The 'Book Review

Apple Netbook Aimed at Business?, Dell Adamo Teardown, the Future of Linux Netbooks, and More

This Week's MacBook, PowerBook, and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2009.04.17

The clever gadget of the week is a USB 2.0 "squid" hub, available from a number of vendors in two versions - 4 regular USB ports or 3 regular plus one mini. Prices start at $13.50.

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 Updates

Tech Trends

Products

Software

Bargain 'Books

News & Opinion

Steve Jobs Reportedly Working on 10" Apple Netbook

ITWire's Jake Widman reports that according to an article in the Wall Street Journal, Steve Jobs is still working on future Apple projects - one of which sounds a lot like a netbook....

Apple Netbook Aimed at Business?

CIO's Tom Kaneshige explores rumors of a Apple netbook, noting that Mac system sales are "sputtering," suggesting Apple may be looking at the netbook sector to kick-start business momentum. Hey, d'ya think?

Kaneshige cites NPD Group research metrics that indicate Mac sales fell 16% in March while overall PC sales rose by 22%, a figure driven substantially by netbooks.

But will the enterprise embrace an Apple netbook-like device?

Apple to Lobe the 3G Laptop Subsidy 'Grenade'?

Mac Revu's David Rendell asks:

"What if you could get a nicely appointed MacBook for around the cost of an HP or Dell and what if the MacBook had a feature that the others didn't?" David calls that "the 3G subsidy grenade," and he thinks there's a real possibility that Apple may be "pulling out the pin and lobbing it in the general direction of the competition in the very near future."

David notes that Apple's iPhone service provider partner AT&T has already experimented with subsidized laptop/service package bundles in in test markets, providing customers agreeing to a two-year data contract with a substantial discount on either netbooks or larger-sized laptops like the Lenovo X200 offered at $849 - a machine Lenovo lists at $1,555 in a base configuration.

He calculates that applying a similar deal deal to the base aluminum unibody MacBook would drop the purchase price from $1,299 to around $799 and goes on to analyze the state of 3G service availability in the US and where it's headed.

9 Great Thin-and-Light Laptops

PC Mag's Tony Hoffman says that while netbooks rule when it comes to price, portability, and energy savings, they fall short in performance, which is where more powerful compact laptops step up. Hoffman profiles nine of these machines, including the HP Pavilion dv3z, the Gateway UC7807u, Lenovo's IdeaPad U330, Apple's 13" Unibody MacBook and MacBook Air, Dell's Adamo, Vostro 1310, and XPS M1330, and the Voodoo Envy 133.

iFixit Tears Down Dell Adamo, Compares It to MacBook Air

Dell Adamo and MacBook AiriFixit's Kyle Wiens tells us that iFixit partnered with Tech Republic to show you the fine inner details of Dell's all-new Adamo, which he says Dell has clearly positioned as a competitor to the MacBook Air. Does it have a chance? Kyle says that Dell's industrial design team is certainly giving Apple a run for their money.

The teardown is up on Tech Republic. iFixit's standard teardown format is also online, but Tech Republic has more photos.

Highlights:

  • Dell created a clever locking system that snaps the bottom plate of the computer into place. This allows them to completely avoid screws on the bottom of the computer, giving the Adamo a cleaner look than the MacBook Air. However, the Adamo does have larger gaps between the bottom plate and the computer frame, slightly exposing the internals.
  • Dell AdamoDell labels a lot more parts than Apple does. This definitely makes teardown easier, even though it's not quite as photogenic.
  • The 11.1 V battery is rated at 40 Watt hours, an improvement over the MacBook Air's 7.2 V, 37 Watt hour battery. The Adamo's advertised operating time is 5 hours, outliving Apple's claims for the MacBook Air by 30 minutes.
  • According to the manual, the battery weighs in at 489 grams. That's 27% of the Adamo's weight. In comparison, the MacBook Air's battery weighs in at 287 grams, only 21% of the Air's total weight.
  • The Adamo is not a 'value' computer. Apple has demonstrated that people are willing to pay Steve Jobs more for their luxury products, but are people willing to grant Michael Dell that same premium?
  • The standard SSD (although you're paying for it) is a nice touch compared to the Air.
  • Dell managed to eschew the standard Windows and Intel stickers for elegant integrated logos on the bottom plate. This is a first in the PC marketplace, and we're told it took quite a bit of convincing on Dell's part.

