The 'Book Review

SSD Prices to Dive, MacBook Heat, Solid State Drives for MacBook and MacBook Pro, and More

This Week's MacBook, PowerBook, and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2008.06.09

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


Bargain 'Books

News & Opinion

Solid State Drive Prices to Dive

Cnet's Brooke Crothers reports:

"Future versions of the MacBook Air will pack larger-capacity but lower-cost solid-state drives, emblematic of the next generation of flash storage that will make a quick descent from current stratospheric pricing.

"Today, a consumer pays dearly for a solid-state drive (SSD). For example, for only 64 GB of SSD storage on the MacBook Air, a consumer must pay a premium of about $1,000 over the 80 GB hard disk drive model.

"But the cost per megabyte of solid state drive storage will drop as notebook PC makers like Apple switch to solid-state drives with capacities above 100 GB based on multilevel cell (MLC) technology. Adoption by notebook PC makers is expected to start in the third quarter, according to industry sources."

Link: Solid-State Drive Prices to Dive (Think MacBook Air)

How Warm Is Your MacBook When Running?

The Apple Core's David Morgenstern says:

"Just as the experience of pain varies from individuals, so is our evaluation of how hot a Mac laptop can become. Apple says they can become 'very warm.' We can appreciate that warmth in the winter, but it can be a pain for summer computing.

"Apple refreshed its Apple Portables: Operating temperature technical note. It says not to worry about 'very warm' laptops. There's nothing in the note about 'very hot.'"

Link: How 'Warm' Is Your MacBook Operating Temperature?

Tech Trends

LCD Panel Makers Pushing 15.6" as Next Notebook Mainstream

DigiTimes' Rebecca Kuo and Rodney Chan report:

"LCD panel suppliers are gearing up for the promotion of 15.6-inch 16:9 aspect ratio panels as the next mainstream standard in the notebook market. PC vendors are expected to roll out products towards the end of the second quarter or early in the third quarter, according to industry sources....

"PC vendors, such as Dell, Acer, Asustek Computer, Toshiba, and Lenovo all have plans to launch 15.6-inch notebooks, forming a new trend in the second half of the year, the sources commented."

Link: LCD Panel Makers Pushing 15.6-Inch as Next Notebook Mainstream (subscription required)

Will Seagate Build a Flash SSD Foundry?

The Register's Chris Mellor reports:

"The ebullient Seagate CEO Bill Watkins has made it clear that Seagate thinks flash solid state drives (SSDs) are interesting and Seagate will sell them - but not yet. When Seagate does sell a Seagate-brand SSD how will it make it? Will there be a Seagate flash foundry?

"A customer buys a hard disk drive (HDD) array from an OEM or channel source and the innards consist of a controller from LSI or someone similar and disk drives from Seagate or someone else similar. Seagate makes drives but not controllers.

"A flash SSD array or array component will consist of a flash array controller and flash SSDs, which consist of flash chips and the SSD-level controller, roughly equivalent to the HDD integrated circuit board sold and supplied by Seagate as an intrinsic part of the hard drive.

"So, logically, Seagate would sell to OEMs a flash SSD equivalent to a HDD unit; that is to say, a bunch of flash chips and control electronics. Will Seagate make the flash chips?"

Link: Will Seagate Build a Flash SSD Foundry?

Acer Announces Small £199 Linux Laptop

Register Hardware's Tony Smith reports:

"Computex Acer has launched its Eee PC wannabe, the Aspire One, pitching the product to Brits at just £199 including VAT - even though it's 'not a low-cost notebook', according to the company.

"The One's specs largely match those of its rivals: 1.6 GHz Intel Atom N270 processor; 512 MB of 533 MHz DDR 2 memory with a single SO-DIMM slot for more; and an 8.9in, 1024 x 600, 262,000-colour LED-backlit display. There's a 0.3-megapixel webcam in the screen bezel."

Link: Acer Announces £199 Linux Laptop

Via Releases 'Open Source' Laptop Design

IDG News Service's Sumner Lemon reports:

"Via Technologies released the hardware design for a low-cost laptop with WiMax support under an open-source license on Tuesday, a move intended to make customization easier and shorten design cycles for system makers.

"The CAD (computer-assisted design) files for the OpenBook reference design can be downloaded for free and made available to anyone under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 license. The terms of this license allow the CAD files to be freely copied, shared and modified.

