MacNN and Electronista Deals for January 30, 2015
[Updated with more deals on Saturday] It's the end of the working week, and that means it is just two days until a major sporting event involving football. It's also the time we publish Friday Deals, the post where we collect together deals and offers from around the Internet for you, the discerning MacNN and Electronista reader. Just as always, deals may change or end in the future, but are correct at the time of posting, so check beforehand, and come back over the weekend as more deals will be posted later.
Beautiful and rather serene word processor for Mac
There was a time, in the early days of computing, when word processors either had by default -- or were expected to implement -- a minimalist mode, that stripped away controls and formatting windows to let you see just your text. We've become so used to over-complex application interfaces, though, that we've even forgotten to expect that minimalist option. Realmac's Typed has nothing but that, and along with a deftly chosen default font, it makes a startling difference to the whole writing experience.
Portable mic allows users high quality sound on the go
Laptop sound, especially on el-cheapo computers, is generally terrible. Compounding this, the diminutive microphone installed is about the same quality. Fortunately, we all have USB -- and thus Samson has introduced the Go Mic Direct to supplant the built-in microphone. At two by two inches, with no boom, how does the compact package stack up, and is it a worthwhile addition to your on-the-go tech bag?
wireless docking is the future
This week, the MacNN forums have been abuzz with talk of everything from wireless docking to favorite apps. Yesterday, Moderator "P" shared an article about Broadwell vPro processors and wireless docking, then goes on to explain how he thinks Apple will use this technology. Yesterday, "jeff k" was trying to figure out a problem he was having with Sophos security software and Time Machine, so far a solution hasn't been found.
expanded Mac Pro selection
Apple has added a boatload of refurbished current Mac Pro configurations to their lineup this week at Apple's online store. Starting at $2,549 is the refurbished Mac Pro with a 3.7GHz Intel quad-core Xeon E5 processor, 12GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, and dual AMD FirePro D300 graphics. For $3,219 is the refurbished Mac Pro with a 3.7GHz Intel quad-core Xeon E5 processor, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of PCIe-based flash storage.
curved monitors, MacBook Airs and more
Right now at MacMall.com, take advantage of a $211 price cut on the Dell UltraSharp 34-inch WQHD curved LED monitor. It was $1,200, but has been discounted to $988. That discount makes this the best price we have seen by roughly $160. This monitor offers a resolution of 3440x1440, an aspect ratio of 21:9, an 8ms response time, and includes HDMI, MHL, Mini DisplayPort and DisplayPort connectivity options. It is backed by a three-year warranty on parts and labor from Dell.
Beautiful, relaxed, point-and-click adventure game
When it comes to video games, the puzzle genre may very well be the most varied kind. There are the match-3s, the codebreakers, the word games, and the classic puzzle-adventure. Popularized by games like Myst and Monkey Island, the puzzle-adventure genre has been a long-standing fixture of gaming. We took a look at newcomer Tengami, a point-and-click adventure game by developer Nyamyam.
Ethereal physics puzzler takes to space
Indie games have seen a lot of success in recent years, and with good reason. Now that game design has become more accessible due to the wide availability of tools, and publishing has become easier due to things like Steam Greenlight, the gaming community is able to play an ever-expanding catalog of strange and wonderful games. One such game is Gravity Ghost, a physics-centric puzzle game by Ivy Games.
Speed up how you use Safari on your Mac
You hear more criticism of Safari than you do of any other browser on OS X -- but then, of course you would. It's the one that comes on your Mac, and if nobody ever criticized it, you'd never think to try Chrome or Firefox's latest build (that will likely be incremented before you finish this paragraph), or any of the other options. There are things that rival browsers do better, but by far the biggest difference between them all is your personal taste - but bailing on Safari means you're missing out on excellent features, and most especially so in the very latest release. Here are ten fast and short pointers for getting more out of Safari on your Mac.
Source code mandated to be made available for inspection, other onerous rules
At the end of last year, the Chinese government approved a 22-page set of regulations for the sale of computer equipment to Chinese banks, but that will ostensibly apply to all enterprise sales. The rules require foreign companies to turn over source code, submit to audits, and build "back doors" into hardware and software so that the government can monitor devices. The new rules are expected to be the first in a series to be introduced across the next few months.