  • The hinge on the Adamo feels solid, but time will tell how well the hinge design will hold up. Hinge problems have plagued a number of MacBook Air owners.
  • Dell Adamo

    The Adamo is not nearly as light as the MacBook Air, but a quick glance at our photos shows the reason. Adamo packs in a lot more technology than the Air into a thinner package.
  • The AC adapter is 45 watts, just like the MacBook Air's. The power brick design is elegant, but the actual plug isn't nearly as slick as the Air's MagSafe connector.
  • You get a total of six ports with your Adamo, double that of the MacBook Air. It's a shame that they couldn't just put a DVI display port on the computer itself, and instead chose to include a bulky adapter.
  • The MacBook Air used in this guide is the original model (released over a year ago). Despite it's age, the Air still packs a 1.6 GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 33% faster than our Adamo's 1.2 GHz processor.
  • To its credit, the high-end Adamo does include 4 GB of built-in RAM, double that of the Air.
  • The letter keys on the Adamo have 30% more surface area than those on the Air.
  • An amusing aside: Dell's manual says the Adamo has 803.11n wireless. Is Dell employing technical writers from the future? What else can they teach us?

Apple Updates

Apple Portables: Tips for Using the Glass Multitouch Trackpad

A new Apple Knowledge Base article says:

"Unlike typical trackpads, the new MacBook and MacBook Pro glass trackpad surface is a button in itself; you can click almost anywhere on the trackpad. Learn about some helpful tips to use your trackpad.

"Products Affected:

Tech Trends

Will Linux Overtake Windows on Netbooks?

desktoplinux.com cites and links to an ABI Research study suggesting that Linux and "alternative operating systems" will overtake Windows XP in netbook sales by 2012, reasoning that low-end ARM-based netbooks and mobile stacks such as Linux-based Android are coming that are suited for these platforms, and notwithstanding recent surveys from NPD and OvuMay tracking, a marked shift away from Linux to Windows XP in netbooks over recent.

Not mentioned is that by 2012 Windows XP will be a decade old, which is mighty long in the tooth for a computer operating system, although the commentary does note that research firm says nothing about the upcoming Windows 7, which Microsoft claims is better suited for netbooks than Vista, will have been out for a couple of years, and a stripped down version for netbooks an almost certain possibility. Then there's the potential game-changing factor that whatever Apple rolls out in the netbook space will also presumably have arrived and become established in the marketplace by then.

The article estimates that 20 to 25% of netbooks are currently being sold with Linux, and I've had readers report that Ubuntu Linux is proving a very respectable OS for them on netbooks, surprisingly simple to install and configure as well as use.

The column observes also that Freescale Semiconductor has a netbook-targeted ARM Cortex-A8-based i.MX515 SoC CPU nearly ready, which is expected to support Android and Xandros Linux, as well as Phoenix Technologies' HyperSpace fast-boot technology, and 3G modules from Wavecom and Option, and that Xandros has also ported its desktop Linux distro to Qualcomm's ARM-based Snapdragon SoC, with not least Canonical hard at work on an ARM port for Ubuntu.

ABI Research principal analyst Philip Solis is cited predicting that 2012 will mark the tipping-point where netbooks running Linux-based and mobile operating systems outnumber those running XP.

Products

USB Squid Hub - Four Arms of Power

USB Squid HubUSB Squid HubPR: The USB Squid is not a real squid, as squids have 8 legs and 2 tentacles. Heck, it's not even an octopus - they have 8 arms. The USB Squid has four arms, so it's sort of more a quadropus. But it more than makes up for its name with the special function of its arms. Just plug the USB Squid into your last USB port, and now you have four USB ports.

