The 'Book Review

The Mobile System Stampede, Lithium Battery That Can't Explode, Affordable SSD Options, and More

This Week's MacBook, PowerBook, and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2010.03.19

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

Apple Updates

Products & Services

Bargain 'Books

News & Opinion

How to Survive the Mobile Systems Stampede

EE Times' Rick Merritt says:

"A flux of new mobile systems is thundering on the horizon. Two words of advice for system makers who want to survive it - think different.

"Apple Inc.'s old motto may be grammatically incorrect but it is strategically right on target for this era of innovation by imitation....

"An ARM executive warned about the coming stampede in a press event in Taipei, saying as many as 50 media tablet designs will hit the market this year, including ones from each of the top 10 telecom service providers....

"Meanwhile, netbooks have hit the mainstream."

Netbooks Keep It Light

PC Mag's Natalie Shoemaker says:

"Tired of schlepping a heavy laptop around? Then take a load off with a netbook.

"Whether you commute by bus, train, car, or on foot, lugging a laptop around can get cumbersome Natalie observes, so short of hiring someone else to carry your laptop, consider a netbook - lightweight, inexpensive relative to other laptops, and able to handle day-to-day computing on the go."

The article goes on to profile some of PC Mag's editors' netbook favorites.

Researchers Develop a Lithium Battery That Can't Explode

Register Hardware's Tony Smith reports:

"Scientists from Stanford University in the US have worked out how to build a lithium-sulphur battery that doesn't require a lithium metal electrode. That, they say, will make it free from the "serious safety issues" that have been holding the technology back."

Apple Updates

Mid 2007 MacBook Pro Display Issue Related to 'Hot-plugging' External Display

A new Apple Knowledge Base article says:

"When hot-plugging an external display into your MacBook Pro, you may notice the external display occasionally stays dark, or the internal display of the MacBook Pro appears to flash or turn black.

"Sometimes, when switching from an S-video to a DVI connection, the internal display may appear black or display only the mouse cursor.

"Products Affected: MacBook Pro (17-inch 2.4 GHz), MacBook Pro (15-inch 2.4/2.2 GHz)

"Resolution

  • Wait 5 seconds for the screen to automatically re-size or activate.
  • If this doesn't occur after 5 seconds, click Detect Displays in the Displays pane of System Preferences.
  • If the internal (or external) display still doesn't re-size or activate, press the F7 key to turn on mirroring mode, or restart the computer.

"Note: This issue does not occur in Mac OS X 10.5."

Editor's note: Apple doesn't clarify whether this is a problem in OS X 10.4 Tiger or 10.6 Snow Leopard. dk

Products & Services

XstandPro and Xstand Pro XL Laptop Stands: 2 Heights, 1 Sight

PR: Just Mobile Xstand laptop stands are a stylish, sturdy choice made of solid aluminium matching the metal finish of the MacBook Pro.

XtandPro.jpeg

It provides desktop computer comfort by raising your notebook`s display to an ergonomic eye level. With the additional low profile bar you can personalize your height and enjoy ergonomic comfort without an external keyboard and mouse.

XtandPro3.jpeg

With Xstand Pro air circulates freely underneath your computer, allowing it to run cooler and quieter. Non-slip rubber pads on the Just Mobile Xstand Pro also keeps your notebook securely in place.

XtandPro2.jpeg

Features:

  • Two replaceable ergonomic heights
  • Keeps laptop cooler and more quiet
  • Fits all laptops - Mac and PC

It is designed perfectly for 13 inch MacBook and MacBook Pro, 17" MBP users may find it doesn't balance aesthetically (see Xstand Pro XL described below)

Xstand Pro features 2 height settings. Both settings provide ergonomic viewing angles.

Rubber pads on Xstand Pro (also on the bottom of Xstand Pro which has non-slip rubbers) prevent metal-on-metal scratching or scratching of support surfaces.

Smaller 'Books such as PowerBook G4 12" and MacBook/ MacBook Pro 13 are compatible with Xstand Pro.

Xstand Pro XL for 15" and 17" MacBook Pro

Just Mobile Xstand Pro XL provides desktop computer comfort for larger laptops by raising your notebook's display to an ergonomic eye level. With the additional low profile bar you can personalize your height and enjoy ergonomic comfort without an external keyboard and mouse.

XtandPro1.jpeg

Xstand Pro XL is designed especially for 15" and 17" MacBook Pro.

With Xstand Pro XL air circulates freely underneath your computer, allowing it to run cooler and quieter. Non-slip rubber pads on the Just Mobile Xstand Pro XL also keeps your notebook securely in place.

