The 'Book Review

MagSafe Out of Warranty Replacement, Nvidia Flaw Affecting Macs, MacBook Air Revision Soon, and More

This Week's MacBook, PowerBook, and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2008.08.22

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

Products

Software

Bargain 'Books

News & Opinion

MagSafe out of Warranty Replacement Program

APC Magazine's Danny Gorog reports:

"As if iPhone 3G woes weren't enough for Apple to deal with right now, another storm is brewing on the horizon.

"This one concerns faulty MagSafe power adaptors that shipped with MacBook (13-inch Late 2006), MacBook (13-inch), MacBook Pro (15-inch Glossy) and MacBook Pro (17-inch).

"In a rare turnaround, Apple has acknowledged in a tech support article that some MagSafe adaptors may be faulty, and users may 'may notice a separation of the white insulation on the magnetic end of the MagSafe adapter. Under continued use, the cable may discolor and the rubber molding may become deformed.'

"The good news, if you are one of the affected users, Apple will replace your MagSafe adaptor free-of-charge, whether you are in your initial warranty period or not."

Nvidia Fault Affecting Macs?

Pocket-Lint's Katie Scott reports:

"There are suggestions on the web that the problem with the faulty Nvidia chipsets, which are affecting HP and Dell laptops, may be an issue for other manufacturers as well.

"As we reported just last week, the team over at The Inquirer believe that laptops with G84, G86, G92s and G94 chips, which include Asus, Lenovo and Apple machines, could also suffer from the overheating issue....

"But now a Pocket-lint reader has got in touch and claims that his brand new MacBook Pro is indeed faulty, and it seems to be the Nvidia chip...."

Intel Hint Suggests 160 GB MacBook Air

Computerworld's Sharon Gaudin reports:

"Intel Tuesday outlined the roadmap for its upcoming line of solid-state drives that will use flash-based solid-state memory to store data - and replace hard drives in some computers.

"Such flash-based solid state drives are already available in some computers available on the market, including the MacBook Air, though the drives used in these products haven't been produced by Intel.

"Dubbed the Intel High-Performance SATA Solid-State Drive product line, the data storage devices are aimed at mobile and desktop clients, as well as enterprise server, storage and workstation applications. The first products in the new line are slated to be available by mid-September.

"The announcement was made Tuesday at the company's Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco." d

MacBook Air Revision Imminent with Full Penryn, More Power

PhoneNews's Christopher Price says:

"PhoneNews.com can confirm that Apple is preparing to release an new revision of the MacBook Air. While that in and of itself is not a surprise to many, we can confirm some of the specifications of the unit.

"Much of the MacBook Air's external design will not change. However, the internals will receive a significant revision from the initial release back in January. The MacBook Air is currently powered by a custom version of the Intel Core 2 Duo processor, from the Merom-class. That processor had been modified with a lower voltage process to conserve power.

"The new MacBook Air however, will trade that CPU out for a standard Penryn-class Core 2 Duo...."

Rumor Hints 2 GHz MacBook Air with 120 GB Hard Drive

Electronista reports:

"Apple's first revision to the MacBook Air will see a clock speedboost as well as a storage upgrade, according to a newly prominent rumor. The report claims the 13.3-inch lightweight portable will switch from Apple's custom-ordered 65 nanometer processors to a reference 45 nanometer, Penryn-based design. Upgrading will allegedly reduce the clock speed gap and let the MacBook Air's Core 2 Duo chip push 2 GHz 'and beyond,' according to the leak.

"However, this swap will allegedly create a power increase and require that Apple supply the system with a 60-watt power supply rather than the smaller 45-watt unit that comes with the existing model. The internal design is described as closer to that of the standard MacBook, though whether it will be based on some components of Intel's Centrino 2 platform or use a rumored custom design is unknown."

Intel Launches Smaller SSD for Netbooks, Mini-desktops

IDG News Service's Dan Nystedt reports:

"Intel launched a much smaller version of its Z-P230 SSDs (solid state drive) aimed at netbooks and mini-desktops....

