The 'Book Review

Living with an Eee PC and Linux, Quicky3 and Wi-Fire Range Boosters, LaCie USB 3.0 Drives, and More

This Week's MacBook, PowerBook, and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2010.09.10

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

Bargain 'Books

News & Opinion

Living with an Eee PC and Ubuntu Linux

ATPM's Wes Meltzer says:

"I love my Mac laptops. I really do. They have everything that's great about a Mac: rock-solid Unix back end, Apple front end, great hardware with solid industrial design and build quality, and of course all the software I need. I don't know where I'd be without it.

"But they're also kind of heavy...."

Meltzer's long, interesting article explains in great detail why he chose a $279 Asus Eee PC netbook to supplement his MacBook Pro and MacBook instead of, say, an iPad, and why he runs Ubuntu Linux on it instead of Windows or a Hackintosh install of OS X.

Roulette at College: One MacBook or Three Windows Netbooks?

ZDNet blogger Zack Whittaker asks whether you would buy your child a Mac at three or four times the price of a non-Apple laptop if you knew the latter might not last the year?

Whittaker notes that Apple has overtaken other major PC manufacturers such as HP, Dell, and Toshiba in the student laptop space, but he argues that most universities run Windows throughout, and the compatibility between Macs and PCs is still not there, observing that Ubuntu struggles at times, as does Mac OS X, simply because they're not Windows.

He complains that Macs are expensive and that a bog standard PC laptop bought each year for three years makes up the cost of a basic MacBook.

Well, maybe, if the PC laptops are netbooks (Amazon.com's current bestsellers are in the $275 to $360 range), and even then it's a stretch with the base MacBook selling for $999 or less.

What Whittaker overlooks are the same two crucial points that so many PC-centric advocates don't acknowledge: The user experience with a Mac can't be equated with life on a Windows PC in a whole congery of nuances, and Macs typically last like anvils.

In automobiles, if you want a BMW, Jaguar, or Mercedes Benz driving experience, you'll happily pay the price premium if you can afford it for objective superiority. It's analogous with the Mac OS. Some of us deem the extra upfront cost worth it and get the bonus of Apple's industrial design and hardware quality in the bargain. There is some indication that certain PC hardware (Acer recently) is catching up to Apple in quality, but you can only (legally) run the Mac OS on an Apple computer, which will still typically outlast a cheapo PC by a factor large enough to make the total cost of ownership an arguable point.

Can Netbooks and iPads Coexist?

Computerworld's Serdar Yegulalp says the term "disruptive" fits when referencing the two products that have taken personal computing by storm over the past couple of years: the iPad and the netbook.

Yegulalp notes that there's been a lot of talk about whether the iPad will displace the netbook - or even gobble up market share currently occupied by mainstream desktop and laptop computers - observing that netbooks have formed a market niche of their own alongside and apart from other PCs. However, the iPad has a long way to go before it becomes a netbook killer - partly because it has already created a space all its own, and while its initial sales performance has been impressive, it's not yet clear how many non-Apple users will opt for the iPad, with the waters about to be muddied further by the imminent arrival of competing tablets powered by Android and Windows 7.

Options for a Dead MacBook Pro

Extensions' Graham K. Rogers says he began experiencing problems with his 15" MacBook Pro in late July after four months of perfect behavior. The 'Book began to freeze intermittently, and despite several attempts at repair and a couple of glimmers of false hope, it finally died on him in the middle of August.

He's considering his options, both for the long term and for the short term, noting that Apple has released a patch for the MacBook Pro to address "a rare issue that may cause the system to freeze" - but with no OS, he can't install it, and the inability to boot and reinstall OS X suggests that something more serious may be amiss with his machine, also noting that a thread he's been following on the freezing problem has reached some 67 pages.

Products & Services

LaCie Introduces World's Smallest Mobile and Desktop USB 3.0 Hard Drives

LaCie Minimus and Rikiki hard drivesPR: LaCie has debuted a brace of sleek USB 3.0 hard drives for your desktop or pocket - the LaCie Minimus and LaCie Rikiki USB 3.0. Proving size does matter, LaCie delivers what it claims to be the industry's fastest transfer speeds at 5 Gb/s* in its ultra-small Rikiki form factor - perfect for users who refuse to sacrifice performance for mobility; and the LaCie Minimus - for users who enjoy their terabytes as much as desk space.

