Minifinders: Science to Upgrade Cards

Science and Engineering

  Chartsmith 1.2 ($129), from Blacksmith Technologies (www.blacksmith.com): Despite a few rough edges, Chartsmith is a highly capable charting tool that's easy to use once you learn its idiosyncrasies ( December 2003 ).

  DeltaGraph 5.0 ($299), from Red Rock Software (www.redrocksw.com): This robust graphing program is perfect for scientists and other professionals who need advanced graphing features not available in Excel or PowerPoint ( October 2003 ).

  MacAstronomica 2.0.2 ($25), from EasySoft Creations (http://pages.infinit.net/trottier): This cool utility can turn any iBook or PowerBook into a portable guide to the nighttime sky. Just select your city from an extensive list, and you're ready to stargaze ( December 2003 ).

  Mariner Calc 5.2 ($80), from Mariner Software (www.marinersoftware.com): Although spreadsheet program Mariner Calc has customizable toolbars and the same formula conventions as Excel, it has a limited capability for opening Excel files and handles only basic Excel cell formats ( March 2004 ).

  Mathematica 5 ($1,880), from Wolfram Research (www.wolfram.com): With its enhanced authoring tool and its new graphics format, version 5 is the friendliest Mathematica yet for Web-based math collaboration. And its speed improvements more than justify the $350 upgrade price ( January 2004 ).

  SPSS 11 ($1,145), from SPSS (www.spss.com): If you have mountains of social-sciences or business data to analyze, SPSS 11 is uniquely designed to help you. For large-scale statistical problems, it's the best choice available on the Mac ( June 2003 ).

Storage

  2.52TB Xserve RAID ($10,999), from Apple Computer (see "Editors' Choice 2003: Best Server").

  250GB Fire800 ($550), from WiebeTech (www.wiebetech.com): This FireWire-800 drive comes with the compatibility program MacDrive 5 for Windows, which almost makes up for the fact that it comes as a DOS-formatted drive ( September 2003 ).

  ABSplus ($279), from CMS Products (www.cmsproducts.com): Even for the backup novice, the ABSplus software-hardware combination is easy to use, right out of the box ( January 2004 ).

  Bravo Disc Publisher ($2,495), from Primera Technology (www.primeratechnology.com): A useful machine that burns and labels CDs and DVDs, the Bravo is easy to use and more convenient than disc-duplication services. The only downside is that the software bundled with it is a little limited ( October 2003 ).

  Cobra FireWire 800/USBII ($599), from EZQuest (www.ezq.com): This FireWire 800 drive includes helpful backup utilities, Dantz Retrospect Express and InTech SpeedTools. It's a little bulkier than the other drives we reviewed ( September 2003 ).

  D2 U&I ($599), from LaCie (www.lacie.com): This FireWire drive has a nice case and comes with helpful backup utilities, SilverLining Pro and SilverKeeper. It's a good drive with no significant drawbacks ( September 2003 ).

  DV Bank ($1,100), from Datavideo (www.datavideo-tek.com): This nifty device isn't for every videographer, but for those who need an additional capturing facility or time-lapse capability, the DV Bank is a great tool ( July 2003 ).

  FireVue FireWire/IDE SMART Hot-Swap Drive System ($279), from Granite Digital (www.granitedigital.com): This backup device may be overkill for some users, but if your data is important to you, it could be the easy and reliable solution you've been looking for ( January 2004 ).

  JumpDrive Secure ($60), from Lexar Media (www.lexarmedia.com): This is a portable USB flash-memory device with a twist -- software that creates public and private partitions. It makes sense for your top-secret data ( December 2003 ).

  Mercury Elite Pro FireWire 800 ($519), from Other World Computing (www.macsales.com): We recommend this 250GB FireWire 800 drive above all others; it has the lowest price of the drives we reviewed and includes a variety of ports that make it compatible with a wide range of machines ( September 2003 ).

  OneTouch ($300), from Maxtor (www.maxtor.com): This hardware-software combination backup product includes an inexpensive, quiet drive. The OneTouch is good for folks who want extra disk space and more backup flexibility ( January 2004 ).

Upgrade Cards

  Encore/ST G4/1.4GHz ($600), from Sonnet Technologies (www.sonnettech.com): This CPU-upgrade card works with any Power Mac G4 that has AGP graphics and Gigabit Ethernet. It works well, but the thermal paste used to install it becomes a real mess if you ever move the card to another machine. With a $60 kit, you can also install this card in a Cube ( October 2003 ).

  G-celerator GC1-800-S2 ($280), from Giga Designs (www.gigadesigns.com): This CPU upgrade card is a good performer, and its price is very tempting -- it's one of the lowest-cost 800MHz upgrades available. It's compatible with Power Mac G4s from AGP Graphics through Quicksilver ( July 2003 ).

  G-celerator GC5-1000-S2 ($420), from Giga Designs (www.gigadesigns.com): We recommend this 1GHz CPU upgrade card (compatible with Power Mac G4s from AGP graphics through Quicksilver) for its competitive price, speedy performance, and trouble-free operation ( July 2003 ).

  G-celerator GC5B-1400-D2/A 1.4GHz ($559), from Giga Designs (www.gigadesigns.com): This able CPU upgrade card is compatible with any Power Mac G4 that has AGP graphics, Gigabit Ethernet, and a 100MHz bus. You must set the jumpers manually, which also means that you can overclock the chip ( October 2003 ).

  Mercury Extreme G4/1.4-1.467GHz ($590), from Other World Computing (www.macsales.com): This adept CPU upgrade card is compatible with any Power Mac G4 that has AGP graphics and Gigabit Ethernet. You must set the jumpers manually, which also means that you can overclock the chip ( October 2003 ).

  PowerForce G4 Series 100 1.4GHz ($599), from PowerLogix (www.powerlogix.com): This capable CPU upgrade card is compatible with any Power Mac G4 that sports AGP graphics, Gigabit Ethernet, and a 100MHz bus. The card does not require setting any jumpers, but we had some difficulty fitting the supplied screws into the heat sink ( October 2003 ).

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