The 'Book Review

MacBook Battery Life and Performance, MacBook Teardown Guide, Longer Life PowerBook Batteries, and More

This Week's Mac Notebook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2006.02.24

This Week's MacBook, PowerBook, and iBook News

MacBook Pros are shipping, and this week we have real world battery life and performance benchmarks as well as the first teardown guide. On the PowerBook front, NewerTech has released the longest lasting batteries yet for the 15" titanium and 15" aluminum PowerBooks G4 models.

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.

MacBook News

News & Opinion

Products and Services

Bargain 'Books

MacBook News

MacBook Pro Battery and MacBench 1.2 Benchmarks Posted

PowerPage's Jason O'Grady says:

"I did my first real test of the controversial MacBook Pro battery today. I wanted to test the MBP in a typical setting for my daily use...." Preliminary testing shows the MacBook Pro has slightly better battery life than a 15" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz.

Also posted by Jason are some initial benchmarks comparing the PowerBook G4 1.5 GHz (2 GB RAM, 120 GB HDD) and the MacBook Pro 2.0 GHz (1 GB RAM, 100 GB HDD) from MacBench 1.2.

MacBook Pro Photoshop Benchmarks Posted

ZD Net blogger Jason D. O'Grady has posted more MacBook Pro benchmarks:

"I've run some benchmarks on Apple's new MacBook Pro running an application that hasn't been optimized for the Intel chip yet - Adobe's notoriously resource intensive Photoshop CS.

"For the test I ran two Photoshop actions on my PowerBook G4 1.5 GHz and on my MacBook Pro 2.0 GHz. Both are similarly configured with 2 GB of RAM and 120 GB (5400 RPM) hard drives. For the purposes of these tests both machines were booted into clean OS X user accounts with no other applications running. Photoshop guru Will Hammond created the actions and provided me with benchmarks for his TiBook 1 GHz with 1 GB RAM and 100 GB HDD for comparison....

"The results are very interesting…"

Editor's note: looks like the MacBook Pro running Photoshop in Rosetta emulation would be about as fast as a 1 GHz PowerBook (Intel CPUs/Rosetta don't support AltiVec, and Photoshop for Mac is highly optimized for AltiVec. cm
Link: MacBook Pro Photoshop Benchmarks Posted

iFixit Posts MacBook Disassembly Guide

PR: iFixit, maker of the revolutionary Fixit Guide series, has posted the first MacBook Pro disassembly instructions and photos. The MacBook Pro disassembly is online.

MacBook Pro Fixit GuideThe MacBook Pro disassembly guide contains high resolution photos of the MacBook's internals, including the Intel Core Duo processor. The MacBook guide complements iFixit's revolutionary do-it-yourself laptop repair manuals, the Fixit Guide Series. Fixit Guides are available for every laptop Apple has made since 1998. All Guides are available free online.

iFixit also sells a full line of PowerBook and iBook parts. "I'm proud to announce that we have over 600 different Mac parts and upgrades in-stock and ready to ship. We couldn't be more excited about our market position," said Kyle Wiens, iFixit's CEO. Fixit Guides are available for these computers:

  • MacBook Pro
  • Mac Mini
  • PowerBook G4 Aluminum (867 MHz - 1.67 GHz)
  • PowerBook G4 Titanium (400 MHz - 1 GHz)
  • PowerBook G3 (233 - 500 MHz)
  • iBook G4 (800 MHz - 1.42 GHz)
  • iBook G3 (300 - 900 MHz)

iFixit launched in 2003 and instantly became the leader in the Mac laptop part industry. iFixit is dedicated to helping Macintosh zealots everywhere keep their Macs running. For more information, visit: www.iFixit.com or call 1-866-61-FIXIT.

