Review: the 5mm, Fusion-equipped 2012 iMac

Review: the 5mm, Fusion-equipped 2012 iMac

You might have heard about Apple’s new, 8th generation iMac – the ultra thin one with the trippy seventies screenshots and the much-hyped Fusion drive that’s meant to give you ultra-fast startup times. Well, we’ve just had our first shipment, and we couldn’t pass up the chance to a) compare it to older iMacs and b) peel off that laminated display and take a look inside. If you’re in a hurry, take a gander at the 74 second love-in that is our video review. If you want all the details on the brand new Apple iMac, read on…


The new iMac is really amazingly thin

5mm thick around the edge and not a huge amount more in the middle, the new Apple iMac has shed around 80% of its bulk since generation seven. A lot of this can be accounted for by the screen lamination process, which knocks out the 2mm gap between the glass and the display screen. Our feelings are split about this – on the one hand, the new design looks fantastic, and the fact that the laminated, coated screen is 75% less reflective than its seventh gen counterpart has won support from our creative team, who find it far easier to look at the screen for extended periods of time, and to see their designs in the first place.

Our engineers did have to break out a whole new set of tools to get this iMac open, but happily, it’s easy to add RAM to the 27” model. You just pull out the power cable, press the button underneath it and add up to 32GB RAM into the hatch that opens up. This option isn’t available on the 21.5” model, and the new display’s construction means you won’t be able to service it yourself, but frankly we wouldn’t recommend that anyway. Our Apple support team can be reached on 03332 409 227 if you’d like to know more about your options, though!

A quick health warning: the new design means that if you crack the glass covering your screen you’ll also crack the screen (on the older, wider models you could crack the glass without damaging the screen itself). This means that if you damage your screen your repair may cost more, so try not to rest your iMac on any precarious ledges…

The new width means that the optical disk drive (SuperDrive) has been sacrificed – something that seems to be becoming the norm with Apple products. But with digital delivery and cloud services becoming the dominant forces in the software and storage markets, we don’t think you’ll miss this too much. If you do still have software that needs installing from a disk, or clients who are regularly sending you content on optical disk, you can always invest in one of Apple’s USB SuperDrives.

It’s really well connected

Like the 2011 model, the new iMac includes two Thunderbolt ports, so you can power online storage and a second display at the same time if you need to. These also function as mini DisplayPort connections, so you can hook your iMac up to another machine and use it as a monitor if need be.

It’s also got four USB 3.0 ports – all USB 2.0 compatible – and an SDXC card reader (relocated to the back of the device now that it won’t fit on the edge). There’s also a Gigabit Ethernet port and a stereo minijack, but it looks like Apple are saying goodbye to FireWire – it’s not featured on this iMac or the latest Retina MacBook Pros. However, you can pick up an adaptor for that if you still need a FireWire connection.

It also comes with Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11n WiFi, which in a pleasing piece of design trickery is housed behind the Apple logo.

It’s still got a great display

new iMac

Aside from the new, reflection-repellent coating, the iMac’s display stays mostly unchanged. The 21.5” model’s resolution is 1920×1080, with the 27” model boasting 2560×1440 resolution – both include IPS (In-Plane Switching). The viewing angle holds steady at 178 degrees, the colour representation is as realistic and consistent as ever, and the new iMac should work with your existing colour calibration equipment.

Fusion drives give the best of both worlds

Word from our engineers is that the Fusion drive is going to be great for customers who don’t want to compromise on space to gain the benefits of an SSD – though they have asked us to point out that there’s no magical single ‘Fusion drive’ but in fact an SSD, an HDD and some mystical Apple voodoo linking the two. The combination of SSD, HDD and software gives the user high capacity and high speed when and where it is needed. This is established right from startup – your operating system is stored on the high speed Flash memory, so you get blistering boot times from the moment you turn your iMac on. However, the clever part is the way that your iMac manages its space – you can assign apps to be stored on the hard drive or Flash memory manually, but frequently used apps should automatically be moved onto the higher speed storage for easy access, while little used ones are relegated to the slower HDD. Brilliant!

If you’re all about speed, you can opt for a model with 768GB Flash storage and no HDD, while users who are purely after space can choose a 1TB or 3TB hard drive with no Flash capacity. However, we think that most users will benefit from choosing the 1TB or 3TB Fusion option, which pairs a 1TB or 3TB HDD with 128GB of high-speed storage.

