The 'Book Review

Premature Momentus Failure in MacBook, Superfast ExpressCard Compact Flash Adapter, the LED Future, and More

This Week's Mac Notebook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2007.10.05

This Week's MacBook, PowerBook, and iBook News

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

General Apple and Mac desktop news is covered in The Mac News Review. iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV news is covered in The iNews Review.

News & Opinion

Apple Updates

Products

Bargain 'Books

News & Opinion

Seagate Momentus Premature Drive Failure Reported in MacBooks

MacInTouch reader Steven Gold reports:

"This 'heads-up' from the data-recovery group where I work:

"'I just wanted to drop a quick line out there to give a heads up on a problem I have been seeing more and more frequently at the CDB Data Recovery Center.

"I have been noticing that the Seagate Momentus 5400.2 SATA laptop drives from MacBooks (60 GB and up) have been coming in with failures. These hard drive failures are quite severe. When I send these drives out to the facility <<name deleted but *very* well known>> that handles our heavy damage / invasive data recoveries, they are unable to get any data from the drives as well."

The Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, and the Apple UMPC

AppleMatters' James R. Stoup says:

"I am beginning to think that the iPhone euphoria has finally gotten to some bloggers out there because I keep reading ridiculous stories about Apple and their fabled UMPC (that's Ultra Mobile Personal Computer for those of you who are acronymly-challenged). Both CNet and AppleInsider are convinced that we are mere months away from seeing the first glimpse of this device. Why suddenly people think that a useless product with fundamental flaws and no real market can succeed if only Apple makes it is beyond me. Guess what? Apple won't be making an 'OS X Tablet' or a 'New & Improved Newton' anytime soon, so stop battling the forces of reality and just accept that fact."

For some contrary-minded views on this topic, see my column "PhoneBook" or "ThinBook?" - Crossover MacBook Pro Speculation Gains Traction. cm

Which MacBook to Buy, and When?

The San Antonio Express-News's Mac Guy addresses the dilemma of whether to buy a MacBook or a MacBook Pro and when to buy:

"While both the MacBook and MacBook Pros are good systems, you get more RAM and larger hard drives on the MacBook Pros. The latest MacBook Pros hold up to 4 GB RAM and have more memory on their video cards as well. The MacBook Pro is definitely the way to go if you need maximum memory and storage. The smaller MacBook Pro has a 15-inch screen, so it is not as petite as the MacBook or the older 12-inch PowerBook G4, but you have to make a trade-off between memory and video capacity on the one hand and small form factor on the other."

MacBook Workmanlike, Cool

The Sunday Times' Alex Pell says:

"The best low-price laptops have grown into surprisingly complete performers: perfect matches for cash-strapped students among others

"The laptop has moved from being a rep's standby and an executive's toy to a useful piece of kit for everyone from schoolchildren upwards. And for university-bound students a laptop (also known as a notebook) is as essential as daytime TV or subsidised beer....

"Style Guru

"Apple MacBook 2 GHz

"Workmanlike, yet still exudes cool

"Apple's budget laptop range contains much the same technology as its pricier Pro brethren and the neat plastic chassis shows few obvious signs of corner cutting. The 13.3in screen is compact but bright, clear and colourful. The large keys proved capable and the battery lasted 5 hr 34 min. Its Intel Core 2 Duo processor handled the Apple software well and it can also run Windows, though that must be bought separately. The MacBook weighs just 2.3 kg but its value is eroded by a skimpy 80 GB hard drive, only 1 GB of RAM and no DVD writer on the model as tested. The older iPod-white style case is overdue a redesign too."

Santa Rosa MacBook Pro: The Green & Gold Standard

InfoWorld's Tom Yager reports:

"I got stung by my last MacBook Pro review which went to press before the unit started showing problems with build quality and durability. I would not have pronounced it so with confidence any sooner than this, but I can state now that today's MacBook Pro stands head and shoulders above Apple's prior flagship Intel notebooks, and sets a standard for performance, features, durability, eco-responsibility and quality that any PC vendor will find difficult to approach for a similar price.

"The Santa Rosa MacBook Pro (named for the Intel Core 2 Duo chipset used in the notebook), perhaps also known as the LED backlit MacBook Pro, has earned its stripes. If this notebook had a frequent flier account of its own, it would have racked up enough travel miles in my carry-on bag to qualify for Gold status. I figure that this is a fitting milestone for writing this machine up, because by this point, most notebooks, including some from Apple, would be showing their age. This machine looks, feels and runs like it did when it came out of the box. Considering how sweet it was new, that's saying something.