"The new SSD is based on a miniature card module that weighs just 8 grams, compared to 11 grams for the original Z-P230, which Intel announced in June."

MacBooks Now on Sale at Your Local Grocer? Maybe!

AppleGazette's Michael reports:

"So last night we went grocery shopping. Normal trip, nothing out of the ordinary . . . and then I walked past the photo booth. They have recently started selling notebook computers but, like every other place in the world, they're always Windows-based - so I don't care. Then I saw this...

"And I did a double take.

"Look at that! A MacBook on sale in a grocery store! If that doesn't say something about Apple's market growth - I don't know what will...."

Intel Shifts Future Core Processors into Turbo Mode

PR: In his Intel Developer Forum keynote this week, Pat Gelsinger detailed the roadmap for Intel's continued march toward pervasive, higher performance and power efficient computing. The senior vice president and general manager of Intel's Digital Enterprise Group discussed new features of the company's next-generation processor family including a new turbo mode that shifts the processor into a higher gear for mind-blowing performance without a heat penalty.

The company's first desktop PC chips branded Intel Core i7 processors and initial energy-efficient, high-performance server products (codenamed "Nehalem-EP") will be first to production. Intel is also planning to manufacture a second server derivative designed for the expandable sever market ("Nehalem-EX"), and desktop ("Havendale" and "Lynnfield") and mobile ("Auburndale" and "Clarksfield") client versions in the second half of 2009.

"Our engineers have put together an incredible processing family here that will include a tremendous amount of new processor features all centered on delivering faster computer performance and terrific energy efficiency," Gelsinger said.

The next-generation Core microarchitecture also features Intel Hyper-Threading Technology* delivering up to 8-threaded performance capability on 4 cores in the initial versions and best-in-class memory bandwidth thanks to the new QuickPath Interconnect. QuickPath is a technology that connects processors, chipsets and memory together, and delivers up to three times the memory bandwidth of previous generation Core microarchitecture solutions.

The new Intel Xeon processor X7460 with 6 cores and 16 MB L3 cache for expandable servers launching in September has already broken multiple performance world records1. An 8-socket IBM System x* 3950 M2 server became the first platform to break the 1 million tpmC barrier on the TPC*-C benchmark. New 4-Socket performance records include TPC*-C on HP Proliant* DL580 G5, TPC*-E on Dell PowerEdge* R900, SPECjbb*2005 on Sun Fire* X4450 and SPECint*_rate2006 on Fujitsu-Siemens PRIMERGY* RX600 S4.

Gelsinger also discussed the industry's first many-core Intel Architecture (IA) based design, codenamed "Larrabee." Expected in 2009 or 2010, the first product based on Larrabee will target the personal computer graphics market, support DirectX and OpenGL, and run today's games and programs. Larrabee is expected to kick start an industrywide effort to create and optimize software for the dozens, hundreds and thousands of cores expected to power future computers.

The Intel executive also outlined Intel's vision for the next wave of the Internet, called the Embedded Internet. Emerging markets in the embedded computing space such as IP networking and security, video intelligence, medical, in-vehicle infotainment and home automation can greatly benefit from the always-on Internet connectivity. Gelsinger said that this area is another growth opportunity for Intel and the high-tech industry, and predicted that there will be 15 billion devices connected to the Internet as a result of the rapid rise of the embedded internet.

Where Will Mobile Computing's 'On-the-Go, Go?'

Showing the breadth and health of Intel's next-generation processors, David (Dadi) Perlmutter, executive vice president and general manager of Intel's Mobility Group today demonstrated the first working laptop platform codenamed "Calpella."

"Calpella will redefine how we compute on-the-go by giving users a stunning new computing visual experience, better manageability and security, enhanced turbo mode features and evolutionary power management for notebooks," said Perlmutter. "It is all about dramatic mobile performance without compromise."

