ZAGG launches super-thin backlit Bluetooth keyboard for iPad, ships Sept. for $130

ZAGG, perhaps best known for its invisibleShield screen protector, is adding two new additions to its also popular lineup of keyboards and cases tonight with the unveiling of two super-thin Bluetooth keyboards designed specifically for iPad.  The keyboards, ZAGGKeys PRO for $99 and PRO Plus for $129, feature the usual iOS specific functions such as media playback and volume controls, copy and paste keys, as well as keys for the Home button, search, etc.

Think the backlighting might drain the battery? HA! If you use the keyboard for eight hours a day, you will get up to three weeks of normal use…and remember that is the backlit model! The keyboard will come in English, French, and German models at launch.

We got our hands on the new keyboards tonight at the ShowStoppers IFA press event and were quiet impressed with the overall build quality. They do not feel cheap (the opposite), which is not too surprising given ZAGG’s reputation of building military grade screen protectors and other quality protective accessories.

The two models are identical to one another, including a magnetic closure that allows it to act as a screen protector when not in use. However, an extra $20 will upgrade you to the Pro Plus model with a backlit keyboard, which is a feature that has noticeably been missing from the go-to iPad keyboards currently on the market.

Will Zagg leapfrog our current favorite ultrathin iPad keyboard from Logitech?

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OWC Mercury Accelsior PCI-SSD benchmarked

For those of us still with pre-Thunderbolt Mac Pros or Xserves (or Hackintoshes), there are not a lot of inexpensive choices for getting super fast data access onto our machines. Sure, you can buy a SATA 3 hard drive like my favorite Samsung 830 series, but the built in SATA 2 on these old machines is a bottleneck that will “only” yield 250 MB/second read speeds.

Along comes OWC last month with its first-ever Mercury Accelsior Mac-bootable PCI SSD card that is actually a PCI-to-striped RAID SATA array. The two SATA3 cards you see above actually look like (but aren’t – don’t try it) the same super high-speed Sandforce 3 drives that OWC sells as MacBook Air updates.

By the way, the cards are a snap to install and configure. If you have ever added a PCI video card, this is the same thing. Even better, there are no drivers to install, and the drive automatically shows up as a mounted disk that can (and should!) be booted from.

How did they compare to the single MacBook Air SSDs?

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New Apple Mac Mini $530 at MacConnection

From 9to5Toys.com:

Today only, MacConnection has the Mac Mini base configuration for $529.95 with free shipping. That’s $70 off retail and the lowest price we’ve seen (refurb is $519 at Apple).

Add 8GB of Corsair RAM from Amazon for $41.99 and you are still $30 below Apple’s original retail price.

Get a little tricky by adding a super speedy Samsung 830 SSD (review) via iFixit’s second drive kit.

We have other Mac Desktops at lowest available prices here. Read more

Here’s a rare prototype translucent Apple hard drive circa 1985

Apple and its cofounder Steve Jobs certainly helped design and popularize storage devices throughout computing history. For example, the Mac mainstreamed Sony’s 3.5-inch floppy drive in the 1980s, but Apple was working on its own storage devices even before the Mac debuted. One of our buddies discovered this eBay listing advertising for what appears to be a prototype of a previously unknown NISHA hard drive adorned with the colorful Apple logo. It comes in a translucent case, and it could easily be the first Apple product we have seen like this, even though it never shipped. It is neither a Hard Disk 20 drive Apple introduced on Sept. 17, 1985 specifically for use with the Macintosh 512K nor is it a Hard Disk 20SC.

The latter product was the first SCSI drive Apple manufactured and deployed on the Macintosh Plus in 1986, effectively obsolescing the Hard Disk 20 unit. It is a safe bet that this unit represents an early prototype of one of Apple’s hard drives, but it could also be a new hard drive design that never saw the light of day. The seller could not tell either, as the drive did not power up. Eagle-eyed readers are aware that Apple of the past had been designing its own storage devices and the aforementioned Hard Disk 20 serves as an illustrious example of the company’s closed approach to hard drives.

