This Week In Products: Apple’s Intel-based MacBook

The Big Launch: Apple unleashes Intel-based MacBook Pro
Apple unveiled its MacBook Pro notebook computer featuring the Intel Core Duo processor which delivers up to four times the performance of the PowerBook G4. The MacBook Pro, the first Mac notebook based on an Intel processor, features an aluminum enclosure one inch thin, weighs 5.6 pounds, includes a built-in iSight video camera for video conferencing on-the-go, and the Apple Remote and Front Row software. The MacBook Pro, available in February, also features Apple’s patent-pending MagSafe magnetic power connector, designed especially for mobile users.

The MacBook Pro features a 67-percent brighter 15-inch display, which is now as bright as Apple’s Cinema Displays, and offers a 667 MHz front-side bus that is four times as fast as the PowerBook G4 and 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM memory expandable to 2GB that is twice as fast as the PowerBook G4. Each MacBook Pro comes standard with ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 PCI Express graphics, with either 128MB or 256MB of dedicated GDDR3 graphics memory. Each MacBook Pro includes built-in Bluetooth 2.0+EDR (Enhanced Data Rate), integrated AirPort Extreme 54 Mbps 802.11g WiFi wireless networking, a scrolling TrackPad and Apple’s Sudden Motion Sensor that is designed to protect the hard drive in case of a fall.

The MacBook Pro includes iLife ’06, the next generation of Apple’s suite of digital lifestyle applications featuring major new versions of iPhoto, iMovie HD, iDVD, GarageBan and introducing iWeb, an iLife application to create Web sites with photos, blogs and Podcasts and publish them on .Mac for viewing by anyone on the Internet.

Wireless
Acer updates TravelMate series
Acer America Corp. announced the TravelMate 8200, an addition to Acer’s line of TravelMate notebooks. Featuring the Intel Centrino Mobile Technology Duo platform, codenamed ‘NAPA,’ the TravelMate 8200 also offers such style features as a contemporary folio design and a carbon-fiber cover, used in the aerospace industry and Formula 1 racing for its strength, rigidity and lightweight characteristics.

The TravelMate 8200 series offers speeds of up to 2.16GHz, as well as the Intel 945PM Express chipset with up to 677MHz FSB and full wireless connectivity offered through an Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG network connection chipset. Standard system memory is 1024MB which is scaleable to 2048MB while the serial-ATA 5400RPM Hard Drive offers storage capacity of up to 120GB. The TravelMate 8200 features a 15.4” widescreen TFT display with 1680×1050 pixel resolution and Acer GridVista, a proprietary software dividing the screen in up to four windows each running a different application simultaneously.

With the Intel Centrino Mobile Technology Duo platform, the TravelMate 8200 offers long-lasting battery life of up to 3.5-hours (based on configuration with standard nine-cell battery pack). Additional battery life can be achieved using the hot-swappable Acer MediaBay modules, allowing for on-the-fly PC configuration changes by adding either a secondary battery pack or a SATA Hard disk.

The TravelMate 8200 series features a five-in-one card reader together with a wide range of I/O ports that includes: a connector to Acer ezDock, Acer’s PCI-Express based port replicator, an ExpressCard slot, a PC Card slot, 4 USB 2.0 ports, DVI-D port, SmartCard slot, IEEE 1394 port; External Display (VGA) port, Fast Infrared port; S-video/TV-out port, Headphones/speaker/line-out port with S/PDIF support, Microphone/line-in jack, Ethernet (RJ-45) port; Modem (RJ-11) port and DC-in jack for AC adapter.

Acer also announced the Acer TravelMate 4200, with speeds of up to 2.16GHz and data security through Acer’s proprietary Empowering Technology utility suite that features eDataSecurity Management for one-click encryption of files and folders encryption and eLock Management that allows all removable data devices to be locked in a single move.

Data Management
Apple piles on the iWork
Apple announced iWork ’06, a version of Apple’s suite of productivity software with features designed to make it easy for users to create even more compelling documents and presentations. iWork ’06 includes enhancements within Pages 2 and Keynote 3 including three-dimensional charts, iPhoto-like advanced image editing and masking tools, and spreadsheet-like tables that make it easy to get great results in minutes. iWork ’06 is highlighted by a set of features within Pages 2 and Keynote 3 that give users the ability to create more sophisticated documents and presentations. Tables with spreadsheet-like calculations can be inserted within any document or presentation giving users the ability to add, multiply or average numbers in rows or columns. Users can also create stunning three-dimensional charts featuring wood grain, metal and marble textures and fully control the viewing angle. iPhoto-like advanced image editing tools help to perfect photos directly within documents and presentations. Freeform shapes and curves, including Bézier curves and shapes with perfectly smooth edges are easy to create and use to mask images. iWork ’06 also adds the ability to include reviewer’s comments to slides and documents without affecting the layout.

The easiest way to create great looking documents from simple letters and flyers to professional-quality newsletters and brochures, Pages 2 features mail merge with Mac OS X Address Book, making it easy to personalize documents with predefined fields within templates and quickly drag and drop individual contacts into documents. Pages 2 also features two dozen templates for newsletters, flyers, posters, school reports, scrapbooks, brochures, business proposals and invoices to give users a head start in creating custom documents. Thumbnail and search views make it easy to work with large documents and quickly find any word or phrase within a document.