New Mobile Processors Unveiled

Building on the recent Intel Centrino 2 launch for notebook PCs in July, Perlmutter unveiled Intel's first-ever mobile-focused quad-core laptop workstation - the Intel Core 2 Extreme processor. While the products include four cores, they only use 45 watts of power.

Perlmutter also introduced the company's second-generation dual-core mobile processors for increasingly popular ultra thin and light notebook PCs.

He also outlined upcoming mobile platform enhancements including the Intel High-Performance SATA Solid-State Drive product line for faster system responsiveness, lower power consumption and rugged, reliable operation and available later this year, Intel Antitheft Technology, which features intelligent hardware-based detection and response mechanisms that enable IT managers or service providers to disable the platform and/or access to data in case of loss or theft.

WiMax Connecting Soon

Emerging WiMax 4G networks around the world will be connecting the plethora of mobile platforms and devices, and specifically within the United States where Sprint XOHM* plans to turn on its first citywide network in Baltimore in September. Globally, more than 400 WiMax trials and networks2 extend the richness of the mobility experience. Perlmutter also announced that Dell has now joined other computer-makers such as Acer, Asus, Lenovo, Panasonic, and Toshiba as publicly committing to include the Intel WiMax/WiFi Link 5050 Series module to future laptop product lines.

Barrett: 'Get involved'

During the conference's opening keynote, Intel Chairman Craig Barrett applauded the developer community for technology innovations that contributed to unimagined advances in entertainment and business productivity during the past 40 years. He said the impact of their work is borderless and challenged them to collaborate and use their technology expertise to inspire and empower the billions of people who have recently joined the world's free economic system.

"Technology is a tool to address some of the world's most pressing challenges related to health care, education, economic development and the environment," said Barrett, who also chairs a United Nations initiative on technology in the developing world. "No nations or individuals are untouched by these issues. Get involved. Be part of the solution."

Barrett also announced that Intel will award four $100,000 prizes to the most innovative ideas for applying technology to meet unmet needs related to education, health care, economic development and the environment. Ideas will be evaluated for sustainability and innovativeness of the solution. More details on the INSPIRE-EMPOWER Challenge are available at www.intelchallenge.com .

*Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of their respective owners. SPEC, SPECint, SPECfp, SPECrate, SPECweb, SPECjbb are trademarks of the Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation. See: http://www.spec.org for more information on the benchmarks.

Performance tests and ratings are measured using specific computer systems and/or components and reflect the approximate performance of Intel products as measured by those tests. Any difference in system hardware or software design or configuration may affect actual performance. Buyers should consult other sources of information to evaluate the performance of systems or components they are considering purchasing. For more information on performance tests and on the performance of Intel products, visit www.intel.com/performance/resources/limits.htm or call (US) 800-628-8686 or 916-356-3104.

News on Intel's Nehalem, Chips with Integrated GPUs Next

ZD Net's John Morris says:

"Intel has given new details of what it calls the biggest change in its processor platform in a decade.

"The new information on Nehalem, discussed in keynotes and presentations at the Intel Developer Forum this week, was expected. Nehalem isn't a single product, but a family of products all based on a new microarchitecture. The first products, due to ship in the fourth quarter, will be performance and "extreme" desktop chips bearing the name Core i7....

"Intel also dropped some hints about how the technology in Nehalem will be used in other products, most notably processors that have both general-purpose x86 cores and GPUs on the same silicon die. For example, the QPI can be used to connect the CPUs to the GPUs and turbo mode can be extended to control the GPUs as well, so that you can have any combination of x86 cores and GPUs running depending on the applications you are using. There will be both desktop (Havendale) and mobile (Auburndale) processors with GPUs onboard; the desktop and laptop versions without integrated graphics are code-named Lynnfield and Clarksfield, respectively. These are all due in the second half of 2009...."

Products

Checkpoint Flyer Laptop Briefcase by Tom Bihn

PR: Tom Bihn, a designer, manufacturer, and retailer of laptop bags, backpacks, messenger bags, and briefcases, has introduced the Checkpoint Flyer Laptop Briefcase, a new "checkpoint friendly" briefcase-style laptop bag with a highly protective compartment for a laptop computer.

