The 'Book Review

LED Backlight Coming to MacBooks, Intel's New Centrino CPUs, Danish iBook G4 Complaint, and More

This Week's Mac Notebook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2007.05.11

This Week's MacBook, PowerBook, and iBook News

Top news this week: Apple has confirmed that future MacBooks will have LED backlighting, and Intel has released the next generation Centrino processor, which should make its way into Macs soon.

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

General Apple and Mac desktop news is covered in The Mac News Review.

LED Backlit MacBooks

Intel's Santa Rosa CPU

News & Opinion

Products and Services

Bargain 'Books

LED Backlit MacBooks

LED Backlit MacBooks to Adopt Panels and Backlighting from Taiwan

DIGITIMES Rebecca Kuo and Carrie Yu report:

"With Apple recently confirming it plans to launch Macs featuring LED backlight technology in 2007, sources in the industry said the notebooks will use components from AU Optronics (AUO), Chi Mei Optoelectronics (CMO), Coretronic and Kenmos Technology.

"AUO and CMO are both having their samples of 13.3- and 15.4-inch panels certified by Apple, with shipments to officially commence in the second or third quarter of 2007, the sources noted.

"In the meantime, backlight unit (BLU) makers Coretronic and Kenmos are also sending samples to be incorporated in the panels, with official shipments to also kick off around a similar period, the sources added."

Apple Will Switch to LED Displays as Part of Green Effort

Computerworld's Gregg Keizer reports:

"Apple chief executive Steve Jobs has revealed that the company will substitute light-emitting diodes (LEDs) for the fluorescent lamps now used to backlight Macs' flat-panel screen displays, confirming rumours that first surfaced in January.

'Jobs had to spell out the company's recycling plans and spill a few details about new Mac hardware slated for release later this year, in response to criticsim from environment campaigners.

"By turning to LEDs, Apple can eliminate the mercury used in fluorescent lighting. 'We plan to introduce our first Macs with LED backlight technology in 2007,' Jobs said."

Intel's Santa Rosa CPU

Intel 'Santa Rosa' Splits into Centrino Duo, Pro

The Register's Tony Smith reports:

"Intel has launched 'Santa Rosa', the latest generation of its Centrino laptop platform. This time round, the brand is being segmented: Centrino Pro for big business, Centrino Duo for the rest of us.

"Duo is the baseline. It's based around revised versions of the mobile Core 2 Duo processors Intel launched in autumn 2006, along with laptop-friendly incarnations of the 965 desktop chipset brought to market almost a year ago. The key chipset, the 965GM, brings Intel's latest integrated graphics core, the GMA X3000, to Centrino for a smoother Windows Vista experience and better-looking movie playback."

Inside Intel's New Centrino Duo and Centrino Pro

PC Magazine's Cisco Cheng reports:

"Intel's unveiling of its next-generation laptop technology is practically a yearly tradition now. Last year, it was a new motherboard chipset and a dual-core processor (code-named 'Napa' and 'Yonah,' respectively). This year, all eyes are on a new motherboard chipset. Most of us know it as Centrino Duo, though Intel calls it by its prelaunch code name, 'Santa Rosa.' To complicate things, Intel is splitting its Centrino brand into two market segments, consumer and corporate. You'll see the consumer version in stores as the next Centrino Duo. Corporate professionals have already gotten a glimpse of the Centrino Pro platform, which launched in mid-April. Intel has created a successful marketing campaign out of the Centrino brand name, while keeping its nomenclature simple for consumers - at least until now."

Where Are the Santa Rosa MacBooks?

BusinessWeek's Arik Hesseldahl says:

"Gizmodo wonders aloud, as we all should be, whether Apple is close to pulling the trigger on MacBooks and MacBook Pros based on Intel's Santa Rosa platform, now officially christened Centrino Duo and Centrino Pro...."

Will 'Santa Rosa' Make a Big Splash in the Mobile Market?

ExtremeTech's Bryan Gardiner reports:

"Think of it as Centrino, part 4.

"While Advanced Micro Devices' attempted to steal the spotlight last week, all the company did was call attention to Intel's "Santa Rosa" launch tomorrow, which represents the latest major update to Intel's Centrino mobile platform. Intel is now set to officially the platform Wednesday morning.

