The 'Book Review

Unibody MacBook Works with 4 GB RAM, Laptops Fair Game for Border Search, Bigger Netbooks, and More

This Week's MacBook, PowerBook, and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2009.10.08

We're posting our weekly news roundups a day early this week, because we taking a long weekend to attend my son's wedding. Congratulations, Brian and Michelle! dk

General Apple and Mac desktops is covered in The Mac News Review. iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV news is covered in The iNews Review. All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News & Opinion

Tech Trends

Products & Services

Bargain 'Books

News & Opinion

Unibody MacBook Seems Working with 4 GB of RAM

jkOnTheRun says:

"Nearly a year ago, James and I invested in new MacBooks. We ordered the first 13-inch unibody models last November. In typical fashion, we didn't buy memory upgrades direct from Apple, which traditionally have been relatively more expensive than third-party options. James immediately ordered 4 GB of RAM, while I opted to wait. Well, we all know how that worked out for him - his MacBook would freeze up at various times, making it a very unstable device. His hopes for a fix in a firmware upgrade were dashed. And he's not the only one that had issues - dozens of owners with the same devices experienced similar instability....

"But now that Snow Leopard is here, I decided to take the memory upgrade plunge...."

Laptops Fair Game for Border Searches Coming and Going

The Canadian Press reports that the recent arrest of a prominent Catholic bishop on child-pornography charges at the Ottawa airport highlights the power of border agents to see not just your passport, but the contents of your laptop computer.

The Customs Act gives Canada's border officers authority to examine people's personal baggage and goods upon arrival to, and departure from, Canada, including scrutiny of electronic devices.

13" MacBook Pro: 'I Got What I Wanted'

OSnews' Eddyspeeder reports:

"Late June 2009 I bought a 13" MacBook Pro (2.26 GHz, 4 GB RAM). I suppose that after just three months, the blinding 'first joys' over getting a laptop have worn off. By now, I deem my thoughts about this device to be realistic and of an appropriate level. The past few weeks I attained mastery over the Mac OS through personal discovery, accompanied by a very insightful book; I bought additional software and hacked the Dock to suit my preferences."

Eddyspeeder thoughtfully addresses the question of why he chose a Mac, noting that he had always had a distinct preference for the Mac OS, but I was previously never able to overcome the financial barrier attached to buying a computer for which the operating system is officially designed, however, this time upon trying out the unibody machine, it immediately became clear that the silky-smooth multi-touch trackpad of the MacBook Pro is worth the extra money, and that the roster of unique features and benefits this laptop has over a generic €~400 laptop is extensive.

Screen size? He determined that the advantages of the 13" display outweighed the perfect 15" choice, with its lighter weight, more compact size, and it can do everything a 15" does. It's fine for watching movies, reading PDFs, and doing word processing.

He also praises the MagSafe power connector, ethernet port, FireWire 400/800 port ("backing up using Time Machine at 800 Mbit/s is cool"); the versatility of the Mini DisplayPort, and the very fast SD-card slot, and likes its generally cool running characteristics and admirably quiet cooling fan.

This is a long, thorough, and carefully considered review, summarized with the observation that "'Beauty' is in the eye of the beholder and the definition of what is 'expensive' is a personal matter. I got what I wanted and am happy with what I got. For me, the MacBook Pro 13" is an ideal computer."

Tech Trends

Netbooks Are Getting Bigger

PC Mag's Nicole Price says:

"The days of the 9-inch netbook appear to be long gone. When we first started looking at the category, our biggest complaints were about usability. With 92- and even 89-percent keyboards paired with tiny, low-resolution displays, it was hard to do much on these systems, let alone anything productive. In response to these sorts of complaints, netbook makers have continued to push the envelope on netbook design, even skirting the border between netbooks and ultraportables."

Netbook Sales Set to Soar This Christmas

PR: Statistics from top-netbooks.co.uk, the UK's only dedicated netbook comparison website, show that people are already starting to research low cost mini-laptops as potential gifts during the second credit crunch Christmas.

