Upgrading the disk in a LaCie d2 Quadra

Following on from my post about upgrading one of the internal drives in my 2008 Mac Pro, I moved on to upgrading the disk inside my LaCie d2 Quadra external drive this morning. Once again pretty straightforward thanks to SuperDuper, my Voyager Q and a Philips screwdriver. If you’ve got one of these LaCie drives and you’d like more space for whatever reason (and the existing drive is out of warranty), then dive in because in less than ten minutes you’ll be enjoying lots more free space.

The LaCie d2 Quadra is a solid and well constructed external unit which actually makes replacing the drive inside it very easy because all the parts are machined to fit together just so. You won’t be struggling with screw holes that don’t line up or bendy bits of plastic as the case is a nicely machined piece of aluminium (or aluminum depending on your side of the Atlantic!).

1. Ok first step is to remove the four screws at the back of the unit. You’ll discover that these screws hold on both the back and front bezels as they go right the way through the case!

(Click images to enlarge)

2. Having removed the front and rear bezels, next remove the thin masking plate that covers the ports on the rear of the device. Take care to do this gently and to not bend it.

3. Turn the unit on it’s side and remove the two screws that hold the internal assembly in place.

4. Now you can slide out the whole internal assembly which is basically a mounting plate, a circuit board and the drive itself.

5. Turn the assembly over and remove the four screws that hold the drive onto the mounting plate.

6. Next you can gently slide the drive off the SATA connector. I found the best way to do this was to just rock the drive slightly from side to side while gently pulling it.

7. From here on in it’s pretty much a case of reversing the procedure starting by gently sliding the new drive on to the SATA connector then re-attaching it to the mounting plate. The screws really don’t have to be that tight as the drive barely vibrates and isn’t going anywhere once re-fitted.

New drive fitted and ready to go back in the case.

8. Slide the whole internal assembly back into the case, making sure that the two screw holes on the side of the assembly line up with their corresponding holes in the side of the case.

9. Secure the assembly inside the case using the two screws on the side.

10. Replace the masking plate over the ports at the back, again taking care not to bend it.

11. Replace the front and back bezels and secure them in place using the four long case screws.

Everything back as it was, only with more space!

That’s it, pretty straight forward eh? The procedure for cloning my existing 1.5Tb drive in the LaCie on to the new 2Tb disk was much the same as for the internal drive upgrade I just did. I popped the 2Tb drive into my Voyager Q, created a single Mac OS Extended (journalled) partition with a unique name then used SuperDuper to copy everything from the existing LaCie drive to the new one. Finally I ejected both drives, did the hardware swap, powered up the LaCie with the new drive inside and renamed the volume back to the original name (so that I don’;t have to change any backup routines, etc).

Choice of Hard Disk Drive

It’s worth noting that the LaCie d2 Quadra is a passively cooled drive enclosure, i.e. there is no fan to pull air through it. For this reason I have stuck with a Western Digital ‘Green’ SATA hard disk – the WD20EARS SATA 3Gb/s 3.5inch IntelliPower 2Tb 64Mb to be exact. I have used WD Green drives before and found them to be both very quiet and not too hot, plus they are plenty fast enough for data and backup drives like the LaCie.

Update 05/December/2012

I have been using Western Digital ‘GREEN’ drives in both my Lacie Quadra (Firewire) drive and in a number of Synology NAS devices. While they have performed well, I have had two failures out of eight drives in the past year – that’s a 25% failure rate. These have not been catastrophic failures resulting in data loss, rather drive errors found by software like Drive Genius or S.M.A.R.T. utilities. Western Digital make it very easy to return drives, they have a long warranty period and seem to be very quick at replacing drives without any argument, so I am happy to continue using WD drives. However, I am now looking at moving from their ‘GREEN’ drives to their ‘RED’ drives for storage that is external to my Mac Pro. The ‘RED’ drives are around 25% more expensive than the ‘GREEN’ drives, e.g. current price of a 2Tb RED drive on Amazon UK is £90 compared with £74 for a 2Tb GREEN drive, but the RED drives are optimised for NAS and external storage as opposed to power saving.