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Apple ends its buy a Mac, get $100 off a printer promotion

Apple, effective today, ended its buy a Mac, get a $100 off of a printer promotion. The promotion typically runs yearly, so we are not sure why Apple stopped it. Apple sells a few $100 printers, so they typically advertise the promotion as “Buy a Mac, get a free printer.”

Although Apple is putting a stop to the program, they will continue to sell printers in their physical retail stores and online stores, according to the internal memo posted above. Customers who bought a printer within 90 days of Jan. 16 can still claim their $100 rebate from Apple.

Apple still has the rebate page up, below:

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OWC gives Mac Pro users the first PCI Express SSD option

The easiest way to upgrade your Mac Pro’s everyday performance is to replace its slow internal hard drive units with pricier and much speedier solid-state storage (SSD), as it typically provides many times faster access times compared to HDDs and way greater sustained transfer rates. The problem is, you can only put flash storage inside the Pro’s hard drive bays that connect to the SATA interface.

Unfortunately, your super-fast SSD is limited to transfer rates of the Mac Pro’s SATA controller.

Enter OWC’s upcoming PCI Express-based SSD solution for Mac Pros, due for release “in the very near future.” Why does it matter? Well, for starters, it is a dream come true for the Hackintosh community. However, there is more to it than meets the eye…

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OWC puts together Mac Mini Stack Max: USB 3.0, 4TB 3.5 inch drive, eSATA and more

We love this add-on to the Mac Mini that turns it into more of a pro-device (and a cube!).  The business up front is a DVD-R drive (not sure about BluRay) and an SDXC card reader that complements the one on the back of the mini. On the rear, you get a high power USB source for quick-charging an iPad as well as a few USB 3.0 ports that require separate drivers.  Also on the back is an eSATA port for fast external peripheral support as well as two Firewire 800 ports. Inside, there is room for up to a 4TB 3.5 inch hard drive which you can order with the Mini Stack Max or you can bring your own.

This is interesting because it is moving the Mini more toward a pro-like setup.

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OWC has not put a price on the Mac Mini Stack Max but expects them to be available in March. Read more

Best Buy: Santa better watch his back

Love this Best Buy commercial but I’m not sure Apple’s Retail division does.  Best Buy also undercuts Apple significantly in Mac prices.  For instance, they have the 15 and 17-inch MacBook Pros $200 off and $150 off the 13-inch MacBook Pro as well.

They even have $50 iTunes gift cards for $40. (see all discounts)

No offense to our friends at Best Buy, but those price discounts often have a cost: you will almost always get better customer support at an Apple Store.  Read more

Walmart offers free Smart Covers/$50 iTunes with iPad 2 (also Target)

From 9to5Toys.com:

Walmart today lists the iPad 2 in all sizes and varieties with a “Starter Accessory” which include previous generation Smart Covers or USB wall chargers (or $50 iTunes Gift Cards when ordered and picked up site-to-store).

If your shopping tastes take you to Target, you can get a $40 Target GiftCard with iPad 2 purchase (or $450 iPad 1 32GB 3G/GPS). They also have various other iTunes/Apple device offers via circular including this 10% off printable coupon, below:

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Apple releases Thunderbolt, printer drivers and Aperture updates

Apple has today updated Thunderbolt (again), printer drivers, and Aperture.

Today’s updates come after yesterday’s MacBook Pro EFI update firmware 2.3.

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Apple updates Smart Covers, kills the Orange but adds a lovely dark gray (and “color-matched fiber lining”)

New MacBook Pros weren’t the only thing updated quietly in the Apple Store this morning. Apple has updated the whole line of Smart Covers for iPad. You’ll notice the Orange Smart Cover is now gone and Apple has added a lovely Dark Gray Polyurethane model. Apple has added “color matched microfiber lining” to the description of the leather products (gone are the gray lining across the board) as you can see in the images below:


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Apple has also improved the colors of the Smart Covers as well:



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The whole line gets new part numbers but prices have not changed. Notice the subtle color change comparisons below:

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