As the UK struggles through another credit crunch Christmas and shoppers spend more time hunting out great value gifts it seems no great coincidence that computer manufacturers are focusing their attention on recession priced netbooks.

gI_0_christmasnetbook.jpg

The website is seeing surges in traffic as the Christmas shopping season starts. People seem to be doing a lot of research, trying to find the perfect netbook for them or their gift recipient. We expect this to keep ramping up into the New Year. 2010 is going to be a massive year for accessing the Internet on the go and many people will opt to do their mobile computing on a netbook.

There's currently a huge interest in the newer netbooks that have slightly larger screen and battery life of 6 hours plus. The Asus Eee 1005HA and the Acer Aspire One 751 are selling very well. At the other end of the spectrum, the first generation of netbooks like the Acer Aspire One AOA150, which are now very cheap, are generating a large amount of interest.

The netbook, an ultra-cheap mini-laptop designed to be used mainly to access the Internet over wireless connections, has been seized on by shoppers as a great value present for 2009. Netbooks currently occupy 4 of the top 5 positions in the Amazon bestseller list in the computer category and according to Gartner their sales make up 8% of total computer sales. Netbooks start from as little as £130 and can do many of the things full sized laptops or desktops can do which makes them very attractive for cash-strapped consumers.

Simon Driscoll, spokesman for netbook comparison site top-netbooks.co.uk says "We're seeing huge investment by the computer industry in netbooks - and they just keep getting cheaper and cheaper. Netbooks didn't even exist until 2007 and now we're comparing prices on over 50 makes of mini-laptop from 12 manufacturers.

"Our website is seeing surges in traffic as the Christmas shopping season starts. People seem to be doing a lot of research, trying to find the perfect netbook for them or their gift recipient. We expect this to keep ramping up into the New Year. 2010 is going to be a massive year for accessing the Internet on the go and many people will opt to do their mobile computing on a netbook."

Recent rumours about an Apple netbook and news that Google plans to produce an operating system for netbooks has raised public awareness of netbooks as a whole and it seems the confidence of having these big names associated with this new technology has driven massive demand for these mini-laptops.

When asked what netbooks are selling particularly well in the run up to Christmas Mr. Driscoll said "There's currently a huge interest in the newer netbooks that have slightly larger screen and battery life of 6 hours plus. The Asus Eee 1005HA and the Acer Aspire One 751 are selling very well. At the other end of the spectrum, the first generation of netbooks like the Acer Aspire One AOA150, which are now very cheap, are generating a large amount of interest."

Acer chairman J.T. Wang predicts that netbook sales will double next year to 50 million units meaning that 1 in 4 laptops purchased will be a netbook making it one of the few growth areas in the PC industry.

Products & Services

Over 1 TB of Storage Inside Your MacBook or PowerBook

PR: PowerBook Medic have released a completely upgraded line of DualDrives that can more than double your internal Mac laptop storage capacity.

The DualDrive adds a second internal hard drive to your Mac laptop by replacing your optical drive (your CD or DVD drive). With the DualDrive, its possible to get up to 1.5 Terabytes of storage in some Mac laptop models.

DualDrive hard drive adapterDualDrive Add a Second Hard Drive to Your Mac Laptop

  • No Drive Installed ($59.95)
  • 320 GB 5400 RPM ($139.90)
  • 500 GB 5400 RPM ($179.90)
  • 500 GB 7200 RPM ($209.90)
  • 750 GB 5400 RPM ($259.90)

DualDrive for MacBook Unibody Add a Second Hard Drive to Your Mac Laptop

  • No Drive Installed ($59.95)
  • 320 GB 5400 RPM ($139.90)
  • 500 GB 5400 RPM ($179.90)
  • 500 GB 7200 RPM ($209.90)

Auto and Airline Charging Adapter for the MacBook Air

PR: QuickerTek has announced the Auto and Airline Charging Adapter for all Apple MacBook Air laptops. Users can now travel by land and air longer by using the Auto/Airline charging adapter. This simple-to-use device, features automobile and airline power adapters to run your Apple MacBook Air. Unlike the Apple charger, QuickerTek's charging adapter recharges the internal battery while you are using the MacBook Air.

