The 'Book Review

MacBook Pro 'Perfect Form Factor', Rosetta Close to PB G4 Speed, Core Duo Dell $1000 Less, and More

This Week's Mac Notebook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2006.02.10

This Week's MacBook, PowerBook, and iBook News

The MacBook Pro, which should begin shipping Real Soon Now, has been all over the news. Perhaps the most exciting revelation is that the Intel Core Duo should be able to run PowerPC software using Rosetta at about the same speed that these programs run on a PowerBook G4.

In other notebook news, desktop sales have fallen behind portables in the US retail market, and Apple is #9 in notebook sales. dk

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

General Apple and Mac desktop news is covered in The Mac News Review. iPod news is covered in The iNews Review. News about Apple's transition to Intel CPUs and other Intel developments is covered in The Macintel Report.

News & Opinion

Tech Tips and Info

Reviews

Products and Services

Software

Bargain 'Books

News & Opinion

MacBook Pro: The Perfect Form Factor?

15" MacBook ProMacBook Live reports:

"Soon, many of us will have the first MacBooks in our hot little hands. It's a very exciting proposition. But this is truly a case where the real beauty is on the inside, since for all that's new about the new MacBook Pro, it looks pretty much exactly the same as the PowerBook it's replacing. When this was brought up in a recent interview with Newsweek, Steve Jobs was quoted as saying, 'The form factors are perfect, we don't know how to make them any better.'

"Now, I don't know about you, but I think this would have been the perfect time for Newsweek's Steven Levy to look Jobs squarely in the eye and say, 'You and I both know that's bullshit, Steve.'"

I think so, too; the 15" aluminum PowerBook/MacBook Pro form factor is very nice, but Jobs was obviously making a virtue of necessity. cm
Link: MacBook Pro: The Perfect Form Factor?

Rosetta Emulation on MacBook Pro Comparable to Performance of G4 PowerBook

Rob Galbraith reports:

"Like us, you may be considering the purchase of an Apple MacBook Pro as a way to bring deadline-friendly processing speed to a Mac-based field workflow. For several years, certain models of Apple's PowerBook line have represented a superb blend of features, screen quality and portability; in fact, the overall design of the company's mobile machines has far eclipsed computers we've used from mainstream PC vendors in all key areas, except one: speed. A PowerPC G4-equipped Mac laptop simply can't keep up to a Windows laptop powered by an Intel or AMD processor....

"As we noted in an article introducing the MacBook Pro last month, we hope that the switch to Intel processors by Apple will close the speed gap between Mac laptops and laptops from everyone else. But it's really too soon to address whether an Intel-equipped Mac will perform comparably to an Intel (or AMD)-equipped PC, since so few Mac pro imaging applications have yet been turned into versions optimized for the Intel architecture of the latest Macs. For months to come, the majority of Mac applications we rely on to get photo work done will be PowerPC versions, and will operate on an Intel Mac only through the assistance of the Rosetta emulation technology built into the Mac OS.

"It's also really too soon to benchmark a MacBook Pro specifically, since they aren't yet shipping and we don't have one. What we do have on hand is a close cousin to the MacBook Pro: an early 2006 iMac with a 2 GHz Intel Core Duo processor. As fans of Stephen Colbert's Colbert Report, we applied his standard of truthiness in coming up with the headline for this article. We really wanted to benchmark a MacBook Pro, but couldn't, so we got hold of an iMac instead and having been calling it a MacBook Pro...."

"In PowerPC applications, functions that thread through both cores in the iMac's Intel Core Duo processor are completed about as fast, or in some cases faster, than by the PowerBook G4. That's an impressive feat, given how much translation Rosetta must have to do to make PowerPC code palatable to an Intel processor."

Link: Benchmarking the MacBook Pro

15" MacBook Pro $1000 More than 17" Core Duo Dell

ZD Net blogger George Ou says:

"Ok I know it's been a while since the Dell dude was booked for Mary Jane, but I just couldn't resist the title when I did a little comparison shopping for a PC Duo. I found a nice little coupon code (6C$03$J1734MS?) worth $650 off a new Core Duo 1.83 GHz notebook from Dell but couldn't find any coupons for the Mac 1.83 GHz Core Duo. Since this is a typical coupon you'll find every few weeks for Dell and it's rare to find any kind of coupon for the Mac let alone one this large, I felt this was a fair comparison because it's what consumers would generally pay in the real world. If someone does find a Mac coupon, let me know and I'd be happy to update the pricing on the Mac."

