The 'Book Review

13" Widescreen MacBook Coming?, 5400 vs. 7200 rpm Notebook Drives, MacBook Pro Issues, and More

This Week's Mac Notebook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2006.04.07

This Week's MacBook, PowerBook, and iBook News

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

MacBook Pro Problems

Tech Tips and Info

Reviews

Products and Services

Software

Bargain 'Books

News & Opinion

Asus to Make 13" Widescreen MacBook?

The Register's Tony Smith says:

"Asus has reportedly won the contract to manufacture Apple's upcoming Intel-based iBook - aka the MacBook - which will be the first consumer-oriented notebook from the vendor to incorporate a widescreen display.

"So claimed Chinese-language newspaper the Commercial Times today, according to the AFX news service. The report suggests Apple will ship the product in June - a year on from its announcement of the move from PowerPC processors to Intel chips, incidentally. The notebook will sport a 13.3in display."

"The 13.3in screen was said to have a native resolution of 1,280 x 720 - sufficient for 720p HD content."

Link: Asus to Make 13.3in Widescreen MacBook - Report

Laptop Hard Drives: 5400 vs. 7200 rpm, FW400 vs FW800

Bare Feats' rob-ART morgan reports:

"If you are buying a new MacBook Pro, you might be wondering if the 7200 RPM drive option is worth the $$$. We were wondering the same thing. So we tested two MacBook Pros, one with the 5400 RPM drive and one with the optional 7200 RPM drive.

"We were also wondering how much speed we were giving up by the loss of the FireWire 800 port. So we tested one of our fastest 3.5" 7200 RPM drives on the MacBook's FireWire 400 Port and compared to what we got on a PowerBook's FireWire 800 port.

"Some of the results are a bit surprising, especially the hard drive comparison."

Here's one that may surprise you: "The 7200 rpm internal drive is not significantly faster than the stock 5400 rpm when doing small random reads and writes. That implies that it won't give you much advantage for booting and normal operations."

Link: MacBook Pro Drives: 5400 rpm vs 7200 rpm; FW400 vs FW800

The Lessons of the $100 Laptop

eWeek reports:

"The $100 laptop is coming together, its founder says, but without the famous crank.

"Nicholas Negroponte, chairman of One Laptop Per Child, said in a keynote at LinuxWorld here that OLPC is preparing to deliver its first 5 million to 10 million machines late this year or early in 2007. The machines will come with 7-inch screens and a 500 MHz processor from Advanced Micro Devices, will use flash memory in lieu of a hard drive, and will run a Linux operating system. The hand crank, which was criticized by Bill Gates, Microsoft's chairman, will be moved to the machine's power supply brick, however.

"Despite the groundswell of interest and some criticism it has created, the $100 laptop, Negroponte said, is primarily an educational tool designed to be owned and maintained by schoolchildren. Its job, in part, is to educate by granting students access to the Internet and its vast store of information - Negroponte joked that many students' first word in English is 'Google' - as well as by allowing them to write computer programs. But it is likely to teach the computer industry, famous for its grandiose projects that inevitably face setbacks, something of a lesson as well: Think small."

Link: The Lessons of the $100 Laptop

Watch Major League Baseball Online

Forbes.com's Dan Frommer says:

"Would you trade peanuts and cracker-jacks for a swivel chair and a computer screen? As broadband Internet access has become nearly universal, U.S. sports leagues and their broadcast partners are trying to figure out how to bring fans and their wallets online without losing TV viewers or lowering ticket sales.

"As a result, almost every major sport, from pro basketball to college football, has started streaming some or all of its games over the Internet. Leading the online sports pack - major league baseball.

"For the fourth straight year, MLB will stream more than 2,400 games live over the Internet. The league says quality will be at its best this year: Teams wired every stadium during the off-season to simplify the video encoding process. Subscribers can watch a full slate of games for $15 per month or $80 for the entire season - barely the cost of two decent tickets at the park.

"But there's a catch: Right now, home-market games are off-limits, as are nationally-televised games, so baseball can protect the millions of dollars that broadcasters pay each year for local television rights. That means a Red Sox fan in Los Angeles can catch balls and strikes online but a Yankees-crazed exec holed up without a TV in a Manhattan office is out of luck."

Link: Take Me Out to the Laptop

MacBook Pro Problems

Apple Addresses MacBook Pro Issues

DailyTech's Tuan Nguyen reports:

"Apple has been doing quite well lately, especially when it comes to drumming up support for new products. It's MacBook Pro is no exception to the rule - but rightly so. The popular notebook has been receiving praise from various publications and orders have been flying.