Auto and Airline Charging Adapter for the MacBook AirThe QuickerTek MacBook Air Auto and Airline Charging Adapter distinguishes itself among other lesser charging adapter products by powering the MacBook Air and charging the internal battery, while in use. All of the standard MacBook Air power options are maintained, including the MagSafe operation. You gain additional power options through a 2.5mm connector allowing access to other QuickerTek power products from solar panels to external batteries. There are additional safety options including a user-serviceable inline 3 amp fuse as well as power filtering. There are no safety sacrifices in using QuickerTek's MacBook Air Auto and Airline Charging Adapter.

There is even enough power to supply the iTouch, iPod and/or iPhone with usable power through the USB port. QuickerTek extends the mobile user experience beyond just the MacBook Air. Automobile functionality is provided via a standard auto power adapter. Users also have a three foot cable which allows additional freedom while connected to external power - whether in a car or on commercial airline.

Specifications:

  • MagSafe airline adapter with EmPower adapter
  • 2.5 mm connector for QuickerTek solar and external batteries
  • 20 mm Automobile power adapter
  • Powers and charges the internal battery while in use
  • Input voltage 12.0 to 16.5v DC

Like most QuickerTek products, the MacBook Air Auto and Airline Charging Adapter is backed with a one-year warranty on parts and labor. It is available for only $89.95.

Latest Kanex Mini DisplayPort Adapter Supports Full HD Digital Audio and Video

PR: Apogee Inc. is releasing the latest addition to the current line of Kanex Mini DisplayPort adapters. The new the Kanex Mini DisplayPort with Digital Audio to HDMI adapter is now available and compatible for Apple MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, Mac Mini, and iMac.

Kanex Mini DisplayPort AdapterCompared to other adapters out in the market, the Kanex Mini DisplayPort with Digital Audio to HDMI adapter is the first and by far the most advanced adapter with the ability to provide clear high quality digital audio and video through the use of the Apple(r) minijack. The Kanex Mini DisplayPort with Digital Audio to HDMI adapter features a USB 2.0 input able to supply power to the adapter.

It also supports HDMI 165 MHz, 1.65 Gbps per channel, and like the first generation adapter, it supports HDMI resolutions of up to 1080p and 8 bit per channel. The Kanex Mini DisplayPort with Digital Audio to HDMI adapter is also able to support uncompressed audio such as LPCM, but can also support compressed audio DTS Digital such as DTS-HD and Dolby True HD formats.

Previously, Mac users had two options when it came to obtaining audio from their MacBooks. One option was to use the 3.5mm audio jack to RCA which produced only analog audio. A second option was to use the headphone port, which is also the Apple minijack, and then output audio to their HDTV through Toslink. With the new Kanex Mini DisplayPort with Digital Audio to HDMI adapter, Mac users will no longer be faced with the inefficient use of two to three cable connections to their adapters.

It was the consideration of the headphone port capability that the Apogee Inc. R&D team was able to produce this all in one adapter solution by utilizing the Apple minijack that is currently available on the latest MacBook models. By simply connecting the Kanex Mini DisplayPort with Digital Audio to HDMI adapter to a Mini DisplayPort and Apple minijack, users are now able to connect to their HDTV models and get the high digital quality home theater experience they want.

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

Factory refurbished units with Apple's full one-year warranty.

  • 1.6 GHz MacBook Air, 2 GB/120 HD, $1,099
  • 1.8 GHz MacBook Air, 2 GB/80 HD, $1,099
  • 1.8 GHz MacBook Air, 2 GB/64 GB SSD, $1,199
  • 1.86 GHz MacBook Air, 2 GB/128 GB SSD, $1,249
  • 1.86 GHz MacBook Air, 2 GB/120 GB HD, $1,349
  • 2.13 GHz MacBook Air, 2 GB/120 GB HD, $1,549
  • 2.13 GHz MacBook White, 2 GB/160/SD, $849
  • 2.4 GHz Core 2 MacBook, white, 2 GB/160 GB HD/SD, $899
  • 2.0 GHz Unibody MacBook, 2 GB/160/SD, $899
  • 2.4 GHz Unibody MacBook, 2 GB/250/SD, $999
  • 2.4 GHz Unibody MacBook, 2 GB/128 GB SSD/SD, $1,299
  • 13" 2.26 GHz Unibody MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, $999
  • 13" 2.53 GHz Unibody MacBook Pro, 4 GB/250/SD, $1,299
  • 15" 2.53 GHz Unibody MacBook Pro, 4 GB/320/SD, $1,449
  • 15" 2.53 GHz Unibody MacBook Pro, 4 GB/128 SSD/SD, $1,599
  • 15" 2.66 GHz Unibody MacBook Pro, 4 GB/320/SD, $1,599
  • 15" 2.93 GHz Unibody MacBook Pro, 4 GB/320/SD, $1,949
  • 17" 2.66 GHz Unibody MacBook Pro, 4 GB/320/SD, $1,949
  • 17" 2.66 GHz Unibody MacBook Pro, 4 GB/320/SD, antiglare, $1,999

