Mac Media Center – Quick Note

I was at Best Buy today and noticed that SimpleTech has apparently reworked their external drive offerings. As a result, the old model of the 1TB external USB drive that was $259.99 is now on clearance for…get this…$92.99! The online store still lists the full price so I suggest that if you are in the market for a huge external drive for pocket change, stop into the store and see if they’ve got it marked down. It’ll be the silver drive with the sloped front (the enclosure, not the box it’s in).

Also remember that if you use a Mac then you will have to format it because it comes as NTFS which will only give you read access. If you aren’t sure how that works, just fire up Disk Utility (in the Utilities folder) and select the drive. From there select the Partition tab and click on Options. You have to make it a GUID partition table or else the format will fail. After doing that you can format the drive using Mac OS Extended (Journaled). Give it whatever name you want and click Apply. In moments you will have a fresh drive ready for mass quantities of digital goodness. (Important note: There is a backup utility on the drive that you will need to copy off first if you plan on using it. I prefer to just use Time Machine so I didn’t bother.)

Personally I made two partitions so I can have one for Time Machine (200GB) and one for my movies (731GB, you lose some in formatting). I’m still waiting on Time Machine to finish the initial backup and then I’m going to copy the movies I’ve already ripped via Handbrake over and see how it works with the Xbox. When I get it all up and going I will update the Mac Media Center page with the details. Oh, and if you are worried that USB 2.0 won’t be fast enough, let’s just say I’m getting better than 1GB/min transfer and since the movies are about 1GB per hour…there should be nothing to worry about.

Edit: I fixed the reduced price. I incorrectly reported it as $96.99.

iPhone Pricing – Some Restrictions Apply

Well the net is all afire with the just released pricing plans from AT&T for the iPhone 3G. Jobs announced that the phones would be retailing for $199 for the 8GB model and $299 for the 16GB model. What he failed to mention was the specific circumstances at which these prices are valid. Yes, I know it is shocking to think that AT&T might make things complicated and that they might have their own pocketbooks in mind rather than the customer…but it’s true.

See, the prices are for a specific group. To get these prices you must have purchased an iPhone before July 11, be activating a new line of service with AT&T, or be eligible for an upgrade. If you don’t fall into these categories, then be prepared to pay the same old $399 and $499 prices for these phones…with a two-year contract. Isn’t it great to be the customer? They will also be offering the phones without a contract but that’ll run you $599 or $699 depending on storage size. Now, I like Apple. I also happen to like my AT&T service. I want to like the iPhone. But man are they making it hard for me to consider giving up my Tilt.

Jobs failed to put the tell-tale * in the slides with the pricing during his keynote. I can understand how this information could dampen the response to his company’s new toy. But I can’t stomach the special “customer service” that’s going on with this pricing. Well, it really isn’t the pricing itself that I find annoying. Most AT&T phones have two prices, the upgrade and the non-upgrade price. It’s the deceitful way that Jobs presented it to the world. I think my Tilt has plenty of use left in it even though it is a much bulkier device.

Thanks so much for saving me a few hundred dollars AT&T. I couldn’t have done it without your special touch to what was a wonderful offer from Apple. Oh, and don’t forget kiddies, AT&T data plans no longer include an SMS package. You’ll have to add that piece of overpriced fluff separately.

Apples aren’t all roses

Don’t get me wrong, I love my new iMac. It’s sleek, fast, and easy to use. Every program I use regularly at home on my Vista laptop has an OS X counterpart. But I do have a bone to pick with Jobs’ company about one thing. While the overall prices of the base models are in line with the cost of PC’s with similar specs…prices on the upgrades are somewhere in the realm of stupid.

Have you priced memory lately? The iMac uses PC2-5300 SODIMM RAM chips. I can buy 4GB of RAM (2x2GB sticks) for less than $80. I can get it for less than $65 if I don’t care about branding. So tell me, Apple, why does the 4GB upgrade cost $500?? Exactly what kind of crack are you smoking? Going from a 250GB to 500GB SATA HDD is an increase of $149. The retail cost difference is less than $30. As a matter of fact, a 3GB/s 500GB SATA HDD is less than $100. So tell me what the hell is wrong with you people?

I understand the basic concept of capitalism. I know that all companies are out to make money. But these prices aren’t reasonable. They aren’t acceptable. They’re insane and outrageous. I will gladly buy a new iMac when this one becomes too underpowered for what I want to do. But listen to me, Apple. I will not purchase any of the upgrades for my system from you as long as you insist on applying these ridiculous price gouging techniques. I know how to plug in a SODIMM chip so I will be buying my memory from which will save me over $400 and leave me a 1GB chip to toss into my Vista laptop.

It’s things like this that continue to perpetuate the idea that Apple is a pompous company that is entirely too full of itself. If you ever want to shake this image and quite possibly begin seriously eating into desktop marketshares…you have to change your pricing structure. Since you haven’t changed this downright idiotic pricing scheme, I can only assume some people are dumb enough to use your upgrade options. I won’t be one of them and neither will anyone I send your way to buy from you guys.

Nothing about the design of your systems is worth the “Upgrade Stupidity Tax” you guys impose. This is by far a much greater affront to me than the “Microsoft Tax” you pay when buying from another company. So wake up, Apple. Stop feeding the fire of the “fanboys”. Get your prices in line with the rest of the world and maybe, just maybe, you’ll find that you can sell more systems.