The 'Book Review

12" PowerBook G4 the New Pismo?, Recovering MacBook Pro Wakeup Failure, MacBook Pro Noise, and More

This Week's Mac Notebook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2007.03.02

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.

News & Opinion

Apple Updates

Tech Trends

Products and Services

Software

Bargain 'Books

News & Opinion

Is the 12" PowerBook G4 the New Pismo?

PBCentral's Joe Leo says:

"As most everyone knows, the 2000 PowerBook, also known as the 'Pismo' PowerBook (since that was its code name) was a long holdover into the age of the Titanium PowerBook G4 and lasting well even to the Aluminum era. It seems there is a new contender in the ring as the original black Mac notebook is slowly starting to show its age. Enter everyone's favorite new holdover in the Intel era of Mac notebooks, the 12" PowerBook G4.

"Just as the Pismo was a holdover in the G4 era of PowerBooks, the little 'Book named 'Al' is garnering the same type of following in the age of the MacBook and MacBook Pro. It puts a literal meaning to the term, 'silver is the new black' when referring to the color of anything high-tech these days. (Though the MacBook line is still silver, so go figure!).

"There was just something about that machine - the 2000 PowerBook - that made people fall in love with it and hang onto it for years. Probably the number one feature was its easy-to-upgrade architecture...

"Heck, just last year down over at LowEndMac.com, a reader asked our own Charles W. Moore (who writes for that site) whether they should get a new 12" PowerBook G4 or just upgrade their Pismo. What??"

"Today, it seems there is a new contender in the ring, and that is the small silver laptop computer called the 12" PowerBook G4. Apple still offers them for between $1099 to $1299 refurbished in their Special Deals section.... When you consider that you can get a faster and better (I beg to differ personally on that one) Intel-based notebook for the same or even less than that, why bother with the little guy?"

Why You Should Buy a MacBook Pro

startusup.com blogger Dave Woodward says:

"I get many questions about Apple laptops so I decided to do a little research so I can be better informed. There is some question as to the real difference between just a plain 'MacBook' and a 'MacBook Pro.'

"What is this 'Pro' distinction you ask? I wasn't sure until sometime this afternoon. So please, grab a coffee (or beer) and let me enlighten you, dear Reader while I simulate an educated Englishman (puts pipe in mouth). If this prose bores you, there are cliff-notes at the bottom. You'll recognize them when you see them.

"Upon trivial inspection, one might surmise the only change the addition of the word 'Pro' to the fine market-ese that is the word 'MacBook' (bless you), is a change of material (MacBook = plastic, MacBook Pro = metal) and a slightly larger screen. However the differences are far greater once a person decides to look under the hood, kick the tires, and other automotive metaphors.

"The MacBook Pro has 100% more L2 Cache on faster processors from the base MacBook. Although the clock-speed of these processors may only be a little higher (2.33 GHz over the base MacBook at 1.83 GHz), the addition of that extra L2 Cache magnifies the increase. The MacBook Pro's also come with double the amount of RAM standard over the MacBooks, even triple the amount in the 17" MacBook Pro.

"But that's not all...."

Apple Store's Backwards RAM Upgrade Solution

MacUser's Derik DeLong says:

"It's not often I do this, but every once in a while, Apple's behavior absolutely perplexes me. Today's example is a friend of my father. He's been using Macs for a long time and when his white iBook started to show issues, he decided to buy a new MacBook. As a side note, I actually used the copy of DiskWarrior installed in my PowerBook to repair his drive enough to copy his data to his iPod.

"Here's where things got embarrassing. He wanted to utilize a corporate discount at his disposal to buy a MacBook with the RAM maxed out. He was unsure about the order being correct online, so he decided to place the order on the phone instead. In the course of verbally conveying his order, he forgot to max out the RAM. He realized this in transit, which was naturally too late to change the order.

"Being the rational, sane person that I am, I assumed that the Apple Store would upgrade his MacBook with the right amount of RAM for the differential he would have had ordering it that way. The laptop was basically brand new after all. It turns out that no, Apple will not do that...."