Features:

  • Two replaceable ergonomic heights
  • Keeps laptop cooler and more quiet
  • Fits all laptops - including Mac (15" and 17") and PC, as well as the 13 inch MacBook and MacBook Pro. 17" MBP users may find it doesn't balance aesthetically.

XtandPro4.jpeg

Xstand Pro features 2 height settings. Both settings provide ergonomic viewing angles.

Rubber pads on Xstand Pro XL (also on the bottom of Xstand Pro is with non slip rubbers) to prevent metal-on-metal scratching or damage to support surfaces.

Check http://www.xtand.net/buy/# to find the local resellers, if you are not able to find a reseller near you, send an email to sales@just-mobile.com

My Passport SE for Mac Ultraportable Hard Drives 1 TB, USB 2.0

My Passport SE for MacPR: This sleek portable drive is Mac-ready and offers maximum capacity to store and secure all the photos and files of your creative life.

Designed for Mac, this sleek, portable drive now features more capacity than ever to store all the important memories of your digital life. It's also compatible with Apple Time Machine and includes password protection and hardware encryption.

My Passport SE for MacOnly a few millimeters thicker to accommodate our highest capacity mobile drives. Plenty of room for all your creative files.

Formatted for Mac and compatible with Apple Time Machine this drive is plug-and-play ready for Mac computer users.

An extra level of security with password protection and 256-bit hardware-based encryption.

Product Features

  • Maximum capacity, maximum style - Store all your favorite videos, music, photos, and important files. Although it's still sleek and compact, it's ideal for storing the large files of creative professionals.
  • Designed for Mac - Formatted for Mac and compatible with Apple Time Machine, this drive is plug-and-play ready for Mac computer users.
  • Drive lock - Gain peace of mind knowing that your data is protected from unauthorized access or theft with password protection and 256-bit hardware-based encryption.

WD SmartWare - See your life safe in one place.

  • See your backup as it happens - Seeing is believing. Visual backup displays your content in categories and shows the progress of your backup.
  • Protect your data automatically - Relax, your data is secure.
  • Automatic, continuous backup will instantly make a second copy whenever you add or change a file.
  • Bring back lost files effortlessly - Retrieve your valuable data to its original location whether you've lost all your data or just overwritten an important file.
  • Take control - Customize your backup, set drive security, run diagnostics, manage the power settings, and more from the WD SmartWare control center.
  • USB 2.0 interface - Powered directly from the USB port on your PC. No separate power supply is needed.
  • An optional cable is available for the few computers that limit power from the USB port.
  • Planet friendly - We designed a small box from recycled materials to minimize waste. We encourage you to recycle it.

Compatibility

  • Formatted HFS+ Journaled
  • Mac OS X Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard

Price: $199.99

Mobile Edge Laptop and Netbook Cases Now Checkpoint Friendly

PR: Mobile Edge brings the enhanced travel convenience of Checkpoint Friendly carrying cases to the rapidly growing market of Netbook users. With products like these new Netbook ScanFast cases, Mobile Edge continues to develop innovative new carrying case products to make life easier for portable computer users.

Mobile Edge Laptop and Netbook CasesMobile Edge, maker of stylish laptop computer carrying cases and accessories, has expanded their ScanFast!" Checkpoint Friendly Collection with full-featured Netbook carrying cases, the first TSA Compliant Netbook Case Collection on the market. Netbook computer owners are looking for a more substantial case for their smaller computers, something more than a simple sleeve. As a result of this demand, Mobile Edge created the Edge Netbook Briefcase, Messenger Bag and Backpack - all designed to be Checkpoint Friendly.

Adding to their existing ScanFast!" Collection of TSA compliant Laptop Cases, Mobile Edge now offers the largest line of Checkpoint Friendly Cases in the industry. Whether you have an 8.9 Netbook or a 17.3 wide screen laptop, Mobile Edge has a solution for you.

Designed specifically for sleek ultra portable Netbooks, each Edge Netbook Case has an adjustable computer protection compartment that will adjust for 8.9 to 11.6 Netbooks with a power supply or up to 13.3 Notebooks.

Recent industry studies report that unit sales of Netbook computers more than doubled during 2009 and are expected to exceed 39 million units this year. A result of the lower price points and increased functionality, the Netbook format is now a well established segment of the portable PC market.

"We are delighted to bring the enhanced travel convenience of Checkpoint Friendly carrying cases to the rapidly growing market of Netbook users," says G. David Cartwright, President & CEO, Mobile Edge. "With products like these new Netbook ScanFast cases, Mobile Edge continues to develop innovative new carrying case products to make life easier for portable computer users."