Inside the MacBook ProOWC Posts MacBook Pro Teardown Pix

A new OWC record. Machine received about 10:30 2/21/06 - and already fully taken apart, pictures taken, and posted to the web by 1 PM. Not even enough time to benchmark this system! :>)

You can check it out here: https://eshop.macsales.com/Reviews/Framework.cfm? page=/hardwareandnews/mbp1520/mbp1520.html

News & Opinion

The 15" PowerBook Gone; 12" and 17" May Not Be Far Behind

MacBookLive reports:

"Buh bye, 15" PowerBook. We knew it was coming, but it's still a bit of a shock to see the most popular PowerBook no longer available for sale in the Apple Store. Are the 12" and 17" models far behind?

The full court press is on with the move to Intel Macs, and six weeks after the announcement of the 15" MacBook, its PowerBook brother is kicked out of the family. That seems about right for the amount of time necessary to clear out an inventory channel. The question now is, if Apple is no longer manufacturing the 12" and 17" models, how long until the current stock of these models dries up? A little low tech research comprised of calling around the country to various Apple Stores may indicate that this will happen sooner rather than later...."

Link: The 15" PowerBook Is Gone; Indications that the 12" and 17" May Not Be Far Behind?

17" MacBook Pro 'to Debut in June'

The Register's Tony Smith reports:

"Apple will launch a 2.16 GHz 17in MacBook Pro in June - exactly one year after it formally announced the move to Intel processors. However, there's still no sign that the company will similarly create a MacBook Pro version of its 12in PowerBook G4.

So claim "reliable" sources cited by AppleInsider. According to the website, the 17in notebook's development work has matched that of the Intel-based iBook line-up, but while the consumer laptops are expected to debut in April, the availability of suitably slimline 8x DVD±RW drives for the 17in model - Apple's flagship notebook, after all - may well be holding up the product's introduction."

Link: Apple 17in MacBook Pro 'to Debut in June'

iTab: The iBook Evolved into a Tablet Computer

PR: A company called ThePlaceforitAll.com has announced a new Mac OS tablet computer called iTab. According to the company's Website, the iTab is built by taking Apple's 12" iBook laptop, taking the screen off, applying a touchscreen, then flipping the screen around and fastening it on. The whole thing is finished off by putting the leftover screen backing over the top of the iTab, giving it the "rounded white edges." The image reproduced here is claimed to be a very close approximation of what iTab should look like when constructed.

iTabThe iTab is not built yet. ThePlaceforitAll.com plans to build them as they are sold, at least initially one at a time, through eBay auctions.

Every iTab will come with all of the original iBook accessories, plus a stylus, and all of the iBook's software (Mac OS X Tiger preinstalled, games, etc.). The hardware specifications are the same as the original iBook (except for the touchscreen and the lack of keyboard, trackpad, and one less USB port).

ThePlaceforitAll.com does emphasize two points that have to be made about the purchase of an iTab:

1. The Apple iBook hardware warranty is voided when they modify it to make iTab. Your software warranty is not, but Apple probably won't even accept the iTab for repairs if the charges are on you. With that caveat in mind, the company pledges to do extensive tests on the iBook before modifying to catch any potential problems. Any problems with a computer are usually immediately visible after these tests, so the chance of your iTab breaking after purchase is lower. If you aren't afraid of opening a computer up, fixing an iTab is similar to fixing an iBook (a bit of fear here is appropriate; iBook repairs are dauntingly difficult - CM0. All you would need to do is buy a new part to replace the old, remove the screen of iTab, and follow the normal install directions. However, ThePlaceforitAll.com will not fix any broken iTabs.

2. There is no handwriting recognition. The touchscreen technology used in iTab is not compatible with InkWell, Apple's handwriting recognition technology. There are other input options, though. KeyStrokes is a virtual on-screen keyboard that provides advanced multilingual word prediction. It can do word completion, next word prediction and even multi-word prediction in any Roman language as well as many other languages. The PolyPredix prediction engine offers many unique, time and effort saving features allowing significantly easier and faster typing. KeyStrokes can reduce typing efforts by 50 to 70%. Try doing that with handwriting recognition! There is also the cheaper TouchStrokes, made by the same company, that is optimized for touchscreens but lacks word prediction. Neither TouchStrokes nor KeyStrokes are included with iTab [and they are quite expensive. You might want to check that out prior to purchase - CM].

