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We started writing an article about Apple's new stuff, and it took hold and grew into a full special issue. Past issues contain some of the basic information about the new machines and policies as well, so we held ourselves to writing about new topics and details unknown until this point. This is good stuff, so read on if you want to understand Apple's new machines and software.


Copyright 1992 TidBITS Electronic Publishing. All rights reserved.
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Apple Introduces New Hardware and Software

Today, October 19th, was an important day for Macintosh users. If you don't know the significance of the date, you've been hiding under a non-Macintosh rock for some time. Apple today officially announced several much-anticipated new machines and software. We have already published many of the details and interesting aspects of the new products before these announcements, so you may wish to go back and check some of the previous issues, especially for information about the PowerBook Duos and System 7.1. In an effort to minimize repetition in the articles below, I will only touch on new or truly important features. Future issues should shed more light on the details in future issues too, so keep an eye out.

You may have noticed that this issue bears no date, and in fact, we decided to limit it to articles about Apple's new products because we had far too much information for a single issue. Look for TidBITS-148/19-Oct-92 later this week with usual sort of news, reviews, comments, and opinions.

Macintosh PowerBook Duos

We thoroughly covered the Duos in previous issues, but information has arrived from several first-hand sources who claim that the 9", 16-level gray-scale, backlit, supertwist, LCD screen, although not active-matrix, is extremely readable. One source went so far as to say that he preferred the Duo screen over the monochrome active-matrix screen used on the 170. That's entirely subjective, but nice to hear.

The Duos use new nickel-hydride batteries that Apple claims last between 2 and 4.5 hours (the other PowerBooks use either NiCad [nickel-cadmium] or lead-acid batteries). The Duo spec sheets trumpet about something called EverWatch Battery Saver technology, but the 160 and 180 (which also have EverWatch) don't have longer battery life estimates, so I don't know specifically what EverWatch adds. Apple added an LED indicator to the Caps Lock key, so you can more easily see when it's engaged. Finally, the Duos connect to their docks via something Apple calls PowerLatch docking technology, and surprise, the connector is a 152-pin PDS connector. Can you say, "yet another slot?" I thought you could. Actually, Apple has a good excuse this time given the Duos' unique requirements.

Although Apple claims the Duos are available immediately, the Duo Dock and MiniDock, along with the external Duo Battery Recharger and the new Express Modem, will not ship immediately. The Duo Dock and Battery Recharger will ship in November, and the MiniDock and Express Modem in December. The holdup on the MiniDock and Battery Recharger stems from the FCC not yet approving them for sale, and there's no messing with the FCC on that issue.

In an uncommon move, Apple contracted with SuperMac to manufacture the Duo MiniDock and the Duo Floppy Adapter. Only Sony has manufactured Apple-labeled hardware before, although Sharp may manufacture some of the Newton devices in the future. It takes no great mind to add a few small, even numbers and come up with four, and similarly, we presume that SuperMac will soon enter the third-party dock market that currently contains E-Machines, Asante, and a company called Air Communications that is reportedly working on a wireless communication dock. Given SuperMac's strengths, I would be surprised if a dock from them did not contain accelerated graphics or perhaps some video capture technology taken from the VideoSpigot. Nothing solid here, folks, just some educated speculation.

Information from:
Apple propaganda (like all the rest of the stuff below)

PowerBook 160 and 180

In some ways, the 160 and 180 hold little interest - after all, they are merely upgraded versions of the 140 and 170, right? Yes, but Apple has added some new features and changed things just enough to keep Macintosh sales reps busy memorizing new features. The new 16-level gray-scale screens reportedly look very nice, especially the 180's active-matrix version; they sport built-in microphones; you can add up to 14 MB of RAM (but see below for an important warning about this); they ship in 120 MB hard drive configurations; they have more advanced battery saving technology; and like the PowerBook 100, they can act as SCSI hard disks for a desktop Mac. Last, but not least, both new models feature external video ports, so you won't have to purchase expensive internal video cards from companies like Envisio.