"So will the new platform make the big splash the company is hoping for, or will its addition simply mean another minor plop in the mobile market waters? No one knows for sure yet, but at this point analysts seem to be split over Santa Rosa's impact, with some saying the platform will bring significant innovations, while others are a bit less enthusiastic."

Intel to Update Centrino Laptop Hardware

eWEEK reports:

"Intel Corp. is set to launch new hardware for laptop computers that the world's biggest chipmaker hopes will keep it at the top of the fastest-growing segment of the personal computer market.

"Intel's new product is not a processor but is instead a platform-a whole package of components including the main processor as well as all the secondary chips that add features such as the ability to connect to a wireless network."

News & Opinion

Danish iBook G4 Complaint Case May Have Global Consequences for Apple

A forbrug.dk press release reports:

A ground-breaking decision by the Consumer Complaints Board may have crucial consequences for Apple and for thousands of Apple laptop users all over the world

In a specific complaint case, the Consumer Complaints Board in Denmark now has evidence of a hidden, original design defect in Apple's iBook G4. This can have serious consequences for the computer manufacturer, which has so far denied the existence of this defect. Thousands of users all over the world have tried to get Apple to acknowledge the fault and agree to take back the computers.

Users of iBook G4 find that the power goes off in the computer and the screen goes blank after just over one year's use. But when they contact Apple to have the fault repaired or to return the computer, Apple rejects the complaint on the grounds that there is no question of a design fault, and that the 12 months' guarantee has expired anyway.

The Consumer Complaints Board now has documentation showing that there really is a design fault. In April, the Consumer Complaints Board decided therefore that Danish consumers must be able to return computers with this fault to Apple. Apple Computer International has already settled a number of cases in Denmark on the basis of the investigation report.

The question now is whether Apple is going to go on denying that there is a design fault in the same type of computer in the world outside Denmark's borders.

For further information please contact:

The Consumer Complaints Board's Legal Adviser, Frederik Boesgaard Navne, telephone: + 45 27 51 53 51

The investigation and pictures of the inside of the computer showing the faulty components can be seen on www.forbrug.dk

Investigation background:

A clamp or cardboard shims are needed to start the computer

The Consumer Complaints Board of the National Consumer Agency in Denmark regularly received complaints from Danish users that Apple's iBook G4 goes blank after just over a year's use. During the processing of the complaints, the Board discovered that iBook users worldwide had experienced the same problem and that Apple had rejected their claims with the same argument. This led to iBook G4 users themselves inventing various creative methods of starting the computers again. Amongst other things, some users had found a solution by attaching a clamp to one part of their computer (see picture) while others had taken the computer slightly apart and nudged cardboard shims in place in order to make it reboot.

This made the Consumer Complaints Board suspect that the problem was a design fault with which the computer was born. So the Consumer Complaints Board sent one of the faulty computers to Delta, an independent electronics laboratory, to have it examined.

The investigation showed that a solder joint between two components had broken, so that current could no longer pass through them. It also showed that the breakage occurs because the solder joint loosens slightly every time the computer is turned on and off.

"It is a bit like a person dying a little bit every time he breathes because the cells break down. In the same way, the computer dies a little every time you turn it on and off", says Frederik Boesgaard Navne, the Consumer Complaints Board lawyer who has been dealing with these cases.

When the computer had been turned on and off a sufficient number of times, the solder joint broke completely loose, resulting in a blank screen. Pressing the two components together with a clamp or with cardboard shims re-established the connection, so the computer started again.

Investigation - the facts

The independent electronics laboratory, Delta, has the laboratory facilities and expertise needed to carry out complicated investigations and analyses of advanced electronics. They examined a defective iBook G4 by taking it apart and removing the logic board. This was then analysed and examined by means of visual inspection, stereo microscopy, scanning acoustic microscopy and X-ray microscopy of suspected components. Individual components under suspicion were cut out of the logic board and embedded in epoxy for subsequent micro-sectioning. A few solder joints were further examined after micro-sectioning, in which the inner structure of these soldering positions becomes visible by microscopy.

The investigation and pictures of the inside of the computer and the defect can be seen online.

