The 'Book Review

$200 64 GB SSD for Your 'Book, Apple Steering Customers Away from MacBook Pro, and More

This Week's MacBook, PowerBook, and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2008.09.26

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

Apple Sales Staff Steering Customers Away from MacBook Pro?

MacNN reports:

"JMP Securities analyst Samuel Wilson is reporting that Apple sale representatives are steering customers from MacBook Pros to MacBooks. Barron's Tech Trader Daily is reporting that Wilson's survey of 30 stores (20 Apple stores and 10 Best Buys) found most of the sales force steering customers to the MacBook, away from the more expensive MacBook Pro, calling the Pro a designer's laptop. Wilson said, 'We were repeatedly told that that Pro is designed for the design community, with a high-end video card and large screen, and that we would be better with a MacBook for the cost.'

"Wilson also reported that Apple has cancelled orders for memory from Asian suppliers, possibly indicating that sales have not reached forecasted demand. He noted slowed growth across the computing business due to the recession like conditions most customers are facing.

"Wilson believes that low-cost PC notebooks featuring small form-factor designs may create a strong challenge against Apple products retailing at higher prices...."

Equip Your Notebook With a 64 GB SSD for $200

Computerworld's Lucas Mearian says:

"Installing an SSD drive isn't all that difficult, but there are some important steps to consider along the way that include determining whether you can actually use an SSD in your laptop.

"Today, most consumer-grade SSDs from leading vendors cost from $2 to $3.45 per gigabyte, while traditional hard disk drives cost about 38 cents per gigabyte, according to iSuppli Corp. and research firm Gartner Inc. So you'll be paying a high premium to get a little advantage in random reads and power consumption. For example, Samsung Electronics Co., offers a 64 GB SSD with a SATA II interface for a cool $750. Intel Corp. just released its screaming fast, 80 GB, X25 SSD drive priced at $595.

"But the average user . . . isn't going to bite at those high-priced drives. So I spent some time calling various vendors and cruising the Web for SSD drives that retail for around $200 and that offer what I consider the minimum capacity required to run applications on a laptop or PC: 64 GB. In order to keep this simple, I chose to only look at 2.5-in. SATA interface drives that can be used in laptops or PCs...."

How a $550 Windows Laptop Can Cost You More than $1,200

My First Mac's Chris Kerins reports:

"Even though I've never owned a PC, my friends like to joke that I know more about PCs (because of my knowledge of Macs) than your average person. I doubt that . . . I prefer to play dumb when it comes to PCs. Too much demand for tech support out there....

"So when it came time to buy a PC, I was just like your ordinary buyer, flipping through the Sunday ads seeing what is a good buy this week. In truth, I was shopping for my Mom, not myself. As it turns out, it didn't make sense for her to by a Mac, so I steered her to a PC laptop and I was her personal shopper. (Reason: She's in her 70's and uses a PC at work. I didn't want to teach an old dog new tricks, so to speak.)....

"We decided to get a large screen laptop from a reputable manufacturer. Knowing that my mom's use will be typical (Office, browsing, email) and won't stress any modern PC, I suggest we shop on price first....

"So we walk into Best Buy with the Sunday ad in hand and find that special, the Toshiba Satellite Pro 355D with 17" Diagonal TruBrite Widescreen Display on sale for $550, normally $700. Sounds good. I also know to never pay list price at Best Buy too.

"...This Toshiba feels like the McDonalds Happy Meal version of a laptop. All rounded and puffy, you can feel the thin plastic flex between your fingers when you pinch it. The keys sound like Legos. For $550, you can only expect so much, so I don't let on to my disappointment....

"Summary observations:

  • Only with a PC could you get a 17" laptop for $550.
  • I need a way of comparing the value of PCs.
  • Cheap PCs are cheap.
  • Damn, PCs are ugly.
  • The list price is not the final price. We paid more than the cost of the computer for extras.

"Bottom line: $1148 + tax, so that's about $1237 here in California."

Will Netbook Growth Hurt MacBook Sales?

ZD Net blogger Sam Diaz says:

"For a company like Apple, the colorful new iPod nanos might be the hot product this quarter but laptop computers remain the financial bread and butter. Now, there's concern that there's trouble ahead for the notebook market.

