The 'Book Review

Mac Benchmarks, Firmware Updates for All MacBooks, Sleep-and-Charge USB Ports, and More

This Week's MacBook, PowerBook, and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2008.04.11

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

Reviews

Tech Trends

Apple Updates

Products

Bargain 'Books

News & Opinion

Latest Mac Performance Benchmarks

Primate Labs says:

"Back in February Apple released new MacBooks and MacBook Pros which means the previous Mac Performance chart is out of date. Time for an update!

"Results were collected from the Geekbench Result Browser for Macs with standard processors (i.e., no processor upgrades, overclocked processors, or Hackintoshes) with at least 512 MB of RAM running Leopard."

National Institutes of Health Forbids Sensitive Data on MacBooks

InformationWeek's Paul McDougall reports:

"In the wake of a widely publicized security breach that left thousands of patient records exposed, the federal government's National Institutes of Health is forbidding all employees who use Apple's MacBook laptops from handling sensitive data as of Friday, InformationWeek has learned.

"Employees at the health agency who store medical records and other personal information on laptops must use systems that run either on Microsoft's Windows operating system or Linux, according to an agency memo.

"Those systems must be equipped with Check Point Software's Pointsec encryption tool as of April 4, according to an NIH mandate. Systems running Windows Vista can also use Vista's built-in BitLocker disk encryption tool.

"NIH imposed the no-MacBooks rule because there is no Apple-compatible version of Pointsec. To date, Check Point has only released a beta version of Pointsec for Macs that's not yet ready for government use."

Troubleshooting a MacBook Air That Won't Turn On

A new Apple Knowledge Base article says:

"There are some simple troubleshooting steps you should try if your MacBook Air won't turn on. Use these steps if:

"Your MacBook Air display has no picture after you turn it on.

"You don't hear any fan or hard disk activity sounds after you turn the computer on, and the sleep light doesn't turn on.

"The computer doesn't seem to have any power when you try to turn it on."

Reviews

Life with the MacBook Air

TUAW's Chris Ullrich reports:

"It's been almost two months now, and life is still almost perfect living and working with the MacBook Air. To recap, for those of you just joining us, in previous articles I told you my reasons for ordering a MacBook Air. Then, after having it for a few days, posted a fairly well-regarded review of the new Mac.

"Now, after a bit of time has gone by and I've had a chance to use the MBA on a daily basis, it's time for an update on my experiences, both good and bad...."

FastMac TruePower Battery for 17" MacBook Pro

Macworld's Peter Cohen reports:

"I've been a diehard advocate of 17-inch laptops ever since Apple produced its first model, a PowerBook G4 variant. I'm a big guy, and it's the only laptop I use that doesn't feel like a toy in my hands. Unfortunately, 17-inch models also tend to be pretty power-hungry, so I'm always looking for additional juice. Enter FastMac's TruePower 17-inch MacBook Pro battery. It offers looks and runtime similar to Apple's own battery, but it's priced $30 less."

Tech Trends

Toshiba Unveils Innovative Sleep-and-Charge USB Ports

PR: Toshiba's Digital Products Division (DPD), a division of Toshiba America Information Systems, Inc., today announced that its newly designed Satellite laptops are equipped with innovative Sleep-and-Charge USB ports, which make it possible to charge and power electronic devices no matter if the laptop is powered-on, off, or in sleep mode.

"Toshiba has long been a leader of innovation, and prides itself on creating solutions that make the digital lifestyle even better," said Jeff Barney, vice president of marketing, Digital Products Division, Toshiba America Information Systems, Inc. "With the development of the Sleep-and-Charge USB ports, Toshiba has developed an innovative technology that helps ensure that our digital products are ready for use at the moment we need them."

A common shortcoming among today's laptops is that USB ports are only powered while the computer is on or in use. Once the laptop is turned off or placed in sleep mode, the powered ports become dormant, leaving devices such as MP3 players, mobile phones, digital cameras, or PDAs without a full battery charge. Toshiba's innovative Sleep-and-Charge technology eliminates this problem by allowing users to charge and power their devices simultaneously via USB in a variety of power settings. While off or in sleep mode, as long as the laptop is plugged into an outlet, users are able to charge their devices at any time.

Toshiba's four redesigned Satellite model series, the Satellite U400, Satellite M300, Satellite A300 and Satellite P300 are each standard equipped with Toshiba's Sleep-and-Charge USB ports. Each Satellite model series will be available from a variety of major consumer electronics and computer stores nationwide, or directly from Toshiba at: http://www.toshibadirect.com

'Diamondville' to Shine as Intel's Next Atom

Register Hardware's Tony Smith reports:

"Having launched the first batch of 45nm Atom-brand processors yesterday, Intel today began touting the next set, these ones aimed at sub-laptops and small form-factor desktops rather than Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs).