"Apple has transcended PC notebooks. The Santa Rosa MacBook Pro doesn't look or feel like any notebook you've ever driven, even if your present notebook is a Mac. It's built."

LED Displays to Dominate Apple, Sony Notebooks

Electronista reports:

High-profile companies like Apple and Sony may produce as much as a third of their notebooks with advanced LED-backlit displays by next year, according to reported insiders from the LCD panel industry. These companies in particular are expected to replace at least 20 to 30 percent of their notebook lineups with the new technology by 2008 or 2009 at the latest as they seek to improve the displays across more of their existing lines....

The improvement would let both desktop replacement systems and thin-and-light notebooks produce more uniform colors, save power, and reduce their thickness compared to traditional displays with cold-cathode fluorescent (CCFL) backlights.

Apple Updates

Battery Update 1.3 for 15" MacBook Pro

Battery Update 1.3 updates battery firmware and addresses battery performance issues with the 15-inch MacBook Pro. Your computer's power cord must be connected and plugged into a working power source while running this update.

After the Battery Update has been installed, any additional batteries you put in your 15-inch MacBook Pro are automatically updated.

480 KB

System Requirements

  • Mac OS X 10.4.10
  • MacBook Pro (15-inch)
Link: About Battery Update 1.3
Link: Battery Update 1.3

Products

Synchrotech ExpressCard to Compact Flash Adapter

PR: Blast past the limitations of USB 2.0 based ExpressCard adapters! Synchrotech's CFExpressPro+ PCIe ExpressCard to Compact Flash adapter is based on the 2.5 Gbps PCIe portion of the ExpressCard standard. Designed for ExpressCard 34 and 54 slots, the CFExpressPro+ PCIe ExpressCard to Compact Flash adapter allows fast and reliable access to data stored on Compact Flash memory media cards.

ExpressCard to CompactFlash AdapterPerfect for digital photographers and other users of Compact Flash memory cards, the CFExpressPro+ PCIe ExpressCard to Compact Flash adapter allows for fast access to Compact Flash contents at speeds comparable to FireWire 800 devices, and much, much faster than USB 2.0 based devices.

Light and compact, the CFExpressPro+ PCIe ExpressCard to Compact Flash adapter slides into a ExpressCard 34 or 54 slot on notebooks, MacBook Pros, and specially equipped desktop computers. The CFExpressPro+ ExpressCard to Compact Flash Adapter supports PIO and UDMA, meaning it takes full advantage of speeds with newer UDMA 4 Compact Flash Cards like SanDisk Extreme IV. At 25 grams, the adapter is lightweight and easily stores for traveling.

Features and Specifications

  • ExpressCard 34 Form Factor For Maximum Compatibility
  • Provides PCIe speeds of 2.5 Gbps rather than USB 2.0 speeds of 0.46 Gbps
  • Suitable for MacBook Pro or computers and notebooks equipped with ExpressCard 34 | 54 slots
  • Supports Compact Flash Type I and II, PIO mode, and UDMA mode (Compact Flash Specification Rev. 4.1)
  • Extreme high speed for Compact Flash in UDMA mode, data transfer speeds (sequential read/write) up to 40 MB/sec
  • Compliant with ExpressCard standard running on PCI-e interface
  • Support power saving mode to reduce power consumption
  • Push-In Push-Out Connector For Easy Removal
  • Reliable and rugged stainless steel cover
  • Apple MacBook Pro Ready
  • Supports Hot-Swapping

Host Card

  • ExpressCard 34 (PCIe Standard)

Media Accepted

  • Compact Flash Type I and II
  • Compact Flash II+ Hard Drives, including Microdrives
  • Does NOT work with CF+ I/O Devices

System Requirements

  • Computer or Card Reader with an ExpressCard 34 or 54 Slot
  • OS X 10.4 or later
  • Windows 2000, XP, The Vista

Transfer Rate

  • Up to 2.5 Gbps (PCIe)

Physical Characteristics

  • Dimensions: 34 x 101 x 10mm
  • Weight: 25g (approximate)

Electrical Characteristics

  • 3.3V ± 5% directly from ExpressCard socket

$65.00

Spire Releases New Courier Bags

PR: No matter what size laptop you own, we've got you covered. Perfect fit, great protection, and an abundance of pockets with easy access to all your gizmos. Life is good! Viro - For small (up to 14.1") widescreen laptops such as 13" MacBook; Endo For mid-sized (15.4") widescreen laptops such as 15" MacBook Pro; Mojo For large (17") widescreen laptops such as: 17" MacBook Pro

Spire Courier BagsViro - For small (up to 14.1") widescreen laptops such as 13" MacBook

14" laptop bag]Lightweight, compact and highly mobile, the Viro is designed to hold small widescreen laptops such as the Apple MacBook 13" and 14.1" PCs perfectly.

