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Exclusive Report: EFI-X Mac Booter, A Scam?

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September 8, 2009 8:24:12 PM

It seems pretty obvious that ASEM is perpetrating a fraud. I truely hope they get everything they deserve.
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September 8, 2009 8:31:23 PM

Quote:
AsereBLN now indicates that ASEM wants to sue him for opening up and attempting to decude the EFI-X module.


Hmm.. something tells me that that wont work to well.
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16
September 8, 2009 8:31:43 PM

*Gasp*
A company that helps you violate the EULA of a software package is not on the level?! What has this world come to. The next thing you know, drug dealers will be short changing their customers.
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September 8, 2009 8:38:50 PM

Very bad news for the users who got burned. Very good news for Apple and their fanbois.
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September 8, 2009 8:42:06 PM

warmon6Hmm.. something tells me that that wont work to well.

Oh, I'm sure some slick lawyer will be able to find something in that onerous piece of crap law known as the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) that they can use to harass the poor guy (i.e. force him to spend a lot of money defending himself against baseless accusations).
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September 8, 2009 8:45:23 PM

Class action suit anyone?
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18
September 8, 2009 8:46:16 PM

Quote:
This is obviously done to shield prying eyes away from what really lurks beneath--nothing more than a USB stick with a DRM module on board.


Did anyone ever think it was anything else?
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2
September 8, 2009 8:51:52 PM

I think that this is a great example of why Apple so ferociously protects its IP. I had once considered buying one of these modules but now I am glad I didn't. I kind of hope they do sue the guy who opened up his module just so more of their dirty secrets come out and then maybe the gov't can jump in too.
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2
September 8, 2009 8:53:13 PM

I thought this was a piece of poo.. Get off you lazy butt and hack your way to osx if you want it.. WHAT A BIG SCAM!!! You blow efix-rippoff
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September 8, 2009 9:04:27 PM

jellicoOh, I'm sure some slick lawyer will be able to find something in that onerous piece of crap law known as the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) that they can use to harass the poor guy (i.e. force him to spend a lot of money defending himself against baseless accusations).

Actually DMCA has second provision: Removing the copyright notice is violation. This case ASEM has violated DMCA by removing the GNU GLP license. I guess FSF will have all their lawyers working against ASEM and they could be very persistent also.
If I am ASEM, I will find plastic surgeon and disappear and stay away from any authority institution.
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8
September 8, 2009 9:21:57 PM

that's really depressing to hear; I really liked the idea of a powerful plug n play bootloader. oh well. Thanks for alerting us all, Tuan.
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5
September 8, 2009 9:22:03 PM

Of course, the DMCA has no authority outside the US and it's protectorates, so if ASEM and/or AsereBLN aren't located in the US, then good luck getting anywhere with a DMCA based claim.

Personally, I hope ASEM does file a DMCA based claim, and that EFF takes up the defense. That will provide a good basis for getting another anti-circumvention exception added. Circumventing DRM for the purposes of demonstrating suspected copyright infringement should be exempted from DMCA's anti-circumvention provisions.
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September 8, 2009 9:30:19 PM

1. Sucks for those who bought EFI-X, unfortunetly unless a lawsuit occurs they will probably keep producing the modules and people who don't know about them will buy them.
2. Finally a real news article from Tom's. Good.
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September 8, 2009 9:45:41 PM

xysterthat's really depressing to hear; I really liked the idea of a powerful plug n play bootloader. oh well.
Of course, instead of paying $280 for an EFI-X dongle and $129 for a retail (upgrade) of Mac OS X and installing it on unsupported hardware and violating the EULA, you could just buy a Mac in the first place.