The iTab comes with a 1.33 GHz PowerPC G4 processor and 512K Level 2 Cache, a 133 MHz system bus and 512 MB of onboard memory, upgradable to 1.5 GB, a 40 GB hard drive and slot-loading Combo Drive

The iTab has a 1024 x 768 pixel resolution display, and having worked with one of these in an iBook for the past three years and counting, I'll give it a big thumbs-up. The iTab's video support is powered by an ATI Radeon 9550 graphics processor with 32 MB of VRAM and AGP 4x support, and there is an internal 56k modem.

ThePlaceforitAll.com is selling a limited number of 100 iTabs (series #1) through eBay. There will only be 100 iTabs made of series #1. Every time Apple upgrades the iBook, there will be another series of 100 iTabs using the new iBooks. Each iTab will be numbered and signed by the maker. The first iTab (which has been auctioned) will now be built. A new eBay auction for iTab #2 of series #1 will be coming soon.

Link: iTab Mac Tablet Computer

Products and Services

Kensington 70W AC/DC Power Adapter for 'Books and iPods

Kensington 70 Watt AC/DC Power Adapter for Apple NotebookPR: This new go-anywhere adapter for the Apple lifestyle features:

  • AC and DC capabilities power your Apple or iPod virtually anywhere
  • Compact and lightweight design is up to 40% smaller and lighter (by volume) for more nimble portability
  • 70 watts of anytime, anywhere power for your Apple PowerBook, iBook, or iPod
  • Flexible SmartTip design lets you power dozens of devices with a single adapter - just swap tips (sold separately)
  • One adapter can replace your existing power supply and give you portable power
  • Included in the package are the following notebook tips: N16, N23 and J3 (iPod tip)

Warranty - 70 Watt AC/DC Power Adapter for Apple Notebook is backed by the Kensington 1-Year warranty.

Price: $119.99

Link: Kensington 70 Watt AC/DC Power Adapter for Apple Notebook

Highest Capacity Battery Ever for 15" Aluminum G4

PR: Utilizing the newest premier cells available, Other World Computing and NewerTech today introduce the highest capacity, highest quality replacement battery ever made available for the PowerBook G4 15-inch Aluminum.

Other World Computing (OWC) and Newer Technology, Inc. (NewerTech) round out their complete line of PowerBook replacement batteries by today introducing the highest capacity battery every made available for Apple's PowerBook G4 15-inch Aluminum models.

Engineered with revolutionary cells just released on the market and not available through any other manufacturer in units of this capacity and quality, the newest addition to the NewerTech NuPower Lithium-Ion battery family are rated at 55.5 watt hours providing almost 16% more run time capacity than Apple factory-shipped batteries.

All NuPower batteries are designed, engineered, and manufactured in the United States of America using only the world's top quality Lithium-Ion cells from Japan and Canada to ensure both longer runtime and life span.

"NuPower batteries are a total win-win-win," said Larry O'Connor, CEO of OWC. "More run time between charges sets you free, the longer life span of Newer NuPower batteries provides both economical benefits as well as those for the environment"

The new 55.5 Watt Hour PowerBook G4 Aluminum 15-inch batteries retail for only $139.99 and come with a one-year NewerTech warranty. A 53.3 Watt Hour model also is available for $129.99. These batteries are compatible with all of Apple's PowerBook G4 Aluminum 15-inch models from 1.0 GHz and up to the current 1.67 GHz.

NewerTech's full line of NuPower high capacity battery replacements for Apple PowerBook G3 & G4, iBook G3 & G4, and iPod models can be purchased through OWC and other fine retailers.

Link: NewerTech Batteries

48% Capacity Battery Upgrade for Titanium PowerBook G4

PR: Other World Computing (OWC) and Newer Technology, Inc. (NewerTech) have added to their award-winning line of NuPower PowerBook replacement batteries by introducing the highest capacity battery every made available for Apple's PowerBook G4 15-inch Titanium models.