Keynote 3 offers more ways to create cinema-quality presentations and interactive slideshows with features designed to bring those presentations to life. Keynote 3 features cinematic transitions including vertical or horizontal blinds, revolving door, swoosh and more. Keynote 3 offers even more Apple-designed themes, including four specifically designed to take advantage of HD displays. A Light Table view mode makes it possible to view an entire presentation at-a-glance and reorganize slides using drag and drop while flexible build animations provide more control of bullet lists, tables and charts including unique timing and sequence of individual bullets, rows, columns or series.

iWork ’06 supports a range of industry standard file formats including Microsoft PowerPoint and PDF. Keynote 3 imports and exports PowerPoint files and exports presentations to QuickTime, Macromedia Flash, HTML and iLife. Pages 2 imports and exports Microsoft Word, RTF, HTML and plain text files. Both Keynote 3 and Pages 2 export to PDF and import associated AppleWorks files.

Networking

ServerIron aimed at Layer 4-7market
Foundry Networks, Inc. announced two ultra-high-performance ServerIron Layer 4-7 switches with 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) to enable scalable acceleration and delivery of emerging Web and VoIP applications for business-critical content, commerce and communication services.

The ServerIronGT C and E Series 10-GbE application switches include application traffic management, acceleration and security features to help enterprises, service providers and E-commerce businesses deliver IP and Web services. The modular design of the switches enables on-demand expansion and performance upgrades on-site, including the flexibility to add high-performance integrated SSL acceleration for secure Web service delivery.

Foundry’s new ServerIronGT C and E Series 10-GbE application switches leverage Foundry’s ASIC-based application processor technology to deliver over 200,000 layer 4 connections per second and advanced denial of service (DoS) protection to critical applications at multi-Gigabit wire-speed rates. These switches are purpose-built with data centre class features for mission-critical infrastructure, including redundant power supplies, hot swappable modules, expandable port density and upgradeable performance.

The ServerIronGT C Series 10-GbE switch features a two units (2U) high compact modular three-slot design. The device’s one available slot may be used to add port density, insert a second active management module for doubling performance, or for integrated SSL acceleration with an optional service module. The ServerIronGT E Series 10-GbE switch offers higher expansion capacity with a four-slot design, and features front power supplies for enhanced serviceability. The management modules, line modules and SSL service modules are interchangeable among the two chassis, thus offering added expansion flexibility for the future.

To ensure application availability in the event of a server or site failure, ServerIronGT switches support network designs configured for multi-site redundancy and scalability using DNS-based or IP-based Global Server Load Balancing (GSLB). The total integration of application traffic management, denial of service protection, SSL acceleration and multi-site redundancy into a single high-performance and expandable system greatly reduces the number application-specific appliances deployed in a network, and help reduce long-term equipment and ongoing network operations cost.

ManageEngine keeps watch over network
AdventNet Inc. announced the release of ManageEngine OpManager Premium, an enhanced version of its network monitoring tool for small to medium-sized enterprises.

ManageEngine OpManager is a network monitoring software that offers combined WAN, server, and application monitoring. OpManager automates several network monitoring tasks. It auto-discovers your entire network, groups devices into intuitive maps and monitors them in real-time. It instantaneously alerts system administrators on failure and provides them with comprehensive reports and graphs.

OpManager Premium Features include Active Directory monitoring: proactively monitoring availability and performance of business critical processes and detecting and resolving critical network problems before they affect users. Exchange monitoring, meanwhile, offers comprehensive monitoring of MS Exchange 2000/2003 servers. MS SQL Back End Support is an option to port data to MS SQL Database.

OpManager Free Edition doesn’t expire and can monitor up to 20 network devices. IT administrators who want to manage larger networks can use the 30-day evaluation edition.

Express Agent schedules SQL backups
Express Agent was released from Vale Software to allow users to easily and quickly schedule jobs and backups for SQL Express.

SQL Express is a free database by Microsoft but it is not supplied with a SQL Agent so it cannot easily schedule backups and other jobs without writing lines of code. Express Agent not only makes scheduling jobs easier within the stylish graphical interface, it also includes wizards to get you quickly started.

Express Agent has full event logging, email notification and the ability to import and export job settings. Express Agent comes in two parts, a client program (Job Builder) to design the jobs and a server program to run the jobs at the set time. The job builder is designed to work on Windows 98, Me, NT, 2000, XP and Windows Servers 2000 and 2003. The server program runs as an NT service on Windows NT, 2000, XP and Windows Servers 2000 and 2003.

Express Agent sells for US$79.00. Vale Software has a limited time offer enabling users to buy it before the 31st March 2006 for US$49.

E-Business
RSS Submit puts feeds where they need to be
Ksoft announced the release of version 1.3 of RSS Submit, a utility to automatically promote RSS feeds and podcasts to feed-specific directories, for Windows 95/98/NT/ME/2000/XP.

RSS Submit uses a combined method of automatic submissions and auto-filling Web page forms to promote feeds and podcasts. Automatic submissions are used for directories that accept basic feed details. An additional list of RSS directories is included for semi-automatic submissions, which launch in the user’s Web browser.

RSS Submit version 1.3 includes enhancements specifically geared towards RSS traffic management. Integration with FeedBurner allows users to access traffic per day and month for feeds hosted using the service. Traffic statistics are displayed in the software for each supported feed.

Registered users of RSS Submit will unlock additional RSS directories and receive upgrades to the latest version at no charge. Registered users may also download plug-ins to further enhance the software with the ability to ping blogs, submit podcasts, and compile reports.

Infrastructure
Canon adds to Laser Class line

Canon Canada announced the introduction of the new Laser Class 310 digital multifunction device (MFP). The latest addition to Canon’s Laser Class product line, the Laser Class 310 offers small to mid-sized businesses and workgroup environments high-speed laser printing and convenience copying all in a single desktop device.

The Laser Class 310 features a Super G3 33.6 Kbps modem which allows for facsimile transmissions of up to three seconds per page, a 50-sheet automatic document feeder, and a 500-sheet front-loading letter/legal cassette tray.

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