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Hard drives aren’t exactly thrilling. They’re about as utilitarian as technology gets—the sensible shoe or the high-fiber cereal of the peripherals world. But ask Macworld readers what they plan to buy in the next year, and “storage” is likely to top their lists. That helps explain why our December roundup of FireWire hard drives was one of that issue’s most popular stories, a hot topic in our online forums (, and the leading subject line in the Feedback inbox.

Drives, you said

Gary Sabo —There was something in your review of FireWire hard drives ( December 2005 ) that I found misleading. In one of the tables, you provided the price per gigabyte for a variety of desktop drives. But that table included, among other drives, a 320GB model from Newer, a 250GB from LaCie, and an 80GB from MicroNet. Larger drives will always have a lower cost per gigabyte than smaller ones. So while the cost of the 250GB MicroNet is $0.80 per gigabyte, the cost of the 80GB Newer is $1.75 per gigabyte. Yet in your list of cons for the MicroNet, you included “high cost per gigabyte.” To be fair, you should have compared apples to apples (no pun intended).

Jasper Randall —Imagine my excitement upon opening my crisp new Macworld to find an article comparing FireWire hard drives. Then imagine my utter amazement and deep disappointment to find that a hard drive you’ve previously recommended in your Top Products section—the LaCie d2 Extreme—was missing from the roundup.

The d2 Extreme was, in fact, one of our favorite desktop FireWire drives for many months. But LaCie discontinued the product shortly before we compiled the roundup and, at that time, had not yet replaced it with a more up-to-date model. You can find our review of the LaCie d2 Hard Drive Extreme at—Ed.

Tony Ward —In your review of FireWire hard drives, you neglected to mention an alternative to buying a new drive: buying a bare IDE drive and installing it in an external case yourself. These days you can get a major-brand 200GB IDE drive for around $100. You can buy an external, dual-connection (FireWire and USB 2.0) case for $40 or less; single-connection cases go for as low as $20. That’s about $0.70 per gigabyte—well below many of the drives in your review. And it’s easy to upgrade the drive when you need more storage.

All the gear that fits

Mike Bedgood —“Macworld’s Gear Guide” ( December 2005 ) was great, but I do have one complaint: most of the iPod accessories you included can’t be used on fifth-generation iPods, which were reviewed in the same issue. As that review states, Apple changed the iPod’s ports, making many third-party accessories obsolete. But your “Gear Guide” gave no warnings about which accessories would work with which iPods.

Warren Riess —In your December “Gear Guide,” story, you referred to Blow Off Duster as a can of compressed air. Blow Off is a great product, but it actually uses tetrafluoroethane, not air. It should be used only in a well-ventilated area and should not be sprayed on a surface hotter than 120 degrees Fahrenheit (such as warm computer innards); you can get more information at Dust-Off and Canned Air are similar products that also are tetrafluoroethane. All are useful but should be used carefully.

Lorenzo Quijano —I’m confused. In December’s Top Products, you give the 17-inch Westinghouse LCM-17w7 monitor two and a half mice—not a particularly great rating. But a few pages later, in “Macworld’s Gear Guide,” you recommend it. Which is it?

We included the Westinghouse monitor in our “Gear Guide” article because it’s a decent display with a relatively low price. Our rating in the review reflects its performance compared with that of a variety of other monitors at a variety of price points.—Ed.

Roger Harrison —It seems odd that you would feature the QX5 Computer Microscope in your December issue, given that the vendor’s Web site says it’s PC-only.

You’re right: that’s what the site says. But at the time we wrote that story, the QX5’s vendor offered free, downloadable Mac software for the microscope. Unfortunately, between the time we wrote the story and the time it appeared in print, the company started charging $12 for it.—Ed.

Good riddance, Beantown

Sean Hite —In response to your story about the demise of Macworld Expo Boston (“Farewell, Boston,” Mac Beat, December 2005): As a Mac user who has attended the East Coast Macworld Expo since the early Boston days, I have to say that the last two years, since the move from New York back to Boston, have been a joke. Both shows should have been called “iPodworld,” not Macworld. How can an event be called Macworld when the no-shows include Apple, Microsoft, Adobe, FileMaker, and HP? The list goes on and on. This year I did find a nifty iPod purse thingy for my wife and an excellent lower-back lumbar-support device for myself.

Be it resolved

Wesley Ferguson —In his From the Editor’s Desk column in the December issue, Jason Snell reports that videos viewed on the iPod are shown at “320 by 240 pixels, roughly half the resolution of standard TV.” But on page 19 of that same issue, in his review of the same iPods, Christopher Breen reports that the new screen has “one quarter the resolution of standard-definition TV.” Will there ever be a resolution to the meaning of resolution?

Good catch. Jason was comparing linear dimensions, and Christopher was referring to overall area; we’ll keep a sharper eye out for such discrepancies in the future.—Ed.

Macworld on your side

Kevin Mackay —I thought you would like to know how your magazine can really make a difference in your readers’ lives. I came across an article, in the December issue, by Jim Dalrymple about scratched and broken screens on the iPod nano (“Nano Problems,” Mac Beat, December 2005). In the article, Dalrymple noted that a call to AppleCare would rectify the problem. As luck would have it, my son’s nano screen had cracked about two days before I read your story. I called AppleCare and was told that I would have to bear the cost of repairing the nano, as the screen wasn’t covered under the warranty. I pulled out your magazine and began reading the article to the representative. Once I mentioned the name of a certain Apple vice president quoted in the article, I was put on hold for a couple of minutes and then told they’d replace the nano. You saved my son the cost of a new iPod. I will be renewing my subscription shortly. Thanks.

I’m no thief

Robbie Preston —In a letter entitled “Who’s the Thief?” (Feedback, December 2005 ), reader Ken Alan complained about software activation, which is supposed to thwart software piracy. I think that the people who oppose software activation should remember one rule of life and business in the free world: You have no right to steal someone else’s work. Until I sell it or give it away, I am the owner; ownership does not change with theft. No sales, no profit. No profit, no business. No business, no new or upgraded programs. Maybe people who complain about copy protection in software, music, and movies should take the time and create better products. Then, after the pirates steal and use those labors of love, we’ll see how those complainers who have made no money for their work feel about making more software.

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