No, the 160 and 180 don't start the juices flowing in the way the neat new Duos do, but in many ways they are probably better machines. Apple had a chance to work out the quirks in the 140/170 design and the attention to details shows, although the 160 and 180 do not share the Duos' LED Caps Lock indicator. Unfortunately, prices on the 160 and 180, particularly a loaded 180, seem high to us, especially in comparison with a dockless Duo. Nonetheless, from all reports the 180's 4-bit active-matrix screen is stunning, much as the $5,500 color active-matrix displays at Macworld blew away any pre-conceived notions about display quality. If price means nothing to you, buy a PowerBook 180. Otherwise, consider the other new models since despite the demise of the ultra-cheap PowerBook 100, the current line looks extremely solid. Apple supposedly made $1 billion on the PowerBooks last year, and to judge from the improvements and new designs, the PowerBooks will continue to rake in the cash.

PowerBook 160 and 180 RAM Issue

by Mark H. Anbinder, Contributing Editor

Apple informed dealers this week that some third-party memory expansion cards designed for the PowerBook 140 and 170 models will not fit properly in the just-introduced PowerBook 160 and 180 computers. Although the 160 and 180 models have the same specifications for their memory expansion slots, some third-party memory manufacturers have reportedly offered cards that don't quite meet the specs.

The notice said that the problem occurs because of sponge heat sinks on certain chips in the 160 and 180, limiting the empty space near the memory expansion connector. The sponge heat sinks are in one of several "keep out" areas published by Apple in its specs so that third-party developers will know where their components can "live" and where they must not. Because of the apparent difficulty in designing a card that includes more than 4 MB of RAM and still fits inside the allocated space, some manufacturers have sold 6 MB upgrade cards that, although they fit inside the 140, 145, and 170 without difficulty, take up more than their specified amount of space.

Vendors whose memory products don't fit will need to take a closer look at the PowerBook developer specs (an updated copy of which has been sent to hardware developers) and reconfigure their cards to fit inside the newer machines. In the meantime, early purchasers of PowerBook 160 and 180 computers will need to be careful that any memory upgrades they buy are specifically guaranteed to fit the new PowerBook models.

The bulletin stressed that the heat sinks should not be removed. Removing them voids Apple's one-year warranty on the computer, but more importantly, doing so creates internal heat problems. The excess internal heat can result in system crashes and hangs, can cause the computer to run hotter than it is supposed to, and its life span could be seriously shortened.

For now, most 4 MB expansion cards should work, so users may be able to suffer with a little less memory in their PowerBooks. Users who tend to use the machines while near an electrical outlet can even keep the computers plugged in and take advantage of virtual memory. Until third-party developers start producing new expansion cards that fall within Apple's guidelines, though, it will be tough to find 6 MB expansion cards for the new machines.

Information from:

Macintosh IIvi and IIvx

The IIvi dropped out of the news a while back, with rumors flying that it would only be sold outside of the US, and that proves to be true. The only real difference between the IIvi and IIvx is that the IIvi uses a 16 MHz 68030 chip in comparison to the IIvx's 32 MHz chip. I presume the speed hit is proportional. It appears that Apple didn't want the IIvi cutting into the Performa 600's niche, not surprisingly, but the extra machine does confuse matters slightly. But wait, now that I scan back through the TidBITS archive, we've never seriously talked about the IIvx. So what should you know about this machine anyway?

In addition to the 32 MHz 68030, the IIvx includes a 32 MHz 68882 math coprocessor and 32K of cache. It has 4 MB soldered on and can take up to 16 MB SIMMs in its four SIMM slots for a total of 68 MB of RAM. 8-bit internal video comes standard, and you can add more VRAM to support 16-bit color on the internal video, although 24-bit video requires a video card in one of the three NuBus slots. Other methods of expansion include an accelerator slot and room for three internal storage devices, which actually means one SuperDrive, one 3.5" hard disk, and another device, such as the AppleCD 300i double-speed CD drive. Alternately, you could probably use an internal SyQuest as your third storage device. The metal case and roomy interior give the IIvx a boxy look, but it's sturdy and cheap to manufacture that way, if a tad heavy at 25 pounds or so.

The IIvx probably performs comparably to the IIci but offers some additional niceties like the internal CD-ROM drive port. I doubt that the IIci will disappear immediately, but it wouldn't surprise me if Apple started to phase it out of production and dropped it at the next product introduction in the spring or summer, especially if that introduction resulted in a cheaper 68040 machine joining the price lists. Although a slick, classy machine with proven performance, the IIci is the oldest Mac in the current lineup, and I believe it's the only one that does not include a microphone. In addition, Apple may wish to get rid of that particular case, much as it wanted to get away from the old SE and SE/30 case.