There Are Drive Sizes and Then There Are Drive Sizes

MacUser's Derik DeLong reports:

"You can, for the most part, pick essentially any SATA notebook drive when you want to upgrade your MacBook/Pro's drive. It's an almost trivial operation for MacBook owners. Recently, Fujistu released some rather large drives for laptops (coming in 200 GB, 250 GB, and 300 GB varieties).

"However . . . the size in height is 3mm greater than typical drives of late. That may not matter in some laptops, but it definitely matters in a MacBook. They're 2mm too big...."

MacBook Pro Battery Swelling Record

swelled MacBook batteryHardmac's Lionel reports:

"One of our readers sent us photo illustrating the well known Li-Po battery swelling issue observed with some MacBook Pro 15" and 17". It will for sure mark a new record of 'swelling'."

Manganese Could Double the Capacity of Notebook Batteries

Hardmac's Lionel reports:

"Scientists from the Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory reported to have defined a new technology using a manganese nano-crystalline yielding to a record charge storage capacity of more than 250 mAh/g. Current Lithium-based batteries can not reach half of this value. The technology could virtually be used in all batteries."

How to Use a MacBook With the Main Display Off

MacOSHints says:

"There's an old tip here on how to use your MacBook with the main display off - i.e. just using an external monitor. However, it requires that you have USB things to plug in, and it's a pain. This way is much easier."

Products and Services

Tom Bihn Buzz Laptop Sling Bag Redesigned for 15" MacBook Pro

PR: Practical, beautiful and subtle, the Buzz is as easy on your eyes as it is on your back. While it's not a large bag, the Buzz has room and a place for all of your essentials. If everything you carry doesn't fit inside of the Buzz, then maybe you carry too much.

The main compartment of the Buzz zips open with a #10 YKK splash-proof zipper. Inside, the Buzz's built-in padded sleeve protects your laptop. The sleeve is made of a three-layer, 1/4" (8mm) foam laminate similar to what we use in the Soft Cell, and fits most 12" and 13" laptops, and some thin 15" laptops, including the 15.4" MacBook Pro.

The main compartment of the Buzz also has room for a couple of notebooks or a textbook, a magazine, computer cables/accessories, and a light lunch. In front of the main compartment is a YKK splash-proof zipper that opens the front pocket of the Buzz, which contains an organizer with places for your pens, wallet or PDA, business cards, and a snaphook for keys. A water bottle pocket on the exterior side holds most common water bottles up to 750ml (when there's a shortage of water) or a small umbrella (when there isn't). The cell phone pocket on the shoulder strap fits most cell phones (including the iPhone), or an iPod or MP3 player, or sunglasses.

The Buzz rides exclusively on the right shoulder, and the wide, padded strap made of 10mm thick closed cell foam crosses the front of the body. A side-release buckle frees you from its loving embrace faster than a Vegas divorce, and it's adjustable too, so all good people (between about 5'2 and 6'3") can wear the Buzz. When you need quick access, you needn't take the bag off: unlike a backpack, the Buzz swings around to your front and allows you to rummage through either the pocket or the main compartment.

Construction and materials are what you've come to expect from TOM BIHN: the best fabrics, heavy-duty YKK splash-proof zippers, testosterone-tested buckles and components, and completely finished seams, with all manufacturing done in our own Seattle, Washington factory. Overkill? You bet!

Note: The Buzz has been redesigned to fit laptops as large as the 15.4" MacBook Pro.

  • 1000 denier Cordura® exterior
  • YKK Uretek splash-proof zippers: #10 on main compartment, #8 on pocket
  • Cell phone pocket fits the iPhone, standard-size cell phones and iPods/MP3 players
  • Bottle pocket fits bike bottle, 500ml Nalgene® and most other bottles to 750ml
  • Padded computer pocket fits thinner 15" and smaller laptops, including the 15.4" MacBook Pro.
  • Bright reflective trim for nighttime visibility (solid black version has no reflective trim)
  • External dimensions: 18.1 x 12.8 x 4.7" / 460 x 325 x 120mm
  • Weight: 1.6 lbs / 720 grams
  • Volume: 14 litres / 850 cu. in.
  • Made in the TOM BIHN Factory in Seattle, Washington, U.S.A.

The Buzz - $120.00

Speck SeeThru Hard Shell Case for 17" MacBook Pro

PR: Accent the sleek look of your 17" MacBook Pro notebook! Get great hard case protection, a hint of color and a massive dose of shine. SeeThru MacBook cases are made of translucent hard plastic to beautify and protect.