Recovering When Your MacBook Pro Won't Wake Up

Blogger Ron Miller says:

"From time-to-time, my MacBook Pro won't wake up after it goes to sleep. I gently tap its track pad - nothing. I softly bang the space bar - no response. I try pressing the power switch, but the screen remains black.

"At this point, I'm in a conundrum. How am I to wake up the sleeping machine if pressing the power button doesn't elicit a response? I actually had this same issue with my old Sony Vaio laptop and I always assumed it was (ahem) a Windows problem. I guess not.

"Here's what you need to do...."

PowerBook/iBook Lower RAM Slot Failure Revisited

MacFixIt reports:

"We previously offered extensive coverage on an issue where the lower RAM slots in some PowerBook G4 fail after a variable length of time.

"Some users are not aware of the issue until they check the 'About This Mac' pane accessible via the Apple menu or experience significant slow-down in a particular application....

"In other cases, performing a set of open firmware reset routines can result in the memory being properly recognized again....

"Note also that incremental Mac OS X updates can introduce RAM recognition problems...

"Unfortunately, these routines are not always successful, and faulty hardware components - particularly logic boards - sometimes need to be replaced."

Putting the Pieces of a 12" Pro Portable Puzzle in Place

PBCentral's Joe Leo reports:

"You're not a true Apple portable aficionado if you haven't heard all the rumblings and ramblings over the rumors of a return of the 12-inch line of Mac notebook computers in recent months. It's been discussed on and off in these pages, and in fact, was discussed as recently as last week by a fellow columnist on this site.

"In hindsight, all this discussion is starting to look pretty good if you put the pieces of the puzzle together with more details emerging from various ends of the spectrum that relate to what will inevitably be the components - predicted and rumored components - of this new ultra-portable, super compact Apple notebook."

Apple Doesn't Like Hardmac's Article about MacBook 802.11n Upgrade

Hardmac's Lionel says:

"Thanks to Robin and MacMerc.com to report that Apple has sent internally a note regarding our recent article describing how to upgrade a Core Duo-based MB or MB Pro to support WiFi 802.11n.

"Hereafter is part of the internal note:

"'The AirPort Extreme Card sold for use in Mac Pro and some iMac computers is not supported in any other products and could cause damage if installed in them. Because of this possibility, the AirPort Extreme Card is not a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) part and requires installation by Apple Authorized Service Providers (AASPs).'"

Apple Updates

MacBook Pro with Noise under the Keyboard

A new Apple Knowledge Base article is short and to the point:

"If your MacBook Pro (15-inch) emits a high-pitched buzzing sound, please contact AppleCare for service."

That's all folks....

Tech Trends

ThinkPad Strongest Notebook PC Brand

PR: Lenovo has announced it has garnered top rankings in notebook brand awareness and customer satisfaction in the fourth quarter of last year, according to Technology Business Research (TBR). In the latest report from TBR, "Corporate IT Buying Behavior & Customer Satisfaction Study: Notebooks," Lenovo's rankings increased in 4Q06, overshadowing some of its largest competitors in the areas of reliability and product design.

In 4Q06, Lenovo ThinkPad notebooks received higher awareness than the company's closest competition as the brand most often identified as standing apart from the crowd. The report noted that the perception of the ThinkPad value proposition has increased steadily for the past year helping to move Lenovo to a leadership position.

For the eighth consecutive quarter, Lenovo dominated the area of hardware reliability, confirming the long-standing ThinkPad reputation for durability and exceptional product design. Noting improvement in specific categories from the previous quarter, TBR recognized Lenovo for making substantial progress within the areas of notebook value, ease of doing business, repair time, and overall satisfaction.

"Lenovo has clearly been the most consistent at meeting the very high requirements of its customers," said Jon Lindy, president at TBR. "We think Lenovo should continue to push innovations to the forefront in order to further enhance its reputation in the industry."

TBR observed that Lenovo was the only PC company in the report to maintain its competitive strength position for hardware reliability for an extended period of time. The progress of Lenovo in the past five reporting periods has been an overall advance in position.