Defunct Mini model briefly returns to online Apple store
Apple's official online shipping times for the iPod shuffle have improved in the UK, France, Germany, and several other European countries, reports say. Earlier this month, shipping times deteriorated to between seven to 10 days worldwide, prompting fears that Apple might be discontinuing the product. Sources claimed that Apple was just going through component supplier changes, however, and this may be borne out by the European Apple online stores, which is now seeing the media player ship in five to seven days. Delays have yet to improve in the US or Canada, but may follow suit in the near future.
Updated model for 2015 includes 4K Ultra HD, developer edition
The updated model of Dell's Precision M3800 mobile workstation was unveiled at the Sundance Film Festival today. The 15-inch M3800 is designed with ISV-certifications for video editors, graphic designers, and other high-demand users in mind, and is available now from Dell's online store. The new M3800 includes much-requested options, such as a 4K Ultra HD touch display and a new Ubuntu-based developer edition.
Giant otherwise shows strong financial performance
Beyond its official press release, Apple has posted a detailed breakdown (PDF) of its fiscal first quarter. The document is the only one to mention iPad sales, and reveals that shipments dropped 18 percent year-over-year to 21.42 million. Revenues for the tablet fell 22 percent to $9 billion.
what's wrong with my MBP?
Yesterday, one Dedicated MacNNer turned to the MacNN forums, looking for help figuring out some graphical problems with their 15-inch MacBook Pro from 2011. Also yesterday, Mac Elite "jeff k" was asking fellow forum-members how to get images off of an iPhone after having some trouble transferring photos.
Macs from $849
This week at Apple's online store, find savings on Macs starting as low as $849 for a 13.3-inch MacBook Air with a 1.4GHz Intel dual-core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM and 128GB of PCIe-based flash storage. For $869 is the refurbished 11.6-inch MacBook Air with a 1.3GHz Intel dual-core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 256GB of flash storage.
$150 off Dell 27-inch LED monitor
Save $150 on the Dell 27-inch LED 1080p monitor right now at Staples.com. It was $350, but has been discounted to $200 after a variety of instant savings are applied. That's around $70 less than the next-lowest price. This monitor features a 27-inch display, 1080p resolution, a contrast ratio of 1000:1, a 6ms response time, and it is backed by a one-year warranty on parts and labor from Dell.
Rugged Toughbook 31 notebook lasts for up to 18 hours on single battery
Panasonic has made a few upgrades to its long-running and long-lasting Toughbook 31. The hard-wearing Windows notebook now uses a 5th-generation 2.3GHz Intel Core i5 processor, improved Intel HD Graphics 5500, expanded connectivity, and a bump to the battery life, but still manages to retain its rugged design and reliability.
MacNN and Electronista Deals for January 23, 2015
[Updated Sunday with more deals!] Welcome to the latest edition of Friday Deals, the post where we search for great deals on hardware, software, gadgets, and other items for you, the discerning MacNN and Electronista reader. As per normal, the prices for offers listed are correct at the time of posting, but may change in the meantime, so check before buying. Remember to check this post in the future, as more deals will be added to the list throughout the weekend.
Powerful, hugely customisable application launcher for Mac
It's only right and proper to review Alfred 2 in a column called Hands On, because that's its entire point: with this installed, you can do just about anything on your Mac without ever once taking your fingers off the keyboard. As much as the mouse and the trackpad changed the world, every time you use them you are losing time. Yes, it's probably only about a second, but that's enough: your concentration moves to where-is-the-mouse and then where-is-the-cursor before it can get back to the work at hand. With Alfred 2, your fingers will remember keyboard shortcuts like muscle memory, and you will feel you are hugely faster at everything.
US designed and made backup appliance features two hot-swap trays
US-based backup and disaster recovery hardware company Highly Reliable Systems has announced the immediate availability for their two-bay NetSwap Mini+E backup NAS server appliance, which includes replication, two removable drive trays, and hardware-based encryption. The High-Rely NetSwap Mini+E backup NAS series comes equipped with a powerful 3.4GHz Intel Core i3-4130 processor, capable of block-level AES-256 data encryption.