Advertisements

I’m being tempted away from my Mac…

XP desktopMy step-mother has a Sony Vaio laptop that has to be about 5 or 6 years old and runs Windows XP. Her needs are simple, but she comes from a generation that really doesn’t get computers. She refers to the hourglass timer as a ‘christmas cracker’ and has no idea that Windows Explorer and Internet Explorer are entirely different animals. When I built the laptop for her I loaded it with all the necessary security software, but for someone who doesn’t have the intuition about what one should or shouldn’t do (or rather click on), then it’s a recipe for disaster (aka repeated ‘support’ calls).

Every so often I completely rebuild the laptop, but it’s only a stay of execution and it’s becoming obvious that she needs something a bit more modern, a bit more simple and a bit more robust. So I’m thinking about an iMac, a Mac Mini or perhaps even an iPad. Email, a very small amount of web browsing and online shopping, being able to look at photos and the odd brief document are all she needs and it seems that any one of these devices will serve her well. To this end I picked up an iPad for her, the thinking being that it was the one device that would do all of the above, be intuitive to use and free her up from locking herself away in a room (much to my dad’s dismay) when she needs to ‘compute’.

It’s a 32Gb WiFi model and I’ve been using it to see what it can do before offering it as her new computing partner (of course she’ll still need a PC/Mac running iTunes plus a wireless router, but that’s another story). I have to say that having had no intention of buying one myself, as I already have my Mac Pro and iPhone 3G, I am now rapidly changing my mind. Firstly, I read a lot of RSS news feeds using Vienna on the Mac. I do occasionally use Google Reader but Vienna gives me the clean interface I want and if you want a free (and ad-free) news reader for OS X then this would be my recommendation. But then there’s NewsRack on the iPad. I can laze on the sofa in the lounge and flick through my RSS feeds so easily, browsing in detail the articles I’m more interested in, or adding them to InstaPaper for later. Yes there are other news readers for the iPad, but NewsRack has a clean and intuitive interface that just seems really natural when you’re coming from an OS X (or even Windows) based reader. What’s more it does this whole Google Reader sync thing if you feel the need to read news feeds on multiple devices, plus has many other features besides.

Then there’s the mail app on the iPad. It works exactly the way you think it should and I find I can process 95% of my mail here, just resorting to the Mac where I need to do something a little more complicated. The result is that I can now go for days without using the Mac to do these routine things. There’s other things too… Weather Pro HD gives me detailed weather forecasts rather than having to use WeatherDock on the Mac. Osfoora HD on the iPad is now my preferred way of monitoring Twitter, while Nambu is my choice when on the Mac, and if I want to read a PDF I’ll generally be doing it in GoodReader on the iPad rather than in Preview on the Mac.

IMG_0013It’s not that the apps on the Mac aren’t any good, in fact they’re the best ones I’ve found in my years of Mac usage. It’s just that I don’t have to go and sit upstairs in front of the Mac to dip my toe into the computer world. What’s more, I’ll often find that when I start using the Mac just to do a quick email for example, I’ll often get sidetracked and then ‘waste’ an hour or two doing something I hadn’t intended to. With the iPad I pick it up, do the email or read the news then put it down. Having said that, the games on the iPad are pretty distracting!

Now don’t get me wrong, the Mac Pro is still great, and for content creation the iPad doesn’t come close. For starters, the WordPress app for the iPad is a bit of a lame duck if you ask me, and I’d far rather use the WordPress dashboard on the Mac to create or edit blog posts. Similarly, for photo editing and processing, long documents, spreadsheets, downloading, listening to music (even though SnowTape and Spotify can run on the iPad), and for many other more involved tasks, the Mac is still king.

