Category Archives: Hardware

Lion Recovery Options

Apple provides several layers of security when it comes to your Lion installation. 1. There is a hidden partition on your hard drive if things go wrong (press Command-R during startup to access it). 2. Internet Recovery: This feature downloads Lion from an Apple server if the hard drive fails and there is no previous Lion installation available. 3. Create your own Recovery USB drive with Apple’s Lion Recovery Disk Assistant. 4. Restore from Time Machine Backup (if you have one). You can also create your own Lion restore solution, which doesn’t need Internet access.

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Check Your AirPort Extreme

Did you know there are eight different models of Apple’s AirPort Extreme Base Station (AEBS)? But only the last three versions offer Gigabit ports and simultaneous dual-band WiFi (2.4 & 5GHz). So if you want to buy a second hand unit on eBay, you better know which one! The way to tell the difference is by their part numbers: MD031LL/A (latest model); MC340LL/A and MB763LL/A or the model numbers: A1408 (latest); A1354 and A1301. All older AirPort Extreme generations should be avoided if you want fast WiFi and fast Ethernet.

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How To Fix Your Mac

Mac users who want to upgrade or repair a Mac find all the necessary information at The site offers extensive repair guides for most Mac models and iPhones, including many pictures and a list of the tools required. The manuals are free and there is a vibrant community helping with troubleshooting and answers on all sorts of related topics.

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SSD Adapter For Mac Pro

If you want to treat your Mac Pro to some super cool and super fast SSD action, take a look at the Sonnet Transposer. The adapter fits any 2,5″ standard SSD into a 3,5″ hard drive bay. This might do the trick to bring you amazing startup times and programme response at acceptable costs. Transposer is compatible with 3Gb/s and 6Gb/s SATA. The drive tray adapter is $39.95.

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Check Your Graphics Card

As you may know the new MacBook Pro uses two different graphics cards. The built-in Intel HD Graphis 3000 and the AMD Radeon HD 6750M for example. Depending on the graphics power needed, the MacBook Pro dynamically switches between the two. To find out which GPU is in use check out gfxCardStatus. The open-source tool even lets you switch between the cards manually. Useful in case you want to safe battery juice while on the go. gfxCardStatus also tells you which programs are demanding the faster chip (and sometimes unnecessarily).

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Check Your Registered Apple Products

In case you’re wondering which products you registered with Apple over the years or need to deregister a Mac because you are selling it – here is the page you’re looking for. Sign in with your Apple ID and edit your list of Macs, iPhones, iPads etcetera or look up their serial numbers. You can obviously also register a new Mac.

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Inexpensive Mass Storage

It isn’t as pretty as this shiny box but the Lian Li EX-503 trumps its own qualities. It’s fairly cheap (about $240), houses up to five hard drives and connects via eSATA or USB 3.0 to your Mac. (You can get a SATA to eSATA card for a few bucks, if you need high transfer speeds.) Another option is to wait for Thunderbolt to eSATA cables or use the USB port instead. The case supports different Raid configurations.

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Check Your Drive Speed

With the help of the AJA System Test (direct download) you can determine the write and read speed of your hard drive (HDD) or solid state drive (SSD), external drive and USB stick. Just so you know where you are in terms of disk performance  or if you feel the need to boost the HDD bottle neck.  The tool is provided free of charge by AJA Video Systems.

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Battery Maintenance

To ensure a long lifespan of your laptop battery Apple has a few points for you to keep in mind: First of all take note of the operating temperatures  (50° to 95° F or 10° to 35° C) and secondly keep the electrons moving! Apple uses a commuter as an ideal example, who uses his notebook on the train and then plugs it in at the office to charge. If you don’t commute, Apple recommends charging and discharging the battery at least once per month.  Need a reminder? There you go (iCal event).

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Check Your Transmit Rate

In case you are wondering about the signal quality of your WiFi (WLAN) there’s an easy check for that. Just press the alt-key while you click on the AirPort status symbol in the menu bar with your mouse. Now you can see the “Transmit Rate”. The rate will vary depending on your wireless protocol (802.11 a/b/g/n) and other factors. But at least you know if you’re getting the full possible signal strength or if you should change your setup to improve the signal. 802.11g should give you speeds of 54 Mbps max and 802.11n either 130 or 300 Mbps max, depending on your n-specifications.