Complementing their remarkably small sizes, the Rikiki and Minimus hard drives are encased in sturdy brushed aluminum for an elegant aesthetic appeal. The aluminum offers resilience from blunders, improved heat dissipation, and is fully recyclable.

Designed to be simple from the inside out, the Rikiki and Minimus come with LaCie's Software Suite to ensure seamless setup and backup support for Mac or PC. Additionally, each product comes with 10 GB of Wuala online storage so you can securely store and share files online.

"The Minimus and Rikiki USB 3.0 offer our customers easy and affordable options to access the super speeds of USB 3.0," says Philippe Rault, LaCie Consumer Product Manager. "Since these products offer backward compatibility with USB 2.0, they will work on any PC or Mac with no worry."

LaCie Minimus hard driveFeatures:

  • Ultra - compact mobile and desktop designs
  • Fastest interface on the market: USB 3.0
  • Aluminum casing for sturdy data protection LaCie Software Suite for PC and Mac (USB 2 support only as yet on Macs)

The LaCie Rikiki USB 3.0 is available in a 500 GB capacity at $99.99. The LaCie Minimus is available in a 1 TB capacity at $129.99. Both products are available through the LaCie Online Store, LaCie Corner, and LaCie Resellers.

Publisher's note: To date, no Macs have built-in USB 3.0 ports. Although there are a few USB 3.0 ExpressCard and PCI Express cards available for Windows computers, there are currently no Mac OS X drivers for them. Fortunately, USB 3.0 drives are fully backward compatible with USB 2.0, so you can buy a USB 3.0 drive knowing that when Apple finally supports the new standard, your drive will be able to take advantage of it. dk

* Based on theoretical rate given by the USB - IF. More info on http://www.usb.org.

Quicky3 USB WiFi Range Booster with One Mile Line-of-Sight Range

Quicky3PR: QuickerTek Inc. introduces the newest 802.11n device, the Quicky3. The Quicky3 is the third generation Quicky, and an improvement over the previous Quicky models. Having a mile line-of-sight range, this 802.11b/g/n 2.4 GHz unit draws half as much power as the 1st and 2nd generation models and has the theoretical limit of 300 megabits per second of 802.11n (the previous models were 802.11b/g, which ran 54 megabits per second). The Quicky3 has a detachable 5 dBi high gain antenna so that you can connect other antennas. It is available from QuickerTek's webstore or from participating resellers.

Quicky3 works on any Mac with any open USB port with Mac OS X 10.4.x, 10.5.x, and 10.6.x It conforms to the wireless standards 802.11b/g/n, making it compatible with all networks - not exclusively AirPort networks. In fact, it should work on most, if not all, wireless networks, especially modern ones like; D-Link, Linksys, and Belkin, just to name a few. Quicky3 supports 64/128-bit WEP, WPA2 (AES with IEEE 802.11x), and WPA (TKIP with IEEE 802.11x) wireless encryption.

Like most QuickerTek products, the new Quicky3 is backed with a one-year warranty on parts and labor. The Quicky3 can be purchased from QuickerTek's web store or from a participating reseller.

The Power of the Wi-Fire with the Simplicity and Feel of Apple's AirPort

PR: hField Technologies has just launched a new generation of software for its Wi-Fire device for use with the Macintosh. Now, Mac users who love the Wi-Fire's long range and high performance also get the comfortable look and feel they're used to with Apple's AirPort.

Wi-FireThe Wi-Fire is a compact, range-extending USB device that enables you to access a wireless Internet connection from up to 1,000 feet away - three times the range of your internal wireless adapter. WiFire is palm-sized, easy-to-use and, overall, claimed to be the longest range adapter on the market. Its portability and long range make it a natural for travelers and other WiFi users who want to connect at their convenience, not a network's whims.

The Wi-Fire uses a powerful directional antenna, highly sensitive receiver, and proprietary software to find and enhance normal WiFi signals. With it, you can connect wirelessly to the Internet - even at low signal strengths - faster, more reliably, and with a more consistently strong connection - than you are able to with an internal wireless adapter.

The Wi-Fire draws very little power from your laptop battery. It comes complete with everything you need to connect wirelessly to the Internet. Just install the Wi-Fire Connection Manager, plug the Wi-Fire into an available USB port, and you're ready to start. It can rest on any flat surface, laptop display, or flat screen monitor.

