The 'Book Review

Modbook Shipping, New MacBook Confirmed, Blu-ray for MacBook Pro, XO vs. eMate, and More

This Week's MacBook, PowerBook, and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2008.01.04

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

General Apple and Mac desktops is covered in The Mac News Review. iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV news is covered in The iNews Review.

News & Opinion

Tech Trends

Products

Bargain 'Books

News & Opinion

At Last, a Mac Tablet Computer

ITWire's Stuart Corner reports:

"It has been a year since the announcement, but the Modbook - a keyboard-less tablet computer created by modifying a MacBook laptop - is finally shipping. And contrary to initial speculation, it has the full blessing of Apple.

"The Modbook, from California-based Axiotron , is the only Mac-based tablet computer on the market. It has been created by combining the core hardware and software of a standard MacBook laptop with a Wacom digitised pen-sensitive LCD slate-style display and makes use of Apple's built-in Inkwell handwriting recognition technology...."

Apple's New Laptops Confirmed

The Boy Genius Report says:

"Leave it up to our music industry spies (Ok, well, Just Blaze really) to set the record straight! Apple will 100% be announcing a new laptop at Macworld. We've also heard the laptop will go on sale a week after Macworld, too. What laptop is this? The much-rumored ultra portable one? Well, we'd guess so, but do not have a firm confirmation on the details of the new unit...."

Hip Hop Star Spills Beans on New Apple Notebook

Register Hardware's Scott Snowden reports:

"Rumours abound that hip hop star Just Blaze has told all about Apple's much talked-about sub-notebook, after he was promised one for performing at a recent Apple Christmas party. The mystery machine is allegedly to be announced at Macworld in January....

"However, according to website boygeniusreport, Mr Blaze was one of several music celebrities who performed live at the company-sponsored music event for Apple's employees. In exchange for their work, each artist was promised a free notebook that will be unveiled at the Macworld expo in San Francisco."

Talk of 'Super-thin' Laptop Whets Apple Aficionados' Appetite

The Times' Rhys Blakely reports:

"Apple is set to unveil a new ultraportable laptop on January 15, according to the army of online pundits dedicated to tracking the iPod maker's every move....

"However, the expected launch at the San Francisco-based event of a lightweight, super-thin laptop - a device seemingly pitched between the iPhone and its current MacBook line of computers - is kindling the greatest interest among Apple aficionados."

Blu-ray Could Be Option on Next MacBook Pro

ZD Net blogger Robin Harris says:

"Panasonic will announce the industry's first slim-line Blu-ray DVD writer at CES on January 6. The 9.5 mm drive fits into the same space used by current DVD burners.

"Panasonic supplies most of Apple's notebook DVD burners. Given the availability of the new drive I expect to see Apple announce it for the MacBook Pro family very soon - possibly at Macworld the following week."

Fix 'Missing' Bluetooth on MacBook Pro

jkOnTheRun says:

"I can't just bash Vista and ignore Mac problems when they arise and today for the first time one did on my MacBook Pro running Leopard. I booted into Vista Ultimate using Boot Camp and played Call of Duty 4 for a while. I am totally impressed with how well Vista runs on the MBP under both VMWare Fusion and natively with Boot Camp.

"After I finished playing COD4 I restarted the MacBook Pro and booted into Leopard and was I surprised to find that not only was Bluetooth not working but the system didn't realize there was a Bluetooth module installed. I had a brief moment of panic thinking the hardware module must have been fried but I went online and in just a minute found a fix. I shut down the MacBook and when it was time to start it up I held the Power Button down until I heard a loud beep from the system. This signaled that a hard restart was coming up...."

US Bans Spare Lithium Batteries from Checked Bags

Macworld's James Niccolai reports:

"New rules [went into] effect on Jan. 1 that prohibit air passengers in the U.S. from carrying spare lithium batteries in their checked baggage.

"The new rules, announced Friday by the U.S. Department of Transport, are designed to reduce the risk of fires in aircraft. Lithium batteries have been identified as a possible cause of several aircraft fires.

"Passengers will still be able to carry lithium batteries in checked bags if they are installed in a device like a laptop or digital camera. But loose batteries will need to be put in a plastic bag and carried on the plane as hand luggage, the DOT said....

"The rules are also described at the SafeTravel.dot.gov Web site."