The Checkpoint Flyer Laptop Briefcase Bihn's answer to an intensive, five-month design challenge issued by the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) to design a laptop bag that meets its newly implemented "checkpoint friendly" program guidelines. The Checkpoint Flyer provides the TSA with a clear, unobstructed x-ray view of the laptop in the bag without sacrificing organizational pockets and clean design.

Unique features of the Checkpoint Flyer Laptop Briefcase include:

  • Handsome and tough US made 1050 denier ballistic nylon, splash-proof YKK Uretek zippers, Duraflex Stealth buckles, and Poron foam-padded handles.
  • Made in USA in Tom Bihn's own Seattle factory.
  • Over 11 organizational pockets.
  • Back pocket zips open to accommodate the handle of a roll-aboard.
  • Quick-access boarding pass/map pocket.
  • Molded foam laptop compartment that completely encases the laptop in 8mm-thick closed cell foam, available in three sizes designed specifically to fit the 13" MacBook and MacBook Air, 15.4" MacBook Pro, and 17" MacBook Pro. Also fits many PC laptops.
  • Requires less than 3 seconds to be prepared in order to send the briefcase through the x-ray machine.
  • Not designed simply for the security checkpoint process, the Checkpoint Flyer Laptop Briefcase works well as an everyday laptop bag.

The Checkpoint Flyer Laptop Briefcase is available for pre-order through the Tom Bihn Web site and ships by late September. $220. Available in three colors.

Software

FunctionFlip Toggles the Function Keys on Your MacBook

PR: FunctionFlip individually controls your MacBook or MacBook Pro's function keys, turning special keys back to regular F-keys, or vice-versa

Developer Kevin Gessner says:

"I like the media keys on my MacBook keyboard - just not all of them. Fat-fingered that I am, I regularly skip tracks when I just want to pause. Disabling all of the keys just won't do, because I use the brightness and volume keys every day.

"FunctionFlip individually controls your MacBook or MacBook Pro's function keys, turning special keys back to regular F-keys, or vice-versa.

"FunctionFlip's purpose is simply to disable the special features - rewind, play, mute, etc. - on the function keys. For example, if you "flip" F7, F8, and F9, those keys will revert back to normal F keys - without affecting the other functions. Press the fn key with the special key to get the special function back. That is, the "special" and "normal" functions are flipped.

"To assign a custom shortcuts to your reclaimed keys, use a program like Quicksilver or Keyboard Maestro.

"Please note: FunctionFlip only works on Macintosh laptops with the "new model" keyboard, featuring the function keys shown in this Apple image.

"As of version 1.1, FunctionFlip supports all MacBooks and MacBooks Pro, as well as recent Apple external keyboards. If your keyboard is not supported, contact me."

FunctionFlip requires that "Enable access for assistive devices" be checked on the Universal Access pane in System Preferences.

New in version 1.1:

  • Support for more keyboard layouts
  • New icons by Lorenzo Orlandi

System requirements: Mac OS X 10.5 or later

System Support: PPC/Intel

Free

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

A 2.6 GHz 15" MacBook Pro for $1,849 this week, and the $1,649.00 deal is back. Each model comes with an Apple one-year warranty, and ground shipping is free.