"The only requirements are that use of the design is attributed to Via and changes made to the design can only be distributed under the same license or one that has similar terms....

"The OpenBook is based on Via's 1.6 GHz C7-M processor and VX800 chipset. The design includes an 8.9-inch screen with a resolution of 1,024 pixels by 600 pixels and calls for a hard disk with a capacity of 80G bytes or more"

Link: Via Releases Laptop Design as Open Source

AMD Targets Puma 'Centrino Beater' at Consumers, Small Business

The Register's Kelly Fiveash reports:

"AMD launched its long-awaited Puma laptop platform this morning into an unexpectedly open market after Intel was forced to delay its refreshed Centrino 2 ['Montevina'] platform.

"Puma is built around AMD's Turion X2 Ultra Dual-Core Mobile processor but the vendor has put HD at the centre of its pitch. Puma features integrated ATI Radeon HD 3200 Graphics and supports DirextX10. It will also offer other discrete ATI Radeon graphics set-ups. Part of the pitch is its ability to run both the built-in and discrete graphics set-ups in tandem."

Link: AMD Targets Puma 'Centrino Beater' at Consumers, SMEs

AMD Shakes PC Notebook Status Quo

InfoWorld's Tom Yager says:

"At the logic level, MacBook, the benchmark for success in mainstream notebooks, is unremarkable - indistinguishable from every PC notebook built on Intel Core 2 and its chipset-integrated graphics. Why, then, can't anyone with the same parts list emulate Apple's growth in an otherwise stagnant notebook market? Because Apple painstakingly hand-optimized its OS for a tiny variety of hardware architectures, presently Intel Core 2, while Microsoft wrote Vista to run on absolutely everything. No PC notebook maker can take the proprietary route that Apple plays to such advantage.

"Microsoft can't crank out proprietary cuts of Vista for each notebook vendor's choice of suppliers. The best hope is a hardware architecture that's optimized for Vista. Not only that, but optimized for 64-bit Vista running on a battery. That radical objective drove AMD's design for the total notebook platform nicknamed Puma, and now dubbed, temporarily I hope, AMD's Next Generation Notebook Platform. This platform's Turion X2 Ultra 64 CPU is not cut from the common cloth of adapted desktop platforms like Core 2 that rely on machinations of the OS to balance performance with battery life...."

Link: AMD Shakes PC Notebook Status Quo


Western Digital Scorpio Mobile 7200 RPM Hard Drives Reach 300 GB

PR: Designed with top-of-the-line notebook computers in mind, Western Digital's high performance Scorpio hard drive delivers the capacity and speed needed to supercharge a notebook PC without compromising battery life or quiet acoustics. Features like these also make this drive an outstanding option for compact desktops, external hard drives, gaming systems, and blade servers.

Key Features:

  • Desktop-class performance for notebook computers - With 7200 RPM spin speed, 16 MB cache, and capacities up to 320 GB, these drives enable you to have the best of both worlds: the capacity and performance of a desktop PC with the convenience and portability of a notebook.
  • Massive capacity - WD's 320 GB 2.5" drives offer huge capacity for space-hungry operating systems, with plenty of room left over for photos, music, and video.
  • Low power consumption - With technologies like IntelliSeek, which calculates optimum seek speeds to lower power consumption and SecurePark, which reduces power by parking the heads during low power idle mode, this drive delivers 5400 RPM-equivalent power consumption in a 7200 RPM drive.
  • Quiet - In a notebook drive, silence is golden. WD's exclusive WhisperDrive combines state-of-the-art seeking algorithms to yield one of the quietest 2.5" hard drives on the market.
  • Reliable and rugged - WD's ShockGuard technology protects the drive mechanics and platter surfaces from shocks during shipping and handling and in daily operation.
      WD's SecurePark parks the recording heads off the disk surface during spin up, spin down and when the drive is off. This ensures the recording head never touches the disk surface resulting in improved long term reliability due to less head wear and improved shock tolerance.
  • Free-fall sensor = As an added layer of protection, if the drive (or the system it's in) is dropped while in use, WD's free-fall sensor detects that the drive is falling and, in less than 200 milliseconds, parks the head to help prevent damage and data loss.

