The 'Book Review

Apple Netbook Rumors, Two Hackintosh Netbooks, 17" MacBook Pro Reviewed, and More

This Week's MacBook, PowerBook, and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2009.03.13

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

Apple Netbook Rumors

Reviews

Products

Bargain 'Books

News & Opinion

'Apple Needs an $800 MacBook'

NPD's Stephen Baker says:

"NPD's recently-released January PC sales figures showed some disturbing trends for Apple . . . the numbers appear to cry out for some creative product development from Apple. If we look back to the release of Leopard we can trace a continuing growth in sales from Apple without any price degradation at all. As the economy has collapsed around us Apple has been delivering and selling desktops and notebooks with average prices of $1500, into a market where the average Windows PC is less than half of that. Bravo to them, as maintaining sales velocity, brand integrity, and pricing has been a trick very few consumer technology companies have been able to pull off. Continuing to make it work appears, after the sales results of the last three months, a much bigger challenge.

"January sales volumes showed the iMac delivering its fourth consecutive month of negative 30 percent year-over-year growth. Of more concern to Apple is its MacBook and MacBook Pro business, which, after generating high double-digit volume increases throughout 2008 on the strength of the great reception Leopard received, saw sales growth in December and January match, or fall below, that of Windows notebooks....

"While a netbook-like product seems a far stretch given the likelihood it would heavily cannibalize other products, a $799 MacBook is both prudent and thoughtful."

Dim Screens on 17" MacBook Pros

MacFixIt reports:

"The new MacBook computers come with LED backlit displays that are the brightest Apple has provided on any notebook computers. Despite this, people who are purchasing the new 17-inch MacBook Pro laptops are noticing in some instances that the screens seem to be relatively dim when compared with the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook models....

"It does appear to be a random problem....

"Possible fixes:

  • Reinstall the operating system.
  • Perform a Permissions fix.
  • Boot into Safe Mode."

Loose Headphone Jacks in MacBooks and 15" MacBook Pros

MacFixIt reports:

"Many people are having problems keeping headphones connected on the unibody 13-inch MacBook and 15-inch MacBook Pro. It seems as though a connected plug will easily slip out of the jack enough to lose the connection, causing the audio to switch from "Headphones" to "Internal Speaker."

"It appears the problem may be from a faulty or poorly designed batch of headphone jacks that Apple used at least in the first Unibody MacBooks. The 17-inch computers do not appear to have this problem....

"...Unfortunately, Apple has not yet recognized this as a problem....

"Possible Workarounds:

  1. Set the computer on the audio cable
  2. Use USB/Bluetooth headphones.
  3. Get another audio interface."

MacBook Issues Giving Mobile Graphics Bad Rap

Cnet's Brooke Crothers says:

"Advanced Micro Devices worries that lingering issues - both real and speculative - with Apple MacBooks are giving laptop graphics a black eye.

"In a phone interview Tuesday, Stan Ossias, director of marketing, mobile graphics, at AMD, began by asserting that my March 11 post 'overstated' the case about heat and the instability of graphics processors in laptops and that some readers may interpret heat issues too broadly.

"'In the case of Apple's product, I don't know what happened with Nvidia's GPU but we'd like to avoid having the negative aspects taint the entire industry,' he said....

"Most recently, there have been reports of performance issues with Apple's new 17-inch MacBook Pro, which has the Nvidia GeForce 9600M chip. But it's unclear whether Nvidia's chips are really the problem and it's not known how widespread the issues are."

MacBook Pro's 'Razor-sharp Case' a Design Flaw?

Popular Mechanics' Seth Porges says:

"The new MacBook Pro, which was released last October, is a fine piece of computer engineering. It's fast, looks great, and can multitask with the best of them, rarely burdening the user with the spinning pinwheel of death. Unfortunately, it also hurts like hell to use. The problem is that the lower edge of the metal casing is so sharp that typing on the computer can feel like a blade driving into your wrist. Hours after you shut down the machine, your skin will still have raw, damaged, red lines...."

Installing Mac OS X on a Dell Mini 9

The Apple Core's Jason D. O'Grady says:

"If you're looking to get a notebook to install Mac OS X on, I recommend the Dell Mini 9. It's one of the best, no-compromises platforms according to the BoingBoing compatibility chart for netbooks running OS X...