MacMall

  • 1.86 GHz MacBook Air, 2 GB/120, $1,394
  • 2.13 GHz MacBook Air, 2 GB/128 SSD, $1,694 after rebate
  • 2.13 GHz Core 2 MacBook White, 2 GB/16/SD, $929 after rebate
  • 13" 2.26 GHz MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, $1,114.00 after rebate
  • 15" 2.53 GHz June 09 MacBook Pro, 4 GB/250/SD, $1,594 after rebate
  • 17" 2.8 GHz MacBook Pro, 4 GB/500/SD, $2,294 after rebate

Mac Connection

  • 2.0 GHz Unibody MacBook, 2 GB/160/SD, $899.99 after rebate

TechRestore

  • 2.0 GHz Core 2 MacBook, white, 1 GB/80/SD, $619.99
  • 2.16 GHz Core 2 MacBook, white, 1 GB/120/SD, $719.99
  • 2.16 GHz Core 2 MacBook, white, 1 GB/80/SD, $729.99
  • 15" 1.83 GHz Core Duo MacBook Pro, 1 GB/80/SD, $779.99
  • 15" 2.0 GHz Core Duo MacBook Pro, 1 GB/80/SD, $799.99
  • 15" 2.16 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 1 GB/200/SD, $899.99
  • 17" 2.33 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 1 GB/120/SD, APX, $1,269
  • 17" 2.4 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 1 GB/160/SD, $1,399

BetaMacs - G3 PowerBooks - G4 iBooks

  • Lombard PowerBook G3/400, 256/6/DVD, OS 9, $179
  • Pismo PowerBook G3/400, 512/10/no optical drive?, AP, $299
  • 12" iBook G4/1.33 GHz, 768/40/Combo, AP, OS X 10.6, $299

Wegener Media - Clamshell iBooks - MacBook - 15" MacBook Pro - 17" MacBook Pro

  • Clamshell iBook G3/300, 96/6/CD, blueberry or tangerine, $179.99
  • 1.83 GHz Core Duo MacBook, white, 512/60/Combo, $499.99
  • 2.0 GHz Core Duo MacBook, white, 512/60/Combo, $549.99
  • 2.0 GHz Core 2 MacBook, white Core2 Duo, 1 GB/80/SD, $599.99
  • 15" 1.83 GHz Core Duo MacBook Pro, 512/80/SD, $599.99
  • 15" 2.0 GHz Core Duo MacBook Pro, 512/100/SD, $639.99
  • 15" 2.0 GHz Core Duo MacBook Pro, 512/80/SD, $629.99
  • 15" 2.0 GHz Core Duo MacBook Pro, 1 GB/80/SD, $634.99
  • 15" 2.16 GHz Core Duo MacBook Pro, 1 GB/100/SD, $669.99
  • 15" 2.16 GHz Core Duo MacBook Pro, 1 GB/120/SD, $694.99
  • 15" 2.2 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 1 GB/120/SD, $849.99
  • 15" 2.2 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 4 GB/120/SD, $939.99
  • 17" 2.4 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 4 GB/160/SD, $1,169

ExperCom

  • 2.16 GHz MacBook White, 1 GB/100/SD, $749
  • 15" 1.83 GHz MacBook Pro, 2 GB/80/SD, $849

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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