  • Two piece snap-on protective hard shell
  • Compatible with 17" MacBook Pro Core Duo AND Core 2 Duo
  • Protection plus access to all features at the same time
  • 74-slot ventilation system to minimize thermal insulation
  • Rubber feet help prevent slipping on slick surfaces
  • New cutout for battery test button on the back

Features

  • Sleek, shiny & slim - A perfect fit and a shiny, sleek look keeps your 17" MacBook Pro protected and accessible.
  • Two-piece snap-on design - Two-piece shell lets you open and close your MacBook without removing the case
  • Cut-outs for everything - All ports, plugs, holes and disc drives have cut-outs so you can always keep your MacBook Pro protected
  • Ventilation Slots & Battery Test Cutout - The bottom of the case features ventilation slots to help disperse heat, rubber feet for added support, and a cutout hole for the battery test button

SeeThru shells are made of Polycarbonate plastic. It's a hard plastic that offers sturdy protection and a great look.

All the buttons, ports, drives, and plug sockets have cutouts so you don't have to remove the shell. The two piece snap-on design lets you open and close your MacBook Pro without removing the shell. There is a cutout on the bottom so you can test the battery without removing the case. The bottom half of the shell must be removed to access the battery door, but it's quick and simple to do.

The 17" SeeThru cases fit the 17" MacBook Pro Core Duo AND Core 2 Duo! It will NOT fit the older G4 PowerBook model.

The SeeThru hard shell has 74 ventilation slots to facilitate the MacBook Pro's internal cooling process. The shell is designed to allow for thermal exchange out of the heatsinks and fans of the computer.

$49.95

  • Fits 17" MacBook Pro Core Duo AND Core 2 Duo
  • Also available for 13" MacBook & 15" MacBook Pro

GlobeSurfer ICON 7.2 Ready

GlobeSurfer ICON 7.2PR: GlobeSurfer ICON 7.2 is the perfect solution for all Macintosh Computers to provide a fast mobile Internet connection from virtually anywhere in the world with support of HSDPA, 3G UMTS as well as EDGE and GPRS connections.

Using HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) you can use mobile Internet connections with up to 7.2 Mbit/s download speeds and up to 384 kbit/s upload speeds.*

If no HSDPA or 3G UMTS is available you can still use worldwide EDGE or GPRS connections with download speeds up to 220 kbit/s and upload speeds up to 80 kbit/s.

GlobeSurfer ICON 7.2 includes launch2net software for Mac OS X. launch2net features an automated connection setup for an instant online experience. launch2net includes more than 300 connection settings for mobile network operators around the world, so you will not have to enter any connection details or define any modem scripts.

System requirements: Mac OS X (10.4.3 or higher) or Windows 2000, XP, Vista

Available end of May.

Magma Releases ExpressBox1: External PCI Express for Laptops

PR: Magma is pleased to announce the availability of ExpressBox1, the first external PCI Express expansion product for for laptop computers. ExpressBox1 provides an fast and easy solution for attaching a PCI Express card to laptop computers through the ExpressCard slot appearing on many new PC notebooks and the Apple MacBook Pro.

With Magma ExpressBox1 you can attach a "desktop-only" PCI Express (PCI-E) card to your laptop. ExpressBox1 makes it possible to combine the power of a desktop and the mobility of a laptop into a powerful, flexible, mobile workstation. For example, a user can turn a typical, middle-of-the-road laptop into a powerful gaming, scientific computer or audio and video editing workstation by simply installing the right PCI Express card to ExpressBox1.

Based on new PCI Express technology, ExpressBox1 provides a no latency connectivity solution with a maximum throughput of 2000Mbps (or 250 MegaBytes per second) each direction. That's 2.5 times faster than Firewire 800 and 4.1 times the speed of USB 2.0!

Now you can use PCI Express cards, typically installed in a desktop computer, with your laptop computer. Practically any type of card can be used in ExpressBox1 ranging from video graphics (GPUs), audio processing, video capture, test & measurement, data-acquisition, engineering developmenet boards, FibreChannel, SATA and more.

