The 'Book Review

The 'Book Review 2001.10.08

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2001.10.08

Except as noted, prices are in US dollars, bold links are to outside sites, and regular links lead to 'Book profiles on Low End Mac.

MCE Ships Expansion Bay DVD/CDRW Combo Drive, DVD Decoder Card for WallStreet PowerBook G3 Series

One of the relatively few shortcomings of the formidable WallStreet and PDQ G3 Series PowerBooks has been the rarity of Apple DVD kits for these models and the unavailability of a CD-RW expansion bay drive. Additionally, the stock 20x CD-ROM module is not the most robust or versatile, and it refuses to read CD-RW disks.

However, there is now a solution for all of these deficiencies.

MCE Technologies has added a DVD/CD-RW combo drive for the WallStreet/PDQ to their Xcarét Pro line of expansion bay devices, along with a separately available DVD Decoder CardBus Card, required in order to decode and playback DVD movies for customers who do not already own one.

The Xcarét Pro DVD/CDRW Combo Drive and the DVD Decoder CardBus Card are designed for the Apple PowerBook G3 Series (WallStreet), which includes the 300, 292, 266, 250, and 233 MHz models. The DVD Decoder CardBus Card is also designed for use with Apple PowerBook G3 Series (Bronze/Lombard) 333 MHz machines that do not have built-in DVD decoder hardware.

The Xcarét Pro DVD/CDRW Combo Drive writes to CD-R media at 4x, to CD-RW media at 4x, reads DVDs at 6x, and reads CD-ROMs at 24x. Both items are limited editions and are available in limited quantities for a limited time.

"Since the release of our Xcarét Pro 2000 Expansion Bay DVD/CDRW Combo Drive for the Lombard and Pismo PowerBooks a short time ago, we've received numerous requests from Wall Street owners for the same product but for their machines," said Arnold Ramirez, President of MCE Technologies. "We are happy for the opportunity now to fulfill those requests as well as to support a machine with such a large and devoted following."

The MCE Xcarét Pro Expansion Bay DVD/CDRW Combo Drive is designed to fit into the right-side expansion bay slot of the WallStreet. It gives users the ability to write data to recordable and rewritable CDs anywhere they can use their PowerBook. In addition, the device will read prerecorded CD-ROMs at 24x speeds. The device will ship with Roxio Toast CD-recording software.

As with all PowerBook expansion bay devices, the MCE Xcarét Pro Expansion Bay DVD/CDRW Combo Drive is truly portable in that it requires no external power since all power is supplied by the PowerBook.

The MCE DVD Decoder CardBus Card is an MPEG-2 decoder card designed for the lower PC Card slot of the WallStreet well as the PC Card slot of 333 MHz Lombard machines which do not have MPEG-2 decoding hardware built in. The DVD Decoder CardBus Card decodes MPEG-2 video data found on commercial DVDs and transmits the decoded video data to the PowerBook's LCD display at 30 fps full screen, full motion.

The MCE Xcarét Pro Expansion Bay DVD/CDRW Combo Drive retails for $449. This price includes the drive, Roxio Toast CD-recording software, owner's manual, one CD-R and one CD-RW media, and the MCE Xbay expansion bay device protective carrying case. Drives are compatible with Mac OS 8.6 through Mac OS X as well as Apple's iTunes and Disc Burner software. The DVD Decoder CardBus Card retails for $99.

MCE Ships FireBay FireWire Expansion Bay Docking Station

Also new from MCE is FireBay, a FireWire Expansion Bay Docking Station for expansion bay modules designed to fit the Pismo and Lombard PowerBooks. When plugged into the MCE FireBay, PowerBook expansion bay devices such as hard disks, CD/DVD-ROMs, CD-RWs, etc. become high speed, portable, FireWire devices usable on any Mac, PowerBook, or PC with a FireWire port.

"PowerBook expansion bay devices, previously usable only in the expansion bay slot of PowerBooks, are very capable devices on the cutting edge of miniaturization and technology," said Arnold Ramirez, President, MCE Technologies, LLC. "Our latest product, the FireBay, allows them to be used as high-speed, portable FireWire devices that can connect to any Mac or PC with FireWire ports."

The MCE FireBay is a small FireWire expansion bay into which a PowerBook expansion bay device is inserted. The FireBay gives PowerBook users the ability to use their expansion bay devices as an external FireWire device, and connect it to any machine, PowerBook, Mac, or PC, with a FireWire port. In addition, expansion bay devices can, for the first time, be used simultaneously instead of just one at a time and only in the PowerBook's single expansion bay. With the MCE FireBay one now has the ability to easily install software to an expansion bay hard drive from CD-ROM, as well as the ability to make CD to CD copies on the PowerBook using CD-RW and CD/DVD-ROM expansion bay devices simultaneously. Depending on the particular expansion bay device in use, the FireBay can be either bus-powered, or powered by an optional AC adapter.