So, when my step-mother takes this iPad off my hands will I be tempted to spend the money on getting one myself? Do bears sh*t in the woods?! Hell yeah…  Of course I could just recommend she gets a cheap Windows 7 laptop for her needs and keep this one, but I suspect the whole Windows support cycle thing will just start afresh, and I’m not sure my nerves could take it. Besides, if she has the iPad then there’s always AppleCare to ease my burden 😉

By the way, in case you’re interested here’s a few of my favourite iPad apps (note, clicking on links may prompt you to open iTunes):

  • WeatherPro HD – detailed weather for your location for the next seven days.
  • Pages – I’m just a sucker for being able to write stuff wherever I am, and as a Pages user on the Mac…
  • Life Browser – iPad Safari is good, but in many ways I prefer this.
  • Instapaper – great way to save web pages for later consumption.
  • NewsRack – elegant and intuitive RSS reader with all the right features.
  • Evernote – wouldn’t be without it, whatever device I’m using. (I think my brain is backed up to Evernote!).
  • DropBox & SugarSync – love ’em both and can’t decide which I prefer.
  • Osfoora HD – does all a Twitter client needs to do for me on the iPad (and lots more besides).
  • Magic Piano – I’m no impresario but this makes me sound like one!
  • GoodReader – is to PDFs what FireFox is to the web.
  • IMDb – how cool to watch a film and be able to learn more about it as you watch?
  • eyeTV – let’s me wirelessly stream recordings on the Mac to my, ahem… the iPad. It can do live TV too, but I’ve got a TV for that. (Note, you need eyeTV on your Mac for it to work).
  • tChess Pro – attractive and challenging chess game with all the features I need to remind me I’m rubbish at chess!
  • Angry Birds HD – ok you have to catapault various types of birds into pigs. Sounds daft, but it’s very entertaining and the sound effects are just lovely.
  • Words with Friends HD – sort of a multi-player (across the web) Scrabble clone. (Multi-player as in my friends can mock me with their prowess!).
  • Real Racing HD – first person racing game with incredible graphics and gameplay.
  • Hexius – a bit like Bejewelled but perhaps more challenging and complex… and with multi-player capabilities.
  • Soosiz HD – a platform game where gravity isn’t always what you’d expect. Good fun.
  • Monkey Island 2: SE – Monkey Island meets the iPad, this game is entertaining, funny and looks fantastic.
  • Osmosis for iPad – mesmerizing, challenging, addictive, relaxing, a must if you have an iPad.

IMG_0012And one final word on usability. The father of a friend of mine has Parkinson’s disease and finds it extremely difficult to interact with the world around him. Trying to show him photos on a laptop and to let him feel he has any sort of control was frustrating for him, and printed 4×6 shots were just too fiddly (let alone time consuming to create). It was great to put an iPad on his lap and to see him smile and enjoy the photos in a way in which he can be in control.

PS – Both iPad wallpapers are from VladStudio, a talented artist whom I heartily support.

Getting ADSL to your Airport Extreme

Apple is famed for it’s “it just works” technology, and for the most part that’s true. However, when it comes to the Apple Airport Extreme Base Station, it’s lack of a built-in DSL modem means you have a little figuring out to do if you want to use the Airport Extreme as part of an ‘internet connected’ network.

When my Netgear DGN2000 DSL wireless router expired a short time ago I decided to replace it with a Linksys WAG120N DSL wireless router. Great little device (so far) but it’s one drawback is that unlike the Airport Express which has three Gigabit Ethernet ports (1,000Mbps), the Linksys only has Fast Ethernet ports (100Mbps). Now I do large backups every day to two Synology NAS devices and they, like my Mac Pro are equipped with Gigabit Ethernet ports. Connecting them via the Linksys alone would just create a bottleneck and slow down my data transfers ten fold! Enter the Airport Extreme – the objective is to use the Airport Extreme as the centre of my wired network, but to also have internet access at the same time. Sure, I’m lucky enough to have two ethernet ports on the Mac Pro so I could connect one to the Airport Extreme and the other to the Linksys, but that’s messy plus not all Macs have two network ports. At it’s simplest, what I wanted was this…