The TBR report singled out Lenovo's longstanding reputation for design quality and high reliability. Lenovo retained its product design competitive strength, extending its leadership status to the past three reporting periods. Examples of Lenovo's innovative product designs include the ThinkPad's Roll Cage and Active Protection System shock absorbing technologies that protect the structure and internal component of the notebook.

Lenovo's Roll Cage, a magnesium alloy frame that absorbs shock by surrounding the critical interior parts, is an inner armor chassis that reduces the amount of stress on internal components when the notebook is dropped. The internal components, including the hard disk drive, are mounted in a one-piece magnesium cage that forms a more protective shell than traditional casings without affecting usability. Combined with Lenovo's Active Protection System, a ThinkVantage Technology, the ThinkPad roll cage provides a strong solution to defend against costly damage.

Using an integrated, user-configurable motion sensor, the airbag-like Active Protection System safeguards valuable data by continuously monitoring the ThinkPad and temporarily stopping the hard drive to help prevent some hard drive crashes when a fall or similar event is detected - providing up to four times greater impact protection than systems without this feature. In addition, the ThinkPad HDD Shock Absorber provides impact protection from crashes that could occur when setting the notebook on a hard surface while in use, providing 30 percent more protection than the system case alone.

"Our performance ranking in TBR's quarterly report is strong evidence of our focus on delivering the best product and service to our customers," said Christopher Askew, senior vice president, Customer Service, Lenovo. "Our team works tirelessly to bring customers the best designed, most carefully thought-out, and best engineered personal computers in the world."

TBR's Corporate IT Buying Behavior and Customer Satisfaction Study is a quarterly report based on data collected from the previous six months. The recently published report includes data from July through December 2006. The audience is comprised of large U.S. and Canadian enterprises that plan to purchase at least 100 notebook systems in the next year. Lenovo, Dell, HP, Toshiba and Gateway are included in the study.

Editor's note: But not Apple? cm

Asus Lamborghini VX2 Laptop Reviewed

The Register's Will Head reports:

"Cars and laptops obviously make good bed-fellow if Asus' latest Lamborghini-badged model is anything to go by. While its first effort - the VX1 - may have been seen as a me-too effort to rival Acer's Ferrari tie-up, there's got to be something in the partnership to produce further offspring.

"Given its premium branding - and equally premium price tag - Asus hasn't skimped on the components when assembling this model."

Editor's note: I have to concede that these exoticar-themed laptops from Asus (which also builds MacBooks for Apple) and Acer entice me more than any other Wintel PCs. cm

Products and Services

Mikegyver Power Travel Kit with MagSafe Airline Adapter

Mikegyver Power Travel Kit with MagSafe Airline AdapterPR: The Mikegyver Power Travel kit with MagSafe Airline Adapter works with in-seat DC power ports available on many commercial airliners - both EmPower ports and car ports with the included adapter that actually charges the battery in flight. Check with your airline regarding availability of in-seat power ports.

Because it's a MagSafe Adapter, you'll continue to enjoy MagSafe convenience just as you're already enjoying at home or work. The magnetic DC plug both ensures a tight connection and enables a clean break from the power port if there is undue tension - preventing your MacBook from being pulled off of your tray table if someone accidentally yanks the cord. - Apple Computer

The Mikegyver Power Travel Kit includes the Apple Adapter and a Car/Airline DC adapter with genuine magsafe connector.

Important Note:

  1. It DOES charge the battery in Airlines while you use it.**
    ** Provided that you are not fully taxing your MacBook Pro to its limit. Otherwise, it will charge your battery for about 95% of the users.
  2. It IS compatible with automobile power ports & Empower ports.
  3. Users will be able to use optional accessories such as external Batteries

A few options when choosing this order:

You just buy Apple adapter and DC car/Airline adapter straight out.

or

Exchange option:

  1. You order conversion process.
  2. We send you ONE Apple power adapter and ONE Car/Airline adapter with a converted plug with magsafe
  3. You send back your old unmodified Apple power adapter with magsafe connector (As New working condition) and we refund $90 retainer.