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September 8, 2009 10:06:12 PM

This is great coverage of how things have been going down. I bought one of these devices 6 months ago to do a comparison with Chameleon and Boot132 on my blog. I read the EFI-X forums every day to stay abreast of new developments and issues. Overall, I was pretty satisfied with the device. However, the lack of customer support, bad attitudes of the developer and some of the mods, and the increasingly bad habit of the devices to just up-and-die on people got me worrying. I decided to go ahead with my original comparison, and did the Chameleon install. It took a little effort and time, but my system is more stable and runs more consistently than it did with the EFI-X. The best part is not having to worry that my $240 "dongle" will croak, leaving me without my main system. The EFI-X had the potential to fill the niche of people who wanted a little more out of a Mac, but don't necessarily have the time to invest in keeping up with the knowledge required to build and maintain a Chameleon-based Hackintosh. I personally don't mind, and actually find the process rather fun and rewarding. But a company that treats their customers so badly, and runs their business like ASEM does, is not going to survive in this age when word spreads fast, and disgruntled customers will go out of their way to make their experiences known. I say, good riddance ASEM! They would truly need a miracle to erase this stain from their image and win back the support of their customer base, who are no dummies. What were they thinking?
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September 8, 2009 10:16:43 PM

Be sure to Digg the story here
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September 8, 2009 10:20:51 PM

this is what you Mac fags get for dying to use a garbage OS.
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September 8, 2009 10:24:55 PM

geoffsOf course, instead of paying $280 for an EFI-X dongle and $129 for a retail (upgrade) of Mac OS X and installing it on unsupported hardware and violating the EULA, you could just buy a Mac in the first place.


And spend an extra $1000+? If I were even remotely interested in Mac(I'm not), I'd try the Software based one, and maybe even pay for OSX. Not waste over a grand just to have a "legit" version of OSX.

Besides my neighborhood is smug-free, I have no interest in breaking that tradition. ;) 
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September 8, 2009 10:27:56 PM

It would have been much better had Tuan posted this the minute after he posted his interview about a year ago.
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September 8, 2009 10:36:29 PM

CChickthis is what you Mac fags get for dying to use a garbage OS.


Wow. Very insightful.
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2
September 8, 2009 10:41:00 PM

Uncle MeatDid anyone ever think it was anything else?


I *think* EFI-X was making claims that there was some custom cpu on board emulating the EFI interface...supposedly the software way (i.e. Chameleon, etc.) causes a small performance hit. This is why they *had* to charge $280 or whatever for this cpu. Turns out there is no such thing on board.

From this site:

Davide: I’m happy to explain that our module is perfectly legal, for a number of reasons, most of them technical. So we can reattach to the tech discussion too. First of all, the EFiX is absolutely not related to the hackintosh underworld. It doesn’t use a single line of patched code, and I am going to explain to you why.

The EFiX is not a pen-drive at all. Inside it, there is a very powerful CPU and several gigabytes of dedicated static RAM. The module has its own code, language and endless functions. So there is absolutely no way that we even thought about using the patch-a-boo approach of "hackintosh".
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September 8, 2009 10:53:55 PM

The moment I've read the post about the all of sudden "incompatibility" between V1.0 and V1.1 Modules was the moment where I took the initiative and switched back to Chameleon (running 10.6, what even V1.1 useres can only dream of).

Since then many posts appeared on the offical board including the links to AsereBLN's eye opening findings and some helpful guides on how to install SL using Chameleon. Theres are still one or two mods active, but the Owner has vanished since then....

The module did its job, but if they really took code from the community the money would have better gone to other people.
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September 8, 2009 10:56:48 PM

Chameleon? That was the very first web browser I used back in 1995. I wonder if there is a connection?
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September 8, 2009 10:59:13 PM

Tuan is spot on with his reporting of this situation. I have two of the modules and, in general, I was very pleased with them. Then, things started to break down over at ASEM...no communication, some of the mods treating us all like vermin, new firmwares that were few and far between and when they did come, they broke more than they fixed. In reality, what is going on over at ASEM kind of makes Bernie Madoff look like a boy scout. No offense, Bern.

I have since migrated to chameleon, and I'm very glad I did. My system is much more stable and over at the efixusers forum, people there are genuinely helpful, non judgemental of noobs (like me) and not trying to scam people with fake upgrades to a USB stick.

Take from one who has been there...don't buy Efix.
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September 8, 2009 11:37:15 PM

Great article! Thanks for keeping us up-to-date on this entire EFi-X™ debacle. I've been waiting to get me one of these modules but I don't have to worry about this anymore.

