. http://www.crumplerbags.com Crumpler bags literally thought outside the box, or in this case, the booth. With its colorful bags, backpacks and accessories adorning the inside of blue striped inflatable hut and a bean bag chair lounge on the outside for casual but lively product demos and giveaways, Crumpler Bags had a crowd of people milling around every time I passed by.
Other neat products:
LaCie rugged all-terrain portable hard drive. Available Feb. 2006.
iCarrier Hi-Fi audio system for the iPod
Computer bags, sleeves and iPod cases
I wish I was able to spend more time at the expo so I could spend more time checking out the Aperture and Lightroom demos. I saw parts of them and liked what I saw, but watching and actually using the software are two different things. So you're on your own.
You can download a beta version of Lightroom from the Adobe site here:
And last but not least, Google Earth.
Type in an address or city and Google Earth will take you to a satellite image of that location. There is a free service and a subscriber service. Some locations have better resolution than others and the higher resolution views requires the subscription service. I input my city and I was able to zoom into my house and see that my car was not in the driveway. Although it's not a live image, it is very detailed and very cool.
While all efforts have been made to make this information as up to date as possible, technology changes faster than Ron Taniwaki's Hawaiian shirt. New updates and product releases may have already taken place between the time of this writing and the date it is published on Sportsshooter.com. Please use the links provided to check the latest information possible so that you can make the most well informed decision for your specific needs.
Have fun and happy shooting!
(Darrell Miho is a Southern California - based freelance photographer. You can check out his work at his SportsShooter.com member page: http://www.sportsshooter.com/members.html?id=190)
Darrell's member page
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