"Despite its popularity as a 'must have' Apple product, the MacBook Pro is encountering a lot of issues. Many users are reporting similar issues to the ones I pointed out. To recap from my blog:

  • AirPort does not automatically rejoin a preferred network after waking up from sleep mode. This does not happen with my PowerBook. Settings are the same.
  • AirPort would drop down to nearly 1 block randomly once in a while. This also does not happen with my PowerBook.
  • At the lowest screen brightness setting (one block), the LCD's backlight flickers noticeably. This is pretty annoying.
  • Heat is a big issue. The MacBook Pro gets so hot that I cannot place it on my lap if I'm wearing shorts. And even if I am wearing pants (instead of shorts), it's still very uncomfortable. Using the AC power, the palm rest area becomes very warm, and the area above the F keys is very hot. I do not notice this with the PowerBook....

"I spoke with Apple over the weekend, and to my surprise, some of the issues are well known. Known well enough in fact, that Apple has already started addressing these issues in updated MacBook Pros. According to Apple, it has begun replacing the mainboard inside its MacBook Pros with a new revision. It calls the updated product 'revision D', which is identifiable by product serial number."

Link: Apple Addresses MacBook Pro Issues

MacBook Pro Issues Addressed with 'Rev. D' Logic Board

The Apple Core's Jason D. O'Grady reports:

"Apple's MacBook Pro is undoubtedly the fastest and most powerful notebook computer Apple has ever launched, but it's not without its problems.

"Tuan Nguyen at Daily Tech has posted a number of issues with his MBP:

  • AirPort doesn't automatically rejoin a preferred network after waking from sleep.
  • AirPort reception drops down to nearly 1 bar randomly once in a while.
  • At the lowest screen brightness setting (one bar), the LCD's backlight flickers noticeably.
  • Heat is a big issue. Using the AC power, the palm rest area becomes very warm, and the area above the F keys is very hot.

"Apple's own MacBook Pro discussion boards are filled with posts about various issues with the new notebook but it doesn't mean that it's defective. After all, only people that are having problems are going to post to the boards. Apple's dedicated MacBook Pro Support page has some great tips on troubleshooting most issues....

"According to Daily Tech the MBP issues are well known at Apple. Apple has started addressing the issues by replacing affected machines with a new 'Revision D' logic board."

Link: MacBook Pro Issues Addressed with 'Rev. D' Logic Board

MacBook Pro Noise Complaints

Red Sweater Blog's Daniel Jalkut says:

"I've become a bit fixated on the MacBook Pro noise issues that are plaguing many early adopters of these new machines. This page serves as a centralized organization point for the various posts I have made on the subject, as well as links to a couple programs I've developed to explore and alleviate the 'CPU whine' issue in particular.

"Summary of Noise Complaints:

  1. CPU Whine....
  2. Display related buzz/whine....
  3. Mooing Motors....
  4. Undiagnosed humming/buzzing/whining....
  5. Complete, beautiful silence. It's worth noting that some MBP owners report a complete lack of these symptoms....

"Summary of Downloadable Items (alleviating CPU whine only):

  1. MagicNoiseKiller....
  2. QuietMBP...."
Link: MacBook Pro Noise Complaints

Tech Tips and Info

Install a Slot-loading Drive in the Dual USB iBook G3

An Anonymous poster to MacOSHints says:

"Per Apple (and others, I think), 'slot loading drives are not compatible with the iBook G3.' But it works in mine now. I just completed this difficult mod yesterday, and since the info was hard to find, I figured I should share it.

"The secret is that the iBook G3 has only one ATA bus, so you must have a proper master/slave relationship. I bought a slot-loading DVD/CDRW combo drive (Apple's Model CW-8123-C) on eBay for $26 for this project. Google research told me this model is hard-set to Master, with no jumpers or whatnot. Therefore, I had to set my new hard drive to Slave (might as well upgrade it, too, if you're going that deep into the guts of the iBook)."

Link: Install a Slot-loading DVD Drive in the iBook G3

How to Use Your PowerBook G4 or MacBook Pro with the Display Closed

An updated Apple Knowledge Base article says:

"If you use an external display or projector with any MacBook Pro or PowerBook G4 and a USB mouse or keyboard, you can close the display and still use the computer. Here's how.

