Opinion: As Nintendo ponders iOS, it’s time for Mac console game emulators to shine

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When Nintendo announced last week that it will collaborate with DeNA to release iPhone and iPad games, gamers split into two camps: people intrigued by the promise of brand new Nintendo titles designed for mobile devices, and others — including myself — who expect Nintendo to release shallow mobile minigames, mostly to promote console titles. Nintendo hasn’t actually committed to bringing the Super Mario games people love into the App Store; instead, it’s saying only that its characters will appear in new titles that won’t require complex controls. The implication is that only Nintendo consoles are capable of playing Nintendo’s console games.

I disagree with that. For years, Macs and PCs have been able to run thousands of classic console and arcade games, including Nintendo’s best-known titles, using emulators. These free programs let discontinued, often HDTV-incompatible games play on computers — in many cases, with noticeably better graphics than you remember. Freed from the fuzzy, low-contrast televisions people used to own, classic games can look pixel-sharp on Retina displays, and some emulators actually improve the edges and textures of 3-D objects. Nintendo may not want you to play its prior console games on your favorite Apple device’s screen, but thanks to emulators, it’s possible today. The picture above? That’s Super Mario Galaxy, running on a Retina MacBook Pro…

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How-To: Decode Apple’s Tech Specs pages before buying a new Mac, Part 2

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As I noted in Part 1 of How-To: Decode Apple’s Tech Specs pages before buying a new Mac, Apple has designed the Mac purchasing process to be easy: pick a model, pick the good, better, or best configuration, hand over your cash, and enjoy your computer. Since most people get confused by tech specs — bullet points filled with numbers and acronyms — Apple downplays them in its marketing materials, leaving customers to sort through the details and figure out what most of them mean.

But these specs are really important when you’re shopping for the right Mac for your current and future needs. So I’ve created this How-To guide to walk you through each of Apple’s Tech Specs pages using clear explanations, hopefully enabling you to properly understand what you’re about to buy. Part 1 focused on the “big 5″ Mac specs you really need to know about, and this Part 2 looks at the rest — generally things that remain the same in a given model, regardless of the configuration you choose…

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How-To: Decode Apple’s Tech Specs pages before buying a new Mac (Part 1)

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Buying a Mac is designed to be easy. Apple has a handful of different models, each generally available in good, better, and best configurations. You’re supposed to start with the specific Mac model that fits your needs, pick a configuration that has the price and features you want, and walk away happy with your purchase. (Better yet, do your research online and save money after ordering from Amazon, or use the product guides off to the bottom right of this page.)

One thing Apple tends to downplay are tech specs — important numbers and acronyms that nonetheless confuse many people. Look carefully on Apple’s web site and you’ll find that there’s a Tech Specs page for every Mac Apple sells; they’re the keys to making an informed Mac purchase that will be right for your current and future needs. My latest How-To is here to walk you through each of Apple’s specs with clear explanations, so you can understand what you’re about to buy. This Part 1 discusses the “big 5″ Mac specs you need to know about, and Part 2 tackles the rest

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Pixelmator 1.1 for iPad adds realistic watercolor painting, new Color Picker, more

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Pixelmator has today released a new update for the iPad version ($9.99) of its popular image editor. Version 1.1 includes a brand new watercolor painting feature, which can be used to create brand new pieces of art from a blank canvas or add stylistic additions to existing images and photos. Brushes overlay new colors additively with soft radiuses to create beautiful blends and shading. Pixelmator says they spoke to real artists to help design the brush strokes. It feels really nice to use.

Although watercolor painting is the headline addition, Pixelmator 1.1 also includes a new Color Picker with a swatch of previously selected colors, an updated rendering engine for better performance and much more. You have to see it in action … (video below)

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Apple seeds OS X 10.10.3 build 14D105 to developers and Public Beta users

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Less than a week following the previous seed, Apple has released build 14D105 of the upcoming OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 to both developers and users of the Public Beta. Apple has not yet said when 10.10.3 will be released to all OS X Yosemite users, but the increase in seeds in recent weeks likely indicates that a wider launch is fast approaching. As we’ve previously detailed, 10.10.3 will include the all new iCloud-based Photos app for the Mac, developer APIs for the new Force Touch Trackpad on the MacBook and MacBook Pro with Retina display, and a new Emoji picker across the system.

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How-To: Choose the best external hard drive for your Mac (or iOS device!)

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I feel old saying this, but having used computers since before external hard drives existed, I can say with certainty that buying a hard drive is easier today than it’s ever been before. For traditional drives, prices are low, options are numerous, and capacities are so high that your only choices are “enough space,” “more than enough space,” and “way more than enough space.” I could point you towards a gigantic 5-Terabyte $139 Seagate USB 3.0 hard drive right now and end this article without another paragraph. Since Apple doesn’t even sell a Mac with that much disk space, you could back up five (or more) computers to that drive without running out of room. Or you could store a decade worth of digital photos alongside a giant media library. For $139!

But buying an external hard drive isn’t necessarily that simple. There are a bunch of factors worth considering before making a purchase, including everything from reliability to portability, design, capacity, speed, and connectivity. Some hard drives are really cheap but have a higher chance of failing after a year or two of heavy use. So in this How-To, I’m going to discuss the big issues you need to consider, and guide you towards the best external hard drive for your needs…

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Apple Watch launches on April 24th in 9 countries, preorders start on April 10th

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At its event, Apple has finally announced availability information for the Apple Watch. All three models will be available in Apple Stores from the 10th of April. You can preorder any of the watch-band combinations in the collections from the 24th.

The Apple Watch will initially roll out to the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong and Japan.

Apple Watch Sport will start from $349 for 38mm and $399 for 42mm, the mid-range stainless steel version will start from $549 for 38mm and $599 for 42mm, and the elusive solid gold Edition casing will run at least $10,000. The pricing of bands varies dramatically, so note that these are base prices only.

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Opinion: Does the Apple Watch Edition signal future luxury-model iPhones, iPads and Macs?

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Back in April of last year, when a luxury model of the Apple Watch was still a vague rumor, I wrote an opinion piece in which I expressed the view that Apple could indeed pull this off. I went further, and suggested that it could even create an entire range of luxury versions of its existing products, from iPhones to Macs.

Ten months on, with the Apple Watch Edition now real, and the general expectation that it’s going to cost several thousand dollars at least, I thought it was time to revisit that idea. Is a luxury model of the Apple Watch a one-off, or does Apple see this as the first step toward Edition models of its complete product range … ?  Read more

Photoshop celebrates 25th anniversary today of app originally created on a Macintosh Plus

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Adobe is today celebrating the 25th anniversary of Photoshop, which first launched as a Mac-only app on 19th February 1990.

What went on to become the industry standard image editing app started life in 1987, when Thomas Knoll, a computer vision doctorate student at the University of Michigan, began developing it on his Mac Plus. Known then as Display, the app was designed to do nothing more than display grayscale images on the Macintosh’s black-and-white monitor. As Adobe showcases in the video below, the app has come rather a long way since then …  Read more

Seagate zaps Thunderbolt drives, LaCie to continue lineup

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Seagate will discontinue its lineup of Thunderbolt storage products in favor of pushing Thunderbolt under its premium LaCie brand, 9to5Mac has learned.

A company spokesperson confirmed the move noting that the product life cycles for the company’s USM technology, which allowed integration of interfaces like Thunderbolt through adapters, is “coming to a conclusion.” Read more