The newest addition to the NewerTech NuPower Lithium-Ion battery family is rated at 74 Watt Hours, providing up to 48% more run time capacity than Apple factory-shipped batteries.

NewerTech batteries"Titanium G4 owners who buy today can now achieve the highest capacity run times ever," said Larry O'Connor, President of NewerTech, in discussing the new NuPower batteries. "The longer life span of NewerTech NuPower batteries translates into long term economical and environmental savings."

The new high capacity batteries from NewerTech's NuPower line utilize revolutionary cells only just released on the market and not available through any other manufacturer in units of comparable capacity and quality.

All NuPower batteries are designed, engineered, and manufactured in the United States of America using only the world's top quality Lithium-Ion cells from Japan and Canada to ensure both longer runtime and life span.

NewerTech offers extreme power, high capacity battery upgrades for every PowerBook and iBook model produced from 1998 to 2006. A custom line of Intelligent Charger/Conditioners also is available from NewerTech, allowing PowerBook and iBook users to get the most out of any battery. Exclusive from NewerTech, the Intelligent Charger/Conditioners work to enhance the life span of any Apple, NuPower, or third party battery.

The new 74 Watt Hour PowerBook G4 Titanium 15-inch batteries retail for only $159.99 and come with a one-year NewerTech warranty.

Also available:

  • NuPower Ti 65 Watt-Hour $139.99
  • NuPower Ti 71 Watt-Hour $149.99

NewerTech's full line of NuPower high capacity battery replacements for Apple PowerBook G3 & G4, iBook G3 & G4, and iPod models can be purchased through OWC and other fine retailers.

Link: NewerTech Batteries

SIIG FireWire and eSATA ExpressCards Pass Compliance Testing

PR: SIIG, the market leader in I/O connectivity products (including Serial ATA and Ultra ATA Controllers, FireWire, USB, serial/parallel I/O, etc.) has announced announce that four of SIIG's new ExpressCard products have passed all testing & are certified compliant with the Personal Computer Memory Card International Association's (PCMCIA) ExpressCard specifications.

Commitment to Quality & Reliability "SIIG has always been proud of being a leader in the development of leading-edge I/O technology and offering products that meet a high-level of quality and reliability," said Dolly Chao, Director of Sales and Marketing of SIIG, Inc. "With the release of our new line of ExpressCard connectivity solutions, we continue that tradition."

Current ExpressCard compliant products include:

  • FireWire 2-Port ExpressCard (SIIG part # NN-EC2012-S1) - ExpressCard/34 module size, includes 2 external FireWire 400 6-pin ports
  • FireWire 2-Port ExpressCard DV-Kit (SIIG part # NN-EC2112-S1) - same adapter as the FireWire 2-Port ExpressCard, bundled with Ulead VideoStudio 9.0.
  • eSATA II Express Card (SIIG part # SC-SAE512-S1) - ExpressCard/54 module size, two-port host adapter with two eSATA ports, data transfer rates of up to 3Gb/sec, NCQ (native command queuing), & more.
  • eSATA II ExpressCard RAID (SIIG part # SC-SAE612-S1) - ExpressCard/54 module size, two-port host adapter with two eSATA ports, RAID 0 (striping) & RAID 1 (mirroring), data transfer rates of up to 3Gb/sec, NCQ (native command queuing), & more.

SIIG's other products based on the new ExpressCard format will include assorted FireWire (400 & 800), Serial ATA II, & other adapters. All products will be built using the same quality manufacturing standards that SIIG is known for, conform to ExpressCard/34 or ExpressCard/54 module sizes (depending on the application), compliant with the Personal Computer Memory Card International Association's (PCMCIA) ExpressCard standard, and come with a lifetime warranty.

The ExpressCard standard was developed by the Personal Computer Memory Card International Association (PCMCIA), along with technology leaders, system manufacturers, card manufacturers, and representatives from all other parts of the PC Card industry in order to offer a new standard for hot swappable systems and modules that dramatically improves the I/O performance of both desktop and notebook computers by supporting both the PCI Express and Universal Serial Bus (USB) 2.0 standard.