 

Dell Core Duo 17"

Mac Core Duo 15.4"

1.83 GHz Intel Core Duo

1.83 GHz Intel Core Duo

17" XGA+ TFT*

15.4" 1440x900 TFT

1 GB 533 MHz DDR2 SDRAM

1 GB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM*

8x DVD±RW/CD-RW*

4x DVD±RW/CD-RW

$1,432 after rebate

$2,499

 * advantage

Link: 'Dude'! The Mac Duo Is $1000 More!

The Modemless MacBook Pro

MacBook Live says:

"The new MacBook Pro is the first Apple laptop in ages to ship without a modem. I know it's not the first because I still shudder at the memory of installing a 28.8 modem in one of my first PowerBook Duos. Anyone who complains about the installation of a new hard drive in a recent vintage PowerBook should try putting a modem in a Duo. Waaay too hard.

"At first I didn't think too much about the lack of a modem in the new MacBook, since I'm connected at home with airport and a cable modem and at work with airport and DSL. After all, dialup is so last century, right?

"Yet I still maintain a dialup Internet account with my local ISP. Why? Sometimes the cable goes out...."

Link: The Modemless MacBook Pro

Notebooks Pass Desktops in US Retail

CNET News.com's Michael Kanellos reports:

"The numbers are in, and the U.S. is notebook country.

"Sales of notebooks surpassed desktop sales in the U.S. retail segment for the first time, according to a report from Current Analysis. Notebooks accounted for 50.9 percent of personal computers bought at retail in 2005, while desktops accounted for 49.1 percent. In 2004, notebooks accounted for only 43 percent of U.S. retail sales, while desktops accounted for 57 percent."

Link: Notebooks Pass Desktops in US Retail

Apple 9th in Portable Sales for 2005

Softpedia News's Victor Mihailescu reports:

"The laptop market is growing and growing. In 2005, the total number was 65.3 million units, up 33.5% from the 48.9 million units shipped in 2004, according to data compiled by IDC. Of the total number of PCs sold, laptops accounted for 31% of the 207 million, up four percent from last year, and their market is expected to overtake that of desktops in the not too distant future.

"Of the big players, Apple was number 9 on the top ten list in 2005....

"Shipments (market share percentage: units/65.3 million total):

  1. Dell - 11,290 (17.29%)
  2. HP - 10,250 (15.70%)
  3. Toshiba - 7,156 (10.96%)
  4. Acer - 6,626 (10.15%)
  5. Lenovo - 5,376 (8.23%)
  6. Fujitsu Siemens - 4,089 (6.26%)
  7. Sony - 2,560 (3.92%)
  8. NEC - 2,447 (3.75%)
  9. Apple - 2,171 (3.32%)
  10. Asustek - 1,552 (2.38%)
(Source: IDC, compiled by DigiTimes, February 2006)

"Might not seem like much, but one has to remember that these are the G4 PowerBooks and iMacs [sic], that were outdated when compared to the competition."

Link: Apple Ninth in Portable Sales Rankings in 2005

Apple Notebook Orders to Boost Quanta Shipments This Year

DigiTimes' Jessie Shen reports:

"Quanta Computer fulfilled notebook orders for Apple's iMac and PowerBook series in 2005 with a combined shipment of about one million units, today's Chinese-language Commercial Times reported today. This year, the notebook manufacturer is expected to enjoy significant shipment growth of the two product lines, of which the PowerBook series may climb to one million units in shipments.

"Meanwhile, Asustek Computer, another notebook contract maker for Apple, may ship two million iBook models in 2006, indicated the paper."

Link: Apple Notebook Orders to Boost Quanta Shipments This Year

Apple Applies for Touchscreen Gesture Patent

ExtremeTech's Mark Hachman reports:

"Apple Computer has applied for a patent on several methods of applying gestures to touch-sensitive input devices, possibly implying a touchpad- or touchscreen-enabled product is in the company's future.

"The company's patent, 'Gestures for touch sensitive input devices,' features a large illustration of a hand making the 'dialing' motion that controls an iPod on a large, blank display. The patent describes several methods for inputting touch commands, including the implementation of floating controls as well as the method of turning a virtual page, such as in an electronicbook."

Link: Apple Applies for Touchscreen Gesture Patent

Apple Files Patent for Touchscreen Device

Apple Files Patent: Touchscreens

United States Patent Application 20060026536

Kind Code A1

Hotelling; Steve ; et al. February 2, 2006

Gestures for touch sensitive input devices

Abstract

Methods and systems for processing touch inputs are disclosed. The invention in one respect includes reading data from a multipoint sensing device such as a multipoint touch screen where the data pertains to touch input with respect to the multipoint sensing device, and identifying at least one multipoint gesture based on the data from the multipoint sensing device.