"Codename watchers will be wondering where 'Diamondville' fits into Intel's Atom family, and now we know for sure. It's the part that will become the Atom N series, leaving the Atom Z series - aka 'Silverthorne' - for MIDs.

"Diamondville and Silverthorne are based on the same microarchitecture, developed from the ground up under the Silverthorne codename since that was the first chip of the family to be developed. Both versions are fully compatible with the 'Merom' Core 2 Duo, so they're limited to SSE 3 rather than SSE 4, part of the 'Penryn' Core 2s."

Apple Updates

Mac Book Air EFI Firmware Update 1.0

This update fixes several issues to improve the stability of MacBook Air computers.

After the firmware is successfully applied to your Mac, your Boot ROM Version will be: MBA11.00BB.B03

You can confirm the version of the BootROM installed on your computer using System Profiler.

MacBook EFI Firmware Update 1.2

This update fixes several issues to improve the stability of MacBook computers.

After the firmware is successfully applied to your Mac, your Boot ROM Version will be: MB31.008E.B02

You can confirm the version of the BootROM installed on your computer using System Profiler.

Mac Book Pro EFI Firmware Update 1.5

This update fixes several issues to improve the stability of MacBook Pro computers.

After the firmware is successfully applied to your Mac, your Boot ROM Version will be: MBP21.00A5.B08 or MBP31.0070.B07

You can confirm the version of the BootROM installed on your computer using System Profiler.

Products

Keyboard Protectors for MacBooks, Apple Keyboards

PR: Developer of high quality accessory products for Macintosh, iPod, and iPhone, Gadget Wrap, today announced its debut along with its first product offerings, the Gadget Wrap KeySkin Keyboard Protector series for Apple wired and wireless keyboards, as well as MacBook keyboards.

Keyboard ProtectorEach Gadget Wrap KeySkin Keyboard Protector is made from super thin, high quality, durable silicone to ensure it provides keyboards with exceptional protection and a tailor-made fit. Available in a variety of colors, the Gadget Wrap KeySkin Keyboard Protectors help guard and protect against liquid spills, food crumbs, dirt and dust, and other contaminates that can easily damage or destroy a keyboard. What's more, Gadget Wrap KeySkin Keyboard Protectors even help extend keyboard life by reducing normal day-to-day wear and tear.

Keyboard ProtectorGadget Wrap also announced MacBook KeySkin Pro for Adobe Photoshop. The MacBook KeySkin Pro Keyboard Protectors provide the same exceptional protection as Gadget Wrap KeySkin Keyboard Protectors, but also includes keyboard shortcuts for Adobe Photoshop printed directly on the protector. Providing the best of both worlds, not only is the user's keyboard protected, but no longer do they have to memorize or look up various Photoshop keyboard commands, making work much more efficient and productive.

Keyboard Protector"We're very excited to be bringing these new product lines to Macintosh customers everywhere, and we're looking forward to following up with equally great products for the iPod and iPhone markets," said Gadget Wrap president, Charleen Becchina. "We've worked really hard to provide super top quality products at superb price points that handily beat our competitors."

Gadget Wrap, Inc. will soon be releasing its own line of high quality products for Apple's wildly popular iPod and iPhone series of products. For complete information on Gadget Wrap, Inc. and its products, visit their website.

Marware Sportfolio Sleeve and Vertical Sleeve for MacBook Air

PR: Marware has introduced the Sportfolio Sleeve and Sportfolio Vertical Sleeve cases for the MacBook Air.

Sportfolio Sleeve for MacBook Air

The Sportfolio Sleeve serves as two cases in one: as an ultra-slim carrying case or as an extra layer of protection in a bag or backpack. Constructed of rugged neoprene, the sleek design allows for easy notebook storage and retrieval. The Orca-skin front pocket conveniently stores objects while the plush interior and lined zipper deliver multi-layered protection. The Sportfolio Sleeve features an easy-grip edge for carrying as a folio.

  • Features:

    Rugged neoprene construction

  • Plush interior
  • Ultra-slim design
  • Sleek Orca-skin pocket

$34.99

Sportfolio Vertical Sleeve for MacBook Air

The Sportfolio Vertical Sleeve serves as two cases in one: as an ultra-slim carrying case or as an extra layer of protection in a bag or backpack. Constructed of rugged neoprene, the sleek vertical design allows for easy notebook storage and retrieval. The Orca-skin front pocket conveniently stores objects while the plush interior and lined zipper deliver multi-layered protection. The Sportfolio Vertical Sleeve features an easy-grip edge for carrying as a folio.