Also Aman of TeknoJunkie is actually my Friend and he hasn't left EFi-X™ forums, he's still moderating them and hoping to have all of this deal calm back down.
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September 8, 2009 11:42:45 PM

cliffroAnd spend an extra $1000+? If I were even remotely interested in Mac(I'm not), I'd try the Software based one, and maybe even pay for OSX. Not waste over a grand just to have a "legit" version of OSX.Besides my neighborhood is smug-free, I have no interest in breaking that tradition.
Epic fail! There has never been a $1000 difference between a Mac and a comparable PC. The most extreme cases have been around $700, with under $300 for the typical case, and these EFI-X buyers were spending over $400 to convert their PC's into Mac compatible machines.

And, seems you just stated you think pirating Mac OS X is a valid option. You probably justify pirating all your software because it's too expensive. Have fun explaining that to the judge.
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September 9, 2009 12:13:09 AM

"
geoffsEpic fail! There has never been a $1000 difference between a Mac and a comparable PC. The most extreme cases have been around $700, with under $300 for the typical case, and these EFI-X buyers were spending over $400 to convert their PC's into Mac compatible machines.And, seems you just stated you think pirating Mac OS X is a valid option. You probably justify pirating all your software because it's too expensive. Have fun explaining that to the judge.


Erm, find me a new quad core 'official' mac (ANY quad) for under $2400...even a new psystar quadcore (if you didnt want to build your own Hackintosh with iatkos, kalyway, ideneb, whatever) only costs $700.

Now, granted a Mac Pro would be superior to that Psystar in some areas, but $1700 better?

And its not really pirating Apple if you buy a standalone copy of Leopard/SL, when you build your hackintosh IMHO, although Apple has its lawyers trying to prove otherwise.
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September 9, 2009 12:13:36 AM

This is a nice piece ... i would love to read more pieces like this on tom's.
You know how people including whine from time to time about the decline of TH?
Well just because i tend to whine i guess its no more then fair to let Tuan know when i actually like a piece i read!
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September 9, 2009 12:15:29 AM

And ohw yeah did i mention i was drunk when i wrote the thing above ?
Drunk people Irish people and kids never lie !
And no since the recession Irish and drunk are not the same!, Ask Jane if needed :p 
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September 9, 2009 12:24:46 AM

basically I spent $300 on a $10 piece of shit? I GOT RIPPED OFF! :@
Go ahead ASEM go sue AsereBLN. You're gonna lose the battle!
Many upsetted customers including me!
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September 9, 2009 12:29:24 AM

blppt"Erm, find me a new quad core 'official' mac (ANY quad) for under $2400...even a new psystar quadcore (if you didnt want to build your own Hackintosh with iatkos, kalyway, ideneb, whatever) only costs $700.Now, granted a Mac Pro would be superior to that Psystar in some areas, but $1700 better?
Comprehension fail. Go back and read my post stating comparable Mac and PC.

Quote:
And its not really pirating Apple if you buy a standalone copy of Leopard/SL, when you build your hackintosh IMHO, although Apple has its lawyers trying to prove otherwise.
Comprehension fail #2. The reader to who I was responding (and quoted) stated I'd try the Software based one, and maybe even pay for OSX., implying that he thinks it's acceptable to use Mac OS X without paying for it, which is clearly piracy.
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September 9, 2009 12:30:29 AM

This is the biggest scam ever! I mean it should have been obvious that it was just a flash drive cause of the way you set it up to work... you plug it into a usb port and set usb to be bootable, it couldn't be anything else! you can't make some type of hardware that changes the way the whole mobo works by plugging it into USB.

still, I can't see why paying a massive markup for simple hardware that has software that was stolen from the open source community is any different from buying a Mac :) 
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Anonymous
September 9, 2009 1:50:01 AM

Maybe everyone thinks that spending a year and a half development time comes for free. To say that ASEM stole source community code is debatable as they only needed to give credit to the community and if the code was modified give it back. They created the extensive hardware compatibility lists and worked through numerous problems which any start-up company goes through. It is true that they have shakey customer service, what came across as a poor attitude, and sometimes slow firmware updates, but their product did work as advertised (how many modules eventually failed was another matter that no one except ASEM can put a number on, again poor customer service.)

As far as the markup goes, whatever the market will bear. Did you know that it costs under a nickle to make contact lenses (guess what the cheapest contacts cost?)