The Edge ScanFast!" Netbook Case Collection consists of three product styles; the traditional Edge Briefcase - MEUEBC, the on-the-go Messenger Bag - MEUEMB and the versatile Edge Backpack - MEUEBP. The Edge ScanFast Netbook Cases are now shipping at a suggested retail price of $49.99. A new ScanFast Netbook Briefcase for women will be released this summer.

Mobile Edge continues to expand the laptop carrying case category by offering new, innovative and smart designs that fuse fashion trends with form and function, creating a brand that makes a positive statement about today's mobile computing lifestyle.

Mobile Edge is committed to the highest quality standards in every case that it produces, from women's briefcases, portfolios and totes, to men's messenger bags, backpacks, Netbook cases and their new ScanFast Checkpoint Friendly Laptop Collection. Recently acquired Sumo is a lifestyle brand with San Francisco roots focused on fashion forward products that break the mold and offer alternatives to the boring and mundane.

Both Mobile Edge and Sumo offer the strongest product warranty in the industry.

NewerTech Mini DisplayPort/USB Stereo to HDMI Adapter

PR: Newer Technology, Inc. (NewerTech) announces the NewerTech Mini DisplayPort/USB Stereo to HDMI Adapter, a $49.99 MSRP one cable adapter solution for outputting both high definition video up to 1080p and 2-channel stereo audio from the latest Mini DisplayPort equipped Macintosh computers through HDMI interface equipped High Definition Televisions.

Eight Different Adapters for Every Video Display Need

With the introduction of the new Mini DisplayPort/USB Stereo to HDMI Adapter, NewerTech now offers Mac users eight different display adapters for connecting to a variety of display options: HD monitors/TVs, advanced digital monitors like the 20" or 23" Apple Cinema Display, standard analog VGA monitors, or multiple displays for an extended desktop:

  • New Mini DisplayPort/USB Stereo To HDMI Adapter $49.99
  • Mini DisplayPort To HDMI Adapter (no audio) $24.99
  • Mini DisplayPort To DVI Adapter $24.99
  • Mini DisplayPort To VGA Adapter $29.99
  • Mini DVI To HDMI Adapter $17.99
  • Mini DVI To DVI Adapter $14.99
  • Mini DVI To VGA Adapter $14.99
  • USB Video Display Adapter $95.99

The NewerTech Mini DisplayPort/USB Stereo to HDMI Adapter is available immediately for $49.99 MSRP from NewerTech's exclusive distributor, Other World Computing (OWC), as well as through the retail channel.

One Adapter Solution Provides Both Audio and Video

While the Mini DisplayPort offers superior video resolution output through a single interface on a Mac, it has a major shortcoming in that it doesn't natively output audio. The NewerTech Mini DisplayPort/USB Stereo to HDMI Adapter overcomes that limitation by cost effectively combining a Mac's video signal via the Mini DisplayPort and audio signal via USB port into a single HDMI output cable. With this single cable, bus powered (no AC power supply needed) adapter, Mac desktop and notebook users can now connect their Mac to a projector; extend their display onto a second monitor; or view movies, network broadcasts, and play games and other media on a big screen HDTV.

"This dual signal adapter embodies NewerTech's slogan by making the latest Macs 'better than new' by giving them a single cable solution when connecting to HDTVs," said Grant Dahlke, Brand Manager, NewerTech. "And by expanding our line of Mini DisplayPort and Mini DVI adapters, we now can enable a wider range of Mac notebook and desktop users the ability to expand their display options."

OCZ Onyx Series Makes 2.5" SSD Affordable

PR: OCZ Technology Group, Inc. has unveiled the OCZ Onyx SATA II 2.5" Solid State Drive (SSD) Series, an ultra-affordable MultiLevel Cell (MLC)-based solid state storage solution designed for consumers looking to take advantage of flash-based storage technology. Offering a faster and more durable alternative to traditional hard drives in a cost-efficient SSD, the Onyx delivers reliable performance without the high price normally associated with SSD drives.

OCZ Onyx Series SSD"As new technologies become available, OCZ continues to expand both our enterprise and consumer SSD lines, and one of our goals is to make SSDs more affordable to end-users. Our new Onyx series SSD does exactly that and is a perfect solution for netbooks, laptops, or home desktop PCs," commented Ryan Petersen, CEO of the OCZ Technology Group. "Designed to offer the best of both worlds, the new OCZ Onyx SSD delivers the speed and reliability of solid state storage to mainstream consumers at an aggressive price point that makes the technology more accessible to customers who want to take advantage of all the benefits of the SSDs without incurring the high cost normally associated with the solution."

With a sub-$100 MRSP, the aggressively priced Onyx 32 GB SSD delivers an enhanced computing experience with faster application loading, snappier data access, shorter bootups, and longer battery life. Onyx SSDs feature HDD-dominating access times, up to 125 MB/s read and 70 MB/s write speeds, 64 MB of onboard cache, and unique performance optimization to keep the drives at peak performance over the long term.