Mikegyver Power Travel Kit with MagSafe Airline Adapteror

You send us your Apple adapter first, then we send back your converted Apple adapter and the DC car/Airline adapter.

MacBook Pro external battery connected via Magsafe cable

Magsafe DC car adapter & Apple adapter for MacBook / PRO (NO EXCHANGE)

Sale! $139.95 (reg. $165)

For MacBook / PRO. You will get ONE Apple adapter & One DC car/airplane adapter.

US customers Only. Back Order

White 70w All-in-one AC/DC Car / Airline(Empower plug included) Adapter.

$229.95

Mikegyver Power Travel Kit with MagSafe Airline AdapterNew! Comes with Car plug, AC plug, Empower Plug, Magsafe connector for MacBook or MacBook Pro. Also, comes with tips for PowerBook G3, PB G4, & iPod.

US customers Only.

Allow 1-3 weeks for shipment.

Availablity of RUSH order.

Black 120w All-in-one AC/DC Car / Airline(Empower plug included) Adapter.

Comes with Car plug, AC plug, Empower Plug, Magsafe connector. For MacBook or MacBook Pro.US customers Only. Allow 1-3 weeks for shipment.

SALE! $209.95

New.

refurb with 1 yr Kensington warranty.

$169.95 Limited quanties.

Magsafe DC car adapter & Apple adapter for MacBook / Pro (EXCHANGE)

$75 after return of Apple adapter.

Conversion to use magsafe power connector with DC adapter. For MacBook / PRO. We send you ONE Apple adapter & ONE DC car/airplane adapter. $90.00 retainer will be refunded after the return of your orginal unmodified Apple 85w or 60w adapter; free of any major scratches and damages and if so, no refund. Please indicate condition of your Apple adapter. If new we send new, if used, we send used.

US customers Only. Back Ordered Allow 3-6 weeks for shipment.

Magsafe car adapter conversion for MacBook / Pro (User Supplied)

$60

Conversion to use magsafe power connector with DC adapter. For MacBook / PRO. You send us YOUR own Apple adapter, then we send back your Apple adapter and ONE DC car/airplane adapter. After payment you will get an email with address to send your Apple Adapter.

US customers Only. Back Ordered Allow 3-6 weeks for shipment after receipt of your adapter.

Booq Announces 4" Thick 'Vyper exo' Molded Laptop Pod

Booq Vyper exoPR: booq, a fast-growing, premium brand of performance-driven laptop carrying cases, announces the expansion of its highly popular Vyper line with "Vyper exo" a sleek, molded semi-rigid ballistic nylon bag designed for everyday use by fast-paced creative professionals with a 15" or 17" MacBook Pro.

It's about time your everyday bag had a sense of rugged refinement. We mean it. This sleek, semi-rigid ballistic nylon case utilizes two layers of molded high-density foam protection and non-scratch fabrics to cradle your laptop like nothing else.

A black exterior says professionalism, while the red, orange, and beige accent color stitching bring out the creative in you. [If it's not already out.]

An intelligent interior layout with a place for your power adapter, cables, phone, iPod, keys, pens and business cards makes it easy to keep your mess organized, while the bag's three jeans-button pockets resist that quest until you learn how to use them. If you can't figure it out, don't blame us. Please.

Booq Vyper exoThe bag opens 180°, so that you can open your laptop while it's sitting in the laptop compartment, if that's what's required to make you happy. While quite capable of keeping up with your fast-paced day at work, at home, and everything in between, a Vyper exo is not a bag for just anything, or anyone. It's an everyday bag designed to carry the most ambitious ideas: yours.

Purchasing a Vyper exo is the beginning of an enduring relationship. The Vyper Exo is the first product to come with the all-new TerraLinq™: Each bag carries a unique identification number that can be linked to you once you receive the product and register online. If your bag were subsequently reported to us as lost and found, we can put you in touch with the finder and help you regain possession.