All new for 2008, the Viro courier bag offers outstanding protection, convenience and versatility. It's small enough that you won't be knocking into people on the L train, yet big enough to hold all the essentials. Features include:

  • TripleShock padding system
  • Mesh water bottle pocket
  • Beefy 2" single-buckle closure
  • Die-cut reflective ovals
  • Multiple internal and external pockets
  • Pass-through for rolling luggage handle
  • Removable key fob
  • MP3 pocket with headphone grommet
  • Padded handle with anti-sag reinforcement
  • Removable waist strap
  • Glow-in-the-dark zipper pulls
  • Rugged 1680D Ballistic nylon exterior
  • Light gray interior
  • Asymmetrical shoulder strap pad
  • Lifetime warranty against defects

2008 Viro Specs

  • Product Code VR8
  • Price $80.00
  • Laptop Compartment 13.5" x 10.5" x 1.25"
  • External Dims 14.5" x 12.0" x 4.5"
  • Capacity 780 Cubic Inches
  • Weight 2.0 Lbs
  • External Fabric 1680 Denier Ballistic Nylon
  • External Pockets 6
  • Internal Pockets 4 (+ 2 Pen Pockets)
  • Padded Handle Yes
  • Padded Shoulder Strap Yes
  • Removable Waist Strap Yes

Endo For mid-sized (15.4") widescreen laptops such as 15" MacBook Pro

15" laptop bag]Redesigned for 2008, the Endo is designed to hold mid-sized widescreen laptops such as the Apple MacBook 15" and 15.4" PCs perfectly.

EN8_MID180.jpg

The Endo courier bag offers outstanding protection, convenience and versatility. When you want one bag to use and abuse every day, this is it. Features include:

  • TripleShock padding system
  • Mesh water bottle pocket
  • Beefy 2" single-buckle closure
  • Die-cut reflective ovals
  • Multiple internal and external pockets
  • Pass-through for rolling luggage handle
  • Removable key fob
  • MP3 pocket with headphone grommet
  • Padded handle with anti-sag reinforcement
  • Removable waist strap
  • Glow-in-the-dark zipper pulls
  • Rugged 1680D Ballistic nylon exterior
  • Light gray interior
  • Asymmetrical shoulder strap pad
  • Lifetime warranty against defects

2008 Endo Specs

  • Product Code EN8
  • Price $90.00
  • Laptop Compartment 14.5" x 10.5" x 1.5"
  • External Dims 16.0" x 12.0" x 5.0"
  • Capacity 960 Cubic Inches
  • Weight 2.2 Lbs
  • External Fabric 1680 Denier Ballistic Nylon
  • External Pockets 6
  • Internal Pockets 4 (+ 2 Pen Pockets)
  • Padded Handle Yes
  • Padded Shoulder Strap Yes
  • Removable Waist Strap Yes

Mojo For large (17") widescreen laptops such as: 17" MacBook Pro

17" laptop bag]All new for 2008, the Mojo is designed to hold large widescreen laptops such as the Apple MacBook 17" and 17" PCs perfectly.

The Mojo courier bag offers outstanding protection, convenience and versatility. It's big - but not extremely so. Carries your 17" laptop plus books and files with ease. Features include:

  • TripleShock padding system
  • Mesh water bottle pocket
  • Beefy 2" single-buckle closure
  • Die-cut reflective ovals
  • Multiple internal and external pockets
  • Pass-through for rolling luggage handle
  • Removable key fob
  • MP3 pocket with headphone grommet
  • Padded handle with anti-sag reinforcement
  • Removable waist strap
  • Glow-in-the-dark zipper pulls
  • Rugged 1680D Ballistic nylon exterior
  • Light gray interior
  • Asymmetrical shoulder strap pad
  • Lifetime warranty against defects

2008 Mojo Specs

  • Product Code MJ8
  • Price $100.00
  • Laptop Compartment 15.75" x 11.5" x 2.0"
  • External Dims 17.5" x 13.0" x 6.0"
  • Capacity 1360 Cubic Inches
  • Weight 2.6 Lbs
  • External Fabric 1680 Denier Ballistic Nylon
  • External Pockets 6
  • Internal Pockets 4 (+ 2 Pen Pockets)
  • Padded Handle Yes
  • Padded Shoulder Strap Yes
  • Removable Waist Strap Yes

Note: The Mojo is the bag that replaced the Endo XL.