USB Squid HubThe biggest difference between the USB Squid and other USB hubs is that the USB Squid's arms can bend in any direction (so all your USB cords don't have to be coming from the same place.) Also, they have ridges on one side and the top - and indents on the bottom and other side. You can actually connect the USB ports using these ridges in many different configurations. Maybe you need 4 vertical ports or 4 horizontal or the end two free and the middle stacked or maybe a zig zag hub. The choice is yours. Let's see a real squid do that,

The USB Squid is 11" long (from plug to hub) and is USB 2.0 (of course).

Price: $19.99

MacBook Air Gains Up to 12 Hours of Additional Battery Life

PR: QuickerTek announces an exclusive extended life battery for all models of the Apple MacBook Air. Users gain 8 to 12 hours of additional battery power - beyond the power of the built-in battery. This is the only product that charges the internal battery of the MacBook Air while in use, selling for $349.95.

MacBook Air External Battery ChargerNew technology allows 25% more power from a smaller physical size battery. This produces not only a smaller battery, but also longer battery power. For those Air users who are looking for a way to get around the MacBook Air's nonremoveable battery, this new external battery adds the mobile power most often requested. Air users can't drag a few extra batteries around with them to get enough battery life - a tactic often by other laptop owners. And, QuickerTek's new MacBook Air External Battery powers the MacBook Air and charges the internal battery while in use.

Customers can either send in their MacBook Air MagSafe power adapter for an upgrade ($25), or buy an already-upgraded MagSafe adapter for use with the new MacBook Air External Battery Charger ($100). Either way, the MagSafe is upgraded with long life parts. Compatibility with all MacBook Air models is maintained after the modification is made.

A total of 14 to 18 hours of MacBook Air runtime are now possible. Users immediately notice the power of the external battery when the battery charge percentage in the menu bar remains at 100% for many hours, before the internal battery is used. Styled to blend with your Apple equipment, the new MacBook Air External Battery Charger is housed in a machined aluminum anodized case. It comes with a molded MacBook Air charger, an external battery charger and is built for three times the standard recharge cycles - 1,000 full recharges.

Specifications:

  • Physical: The size is 7 x 3.5 x 1 inches; Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Battery: Li-Ion Polymer;
  • 8 to 12 hours of extended use on Apple MacBook Air; rate for 1,000 full recharge cycles;
  • Requires QuickerTek-modified MacBook Air MagSafe power adapter; Works with all 120/240 AC power outlets in the US and abroad

Ships with charger and an external battery charger; Machined aluminum case with LED charging status indicator

Like most QuickerTek products, the new MacBook Air External Battery Charger is backed with a one-year warranty on parts and labor.QuickerTek products can be purchased online and from authorized dealers.

GainSaver Has Preowned Modbooks Starting at $1,479

PR: GainSaver, a reseller of used Macintosh computers, announced today it has become an Authorized Modbook Reseller and will be the only source for Certified Preowned Modbook Tablet Mac computers starting at $1,479.

Best of Show at Macworld in 2007, the one and only Axiotron Modbook is the award-winning Tablet Mac computer that enables users to draw, sketch, and write directly on the screen. The Modbook is built from a genuine Apple MacBook which is used as the base system with a Wacom graphics tablet drawing surface that replaces the keyboard and original screen.

Axiotron's innovative design and manufacturing process converts a genuine Apple MacBook computer into a super graphics tablet that provides all the functionality of a MacBook with a pen interface.

The Modbook gives creative professionals and artists the perfect productivity tool: a tablet Mac that lets you draw, sketch and paint anywhere and everywhere you go! Modbook users can sit and draw under a tree, in a coffee house, on a long flight - anywhere the inspiration strikes.

The GainSaver Certified Preowned Modbook comes with a choice of base systems. The base system is the original preowned Apple MacBook used to create the finished Modbook tablet. GainSaver shoppers can select from a number of configurations to build their Modbook. Lower GHz base systems cost less, while higher GHz base systems offer more speed and performance. Five base system options are currently available:

  • MacBook 1.83 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo White (Apple Part MA699LL/A)
  • MacBook 1.83 GHz Intel Core Duo White (Apple Part MA254LL/A)
  • MacBook 2.0 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo White (Apple Part MA700LL/A)
  • MacBook 2.0 GHz Intel Core Duo White (Apple Part MA255LL/A)
  • MacBook 2.16 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo White (Apple Part MB062LL/A)

GainSaver makes the Mac affordable for thousands of people every month. And now, as an Authorized Modbook Partner, GainSaver can do the same for all those who want a Tablet Mac.

