Some ideas are so obvious that when announced, one's first reaction is to ask, "Wait, weren't we already doing it that way?" Such is the case with laptops featuring both integrated and discrete graphics processors, and Nvidia's new system for juggling them, called Optimus.
Common sense dictates that laptops with both a discrete GPU and standard integrated graphics should be able to switch between the two at will. After all, why waste battery life powering a GeForce card when you're just surfing the Web or sending an e-mail? Many laptops currently offer this option, commonly called switchable graphics, including select MacBook Pro models and systems from Asus, Sony, and others.
Unfortunately, until now, this required one to manually flip a switch to turn the discrete GPU off or on. Sometimes this was a software switch, sometimes an actual physical switch on the laptop. This kludgey system presents many problems. First, one has to remember to activate the GPU before launching a game or other graphics-intensive task, and then turn it off after (or risk killing your battery). Second, many mainstream users may not even know they have switchable graphics, and will simply leave the GPU permanently off or on, defeating the purpose altogether.
Some laptops label the two modes with unclear names such as "high performance" or "better battery life," which doesn't really spell out exactly what you're doing when you activate the mode. Even worse, some laptops require you to close all your apps and log out to switch modes (we're looking at you, MacBook Pro).
With Nvidia's new Optimus technology, that basic task of turning the discrete GPU on and off when appropriate has been automated. The company describes the process, saying, "Users can now experience the full performance benefits of a discrete GPU with the battery life of an integrated graphics solution. Nvidia Optimus automatically, instantaneously, and seamlessly optimizes the notebook to offer the best performance or best battery life depending on the application." … Read more
Mozilla wants its Firefox browser to drop support for Mac OS X 10.4--the operating system also known as Tiger that was released in 2005--but the plan is running into some resistance.
If support is indeed removed, then Firefox 3.6--the current version of the browser--would be the last one to support Mac OS X 10.4, although Mozilla would still issue updates for several months after the succeeding version of Firefox is released.
"We would like to take advantage of more modern technologies on Mac OS X, and 10.4 support has been a hindrance," Josh … Read more
Our Weekly Utilities Update report is a list of all the updates for many Mac utilities that have been released in the past week. While utilities can be any tool that helps you perform a routine task (including image manipulation and synchronization), our main focus in this column is to bring you those that help in troubleshooting Mac hardware and software problems.… Read more
The way people consume media has been constantly evolving, especially over the past five years. In 2005, it would be practically unthinkable for any consistent TV viewers to cancel their cable subscriptions and watch only online video. Now, many more people are depending on the Internet for their video content, made abundantly clear by the fact that advertising on sites like Hulu sometimes go for higher rates than that on network television.
In such an atmosphere, it's more important than ever for digital media players and converters to stay in front of the curve. More than two years ago, Real Networks took its media player, which was mostly popular as an embedded app for online audio and video playback, and added a one-step video-downloading feature. Today, the company is updating RealPlayer SP for Mac with the addition of a built-in video converter that also offers one-click transcoding for portable devices. The program lets Mac users download practically any unprotected streaming and then transfer it directly to an iPhone, iPod, BlackBerry, or other device. RealPlayer SP handles the transcoding in the background, which makes the front-end experience very simple.
Compared side by side with RealPlayer SP for Windows, I have to say that the Mac version isn't as seamless.… Read more
How do you get your news? While you can comb the news sites using your Web browser, there is a much easier way to have the news delivered to you all in one place. NetNewsWire offers a three-paned interface for tracking all the latest stories from your favorite sources and this latest update offers extras that make your news gathering even easier. If you're a news junkie like I am, you'll definitely appreciate this software.
Several users are reporting an issue with Address Book where the application opens with no data and they are unable to add new contact entries. This happens despite the fact that they have their contact information on MobileMe and have syncing enabled.… Read more
For those who've had repeated problems with their 27-inch iMac, it appears Apple is ready to make it up to you, somewhat.
Gizmodo is reporting several readers who've been given a 15 percent cash refund for having to return a broken 27-inch iMac. It's been widely reported that customers have complained of receiving 27-inch iMacs with cracked, flickering, or yellow-tinted screens. But Apple has yet to comment on the record about the problem, so roughly $300 (assuming it's a $2,000 model) given to customers certainly comes across like an acknowledgment or even an apology for … Read more