  1. Make sure the computer is plugged in to an outlet using the AC power adapter.
  2. Connect a USB keyboard and mouse to your computer.
  3. Connect the Apple video (VGA or DVI) adapter that came with your computer to the appropriate port on the external display or projector and turn the display or projector on.
  4. With the computer turned on and your keyboard or mouse connected, connect the other end of the adapter to the video output port on your MacBook Pro or PowerBook G4.
  5. Once your computer's Desktop appears on the external display, close the computer's lid.
  6. Once the lid is closed, wake the computer up by either clicking your mouse button or by pressing a key on your keyboard.

"You should now be able to use your MacBook Pro or PowerBook G4 as you normally would, using your USB keyboard or mouse."

Link: How to Use Your PowerBook G4 or MacBook Pro with the Display Closed

Reviews

Migration to MacBook Pro Can Be Problematic

O'Reilly.net's Chuck Toporek says:

"A couple Friday's ago, my new company-issued laptop arrived: one of the shiny new MacBook Pro's. And all I can say is Holy Crap!, what a difference a new computer makes. I've been working on a 667 MHz Titanium G4 PowerBook for about three-and-a-half years now, and my aging Mac has started looking its age. And even though it's been a reliable workhorsie, I was more than happy to send her out to pasture.

"When the new MBPro arrived, I made what I believe is a simple and fatal mistake, and that was to boot up and use the Migration Assistant to transfer my data (apps, settings, and all) over to the new machine. And while the MBPro ran well once all my data transferred over (that process took about 45 minutes), certain apps weren't behaving nicely, mainly Microsoft Office.... So, I backed up my MBPro to a LaCie FireWire drive, and then gutted and reinstalled the system, partitioning the hard drive, and then spent the better part of an afternoon and evening reinstalling all of my apps from scratch. Yeah, that took a while, but since doing that, my new MBPro has been running smoothly, and I'm really digging this new machine.

"And while I'm definitely smitten with the new MBPro, I do have a couple nits to pick...."

Link: Baby Got Mac(Book Pro)

MacBook Pro 'Responsive'

eXtensions' Graham K. Rogers reports:

"At the end of March I was lucky enough to borrow a new MacBook Pro from Maccenter. The one I had was the top of the range with a 2 GHz Intel Core Duo chip and 1G of memory as standard plus 256 MB of dedicated graphics memory. There is an option to have the 2 GHz chip replaced by one of 2.16 GHz. Superdrive to enable burning of DVDs is standard.

"That 2.16 GHz chip was made the MacBook Pro the fastest Windows XP laptop computer when Gearlog tested one with the hack that allows Windows to run on Intel Macs. It is faster with Adobe Photoshop than any other Core Duo laptop. This will not last long and Samsung has already announced a 2.33 GHz core duo computer....

"Two things were noteworthy almost immediately: the screen display was crisp and bright; and the operations of the trackpad were much smoother than the PowerBook I am used to. The increased screen area means that far more can be displayed, and more clearly, on these new machines."

Link: The MacBook Pro 2 GHz

MacBook Pro 'Gorgeous'

biosmagazine.co.uk says:

"Apple's MacBook Pro laptop is the company's first system to use an Intel processor. Similar to the iMac, the MacBook Pro features Intel's new Core Duo processor (gone is the slow IBM PowerPC) which delivers up to four times the performance of the PowerBook G4 - claims the company - when running software that supports the new technology (Universal binary).

"The MacBook Pro sports the usual gorgeous aluminium enclosure we've all come to love on the PowerBook G4, weighs only 2.5kg and is less than 25mm thick (smaller and lighter than the PowerBook G4), includes a built-in iSight video camera for video conferencing on-the-go, and even comes with a diminutive matching infrared Apple Remote (looks like an Apple Shuffle MP3 player) and Front Row software for accessing your data across the room. The typing experience is still a pleasure (as is the backlit keyboard) and the touchpad is ideal for surfing, but the one-button mouse is a bit of a pain (especially if you're migrating from a Windows XP laptop)."

Link: Apple MacBook Pro

Products and Services

MaxProtectMaxProtect Impact Resistant Protective Bag for PowerBooks, iBooks, and MacBooks

PR: MaxProtect is an impact resistant carrying bag for PowerBooks, MacBooks, and iBooks that provides maximum shock protection while carrying your computer that provides maximum shock protection while carrying your computer. MaxProtect is made of Visco-Elastic Memory Foam which exhibits excellent resistance against impact and shock.

MaxProtect tightly envelopes the whole notebook, providing padded protection on all sides from external impact or shock during daily usage.