ExpressCard advantages include:

  • A Smaller & Faster PC Card Solution
  • Suitable for Mobile and Desktop Systems
  • Supports USB 2.0 and PCI Express Applications
  • Lower System and Card Complexity
Link: SIIG

QuickerTek Automator Eases PowerBook Antenna Switching

PR: QuickerTek PC Card Buffalo Bundle users can now update their computers with this latest release. Now using this new, free OS X Automator, you can switch between the Buffalo PC Card and the built-in AirPort card while using your AirPort wireless connection. This free solution can be downloaded here:

http://www.quickertek.com/QuickerTek_AirPort_Switcher.zip

Why is this important? If you are traveling and the PC Card malfunctions or for any reason won't work, you can always switch the connection.

The PC Card Buffalo Bundle consists of the 802.11g Buffalo PC Card 54g which offers the fastest 802.11 speeds available. This card has excellent Mac support and works consistently. Specifically, the PC Card Bundle works with the following Apple PowerBook computers: titanium 15-inch PowerBook G4 PowerBook G3 Pismo

Customers have asked us about this and we've delivered. It's easy to use.

Get the Buffalo Bundle PC Card fix at the QuickerTek website or from one of our dealers, such as EchoTech Wireless.

QuickerTek has been a recognized leading innovator of antennas and RF products for Apple Power Macintosh, iMac, PowerBook and soon the MacBook Pro computers. QuickerTek products can be purchased online and from authorized dealers.

Link: QuickerTek

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.

TechRestore

  • used 12" PowerBook G4/867, 128/40/SuperDrive, BT, $749.99
  • used 15" PowerBook G4/667, 256/30/Combo, DVI video, $719.99
  • used 12" PowerBook G4/1 GHz, 256/40/Combo, BT, $899.99
  • used 15" PowerBook G4/667, 256/30/Combo, SVGA video, $729.99
  • used 15" PowerBook G4/867, 256/30/Combo, $799.99
  • used 15" PowerBook G4/1 GHz titanium, 512/60/SuperDrive, $1,049.99
  • used 17" PowerBook G4/1.33 GHz, 512/60/SuperDrive, APX, BT, $1,499.99

ExperCom

  • used 12" iBook G3/700, 128/20/CD, $399
  • used 14" iBook G3/700, 128/30/Combo, $459
  • used 14" iBook G3/900, 256/40/Combo, $549
  • used 12" PowerBook G4/867, 256/40/Combo, $699
  • used 17" PowerBook G4/1 GHz, 512/60/SuperDrive, APX, scratched - $1,049

Apple Store

  • refurb 12" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/80/SuperDrive, APX, BT 2.0, $1,199
  • refurb 15" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/80/Combo, APX, BT 2.0, $1,399
  • refurb 17" PowerBook G4/1.67 GHz, 512/100/SuperDrive, APX, BT 2.0, $1,849

Power Max

  • refurb 12" iBook G4/1 GHz, 256/30/CD, $669
  • refurb 12" iBook G4/1.25 GHz, 256/30/CD, $849
  • refurb 17" PowerBook G4/1.67 GHz, 512/100/Super Drive, APX, $1,749

Baucom Computers

  • used 12" iBook G3/600, 256/20/CD, $390
  • extra 512 MB, add $89

Wegener Media

  • Lombard PowerBook G3/333, 128/4/CD, $319.99
  • Lombard PowerBook G3/400, 128/4/CD, $369.99
  • G4 Processor upgrade special, add $179.99
  • Upgrade to a 20 GB hard drive, add $49.99

Apple Store

Prices in Canadian Dollars

  • refurb 12" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/80/SuperDrive, APX, BT 2.0, $C1,439
  • refurb 15" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/80/Combo, APX, BT 2.0, C$1,679
  • refurb 17" PowerBook G4/1.67 GHz, 512/100/SuperDrive, APX, BT 2.0, C$2,219

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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