"In this post I'm going to detail the easiest way to install Mac OS X on the Dell Mini 9....

"A note about Hackintoshing: Apple doesn't like it and may send the black helicopters from Cupertino to visit you if you follow the instructions...."

The Great Apple Netbook Experiment: Installing Leopard on a Netbook

Apple Matters' Hadley Stern says:

"In part one I covered why I was experimenting with hacking a Netbook, in part two I covered the purchasing process and now, in part three I will cover the actual installation process.

"This isn't going to be a guide on how to install OS X on an Acer, Google will help you with that. Rather it is going to be an analysis of what the experience was like, and what the pros and cons are...."

Apple Netbook Rumors

Apple Looking at OLED for New High End Netbook

SmartHouse's David Richards reports:

"As forecast 9 months ago on the SmartHouse web site Apple is close to launching a touch screen Netbook type computer according to new sources in Asia. We can also reveal that Apple has been exploring the use of flexible OLED display technology for both a screen and a keyboard....

"Insiders have told SmartHouse that Apple is using a new version of their PC software which includes a mix of iPhone and Mac Book capabilities and that recently they held discussions with Sony about licensing OLED technology into notebooks....

"...sources have told SmartHouse that Apple had a change of mind after they improved the capability of their touch screen software and because they had been able to get new patents that allows them to deliver new features to a 'small notebook'"

Wintek to Supply Touch Panels for Apple Netbook

DigiTimes Yvonne Yu reports:

"Taiwan-based Wintek will supply touch panels for Apple's new netbook, and shipments will start in the third quarter this year, according to a Chinese-language Commercial Times report.

"...Wintek added that no shipment schedule has been worked out yet, but shipments are likely to begin in the second half of the year.

"Quanta Computer will be the maker of Apple's new netbook, the Commercial Times report said...."

Apple Plans to Launch Netbook with Touch Screen

Dow Jones reports:

"Apple Inc. is planning to launch a netbook computer with a touch screen monitor as early as the second half of this year, two people close to the situation told Dow Jones Newswires Tuesday.

"The mini laptop computers will likely have monitor screens that are between 9.7-inches and 10-inches, one person, who declined to be named, said.

"Another person said other specifications and functions are still under evaluation...."

'iPod Touch HD' Will Have 10" Screen

Silicon Valley Insider's Dan Frommer reports:

"More details about Apple's reportedly forthcoming Internet tablet, which we've been calling the 'iPod touch HD' for a few months: Dow Jones sources say Apple plans to sell 'a netbook computer with a touch screen monitor' with a screen between 9.7 inches and 10 inches. Dow Jones also reports that the device will launch 'as early as the second half of this year.'

"That's consistent with what we've read so far, and roughly consistent with what we think Apple should try to sell...."

Scale Down Mac OS X or Scale Up iPhone OS?

ZD Net's Adrian Kingsley-Hughes says:

"DigiTimes is reporting that Taiwan-based Wintek will start supplying Apple with touch-sensitive panels during Q3 of this year for a new product - but what sort of product will that be?...

"The way I see it is that Apple has two ways it could go. The mainstream thinking is that Apple will go for a netbook of some sorts in order to take advantage of the current craze for netbooks....

"The alternative would be so form of scaled-up iPhone (either with without the phone part). An iTablet perhaps... likely to be powered by a tweaked version of the iPhone OS...."

Apple's Netbook Will Be a Folding iPhone

Computerworld's Mike Elgan says:

"A rumor is circulating, based on Taiwanese newspapers that cover laptop and cell phone components and manufacturing, that Apple will ship some kind of touch-screen netbook this summer.

"The professional speculators are rallying around two distinct visions for this netbook. The first is a standard netbook with screen and keyboard. The second is essentially a tablet, which has been dubbed the 'iPod Touch HD.'

"I think both these visions are wrong, or both right, depending on how you look at it...."

Reviews

17" Unibody MacBook Pro Runs 7 Hours

Register Hardware's Stephen Dean reports:

"...the 17in MacBook Pro has finally received the proper overhaul that we've all been expecting. The unibody design is present and correct, and its minimalist style makes the unit look about as neat and compact as is possible for a 17in notebook to be....

