The 'Book Review

Apple Patents 'Invisible' Buttons, Quickscript Gives Modbook Handwriting Recognition, and More

This Week's MacBook, PowerBook, and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2010.05.10

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

News & Opinion

Products & Services

Software

Bargain 'Books

News & Opinion

Apple Exploring 'Invisible,' Disappearing Buttons for Future MacBooks

AppleInsider's Neil Hughes reports:

"Apple's crusade against the physical button continues, with a new patent application describing a disappearing input space that could be featured anywhere on the aluminum shell of a MacBook Pro.

MacBook Users Still Experiencing Freezes

MacFixIt's Topher Kessler reports that some time ago they reported on an issue where MacBook users were experiencing an intermittent 30-second freeze on their systems, and that while Apple addressed this issue by releasing a hard drive firmware update, it appears similar problems are persisting.

Touch-Based Computing and the Future of the Mouse

Seeking Alpha's Larry Dignan says there's a digital divide in the tech industry between operating systems that are touch and gesture based and applications geared toward the trusty mouse and keyboard with Apple vs. Adobe and HP vs. everyone in IT and HP alienating Microsoft as a partner, with all of these skirmishes boiling down to a debate over the future of computing: i.e.: will gesture and touch replace the mouse, noting that if you're a developer you may have to ultimately pick a side.

Editor's note: For my take on this issue, see R.I.P. Computer Mouse? Not So Fast. cm

On the Road with the iPad: Can You Leave the Laptop Home?

Computerworld's Mitch Wagner put an iPad to the test on a five-day business trip, noting he didn't do it because he's adventurous, but because he's a cheapskate. Having been laid off in December, Wagner is self-employed and without a laptop computer, noting that on the iPad he can do 90% of the computing tasks he needs to do - the Web, check email, Twitter and Facebook, and, most important, write, so theoretically, he should be able to use it as his only computer for at least short stretches.

However, it didn't take him long to hit some stumbling blocks, and while on the plus side the iPad proved to be a lightweight powerhouse, useful in situations where a notebook computer is impractical, it simply lacked the tools and versatility he needed to be able to rely on it as his only computer, concluding that the iPad is no substitute for a laptop for even a few days.

He says he's ordering a MacBook Pro this week.

Products & Services

NewerTech Intelligent Battery Charging/Conditioning Station Price Cut

PR: Other World Computing (OWC), announces a price drop of up to 20% off on its entire line of NewerTech® Intelligent Battery Charging/Conditioning Stations, the only complete line of chargers/conditioners on the market today to keep batteries in optimal charged condition for maximum "unplugged" usage.

Available immediately and starting as low as $119.95 MSRP, the NewerTech Intelligent Battery Charging/Conditioning Station is available for the following Apple notebook models:

  • MacBook Pro 15" Unibody
  • MacBook 13" Unibody
  • MacBook Pro 17"
  • MacBook Pro 15"
  • MacBook 13"
  • iBook G3/G4 12"
  • iBook G3/G4 14"
  • PowerBook G4 12" "Aluminum"
  • PowerBook G4 15" "Aluminum"
  • PowerBook G4 17" "Aluminum"
  • PowerBook G4 15" "Titanium"

'Intelligent' Design Takes Guesswork Out of Battery Charging

NewerTech Intelligent Battery Charging/Conditioning Stations are ideal for users who have one or more batteries and want to keep their batteries in optimal charged condition. The two bay design can accommodate two batteries and when the first battery is done charging, the unit "intelligently" begins charging the second battery. In addition to charging batteries quickly and correctly, the deep conditioning feature can bring back additional life to a battery that's started to show its age.

NewerTech Intelligent Battery Charging/Conditioning Station Features:

  • 2 Bays: 1 bay charges, 1 bay charges & conditions
  • 2 Year Warranty
  • Power Input/Output: 120~240V 50/60 Hz 1.5A / 24V 2.3A, regulated

"With the ability to both charge and deep condition batteries at the same time, the NewerTech Intelligent Battery Charging/Conditioning Station saves time as well as restoring new life to older batteries," said Larry O'Connor, CEO, Other World Computing. "Now Mac notebook users can use their batteries longer and get better performance from them for a double win."

Compliments Complete Line of High Capacity Batteries

In addition to its line of battery chargers/conditioners, NewerTech also offers a complete line of NuPower® high capacity replacement batteries for MacBook Pro, MacBook, PowerBook G4/G3, and iBook G4/G3 notebooks with up to 68% more capacity than original Apple batteries.

OWC NewerTech FireWire/USB Storage/Drive Genius 3 Drive Utility Suite

PR: Other World Computing (OWC) has announced today over 300 award winning OWC and NewerTech brand external storage solutions, enclosure kits, and docking stations now include the opportunity to purchase the full retail version of Drive Genius 3, the newest and latest version of Prosoft Engineering's best-selling drive utility suite for Apple Macintosh computers, for as low as $39...a savings of $60 off the retail price.