Attention Gamers and GPU Gurus! Magma ExpressBox1 is designed for "single-width" video cards that require 55 watts or less. "Double-wide" GPUs that require auxillary power will be compatible with the next generation Magma ExpressBox to be available later this year.

Magma ExpressBox1 (Model EB1H) supports a half-length card up to 6.60 inches long. Buy now for $729.00

Magma ExpressBox1 Pro (Model EB1F) is made for a full-length card up to 12.283 inches long. Buy now for $749.

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

Just one MacBook Pro in stock, but all three Core 2 Duo MacBook models and the 12" PowerBook.

  • refurb 12" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/80/SD, APX, BT, $1,199
  • refurb 1.83 GHz Intel Core Duo MacBook, white, 512/60/Combo, $949
  • refurb 2.0 GHz Intel Core 2 MacBook, white, 1 GB/80/SD, $1,099
  • refurb 2.0 GHz Intel Core 2 MacBook, black, 1 GB/120/SD, $1,299
  • refurb 17" 2.33 GHz Intel Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, $2,299

Wegener Media

  • 12" iBook G3/800, 128/30/CD, $299.95

ExperCom

  • 14" iBook G4/1 GHz, 640/60/SD, $599
  • 15" PowerBook G4/1 GHz, 256/60/SD, APX, $849
  • 17" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/80/SD, APX, BT, $1,249
  • refurb 17" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/80/Super, APX, BT, $1,399

Power Max

  • Apple refurb 14" iBook G4/1.2 GHz, 256/60/Combo, $799
  • Apple refurb 15" PowerBook G4/1.33 GHz, 256/60/Combo, APX, $999
  • Apple refurb 15" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/80/SD, APX, $1,099
  • Apple refurb 17" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/80/SD, APX, $1,199

We Love Macs

  • 12" iBook G3/500, 192/10/CD, $284.95
  • 12" iBook G3/700, 256/20/CD, $379.95
  • 12" PowerBook G4/867, 256/40/Combo, $899.95

Baucom Computers

  • 12" iBook G3/600, 256/20/CD, $249
  • 15" PowerBook G4/867 MHz, 512/60/SD, $685
  • Add AirPort for $65
  • 17" PowerBook G4/1.0 GHz, 512/60/SD, $925
  • Add Airport Extreme for $50

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 G3/500, 256/10/Combo, $299.99 less $25 = $274.99
  • 12" iBook G3/600, 256/20/Combo, $349.99 less $25 = $334.99
  • 12" iBook G3/700, 256/20/Combo, $379.99 less $25 = $354.99
  • 12" iBook G3/800, 256/30/Combo, $489.99 less $25 = $464.99
  • 14" iBook G3/700, 256/40/Combo, $429.99 less $25 = $404.99
  • 14" iBook G4/1 GHz, 256/40/Combo, $549.99 less $25 = $524.99
  • 12" iBook G4/1.2 GHz, 256/30/Combo, $549.99 less $25 = $524.99
  • 14" iBook G4/1 GHz, 256/40/Combo, $629.99 less $25 = $604.99

The PowerBook Guy

  • 12" clamshell iBook G3/300, blueberry, 64/3/CD, $169.95
  • 12" clamshell iBook G3/366, Key lime, 128/10/CD, $329.95
  • 12" iBook G3/500, 128/10/CD, $199.95
  • 12" iBook G3/500, 128/40/CD-RW, $299.95
  • 14" Lombard PowerBook G3/400, 128/20/DVD, $259.95
  • 14" Pismo PowerBook G3/400, 256/20/DVD, $379.95
  • 15" PowerBook G4/500, 256/20/DVD, $449.95

Custom Macs

  • Apple eMate 300 PDA, touch screen in great working shape, $69.99
  • 12" iBook G3/300, 128/3/CD, OS X 10.2 installed, tested battery and power cord, $259.99
  • 12" iBook G3/600, 128/20/CD, OS X 10.2, working battery and power cord, $299.99

BetaMacs

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

For deals on current and discontinued 'Books, see our 13" MacBook and MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, 13" MacBook Pro, 15" MacBook Pro, 17" MacBook Pro, 12" PowerBook G4, 15" PowerBook G4, 17" PowerBook G4, titanium PowerBook G4, iBook G4, PowerBook G3, and iBook G3 deals.

We also track iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, iPod classic, iPod nano, and iPod shuffle deals.

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