Macintosh Color Display

This new 14" color monitor is only an incremental improvement over the previous one (i.e., it performs exactly the same task), but Apple paid a lot more attention to detail, making for a nicer monitor at a lower price. You get the same 13" of usable area on the Trinitron CRT (cathode ray tube), and the size is the same at 640 x 480 (resolution is 70 dpi instead of 69 dpi), but the new CRT offers higher brightness, high contrast, and uniform color. The monitor is 50% brighter than the previous model and supposedly uses 32% less power, a move I wholeheartedly endorse. Now if only the new desktop units could emulate the PowerBooks' sleep mode.

Front-mounted controls and a tilt & swivel base make the monitor easier to use, and it complies with the strict Swedish guidelines for very-low frequency (VLF) and extremely low frequency (ELF) magnetic and electric emissions. Whether or not those emissions are specifically harmful (no one has conclusively proven that either way, as far as I've heard), I can't imagine that they're good for you. The monitor weighs a bit less, so it will be easier to lift, a major bonus to techie types who frequently have to move them. Finally, and I'm not sure how important this is, the monitor features automatic degaussing at startup. Probably akin to a stiff cup of espresso to start the day.

AppleCD 300

The new CD player from Apple sets the standard for others to aim at with its double-speed technology, a speed select switch, a reasonable list price of $599, and support for multi-session PhotoCDs along with three other formats I'm unfamiliar with, CD-ROM XA (which apparently requires some extra hardware to play compressed audio), CD+G, and CD+MIDI. It of course reads all the ISO 9660/High Sierra and Macintosh HFS discs that the old (and still available) AppleCD 150 can read. The drive has an average access time of 295 milliseconds in double-speed mode, in which it can also transfer 300 KB of data per second.

Double-speed technology isn't new, since NEC has had the CDR-73M out for a while now, but it was plagued with some early problems that NEC only recently fixed. The AppleCD 300 hopes to avoid any such problems with its front-mounted speed select switch, and frankly, I suspect that Apple tested more carefully than NEC anyway, to judge from some of the less than favorable comments I've received about NEC. Will McCauley reported on his experience calling NEC, saying:

Gee, it wasn't that bad. I just sat with the phone next to my ear for 32 minutes listening to an improperly synchronized recording ("are busy. Please hold the line. All our operato") and then I got to talk to two real people, one of whom said she would send the new driver. I asked if I could post the driver to an electronic bulletin board, and she said "Oh, no, only the PC driver is posted there." I said I could post it to a bulletin board frequented by Mac users, and she said "Well, I don't know anything about that." Sounds like a go-ahead to me.

I have heard that NEC plans a ROM upgrade to support multi-session PhotoCDs, but it appears that NEC isn't entirely with it, because Povl Pedersen reports, "According to comp.sys.unix.aux the new NEC driver is still not A/UX compatible, so if you want to install A/UX someday, go for another drive like one from Toshiba, Sony, or Apple."

Many drives now support single-session PhotoCDs, which you create by having camera film transferred to CD rather than printed on paper. Multi-session PhotoCDs come about, apparently, when you take that CD back to the photo store and have them add more rolls of film to it. I know little about PhotoCD, but if anyone out there has played with PhotoCD personally and has had pictures put on one, I'd love an article about it.

Interestingly, and Apple's press propaganda was no help, the AppleCD 300 appears to have two modes. In mode 1 the drive can read 656 MB per disc, and transfer data at either 150 KB/second or 300 KB/second (working at normal or double speed). That jives with the little I know about CDs. In mode 2 the drive can read 748 MB per disc, and transfer data at either 171 KB/second or 342 KB/second. That's weird. It turns out that these modes are standards and almost all drives support both modes. Mode 2 discs store more and read faster because it has less error correction (not a problem for audio and fast animation, where a missed bit wouldn't matter), but almost no discs use the mode 2 format. Many thanks to Cary Lu, who solved this mystery by quoting to me from the fourth edition of his excellent book, "The Apple Macintosh Book," (ISBN 1-55615-278-7, $24.95 from Microsoft Press). I need to get my own copy of that.