It’s great if you’re power conscious and need fast graphics

The new, more efficient NVIDIA Kepler architecture on the graphics chip is not only a godsend for creative users who need to get maximum performance from their GPU, it’s actually more power efficient than its predecessor. This, coupled with the new, more power efficient processor architecture, means that your 2012 iMac should consume far less energy than the 2011 model – great if you’re looking to go green and save some cash.

It’s easy to pick up

Not that we’re saying you should take your iMac for regular walks or anything, but still. Lighter is better. Plus we’re big fans of the new trapezoid box, and the fact that you don’t have to lift your iMac out anymore – it just slides free of the cardboard easily.

The verdict

Lighter, far slimmer and speedier than we’d hoped, the 2012 iMac looks like a real winner to us. While there isn’t as much scope for customisation on the 21.5” models, anyone looking into moving away from Mac Pro would be wise to take a look at the higher specced 27” version, thanks to its speed, epic-feeling screen and the ability to whack in all the extra RAM you could wish for at the touch of a button. Already had your hands on the brand new Apple iMac? Let us know what you think in the comments.

If you’ve heard all you need, you can buy your iMac on our site now.


Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email To keep up with all the latest news and reviews, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or Like’ our Facebook page.

Sonnet announce next generation Echo Express expansion chassis for PCIe at NAMM 2013

Sonnet announce next generation Echo Express expansion chassis for PCIe at NAMM 2013

Sonnet have a shiny new gadget on their stand at NAMM 2013 – the Echo Express II Thunderbolt expansion chassis for PCIe cards. The original Echo Express has been one of our more popular Thunderbolt solutions so far, offering a Thunderbolt-to-PCIe expansion solution for anyone whose Mac doesn’t offer substantial enough PCIe connectivity. (You can see the full list of compatible PCIe devices here.)

The Echo Express II features two PCIe slots, and will allow you to use high-end PCIe cards with any computer that has a Thunderbolt port – even if it’s a notebook. According to the official Sonnet statement, “The Echo Express II was designed for users needing a compact solution to connect two PCIe cards to their computers, and supports the majority of Thunderbolt-compatible PCIe cards. Based on the original Echo Express expansion chassis, the Echo Express II adds a second slot to support two half-length (up to 7.25 inches long), full-height, single-width PCIe 2.0 x16 cards.”

The new model retains the dual Thunderbolt ports of its predecessor, so you can still daisy chain it easily, and it includes three temperature controlled, variable speed fans along with a 100W internal, universal power supply. Sonnet tell us the Echo Express II will power on and off in sync with whatever computer it’s attached to, which should help you save power.

“Feedback from our customers on the Echo Express line has been overwhelmingly positive. These products have been integrated into the workflows of many creative professionals, with users discovering new applications every day,” said Robert Farnsworth, CEO of Sonnet Technologies. “Similar to the Echo Express Pro, the Echo Express II was designed to accommodate the needs of users requiring two slots for expansion cards, but not the extra length afforded by the Echo Express Pro’s longer design.”

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ our Facebook page

Autodesk Smoke for Mac 2013: it’s finally here…

Autodesk Smoke for Mac 2013: it’s finally here…

After six beta versions, whole forums full of user feedback and more obsessive demo re-watching than we’d care to admit to, it’s finally here: the release version of Autodesk Smoke for Mac 2013. Available for download from today, 2013 takes Smoke for Mac in a radical new direction: different price point, different GUI, same powerful effects and interoperability with Autodesk’s other M&E tools. But how impressive is the workflow?

Why all the hype around Smoke for Mac 2013?

Autodesk ported Smoke over to Mac a few years ago now, and ended up getting a pretty lukewarm response – the high-end post houses that were already using Smoke Advanced on Linux machines snapped it up, but those of us from a Final Cut or Adobe background probably didn’t know what it was and, given that it cost north of ten grand, didn’t really want to find out.

But Autodesk have played the long game. They’ve invested a huge amount of time and money in Smoke for Mac 2013, and ran a public beta programme that lasted months and spanned six versions – something I think was a great move. And based on what we’ve seen so far, there are plenty of reasons to think that they’ve got Smoke for Mac 2013 just right…

1. The completely re-designed GUI

The editor now actually looks like an editor. Anyone who’s cut in Final Cut, Premiere Pro or even Media Composer will know the setup – the FCP 7’s keyboard shortcuts are even available as a preset. However, Smoke for Mac isn’t just an editor or even a dynamically connected software suite like Adobe Production Premium – it’s everything in one programme. So with a couple of clicks on a clip, clips or sequence, you’re in a full 3D compositing environment, or you’ve got your colour grading tools onscreen, all without having to waste time switching apps.