Assignee Name and Address: Apple Computer, Inc.

Link: United States Patent Application 20060031539

Win a MacBook Pro in Small Dog Contest

PR: Small Dog Electronics' next contest prize is for the new MacBook Pro with Intel Core Duo processor

The MacBook Pro has a 15.4" display with a native resolution of 1440 x 900 pixels, which is driven by a ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 graphics processor. The MacBook Pro comes ready to go with built-in APX, and Bluetooth.

The Intel processor has promise of being four times faster than the G4 processor used in the PowerBook line. This is an exciting development as software developers begin to produce software to run on the new platform.

One of the unique features of the MacBook Pro is the MagSafe AC connector. The AC adapter connects to the MacBook Pro not by the usual plug but by a magnet. If the cord is accidentally tugged, the AC cable will release without stressing the connection or pulling the laptop onto the floor.

Small Dog will pick the winner of this prize on Independence Day, July 4, 2006.

Link: Small Dog Contest

Tech Tips and Info

How to Fix a Broken PowerBook Display Latch on the Cheap

MacBook Live says:

"My 2003 PowerBook had been acting a little flaky for awhile. Pushing the release button to open the 'Book's display was becoming more frequently hit or miss, often requiring repeated attempts to coax the computer to let me in. In the manner of all considerate problems, this one worked out its issues on its own, without requiring my input . . . one day while opening the display, the latch that holds it closed simply snapped off. I can only assume it was tired of fighting. Whatever the reason, I no longer had to concern myself with its reluctance to open.

"Of course, getting the PowerBook to close was now impossible....

"Do I eat the $300 and have Apple fix it? Do I buy the necessary part online for about $100 and attempt the repair (a tricky one) myself? Or, do I throw the dysfunctional machine up on eBay, get what I can get, and buy a new PowerBook? (The last option was very tempting)"

Link: How to Fix a Broken PowerBook Display Latch on the Cheap

Reviews

iLap Solves Several Problems for 'Book Users

iLapMacBook Live says:

"All PowerBook and MacBook accessories should work as well and look as good as the iLap from Rain Design. I found the iLap when looking for a solution to the discomfort I experienced typing on my new 15-inch PowerBook. Unlike the 12-inch PowerBook (my main machine since its 2003 introduction), I found the 15-inch PowerBook's leading edge to be the perfect distance from the keyboard to dig right into my forearms as I typed. When I saw the comfy looking velvet cushion that fronted the PowerBook's leading edge on the iLap, I figured I should give it a try, a decision that turned out to be quite prescient. Not only did the iLap solve my wrist problem, it solved a few others I wasn't even expecting. Even though I ended up going back to the 12-inch full time, the iLap had become a permanent part of my daily computing."

Link: MacBook: I Sit, Therefore iLap

Products and Services

HardCover Case for PowerBooks, MacBook Pro

PR: Protect and Use with Style and Elegance - Special Intro Price for a Limited Time

HardCover CaseThe intuitive design of the HardCover Case helps protect your investment by firmly attaching to your PowerBook, keeping it safe from scratches, and absorbing shock. All the while, fulfilling the laptop's original potential of portability, allowing you to carry and organize loose papers, business cards and CDs. Plus, the HardCover Case adds the look and feel of an expensive hardcover book to showcase or disguise your laptop. So there's no need for your bulky computer bag anymore.

  • Other Sizes Available.
  • Custom Logo Available.

Price

  • 1 - 4 - $29.77
  • 5 - 9 - $28.77
  • 10 + - $27.77

Editor's note: This was one clever, simple product that really stood out for me at this year's Macworld Expo. If you're looking for compact, lightweight protection for just your PowerBook and don't want the hassles of removing it from a sleeve or case to use it, take a look. dk

Link: HardCover Case for PowerBooks, MacBook Pro

Samsung Offers 100 GB and 120 GB 2.5" Hard Drives

PR: Samsung Electronics Ltd. introduces four new 2.5" hard drives specifically designed for intensive notebook and enterprise computing applications. Samsung's latest addition to its award-winning SpinPoint family of hard drives includes the M60 SATA Series featuring the 100 GB HM100JI ($170 Estimated Street Price) and 120 GB HM120JI ($200) and the M60 Series featuring 100 GB HM100JC ($150) and 120 GB HM120JC ($180).