Information from:
Gary Goldberg --
Troy Gaul -- TAG002@ACAD.DRAKE.EDU
Will McCauley --
Povl H. Pedersen --
Cary Lu
Apple propaganda

System 7.1

We've talked a lot about 7.1 in the past but have missed a few interesting bits. You know how Apple has shipped a new version of the operating system for each new computer, causing a proliferation of that final digit in the version number? Well, that's about to end. System 7.1 supports drop-in software modules called "system enablers" that enable the standard version of 7.1 to support whatever new features of the specific Macintosh are appropriate. That should eliminate the 6.0.x-syndrome, where x equals any arbitrarily large number. I think this is a terribly useful (it would be thoroughly clever if it wasn't so obvious) innovation, and I applaud Apple for making Macintosh life easier.

System 7.1 has System 7 Tune-Up built into it, which is good, but may unfortunately confuse the issue more. You need System 7 Tune-Up 1.1.1 with System 7.0 and 7.0.1, but you do not need Tune-Up at all with System 7.1. Hope that settles it. Apple also increased File Sharing security so "guest access" is no longer the default, and in a move I love, Apple removed DAL from System 7.1 so normal people no longer have to throw it out immediately. Those who need it can get it in a software solution pack from Apple.

System 7.1 users should have almost no compatibility problems, with two known exceptions. Networks running AppleShare on the server will need to upgrade AppleShare on the server to version 3.0.1. More commonly, if you use MacTCP for network access, you should upgrade to MacTCP version 1.1.1. We have no information on upgrade costs or procedures for AppleShare 3.0.1 and MacTCP 1.1.1 yet, so stay tuned.

System 7.1 Update Kit -- As we reported, Apple's press materials imply, but do not state clearly, that you may not copy System 7.1 freely. You can get the System 7.1 Update Kit if you are a System 7 user for $34.95, and it includes new system disks in either 1.4 MB or 800K format, a QuickTime 1.5 disk, and a System 7.1 Update Guide.

Unlike the following two upgrades, which will certainly be available through dealers and software resellers, and probably mail order firms like MacConnection and MacWarehouse, Apple's press materials say that the System 7.1 Update Kit will be available directly from Apple, never mentioning dealers or software resellers. In some respects this makes sense, since after the middlemen take a cut of that $35 price and discount it to the user, Apple would probably lose money on the Update Kits. It may make sense, but it doesn't mean we have to like it. $35 is not a lot of money for most people (and yes, I know it is for students - I was one not long ago), but you can't buy much other software for $35 and as we discussed in TidBITS-143, Apple is at heart a software company and must transfer its money-making ventures to software so that it can lower the prices on its hardware. At least 7.1 will come with new Macs.

System 7 Personal Upgrade Kit -- Apple aimed the (Version 7.1) System 7 Personal Upgrade Kit at users upgrading from System 6. It costs $99 and includes System 7.1 on six 1.4 MB disks, a QuickTime 1.5 disk, and a disk with the Compatibility Checker. Manuals include the Desktop Macintosh User's Guide and the System 7 Upgrade Guide. For an unspecified limited time, Apple will bundle At Ease with this upgrade.

System 7 MultiPack -- Larger sites can purchase the System 7 MultiPack, which provides a license for a site to upgrade up to ten users from System 6 to System 7.1. The software comes on CD-ROM in several language versions, and includes QuickTime 1.5, the Compatibility Checker, and system enablers. You also get 1.4 MB disks containing the same stuff, as well as the two manuals from the Personal Upgrade Kit and the Administrator's Handbook. All that and more for a mere $499 if you call fast. No At Ease, but you might get a Ginsu knife if you hurry. Obviously, a ten-user upgrade won't do squat for a really large site, but sit tight because Apple plans to offer a volume-purchase plan after 30-Nov-92. Call the number below or hassle your Apple rep for more info.

Picky little details -- US customers who purchased the Version 7.0 System 7 Personal Upgrade Kit or the Group Upgrade Kit after 01-Sep-92 can get the 7.1 version for free with proof of purchase. For more information on that, call the number below.

If you purchase either the System 7 Personal Upgrade Kit or Group Upgrade Kit and require 800K disks, you can call and Apple will send them to you at no charge.