"ThinkPanmure analyst Vijay Rakesh thinks there could be a slowdown on the horizon as sales of the smaller, ultraportable netbooks have started to gain some speed. The upshot: Netbooks are stealing share from laptops. In a report, he trimmed estimates for Apple, noting that the expected MacBook growth of 15-19 percent for the quarter could be high. He maintained a buy rating but lowered estimates for the fourth quarter, which ends on Sept. 30, as well as the first quarter, which ends Dec. 31. He notes, in his report:

"Since the July-August timeframe the MacBook is completely out of the 'top 5 Notebook category' at Amazon for the last three weeks straight, with netbooks dominating all the top 5...."

5 Things That Netbooks Need Now

Wired's Charlie Sorrel says:

"Netbooks - aka mini-notebooks - are the surprise hits of this year's tech market. Asus has sold more than a million of its groundbreaking Eee PCs, and other manufacturers have jumped on the bandwagon with mini computers of their own. Who knew that consumers would be so excited about super-portable, inexpensive, easy-to-use laptops?

"But these hatchlings are far from fully formed. The basics are certainly there, but we need more. Specifically, netbooks need five things before they can turn into a full-blown, mass-market phenomenon.

  1. Minimum Four-Hour Battery Life
  2. Ubiquitous Wireless Connectivity
  3. Well-Executed, Basic Hardware
  4. Tough Construction
  5. Apple"

Mac OS X on MSI Wind: Sleep and Restore Is Like Instant On

jkOnTheRun says:

"This might be the shortest video in jkOnTheRun history, but I'm amazed at how quickly the MSI Wind goes to sleep and wakes back up with Mac OS X. Actually, the video would have been even shorter if I hadn't been so shocked and mesmerized by this. I haven't modified the netbook hardware in any way at this point...."

New MacBook to Use New Nvidia Chipset?

Mac Soda says:

"Alright everyone, listen up. Mac Soda has heard word that the new MacBook, due in the next few weeks, will incorporate Nvidia's new, MCP7A-U graphics chipset. According to exPreview,

"'MCP7A-U is the top class chipset in the MCP7A family. Though it could be named as GeForce 9XXX, it will be come the first mainstream uATX mobo with DDR3-1333 support....'"

Attention Turns to New MacBooks

Apple 2.0's Philip Elmer-DeWitt says:

"With this year's iPhone and iPod updates behind them, Apple watchers have shifted their attention to the products that matter most to the company's bottom line: the MacBook and the increasingly long-in-the-tooth MacBook Pro.

"...Macs represent more than 48% of Apple's quarterly revenue these days and MacBooks account for 62% of that.

"Sales of Apple's laptops have been on fire lately (no overheating pun intended). On Wednesday, NPD reported that Apple's (AAPL) share of the North American notebook market grew from 6.6% to 10.6% over the past year - a 60% increase that easily outpaced market leaders Dell , HP and Acer....

"Which makes it all the more surprising that Apple has waited so long to spruce up its notebook line - the laptop-scorching MacBook Pro, in particular. As Seth Weintraub points out at Computerworld.com, the look and feel of the MacBook Pro is essentially unchanged from the titanium PowerBook that Steve Jobs introduced at Macworld 2003 - a couple of lifetimes ago in computer terms.

"...that's all supposed to change on Oct. 14, when the long-awaited revamped notebooks are due to be introduced . . . What will they look like?

"To jump start the conversation, Weintraub on Wednesday posted his wish-list of features...."

'Checkpoint Friendly' Laptop Bags Explained

Macworld's Dan Frakes says:

"Back in early August, the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced new rules covering 'checkpoint friendly' laptop bags. The goal of these regulations is to increase the speed and efficiency of airport security checkpoints by allowing passengers to keep their laptop computers in their bags during X-ray screening. However, there's quite a bit of confusion about what, exactly, constitutes a checkpoint-friendly bag and the specific rules for using one. Today's Mobile Mac gives you the lowdown...."