Mac Pro update in 2015, iPad tips and more
The updated Mac Pro has now been available for purchase for a little over a year, and one Fresh-Faced Recruit started a discussion this week in the MacNN forums, asking when we might expect an update, as he is considering buying one. Today, the conversation continues in the thread titled "signs your iMac is on its last legs".
5K iMacs and Mac Pros
This week, Apple's online store finally began offering 5K iMacs, and continues to have a few Mac Pros available on the refurbished shelf. The refurb'd Retina iMac with a 3.5GHz Intel quad-core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 1TB Fusion Drive has seen a $380 discount to $2,119. For $2,549 is the refurbished 27-inch Retina iMac with a 3.5GHz processor, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of flash storage.
$140 off Dell 23.8-inch widescreen LED monitor
This week at Newegg.com, get the Dell 23.8-inch widescreen LED backlight LCD monitor on sale for $230. That's a price break of $120 off of the list price of $350, and until January 29, use coupon code EMCAKNP44 to drop the price again to $210. That combo of discounts makes this the lowest price we have seen on this monitor by $35. This monitor offers 1080p resolution, 8ms response time, 178-degree viewing angles, and a variety of inputs including HDMI, DisplayPort, MiniDisplayPort, as well as USB.
Gateway OS X and Windows product expandable with in-app purchases
Avid today unveiled Pro Tools First, a free version of the company's Pro Tools software suite that offers many of the same music creation capabilities used by top artists and recording studios worldwide. Built upon the Avid MediaCentral Platform, Pro Tools First is is intended as a gateway to the full package, and usable by beginners and experienced music producers alike.
Smaller unit still longer than 11-inch MBA; no info on alleged new port
A set of photos purporting to show the assembled display of the rumored 12-inch MacBook Air has emerged from a Chinese enthusiast site. The pictures are claimed to be a 12-inch Retina display assembly, but feature an iOS-device like metal Apple logo rather than the usual translucent plastic lighted Apple logo, potentially undermining the credibility of the images. The display is seen to be thinner than a typical MacBook Pro, albeit thicker than an iPad Air.
New mic comes with connectors for nearly every digital application
Music hardware and software developer IK Multimedia today announced the iRig Mic Studio, its ultra-portable large-diaphragm digital condenser microphone for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, PC and Android. The iRig Mic Studio packs a one-inch diameter condenser capsule into an ultra-compact enclosure that can be used to make professional recordings anywhere.
Lower power requirements for $200 GTX 960 graphics cards
Nvidia is extending the GTX 900-series of GPUs, with a reduced-power model seemingly aimed at players of League of Legends and DOTA 2. The GTX 960 has the same Maxwell architecture as its stablemates, but hopes to appeal to budget-conscious gamers with a lower price point as well as lower power requirements than the GTX 980 and GTX 970.
Cross-platform mixer brings 24 channels ADAT, 64 channels MADI to one unit
Today, MOTU debuted the 112D, a Thunderbolt-equipped digital audio interface, router, format converter and mixer. The seventh in a series of new, high-end audio interfaces from MOTU, the 112D serves as the flagship digital interface of the new line, offering 24 channels of AES/EBU, 24 channels of ADAT optical and 64 channels of MADI (AES10) for a total of 112 simultaneous digital I/O channels, all in a single rack space.
Windows 10 device intended to simplify conferencing, communications
Microsoft's Surface ecosystem didn't get left behind in today's Windows 10 event. Unveiled at the media event was the Microsoft Surface Hub, which is either a 55- or 84-inch 4K display, utilizing a custom Windows 10 version, featuring touch and stylus input with voice and gesture controls.
At today's Microsoft Windows 10 event, Windows Phone Program chief Joe Belifiore officially revealed the refresh of Microsoft-supplied browsers, with the previously rumored Spartan browser effort. The new browser, named after the company's hero of the Halo series, includes web page annotation and sharing, full PDF integration into the browser, and a baked-in implementation of Microsoft's Cortana "Personal Digital Assistant" technology.