Capacities: 320 GB, 250 GB, 160 GB, 120 GB, 80 GB

320 gigabyte capacity street price about $249.

Link: Western Digital Scorpio Mobile 7200 RPM Hard Drives

ExperCom Offers Solid State Drives for MacBook, MacBook Pro

Super-Talent Solid State DriveExperComPR: ExperCom offers three ways to upgrade to a solid state drive in your MacBook or MacBook Pro:

  1. Preconfigured Solid State Drive MacBook and MacBook Pro: preconfigured Mac laptops that come to you with a SSD already installed, with all of the same software that comes with a new Mac laptop loaded and ready to go. The hard drive, removed during installation, is also included with your new Mac:
    • MacBook Pro 15.4" 2.4 GHz/2 GB/120 GB SSD/SuperDrive/AirPort/Bluetooth - $2649
    • MacBook White 13.3" 2.2 GHz/2 GB/60 GB SSD/SuperDrive/AirPort/Bluetooth - $1649
  2. Add a Solid State Drive upgrade to any new Mac laptop: You can choose any configuration MacBook Pro or MacBook , and have ExperCom install an SSD before delivering your new Mac laptop. The hard drive, removed during installation, is also included with your new Mac.*
    • 60 GB SSD Upgrade (buy with MacBook or MacBook Pro) - $550
    • 120 GB SSD Upgrade (buy with MacBook or MacBook Pro) - $850
  3. Have ExperCom replace the drive in a Mac laptop you already own: ExperCom will replace your hard drive with a Solid State Drive*, transfer your data to the new SSD, and ship back your Mac laptop to you. The hard drive, removed during installation, is also included with your Mac that is returned to you.
    • 60 GB Solid State Drive (SSD) - Upgrade your Mac Laptop - $599
    • 120 GB Solid State Drive (SSD) - Upgrade your Mac Laptop - $899
SSD vs. Hard Drive
SSD vs. Hard Drive (click for full-size image)

SSD Advantages

  • Reliability: No moving parts means the risk of mechanical failure is extremely rare. You'll enjoy greater durability and improved resistance to data loss in the event of an accidental drop. Also, there is no noise and less heat is generated.
  • Faster Access Time: Solid state drives can access data more quickly than standard hard drives, so you'll enjoy a boost in performance when starting up your computer and opening files and applications. ExperCom is using the Super Talent SSD with a maximum read speed of 120 MB/s and a maximum write speed of 40 MB/s.
  • Less Power Draw: Solid state drives require less power to operate, potentially increasing battery life.

SSD Disadvantages

  • Cost: Solid state drives cost more per gigabyte than standard hard dives.
  • Capacity: Solid state drives have smaller capacities than standard hard dives.
  • Slower Write Times: The write times for solid state drives are typically slower than standard hard drives.

Link: ExperCom Solid State Drives for MacBook and MacBook Pro

LaCie d2 USB 2.0 & FireWire Blu-ray Drive

LaCie d2 Blu-ray DrivePR: The professional choice for Blu-ray recording: Easily save 50 GB of digital data on 1 disc, BD (Blu-ray)/DVD/CD writer in one drive.

Durable d2 design; quiet operation

Burn up to 4 hours of HD video on a Blu-ray disc without quality loss and then share it with your customers or send your high-quality master for replication.

LaCie d2 Blu-ray DriveNew Blu-ray technology allows you to archive large amounts of data, audio asset libraries, raw video shoots, image files or complete multimedia projects on long lasting BD media - at a low cost per GB. Easily back up as much as 10 DVDs worth of important files at a fast throughput of 18 MB/s.

Backward compatible with CD/DVD media, it also offers a compelling interactive multimedia experience when playing back your BD-ROMs. Bundled with full-featured, easy-to-use software, including packet writing and backup applications, it's the LaCie Blu-ray burning solution for intensive professional use.


Link: LaCie d2 Blu-ray Drive USB 2.0 & FireWire

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

New this week; MacBook Airs! - and some high-end 17" MacBook Pros. Each model comes with an Apple one-year warranty, and ground shipping is free.