MaxProtectFeatures:

  • High Impact resistance polyurethane foam for shock absorption from all sides.
  • Thick Foam padding throughout the entire surface of the notebook.
  • Two zippers pull apart design.
  • Protected zipper closure, zippers don't come in contact with the Power book.
  • Handles for easy Transportation.
  • Tight Form fitting design for all PowerBook and iBook sizes for maximum protection.
  • Ultra Thin.
  • Unsurpassed quality.

Sizes to fit all current Apple portables 12" through 17" - $24.99 to $26.99

Link: MaxProtect Case

Software

ClickScroll Offers Scrolling without Scrollbars or Scrollwheels

PR: ClickScroll gives your Mac an highly addictive feature: scrolling without scrollbars and scroll wheels.

No need to move your eyes anymore when you need to scroll a web page or a text document - simply call ClickScroll once and gently move your mouse around.

ClickScroll supports multibutton mice for a fast access, as well as single-button ones. It is the perfect scrolling software for laptops users.

With ClickScroll, take advantage of the following features:

Seamless integration: ClickScroll can be called in virtually every Mac OS X application (Finder, Mail, Safari, Internet Explorer, Word, Photoshop, etc.).

Themes support: Do you want to create your own ClickScroll theme? Use the ClickScroll Interface Builder and let your creativity work for you !

Visual Feedback: ClickScroll lets you know what it is doing all the time with a Mac OS X-friendly interface.

ClickScroll supports both horizontal and vertical scrolling to provide a richer experience.

New in version 2.0:

ClickScroll can now be activated by key combinations (can be 100% mouse triggered or keyboard triggered)

If you already own a ClickScroll 1.x serial number, contact Alorsoft to get a 50% discount for your ClickScroll 2 serial number.

System requirements: Mac OS X 10.3 or later.

System support: PPC/Intel

€6 /$8 Shareware

Link: ClickScroll

Juice 1.1 Battery Monitor Widget

PR: Adds a battery to your dashboard, with info on the current state of your laptop's battery as well as an indication of how much time you can use your battery before it's empty, or how long it takes until it's fully charged.

New in version 1.1:

  • Added support for the MacBook
  • New smaller battery image
  • Faster results
  • Fixed bug that kept hard-disk awake

System requirements: Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, iBook, PowerBook or MacBook

System support: PPC/Intel

Free

Link: Juice Battery Monitor Widget

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.

Apple Store

Availability of MacBook Pro models changes from day to day.

  • refurb 1.83 GHz MacBook Pro, 512/80/SuperDrive, $1,699
  • refurb 2.0 GHz MacBook Pro, 1024/100/SuperDrive, $2,199
  • refurb 2.16 GHz MacBook Pro, 1024/100/SuperDrive, $2,399
  • refurb 12" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/60/Combo, APX, BT 2.0, $1,099
  • refurb 15" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/80/Combo, APX, BT 2.0, $1,399
  • refurb 17" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/80/SuperDrive, APX, $1,699

OnSale.com

According to DealMac.com, entering coupon code "BWBE0720" drops the price to $1,794.60 plus around $9 for shipping.

  • 1.83 GHz MacBook Pro, 512/80/SuperDrive, $1,794.60 with coupon

ExperCom

  • 12" iBook G3/600, 128/20/Combo, $409
  • 12" iBook G3/700, 256/20/CD, $449
  • 14" iBook G3/800, 128/30/Combo, $459
  • 14" iBook G3/900, 128/40/Combo, $499
  • 14" iBook G3/900, 128/40/Combo, $549
  • 14" iBook G3/900, 640/40/Combo, $559
  • 12" PowerBook G4/867, 128/40/Combo, $629
  • 12" PowerBook G4/867, 128/40/SD, $679
  • 15" PowerBook G4/800, 256/30/Combo, $649
  • 15" PowerBook G4/550, 512/20/Combo, $649
  • 15" PowerBook G4/867, 256/40/Combo, Scratch & Dent, $699
  • 15" PowerBook G4/867, 512/40/Combo, $849

Baucom Computers

  • 12" iBook G3/500, 256/15/CD, $300
  • 12" iBook G3/600, 256/20/CD, $390
  • 12" iBook G3/700, 256/20/CD, $395
  • 15" PowerBook G4/667 VGA, 256/20/Combo, $625
  • 15" PowerBook G4/667 DVI, 256/20/Combo, $645
  • 15" PowerBook G4/800, 256/20/Combo, $729
  • add extra 512 MB to any above for $89

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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