AE Config 00

Basic Network Configuration

The first step is to set up the Linksys DSL router as normal, so connect the Mac to it via a cable and log in to it as per the manufacturers instructions. Give the DSL router your ISP details and configure it with an IP address of 192.168.1.1 and a subnet mask of 255.255.255.0. Next it’s a case of configuring the network settings on your Mac to talk directly to the DSL router, so enter System Preferences, choose Network and make sure that your Mac has an IP address (e.g. 192.168.1.4) on the same subnet as the DSL router, and tell it that the router it should talk to is at address 192.168.1.1. At this point you should have a simple network of your Mac and the DSL router and you should be able to surf the internet. Next I connected an ethernet cable to one of the Linksys routers four ports with the other end going to the ‘WAN” port on the Airport Extreme. Now it was a case of firing up the Airport Utility and manually configuring the Airport Extreme.

AE Config 05

Connect your Airport to your modem/router

In the Airport Utility, once it finds your Airport Extreme Base Station, highlight it and click on the Manual Setup button. Now click on the Ethernet tab at the top ans select Internet Connection. You should set Connect Using to Ethernet, and Connection Sharing to Off (Bridge Mode).

AE Config 01

Internet Connection settings

Now click on the TCP/IP button and choose to configure IPv4 Manually. Now it’s time to gve the Airport Extreme an IP address and tell it how to talk to the outside world.

Give the Airport Extreme an IP address of 192.168.1.2 and a subnet mask of 255.255.255.0 (same as the Linksys). For the Router entry, enter the address of the Linksys, i.e. 192.168.1.1, and for the DNS Server(s) do the same. Here you are telling the Airport Extreme that any traffic that is not for something on your home/local network (e.g. internet traffic), send it to the Linksys router.

AE Config 02

TCP/IP settings

At this point you should be able to save the settings and apply them to your Airport Extreme. The next step is to disconnect the network cable from your Mac to the DSL router, and instead connect the Mac directly to one of the ethernet ports on your Airport Extreme. Now you should find that you can still surf the web but your Mac is only connected to your Airport Extreme. You can then add devices (in my case the two NAS boxes) directly to the Airport Extreme so that they can talk to your Mac at gigabit speeds, rather than just the ‘fast’ speeds of the DSL router.

If you want to use a service like OpenDNS then there’s no reason why you can’t and it’s simply a case of adding the IP addresses of the two OpenDNS servers to your Network settings on your Mac, like so:

AE Config 03

OpenDNS settings on the Mac

I have since extended this setup with wireless and I currently have an XBox 360, a PS 3 Slim, a Nintendo Wii, a Mac Mini, an iPad WiFi and iPhone 3G, plus my Panasonic Viera TV all talking to the internet via this little network. The Linksys DSL router is currently providing the (802.11n) wireless service, but I’m looking at ways to use the Airport Extreme’s ability to provide 5Ghz wirelss to enhance this setup (i.e. avoid interference from my neighbours on the 2.4Ghz band).

More on that in another post…

QuickBitz – Windows, Minis, iDefrag & Adobe

I’m not usually one for an outpouring of comments about the way of the world, probably because the internet is already rich with folk who can express their opinions much better than I. Nevertheless, I do encounter ‘oddities’ on my computing travels, and have assembled a few quickies below for posterity.

Aperture 3 – What, no Windows version?!