Tech Trends

10-Year-Old Apple eMate Holds Its Own Against XO Laptop

rikomatic.com's Rik says:

"My XO laptop arrived in the mail today! From my first couple of hours experimenting, I can tell that it's an impressive little machine. I look forward to playing with it for the next weeks, which I will be sure and blog about.

XO notebook vs. Apple eMate"One of the first things I did was put the XO side-by-side with my old Apple eMate subnotebook. Despite the ten year age difference, they are surprisingly comparable machines....

"Okay, it hardly seems fair to compare a computer developed more than ten years ago with a sub-notebook just released by the One Laptop Per Child folks. But since they both were designed as child-friendly, educational devices, it seemed like a logical comparison. Plus, they are both green....

"The eMate compares quite favorably to the cutting edge XO laptop, which is surprising giving how old the device is. Just another reminder of what an amazing tech company Apple has always been."

Editor's note: Also see Tommy Thomas' My Great New Writing Machine: An Old Newton eMate 300 for another user's perspective on Apple's first subnotebook. dk

Laptop Project Enlivens Peruvian Hamlet

The position of Associated Press (AP) is that you may not quote more than 5 words from any of its copyrighted articles without paying $12.50 or more for a "quotation license". Rather than pay this fee or risk the wrath of AP, we are removing all AP quotes from the site along with links to those articles.

We regret any inconvenience to our readers, but we will never pay for what is considered Fair Use under copyright law. We consider brief quotations in our news roundups to be Fair Use and a benefit to the site that we quoted from and linked to. (We adhere to the Open Link policy, and our Fair Use policy specifically allows quoting up to 50% or 300 words of our original content, whichever is less.)

Does OLPC Work for Mobile Workers?

Computerworld's James Turner says:

"Laptops used by children in the remote villages of developing nations must be cheap, compact, easy to repair, rugged and power-stingy. Business users stuck on a flight, say, from New York to Paris, would likely want the same thing.

"So here's the question: Is the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) XO computer a good tool for business users?"

Notebooks to Sport 4 GB RAM in Early 2008?

Electronista says:

"Several notebook makers will make 4 GB of RAM standard on their systems at the start of the new year, say companies in Taiwan producing the memory in question....

"However, most Windows PCs continue to run 32-bit versions of Windows, reducing the amount of memory visible to the OS compared to a 64-bit platform. The MacBook line is currently the only mainstream platform that is known to recognize the full amount without special modifications."

18" LCDs in Works, Coming to Acer First

Electronista reports:

"LCD maker Chunghwa Picture Tubes today revealed that a new panel is in the works that could affect the designs of both desktop and notebook displays. Measuring 18.4 inches, the display will sit between 17- and 19-inch LCDs in cost but will adopt a wider, HDTV-like 1366 x 768 resolution versus the taller pictures of its smaller and larger models. The screen will be designed for distance viewing and will boast a relatively high 1,000:1 contrast ratio and 5ms pixel response time, Chunghwa claims.

"The larger display can be used for desktops but will be used for desktop replacement notebooks - including a future Acer system, the LCD producer says..."

Editor's note: Apple's 17" MacBook Pro boasts a much higher resolution 1920 x 1200 display, and even the entry-level 13" MacBook beats this new display at 1280 x 800. Don't expect to see Apple put such a low resolution display in a notebook computer. dk

Products

Highly Anticipated, Award-Winning Modbook Tablet Mac Now Shipping

PR: Axiotron, Inc. has announced that its flagship product, the Modbook, the first fully functional Apple-authorized tablet Mac solution, is now shipping to consumers.

ModbookThe only Mac-based tablet computer on the market, Axiotron's Modbook seamlessly integrates a state-of-the-art Wacom digitized pen-sensitive LCD slate-style display with Apple MacBook's legendary ease of use and design sensibility, giving artists and design-oriented professionals enhanced onscreen writing and drawing functionality when they need it most.

"After introducing the product earlier in the year, we have experienced a tremendous amount of positive response to the Modbook as its exclusive modular design and superior functionality provide the best tablet solution on the market for artists and designers," said Andreas Haas, President of Axiotron. "The Modbook's recent designation as an Apple-authorized product has allowed us to better meet the needs of our extremely patient customers and we are proud to be able to ship a product that resets the bar for Mac users everywhere."