"In continuing with our progress and commitment to being at the forefront of cutting-edge technology, Samsung is focused on providing high-end storage solutions with increased capacity," said Albert Kim, National Sales Manger, Storage Systems for Samsung SSI. "The new M60 SATA Series and M60 Series demonstrate Samsung's continuing commitment of providing quality and reliable hard drives for the enterprise marketplace and for home users."

The M60 SATA Series hard drives are perfect for enterprise applications such as blade servers that require small form factors with the benefits of Serial ATA technology. The M60 SATA Series allows for an unlimited number of hard drives with a system. The M60 SATA Series is the perfect solution for "daisy chaining" of drives via slim cables, allowing users to store virtually unlimited amounts of data by simply adding additional drives to their system.

Ideal for corporate or mobile computing needs, the M60 Series and M60 SATA Series feature 8 MB of onboard data cache and high performance 5,400 rpm spindle speed. The new series of hard drives provide cutting-edge shock protection capability through an advanced mechanical platform and able-bodied cover design engineered to minimize the intensity of external shock transmitted to the most critical components of the drive.

The M60 Series and M60 SATA Series hard drives are equipped with Samsung's Hybrid Latch System, a revolutionary new latch mechanism that eliminates unpleasant rattling noises and significantly reduces the clicking noise generated when a drive moves its heads on and off the disk according to the operating modes. The drive uses a Fluid Dynamic Bearing motor to achieve an industry-leading operating acoustic noise levels.

Each of the new M60 SATA Series and M60 Series Parallel ATA hard drives feature 60 GB formatted capacity per disk, Fluid Dynamic Bearing Spindle motor technology, ATA SMART feature set, ATA Automatic Acoustic Management, ATA Device Configuration overlay and Multi-Burst On-The-Fly Error Correction. Utilizing Samsung's SilentSeek(TM) technology, the M60 Series and M60 SATA Series provide PC notebook users with some of the quietest 2.5" hard drives in the industry.

Link: Samsung

Software

PocketMac for BlackBerry Synchs BlackBerry with Mac via iSync

The PocketMac Team says:

"BlackBerry devices - sync your Mac to your BlackBerry device for Free..."

More than 4 years after we began making unique sync solutions for the Mac, people still ask us, "Are you guys nuts?"

Only now they ask, "What Mac user would want a BlackBerry device?"

And just as before, our answer is: All of them!

The BlackBerry device is one of the best devices and the Mac is the best computing platform.

Why not have the best of both worlds? That's why we created PocketMac® For BlackBerry, the original Mac-To-BlackBerry Sync Solution...

Now you can dependably and stably sync your BlackBerry device with your Mac. PocketMac For BlackBerry is the first program to allow Mac users to sync their crucial data between their BlackBerry device and Entourage, Address Book, iCal, Now Contact, Now Up-To-Date, and even Stickies. And it's fully integrated with iSync as well!

14 months of hard work, engineering and testing PocketMac For BlackBerry means you'll never need a Windows-based PC to sync your crucial data with your BlackBerry device and that synching is fast and rock-solid.

PocketMac For BlackBerry takes care of everything for you. Install the software on your Mac in 3 minutes, configure which options you want enabled (Entourage Calendar, iCal, Tasks, etc.), connect your BlackBerry device to your Mac via USB or Serial Cable, and start the sync. That's all that's required. That's literally it.

What's more, PocketMac for BlackBerry was just awarded 4-1/2 of 5 mice by Macworld UK.

Best of all, thanks to Research In Motion® (RIM®) (designer and manufacturer of the BlackBerry device) licensing PocketMac for BlackBerry, it's free for all BlackBerry users!

And, PocketMac For BlackBerry is a 2-way sync system, allowing you to sync changes in everything from Contacts to Calendar Events to Tasks to Notes. And it's fast - it's built with the same industry-leading technology that made our other PocketMac products the best sellers they are today.

What's more, it's safe for your data. This software has been written, tested, rewritten, retested and then tested again for 14 solid months to make sure your data is being routed perfectly! And now it's ready to run on your Mac!

If you have a BlackBerry and a Mac, PocketMac For BlackBerry is the perfect tool for you! We know you'll love the ease and power of this software.