OCZ Onyx SSD drives feature a durable yet lightweight housing, and because OCZ SSDs have no moving parts, the drives are more rugged than conventional hard drives. Available first in 32 GB capacity the Onyx state drives are ideal for use as a boot up drive or for mobile PCs and netbooks as a quality hard drive replacement. Designed for ultimate reliability, Onyx SSDs have an excellent 1.5 million hour mean time between failure (MTBF), and OCZ also offers a leading 3-year warranty and award-winning technical support with the series, making SSDs a more viable upgrade for users requiring ultimate levels of customer service.

Intel Brings Affordable SSD to Netbooks and Desktop PCs

PR: Intel introduces X25-V Value SATA Solid-State Drive (SSD) at $125 entry price point. 40 GB SSD Offers Consumers Affordable Price Point for Solid-State Performance. Perfect for value netbooks or as boot drive for dual-drive SSD/HDD desktops, X25-V delivers SSD performance at an affordable price. Desktop PCs can now combine an SSD with HDD to boost overall system performance and speed system boot up and opening of applications

Intel X25-V SATA SSDIntel Corporation announced today a new addition to its award-winning lineup of high-performance solid-state drives (SSDs): the Intel X25-V Value SATA SSD. Priced at $125, the 40 gigabyte (GB) drive is aimed at value segment netbooks and dual-drive/boot drive desktop setups to offer users the performance and reliability advantages of solid-state computing at an affordable, entry-level price.

"Adding the Intel X25-V to our existing family of high-performance SSDs gives our resellers a full range of high-performing, quality SSDs for notebook upgrades, dual-drive desktop set ups or embedded applications"

SSDs can replace or coexist with traditional hard disk drives (HDDs). With no movable parts or spinning platters, SSDs are more reliable and higher performing than HDDs. This makes users more productive as they experience faster overall system responsiveness. With the affordable price point, consumers can now enjoy the benefits of an SSD by adding an SSD option to their current desktop PC in a dual-drive or "boot drive" set up. In a dual-drive configuration, the Intel X25-V SSD is added to a desktop with an existing HDD. The SSD is loaded with the operating system and favorite applications to take advantage of the speedy performance which is nearly 4x faster than a 7200 RPM HDD. Users keep their existing HDD as a means of higher capacity data storage. This capability is commonly referred to as a "boot" drive since the SSD accelerates boot or start up time.

For example, with 40 GB of boot drive capacity, a user could load the SSD with the Microsoft Windows 7 operating system, Microsoft Office applications and their favorite gaming application, such as Dragon Age: Origins, and experience up to 43 percent faster overall system performance or 86 percent improvement in their gaming experience. The SSD also speeds operations such as system start up, the opening of applications and files or resuming from standby.

"The Intel solid-state drive is our top-selling SSD," said Stephen Yang, product manager for solid-state drives at e-tailer Newegg.com. "This new value entry from Intel means more customers will have the chance to experience the benefits of SSDs, not just in notebooks or high-end PCs, but in mainstream desktops as a boot drive. This is the right price point to help convert more users to SSD computing."

The Intel X25-V features 40 GB of 34nm NAND flash memory. This nonvolatile memory retains data, even when the power is turned off, and is used in applications such as smartphones, personal music players, memory cards or SSDs for fast and reliable storage of data. SSD benefits over a traditional HDD include higher performance, battery saving and ruggedness.

"Adding the Intel X25-V to our existing family of high-performance SSDs gives our resellers a full range of high-performing, quality SSDs for notebook upgrades, dual-drive desktop set ups or embedded applications," said Pete Hazen, director of marketing for the Intel NAND Solutions Group. "SSD adoption continues to be one of the more exciting trends in personal computing, and this entry-level product enables users to enjoy the productivity and performance benefits of Intel SSDs at a new price point."

The 40 GB Intel X25-V complements Intel's higher performance Intel® X25-M Mainstream SATA SSD product line that offers 80 GB and 160 GB capacities. All Intel SSDs are designed and manufactured by Intel using its own NAND flash memory from IM Flash Technologies (IMFT) and include a proprietary controller and updatable firmware. The X25-V is priced at $125 for 1,000-unit quantities and is currently stocked and available in worldwide distribution.

In addition, the X25-V supports the Microsoft Windows 7 Trim function via the Intel SSD Optimizer. Also included is the Intel SSD Toolbox, a set of utility tools developed by Intel to help better manage and retain the out-of-box performance of Intel SSDs. Windows XP and Vista users can also use these enhancements which can be downloaded at http://www.intel.com/go/ssdtoolbox.

Bargain 'Books

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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