Supported expansion bay devices include: Hard drives, CD-ROM/DVD drives, CD-RW drives, CD-RW/DVD Combo drives, and SuperDisk/Floppy drives.

Of particular interest to multimedia authors is the ability now to capture digital video on location using their PowerBook and expansion bay hard drive, and then later simply inserting the expansion bay hard drive into the MCE FireBay connected to their PowerMac G4 desktop machine for final editing and rendering.

The MCE FireBay can be used as a single, stand-alone unit or multiple FireBays can be stacked on top of each other. In addition to a standard FireWire port on the rear, each MCE FireBay has a topside FireWire port which connects to a port underneath each unit when stacked, thereby eliminating the need for extra cables.

The MCE FireBay FireWire Expansion Bay carries a retail price of $169 and ships with FireWire driver software, FireWire cable, and owner's manual.

New Madsonline PowerBook and iBook Cases

iBook Saver 2 for iBook (Dual USB)
  • Handmade in Germany for the iBook (Dual USB)
  • 4 mm neoprene provides protection from light impacts and scratches.
  • Felt-lined zippers for added scratch protection.
  • Comfortable and sturdy nylon handles.
  • Two mounting plates for Accessory Savers.
  • Can also be used as an inner for most carrying cases.
  • Available in black only.

Price: $58

G4 Saver for G4 SaverPowerBook G4
  • Handmade in Germany for the PowerBook G4
  • 4 mm neoprene provides protection from light impacts and scratches.
  • Felt-lined zippers for added scratch protection.
  • Comfortable and sturdy nylon handles.
  • Two mounting plates for Accessory Savers.
  • Can also be used as an inner for most carrying cases.
  • Available in black only.

Price: $58

G3 Productivity Case
  • Expandable gusseted front pocket.
  • Pocket for paper, G3 Productivity Casemagazines, pens, airline tickets, PDAs etc.
  • Made with tough Ballistics nylon - will not scuff or pick up lint. (Available in black only)
  • Comfortable reinforced leather handle and leather shoulder strap.
  • Pockets for CD or DVD drive. Extra pocket for CDs.
  • Large pockets for your AC adapter and cords.
  • Slip pocket for paper or a magazine
  • 1/4" closed cell foam to provide the best protection.
  • Top and bottom reinforced with mylar.
  • 30 day money back, lifetime warranty on materials and workmanship.
  • PowerBook can be used while in the case.

Price: ballistic nylon $99, black leather $150   

Leather Slimline G3 Case
  • Made with glove tanned leather.
  • Comfortable reinforced leather handle and shoulder strap.
  • Pockets for CD or DVD drive. Extra pocket for CDs.
  • Large pockets for your AC adapter and cords.
  • Slip pocket for paper or a magazine
  • 1/4" closed cell foam to provide the best protection.
  • Top and bottom reinforced with mylar.
  • PowerBook can be used while in the case.
  • 30 day money back, lifetime warranty on materials and workmanship.

Price: black leather $150, Nubuck tan $150

Brenthaven Titanium 1 Case

Brenthaven's Titanium 1 case includes a dual-action computer protection sleeve that safeguards your PowerBook and an acetal rod handle system and contoured shoulder strap for comfort. At 3.9 lbs., the Titanium 1 doesn't add a whole lot of weight to the TiBook.

Constructed of black military grade Ballistic nylon fabric, the Titanium 1 features an organizer compartment and quick-access pockets to provide storage for peripherals and accessories. The second compartment houses the removable computer sleeve, an accordion file and customized pockets for TiBook's AC adaptor and cable, spare batteries, and disks.

Specifications

  • Constructed of black military grade, ballistic nylon fabric
  • 2 compartment design: one for the computer, hardware accessories and accordion file; the other with an organizer panel and quick access pockets
  • Removable, dual-action computer protection sleeve
  • 4 computer hardware pockets, 3 media pockets, 3 quick access pockets for TiBook's AC adaptor and cable, spare batteries, and disks.
  • Wheelie strap for attaching to wheeled luggage
  • Fully padded, ergonomically shaped 1.5" molded shoulder strap
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • Case volume: 1414 Cubic Inches
  • Case weight: 3.9 lbs.

Price: $149


Bargain 'Books

This Week's Best PowerBook Deals

L.A Computer Center

Power Max

Small Dog Electronics

  • PowerBook G4/500, 512/20 GB/DVD/56K/FireWire, factory refurbished, 1 year Apple factory warranty, $2,689 (these were due to arrive October 7)

MacResQ/MacWorks

  • PowerBook G3/266, 96/6 GB/20x CD/56k/10Base-T/ 14.1" TFT, 1 MB cache, $899.99

MacConnection

  • PowerBook G4/400, 128/10/DVD/56K/15.2" TFT/reconditioned, $1,799 (on back order)

This is the best price I've seen on a used or reconditioned TiBook; hope they get more in.

MacSelect

DataTech Remarketing

These units include a 180 day warranty.

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