AppleTV 2.0.2 is Out

April 15th, 2008

Late Monday Apple unleashed a new version of the AppleTV “Take Two” software. Coming in at 2.0.2 this (apparently) minor update contains some non-specific behind the scenes bug fixes. (In other words it’s a typical bugfix update from Apple. “We’re gonna fix a bunch of stuff but you’re not gonna know what we fixed MMMMKAY?”)

Some users on the Apple support forums are reporting that they have noticed increased responsiveness and even some fixes for crashes when using the 5GHz band with 802.11n transfers.

AppleTV owners can update their boxes by choosing Update Software from the Settings screen. The download time will depend on your connection speed and how many others are greedily pulling down the update. This is the second AppleTV update so far this year.

Matt Brinkhoff

MacWorld Review: HDMI Switches

April 9th, 2008

MacWorld has a brief review of a couple of HDMI switches – one from Iogear and one from XtremeMac. Functionally they sound about the same, here’s a quote from the article:

Both products work similarly, and perform a simple function. The Iogear 4 Port Switch includes a single button on the front for cycling through input sources. You can also change ports with the included remote control; it allows you to choose inputs directly (by pressing the input number) or by using Up and Down buttons. Blue lights across the face of the box indicate which port is currently active. It’s not easy to distinguish, say, light 2 from light 3 at a glance in a dark room, but at least your TV’s picture provides a hint.

XtremeMac’s Xtreme HD is unique in that it’s the same size, shape, and overall design as an Apple TV, so you can stack the latter on top of the former for a neater AV cabinet. Easy-to-read lighted numbers on the front of the box indicate the active input. Like the Iogear switch, the Xtreme HD includes a remote control with numbered buttons for each port; on the other hand, it doesn’t provide Up/Down buttons. It too includes a button on the front (labeled “Source”) for switching input sources.

With many HD sets having at most 2 HDMI inputs more is always better. Both of the switches in the review are over $100 though… Too bad they didn’t include some of the nifty cheap switches at Monoprice.

Matt Brinkhoff

Interim OS X XBMC Release

April 8th, 2008

The fine fellows over at OS X XBMC have cranked out an “interim” release of their swell port of the Xbox Media Center software. Notable new features:

  • High quality software upscaling is now supported. You can specify preferences in Video -> Player as to when the scaling is enabled and what scaling algorithm is used. This makes a huge difference when viewing SD content. It takes quite a bit of processing power, but the good news is that decoding SD content doesn’t.
  • Monitor blanking is now supported. When selecting a full-screen mode, you have the option of telling XBMC to blank the other monitors. The preference is in Appearance -> Screen. I suspect
  • The built-in web server now works. Among other things, it serves as an alternate remote control for those of you using a laptop as an expensive remote. Make sure to set a port above 1024.
  • You can now store your own skins in the Library/Application Support/XBMC/skin directory, to avoid having to move aside and reinstall skins every time you upgrade.

More information (including a more detailed list of new features and bug fixes) is available on their site. Download the latest release here!

Matt Brinkhoff

Apple Updates Quicktime, iTunes and Front Row

April 3rd, 2008

Our kind friends over at Apple have crafted three exciting new software updates which may be of interest to MacHTPC blog readers. The descriptions from software update are short on details but here they are for your reading pleasure anyway.

Quicktime 7.4.5

QuickTime 7.4.5 includes fixes that enhance reliability, improve compatibility with third-party applications, and address security issues. This release is recommended for all QuickTime 7 users.
For detailed information on the security content of this update, please visit this website: http://www.info.apple.com/kbnum/n61798.

iTunes 7.6.2

iTunes 7.6.2 provides bug fixes to improve stability and performance.

Front Row 2.1.3

This Front Row update provides for bug fixes and improved iTunes compatibility.

The new versions are available immediately via software update or if you would prefer you can download them direct from Apple here:

Quicktime 7.4.5 for Leopard
Quicktime 7.4.5 for Tiger
Quicktime 7.4.5 for Panther

iTunes 7.6.2

Front Row 2.1.3

The most interesting update for MacHTPC readers is likely to be also the most disappointing. Unfortunately it appears that the Front Row update does not add any features or fix any of the outstanding bugs. The version bump seems to be aimed at maintaining compatibility with the new Quicktime and iTunes packages.

Matt Brinkhoff

AppleTV on your Mac Update

April 2nd, 2008

atv4mac

MacGeekBlog is reporting that they have a new version of their ATV4Mac software that solves compatibility issues with version 2.0.1 of the AppleTV “Take Two” software. ATV4Mac is an application that lets you run the AppleTV software on your Mac – providing you aren’t one of the few early adopters who have made the leap to Leopard already. (Yes, it currently only runs on 10.48 or greater.) PowerPC users need not apply – this is an Intel only app.