Reinforced cases, hinges used in educational Acer Chromebooks
Acer has unveiled two Chromebooks aimed at the education market. The C910 and C740 Chromebooks are sturdy notebooks contained in reinforced covers capable of withstanding up to 60kg (132 pounds) of force, with the corners able to survive drops of up to 45 centimeters (17.7 inches) without damage, making the computers highly durable.
Company encouraged by results, expecting lower revenue for FY2015
After eking out a profit in two consecutive quarters, chip manufacturer AMD erased those gains with a massive loss. Despite its GPU processors being used in the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One and what the company calls a "solid" holiday quarter, AMD announced revenue for the fourth quarter of 2014 of $1.24 billion, with an operating loss of $330 million and net loss of $364 million, or $0.47 per share. This compares to the year-ago quarter, where the company made $1.59 billion in revenue, with a net income of $89 million.
Standard port replicator now on eight models for ease of docking across devices
Fujitsu announced today three new Lifebook models and one new tablet in the Stylistic line, with fifth-generation Intel Core vPro processors. The devices, expected to debut at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in March, include tablet sizes up to 13.3-inch, with one new model of 14-inch ultrabook. The tablets are all hybrid 2-in-1 devices designed to fit a new docking station.
iPhoto still slow on 27-inch 5K iMac
Yesterday in the MacNN forums, one Professional Poster was wondering why iPhoto is still running slow even after they upgraded their computer to a new Retina iMac -- so far there has been no input from fellow members. Forum-goers assist "Thorzdad" in troubleshooting an unresponsive 13-inch MBP, so far a solution has yet to be found.
27-inch Retina iMacs from $2,119
Apple's online store has just added a selection of refurbished 27-inch Retina iMac models, starting as low as $2,119. The entry-level iMac configuration has received a $380 price break down to $2,119, and features a 3.5GHz quad-core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 1TB Fusion Drive. For $2,299 is the refurbished 27-inch Retina iMac with a 3.5GHz quad-core i5 processor, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB Fusion Drive.
iPad mini 3 for $353
At Amazon this week, get the iPad mini 3 with 16GB of storage and Wi-Fi in space gray, on sale for $353 with free shipping. That's $46 off the list price of $399, and around $35 less than the lowest price offered anywhere else. The iPad mini offers a 7.9-inch Retina display, A7 processor chip with 64-bit architecture, Wi-Fi and 16GB of storage. Included is Apple's one-year warranty on parts and labor.
Get this essential Mac tool for speeding up your typing
Here's the thing: yes, TextExpander speeds up your typing, but some of us like typing -- and some of us are 120 words per minute. If you're one of the latter, that doesn't automatically rule out that you wouldn't be interested in the venerable TextExpander's speed, but we figured it wouldn't be that much use to us; or so we thought. Doubtlessly, if you are a slower typist, then the speed is the key reason to buy TextExpander -- but it does so much else, it is so useful in other ways, that we are now dependent on it, and wish we'd bought it ten years ago.
MacNN and Electronista Deals for January 16, 2015
[Updated with more great deals!] The second full week of 2015 is almost over, and so it's time for the Friday Deals post, where we find great offers on hardware, gadgets, and software for you, the ever-discerning MacNN and Electronista reader. As usual, the prices are correct at the time of writing, but the offer may change at a later time, so check before purchasing. Also, remember to come back over the weekend, as we will be adding more deals for you to enjoy.
Excellent blogging app for Macs
There can't be a blogging platform or service in the world that doesn't already come with an editor where you can write, you know, your blog. Certainly WordPress and Blogger have perfectly adequate, even good, text editors for you to do this and doubtlessly millions of people stick with them. It's not as if millions of people can be wrong, but it can be that millions of people haven't used MarsEdit yet.
Signs your iMac is on its last leg
This week in the MacNN Forums, Games Meister "The Final Dakar" pointed out strange things that his iMac is doing, and believes that these are signs that his iMac will soon not be operational. Dedicated MacNNer "krx" is looking for a way to do a clean install and use Migration Assistant.