Best Selling Utility & Broadest Storage Line From One Source

OWC's Drive Genius 3 promotion makes it easy and affordable for Mac users to maintain, manage and optimize their hard drives as well as add a high performance external storage solution, enclosure kit, or docking station with FireWire, USB, and/or eSATA interfaces to their machine. Customers can choose from over 300 OWC and NewerTech brand desktop, bus powered portable, rackmount, RAID ready, and docking station options that include the opportunity to purchase Drive Genius 3 and receive the full retail version with all accompanying OWC product support at a savings of up to 60% off the full retail price of $99.

OWC Covers Customers with Free & Discounted Upgrade Path

To express its commitment to taking care of its customers, OWC is also providing a free and special discount upgrade path for customers who previously purchased Drive Genius 2.x from OWC. Any customer who purchased Drive Genius v2.x from OWC with an invoice date of 1/1/2010 or later will be provided a Free Upgrade to the latest Drive Genius v3 version, those with an invoice date of 12/31/2009 or prior will be able to upgrade to the new version for the special discount price of $39. Existing OWC customers with Drive Genius v2.x need only visit: https://eshop.macsales.com/specialOffers/prosoftDriveGenius3Upgrade.cfm to confirm their eligibility and take advantage of these upgrade offers.

"We're pleased our long-standing partnership with Prosoft Engineering enables us to offer OWC customers the easiest and most attractive upgrade options available for Drive Genius 3," said Larry O'Connor, CEO, Other World Computing. "Whether someone is a past customer who qualifies for the free upgrade or a new customer that wants to take advantage of our savings offer, OWC is the one stop value source for Mac users to obtain Drive Genius 3."

Drive Genius 3 - A Proven History Now in a 64-Bit App

Drive Genius 3 is built upon the same award-winning platform that earned the utility numerous industry honors including daily use by Apple at the Genius Bar as part of the ProCare Yearly Tune Up. Now running as a native 64-bit application to take advantage of Mac OS X 10.6 ("Snow Leopard"), Drive Genius 3 includes new features like DrivePulse® which monitors overall drive health and alerts on possible issues, RAID Support, and Email Notifications as well as enhanced Defrag, Repartition and Scan functions.

Promotion Complements Existing Software Bundle Value

Certain OWC and NewerTech storage solutions also include a $200 retail value utility software bundle consisting of ProSoft Engineering Data Backup 3, Intec SpeedTools Utilities, NovaStor NovaBACKUP and Carbon Copy Cloner. OWC and NewerTech storage solutions offer further value added features including all interface connecting cables for Plug and Play operation straight from the box, free lifetime US-based technical support, and industry leading warranty terms. From desktop to rack mount, from performance RAID to bus-powered performance portable solutions, OWC and NewerTech storage solutions provide a wide array of options ideal for A/V, digital photography, professional music, graphics, general data, and Time Machine ready storage capacity with single drive solutions up to 2 TB and multi-drive solutions up to 8 TB.

Software

Axiotron Quickscript Handwriting Recognition Software

PR: Mac tablet maker Axiotron says its Quickscript application doesn't merely convert handwriting to digital text: it understands handwriting. Powerful language models help Quickscript recognize words, word components and phrases, a contextual approach that increases text recognition accuracy.

With Quickscript, Mac users can enter text in Pages, TextEdit, Microsoft Word and Excel almost any application that accepts text input. Dash off a message in iChat, take notes in class or add data to a spreadsheet with ease. All from a single writing pad.

Features:

  • Highly Accurate - Quickscript employs a state-of-the-art handwriting recognition engine developed by Vision Objects. Tested on millions of handwriting samples from around the world, Quickscript accounts for subtle variations in alphabet, vocabulary and country-specific handwriting styles.
  • New and improved features - Quickscript 3.0 has several improvements and fixes. It now features a writing line for an easier writing experience, user control of how fast text is sent and toggling of the auto-spacing feature.
  • Easy to Use - There's no need to change your writing style or learn special printing techniques. Just use your natural handwriting and let Quickscript do the rest. The text-entry pane can be configured with your preferences and used whenever and wherever you want, so you don't have to adjust to different user interfaces for each application.
  • Gesture Recognition - Simple gesture recognition in the text-entry pane lets you perform actions such as adding and deleting characters or entering line breaks.
  • Multiple Text-Entry Modes - Enter text on the writing pad just like on a piece of paper, in either hand-printed characters or cursive handwriting. Or use character-by-character mode to write single letters, numbers or symbols. A convenient software keyboard also lets you type in characters.
  • Create Your Own Dictionary - Personalize Quickscript by adding to your own dictionary! Your Quickscript dictionary will recognize the words and phrases you use most commonly, limiting mistakes and improving text recognition.

Use Quickscript on Modbook computers running Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) or 10.6 (Snow Leopard).

Quickscript supports 26 languages, including Japanese, Korean and Chinese. It comes preinstalled with an English (US) language package.

System requirements: Quickscript is compatible with Mac OS X version 10.5 Leopard and 10.6 Snow Leopard on Intel processor-based systems only. Quickscript can be used with most applications that can receive text input, but is not guaranteed to work with every application, and certain text-entry fields (such as HTML password fields) may not be able to receive text.

Free 30-day trial of Quickscript available.

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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