Backpackshield.com Offers Bullet Resistant Computer Backpacks

PR: BackPackShield Manufacturing has announced a series of Level IIIA bullet resistant portable shields for student backpacks, computer bags, brief cases and other portable cases and bags. Impermeable to most handgun bullets, the shields are portable and can be moved between backpacks and bags, securing the investment and offering years of use.

The patented bullet resistant Dupont Kevlar BackPackShield™ is a light weight armor panel insert manufactured with the most advanced and lightest aerospace ballistic composite material available.

Manufactured with more than ten layers of bullet resistant Dupont Kevlar™ fabric, which has ten times the tensile strength of steel, the layers are bound and epoxy impregnated into a sheet less than 1Ú2" thick and weighing less than a typical textbook. Retailing for $249, for a standard size which fits most student backpacks, the shields are available in more than 10 colors to allow discretion, or personalization. The BackPackShields come with an installation kit with removable Velcrowhich allows easy removal, washing, and portability.

Stronger than a sewn in level II liner, the BackPackShield is N.I.J. Level IIIA & stops hardened higher velocity 9 mm and 44 Magnum Full Metal Jacket (copper) rounds flat in their tracks. The patented DuPont Kevlar multilayer ballistic composite BackPackShield. Weighs less than a text book, 17" high by 12 " wide, less than 1/2" thick, and fits inside 100's of standard size (High School & Collegiate) backpacks. It's available in a variety of school colors, optional personalized photo (i.e. favorite athlete, pet, team, mascot etc.)

"Unlike weaker level II ballistic curtains that are permanently sewn into bags, BackPackShields are manufactured to a much higher National Institute of Justice (N.I.J.) Level IIIA specification," said Kerry Clark, President of BackPackShield and defense contractor and supplier AMPTEC RESEARCH Corp. "Level IIIA protection specifications can stop even the hardened full metal jacketed high velocity handgun bullets including 9 mm and 44 Magnum that pass right through a level II bulletproof liner."

A full line of shields are available which support common laptop computer carrying cases from most manufacturers, including Dell, HP, Sony and Toshiba. Custom sizes and shapes can also be ordered. Additional information, prices and specifications are available on the company's web site at Backpackshield.com

BackPackShield manufacturing, located in Austin, TX, was founded by Kerry Clark. Clark is also the President of defense and aerospace supplier Amptec Research Corp. Clark has more than 27 years of experience in developing and designing explosive safety products for safely testing high explosive ordnance such as missile warheads for the USAF, US Navy, Lockheed Martin and Boeing Company. Inspired while working with the USAF Special Operations, who were lining their MH-53J PAVLOW Attack Helicopters with bullet resistant Kevlar™, Clark realized that a light thin semi-rigid backpack shield that stops virtually every handgun round could be discretely added to student and collegiate backpacks, providing both protection and peace of mind for students and families.

Bargain 'Books

Bargain 'Books are used unless otherwise indicated. New and refurbished units have a one-year Apple warranty and are eligible for AppleCare.

There are two different versions of WallStreet running at 233 MHz, the cacheless MainStreet version and the later Series II with a level 2 cache. It's not always possible to determine from the vendor's listing which is being offered, so we've included links within this paragraph to the two models. The same goes for the PowerBook G4/667 (VGA) and G4/667 (DVI), the titanium vs. aluminum 15" PowerBook G4 at 1 GHz, and 1.25 GHz to 1.5 GHz 15" PowerBooks.

PowerBook, iBook, and MacBook profiles linked in our Portable Mac Index.

Apple Special Deals

A couple more relatively low-end 15" MacBook Pro refurbs at The Apple Store this week starting at $1,499; a bunch of 17-inchers, including one below $2,000, but fewer MacBook models. cm

  • refurb 1.83 GHz Core Duo MacBook, white, 512/60/Combo, $799
  • refurb 2.0 GHz Core Duo MacBook, white, 512/60/SD, $849
  • refurb 2.0 GHz Core 2 MacBook, white, 1 GB/80/SD, $999
  • refurb 2.16 GHz Core 2 MacBook, white, 1 GB/120/SD, $1,099
  • refurb 15" 2.16 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 1 GB/120/SD, $1,499
  • refurb 15" 2.2 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/120/SD, $1,699
  • refurb 15" 2.33 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/120/SD, $1,899
  • refurb 15" 2.4 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, $2,199
  • refurb 17" 2.16 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/120/SD, $1,999
  • refurb 17" 2.33 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, $2,199
  • refurb 17" 2.4 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, $2,399
  • refurb 17" hi-res 2.4 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, $2,599

TechRestore

TechRestore is offering a $25 discount to 'Book Review readers off any PowerBook or iBook in stock. Just enter the code CWM during checkout when ordering online. The coupon code is valid from now through 2007.12.31.