  • Semi-rigid molded construction protects its cargo.
  • Ideal everyday bag: Lightweight, durable, room for everything you need during the day.
  • Oversized YKK zipper for improved functionality and durability.
  • Convenient pocket layout for items large and small.
  • Tough seatbelt nylon shoulder strap.
  • Accent stitching makes each bag unique.

NEW: This bag comes with TerraLinq Service. Helps reunite you with your lost & found bag.

Booq Vyper exoAt a compact yet roomy 4" thick, and sporting a rugged black exterior, Vyper exo is a modern classic; the type of bag that is perfectly professional, yet unfailingly cool. Inside, refined design details such as accent color stitching and custom buttons - similar to those on jeans; multiple pockets for storage and organization, key fob, room for files, pens, iPod, cell phone, and laptop accessories make Vyper exo the ideal everyday bag for a creative pro.

Vyper exo is comprised of a semi-rigid high density foam with a water-repelling 1682D cross-weave ballistic nylon exterior. Its laptop compartment, lined with non-scratch fabrics, virtually molded around a MacBook Pro for a Vyper-style snug fit. Priced at $175 for the 15" MacBook Pro and $195 for the 17" MacBook Pro model, ambitious creative professionals looking for design quality, dependable laptop protection, functionally organized space for working on-the-go, out-of-the-office, and wherever creativity spawns, will find a Vyper exo hard to pass up.

Customers who have come to expect fresh and innovative design solutions love the exceptional level of quality and functionality of booq's products. The privately held company is based in Sierra Madre, CA.

Software

SeisMac 2.0 Turns MacBook into a Seismograph

PR: SeisMac is a Mac OS X application that turns your MacBook or MacBook Pro into a seismograph. It access your laptop's Sudden Motion Sensor in order to display real-time, three-axis acceleration graphs. Version 2.0's enhancements make SeisMac an even more valuable tool for classroom demonstrations of seismic concepts and techniques.

The resizable, real-time scrolling display shows an enormous amount of acceleration information. Place your laptop on a table and see the seismic waves from tapping your toe on the floor. Lay your laptop on your chest and see your heartbeat. And of course, if there is a real earthquake, SeisMac will be displaying full seismic information while you drop, cover and hold-on.

Version 2.0 of SeisMac includes many new features:

  • Pause the display to study an event
  • Scroll back in time to see older data
  • Time labels tell exactly when an event occurred
  • Enlarge or contract the graph, both vertically and horizontally
  • Copy, print or save the screen
  • Adjust the sample rate from 10 to 500 samples per second
  • Smooth the acceleration data
  • "Out of Range" arrow appears when the graph goes off the screen
  • Runs on non-SMS machines using test data

When running on the MacBook or MacBook Pro, SeisMac has a range of plus or minus two gravities of acceleration, displaying 256 values per gravity, sampled up to five hundred times per second for each axis. SeisMac is also compatible with older Sudden Motion Sensor-equipped iBooks and PowerBooks.

For better accuracy, you can use SeisMaCalibrate to calibrate your laptop's Sudden Motion Sensors.

SeisMac is based on SMSLib, my open-source Sudden Motion Sensor access library.

New in version 2.0:

  • Pause the display to study an event
  • Scroll back in time to see older data
  • Time labels tell exactly when an event occurred
  • Enlarge or contract the graph, both vertically and horizontally
  • Copy, print or save the screen
  • Adjust the sample rate from 10 to 500 samples per second
  • "Out of Range" arrow appears when the graph goes off the screen
  • Runs on non-SMS machines using test data

System requirements: Mac OS X 10.4 or later.

System Support: PPC/Intel

SeisMac is freeware

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, iBook, and MacBook profiles linked in our Portable Mac Index.