The traditional Smoke interface was somewhat unique, but it was always really dynamic. In Smoke for Mac 2013, we can look forward to swipes/gestures, instant switching between Edit/Action/Colour and instantly-changing palette options.

2. It’s been optimised for Thunderbolt, iMacs and MacBook Pros

First things first: Smoke for Mac 2013 will happily run on pretty much any Mac, although obviously high-end users will always want to go for the best specs. Top end iMacs are on a par with mid-range Mac Pros these days, and have the native Thunderbolt connectivity you need to connect to fast local storage and I/O devices. Plus, the new 27” iMac coming with a 75% less reflective screen than any other Mac. If you fancy putting together a high-powered iMac workstation, you’ve got a few options, but it’ll still work on a standard config:

–       Upgrade the CPU to a 3.4GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7, which’ll get up to 3.9GHz with Turbo Boost.

–       Upgrade the RAM to 32GB of 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM.

–       Upgrade the internal storage to a 3TB Fusion Drive (a 3TB HDD with 128GB Flash storage).

–       Upgrade the GPU to NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX 2GB GDDR5.

3. The ultimate 3D finisher/compositor for the most efficient 3D production pipeline

Unlike most other post applications, which fake 3D modelling by letting you move 2D objects in 3D space, Autodesk’s 3D expertise means that Smoke for Mac users can work in a true 3D compositing environment. This means you can carry out very realistic composites quickly, as you can tweak and polish lights and effects without having to re-render.

The majority of Connect FX effects and tools are aware of this, which will save you a load of time – your lights will cast real shadows and do other helpful things like shine through windows and gaps correctly. You can also import full 3D scenes as FBX files, which can be created by most pro 3D applications, so it’s likely that your existing 3D software will mesh happily with your Smoke for Mac pipeline.

4. Connect FX, Flame FX, node-based compositing and one of the best keyers in the business

Flame FX is a palette of high-end plugins that was originally only part of Autodesk Flame. However, Autodesk have been in a generous mood and have decided to share the joys of Flame FX with Smoke Advanced and Smoke for Mac users. Connect FX – better known as Batch – is another import from the bigger systems. It lets you create complicated, bespoke effects, save them and apply them to any clips.

Unlike applications such as After Effects, which use a layer-based workflow, Connect FX and Flame FX use nodes to add effects to your work. This means that you can see every stage of your clip’s evolution at a glance, and pick up on any mistakes far faster. Complex projects will begin to look much easier once you get into a node-based environment, especially any older projects you need to rework.

5. Smoke for Mac 2013 workstations can now assist your Smoke Advanced ones

If you’ve currently got a Smoke Advanced Linux setup, you can now open any of your projects in Smoke for Mac 2013. Any effects that aren’t available in Smoke for Mac will still be visible, but you won’t be able to edit them. However, pretty much anything you’d want for basic assist work is in Smoke for Mac 2013 anyway, so you can crack on with that busywork on your iMac rather than tying up your main suite.

6. It costs £3200 now

Autodesk Smoke for Mac 2013 will ship from a mere £3,200. This is still a big price, but it’s now in line with their 3D apps, which should hopefully help encourage people to take the jump and pick up this amazing application.

7. Autodesk Subscriptions

If you’re new to Smoke for Mac, you definitely want to buy it with an Autodesk Subscription. Autodesk subs guarantee you top notch tech support from your supplier (that’s us), free upgrades to the latest versions of Smoke for Mac and, in some cases, mean that you get access to new features in advance of non-subs customers. This used to cost £1,500– now its only £480. What’s not to love?

If you’re interested in Smoke for Mac 2013, get in touch – as an authorised Autodesk partner and one of the UK’s longest-serving suppliers of Apple kit, you’re going to be hard pressed to find someone more qualified then us to advise on your setup (or support it).

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email For all the latest news follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ our Facebook page.


Sony’s Multi-monitor Swap Shop to stay open til March 2013

Sony’s Multi-monitor Swap Shop to stay open til March 2013

Sony have decided to extend their monitor trade-in offer for another quarter, meaning anyone who’s still using a CRT monitor has until March 2013 to swap it for one of the BVM-F series and save up to a third. 