I was idly browsing through PC Magazine the other day, a magazine that often covers Mac hardware and Aperture 3software. Within its pages I found a review of Apple’s latest and greatest photo offering – Aperture 3. The reviewer was very complimentary about the product, but in the final reckoning marked it down because… there is no Windows version. No Windows version of a Mac  OS X product? Shock horror. Of course the magazine often hands out five star ratings to Windows software without knocking off a point because “there’s no Mac OS X version”. Good to know that double standards are alive and well, and talking of double standards…

New ‘Mid-2010’ Mac Mini pricing in the UK

Mac mini 2010The svelte new all aluminium (that’s ‘aluminum’ for my US friends) Mac Mini can be yours for just $699 plus sales tax (on average 5%). Here in the UK that translates to a base price of £475 , which with good old Value Added Tax (VAT) at 17.5% would come to £558 . But check that price in the UK Apple Store… £649. Ouch, I hope the extra £91 is going to a good cause.

iDefrag – Great but… unneccessary?

My early 2008 Mac Pro that shipped with Leopard 10.5 has only ever been rebuilt once and that was to do a clean install of Snow Leopard 10.6. So for however long I have been messing with hundreds of thousands, if not millions of files on my four internal 1.5Tb drives. So how badly fragmented do you suppose my boot drive was when I asked iDefrag to take a look? Well the Volume Contents showed 0.2% fragmentation, and the Volume Catalogue showed 0.0% fragmentation! So then… not an awful lot for iDefrag to actually do?

iDefrag showing my boot partition

iDefrag showing my boot partition

Adobe, Apple and that whole Flash thing

I watched the Steve Jobs interview on D8 and I read various commentaries (from both sides) about Apple’s decision to exclude Flash from the supported technologies on the iPad/iPhone. You can probably see where my sentiments lie if I give you this analogy…

A large motor manufacturer in the US decides to launch a new model of car, and they choose to make it an electric car. The largest oil company in the US then publicly complains that the car manufacturer won’t support the use of their fossil fuel in this new car. They argue that fossil fuel allows car users to enjoy seeing a great many parts of the world, and that there’s a huge infrastructure supporting the use of fossil fuel, so really this is unfair. The car manufacturer on the other hand says that it’s their choice to make an electric car, and that they’re just trying to make the best car experience they can for those that want to buy it.

Well that’s my way of looking at it…  😉

What’s on my iPhone (3G)?

iPhone screenIt’s fair to say that I take a certain amount of stick for being a Mac user, and in particular for being an iPhone user. Many of my friends seem to think that using an iPhone is more about it being a fashion statement than of any real practical use. That couldn’t be further from the truth because it’s the apps that make it what it is for me. As phone’s go, I’d be the first to agree that it does have it’s shortcomings – not so great battery life (and a battery you can’t easily change yourself), ‘only’ a 2 megapixel camera, limited Bluetooth support, the albatross that is iTunes, etc. However for me it’s the apps that are a real part of my life, and it’s wanting to continue using these apps that will see me upgrading to the iPhone 4.

So, what are these great apps that make the iPhone so worthwhile?