Tech Trends

Netbooks Overtaking Notebooks

Barrons' Eric Savitz reports:

"Is the notebook market slowing down? ThinkPanmure analyst Vijay Rakesh thinks so. This morning, in fact, he trimmed estimates on both Apple and Intel on concerns about a slowdown in the notebook market. In particular, he thinks the notebook segment is being eroded by the new 'netbooks,' ultra small PCs from Acer, Asustek, MSI and Dell.

"'We believe the netbook market is starting to make inroads into the core notebook market as a more price-conscious consumer opts for the cheaper alternative,' he wrote in his Intel note this morning....

"He notes that netbooks are dominating the notebook category on Amazon.com. And he's right about that: the current list of Amazon's top-selling notebooks is topped by two versions each of the Acer Aspire and Asus Eee; of the top 10, four are from Asus, three from Acer, one from MSI and two from Apple.

"Rakesh says that checks with retailers find that netbook sales are 'swamping core notebook sales.' He says that Taiwan notebook manufacturers finds the same trend, 'with netbooks ramping up while core notebooks are slowing down and potentially slowing down further' in the fourth quarter."

Widescreen Laptops Get Wider

PC Magazine's Cisco Cheng reports:

"A strange thing is happening at your local laptop retailer: Laptop displays are evolving, and the widescreens you've come to know and love are, well, getting wider. Since the dawn of the widescreen format, laptop screen sizes have been traditionally carved out as 13.3, 14.1, 15.4, or 17 inches. With the new format, you'll get funkier sizes like 13.1, 14.5, and 15.8. And there are two new additions that include a 16.4-inch screen, as seen on the Acer Aspire 6920G-6071 and the Sony VAIO VGN-FW198UH, and also a monstrous 18.4-inch one, found on the Acer Aspire 8920G and the HP HDX 18.

"These laptop displays, in geekspeak, are moving from a 16:10 ratio to 16:9, which is common in movies and HDTVs. This isn't surprising, since laptops, more and more, are doubling as TVs themselves. Also, because many laptop displays are made by the same manufacturers who make the HDTVs - typically in the same factory - it's more time-efficient and cost-efficient for them to 'cut' the laptop displays and TV displays the same way.

"So, how does this affect your viewing experience?"

Dell Shifting All Laptops to LED Backlights by 2010

PC Magazine reports:

"Dell plans to transition all of its new laptop displays to energy-saving light-emitting diode backlights by 2010, the PC giant said Wednesday. LED-lit desktop monitors will arrive in the near future, executives said."

Products

Western Digital My Passport and My Book External Hard Drives

PR: Western Digital has introduced its new 500 GB capacity My Passport Portable USB drives. It's offered on the My Passport Elite and My Passport Essential portable drive models.

A recent consumer study conducted by WD of 1,559 external hard drive users revealed that 54% of survey respondents wished that there was an automatic way to back up their computer without having to think about it. My Passport Elite portable drives are equipped with software to automatically back up consumers' collections of personal media and digital files.

Weighing in at less than seven ounces, the new 500 GB My Passport portable drives are small enough to fit in a pocket or backpack for portability, says Jim Welsh, vice president and general manager of WD's branded products and consumer electronics groups. The manufacturer's retail price for the My Passport family of portable drives with 400 GB and 500 GB capacities ranges from $$179.99 to $219.99, depending on the model. The My Passport Elite and My Passport Essential portable drives are offered in the following capacities: 160 GB, 250 GB, 320 GB, 400 GB and 500 GB.

Product information and photos of the entire family of My Passport portable drives are available on the company's website.

Clean, sleek, elegant. It's true of Macintosh design and it's true of WD's My Book Studio Edition and My Passport Studio external hard drives.

These drives are formatted HFS+ Journaled. Just plug them into your Mac and they work.

Designed for Mac - FireWire Interface - My Book Studio Edition includes FireWire 400 and 800 along with USB 2.0 for convenience and eSATA for extra speed. My Passport Studio portable hard drives have both FireWire 400 and USB 2.0 interfaces.

Compatible with Time Machine - All My Book drives are tested in Apple's labs and our own for compatibility with Apple operating systems and Time Machine.

