The 'Book Review

How to Safely Coil a MagSafe Power Cord, Converting a MacBook Air into a Keyboard Mac, and More

This Week's MacBook, PowerBook, and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2010.08.20

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

Tech Trends

Products & Services

Bargain 'Books

News & Opinion

How to Properly Coil a MacBook Power Cord

Do it the wrong way, and you'll risk damaging your cable and creating a fire hazard. This video tutorial shows the correct technique.

Problems with a New MacBook Pro

eXtensions' Graham K. Rogers says that after three years of great service from his 2.16 GHz MacBook Pro it was an easy decision to move to the current 2.66 GHz version with the i7 processor, and that the first four months with the new machine were great as well. Rogers reports that he reveled in the improved speed and graphics, but that in late July the proverbial wheels began to come off. The screen cursor would stop moving, and the computer would freeze, leaving him with no choice but to shut down using the power button: not recommended.

Rogers goes on to relate in detail how he's tried doing two reinstalls (one clean from scratch) of Mac OS X 10.6.4, but he's still getting screen freezes, leading him to conclude that the problems are hardware-based.

He may be correct, but my own experience with Snow Leopard (less severe symptoms than those Rogers describes, thankfully) inclines me to think that some suspicion should be cast Snow Leopard's way as well. My late 2008 model aluminum MacBook supports OS X 10.5 Leopard and is a smooth, poised, and reliable performer in that OS version - but Snow Leopard performance on the same machine (I have both systems installed on separate hard drive partitions) with the same suite of applications is decidedly raggedy and buggy, with frequent keyboard cursor-input freezes, although I've not yet had the mouse response crap out. A merciful workaround has been a little AppleScript that initiates quitting and restarting the Dock, which restores keyboard response (see 2 Weeks with OS X 10.6.4 and Safari 5 for details).

This issue may have nothing to do with what Graham Rogers is encountering on his MacBook Pro, but it's a relatively painless thing to try.

The MacBook Air Project: Converting a MacBook Air into a Keyboard Computer

The MacBook Air Project blog chronicles and documents an attempt to turn a "busted up" MacBook Air into a computer in a keyboard.

Bart Reardon says that since the Air was announced and Steve Jobs held up that tiny motherboard, he's had an idea about installing an Air in a keyboard, specifically one of the old white Apple keyboards.

So with the opportunity handed to him, he set about determining what did and didn't work.

Tech Trends

Asustek Lowers 3Q10 Netbook Shipments Goal Due to iPad Competition

DigiTimes' Monica Chen and Adam Hwang report that

"Asustek Computer's netbook sales in the second quarter fall short of expectations mainly due to competition from Apple's iPad, and the company has consequently adjusted its target shipments downward for Q3, the traditional peak sales period, to 1.4 million units, according to company president and CEO Jerry Shen at an investors conference on August 13."

However, Chen and Hwang say Asustek will continue to offer Eee PC netbooks and also step into the tablet PC segment with its Eee Note and Eee Pad series.

17" 6-core Eurocom Panther 2.0 Laptop Workstation

Eurocom Panther 2.0PR: Canadian PC-maker Eurocom has announced a new line of 17.3" laptop computers featuring Intel 6-core CPUs, up to 4 TB of internal data storage, and Nvidia SLI with two GeForce GTX 480M or Nvidia Quadro FX 3800M graphics processor units.

The Eurocom Panther 2.0, described as "the world's first workstation class professional super-notebook," is projected to start shipping later this month in a base configuration with a 2.8 GHz Core i7 processor, 320 GB of storage, an ATI Radeon HD5870 graphics card and 6 GB of memory for of $2,631 (Can$2,999), although the laptop can be optioned up with Intel's fastest, 3.33 GHz Core i7-980X processor, 4 TB of storage and 24 GB of memory to cost as much as Can$9,000 (US$8,634) - a nosebleed inducing price level some of us recall from mid-90s top-of-the-line Apple PowerBooks. Windows 7 adds additional cost, or you can run Open Source RedHat System Architecture Linux.

Eurocom Panther 2.0Eurocom speculates that Panther 2.0 users might include industrial designers working with CAD (computer-aided design), CAE (computer-aided engineering), DCC (digital content creation), visualization, 3D and cinematic CGI artists, and financial traders.

The Panther 2.0's display is a LED backlit 17.3" full HD glossy 1920 x 1080 pixel unit, while the standard processors are Intel i7-980X Extreme or Xeon 5500/5600, 4- and 6-core LGA1366 CPUs with 32nm technology, up to 12 MB L3 cache, and thermal profiles from 65W to 130W, and supporting Intel's XTU (eXtreme Tuning Utility) and XMP (eXtreme Memory Profile) functions. The machine can accommodate up to four physical drives (mechanical or SSD); RAID 0/1/5/10; over 3 TB of storage.