  • Maps – yes the built-in Maps app is actually really useful. Only the other day I was out with the family and faced with a diversion in an unfamiliar area, I was able to use Maps to help navigate the driver back to somewhere familiar, and even take in a few new interesting sights on the way.
  • Shazam – hardly needs any introduction. Numerous times I’ve heard something I like and have been able to use Shazam to find out what it is. The Record industry should be paying these guys commission!
  • Trains – live arrival & departure information. Sadly you can no longer download it (you’ll have to get  National Rail’s own offering), but it still works just fine for me.
  • MyBus – if you ever need to catch a bus, this little app is indispensable. Tells you where the bus stops are, what buses stop there and what time the arrive.
  • ATM Hunter – need to find a cash machine when you’re somewhere unfamiliar? This app couldn’t make it easier. It’s not perfect, but worth a download as it’s free.
  • DropBox – while I don’t do much file processing on my iPhone, but this at least keeps me in the loop with my Mac Pro and Mac Mini and even my Windows laptop (that I have to use for work).
  • Evernote – being able to take a note and have it sync’ed to every other device I’ve got is a real marvel (especially for someone as disorganised as I am).
  • Flook – tell others where the great places are. Find somewhere great to visit, a fantastic pub or restaurant, some hidden local secret? Just Flook it! Discover the great places that others have found nearby, and collect/follow your favourites.
  • 1Password – allows me to sync passwords and other secure info between my Mac(s) and iPhone. If I’m away from my Mac and need a password, e.g. to log in to a website on a friends PC/Mac, then it’s all in there in my pocket.
  • WalkMeter – fascinating app that logs where you’ve walked, how long it took, how many calories you burned, and even emails you a Google map of the trip! In fact it does even more, so best way to find out is to use it.
  • ConvertBot – if you’re old school like me (remember feet, inches, miles, ounces, etc.?) then this makes life a whole lot easier to deal with. Superb interface too. Note – I still can’t think in kilometers!
  • Postage – Take a photo of a scene, dress it up and send it to friends for fun. Kids seem to love this one.
  • RAC Traffic – very handy for spotting traffic jams before you become a part of them!
  • RedLaser – I have saved a few quid while out shopping thanks to RedLaser telling me I could buy something cheaper online.
  • Facebook – while I’m not a huge Facebook user, I can still dip my toe into that particular social quagmire when I need to thanks to this mobile app.
  • Osfoora – until recently my Twitter client of choice on the iPhone was Twitterrific. It’s still a great app, but Osfoora looks just as good and is taking the lead on features.
  • Doodle Jump – the most addictive game there is for the iPhone, and the best 59p you’ll spend. End of story!
  • Wurdle – cool little word game for when I want to tax my brain a little.
  • Frenzic – marvelous for getting the old hand/eye co-ordination back to full strength. What I would love to know is how the global high scores are so… high?!
  • t Chess Pro – I have always found chess fascinating, and if I’m feeling cerebral, then t Chess gives me a mental workout (and usually reminds me that I really should practice more).
  • FlightControl – such a simple idea, that very quickly gets completely out of control. Love that old style music as well.
  • Angry Birds – the sound effects alone make this worth it. Even so, it’s a great game.
  • Diamedic – a great way to track your blood sugar and other related info, and then have it easily to hand when the doctor needs it.
  • WiScale – paired up with the Withings WiFi Scale I purchased a while back, it’s a fun and informative way to keep your weight & BMI on track. Ok the app is free but the scales cost £100 – even so, they look really cool and work a treat! In fact if Apple design a bathroom scale, they’d probably look like this.

These aren’t the only apps on my phone, just the ones I use the most and there are many more I could mention like – CalenGoo, Tube Deluxe, Air Sharing, The Good Beer Guide, National Trust, FlickIt, ShowTimes, Family Tree, Road Trip LE, Skype, AirVideo, Spotify, Snowtape, SnowRemote, Glyder/Glyder 2, Crayon, Traffic Rush and Tap Tap to name a few.

It’s the sheer wealth of apps, many of which are very high quality, that make life just that little bit easier… and if you ever needed an excuse to buy an iPad, well many of these are available in iPad-specific ‘HD’ versions too.

Snow Leopard thaws my Logitech webcam mike!

Speak up... I CAN hear you!

Speak up... I CAN hear you!

While I’ve upgraded my Mac Mini to Snow Leopard 10.6, I haven’t yet taken the plunge on my 2008 Mac Pro. This is mainly because I am bug testing some iPhoto software for someone and it would be unfair to change the underlying OS half way through as it would most likely just confuse matters. However, I do now have my Western Digital Caviar ‘Black’ 1Tb drive and so with an hour or so to spare I removed the existing 4 drives and popped it in, just to see how a fresh install of Snow Leopard would run on a Mac Pro.

The installation recognized my Logitech MX Revolution Mouse and Logitech diNovo Keyboard Mac Edition (both plugged in using a Logitech wireless USB dongle), so it was simply a matter of answering a few questions and waiting. Once installed, a Software Update for Remote Screen installed itself, then I was left to play for a while. The Logitech Control Centre v3.0 software refused to install (there is a workaround), so I was unable to use any of the extended features of my keyboard or mouse, however there was some good news about another of my Logitech peripherals.