Receive free standard shipping (UPS Ground) on purchases over $200 (excluding tax and shipping charges) at the WD Store. Offer not valid for addresses in Hawaii or Alaska. The WD Store reserves the right to change or discontinue this offer at any time.

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

Changes from last week: the $2,099 MacBook Air is back, but the $1,649 15" MacBook Pro is sold out again, as is the $1,899 2.33 GHz 17" MacBook Pro. 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 1.6 GHz MacBook Air, 2 GB/64 SSD, $2,099
  • refurb 1.8 GHz MacBook Air, 2 GB/64 SSD, $2,299
  • 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" 2.4 GHz Santa Rosa MacBook Pro, 2 GB/200/SD, $1,699
  • refurb 15" 2.5 GHz Penryn MacBook Pro, 2 GB/250/SD, $1,999
  • refurb 15" 2.6 GHz Penryn MacBook Pro, 2 GB/200/SD, $2,299
  • 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" 2.6 GHz hi-res Penryn MacBook Pro, 2 GB/250/SD, $2,699

MacMall

  • 15" 2.2 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/120/SD, $1,399.99
  • 15" 2.4 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, $1,598.99
  • 15'' 2.4 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/200/SD, $1,799.98
  • 15'' 2.4 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/200/SD, $1,814.99

TechRestore

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

Wegener Media - 15" Aluminum PowerBook - MacBook

  • 1.83 GHz Core Duo MacBook, white, 512/60/Combo, 60 day warranty, $679.99
  • 2.0 GHz Core Duo MacBook, white, 512/60/Combo, 60 day warranty, $709.99
  • 2.0 GHz Core Duo MacBook, black, 512/80/SD, 60 day warranty, $749.99
  • 2.0 GHz Core 2 MacBook, white, 1 GB/80/SD, 60 day warranty, $769.99
  • 2.0 GHz Core 2 MacBook, black, 1 GB/120/SD, 60 day warranty, $799.99
  • 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, $729.99
  • 15" hi-res PowerBook G4/1.67 GHz, 512/80/SD $799.99

We Love Macs

  • 12" PowerBook G4/1 GHz, 256/40/Combo, $699.95
  • 12" PowerBook G4/1.33 GHz, 512/60/DVD, $849.95
  • 12" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 256 RAM, 60/Combo, $849.95
  • 15" PowerBook G4/1.25 GHz, 512/60/SD, $949.95
  • 15" PowerBook G4/1.33 GHz, 512/60/SD, $999.95
  • 15" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/80/Combo, 1 year warranty, $894.95
  • 15" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/80/SD, $929.95
  • 15" PowerBook G4/1.67 GHz, 1 GB/80/SD, $1,199.95
  • 17" PowerBook G4/1 GHz, 512/60/SD, $1,109.95
  • 17" PowerBook G4/1.67 GHz, 512/120/Combo, 1 year warranty, $1,089.95

Beta Macs

  • Lombard PowerBook G3/400, 128/6/DVD, $150
  • 1.83 GHz Core Duo MacBook, 1 GB/60/Combo, $699
  • 2.0 GHz Core Duo MacBook, 1 GB/80/Combo, $799
  • 2.0 GHz Core Duo MacBook, 1 GB/80/SD, $825
  • 2.16 GHz Core Duo 15" MacBook Pro, 1 GB/100/SD, $1,099
  • 2.16 GHz Core Duo 17" MacBook Pro, 1 GB/100/SD, $1,199

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 2.1 GHz Core 2 MacBook, white, 1 GB/120/Combo, warranty started, $999
  • open box 2.1 GHz Core 2 MacBook, white, 1 GB/120/Combo, $1,039
  • open box 17" 2.4 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, warranty started, $1,899

PowerBook Guy

  • 12" iBook G4/1 GHz, 512/30/Combo, $499.95
  • 12" iBook G4/1.33 GHz, 768/40/Combo, AP, AppleCare, $599.95
  • 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

Custom Macs

  • 12" iBook G3/600 MHz, 128/20/CD, OS X 10.2, $279.99
  • 12" iBook G4/1 GHz, 512/30/CD, APX, OS X 10.4, $449.99

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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