OWC November 2

AAPL: 121.18

Stock Chart

Apple gave up on optical drives several years ago. Citing Blu-ray Disc licensing issues and the growing popularity of Internet streaming, the company was able to leave CD, DVD and Blu-ray drives out of new Macs without suffering any drop in sales. Today, except for a single MacBook Pro model that hasn’t been updated since 2012, Macs are physically too thin to accommodate optical drives, and that’s not going to change any time soon.

But optical disc technology has soldiered on, adding new features to hook serious video and photo fans. “BDXL” Blu-ray Discs can now store up to 128GB of data, and Ultra HD Blu-ray Discs can hold full-length movies for 4K Ultra HDTVs. Separately, Millenniata debuted M-DISC, an archival disc technology that lets anyone burn DVDs or Blu-ray Discs guaranteed to last “centuries.” While M-DISCs must be written using new burners, they can be read by traditional DVD and Blu-ray players, ensuring broad compatibility.

OWC’s new Mercury Pro ($78/$135) external drives are designed to help Mac owners burn M-DISCs. The basic $78 model burns less expensive, lower-capacity M-DISC DVDs, while the superior $135 version can also burn higher-capacity M-DISC Blu-rays, as well as burning and playing regular Blu-ray Discs. Each version of Mercury Pro comes bundled with a heavy-duty Mac-matching external enclosure, cables, and software, while the Blu-ray model also includes two blank BD-R discs to get you started…

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OWC October 29

AAPL: 120.53

Stock Chart

Other World Computing doesn’t just dabble in Mac accessories — it’s one of the most popular third-party Apple RAM and SSD vendors, and sells some of the only Blu-Ray drives marketed at Mac users. So it wasn’t a surprise to learn that OWC had developed its own Thunderbolt 2 Dock ($228), entering an accessory category that was simultaneously worthwhile and fairly stagnant. Almost all of the best Thunderbolt 2 docks have the same core features and design elements, mixing silver aluminum, black plastic, an external power supply and a bunch of ports together to make one-point connectivity hubs for Macs. OWC’s design is similar, but it’s functionally unique.

Measuring 9″ wide by 3.5″ deep by 1.1″ tall, OWC’s Thunderbolt 2 Dock is the largest such accessory I’ve seen, looking like an elongated Mac mini with a glossy black top. The right side has two always-powered USB ports, while the back includes a collection of 10 additional audio, video, and data ports, plus wall power. That means OWC’s design is both the biggest and most capable Thunderbolt 2 dock out there, but does that also make it the best? From my perspective, that depends on your Mac’s needs…

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OWC October 14

AAPL: 110.21

Stock Chart

With most Macs these days, soldered memory chips mean that whatever RAM you want, you have to buy it from Apple when you order the machine. But the new 27-inch iMac still uses plug-in RAM, so you’re free to add your own RAM after purchase. And while Apple limits you to a maximum of 32GB, OWC (just like in years past) has just announced that it will shortly offer upgrade kits for 48GB and 64GB RAM …  expand full story


OWC June 9


The 12-inch MacBook is the ultimate portable Mac, but that single USB-C port feels a lot less convenient when you want to connect to a bunch of devices at home or in the office. We covered a $79 portable hub yesterday, and now OWC has announced its $129 desktop model, available for pre-order today for delivery in October.

Available in silver, space gray and gold, to match your MacBook, the OWC USB-C Dock provides a total of 10 ports in a unit designed to remain on your desk, allowing you to instantly connect and disconnect via a single USB-C cable …  expand full story

OWC May 2

Across the How-To guides I’ve written for adding solid state drives (SSDs) to iMacs, Mac Pros, Mac minis and MacBooks, there was one option I left out: thumb drives. While external SSDs such as Elgato’s Thunderbolt Drives and Samsung’s T1 can do two things — dramatically speed up Macs and add storage space — thumb drives tend to be much slower, lower in capacity, and made from inexpensive materials to achieve smaller sizes and price points.

Other World Computing’s new Envoy Pro mini (120GB/$119, 240GB/$199) sits directly between thumb drives and SSDs in both features and performance. “It’s nearly twice as fast as the average thumb drive,” OWC says, and roughly the size of an actual adult thumb — larger than most USB flash drives, but a lot smaller than traditional external hard drives, while promising “desktop-class” SSD speeds, capacities, and build quality. Unlike common plastic thumb drives, it’s made from aluminum and uses a USB 3.0 connector, yet matches desktop SSD 120GB or 240GB storage capacities. It’s affordable, but clearly designed to be a professional option.

How does it actually stack up? Read on…

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OWC March 4

As I’ve spotlighted over the past month, the best way to dramatically speed up an older Mac is to replace its old hard drive with a new solid state drive (SSD). The process is super-easy on MacBooks and Mac Pros, surprisingly manageable on iMacs, and challenging on Mac minis, yielding 3X to 5X speed boosts. But there’s another option that can speed things up with relatively little effort or expertise: upgrading your Mac’s RAM.

RAM upgrades are easy and cheap. You can expect to pay $90 or less for enough (Mac-safe) RAM to run OS X Yosemite without hiccups, or $180 for enough RAM to guarantee you won’t need more for years. Installing RAM generally doesn’t void your Mac’s warranty, and except for several models, the only tool you’ll need is a small screwdriver. Below, I’ll walk you through your best options.

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