Obviously it depends how many miles are on your CRT’s clock, but Sony have been pretty generous with this offer so far, and if your CRT monitor is in working order, odds are you’ll get some kind of discount on your BVM-F.

Why would I want a BVM-F series monitor? 

Well, the BVM-F range  represent the entry point into Sony’s industry-leading OLED monitor range. Powered by Sony’s Trimaster EL image processing technology, these monitors offer you a huge colour gamut across their entire luminance range, with deep, detailed blacks, accurate skin tones and far less of the flicker and motion blurring you get with CRT monitors. (Sony’s tech team were kind enough to explain how they managed that here.)

The Trimaster EL range are among the most impressive monitors on the market when it comes to colour critical work, with a 12-bit non-linear cubic colour conversion management system giving picture uniformity, colour consistency and accuracy of reproduction that’s among the best we’ve seen. Heck, they’ve even won an Emmy.

Take a look at the full Sony OLED range on

Want to know more about trading in your BVM monitor? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email For all the latest news and reviews, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook


Jigsaw24 giveaway: Win tickets to Autosport International 2013!

Jigsaw24 giveaway: Win tickets to Autosport International 2013!

Calling all petrol-headed tech types – we’ve managed to get our hands on two pairs of tickets to Autosport International and, in a moment of madness, we’ve decided to give them away completely free! All you have to do to win yourself a pair is answer the oh-so-simple question below, whack your email address in the appropriate box and then cross your fingers twice.

We’ll stop taking entries at 9:00 am on Christmas Eve, and let you know if you’ve won by the end of the day. We can only accept entries from the UK. We cannot accept bribes (although if cake just happened to show up in our office, who are we to insult you by sending it back?).

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email For all the latest news, reviews and more, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

Sonnet announce Fusion R400S RAID storage system

Sonnet announce Fusion R400S RAID storage system
Storage stalwarts Sonnet Technologies have just announced a new 1U rackmount, RAID 5 system, the Fusion R400S. With four drives and an eSATA interface, the Sonnet Fusion R400S  offers single-cable-to-host connectivity over eSATA and “integrates a high-performance RAID controller for maximum versatility, critical data protection, and speedy file transfers” according to the Sonnet press squad. It’s also equipped with low-noise fans for those of you in noise-sensitive environments.
The key specs
The Sonnet Fusion R400S supports RAID 0, RAID 5, RAID 10, JBOD and Clone modes, all of which can be configured using the R400S’s internal RAID controller. According to the official Sonnet specs: “Configurations include maximum capacity (RAID 0), data protection with optimum performance (RAID 5), most concurrent audio file editing (JBOD), or fast cloning of up to four drives concurrently (Clone mode) when it is necessary to send each drive to a different location for security. Selecting the RAID mode requires no application software and is simply a matter of setting a switch. Onboard RAID support eliminates the need for a specialized RAID controller card. For those who prefer to configure with separately sourced drives, Sonnet also offers a 0TB version of the Fusion R400S RAID, enabling the customer to purchase separately the drives that best suit their needs.”
Capacity-wise, the R400S is available in 8TB, 12TB and 16TB configurations. When coupled with a Sonnet eSATA controller (they used the Tempo SATA Pro 6Gb PCIe card), its data transfer speeds at RAID 5 can hit 240MBps for reading data and 220MBps for writing. Sonnet are clearly shooting for the creative market, using these nippy transfer times to support multistreaming of ProRes 422 HD, uncompressed 8-bit 1080i HD, DV, HDV and DVCPRO video files. They also claim higher data transfer rates and additional workflow capabilities are possible when two or more systems are RAIDed together on the same SATA controller, though we’re yet to test this.
“We are pleased to offer this high-performance 1U, rackmount, four-drive RAID storage system at such an affordable price,” said Robert Farnsworth, Sonnet CEO. “The Fusion R400S RAID is the perfect complement to our xMac mini Server PCIe 2.0 expansion system/1U rackmount enclosure for Mac mini to support our small-to-medium-sized business and education customers.”
The Sonnet R400S is shipping now. To find out more, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ our Facebook page.

Video: Our Maxon CINEMA 4D tutorial round up

Video: Our Maxon CINEMA 4D tutorial round up

Now that Maxon are offering 25% off CINEMA 4D and Bodypaint 3D when you buy them with a service subscription, we thought it was time to dust off our CINEMA 4D tutorials and let anyone who’s interested in picking up a copy see how it integrates with your After Effects setup and your render farm, along with a couple of other key features. Click on the videos below to see the tutorials, or give our team a bell if you’ve got a more specific question…

Rendering CINEMA 4D scenes with Qube!