"More controversial, though, is the 17in Pro's the sealed-in, non-removable battery....

"Apple claims that this battery can last for as much as eight hours, although that number comes with all the usual caveats that PC manufacturers rely on when quoting battery life. Even so, we had to admit that we were impressed by the battery life that we got from the machine....

"If you just want a powerful Mac laptop then the 13in and 15in models undoubtedly offer better value for money. But then the 17in MacBook Pro is a niche product aimed at a relatively small number of Apple's creative users who specifically need that big screen display."

17" Unibody MacBook Pro Powerful and Overpriced

Palluxo.com says:

"Although this is a beautiful notebook, the fact is that MacBook Pro 17-inch was not made out of gold or platinum, it's made of aluminum . . . The price is $2,799 - a little bit extreme for most shoppers....

"The question is: Who is willing to pay this much money for a notebook? Bill Gates? Steve Ballmer? Michael Dell? Steve Jobs? Bernard Madoff? Certainly not 51% of average Americans who earn less than $18,000 per year."

Products

Uniea to Expand Omniverse Product Line

PR: The Omniverse series will now include cases for a variety of electronics and accessories.

Uniea caseUniversal Electronic Accessories ("Uniea"), a leading designer and manufacturer of innovative electronic accessories, announced that it plans to develop new cases based around the design concept of the Omniverse, one of the company's newest and most innovative universal laptop cases.

Due to debut in mid March, Omniverse cases offered in both Nylon and Silk Fiber materials for 2.5-inch hard disk devices and digital cameras will be added to the product line, which currently includes tote and sleeve styles in both Nylon and Silk Fiber for 10- and 13-inch laptops. .

Uniea caseThe decision comes as a result of the resounding success of the Omniverse laptop cases, which initially debuted earlier this year. Uniea decided to utilize the same innovative materials and aesthetics used with the Omniverse laptop cases in developing the new models based on the recent feedback from customers who have raved about the style, protection, and features that Omniverse offers their laptops.

Uniea caseUniea believes that the same design features used in the Omniverse laptop cases, such as its unique interior memory form material that conforms to the shape of the computer and effectively dissipates heat, will be equally popular features for customers looking for protective, versatile hard disk and digital camera cases. In addition, the new Omniverse cases will also employ the same lightweight construction, impact-resistant protection, and sharp, comfortable found in the original Omniverse models.

From rugged, innovative cases with innovative features, to trendy, fashion-oriented accessories that coordinate with the look and style of one's own fashion sensibilities, Uniea continues to strive to create a broad spectrum of consumer electronics accessories that will uniquely enhance customers' use of their handheld devices and laptops.

Bargain 'Books

Bargain 'Books are used unless otherwise indicated. New and refurbished units have a one-year Apple warranty and are eligible for AppleCare.

PowerBook, iBook, and MacBook profiles linked in our Portable Mac Index.

Apple Store Special Deals

Full slate of refurb Unibodies this week save for the 17-incher.

  • refurb 1.6 GHz MacBook Air, 2 GB/80, $999
  • refurb 1.6 GHz MacBook Air, 2 GB/64 SSD, $1,199
  • refurb 1.8 GHz MacBook Air, 2 GB/80, $1,099
  • refurb 1.8 GHz MacBook Air, 2 GB/64 SSD, $1,299
  • 2.1 GHz Intel Core 2 MacBook, white, 1 GB/120/Combo, $849
  • 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 MacBook, white, 1 GB/160/SD $949
  • 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 MacBook, black, 1 GB/250/SD $1,049
  • refurb 2.0 GHz Unibody MacBook, 2 GB/160/SD, $1,099
  • refurb 2.4 GHz Unibody MacBook, 2 GB/250/SD, $1,399
  • refurb 2.4 GHz Unibody MacBook, 2 GB/128 SSD/SD, $1,699
  • refurb 15" 2.4 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/250 GB/SD, $1,699
  • refurb 15" 2.5 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/250 GB/SD, $1,499
  • refurb 17" 2.5 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/250/SD, $1,799

  • 15" 2.16 GHz Core Duo MacBook Pro, 1 GB/100/SD, $949
  • Axiotron ModBook - Value Priced Preconfigured ModBook Systems - $1,699