For me, paying a company $230 bucks for doing all the stability testing and updates to keep an equivalent MAC Pro system(for half the price) was worth it (I would have never needed to go this route if Apple had offered a beefed up iMac, without the display.)

I am mad that that SL support has not yet come, their has been no announcement about customer concerns and the poor folks that recently purchased V1.0 being left out in the cold.

They still could make it if SL support came out and they made it right buy the people would purchased V1.0 recently (if they still have the man power.) But this seems less and less likely given the companies current actions.
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September 9, 2009 2:04:56 AM

Dear user comms1.

Don't try to make excuses for these guys. It is a scam. period. It doesn't matter how you look at it. It is a scam. I don't have to review the whole article to tell you it is a fraud. The worst thing is not the customer support, those devices started failing within a time frame and they tell you that you should buy the 1.1 version. In one of the links, there's the evidence of GPL violation and it Can be seen that the code strings are the SAME. And on top of it al, they make you believe they have an uber-powerful processor inside that small little roach.
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September 9, 2009 2:07:55 AM

geoffsComprehension fail. Go back and read my post stating comparable Mac and PC.n


Ok, lets play the fail game.

Memory Fail.

geoffsEpic fail! There has never been a $1000 difference between a Mac and a comparable PC. The most extreme cases have been around $700, with under $300 for the typical case, and these EFI-X buyers were spending over $400 to convert their PC's into Mac compatible machines.


Remember saying that? Even IF you factor in $400 extra (assuming this person was building a NEW system from scratch), you still are likely to come out $1400+ cheaper for comparable hardware. EFI-X pre-built systems are considered overpriced for what they give you:

http://www.expresshd.com/p137/Express-PC-Q9550/product_...

BUT, that system is arguably *overall* the equal of a new Mac Pro. And only $1200.

http://store.apple.com/us/browse/home/shop_mac/family/m...

Or even build your own system from scratch with superior components than what is available in a baseline Mac Pro currently.

Basically, if you want a quad core computer from Apple, your bottom line, through apple, is $2400. Go into any local Beast Buy and find the $700 Windows system with quad cores all over the place. And Apple can no longer hide behind their "specialized" hardware now that they use x86/64 cpus and comparable Intel chipsets.

Finally, you can get a psystar quad core that will pretty much smoke any new Mac under that $2400 Mac Pro for $700. Or, build yourself a system, buy Snow Leopard, download a osx86 distro like iatkos, ideneb, kalyway, whatever. This is why hackintoshes are so interesting.
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September 9, 2009 2:25:12 AM

Mr. Nguyen,

What you have written here is journalism.

Congratulations- its very rare today.
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September 9, 2009 3:01:14 AM

Indeed this is a very rare article on any site. Thanks for the great read and great uncovering of a horrific company!
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September 9, 2009 11:03:11 AM

I like the way the CEO said:"I never had sufficient involvement in the hardware and software development to agree or disagree with the claims being made...". Also good article.
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September 9, 2009 2:41:20 PM

Comms1 does have a valid point. Many would pay to have all of the work done for them. And I agree that companies would have expenses, However, in this case I believe all of the work was done by the community and stolen to use in the EFIX. That and the false claims of an onboard cpu/ gigs of memory. Very shady.. I feel sorry for the people who never knew better.
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September 9, 2009 4:16:11 PM

I have great respect for Tom's Hardware for publishing this story! Its about time that someone from the online-media stepped up and got the word out about ASEM/EFi-X's problems. I bought a module 7 months ago, but have never gotten what was promised. I've had nothing but problems, one firmware update after another. I recently switched to PC EFI / Chameleon, and my computer now works PERFECTLY with SNOW LEOPARD. Wilhelm von Vnukov hasn't been able to steal open source code yet to get the EFi-X V1.1 module working.. he's probably too busy banning angry customers from his forum, or possibly fighting behind-the-scenes legal battles.

EFi-X customers are going to be the big losers here. This company is going no where but down.
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September 9, 2009 4:42:23 PM

blpptAnd its not really pirating Apple if you buy a standalone copy of Leopard/SL, when you build your hackintosh IMHO, although Apple has its lawyers trying to prove otherwise.