Wi-Fire Connection Manager See More Connections

The Wi-Fire Connection Manager reveals all available networks in the area - more than you've ever seen without the Wi-Fire. Simply rotate the Wi-Fire to maximize the signal strength for one of your desired networks, select the strongest available network - public access or private and encrypted - and then click connect. You're now connected in places you never were before! Enjoy your new freedom and convenience.

Experience Faster Speeds

The Wi-Fire will provide higher speeds at low signal strengths than your typical internal adapter and competing "high performance" products. It has even beat Draft 802.11n products in range and speed at long distances.

Surf Full Speed, Full Size

The Wi-Fire allows you to surf the Web, tap remote applications, download large files, stream audio and video - without squinting at a tiny screen and thumb typing on a credit card-size keyboard. And just try performing essential online tasks on a painfully slow cell phone connection. You could wander around, searching for the closest and strongest access point. You could suffer through a spotty, slow connection that drops at the most inopportune time.

With its integrated directional antenna, highly sensitive receiver, and proprietary software working together to enhance normal WiFi signals, Wi-Fire gives Windows, Linux, and Macintosh users the freedom to connect to WiFi networks when they want, where they want. Users benefit from the increased mobility and greater range, maintaining faster speeds at longer range in comparison to other standard WiFi adapters.

The Wi-Fire multiplies the effectiveness of wireless networks and eliminates those nasty dead spots that plague users. The Wi-Fire allows users to connect to a WiFi network from up to 1,000 feet - more than three times the range of other 802.11 adapters - often at significantly higher speeds, and even in locations where no wireless signal could be detected previously. Independent testing has shown the Wi-Fire outperforms 802.11n adapters at distance; delivering greater throughput and a more stable connection.

The New Wi-Fire Connection Manager 2.0 for Mac

hField's new version 2.0 for Mac runs from a convenient unobtrusive icon in the Mac's Menu Bar, just like AirPort. All of the important details about the connections around you - and you'll see plenty with the Wi-Fire - are revealed in the new GUI interface, which is easily launched from the Menu Extra.

This newest version can be downloaded from <http://www.hfield.com/download/Wi-FireInstaller_Mac_2_0.zip>

It works on PowerPC and Intel Mac's with OS X 10.4, 10.5, and 10.6.

hField's retail price for Wi-Fire is $59, and it is available now at hfield.com and participating retailers.

"Wi-Fire is the perfect device - lightweight and easy to use - for the seriously mobile computer user with high bandwidth needs, and those who have problems connecting to their regular wireless network because of distance, obstacles or other interference," says Tom DiClemente, hField's CEO. "We're dedicated to empowering people to connect better, faster, and more economically. And now, Wi-Fire offers a compelling Mac feel™

Kanguru Adds Cross Platform Functionality to Remotely Manageable, Hardware Encrypted USB Flash Drives

PR: Kanguru Solutions announced it has added Mac and Linux to the list of compatible platforms for its Kanguru Defender Elite manageable, secure flash drives.

The Kanguru Defender Elite offers security features including: 256-bit AES Hardware Encryption, Remote Management Capabilities, On-board antivirus, Tamper Resistant Design, and FIPS 140-2 Certification. The addition of GUI support for Mac and Linux opens Kangurus secure flash drives to a wider audience, allowing Mac and Linux users to benefit from its industry leading security features.

"The importance of cross platform functionality cant be overstated. Many organizations are utilizing more than one type of operating system in their day to day operations." says Don Brown, CEO of Kanguru Solutions. "Mac and Linux usage is an integral part of many organizations' IT infrastructure, so it is critical that our secure drives work with those systems."

The Kanguru Defender Elites security features help organizations meet some of the strict new security regulations outlined in the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH ACT), and Massachusetts 201 CMR 17. These regulations and more like them in development can penalize organizations that aren't taking the necessary precautions to safeguard their data.

"Our goal has been to develop the most comprehensive set of security features ever built into a USB thumb drive. says Nate Cote, Kanguru's VP of Product Management. "And part of that includes making them work across various platforms. Encryption and remote management are only useful if they work within your organizations IT infrastructure."

The Kanguru Defender Elite currently works with:

  • Windows XP and above
  • Mac OS X 10.5 and above
  • Red Hat 5
  • Ubuntu 10

Additional compatibility is in development for several other Linux distributions and connectivity options.