Mac mini and Mac Pro
At Apple's Online Store today, chose from a selection of refurbished Mac mini and Mac Pro models. The Mac mini with a 2.8GHz Intel dual-core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 1TB Fusion Drive has seen a $150 discount to $849. A $450 discount drops the cost on the refurbished Mac Pro with a 3.7GHz Intel quad-core Xeon E5 processor, 12GB of RAM and 256GB of flash storage down to $2,549.
5K iMac for $2,400
Right now at MacMall.com, take advantage of a $100 price break on the 27-inch 5K iMac, which has been reduced from $2,500 down to $2,400. That discount makes this the lowest price currently available on this configuration by $50. This iMac features 5K resolution, a Haswell i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of flash storage and AMD Radeon R9 M290X graphics. Included are an Apple wireless keyboard, Magic Mouse and a one-year warranty.
Smart and quick mind mapping tool
We're in a tricky situation here. We've already covered MindNode, and said that for us it has the edge as the best of all the iOS mind-mapping applications. However, we did also say that for all the very many alternatives, this is currently a two-horse race and the other pony is iThoughts HD. If you went for MindNode on our recommendation, then thank you and isn't it great? If you haven't yet, still keep it in mind -- but let's examine iOS iThoughts HD as a serious alternative.
Smartphone or nearby mobile device replaces extra passwords and dongles
According to digital security provider SAASpass, a requirement to possess a separate physical device as part of accessing digital data -- for example a fingerprint reader or separate dongle -- helps prevent nearly all hacking attacks on computers. To that end, SAASpass has recently unveiled its "Computer Connector" apps to provide on-the-fly two-factor authentication, rather than passwords, using smartphones or mobile devices.
Entered into 'definitive agreements to provide additional near-term liquidity'
Venerable tech retailer RadioShack released its fiscal Q3 numbers to the US Securities and Exchange Commission this month. The report includes information about what RadioShack describes as a "prolonged downturn in our business" and predictions about its liquidity if efforts to restructure its debt don't go through by February 2, the last day of Q4 for RadioShack's current fiscal year.
Six states, Puerto Rico added; lawfirm claims firmware update slowed GPU
The class action suit alleging poor quality of Apple's 2011 MacBook Pro line has expanded. An email by the law firm driving the suit sent out last week informed class members that the complaint has now grown to users in California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Puerto Rico, and Vermont. Additionally, the suit now claims that Apple actively and deliberately hid the problem from affected users.
Run your Mac from the keyboard in this utility that should be on every computer
Get it. Here it is on its official site. Go get it now: LaunchBar is that good. There are alternatives, that's about the only thing that should give you pause -- but the most obvious rival to LaunchBar is OS X's own Spotlight, and that is no competition at all. Sure, both let you tap a couple of keys and begin typing things like application names or search terms, but as excellent as Spotlight is, LaunchBar crams more power into the same space. With a couple of keystrokes, you can be entering an event into your calendar, you can be sending files to someone, you can be pasting something from the clipboard that you copied yesterday.
Multiple USB 3.0 ports, SD card slot, SATA dock in one dock
HighPoint Technologies continues to expand its USB 3.0 product portfolio, and has unveiled the RocketStor 5411D USB 3.0 Drive Dock and Hub. The palm-sized docking station combines multiple USB 3.0 ports, a card-reader, SATA drive dock, and universal charging station into a single device.
Parallels Access upgrade brings fixes, S Pen, audio output choices
Parallels today introduced an updated version of its Parallels Access application, bringing the suite to version 2.5. In addition to general improvements, the new revision brings full implementation on new mobile devices, including the Kindle Fire, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 plus, Galaxy Tab S, and Galaxy Note 4. The Samsung S Pen is now supported, and users have a choice of sound from the computer, or the mobile device doing the computer mirroring.
Take a trip back to 1998 (in a good way) with this Retro RPG
In the mid '90s, dungeon-crawler RPGs were pretty standard fare -- nearly all boasted isometric-view fields of play. These types of games have went by the wayside in lieu of flashier graphics and more complicated game mechanics. Spiderweb Software, however, has decided to continue its own ongoing trend, and release a positively retro fantasy RPG called Avernum 2: Crystal Souls.