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Decent Storage for Mac Users

Here comes a great storage solution from Western Digital – decent size and nice design. The My Book Studio Edition II comes with 6 TB max and a variety of connections: FireWire 800/400, eSATA and USB 2.0. The thingy works with Time Machine, sports automatic backup software and supports several Raid configurations. The 6 TB storage sells for $550. There’s also a LAN-Version, The My Book World Edition II (price: $500 for 4 TB).

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Mini DisplayPort to HDMI

You have a choice here! Two adapters, both connecting the Mini DisplayPort of your favourite Mac to the HDMI interface of your TV. The Moshi Mini DisplayPort to HDMI ($35) and the Kanex Mini DisplayPort to HDMI ($44.95) sport full HD 1080p and audio. The audio support only works with the latest Mac models of 2010. You better check that first!

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Thunderbolt: Fast And Flexible

With the latest MacBook Pro update Apple introduced the new high speed port Thunderbolt. It is designed by Intel and looks promising:

↯ Up to 10 Gbps of throughput in both directions (20 times faster than USB 2.0).

↯ Provides 10 watts of power to peripherals through electrical cables (Thunderbolt also supports optical cables).

↯ PCI Express is the technology behind this, linking up to six supported devices together (by daisy-chain). Supports data, video, audio, power.

↯ Provides native support for Mini DisplayPort displays. Also supports DisplayPort, DVI, HDMI and VGA using an adapter.

↯ Compatible with USB, FireWire 800 and FireWire 400, eSATA, Gigabit Ethernet (via adapters).

↯ Supports Target Disk Mode (boot capabilities not confirmed).

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A BetterTouch On The MagicMouse

Most people are happy with their Magic Mouse, but wouldn’t it be cool to add more touch control features? BetterTouch gives you just that option. After installing the little (free) tool you get a plethora of customisable touch gestures. You can add taps and swipes and clicks to Apple’s magic Mouse to execute shortcuts, start applications and control your Mac. The possibilities are almost endless!

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Create A Powerline Network

Some people are just not into wireless networks or have annoying receptions issues. If you’re one of them the Powerline XAV2501 from Netgear might be your solution. It’s a bit bulky but provides decent network speeds of up to 200 Mbit/s and gives you back the power socket it uses to pump the Internet through your electric wires. A push on the button on the side encrypts your local network and keeps your data from neighbours with a similar system. The price for two XAV2501 Powerline adapters is roughly 70 bucks. The manufacturer doesn’t say how many units you may connect. On the good side the power consumption is really low when the thing is active or in standby mode!

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BeoSound 8 iPhone Design Stand

Our favourite Danish design company has just come up with an elegant stereo dock for the iPhone, iPod and iPad. The BeoSound 8 offers simple beautiful design and a material mix of aluminium and six fabric speaker covers in lavender blue, purple, green, yellow, black and white. There’s a USB Line-in and it comes with a remote control, table stand and wall bracket. No word on the price yet, but it will hurt!

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The Radeon 5770 works fine with your Mac Pro 1.1

Don’t want to let go of your good ol’ first generation Mac Pro (Intel) just yet? But need to connect one or two new Apple Cinema Displays via Mini DisplayPort? The Radeon 5770 is for you. It’s affordable (US$ 249) and runs smoothly in the Mac Pro 1.1 though this combination is not officially supported by Apple. The cpu speed gain for 3D rendering is marginal (Cinebench says 2.92 compared to 2.79 with the GeForce 7300 GT). But OpenGL performance and HD video playback do improve noticeably. Well, it’s your choice, the thing works!

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Broadcast Video Cards for Mac

Connecting preview monitors and other professional video equipment via SDI or HDMI to your Mac Pro can be pricey. Blackmagic’s DeckLink Series offers a welcoming inexpensive alternative. The PCI express cards support SD and HD and start from US$ 295 (SDI only). If you want HDMI support too the DeckLink Studio will set you back US$ 695.

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Mili iPhone Case with Battery

The Mili Powerspring offers protection and extra energy for your iPhone 4. With a capacity of 1600mAh it gives you an extra 6 hours of talk time. The charging time of the integrated battery is 4 hours and all in all it doesn’t look too bad, does it? Aprx. 85 US-Dollars. Or maybe you prefer the juice pack air by Mophie?

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Wake or Sleep your Mac

It’s no secret, but many Mac users forget about it. If you go to “system preferences”, “energy saver” you’ll find this option to schedule start up, wake or shut down times for your Mac. Useful if you don’t want to let your Apple machine running all night. Or to set up specific times while you’re away and might need to access your computer remotely.

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