The 'Book Review

iPad's Impact on Netbook Market, Future of the MacBook Air, $15 USB 2.0 CardBus Adapter, and More

This Week's Mac Notebook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2010.05.14

So we can post our three news roundups (Mac News Review, The 'Book Review, and The iNews Review) earlier, we first do a quick proofread and link check, leaving out images. We add images later when time permits. dk

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.

iPad vs. Notebook

News & Opinion

Apple Updates

Tech Trends

Products & Services

Software

Bargain 'Books

iPad vs. Notebook

44% of Buyers View iPad as a Notebook Replacement

AppleInsider's Sam Oliver reports that the March 2010 Alphawise survey of iPad buyers finds that 44% would purchase Apple's table instead of a notebook - and for 27% the iPad will even replace a desktop computer. Also, 41% pass over buying an iPod touch now that they have an iPad.

The study results, disclosed last week by analyst Katy Huberty with Morgan Stanley, provides insight into potential cannibalization of other Apple products by iPad sales.

Netbook Sales Shrivel in the Face of iPad Onslaught

The Register's Cade Metz suggests that the March 2010 Alphawise survey of iPad buyers, released last week by Morgan Stanley, indicates that the iPad will shrivel the netbook market, noting that separate research from Morgan Stanley and NPD shows netbook sales growth dropping precipitously in January, from 179% the month before to 68% - and shrinking even more since the iPad launched to an anaemic 5%.

Editor's note: Even an "anaemic" 5% growth rate for the netbook market shows a growing market, not a shriveling one. The growth rate has shriveled, but the market is growing, albeit at a much slower rate. There is a very important distinction between a declining growth rate and a shrinking market. dk

iPad 'Gobbles Up' Netbook Sales

Fortune's Philip Elmer-DeWitt comments that not only netbooks (and notebooks), but also iPod touches, eReaders, desktop PCs, and handheld videogames are all getting cannibalized by the iPad in the early going.

Citing a report to clients issued by Morgan Stanley's Katy Huberty last week Thursday, Elmer-DeWitt notes that netbook sales growth peaked last summer at 641% year-over-year, than fell off a cliff in January (at which time rumors of the forthcoming iPad were at a rolling boil before Steve Jobs finally unveiled it on January 27) - and then shrank again in April after the iPad's launch. Also, an Alphawise survey conducted in March's found that 44% of US consumers planning to buy an iPad said it would displace a netbook or notebook computer purchase.

The iPad is Killing the Netbook

The Atlantic Monthly's Derek Thompson notes that netbook sales growth has plunged in the months after the the iPad arrived, and asks "Why?", suggesting one reason might be that the netbook is a work machine on which you can procrastinate, while the iPad is a "procrastination machine" on which you can work, especially if work mostly involves catching up on email, although the slowdown in netbook sales earlier this year might have been more due to buyer fatigue, given that during the Q1 2009, netbook sales grew by almost 900% - obviously unsustainable.

The iPad Is Not 'Killing' Netbook Sales

SuperSite Blog's Paul Thurrott has posted a rebuttal to Fortune's Apple 2.0 blog (above), which recently declared that the iPad is "killing" the netbook* - an assertion Thurrott dismisses as "nonsense" and "silliness", pointing out that while netbook sales growth did slow, netbook unit sales are still on the way up. Thurrott says the growth slowdown has been more because of stronger-than-expected sales of larger, full-featured notebooks, based on IDC data metrics and Microsoft data indicating indicate that laptops in the $550 to $850 range grew faster than the growth in overall Windows unit sales to consumers, and with market-researcher NPD data showing netbook US sales growing 81% in January compared with the same month in 2009, 73% in February, and 48% in March. Thurrott says IDC is forecasting that "mininotebook" configurations will sell 45.6 million units in 2011 and 60.3 million in 2013, challenging anyone to explain how the iPad will beat that - observing that even the most optimistic iPad sales predictions don't come close.

* Despite the fact that Thurrott puts the word killing in quotes, Elmer-DeWitt doesn't use it anywhere in his article. dk

Netbook Market Still on the Rise

IDG News Service's Agam Shah reports:

"Demand for netbooks is stabilizing and is poised for growth as consumers start purchasing the devices as primary PCs, Intel CEO Paul Otellini said on Tuesday.

"Netbooks were initially viewed as a secondary device for consumers, but are now becoming a primary purchase for some audiences in emerging markets....

The article also cites research metrics showing Intel's Atom netbook processor accounted for 20% of Intel's mobile PC processor shipments during Q1 2010 according to IDC, and iSuppli recently projected netbook shipments to be 34.5 million units in 2010, up 30% from 2009 - greater than the year-over-year projected increase total PC shipments which is expected to increase about 25.5%.

iPad Encroaching on Netbook Space, but There's Still a Market

DailyTech's Shane McGlaun reports that there is room for netbook growth in 2010 according to iSuppli - notwithstanding that the netbook market may be shrinking due to the iPad. The standard notebook market is expected to post growth of 21% this year with 160.5 million notebooks shipped, and one of the biggest growth categories this year is expected to be CULV (Consumer Ultra-Low Voltage) notebooks, with 93% growth.