Named Best of Show at Macworld 2007, Axiotron's Modbook melds Apple MacBook's speed, power, superior strength and elegance with Wacom's leading digitizer technology to provide an unparalleled 512 levels of pressure sensitivity for a fast, accurate and intuitive user experience. Offering twice the pen sensitivity and control of any tablet PC on the market, the Modbook gives artists and design oriented professionals the increased freedom, flexibility and precision control to create and edit digital art using a variety of specially designed pen tips that are included with each Modbook.

ModbookA perfect blend of style and functionality, each Modbook comes preinstalled with Mac OS X Leopard, the award winning OS X's built-in Inkwell handwriting recognition, a 2.0 GHz or 2.2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, a built-in iSight camera and an integrated 24x DVD Combo drive or 8x DVD SuperDrive. Also, every Modbook features a built-in Global Positioning System (GPS).

In addition to all of the features of the powerful Apple MacBook base system, the Axiotron Modbook's largest-in-class wide angle 13.3" widescreen display offers wider viewing angles and a higher contrast ratio, resulting in darker blacks and more vivid, saturated colors while maintaining the same resolution and aspect ratio of the original MacBook display.

Providing superior structural strength for almost every situation, both the Modbook's top shell and the interior display frame are built from top grade, aircraft quality magnesium alloy. A triple layer of metal plating - nickel over copper and topped with chrome - results in an extremely scratch resistant and aesthetically pleasing surface, and is available in standard satin or optional mirror finish.

Axiotron will showcase the Modbook at the upcoming Macworld Expo 2008 (Booth # S-408) with a host of hands-on mini-seminars conducted by renowned comic book artist Kody Chamberlain, Emmy award-winning animator Shannon Tindle, award-winning photographer Caesar Lima, acclaimed architectural designer Matthew Brewster and Cal State Fullerton design professor Bryan Cantley. Additionally, the Modbook's broad range of application functionality will be highlighted at Axiotron's in-booth vendor stations featuring representatives from Microsoft, Adobe, Corel, Autodesk, Circus Ponies™ Software, Edge Health Solutions, GPSNavX™ and Vision Objects.

The Modbook has a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $2,290 and is available in the United States and Canada exclusively through Axiotron Authorized Resellers (AAR).

Keynamics In-flight Internet Laptop Stand

PR: JetBlue now offers passengers the first in-flight internet / email service over US territory.

Keynamics LLC, the company that invented the Aviator Laptop Stand, anticipated this historic launch when it introduced its patented stand in April of 2006 . The Aviator is the first and only laptop stand designed specifically for use on airplane tray tables, as well as desktops.

Airline passengers will need comfort and safety when they access the in-flight internet service. The Aviator is sturdy and extremely stable to handle turbulence and bumping from other passengers. From an ergonomic perspective, the Aviator angles and extends the laptop keyboard 2.5 inches past the front edge of the tray, providing a comfortable wrist position. In addition, the stand raises the screen 3 inches off the tray table, achieving the proper eye level for reduced neck bending and back strain.

The Aviator Laptop Stand provides room to work comfortably, even when the passenger in front has reclined their seat.

The stand eliminates the "hunch" and allows the passenger to rest their back against the seat for spinal support, achieving neutral postures as OSHA recommends.

Passengers can also use the Aviator, upon reaching their destination, as a portable desktop / table stand for use at the Hotel, Coffee shop or Office.

Compact for travel and weighing only 9 ounces, the Aviator stores flat in the side pocket of a

Editor's note: You can read my full review, The 'Book Mystique Review - Aviator Laptop Stand for Air Warriors, on PBCentral. cwm

Quicky Redesigned, Now More Rugged

PR: QuickerTek announces a more rugged case for the ever-popular Quicky Mac wireless booster. The Quicky's 500 milliwatt RF transceiver boosts wireless signals from virtually any wireless network. Customer feedback told us that if there was any improvement to be made, it was to make the product more roadworthy. Since the majority of our customers are mobile wireless users, it makes perfect sense to harden the case to withstand use on-the-go.

QuickerTek announces a more rugged case for the ever-popular Quicky Mac wireless booster. Customer feedback told us that if there was any improvement to be made, it was to make the product more roadworthy. Since the majority of our customers are mobile wireless users, it makes perfect sense to harden the case to withstand use on-the-go.

The Quicky case is now tougher, using the latest manufacturing methods to construct a case that will deliver years of active mobile use. Wireless performance is not hindered in any way and customers need not sacrifice anything.

