That's entertainment

Senior Editor Christopher Breen is one of our go-to people on digital music. That’s why he was all over our February issue: In that month’s Mac Beat, he opined on Madonna’s latest iTunes offerings. And in “The Multimedia Mac,” he explained what happened when he unplugged his TV, DVD player, and stereo for a week, and used an iMac for his home entertainment needs instead. Here are your responses to Chris’s musical misadventures, along with the latest salvo in the ongoing “Why don’t you just call yourselves ‘iPodWorld’?” debate.

I want my Mac TV

Stephanie Murdock —Your article about using a Mac as a home entertainment center couldn’t have been more timely (“The Multimedia Mac,” February 2006 ). I just moved into a small studio apartment in Los Angeles and am using my G5 iMac for everything—Internet, radio, and TV. I wasn’t sure how well it would all work or whether I would miss my 20-inch TV set (which is in storage). But I have to say that I’m extremely happy with the way it has worked out: the sound is perfectly adequate for my tiny living space, and my apartment feels far more streamlined with fewer components cluttering up my desk. Now if only I could get my cable provider to make its receiver as good-looking as my Mac!

Bill Davies —Thank you for the excellent article summarizing the Mac’s suitability as a home media center. It’s refreshing to read some analysis of how and where Apple is dropping the ball. Thank you for cutting through the hype and comparing Apple’s offerings with those from Microsoft and Sony. I hope to see more of these objective functionality comparisons in the future.

Can’t stop the music

Alan Olson —In response to Christopher Breen’s article about Madonna’s new gapless album on iTunes (“Uninterrupted Music,” Mac Beat, February 2006): I wouldn’t want to download album-length songs if I could avoid it. I keep my iPod permanently set to shuffle songs, and hour-long songs don’t fit my listening style very well.

Rob Balton —There is a simple way for Christopher Breen to satisfy his desire for gapless albums: Import the tracks into iMovie, stitch them together there, export them to AIFF, import them back into iTunes, and convert them to ACC. OK—maybe it isn’t simple. But hearing tracks played together, the way the artist intended, is worth the effort.

Not enough RAM

Thomas Teague —Why are you testing a Power Mac G5 Quad with only 512MB of RAM (   ; Reviews, February 2006 )? You should test it again with 8GB of RAM, so we could see what it can really do!

The default amount of RAM that ships with the Power Mac G5 Quad is 512MB. Also, we try to keep the RAM configuration consistent when we test different systems, so the test results are comparable. We’ve found that anything beyond 512MB of RAM has little impact in our tests, except for some memory-intensive operations (such as processing huge Photoshop files). That’s because our tests measure the speed of one application at a time. The advantages of adding more RAM show up primarily when you have many apps running concurrently.—Ed.

Tell the truth

Bruce Carey —Like many articles about copy-protection schemes, yours (“Your Rights Reserved?” Mac Beat, February 2006) missed an important point: If people would just be honest and respect the rights of the creators of the works in question, none of these copy-protection schemes would be necessary. It always amazes me that people feel they have the right to make a copy of a copyrighted work and then give it to someone else. This is stealing, plain and simple, just as much as walking into a store, grabbing an item, and walking out without paying for it. I think the Web is a boon to all artists, particularly to the small, independent artists who can now distribute their work worldwide with relative ease. But thanks to people who haven’t yet realized they don’t have the legal or moral right to freely distribute works of art they have purchased, we’re stuck with copy protection—and it’s probably just going to get worse.

Custom calculating

Russ Carlson —Your review of PCalc 3.0.2 (   ; Mac Gems, February 2006) failed to mention one important feature of the program: The user can add custom calculations. This is something I haven’t seen in any other calculator, and it makes PCalc even more powerful.

iPod infinitum

Daniel Oelke —I can’t believe what I’ve been reading in recent issues of Macworld. People are saying that iPods have little or nothing to do with the Mac and that Macworld should stick to covering issues related to computer use. Are they kidding? I love my iPod, as many Mac and PC users do. The iPod has become integrated into mil-lions of people’s lives. The relationship between the iPod and the Mac may just be one of the most important relationships since the integration of digital cameras and camcorders into the computer world. How can someone be so nearsighted as to not recognize the importance of the relationship the Mac, iTunes, and the iPod have built together? Your articles are really useful to anyone who, like me, may be looking to purchase an iPod in the near future.

Where’s the news?

Peter G. Park —How embarrassing it must have been for you that the February issue—on newsstands in late January—makes no mention of the new Intel-based iMac and MacBook Pro announced at Macworld Expo weeks earlier. It would have been a real coup for both Macworld and Apple if that issue had covered the new machines. Either (1) Apple has really good information security or (2) Apple missed a good PR opportunity by not giving you the information ahead of time so it could be used in the February issue—or (3) you aren’t very well tuned into Apple developments.

You’re right about (1): Apple doesn’t tell anybody about its forthcoming announcements. As for (2), do you think Steve Jobs is going to let us steal his thunder by publishing details of his announcements before he makes them? Our February issue is mailed to subscribers at the end of December—a couple of weeks before Macworld Expo. We work nonstop to get Expo news into our March issue, which leaves our printer at the end of January. As for (3), we leave that up to the judgment of our readers.—Ed.

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