Features:

  • Rugged neoprene construction
  • Plush interior
  • Ultra-slim design
  • Sleek Orca-skin pocket
  • Add extra protection to your existing laptop bag

$34.99

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

Each model comes with an Apple one-year warranty, and ground shipping is free. Changes this week are the addition of a 2.6 Ghz 17" MacBook Pro with high-res dislpay and a 2.2 GHz Black MacBook.

  • refurb 2.16 GHz Core 2 MacBook, white, 1 GB/120/SD, $949
  • refurb 2.2 GHz Core 2 MacBook, white, 1 GB/120/SD, $999
  • refurb 2.2 GHz Core 2 MacBook, black, 1 GB/160/SD, $1,049
  • refurb 15" 2.2 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/120/SD, $1,449
  • refurb 15" 2.4 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, $1,649
  • refurb 17" 2.4 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, $2,099
  • refurb 17" 2.4 GHz hi-res Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, $2,299
  • refurb 17" 2.6 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, $2,299
  • refurb 17" 2.6 GHz hi-res Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, $2,499

TechRestore

  • 15" PowerBook G4/667 (VGA), 256/30/Combo, $619.99
  • 15" PowerBook G4/667 (DVI), 256/30/Combo, $629.99
  • 17" PowerBook G4/1 GHz, 512/60/SD, $999.99

Wegener Media

  • 12" iBook G4/800 MHz, 256/30/Combo, $319.99
  • 12" iBook G4/1 GHz, 256/30/Combo, $349.99
  • 12" iBook G4/1.2 GHz, 256/30/Combo, $399.99
  • 12" iBook G4/ 1.33 GHz, 512/40/Combo, APX, BT $499.99
  • 12" PowerBook G4/1 GHz, 256/40/Combo, $499.99
  • 12" PowerBook G4/1 GHz, 512/80/Combo, $549.99
  • 14" iBook G4/1.33 GHz, 512/60/Combo, APX, BT $519.99
  • 14" iBook G4/1.33 GHz, 512/60/SD, APX, BT $549.99
  • 14" iBook G4/1.42 GHz, 512/60/Combo, APX, BT $529.99
  • 15" PowerBook G4/1 GHz, 256/60/Combo, $599.99
  • 15" PowerBook G4/1.25 GHz, 256/60/Combo, $629.99
  • 15" PowerBook G4/1.33 GHz, 256/60/Combo, $679.99
  • 15" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/80/Combo, $699.99
  • 15" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/80/Combo, $709.99
  • 15" PowerBook G4/1.67 GHz, 1 GB/80/SD, $739.99
  • 15" hi-res PowerBook G4/1.67 GHz 512/80/SD, $799.99

Baucom Computers

  • 12" iBook G4/800, 640/30/Combo, $379
  • 12" iBook G4/800, 640/30/Combo, APX, $410
  • 12" iBook G4 1.07 GHz, 640/30/Combo, APX, $505
  • 12" iBook G4 1.2 GHz, 512/30/Combo, APX, $599

Power Max

  • open box 2.1 GHz Core 2 MacBook, white, 1 GB/120/Combo, $1,049
  • open box 2.16 GHz Core 2 MacBook, white, 1/120/SD, warranty started, $1,099
  • open box 2.16 GHz Core 2 MacBook, black, 1/160/SD, warranty started, $1,129
  • open box 2.2 GHz Core 2 MacBook, black, 1 GB/160/SD, $1,299
  • open box 15" 2.16 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/120/SD, $1,749
  • open box 15" 2.2 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2/120/SD, $1599
  • open box 15" 2.2 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2/120/SD, $1639
  • open box 17" 2.33 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, $2,288
  • refurb 17" 2.4 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, warranty started, $2,088
  • open box 17" 2.4 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, warranty started, $2,399
  • 17" 2.6 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, $2,699

PowerBook Guy

  • clamshell iBook G3/300, Blueberry, 64/3/CD, $149.95
  • clamshell iBook G3/300, Tangerine, 64/3/CD, $169.95
  • clamshell iBook G3/366 SE, Graphite, 128/10/CD, $199.95
  • clamshell iBook G3/366, Key Lime, 192/10/CD, $259.95
  • 12" iBook G3/500, 128/10/CD, $199.95
  • 12" iBook G3/500, 256/10/Combo, $279.95
  • 12" iBook G3/800, 256/30/CD, $289.95
  • 15" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 1 GB/80/Combo, AppleCare, $1,099.95

ExperCom

  • 17" 2.5 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 4 GB/200 7200 rpm/SD, $3,099

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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