MacMall

  • 1.6 GHz MacBook Air, 2 GB/80, $1,149.99
  • 2.0 GHz Core 2 MacBook, 2 GB/160/SD, $1,218.99
  • 2.4 GHz Core 2 MacBook, 2 GB/250/SD, $1,509.99
  • 15" 2.4 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, $1,449.99
  • 15" 2.4 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/200/SD, $1,499.99
  • 15" 2.4 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/250/SD, $1,799.99
  • 15" 2.53 GHz Unibody MacBook Pro, 4 GB/320/SD, $2,248

Wegener Media - G3 iBooks - 15" Titanium PowerBook - 15" Aluminum PowerBook - MacBook - 15" MacBook Pro

  • 12" iBook G3/500, 128/10/CD, $169.99
  • 12" iBook G3/600, 128/15/CD, $249.99
  • 12" iBook G3/700, 128/20/Combo, $329.99
  • 12" iBook G3/800, 256/30/Combo, $399.99
  • 12" iBook G3/900, 256/40/Combo, $489.99
  • 1.83 GHz Core Duo MacBook, white, 512/60/Combo, 60 day warranty, $594.99
  • 2.0 GHz Core Duo MacBook, white, 512/60/Combo, 60 day warranty, $659.99
  • 2.0 GHz Core Duo MacBook, black, 512/80/SD, 60 day warranty, $719.99
  • 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" Titanium PowerBook G4/867 MHz, 256/30/Combo, $549.99
  • 15" Titanium PowerBook G4/1 GHz, 256/60/Combo, $699.99
  • 15" Aluminum PowerBook G4/1.25 GHz, 256/60/Combo, $599.99
  • 15" Aluminum PowerBook G4/1.33 GHz, 256/60/Combo, $639.99
  • 15" Aluminum PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 1 GB/80/Combo, $679.99
  • 15" Aluminum PowerBook G4/1.67 GHz, 1 GB/80/SD, APX, $729.99
  • 15" hi-res Aluminum PowerBook G4/1.67 GHz, 512/80/SD, APX, $799.99
  • 15" 1.83 GHz MacBook Pro, 512/80/SD, 90 day warranty, $899.99
  • 15" 2.0 GHz MacBook Pro, 512/80/SD 90 day warranty, $979.99
  • 15" 2.0 GHz MacBook Pro, 512/100/SD 90 day warranty, $1,099.99
  • 15" 2.16 GHz MacBook Pro, 1 GB/100/SD, 90 day warranty, $1,179.99

ExperCom

  • 12" iBook G4/1.33 GHz, 1 GB/40/Combo, $299
  • 12" PowerBook G4/1 GHz, 1.25 GB/40/Combo, $449
  • 12" PowerBook G4/1 GHz, 1.25 GB/40/SD, BT, $499
  • 12" PowerBook G4/1.33 GHz, 1.25G/ 60/SD, APX, scratched, $399
  • 1.83 GHz MacBook, white, 1 GB/60/Combo, $599
  • 2.0 GHz MacBook, white, 1 GB/60/SD, $679
  • 2.0 GHz MacBook, black, 2 GB/80/SD, $749
  • 14" iBook G4/1.33 GHz, 512/60/SD, APX, $399
  • 15" 1.83 GHz MacBook Pro, 2 GB/80/SD, $849
  • 15" 2.0 GHz MacBook Pro, 2 GB/80/SD, $899
  • 15" 2.8 GHz MacBook Pro, 4 GB/320-7200rpm/SD, AppleCare, $2,999
  • 17" PowerBook G4/1.33 GHz, 1 GB/80/SD, scratched,$649
  • 17" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 1 GB/80/SD, APX, $799
  • 17" PowerBook G4/1.67 GHz, 1 GB/ 120/SD, $899

Baucom Computers

  • 1.83 GHz MacBook, 1 GB/80/Combo, APX, $600
  • 15" hi-res PowerBook G4/1.67 GHz, 1 GB/80/SD, $715
  • 15" hi-res PowerBook G4/1.67 GHz, 1.5 GB/100/SD, $805
  • 2.0 GHz MacBook Pro, 1 GB/100/SD, APX, $969

PowerBook Guy

  • 15" hi-res PowerBook G4/1.67 GHz, 1 GB/120/SD, $899.95

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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