"About the only difference buyers will notice between new and used is all the money they save," said Steve Harper, sales director at GainSaver. "That's because the GainSaver Modbook is built from an original, preowned Macintosh MacBook. The tablet surface and the pen that comes with it are brand new."

GainSaver shoppers can completely customize their Modbook. Along with the base system, the hard drive capacity, optical drive selection and memory size can each be set to a wide range of options by using the GainSaver Configurator. Available options include the Airport Extreme Card, Apple Mouse, Battery, Extended Warranty and Insurance.

Included in the GainSaver Modbook:

  • Certified Preowned MacBook base system, tested by GainSaver technicians
  • Customizable to your specifications for memory, hard drive and optical drive
  • Installed with new Modbook tablet screen and new internal Modbook components
  • New Axiotron Digitizer Pen with two programmable side buttons, digital eraser and 11 pen tips
  • Autodesk SketchBook Express 2009 drawing and sketching application
  • Axiotron Quickclicks onscreen shortcut and keyboard software
  • Axiotron Modbook system software
  • GainSaver Extended Warranty Program available (at additional charge)

New Uniea Laptop Cases

PR: Universal Electronic Accessories ("Uniea") will be an exhibitor at this year's Global Sources Expo in Hong Kong from April 12th to the 15th. Uniea's main focus will be to promote their newest lines of cases for laptop, netbook, and notebook computers, all of which are making their debut in 2009.

The company has spent a great deal of effort in the first quarter of 2009 promoting the Haptique, Uniea's unique hard case for the 13" aluminum MacBooks. With its soft yet firm surface, shock-absorbent interior, innovative heat dissipation, and strikingly colorful design, the Haptique has quickly become one of the most sought-after and touted hard cases for the new MacBook series.

Both critics and customers alike agree that its design, construction, and features are a perfect match for Apple's newest laptops, and Uniea intends to use the Global Sources Expo as a venue to formally present the Haptique to an Asian audience for the first time this year.

Omniverse caseUniea will also focus much of its promotional efforts on unveiling its newest line of cases, the Omniverse line, which represents Uniea's newest efforts to provide its customers with a case that can accommodate a wide array of laptop and netbook brands and models. Offered in both 10.2" and 13.3" models, the Omniverse works in tandem with a broad range of laptops on the market today, and are specifically designed to fit the most popular and up-and-coming netbooks hitting the stores in 2009. The Omniverse is available as a tote bag with handles or as a universal sleeve, and comes in black silk fiber and black nylon styles.

Uniea is also planning to add a 2.5" hard disk case and two digital camera cases offered in both design materials as additions to the Omniverse line, offering consumers a comprehensive set of Omniverse cases that can carry and protect all of their personal electronic devices.

Omniverse Sleeve CasesUniea is confident 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 device 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 stylish, comfortable feel found in the original Omniverse models.

Omniverse casesThe entire line of Omniverse products will be available by the end of March and will debut in its entirety at Global Sources. Uniea's booth will be located in Hall 10, booth # 10S08.

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.

Software

smcFanControl 2.2 Intel Mac Fan Control Utility

PR: Cool down your Intel Mac and monitor temperature and fan speed! smcFanControl lets the user set the minimum speed of the build in fans. So you can increase your minimum fan speed to make your Intel Mac run cooler.

However in order not to damage your machine scFanControl let's you not set minimum speed to a rate under Apple's defaults. In addition to that fans are still in automatic mode, so the speed of your fans will increase, if CPU load gets higher.

smcFanControl features:

  • Displays temperature and fan speed in the menubar
  • Apply different fan-settings with just one click
  • Let's you set different minimum speeds for every fan separately and save them as favorites
  • Autoapply different fan settings when the power source changes (MacBooks only)
  • Source code included! Extend it and change it to your needs

Version 2.2 adds the following features/bugfixes:

  • Pro, MacBook Air, Mac mini included
  • Fans of iMacs, Mac Pros are read out on first startup.
  • For official support of iMac/Mac Pro in a future release please send your Model Name and min/max speed for every fan.
  • The fan to be displayed in the menubar can be chosen now
  • All known memory leaks fixed
  • Spanish localization included

System requirements: Mac OS X 10.4 or later.