Integrating CINEMA 4D and After Effects (part one)

Integrating CINEMA 4D and After Effects (part two)

Integrating CINEMA 4D and After Effects (part three)

How to use MoGraph Sound Effector (part one)

How to use MoGraoh Sound Effector (part two)

Using Thrausi

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ our Facebook page


Autodesk move the goalposts: Update rules to change from February 1st

Autodesk move the goalposts: Update rules to change from February 1st

If you’re considering updating your Autodesk software, be warned: from February 1st the rules about which product versions can be upgraded will be changing, and if you decide to wait, you may end up forking out more than you need to. Here’s what you need to know before you hit the ‘buy now’ button…

The current system

Currently, there are two Autodesk upgrade paths. If you’re working on one of the last three versions of your software (those are the 2012, 2011 and 2010 versions), you’re eligible for an upgrade at half the cost of a full seat. If you’re using a version from 2009 or earlier, you’re eligible for a legacy upgrade, which costs 7o% of the price of a new seat – both fairly tidy savings.

From February 1st 2013…

On the 1st of February 2013 Autodesk will implement a new, simpler upgrade programme with only one upgrade path. Anyone on one of the last six versions of their software (2012, 2011, 2010. 2009, 2008 or 2007) will be able to upgrade to the current version for 70% of the cost of a new seat.  Versions of any Autodesk product older than seven years will not be eligible for an upgrade.

If you’re fewer than three versions back, you’re obviously going to be the heaviest hit by this – you could actually end up spending 40% more on your Autodesk upgrade if you miss the February deadline. For example, upgrading to 3ds Max 2013 from 2012, 2011 or 2010 currently costs £1450, but as of Feb 2013 it will cost £2030. Upgrading before the policy change would save you £580.

How to sidestep this kerfuffle entirely

If you want to avoid having to deal with upgrades ever again, opt for an Autodesk subscription. Users with a valid subscription contract get upgrades to new releases of their product free of charge, even if they’re full releases, so you pay a flat yearly fee and that covers all the paid upgrades you need. A 3ds Max subscription costs £495 per year – that’s around a third of the cost of a current upgrade and a quarter of the cost of upgrading after Feb 2013. As well as being cheaper, it’s also a much more predictable cost, as you pay a single fee for your one or three year subscription, then simply pay again to renew it at the end of your contract.

Subscriptions can be added to your Autodesk software when you buy it, or for 30 days after. The start date is always backdated to the day of purchase, so you’ll always have to renew your subscription on the date you originally bought the software. After the 30 day period a subscription can still be added, but you’ll be charged a late fee and your subscription will still be backdated to whenever you bought the software. You still won’t have to worry about upgrades, though…

To find out more about your Autodesk options, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ our Facebook page

New firmware brings DNxHD encoding to Atomos Ninja-2

New firmware brings DNxHD encoding to Atomos Ninja-2
Leading us into the weekend on a dizzying high, Atomos have announced an update to the AtomOS (geddit?) operating system that powers their devices. AtomOS 4.01’s headline feature is that it beings support for Avid DNxHD to Ninja-2 recorders at no extra cost, meaning existing Ninja-2 customers can download the update now and spend their entire weekend playing about with the new format.  
“We are really starting to see the benefits of our architecture, which gives us the ability to provide such major feature enhancements to our customers at no extra charge,” said Jeromy Young, Atomos’ CEO and founder. “Avid DNxHD opens up our recorders to Windows users. Support for Avid Media Composer and Adobe Premiere makes Ninja-2 the perfect recorder for Mac and PC.”
Rounding out the list of new features are a HDMI timecode start/stop trigger for the Canon C100 and 1DX, and a new audio offset function that’s designed to improve compatibility with DSLR cameras. Atomos have also re-engineered the “pressure responsiveness” of their touchscreen, making it more responsive, and improved input detection for PCs, Macs and iPads connected through DVI and HDMI.
Want to find out more about the Atomos Ninja-2? Give us a bell on 03332 409 306 or email To keep up with all the latest releases, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ our Facebook page

Video: Become an AJA expert

Video: Become an AJA expert

Confused by AJA’s massive batch of new releases? Their handy IBC 2012 showreel explains it all in a scant six minutes nine seconds.

IBC 2012: AJA Showreel from AJA Marketing on Vimeo.

To find out more about any AJA releases, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.