Quicky users get up to ten times the wireless range of a stock iBook or MacBook. More wireless networks are accessible so that using the internet further away from an AirPort Base Station or other wireless access point at a coffee shop or office. And instead of moving away from the wireless network and losing signal strength and speed, Quicky delivers full speed at longer distances.

The Quicky's 500 milliwatt RF transceiver boosts wireless signals from virtually any wireless network. Mac portables offer between 25 and 30 milliwatts of RF power, but when you plug the Quicky into the USB port, you instantly get 10 times the range and at full wireless speed. And there are no extra steps for the user, it just plugs in and works automatically (after initial software installation). Quicky is fully compatible with all Apple AirPort Base Stations on a Mac running Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later, including Leopard (10.5x).

Like most QuickerTek products, the Quicky is backed with a one-year warranty on parts and labor. Additional product information is found at the QuickerTek website.

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

This week with Apple refurb. 'Books the $1,699.00 2.2 GHz 15" MacBook Pros are back, and there are three 17" MacBook Pro and two MacBook models offered respectively. cm

  • refurb 2.0 GHz Core 2 MacBook, white, 1 GB/80/Combo, $899
  • refurb 2.16 GHz Core 2 MacBook, white, 1 GB/120/SD, $1,049
  • refurb 15" 2.2 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/120/SD, $1,699
  • refurb 15" 2.33 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/120/SD, $1,899
  • refurb 15" 2.4 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, $2,099
  • refurb 17" 2.33 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, $2,199
  • refurb 17" 2.4 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, $2,399
  • refurb hi-res 17" 2.4 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, $2,599

TechRestore

  • 12" PowerBook G4/1 GHz, 256/60/SD, $529.99
  • 15" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/80/Combo, $799.99
  • 15" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/80/SD, $879.99
  • 17" PowerBook G4/1 GHz, 512/60/SD, $999.99
  • 17" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/80/SD, $1,119.99

Wegener Media - Titanium - Aluminum

  • 15" Titanium PowerBook G4/867 MHz, 256/30/Combo, $579.99
  • 15" Titanium G4 PowerBook G4/1 GHz, 256/60/Combo, $699.99
  • 15" Aluminum PowerBook G4/1 GHz, 256/60/Combo, $699.99
  • 15" Aluminum PowerBook G4/1.25 GHz, 256/60/Combo, $709.99
  • 15" Aluminum PowerBook G4/1.33 GHz, 256/60/Combo, $724.99
  • 15" Aluminum PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/80/Combo, $799.99
  • 15" Aluminum PowerBook G4/1.67 GHz, 512/80/Combo, $899.99
  • 15" hi-res PowerBook G4/1.67 GHz, 512/80/SD, $949.99

Power Max

  • new 2.0 GHz Core 2 MacBook, white, 1 GB/80/Combo, $1,049
  • open box 2.16 GHz Core 2 MacBook, white, 1 GB/120/SD, warranty started, $1,199
  • open box 2.16 GHz Core 2 MacBook, white, 1 GB/120/SD, $1,229
  • open box 2.16 GHz Core 2 MacBook, black, 1 GB/160/SD, warranty started, $1,399
  • open box 2.16 GHz Core 2 MacBook, black, 1 GB/160/SD, $1,439
  • open box 15" 2.2 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/120/SD, $1,899
  • open box 15" 2.2 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/200/SD, $2,229
  • open box 15" 2.33 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/120/SD, warranty started, $2,199
  • open box 17" 2.33 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, $2,599
  • open box 17" 2.4 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, warranty started, $2,649

ExperCom

  • open box 17" 2.4 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160./SD, $2,599

PowerBook Guy

  • 12" iBook G3/500, 128/10/CD, $199.95
  • 12" iBook G3/500, 256/10/Combo, $299.95
  • 12" iBook G3/600, 128/20/CD, $219.95
  • 12" iBook G3/700, 256/20/CD, $239.95
  • 12" iBook G3/800, 256/30/CD, $249.95
  • 12" iBook G4/1 GHz, 512/40/Combo, $499.95
  • 14" iBook G4/800, 512/40/Combo, $529.95
  • 15" PowerBook G4/550, 256/20/Combo, $529.95

For more deals on current and discontinued models, see our MacBook deals, MacBook Pro deals, 12" PowerBook G4 deals, 15" 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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