Apple Store

  • refurb 1.83 GHz Core 2 MacBook, white, 512/60/Combo, $949
  • refurb 2.0 GHz Core Duo MacBook, black, 512/80/SD, $999
  • refurb 2.0 GHz Core 2 MacBook, white, 1 GB/80/SD, $1,099
  • refurb 2.0 GHz Core 2 MacBook, black, 1GB/120/SD, $1,299
  • refurb 17" 2.16 GHz Core Duo MacBook Pro, 1 GB/120/SD, $1,999
  • refurb 17" 2.33 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, $2,299

Power Max

  • refurb 14" iBook G4/1.33 GHz, 256/60/Combo, APX, $949
  • refurb 15" PowerBook G4/1.33 GHz, 256/60/Combo, APX, $999
  • refurb 15" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/80/Combo, APX, $1,049
  • refurb 15" PowerBook G4/1.67 GHz, 512/80/SD, APX, $1,349
  • refurb 17" PowerBook G4/1.67 GHz, 512/120/SD, APX, BT, $1,388

Baucom Computers

  • 12" iBook G3/800, 256/30/CD, $329
  • 12" iBook G3/700, 256/20/Combo, $295
  • 14" iBook G3/900, 256/40/Combo, $409
  • 15" PowerBook G4/1 GHz, 256/60/SD, Broken Left Hinge, $679
  • Add AirPort for $75
  • 15" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/80/SD, $1,199
  • Add AirPort Extreme for $65

ExperCom

  • 12" iBook G3/700, 256/20/CD, AirPort, $349
  • 12" iBook G4/1.2 GHz, 256/60/SD, $799
  • 14" iBook G4/933, 256/60/Combo, APX, $649
  • 12" PowerBook G4/1 GHz, 256/40/Combo, BT, $649
  • 17" PowerBook G4/1 GHz, 512/60/SD, APX, BT,1 USB Port, $799

TechRestore

TechRestore is offering a $25 discount to 'Book Review readers off any PowerBook or iBook in stock. Just enter the code CWM during checkout when ordering online. The coupon code is valid from now through 2007.12.31.

  • 12" iBook G4/1 GHz, 256/30/Combo, APX, TechRover laptop backpack, $549.99
  • 15" PowerBook G4/1.67 GHz, 512/80/SD, BT, $1,299.99

The PowerBook Guy

  • PowerBook Pismo G3/400, 256/20/DVD, $379.95
  • PowerBook Pismo G3/500, 256/20/DVD, $399.95
  • clamshell iBook G3/300, blueberry, 64/3/CD, $179.95
  • clamshell iBook G3/300, tangerine, 64/3/CD, - $199.95
  • clamshell iBook G3/366, indigo, 128/10/CD, Firewire, $249.95
  • 12" iBook G3/500, 128/10/CD, $199.95
  • 12" iBook G3/700, 256/20/CD, $269.95
  • 12" iBook G4/1 GHz, 512/30/CD, APX, $449.95
  • 12" iBook G4/1 GHz, 512/30/Combo, APX, $529.95
  • 12" iBook G4/1.2 GHz, 512/30/CD, APX, $479.95
  • 12" iBook G4/1.2 GHz, 512/30/Combo, APX, Minor Case Defect, $559.95
  • 12" iBook G4/1.33 GHz, 512/40/Combo, APX, BT, $629.95

Wegener Media

  • PowerBook Pismo G3/400, 128/6/DVD, $299.99
  • PowerBook Pismo G3/500, 128/6/DVD, $349.99
  • PowerBook Pismo G3/400, 256/40/DVD, $399.99
  • PowerBook Pismo G3/400, 256/60/DVD, $419.99
  • PowerBook Pismo G3/500, 256/40/DVD, $439.99
  • PowerBook Pismo G3/500, 256/60/DVD, $449.99

Custom Macs

  • Apple Emate 300 PDA, Touch Screen in great working shape, $69.99

Computer Geeks

  • 12" iBook G4/1 GHz, 512/30/CD, APX, $519.99
  • 12" iBook G4/1.3 GHz, 512/40/Combo, APX, $749.99

BetaMacs

  • 12" iBook G3/500, 128/10/CD, OS X, $209
  • 12" iBook G3/500, 128/30/CD, OS X, $279
  • 12" iBook G3/600, 128/30/CD, OS X, $329

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

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