Logitech QuickCam Vision Pro

Logitech QuickCam Vision Pro

My Logitech QuickCam Vision Pro now works with Snow Leopard’s built-in speech recognition!! Under Leopard 10.5.x, the microphone in this webcam simply refused to work with the Mac’s built-in speech recognition software. It would work fine with other apps like Skype, iChat, etc., and your voice would even register in the OS X speech recognition window, but getting the Mac to recognize anything was impossible and it was a widely reported problem. However, under Snow Leopard I decided to give it another go and what do you know – it worked! Off I went, quoting the phrases on the calibration panel… What time is it? Quit this application. Open a document… and so on. Each one registered first time and I was then able to use speech recognition as I’d always wanted. I am now wondering if the mike will work with MacSpeech Dictate under Snow Leopard? Who knows.

Eventually the time came to stop experimenting and put the Mac Pro back to Leopard 10.5.8. Naturally once I’d put all the original drives back I tried out speech recognition with the webcam and it steadfastly refused to play ball. I am wondering if I upgraded from 10.5.8 to 10.6 rather than doing a fresh install, whether or not the webcam mike would still work with the Mac’s speech recognition? Maybe that’s an experiment for next week…

Logitech diNovo Keyboard, Mac Edition

Since I got my Mac Pro back at the start of 2008, I have been using the Logitech diNovo Edge (Windows) keyboard with it. I was a hang-over from my Windows PC days, and as a keyboard I was very happy with it despite the rather high price. My only real complaints were that I had a bunch of keys on it that I couldn’t use (the Mac simply didn’t recognize them) and the Logitech Control Centre software uses a couple of kernel tricks that break certain bits of software (like A Better Finder Rename for example).

So after a lot of deliberation I decided to splash out on the much cheaper diNovo Keyboard Mac Edition and it arrived this morning. I am now wondering if I shouldn’t be calling this blog “I spenddiNovo Keyboard Mac Edition my money so you don’t have to”? Ok, the first thing I need to make clear is that this keyboard shares the diNovo name and colour scheme with the Edge and that’s where the similarity seems to end. If you think you’re going to get the build quality and feel of the Edge, then either stick with the Edge or buy the diNovo Edge Mac Edition which for reasons best known to Logitech, isn’t available in the UK.

Right, let’s start with the construction. As I mentioned, the colour scheme is the same but the Plexiglass of the Edge is replaced with glossy black plastic.  The aluminium palm rest at the bottom is still there, and although the spec says it’s aluminium, it feels like painted plastic. The keys themselves are the same dimensions as on the Edge, and have a similar feel to the Edge, but the first thing I noticed when I started typing is that the keyboard sounds different. The spacebar has a nasty ‘clack’ to it, reminiscent of the old IBM keyboards from the nineties. On the subject of keys, the layout and spacing is almost identical to the (wired) aluminium Apple keyboard with the numeric keypad, except that the styling of the Apple keyboard makes it look and feel less cluttered.

Caps Lock LightWhat about the rest of the keyboard then? Well the neat ‘features’ of the Edge are all gone. The diNovo Mac Edition has a small green power light which illuminates when you switch it on and then goes out after ten seconds, presumably to conserve power. There is also a small orange light on the Caps Lock key to indicate whether it is on or off, although you can disable this in the Logitech software (and have the Caps Lock status shown in the OS X menu bar instead). That’s it… gone are all the nice touches of the Edge, but then that’s a reflection of the fact that the diNovo Mac is a lot cheaper – on Amazon UK it’s currently £58.98 + postage vs. £94.96 + free postage, a saving of around £30 ($50).