System support: Intel

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

A good selection of old-school MacBooks this week as low as $799, plus a full slate of refurb Unibodies, save for the 17-incher.

  • refurb 1.6 GHz MacBook Air, 2 GB/80, $999
  • refurb 1.8 GHz MacBook Air, 2 GB/80, $1,099
  • refurb 1.8 GHz MacBook Air, 2 GB/64 SSD, $1,299
  • refurb 2.0 GHz MacBook White, 1 GB/120/SD, $849
  • refurb 2.0 GHz Unibody MacBook, 2 GB/160/SD, $1,099
  • refurb 2.4 GHz Unibody MacBook, 2 GB/128 SSD/SD, $1,899
  • refurb 15" 2.4 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/250/SD, $1,699
  • refurb 15" 2.53 GHz Unibody MacBook Pro, 4 GB/320/SD, $1,999
  • refurb 17" 2.6 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/200 GB @ 7200 rpm/SD, $1,899

MacMall

  • 1.6 GHz MacBook Air, 2 GB/80, $1,099.99
  • 2.0 GHz Core 2 MacBook, 2 GB/160/SD, $1,209.99
  • 2.4 GHz Core 2 MacBook, 2 GB/250/SD, $1,484.99
  • 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, $2,179.99
  • 17" 2.5 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/250/SD,- $1,949.99
  • 17" 2.66 GHz Unibody MacBook Pro, 4 GB/320/SD, $2,549.99

Wegener Media - G3 iBooks - 15" Titanium PowerBook - 15" Aluminum PowerBook - MacBook - 17" 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
  • 12" PowerBook G4/867, 256/40/Combo, $489.99
  • 1.83 GHz Core Duo MacBook, white, 512/60/Combo, $594.99
  • 2.0 GHz Core Duo MacBook, white, 512/60/Combo, $659.99
  • 2.0 GHz Core Duo MacBook, black, 512/80/SD, $719.99
  • 2.0 GHz Core 2 MacBook, white, 1 GB/80/SD, $769.99
  • 2.0 GHz Core 2 MacBook, black, 1 GB/120/SD, $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
  • 17" 2.16 GHz MacBook Pro, 1 GB/120/SD, $1,329.99

ExperCom

  • 12" PowerBook G4/1 GHz, 1.25 GB/40/Combo, $449
  • 1.83 GHz MacBook, white, 1 GB/60 GB/Combo, $579
  • 2.0 GHz MacBook, white, 1 GB/60/Combo, $589
  • 2.0 GHz MacBook, white, 1 GB/60/SD, $649
  • 2.0 GHz MacBook, black, 2 GB/80/SD, $749
  • 14" iBook G4/933 MHz, 640/40/Combo, $379
  • 14" iBook G4/1.33 GHz, 768/60/SD, screen mark, $299
  • 15" 1.83 GHz MacBook Pro, 2 GB/80/SD, $849
  • 15" 2.0 GHz MacBook Pro, 2 GB/80/SD, $899
  • 15" 2.16 GHz MacBook Pro, 2 GB/240/SD, $1,049
  • 17" PowerBook G4/1.33 GHz, 1 GB/80/SD, scratched, $649
  • 17" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 1 GB/80/SD $799

Baucom Computers

  • 1.83 GHz MacBook, 1 GB/80/Combo, APX, $600
  • 15" hi-res PowerBook G4/1.67 GHz, 1 GB/80/SD, $609
  • 15" hi-res PowerBook G4/1.67 GHz, 1.5 GB/100/SD, $719
  • 2.0 GHz MacBook Pro, 1 GB/100/SD, APX, $969

For more deals on current and discontinued 'Books, see our MacBook, MacBook Air, 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 iPod touch, iPod classic, iPod nano, and iPod shuffle deals.


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