  • refurb 2.1 GHz Penryn MacBook, white, 1 GB/120/Combo, $949
  • refurb 2.2 GHz Core 2 MacBook, white, 1 GB/120/SD, $999
  • refurb 1.6 GHz MacBook Air, 2 GB/80, $1,549
  • refurb 1.8 GHz MacBook Air, 2 GB/64 SSD, $2,699
  • 2.4 GHz Core 2 MacBook, white, 2/160/SD, $1,099
  • 2.4 GHz Core 2 MacBook, black, 2/250/SD, $1,299
  • refurb 15" 2.4 GHz Santa Rosa MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, $1,699
  • refurb 15" 2.5 GHz Penryn MacBook Pro, 2 GB/250/SD, $2,149
  • refurb 17" 2.4 GHz Santa Rosa MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, $2,099
  • refurb 17" 2.4 GHz hi-res Santa Rosa MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, $2,299
  • refurb 17" 2.5 GHz Penryn MacBook Pro, 2 GB/250/SD, $2,399
  • refurb 17" hi-res 2.6 GHz Penryn MacBook Pro, 2 GB/200/SD, $2,749


  • 12" iBook G3/700, 256/20/Combo, $419.99
  • 15" PowerBook G4/667 (VGA), 256/30/Combo, $599.99
  • 1.6 GHz MacBook Air, 2 GB/80, $1,699.99
  • 15" 2.16 GHz Core Duo MacBook Pro, 1 GB/120/SD, $1,399.99

Wegener Media - Pismo - 12" PowerBook - 15" Titanium PowerBook - 15" Aluminum PowerBook

  • Pismo PowerBook G3/400, 128/6/DVD, $299.99
  • Pismo PowerBook G3/400, 256/40/DVD, $399.99
  • Pismo PowerBook G3/400, 256/60/DVD, $419.99
  • Pismo PowerBook G3/500, 128/6/DVD, $349.99
  • Pismo PowerBook G3/500, 256/40/DVD, $439.99
  • Pismo PowerBook G3/500, 256/60/DVD, $449.99
  • 12" PowerBook G4/867 MHz, 256/40/Combo, $469.99
  • 12" PowerBook G4/1 GHz, 256/40/Combo, $509.99
  • 15" titanium PowerBook G4/867 MHz, 256/30/Combo, $549.99
  • 15" titanium PowerBook G4/1 GHz, 256/60/Combo, $699.99
  • 15" aluminum PowerBook G4/1 GHz, 256/60/Combo, $599.99
  • 15" aluminum PowerBook G4/1.25 GHz, 256/60/Combo, $629.99
  • 15" aluminum PowerBook G4/1.33 GHz, 256/60/Combo, $679.99
  • 15" aluminum PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/80/Combo, $699.99
  • 15" aluminum 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

  • 15" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 1 GB/80/Combo, APX, $689
  • 15" PowerBook G4/1.67 GHz, 1 GB/80/Combo, APX, $799
  • 15" 2.0 GHz Core Duo MacBook Pro, 512/80/SD, APX, $1,129

Power Max

  • open box 1.6 GHz MacBook Air, 2 GB/80, $1,749
  • open box 2.1 GHz Core 2 MacBook, white, 1 GB/120/SD, $1,049
  • open box 2.16 GHz Core 2 MacBook, white, 2 GB/120/SD, warranty started, $1,049
  • open box 2.2 GHz Core 2 MacBook, black, 2 GB/160/SD, $1,249
  • open box 2.4 GHz Core 2 MacBook, white, 2 GB/160/SD, $1,249
  • open box 2.4 GHz Core 2 MacBook, black, 2 GB/250/SD, $1,449
  • 15" 2.4 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, warranty started, 2/160/SD, $1,799
  • 15" 2.4 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, warranty started, 2/200/SD, $1,949
  • 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, $2,049
  • open box 17" 2.4 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, warranty started, $2,349
  • 17" 2.4 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, $2,449
  • open box 17" 2.5 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, $2,688
  • 17" 2.6 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, $2,699

PowerBook Guy

  • Blueberry clamshell iBook G3/300 MHz, 64/3/CD, $179.95
  • Tangerine clamshell iBook G3/300 MHz, 64/3/CD, $199.95
  • 12" iBook G3/500, 192/10/DVD, $249.95
  • 12" iBook G3/600, 128/20/CD, $229.95
  • 12" iBook G3/600, 256/30/CD, $289.95
  • Pismo PowerBook G3/400, 192/6/Zip, $269.95
  • 15" 2.16 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 1 GB/120/SD, $1,599.95

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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