PocketMac For BlackBerry Features

  • Entourage Sync - You can sync Entourage Contacts, Calendar, Tasks, & Notes with your BlackBerry device.
  • Address Book Sync - You can sync Address Book Contacts with your BlackBerry device.
  • iCal Sync - You can sync iCal Calendar and Tasks with your BlackBerry device.
  • Now Contact/Now Up-To-Date Sync - You can sync Now Contact/Now Up-To-Date Contacts, Calendars & Tasks to your BlackBerry device. (Requires Now Contact & Now Up-To-Date.)
  • Stickies Notes Sync - You can sync Stickies Notes to your BlackBerry device.
  • Daylite Sync - You can sync Contacts, Calendars & Tasks to your BlackBerry device.
  • iSync Integration - PocketMac For BlackBerry is fully integrated with iSync on your Mac. You can use iSync to sync, or you can use PocketMac's own software to sync.
  • USB/Serial Sync - You can sync your BlackBerry device over USB or Serial (Keyspan USA-19HS Required).
  • Password Support - PocketMac For BlackBerry fully supports BlackBerry passwords. Just enter your password and sync - it's that simple.
  • USB Charge While Sync - The moment you plug your USB-supported BlackBerry device into your Mac and PocketMac starts to sync, your BlackBerry device will be automatically recharged.

System requirements:

  • Mac OS 10.3 ("Panther")/10.4 ("Tiger") Or Higher
  • 14 MB free disk space on your Mac
  • 1 Available USB Port
  • And a BlackBerry Device

Optional Requirements:

  • Only for Entourage Synching Options: Entourage 10.1.6 Or Higher

System support: Platform: PPC

PocketMac for BlackBerry is free

Link: PocketMac for BlackBerry

Bargain 'Books

Bargain 'Books are used unless otherwise indicated. New and refurbished units have a one-year Apple warranty and are eligible for AppleCare.

There are two different versions of WallStreet running at 233 MHz, the cacheless MainStreet version and the later Series II with a level 2 cache. It's not always possible to determine from the vendor's listing which is being offered, so we've included links within this paragraph to the two models. The same goes for the PowerBook G4/667 (VGA) and G4/667 (DVI), the titanium vs. aluminum 15" PowerBook G4 at 1 GHz, and 1.25 GHz to 1.5 GHz 15" PowerBooks.

PowerBook and iBook profiles linked in our Portable Mac Index.

Baucom Computers

  • used 12" iBook G3/600, 256/40/CD, $390
  • used 15" PowerBook G4/800, 256/40/Combo, $725
  • extra 512 MB add $89

ExperCom

  • used 12" iBook G3/900, 640/40/Combo, $599
  • used 12" PowerBook G4/ 867, 256/40G/ Combo, $699
  • used 15" PowerBook G4/1.25 GHz, 512/80/SuperDrive, APX, $1,399

Power Max

  • refurb 12" iBook G4/1 GHz, 256/30/CD, $699
  • refurb 15" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/80/Combo, APX, $1,399
  • refurb 17" PowerBook G4/1.67 GHz, 512/100/SuperDrive, APX, $1,849

Wegener Media

  • used 12" PowerBook G4/1 GHz, 256/40/Combo, $739.99
  • Upgrade to SuperDrive, $129.99
  • Upgrade to 8x Super Drive, $159.99
  • Add 512 MB RAM with purchase of machine (total of 768 MB), $49.99
  • Add 1 GB RAM with purchase of machine (total 1.25 GB of RAM!), 189.99
  • 1 year extended service warranty,$99.99
  • Add AirPort Express card, $39.99
  • Upgrade to 80 GB hard drive, $119.99

TechRestore

  • used 15" aluminum PowerBook G4/1 GHz, 256/60/Combo, BT, $1,179.99

Apple Store

Free ground shipping.

  • refurb 12" PowerBook G4/1.33 GHz, 256/60/SuperDrive, APX, $1,099
  • refurb 14" iBook G4/1.42 GHz, 512/60/SuperDrive, APX, , BT 2.0, $1,049
  • refurb 15" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/80/Combo, APX, BT 2.0, $1,399
  • refurb 15" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/80/SuperDrive, APX, $1,499
  • refurb 17" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/80/SuperDrive, APX, $1,699
  • refurb 17" PowerBook G4/1.67 GHz, 512/100/SuperDrive, APX, BT 2.0, $1,849

For more deals on current or recently discontinued models, see our best 15" MacBook Pro deals, our best 17" MacBook Pro deals, 12" PowerBook G4 deals, 15" aluminum PowerBook G4 deals, 17" PowerBook G4 deals, titanium PowerBook G4 deals, iBook G4 deals, PowerBook G3 deals, and iBook G3 deals.

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