  • refurb 1.6 GHz MacBook Air, 2 GB/80, $1,499
  • refurb 1.8 GHz MacBook Air, 2 GB/80, $1,699
  • refurb 1.6 GHz MacBook Air, 2 GB/64 SSD, $2,099
  • refurb 1.8 GHz MacBook Air, 2 GB/64 SSD, $2,299
  • refurb 2.1 GHz Penryn MacBook, white, 1 GB/120/Combo, $899
  • refurb 2.4 GHz Penryn MacBook, white, 2 GB/160/SD, $1,099
  • refurb 2.4 GHz Penryn MacBook, black, 2 GB/250/SD, $1,299
  • refurb 15" 2.4 GHz Santa Rosa MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, $1,649
  • refurb 15" 2.5 GHz Penryn MacBook Pro, 2 GB/250/SD, $1,999
  • refurb 15" 2.6 GHz Santa Rosa MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, $1,849
  • refurb 17" 2.4 GHz Santa Rosa MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, $1,899
  • refurb 17" 2.5 GHz Penryn MacBook Pro, 2 GB/250/SD, $2,299
  • refurb 17" 2.5 GHz hi-res Penryn MacBook Pro, 2 GB/250/SD, $2,499
  • refurb 17" hi-res 2.6 GHz Santa Rosa MacBook Pro, 2 GB/250/SD, $2,499
  • refurb 17" 2.6 GHz Santa Rosa MacBook Pro, 2 GB/200/SD, $2,649
  • refurb 17" 2.6 GHz hi-res Penryn MacBook Pro, 2 GB/250/SD, $2,699

ExperCom

  • 13.3" 1.83 GHz MacBook, white, 1 GB/60/Combo, $799

TechRestore

  • 1.6 GHz MacBook Air, 2 GB/80, $1,499.99

Wegener Media - 12" PowerBook - 15" Aluminum PowerBook - 17" PowerBook - 15" MacBook Pro - 17" MacBook Pro

  • 12" PowerBook G4/867 MHz, 256/40/Combo, $489.99
  • 15" PowerBook G4/1.25 GHz, 256/60/Combo, $599.99
  • 15" PowerBook G4/1.33 GHz, 256/60/Combo, $639.99
  • 15" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 1 GB/80/Combo, $679.99
  • 15" PowerBook G4/1.67 GHz, 1 GB/80/SD, APX, $729.99
  • 15" hi-res PowerBook G4/1.67 GHz, 512/80/SD, APX, $799.99
  • 15" 1.83 GHz Core Duo MacBook Pro, 512/80/SD, $1,099.99
  • 15" 2.0 GHz Core Duo MacBook Pro, 512/80/SD, $1,154.99
  • 15" 2.16 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 1 GB/ 100/SD, $1,399.99
  • 17" PowerBook G4/1 GHz, 512/60/SD, $789.99
  • 17" PowerBook G4/1.33 GHz, /512/80/SD, $849.99
  • 17" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, /1/100/SD, $879.99
  • 17" PowerBook G4/1.67 GHz, /1/100/SD, $909.99
  • 17" 2.16 GHz Core Duo MacBook Pro, 1 GB/120/SD, $1,299.99

Baucom Computers

  • 15" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 1 GB/80/Combo, APX, $719
  • 15" PowerBook G4/1.67 GHz, 1 GB/80/Combo, APX, $785
  • 15" 2.1 GHz Core Duo MacBook Pro, 512/80/SD, APX, $1,129

Power Max

  • open box 1.6 GHz MacBook Air, 2 GB/80, $1,699
  • open box 2.4 GHz Core 2 MacBook, white, 2 GB/160/SD, $1,249
  • open box 15" 2.4 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, $1,899
  • refurb 17" 2.4 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, $1,988
  • open box 17" 2.4 GHz Santa Rosa MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, $2,188
  • open box 17" 2.6 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, $2,649

PowerBook Guy

  • 12" iBook G3/500, 128/10/CD, $219.95
  • 12" iBook G3/500, 192/40/CD, $239.95
  • 12" iBook G3/600, 128/40/CD, $259.95
  • 12" iBook G4/1.33 GHz, 768/40/Combo, AP, AppleCare, $599.95
  • Pismo PowerBook G3/500, 256/20/Zip 100, $299.95
  • 15" PowerBook G4/667 MHz DVI, 256/30/Combo, $499.95
  • 15" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 1 GB/80/Combo, APX, $999.95
  • 15" 2.16 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 1 GB/120/SD, APX, $1,599.95
  • 15" 2.4 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/200/SD, APX, $1,799.95

For more deals on current or discontinued models, see our MacBook deals, MacBook Air deals, 15" MacBook Pro deals, 17" 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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