Apple might make the claim that the overcharging of their hardware makes up some of the extra R&D costs for the ongoing development of OSX, though, which if you choose to install it on non-apple hardware could still be considered partially piracy, I suppose, since you are not overpaying on the hardware, only partially paying what Apple expects to make in developing OSX.

guess thats for the lawyers to figure out
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Anonymous
September 9, 2009 5:15:53 PM

I am deeply offended at the journalistic initiative being demonstrated by TOMSHARDWARE in the case of the phony mactel bootware.

It really is rather déclassé for THW to show up the lazy cheerleading of the mainstream mac media with a flashy stunt line this (um, if the New York Times is wondering what they are missing by letting David Pogue have it both ways, then maybe this case will be a wake-up call).

In the future, it would be appreciated if THW would stick to it's knitting (specs & benchmarks) and leave the news reporting to mainstream tech media where it belongs, like the New York Times ... oh, yeah, I forgot, they aren't really in the news business any more.

Never mind.
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September 9, 2009 5:47:47 PM

Everyone should google the Chameleon bootlarder. It is EFI-X but on USB and free (not $250), but you use the EFI-X drivers which are free on their website for now.

Both products are great because they force you to use an unpatched retail OS X disc, and can use the OS X builtin software updater without seizing the installation.
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Anonymous
September 9, 2009 7:42:06 PM

I cant believe anyone bought this, it takes less than a half day to read a walkthrough on how to install a prebuilt version of osx on a custom pc. I mean even this company required you to follow certain hardware. It sucks but thats what you get for being lazy.
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September 9, 2009 10:30:25 PM

blpptOk, lets play the fail game. Memory Fail.Remember saying that? Even IF you factor in $400 extra (assuming this person was building a NEW system from scratch), you still are likely to come out $1400+ cheaper for comparable hardware.

BUT, that system is arguably *overall* the equal of a new Mac Pro. And only $1200.

Or even build your own system from scratch with superior components than what is available in a baseline Mac Pro currently. Basically, if you want a quad core computer from Apple, your bottom line, through apple, is $2400.
By no measure is a machine with a Core 2 Quad Q9550 and Intel P45 chipset comparable to a Mac Pro with a (Nehalem based) Xeon X5550 and P58 chipset. Nor does the clone you linked include ANY OS or other software, while the Mac includes Mac OS X, iLife, and a variety of other software. You could have linked to a Core i7 machine on BB, that would have at least been close (still not the same, but for most purposes, close enough).

Quote:
Go into any local Beast Buy and find the $700 Windows system with quad cores all over the place.
Yes, with no VT support and a much smaller L2 cache. Again, not comparable machines.

I have never said that you can't get a PC for less, only that a comparable PC isn't significantly less. With an Apple, you are going to pay more in most cases, that pays for their industrial design, the included software, their support, integration, seamless setup, and Apple's markup. But you'll pay about the same price for comparable equipment from Dell, HP/CPQ, or any other major PC vendor, and you still won't get Mac OS. No one is forcing you to buy one, so stop complaining.

Cisco's routers and firewalls are too expensive, and the lower end ones are based on an x86 CPU. Can I just go buy Cisco IOS for one of their routers and hack it to run on a PC? I can save at least $300 doing that. How is that any different than a running Mac OS X on a Hackintosh?

Finally, if you want to see the likely outcome of the Psystar case (and all hackintoshes), check out the ruling in the Davidson Associates, Inc. (Blizzard Entertainment) vs. Internet Gateway case. There is a direct correlation of each point in that case to the Psystar case and to hackintoshes in general.
http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20090901110729...

There is one significant difference for Psystar, because they are pre-installing Mac OS X and then selling the machines, they're modifying and then distributing (for profit too) Mac OS X, and that's a clear violation of copyright (17 USC 102, 106, and 117). Copyright does allow some adaptation of software, but you can't distribute the adapted software to others without written permission from the copyright holder (Apple). Bad news for Psystar, their shareholders, and their customers.
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September 9, 2009 10:39:52 PM

There could be reasons why they are trying to protect their products:

1) from apple, last thing they want is for apple to disable their hardware

2) chinese copy cats

3) people from fiding out the truth


Everything can be products in china for cheap?