Netbook Summit to Tackle iPad's Impact

Laptop Mag's Mark Spoonauer reports that an upcoming netbook summit in San Francisco next week will discuss topics such as whether the iPad and other tablets coming to market will kill off the netbook, what the true impact of the iPad on mobile computing is, and how it is changing the expectations of consumers

The summit is to take place from 8:30 to 9:45 a.m. on May 25th. Go to netbooksummit.com to sign up and get a free exhibit pass.

News & Opinion

What Future for the MacBook Air?

Hardmac's Lionel notes that Apple is now selling three distinct types of laptop products, really different in their design and performance, suggesting that this is most likely the reason why the MacBook Air has not evolved much recently, and that to expect any important improvements, Apple will have to wait for new hardware solutions. such as the release of Intel's Sandy Bridge mobile architecture as a way to get Core "i" working successfully in the in 13" MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, suggesting that Intel is probably the main factor behind lack of evolution for these two products since it has obstructed Nvidia from developing a competitive chipset for its current mobile platform. Lionel speculates that this could well be the reason why the relationship between Apple and Intel is less warm than it was two years ago.

iPad Rising: MacBook Air Was the Water's Edge

BeatWeek says:

"Remember the MacBook Air? A mere month ago, it was the sveltest Apple portable on the market and represented the closest thing Apple was willing to offer in terms of an answer to the netbook."

But what of the MacBook Air, whose hardware specs didn't quite measure up to that of Apple's full-sized laptop line, although its 13" display and full-size keyboard made it a real computer and not a toy-sized stand-in. However, BeartWeek suggests that was the problem: Had Apple had gone any smaller with the Air, the user experience would've gone to crap, since there's a line you simply can't cross with respect to shrinking a keyboard-based device below the point where an adult-sized human can comfortably use it without annoyance.

With the iPad snagging a million users in its first month, Apple's decision to avoid the netbook space is looking like an astute call (at least in hindsight), but it's Apple's abandonment of keyboard- and mouse-based computing with the iPad that might be the real story here.

"What next? A twelve inch or thirteen inch iPad to rival or even replace the entry level MacBook? Just how much of a Pandora's Box has Apple opened here?"

Apple Updates

15" and 17" Mid 2010 MacBook Pro: Which Graphics Card Is In Use?

A new Apple Knowledge Base article says:

"Learn how to determine which graphics card is in use on the MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2010) or MacBook Pro (17-inch, Mid 2010).

  • Open System Profiler by choosing About this Mac from the Apple menu, then clicking More Info.
  • Select the Graphics/Displays item in the Hardware section. Two entries should appear under Video Card: 'Intel HD Graphics' and 'Nvidia GeForce GT 330M'.
  • Click 'Intel HD Graphics'.
  • Read the detail view under 'Displays'.

"If the detail says 'Color LCD' and 'Display Connector', you are in Intel HD Graphics mode.

  • If the detail says only 'Display Connector: Status: No Display Connected ', you are in Nvidia GeForce GT 330M Graphics mode.
  • Click 'Nvidia GeForce GT 330M'.
  • Read the detail view under 'Displays'.
  • If the detail says 'Color LCD' and 'Display Connector', you are in Nvidia GeForce GT 330M Graphics mode.

"If the detail says only 'Display Connector: Status: No Display Connected', you are in Intel HD Graphics mode.

"To update the information in the window, refresh the System Profiler screen by pressing Command-R."

Editor's note: Another option is the free gfxCardStatus app covered below.

Tech Trends

Ubuntu Developing New Unity UI, Instant-on Versions for Netbook

ZDNet's Paula Rooney reports:

"Canonical is making fast progress on a promise to improve the netbook experience by launching a new user interface dubbed Unity and plans for light editions of Ubuntu. In a Mark Shuttleworth blog posted today, the Unity interface and light editions of Ubuntu under development are aimed at the dual-boot-instant-on netbook market."

Products & Services

Use a Virtual Cloud Drive with Your Mac

PR: UK based multi-cloud data access provider SMEStorage released the second beta of Mac Cloud Drive, which enables up to 10 commercial storage providers to be accessed directly from a virtual drive in Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard and 10.6 Snow Leopard operating systems. The drive brings cloud computing directly into the Mac OS with over 10 popular Cloud Storage vendors supported, including Amazon S3, Google Docs, Microsoft SkyDrive, and RackSpace Cloud Files.

CEO Ian Osborne states, "We are really pleased to announce the second beta of our virtual cloud drive for the Mac. This drive enables users to access their cloud storage files directly from their shell or Mac Finder"

"The drive brings cloud computing directly into the Mac OS with over 10 popular Cloud Storage vendors supported, including Amazon S3, Google Docs, Microsoft SkyDrive and RackSpace Cloud Files."

