Mini Optical Mouse for Laptops, New iBook Keyboard Layout, Bargain ‘Books, and More

2001-05-11: Super Mini Optical Mouse for notebooks. How Dual USB iBook keyboard differs from Clamshell iBook layout. New TiBook accessories from SmartBook. More ‘Book news.


Except as noted, prices are in US dollars.

Bargain ‘Books

The release of the new iBook at the amazing entry-level price of $1,299 is going to depress used PowerBook prices quite dramatically. While from a purely performance oriented point of view, a 400 MHz or 500 MHz G3 PowerBook (that would be either a Lombard or a Pismo) is still probably as fast or faster than the new iBook while offering the full range of PowerBook bells and whistles, the iBook has to be a more attractive option than anything slower – unless you absolutely need a PC Card, infrared, or expansion bay support, or you simply can’t countenance using a 12.1″ screen. Consequently, anything less than a 400 MHz Lombard is going to seem overpriced at anything higher than $1,299.

We have yet to see where the latest price realignment will settle out, but I’m guessing that all WallStreets, except perhaps the 292 MHz and 300 MHz units are going to drop below the $1,000 threshold; down to $700 to $750 for the 233 MHz units (like mine, boo-hoo). And I don’t think that a 333 MHz Lombard is much of a deal at more than $1,100.

As for first generation iBooks, they offer so much less than the new machine, that I wouldn’t want to pay more than a thousand dollars for a brand new one – if I wanted one at all, which I don’t. However, asking prices have not reflected that reality yet.

As for older stuff, the heretofore inflated prices for used PowerBook 2400s is history, I presume, now that there is a modern sub notebook Macintosh available. The big 3400 has descended into the $500 to $600 range.

So without further ado, here are this week’s samplings of PowerBook deals around the Web.

Small Dog Electronics offers refurbished:

  • iBook Indigo G3/366 64/10 GB/CD/56k/FireWire, factory refurbished with a one year Apple Warranty, additional 128 MB installed, $1,229

MacResQ/MacWorks has

MacGlobal offers some WallStreets and 3400s:

  • PowerBook G3 233 MHz, 32/2 GB/CD/14.1/56K, $975.00
  • PowerBook G3 233 MHz, 32/2 GB/CD/12.1, $750.00
  • PowerBook 3400C/240 MHz, 16/3 GB/12xCD/Modem, $650.00
  • PowerBook 3400C/200 MHz, 16/2 GB/6xCD/Modem, $525.00

5400 RPM iBook Hard Drives a Typo

It turns out that the 5400 RPM hard drive in the new iBook was just a typo on the Apple store web page.

Earlier this week, MacNN reported that an Apple System Profiler report identifies the drive as an IBM DJSA-210, which runs at 4200 RPM.

This has been confirmed by an Apple Italy product manager Lorenzo Sangalli.

Fabio M. Zambelli, MacProf staff writer for the Italian Macity website, emailed me:

We have the official reply from Apple Italy about HD RPM in new iBook… It’s official: iBook HD is running @ 4,200 rpm.” – according to Sangalli.

Frankly we think Apple should officially say ‘excuse me’ and/or pay compensation to all 20 GB iBook customers till now, because having a 5,400 rpm IBM HD into the iBook could be an interesting factor of choice.

You can check out Fabio’s report on Macity.

Another boo-boo: The Apple Store stated that the DVD/CD-RW combo drive writes CDs at 8x, but the developer notes states a 4x writing speed.

Atek Super Mini Optical Mouse for Laptop Users

The Atek Super Mini Optical Mouse Atek mousefeatures:

  • Perfect for mobile computing – only 2-1/2″ long and 1″ wide, small enough to use right on the palm rest of most notebook computers
  • Convenient to carry – extremely lightweight and occupies very little space in a laptop travel case
  • Smooth and precise optical technology – point and click with ease, speed, and precision
  • Left and right buttons, just like a regular mouse
  • Works on almost any surface – no need for a mousepad
  • Maintenance-free – no ball or moving parts to clean
  • USB version for use with Windows 2000, Me, and 98
  • Mac users: left button works with Mac; for right button functionality, a free driver will be available soon. USB Overdrive also provides right button functionality
  • Travel pouch included
  • Cord length: 3 ft.

Retail price is $49.95

New iBook Keyboard Layout

An Apple Tech Info Library (TIL) article discusses how the iBook (Dual USB) computer’s keyboard layout differs from that of previous iBook computers.

iBook (Dual USB) computer keyboard layout differences:

  • The layout is more symmetrical than previous version.
  • There are two Command keys, one on either side of the Space bar.
  • The Enter key is smaller.
  • There is one Option key, to the left of the Space bar.
  • The keyboard latches are now located before the F1 key and after the F11 key.
  • The Mute function key has been moved to F3.

iBook Can Use PowerBook G4 Adapter

Another Apple Tech Info Library (TIL) article notes that you can use the PowerBook G4 AC Adapter with the new iBook. However, there is a small plastic “nub” on the PowerBook G4 AC Adapter tip that holds in the tip when the cable is wound. When a PowerBook G4 adapter is used with the iBook (Dual USB) computer, this nub can get in the way of the optical drive when ejecting a disc,

SmartDisk’s New Line of PowerBook G4 Accessories

SmartDisk Corporation has announced a new line of travel accessories for the Titanium PowerBook G4.

Featured in the new line is the SmartDisk VST PowerBook Battery Charger, the first charger available for PowerBook G4 users. It safely charges PowerBook G4 Li-Ion batteries in less than three hours, making it easy for users to have a freshly charged back-up battery readily at hand. Compact in design and built to accommodate two batteries, the SmartDisk VST PowerBook G4 Battery Charger features LED displays to indicate charge mode, charge completion and battery error detection. It is packaged with an AC adapter and user’s guide.

SmartDisk also announced two new adapters for the Titanium PowerBook G4. The SmartDisk VST PowerBook G4 Auto Adapter is compatible with any standard automobile cigarette lighter socket. The SmartDisk VST PowerBook G4 Airline Adapter works with the EmPowersocket available on many major commercial airlines. In addition, SmartDisk offers a PowerBook G4 AC adapter for those users who would like to have a spare adapter handy.

For users who still require floppy disk support, SmartDisk also offers the SmartDisk VST Titanium Floppy Drive. The drive is powered by the PowerBook G4’s speedy USB connection and is 4 inches by 5.5 inches in size and less than an inch in depth. Its color and styling complement those of the Titanium PowerBook G4.

Pricing and Availability

  • PowerBook G4 Battery Charger, $169.95, Now
  • SmartDisk VST PowerBook G4 Auto Adapter, $79.95, Late May
  • SmartDisk VST PowerBook G4 AC Adapter, $69.95, Now
  • SmartDisk VST PowerBook G4 Airline Adapter, $39.95, Now
  • SmartDisk VST Titanium Floppy Drive, $79.95, June

A combination package featuring the SmartDisk VST PowerBook G4 Battery Charger, an Apple Li-Ion battery and an Apple AC adapter is available under the name SmartDisk VST PowerBook G4 Mobility Bundle. The price of the package is $279.95, with availability scheduled for June.

Retailers carrying the SmartDisk VST PowerBook G4 accessories include computer retailers such as Micro Warehouse, PC Connection, CDW, Fry’s Electronics, and CompUSA.