Do you really think your $1000 - $3000 computer cost a lot to make? well try $10-$15 for the motherboard..... LCD screen, hard drive, and intel cpu is probably the most expensive parts in the computer but still they are < $100 for each of those parts to produce.


So all Electronics are cheap to produce, companies make millions off hardware (As their brand name helps increase markup), no names and chinese brands get sold for next to nothing.

R&D costs money, so even if hardware is cheap to producte, R&D isn't.
But luvckily r&d only has to be done once(first costs/fixed cost), so the more hardware is sold, the cheaper things can be sold for.

I suspect, the devices (EFI-X) were not cheap becuase they were the only ones with hardare and it was a cool idea to address the problem.

Also they are capitalizing on Apple products, anything for apple costs more then it should. (example: ELGATO TV VIDEO RECORDER costed my cousin $300 and came in a big clunky box, where the pc equivelent costs $50-$110). Apple people are more likely to spend more on products, and allow companies selling apple products to get away with it. This is why its good to say away from apple (its a money trap)


If EFI-X was a mod for the pc and had nothing to do with apple products, then it would probably be sold for under < $150.00.


in my opinion anyone that wants apply stuff rips themself off (if the product works or doesn't work), as apple products are associated with huge make ups. (as its the company that products the p[roduct that makes this markup, not the retailer, as their is next to nothing left to markup for the retailer)





So if you feel ripped off from this product, remember (1) you wated an apple product, and any apple related product is a rip off already. (2) you were paying for overprice hardware(everything is cheap to product in china), but you are paying for the cool unique idea... (3) a product that makes it easy to use apple osx on an unauthorized machine (You will find that when you buy something to mod anything that it will cost you $$$. Essentially you bought an over glorified mod chip)






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September 9, 2009 10:42:01 PM

hallubaloozaI cant believe anyone bought this, it takes less than a half day to read a walkthrough on how to install a prebuilt version of osx on a custom pc. I mean even this company required you to follow certain hardware. It sucks but thats what you get for being lazy.
For some people, half a day worth a lot more than $280.
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September 9, 2009 11:14:35 PM

Tuan Nguyen, you are my new hero. Great article and I'm glad you had a statement from the former CEO. The points you raised in this article match my own experiences as owner of a V1 unit. Mine still works with OS10.5 for the moment, but the frustrations of dealing with EFI-X and its erstwhile "leader", Wilhelm von Vnukov, aka "White Dragon" on the forums, are dreadful. Free software efforts like Firefox have update servers that are up most of the time, but a company that charges $240 for its product can't keep their update server running more than 1 percent of the time? Not to mention that fact that the unit was promised not to need continual firmware updates whenever Apple released updates of 10.5--yet it does need new firmware with every update. And those firmware updates are buggy as hell.

Now Vnukov is suing the brave man who publicly exposed the units for not containing the promised parts inside them. I hope Tom's Hardware will keep close tabs on this story and let us know often what is going on in the various investigations, including their own.

Finally, enough with the elitists crowing how better they are than anyone else because they like to spend days at a time messing around with the guts of a PC instead of getting actual work done or enjoying spending time with other human beings. I don't see high-skilled labor like plumbers, carpenters, mechanics, and surgeons bragging about how smart they are and how anyone could do it and anyone who pays to have plumbing, carpentry, car repair, or sugery done by someone else is stupid. Skilled disciplines require enough background knowledge to apply complex procedures. It's the same with programming. Get a life, morons. Or at least respect those of us who do have one.
That being said, the folks at efixusers.com are so pleasantly supportive that I will try installing Snow Leopard this fall once there's not enough daylight after work to do anything.
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September 10, 2009 12:26:34 AM

Von Vnukov apparently has made good on his threat to sue. Nothing like stifling the truth with a nuisance law suit, and a great marketing idea, "Buy the New and Improved Efix Version 1.1 and you too can LEGALLY hack OS X!!! But wait, there is more!!! If you order within the next 30 minutes, your Efix will come with it's very own lawsuit and the inability to run Snow Leopard despite what we said earlier!!!" Geez...at least they could wear uniforms, so you could see them coming... like before.
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