"Having a virtual Cloud Drive on the Mac fits our business strategy of providing data access entry points that overlay all storage clouds and include all Operating Systems, as well the best of breed mobile vendors."

"This enables us very rapidly to add value to Tier 1 providers who wish to add storage as part of their offerings and also offers the individual users and business users, that use our Organisation Cloud offering, to have familiar and easy access points to their data."

"As part of the next release we'll also be adding sync so that user can have desktop sync directly to their Mac from any storage cloud we support."

OWC Mercury Extreme Pro Solid State Drive with Up to 480 GB Capacity

PR: Other World Computing (OWC) announced that it has added four new 'prosumer' desktop/notebook user class Solid State Drives to its award-winning OWC Mercury Extreme Pro SSD line. Designed and made in the US from imported parts, the new models offer the largest capacity of any current OWC SSD - up to 480 GB - along with three key features not commonly found in affordable consumer class SSDs:

  • Up to 285 MB/s sustained data rates with no speed degradation
  • 7% over-provisioning to ensure the highest level of data reliability
  • Up to 1/7 less active power use for longer notebook battery runtime

mercssd.jpg

The OWC Mercury Extreme Pro SSD is available for immediate ordering in four Macintosh and PC compatible configurations that install easily in notebooks as well as in desktop/towers with an adapter:

  • 60 GB OWC Mercury Extreme Pro SSD, $219.99
  • 120 GB OWC Mercury Extreme Pro SSD, $379.99
  • 240 GB OWC Mercury Extreme Pro SSD, $699.99
  • 480 GB OWC Mercury Extreme Pro SSD, $1,579.99

Dramatically Decreases Boot & App Load Times

The new OWC Mercury Extreme Pro SSD models are an ideal way for typical Mac or PC desktop and/or notebook computer users to dramatically increase the performance of their machine. In a side-by-side comparison test, the OWC Mercury Extreme Pro SSD was able to boot the OS and load six apps in just over 30 seconds while the factory standard hard drive took nearly two minutes.

Doesn't Slow Down With Use Like Ordinary SSDs

Ordinary SSDs offer fast read/write performance during first initial uses, but then experience significant write speed degradation over repeated usage. Independent simulation tests by leading Mac performance experts confirm the OWC Mercury Extreme Pro SSD's ultra-efficient Block Management & Wear Leveling technologies are able to eliminate virtually any reduction in data transfer speeds over heavy long term usage of the drive and without dependency on external TRIM management.

Up To 100x Greater Data Protection

Utilizing SandForce DuraClass technology, the OWC Mercury Extreme Pro SSD is able to provide up to 100x higher data protection than provided by ordinary SSDs as well as leading enterprise class hard disk drives. By combining the highest level of Error Correction Code (ECC) and SandForce RAISE (Redundant Array of Independent Silicon Elements) technology, the OWC Mercury Extreme Pro SSD provides RAID like data protection and reliability without loss of transfer speed due to parity.

Longer Notebook Battery Runtime

Because the OWC Mercury Extreme Pro SSD uses as little as 1/3 the power compared to the most power efficient 2.5" hard drives and up to 1/7 less power than other leading brand SSDs without any performance sacrifice, notebook users can now maximize their "unplugged" mobile use time while desktop/tower users can enjoy the benefits of a more energy efficient system.

"The four new OWC Mercury Extreme Pro SSD models give consumers the most affordable options for adding the pinnacle of internal drive performance to their Mac or PC," said Larry O'Connor, CEO, Other World Computing. "With category leading performance and technology features not found in other brands, these new models are ideal for everyday users seeking near instantaneous and reliable data access."

LINK: OWC Mercury Extreme Pro SSD

$15 USB 2.0 CardBus Adapter

PR: Have an older PowerBook like a Pismo or TiBook with a CardBus expansion slot but no USB 2 support?

USB2CARDBUS.JPG

The AKE CardBus BC168 PCMCIA to Two USB 2.0 Ports Card is a solution that reportedly works well.

Made in Shenzhen, China

Ships Worldwide

$14.99

Payments via PayPal

Software

gfxCardStatus Graphics Mode Monitor for Core i5/i7 MacBook Pros

PR: Cody Krieger's gfxCardStatus is an open-source menu bar application that keeps track of which graphics card your 2010 MacBook Pro is using at any given time, and allows you to switch between them manually.

gpuchanged.jpg

Features:

  • Simple, clean "i" and "n" icons that signify Intel HD Graphics, and Nvidia GeForce GT 330M graphics, respectively
  • Automatically updates when the GPU switches, in real time
  • Allows you to manually switch GPUs on demand!

Dependent process list - see which applications are currently using the 330M, if it's the active GPU!

  • Growl support - so you know right when the GPU switches
  • Tiny footprint - doesn't sit in your menu bar and hog RAM or CPU cycles
  • Automatic application updating - checks for, downloads and installs new versions of gfxCardStatus automatically

gpuchanged2.png

Note: only for 2010 MacBook Pros with Intel Core i5/i7 processors and the Nvidia GeForce GT 330M GPU.

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