  • 12" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 256/80/SD, $799.99 less $25 = $774.99
  • 15" PowerBook G4/1.67 GHz, 512/80/SD, $1,049.99 less $25 = $1,024.99
  • 15" 1.83 GHz Core Duo MacBook Pro, 512/80/SD, $1,199.99 less $25 = $1,174.99
  • 15" 2.0 GHz Core Duo MacBook Pro, 1 GB/80/SD, $1,299.99 less $25 = $1,274.99
  • 15" 2.16 GHz Core Duo MacBook Pro, 2 GB/100/SD, $1,399.99 less $25 = $1,374.99
  • 17" PowerBook G4/1.67 GHz, 512/120/SD, High-Res, $1,249.99 less $25 = $1,224.99

Baucom Computers

  • 12" iBook G3/600, 256/15/CD, $219
  • 12" iBook G3/600, 384/15/CD, $229
  • 12" iBook G3/700, 256/20/Combo, $299
  • 12" iBook G3/700, 384/20/Combo, $309
  • Add AirPort for $69
  • 12" iBook G4/1.0 GHz, 512/30/Combo, $475
  • 12" iBook G4/1.2 GHz, 512/30/Combo, AirPort, $515
  • 15" PowerBook G4/867 MHz, 512/40/Combo, a few extra scratches, wear, $520
  • 15" PowerBook G4/867 MHz, 512/40/Combo, $555
  • Add AirPort for $69

Wegener Media

  • 12" iBook G3/500, 10/128/CD, $169.99
  • 12" iBook G3/600, 15/128/CD, $249.99
  • 12" iBook G3/700, 20/128/Combo, $329.99
  • 12" iBook G3/800, 30/256/Combo, $399.99
  • 12" iBook G3/900, 40/256/Combo, $489.99
  • 14" iBook G3/600, 20/256/Combo, 359.99
  • 14" iBook G3/800, 30/256/Combo, $469.99
  • 14" iBook G3/900, 40/256/Combo, $499.99

Power Max

  • open box 1.83 GHz Core 2 MacBook, white, 512/60/Combo, warranty started, $949
  • open box 2.0 GHz Core 2 MacBook, white, 1 GB/80/Combo, $1,029
  • open box 2.16 GHz Core 2 MacBook, black, 1 GB/160/SD, $1,449
  • open box 2.16 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 1 GB/120/SD, warranty started, $1699
  • open box 2.2 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2/120/SD, $1949
  • open box 15" 2.33 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/120/SD, $2,199
  • open box 17" 2.33 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, warranty started, $2,599
  • open box 17" 2.33 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, $2,688

ExperCom

  • 14" iBook G4/933 MHz, 128/40/Combo, APX, $499
  • 14" iBook G4/1 GHz, 128/60/SD, $579
  • 15" PowerBook G4/1 GHz, 256/60/SD, AP, $599
  • 15" PowerBook G4/1.33 GHz, 512/60/SD, no AirPort, $749
  • 17" PowerBook G4/1.33 GHz, 512/80/SD, scratched, $899
  • 17" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 1 GB/80/SD, small dent, $999
  • 17" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/80/SD, $1,049

PowerBook Guy

  • 12" iBook G3/500, 128/10/CD, $199.95
  • 12" iBook G3/500, 256/20/CD-RW, $239.95
  • 12" iBook G3/600, 128/20/CD, $219.95
  • 12" iBook G3/700, 256/20/Combo, $349.95
  • 12" iBook G3/800, 256/30/CD, $259.95
  • 12" iBook G4/1 GHz, 512/30/Combo Drive, $479.95
  • Pismo PowerBook G3/400, 192/6/Zip, $279.95
  • 14" iBook G4/1 GHz, 512/40/Combo, $529.95
  • 15" PowerBook G4/500, 256/20/DVD, $449.95
  • 15" PowerBook G4/800, 256/40/Combo, $599.95
  • 15" PowerBook G4/800, 256/40/Combo, $599.95
  • 15" titanium PowerBook G4/1 GHz, 256/60/SD, $729.95
  • 15" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/80/SD, APX, BT, $899.95

For more deals on current or recently discontinued models, see our MacBook deals, 15" MacBook Pro deals, 17" MacBook Pro deals, 12" PowerBook G4 deals, 15" and 17" PowerBook G4 deals, titanium PowerBook G4 deals, iBook G4 deals, PowerBook G3 deals, and iBook G3 deals.

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