I’m guessing Apple probably isn’t exactly behind the project so the download link will may only be available for a short time. If you miss it and you’re dying to try it out you’ll probably have to acquire the software via IRC or BitTorrent.

The software works by replacing your Front Row application. From the looks of things it’s still a bit rough around the edges so I’d count this as an extreme YMMV.

Matt Brinkhoff

AppleTV 2.0.1 is Out

April 1st, 2008

appletvApple has published a minor update to the Take 2 software for the AppleTV. As sometimes happens with oh-dot-one releases from Apple a fix list is not available at this time. You can get the update by going to the “Settings” menu, then choosing “General” and “Update Software.” After the update your ATV will restart and you will be presented with the welcome movie.

One obvious feature that users have noticed is the addition of a “Genres” tab to the My Movies list. Some users at the Apple support forums have reported issues with wireless after upgrading to 2.0.1. It seems to primarily affect users that are running 802.11n on the 5GHz band. Switching to 802.11b/g compatibility mode seems to have taken care of the issue for some users but if you’re loving your n-wifi you may want to hold off on the update.

Matt Brinkhoff

New “Mini” Mini on the Horizon?

March 31st, 2008

miniAccording to the folks over at LoopRumors Apple may be planning to throw the current Mac Mini design into the dryer and run it a little too long.

According to this new information we received, the Mac mini will see a dramatic change in its form factor, with a design that is ‘less than half the size’ of the current offering. The mini will also see modest speed increases, with significantly larger storage.

This seems a bit excessively rumour-y to me but hey, they have “reliable sources” so there must be something to it right? At least some of the peeps over at the MacRumours forums seem to think so. I’ve been inside my Mini(s) a few too many times to recount and I’m not sure they could shrink the thing that much without taking something out that differentiates the Mini from the AppleTV (like oh, I dunno – the optical drive maybe???)

Matt Brinkhoff

Cuff your Mini

March 26th, 2008

miniback.gifSonnet has a super-svelte mounting solution for your Mac – the MacCuff Mini! The MCM provides a variety of mounting solutions including the ability to affix your Mini to the back of your flat panel. It also includes a 1-foot DVI to VGA cable to help minimize cable clutter.

MacCuff mini features a rugged steel frame with a refined platinum finish and durable plastic coating to prevent scratching. With VESA mounting screw locations, you can easily install your Mac mini to VESA compatible LCD displays to create a sleek and minimal workspace.

Or to help eliminate desktop cable clutter, attach your Mac mini under a desk or shelf using the provided drill template and screws.

The price is right at $49.99 so if you are looking for a cool Mini-bracket the MCM might be the one for you.

Matt Brinkhoff

The mini Lives on

March 24th, 2008

miniWhy it seems as if it was only yesterday that we were discussing the possible demise of our beloved mini, now the very source of that rumor seems to have done a complete about-face and is now proclaiming that the mini will get an overhaul in the form of a 2.1GHz Intel Core 2 Duowith 3MB of shared L2 cache and the GMA X3100 integrated graphics processor.

For the first time in nearly a year, however, people familiar with the matter tell AppleInsider there’s new life in the Mac mini department, where a small team of engineers have recently been tasked with gutting the diminutive desktop and applying fresh internals.

Hey obviously this is good news all around but I can’t help but wonder if this is all Apple has in store for the mini or is this just a taste of what’s to come? Who knows, maybe the something along the lines of a max-mini?

B.Greenway

LEGO’s for the iPhone

March 11th, 2008

Yeah as if we aren’t bombarded by enough distractions during the course of a normal day already, once this is available I may have to get time management counseling. LEGO Touch for the iPhone is (apparently) an un-launched project from Nicholas Panas of play/nyc and may very well be the iPhones first recreational killer app.

lego.jpg

There are several different play methods within LEGO Touch, including an architect mode, games mode which includes build-offs, pals mode where you can build your own LEGO pal which serves as your avatar, a share mode that allows you to share your creations with friends and a brick-bin feature that allows you to view, add or customize all of your building blocks.

[youtube:http://youtube.com/watch?v=rXxTA-CQv_o 400 334]

This is just off the chart on the cool factor if you ask me. Now if I could just get that pesky not having an iPhone problem out of the way. Ah well it looks like I have time before LEGO Touch is available.

B.Greenway

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