On the subject of downsides… the diNovo Mac Edition uses a Logitech 2.4GHz wireless dongle rather than Bluetooth, thereby taking up another of your USB ports. What’s more, the keyboard isn’t compatible with Logitech’s new ‘Unifying’ receiver (bang go my thoughts of running this keyboard and my MX Revolution mouse through just one dongle). Also the batteries are not rechargeable via the dock arrangement the diNovo Edge has, although they say these batteries will last three years (I’m two years and 364 days off confirming that figure!). And for the Health & Safety guys out there, this keyboard is not adjustable in any way – the angle of the keyboard is fixed unlike the Edge which had little retractable feet to change the angle of the device.

There must be some plus points, yes? Well yes, the keyboard is fully ‘supported’ by OS X so you’ll have the Ctrl, Alt and Cmd keys in their proper places as well as the full range of (programmable) function keys, where on the Edge the function keys were, well just there. Some of them did what you expected (as their Mac equivalents), and some of them… errr, didn’t. Also, you now have more configuration options via the Logitech Control Centre (LCC) software rather than it simply telling you there’s a keyboard there and not letting you configure it, which is what it does with the diNovo Edge. The LCC software will let you:

  • Program function keys 1 thru 6 and 13 thru 19. (F7 thru F12 are fixed).
  • Toggle the Caps Lock status between the OS X menu bar and the little orange light on the Caps Lock key itself. Interestingly you have to switch the keyboard off/on for the change to take effect.
  • Display the Caps Lock status on the screen, rather like a Growl notification.
  • Toggle the function keys between standard and ‘fn’ by using the fn key on the keyboard. This effectively doubles the number of function key assignments you can have.

In the past I’ve had an issue with the Logitech software. To get the @ and ” keys assigned correctly for UK users, you had to load the Logitech UK Intl key map. That was fine except that the kernel extension it used to make it work would break some software. If I had Logitech UK Intl enabled, I was completely unable to type in the input boxes used by A Better Finder Rename, but switching to the default British (Apple) key map, it would work again. PublicSpace (the Better Finder Rename developers) were very responsive and helpful in helping me pin this down. Anyway, the diNovo Mac Edition has the correct key map for the British (Apple) layout, so that’s a problem solved.

Take your pick...

Take your pick...

So what are my conclusions then? Well it’s early days as I’ve been using this keyboard for less than a day. So far I have to say that I still prefer the diNovo Edge from a comfort perspective. As I type this I find I am resorting to the ‘hunt and peck’ style of typing, rather than using all my fingers as I had managed to do with the Edge. That’s probably more to do with the keyboard being new and very slightly different rather than anything else and will hopefully improve with time although it’s fair to say that the diNovo Mac Edition feels more cramped than the Edge. Will I keep it and grow to like it, or will I get frustrated and donate it to a good cause? (My step-mother may be getting a Mac Mini and will need a keyboard). Can’t really say at this stage. In a perfect world, Logitech would sell the diNovo Edge Mac Edition in the UK, rather than what is essentially a re-badged diNovo Keyboard for Notebooks. But it’s not a perfect world and so I shall persist with this for a while at least.

If you like the Apple aluminium ‘extended’ keyboard with the numeric keypad, and wonder why they don’t make a wireless version, well the diNovo Keyboard Mac Edition would probably be what you’re looking for, if you can live with the cheap and noisy spacebar. If you’re after the experience the diNovo Edge gives you, then you’ll probably feel disappointed as only the elusive diNovo Edge Mac Edition will fill that gap, and it’s even disappeared off the Logitech’s US website now.

Finally, if you’re a little confused by some very similar sounding keyboard names, then blame Logitech. There’s the diNovo Edge (essentially the Windows version), the diNovo Edge Mac Edition (a proper Mac version of the Edge), the diNovo Keyboard Mac Edition which I’m looking at here, and the diNovo Keyboard for Notebooks which is what this Mac keyboard seems to be based on. Their marketing men must be laughing all the way to the bank!