Floater T3 Vertical Stand for 15" Unibody MacBook Pro and Unibody MacBook

Floater T3 Vertical StandPR: The Floater T3 stand's side panels are as narrow as possible to ensure perfect stability and the easiest fit. It may look unstable, but it's claimed that the Floater will not move. The reason for this great stability is cited as the precision, to a tenth of a millimeter, used to calculate the right gap between the two panels so Floater and MacBook Pro fit together snugly. The inside of the panels is covered with very thin sheets of silicon that protect the computer without interfering with cooling performance.

And, since every MacBook Pro is unique, the designers have left 2mm room for adjustment where the panels join.

Models are available for the MacBook Pro 15"(Unibody) and MacBook (Unibody)

  • MacBook Pro 17" (Early 2009 Unibody model~)
  • MacBook Pro 15" (Late 2008 Unibody model)
  • MacBook 13" (Late 2008 Unibody model)

Price: $298

USB Phone World Won Its Trusted Seller Status on Laptop Batteries and Laptop AC Adapters

PR: Online computer accessory retailer USB Phone World has just been awarded the distinctions of "5-Star," and "Trusted Seller" status from NexTag, a widely-trusted comparison-shopping website.

USB Phone World is an online retailer of laptop batteries, laptop AC adapters, and other mobile technology accessories. Their products are suited for all major brands including Dell, HP, IBM, Sony, Toshiba, and others. Established in 2006, USB Phone World has rapidly grown as leader for sales in this field, offering customers the most competitive prices on their products, all backed with superior service.

Both "5-Star" and "Trusted Seller" honors from NexTag are extremely difficult to attain, going only to retailers that consistently provide the best products and services to their customers in comparison to competing retailers advertising on the site.

USB Phone World strives for 100% customer satisfaction with a 30-day money-back guarantee on every product. Customer services issues, when they arise at all, are solved in a timely manner and always in the customer's favor. As a result, thousands are making USB Phone World their go-to source for laptop batteries, power cords, and other accessories.

NexTag "Trusted Seller" have to meet a number of stringent and specific criteria to be considered. Eligible sellers must be listed on the site for at least six months, get positive reviews from customers, provide accurate information on products and services, accurately represent their product's condition, honor their own prices and policies, and promptly resolve all customer issues.

"5-Star" status is purely a measure of customer experience on the site, averaging individual customer ratings. This star rating shows, at a glance, that those who have purchased from the seller have had overwhelmingly satisfying experiences dealing with them, at least among customers who have taken the time to leave a review.

These two metrics allow NexTag visitors to shop not only based on price, but on the quality of the products and services provided.

USB Phone World's best-selling products include laptop batteries for Apple, Dell, and others, AC adapter for Dell, laptop battery for HP, AC adapter for HP, Compaq laptop battery, Compaq laptop power cord, laptop batter for Sony, Sony AC adapter, and Sony power cord.

Apple Laptop Batteries

  • 4400 mAh Li-ion Battery A1061 for 12" iBook G3/G4
    Regular Price: $179.95
    Sale Price: $47.79, 2/$90, 5/$215
  • 6600 mAh Li-ion Battery M7318 661-2183 M7385G/A for WallStreet PowerBook G3 Series
    Regular Price: $149.95
    Sale Price: $74.95
  • 5000 mAh Li-ion Apple A1175 Laptop Battery for 15" MacBook Pro
    Regular Price: $129.75
    Sale Price: $69.79, 2/$132, 5/$314
  • 5600 mAh Lithium Polymer Apple A1185 Laptop Battery for 13" MacBook MA & MB Series
    Regular Price: $129.75
    Sale Price: $54.99, 2/$104, 5/$247
  • 5400 mAh Li-ion Battery A1039 A1057 M8983 for 17" PowerBook G4
    Regular Price: $179.95
    Sale Price: $63.87, 2/$120, 5/$300
  • 4400 mAh Li-ion Laptop Battery for 15" PowerBook G4 A1045
    Regular Price: $189.95
    Sale Price: $69.95
  • 4400 mAh Li-ion Laptop Battery for 12" PowerBook G4 A1079 A1022 M9324 M8984
    Regular Price: $199.95
    Sale Price: $58.54
  • 4400 mAh Li-ion Laptop Battery M8858 for 15" Titanium PowerBook G4
    Regular Price: $179.95
    Sale Price: $57.91, 2/$110, 5/$260
  • 5400 mAh Li-ion Battery M9326G/A for 17" PowerBook G4
    Regular Price: $179.95
    Sale Price: $69.95

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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