Asian System versions -- Along with the US version of System 7.1, Apple also has KanjiTalk 7, the Japanese version, available immediately. It includes all the features of System 7.1, plus the Kotoeri input method and seven new Kanji TrueType fonts. Other versions of System 7.1 will be available soon, including the Korean version on 01-Nov-92, the Thai version on 15-Nov-92, the ChineseTalk II (Traditional) version on 15-Nov-92, and the System 7 (Chinese/simplified) version on 15-Jan-93.

Apple System Software Upgrades -- 800/769-2775

QuickTime 1.5

If you don't know what QuickTime is yet, go directly to TidBITS-073, do not pass GO, and do not collect $200. QuickTime 1.5 offers significant enhancements over QuickTime 1.0, and anyone serious about QuickTime will want it. You can now play movies in screen sizes up to 320 x 240 pixels at 15 frames per second (fps) on an LC II-class machine. If you shrink the window to the old standard, 160 X 120, you can double your frames per second to 30 fps. QuickTime 1.5 includes integrated support for the new Kodak PhotoCD format for storing your 35 mm pictures on a CD-ROM. You can easily view thumbnails of your images, see a QuickTime overview movie of your images, and paste PhotoCD images into any Mac application that accepts PICTs (PhotoCD format is not the same as PICT, so QuickTime does the translation for you). Other software tweaks include a better interface and generic media handlers, which allow developers to create new track types, much as Apple did in creating the new text track.

In the hardware world, QuickTime 1.5 will support some upcoming third-party, full-screen, full-motion, digital video cards from companies like SuperMac, NuVideo, and RasterOps. Captured video will be higher quality and hardware-assisted playback will double playback rates. QuickTime movies on CD-ROM will play better with version 1.5, and those of us with color-capable machines with monochrome monitors (SE/30, Classic II, and anything with a monochrome monitor) will enjoy faster 1-bit dithering, which will improve the speed and quality of color movies viewed in monochrome.

QuickTime 1.5 requires, like 1.0, a Macintosh with at least a 68020 processor, 2 MB of RAM, and System 6.0.7 or later.

Interestingly, Apple says that QuickTime 1.5 is available now, and "will be distributed via a wide variety of bulletin boards and user groups." The press release goes on to say, "Apple recommends that the QuickTime 1.5 extension be available free of charge. Bulletin boards, user groups and resellers may charge a nominal fee for materials, labor and connect time." Straight from the Cupertino-based horse's mouth, folks.

New List Prices

I know that list prices aren't as useful as the street prices, But we don't know what the street prices will be, and they are likely to fluctuate until distribution settles down and everything is readily available. For what it's worth, then... (compare with the table in TidBITS-143 - you do use Easy View so it's easy to go back to old issues, no?). The prices that interest me the most are the relatively low prices for the Duos, especially in comparison to the 145, 160, and 180. It makes sense because the Duos have no floppy drives and fewer ports, but I'm still slightly surprised Apple didn't increase the price for them simply because they are new and cool.

                                       Suggested Retail
     Macintosh IIvx 4/80                    $2,949
     Macintosh IIvx 4/230                   $3,319
     Macintosh IIvx 5/80, CD                $3,219
     (no prices available for IIvi configurations, sorry)
     Macintosh PowerBook 145 4/40           $2,149
     Macintosh PowerBook 145 4/80           $2,499
     Macintosh PowerBook 160 4/40           $2,429
     Macintosh PowerBook 160 4/80           $2,789
     Macintosh PowerBook 160 4/120          $3,149
     Macintosh PowerBook 180 4/80           $3,869
     Macintosh PowerBook 180 4/120          $4,229
     Macintosh PowerBook Express Modem Kit  $319
     Macintosh PowerBook Duo 210 4/80       $2,249
     Macintosh PowerBook Duo 230 4/80       $2,609
     Macintosh PowerBook Duo 230 4/120      $2,969
     Macintosh Duo Dock                     $1,079
     Macintosh Duo MiniDock                 $589
     PowerBook Duo Floppy Adapter           $135
     Macintosh Duo Floppy Disk Drive        $199
     Macintosh Color Display (14")          $589
     AppleCD 300                            $599
     Macintosh CD 300i Internal Upgrade     $469

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