A 3.0 Megapixels webcam is a $78 option, while optical drive options include DVD burner, Blu-ray reader, or Blu-ray burner, and 7-in-1 card reader support includes MS/MS Pro/MS Duo/SD/Mini-SD/SDHC/SDXC compatible/MMC/RSMMC, plus an ExpressCard slot.

Eurocom Panther 2.0Pointing is via a multi-gesture touchpad, and the Panther 2.0 is equipped with high definition audio, S/PDIF output, a built-in microphone; five speakers; a subwoofer; and Dolby Home Theater.

The comprehensive I/O port array includes 2 USB 3.0 ports; 3 USB 2.0 ports; HDMI-in 1.4; HDMI-out; DVI-DL; eSATA; 1 IEEE-1394b (FireWire) port; S/PDIF; headphone; microphone; audio line-in; RJ-45; and CATV-in.

As might be expected, with all that onboard power, estimated battery life is a worse than mediocre - "up to 1.5 hours" even with an 88.8 WH battery, so the Panther 2.0 is pretty much a desktop substitute by default, not to mention its "road hugging" weight of 11.66 lb. including battery and ODD. Available warranty plans include one, two, and three year coverage options.

Products & Services

SanDisk Introduces World's Smallest 64 GB Solid State Drive, First in New Embedded SSD Category

SanDisk iSSDPR: Flash memory cards specialist SanDisk Corporation has announced the first product in a new category of embedded solid state drives (SSD) that are smaller than a postage stamp and offer higher capacities and performance than existing storage solutions. The SanDisk integrated SSD (iSSD), the first high-capacity product within this new category, is designed for use in fast-growing mobile computing platforms such as tablet PCs and ultra-thin notebooks.

Computing platforms are responding to consumer demand for highly portable, ultra-thin, anywhere-anytime access to the Internet and their favorite content. The SanDisk iSSD drive is the first flash SSD device to support the industry standard SATA interface in a small BGA (Ball Grid Array) package that can be soldered onto any motherboard, and that is fast enough for use with advanced operating systems in next-generation mobile computing platforms.

"The new category of embedded SSDs should enable OEMs to produce tablets and notebooks with an unprecedented combination of thin, lightweight form factors and fast performance," says Doron Myersdorf, senior director, SSD marketing, SanDisk. "With our embedded flash storage leadership, SanDisk believes it is uniquely positioned to deliver the ultra compact SSD solutions needed by OEMs."

SanDisk iSSD"The ultra-thin tablet and mobile computer markets are expected to experience tremendous growth over the coming years, and new advanced platforms will introduce new requirements for storage solutions," says Jeff Janukowicz, research manager, solid state drives, IDC. "New embedded SSDs such as the SanDisk iSSD drive, which meet the stringent size requirements of small and light devices while offering greater performance, are designed to enable OEMs to deliver an enhanced user experience in their next-generation designs."

The SanDisk iSSD offers 160 MB/sec sequential read and 100 MB/sec sequential write speeds for greater system responsiveness(*). With no moving parts, the tiny, robust drive is designed to deliver the durability needed by portable devices that are frequently dropped or jostled. SanDisk iSSD offers a substantial level of design flexibility for OEMs who seek to create the next generation of tablets and ultra thin mobile devices based on the standard SATA interface.

The SanDisk iSSD is available now for sampling to OEMs, and is being evaluated by top-tier manufacturers. Measuring 16mm x 20mm x 1.85mm and weighing less than one gram, the drive uses a BGA form factor and a SATA interface, and is compatible with all leading operating systems. SanDisk iSSD is available in capacities ranging from 4 GB to 64 GB, with pricing dependent upon the quantity ordered.

$50 Rebate on a New Duo Dual Display Extender

PR: Buy a new CinemaView Duo Dual Display Extender and submit proof of purchase for two CinemaView 24 displays, get $50!

Sure, it's cool to use two big 24" LCD displays with your Mac. But it's even cooler to save $50 in the process.

If you buy a new CV Duo dual display extender from our online store or from a CinemaView dealer, you can save $50 just by submitting a simple rebate form and proof of purchase for two CV 24 LCD displays - the displays may be bought at any time, including ones you already own. Just go to our website for the rebate program details and to download the rebate form.

The CinemaView Duo plugs into any Mac with a Mini DisplayPort connector and provides two Mini DisplayPorts. Plug in a pair of beautiful CV 24 LCD displays and enjoy an amazing 3840 x 1080 pixels of additional screen.

If you have a MacBook Pro, you can have your normal display there, plus add 4,147,200 additional pixels spread across two 24" CinemaView displays.

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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