The 'Book Review

Apple Price Cuts, Importance of OS 9 Drivers, Variable Speed 800 MHz Pismo Upgrade, Nvidia Mobile GPUs, and More

This Week's PowerBook and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2003.01.10

Except as noted, prices are in US dollars.

Apple Quietly Cuts Prices on Older 'Books

Apple has dropped prices on the 15" PowerBook (TiBook) and 14"" iBook. The 1 GHz PowerBook G4 (with SuperDrive) has been cut from $2,995 to $2,795, while the 14" iBook is $100 cheaper at $1,495.

The "Install Mac OS 9 Drivers" Option in Mac OS X Disk Utility

Apple Knowledge Base Article #75275 notes that:

"When formatting a hard disk using the Disk Utility application, there is an option to 'Install Mac OS 9 Drivers' under the Erase panel.

"If you do not select this option when formatting a hard drive, the disk may not appear when the computer starts up from any version of the Mac OS other than Mac OS X. You should only deselect this option if the computer or hard disk is to be used exclusively with Mac OS X. Not selecting this option saves a small amount of drive space.

"This option does not affect the availability or use of a disk with Classic in Mac OS X."

PowerLogix Releases Variable Speed 800 MHz Pismo Processor Upgrade

PowerLogix has announced the first ever software-controlled variable speed CPU upgrade.

Available for the PowerBook G3 Pismo (a.k.a. FireWire or PowerBook G3 2000), the Blue Chip G3 800 Pismo can be adjusted "on the fly" (i.e., no reboot required) to a lower clock speed in order to extend battery life. PowerLogix includes an easy to use software utility for this purpose.

Tests show that up to 30 minutes of additional battery life can be obtained by lowering the clock speed, which can be useful in certain situations, such as long plane flights. In many cases, such as spreadsheet or word processing, sheer clock speed takes a back seat to battery life, and in the Blue Chip G3 800 Pismo offers the best of both worlds. The clock speed is user adjustable from 300 to 800 MHz. The Blue Chip G3 800 also features the IBM 750FX, with 512K of L2 cache at 800 MHz, and starts at $379.

Nvidia Mobile GPUs Power Apple Notebooks for the First Time

Nvidia Corporation has extended its mobile graphics to the Apple market by providing the graphics processing solutions for the new Apple PowerBooks. Apple's new "AlBook" PowerBook notebooks feature either the GeForce 4 440 Go with 64 MB of dedicated graphics memory or the GeForce 4 420 Go with 32 MB of memory.

The GeForce 4 Go GPUs deliver new technologies to PowerBooks, including dynamic power management, courtesy of Nvidia PowerMizer technology. Dedicated hardware, including the integrated video processing engine and 3D graphics engine, greatly reduce the load on the processor for DVD playback and 3D applications, improving performance and extending battery life. Nvidia Accuview Antialiasing technology provides superb visual quality without sacrificing performance, while the Nvidia Lightspeed Memory Architecture II offers sophisticated memory enhancement technologies to double available memory bandwidth while increasing overall memory efficiency.

DVForge DVBaseTi Stainless Steel Stand for PB G4

DVForge calls this the most beautiful riser base ever DVBaseTibuilt for an Apple PowerBook G4 or iBook notebook computer.

The DVBaseTi the company's newest product, a solid 304 stainless steel, hand polished riser stand for Apple's G4 PowerBook, is scheduled to ship on January 20th, and will sell for$180.

Crafted from solid investment cast stainless steel, the DVBaseTi is hand-polished to a mirror finish, then laser engraved with the DVForge mark as a symbol - the symbol of what DVForge believes:

  • Desktop products don't have to be built from cheap plastic
  • Some people prefer to buy quality over commodity
  • The cheapest products give the least satisfaction
  • Elegance, durability, and design are important in even simple products

Connect Your Mac to IrDA Devices

Now you can connect you desktop Mac or 'Books without built-in infrared ports to IrDA cellphones, PDAs, etc. with MadsonLine's USB IrDA Adapter.

Dimensions: 20 x 60 x 45 mm

Two USB cables; long and extra short (20") included.

System Requirements: Mac with USB ports running OS 10.1.2 or later

USB IrDA Adapter is priced at $52.

PowerSleevz Sleeve Case For G4 PowerBook, 2001+ iBook.

PowerSleevz notebook cases elegantly protect the exterior finish of your computer from all of life's little bumps and grinds. PowerSleevzMade from a heavier gauge version of ScreensavRz fabric, the case stretches on like a glove, hugging every curve. Extremely lightweight, flexible, and durable like the popular ScreensavRz, the case weighs just 40 grams.

This case folds up small enough to easily fit in your pocket. Protects exterior painted finish of PowerBook G4 and the iBooks polished plastic from your larger case's zippers and hardware - or anything else lurking out there. A great, hassle-free tote when you just need to take the 'Book.


  • Super light, formfitting protective sleeve.
  • Made from exclusive Optex fabric. Clean and polish anything with it, including the screen!
  • Fits your 'Book, like a glove.
  • Enhances your grip when carrying your 'Book.

PowerSleevz Specs:

  • Material: Optex 100% Synthetic Ultra-Microfiber (1 million fibers/sq. Inch)
  • Sizes: PB G4 -34 x 24 x 2.5 cm, 12" iBook -29 x 23 x 3.5 cm, 14" iBook -32 x 26 x 3.5 cm
  • Thickness: 0.9 mm
  • Weight: 40g, 34g, 41g (specific to the above sizes)

All Sizes: $20

SoundOn! 1.0 Prevents PB G4 Speakers from Turning off in Battery Power

SoundOn! prevents PowerBook G4's speakers from turning off when you use battery power. To save energy, Mac OS X turns the PB G4's speakers off after a while if no sound is played and you're using battery power. The negative side of this is that when the computer plays a sound you see the spinning rainbow cursor and have to wait for two or three seconds (while the computer waits for the speakers to be turned on) before you can continue using the computer.

SoundOn! plays a "silence" sound every ten seconds so your PowerBook's speakers will never be turned off and will be ready to play when needed.

You may say that this will lower the duration of the battery and probably it does, but the battery performance decrease is not noticeable.

SoundOn! is not needed with OS 9, since this OS doesn't seem to turn off speakers.

System requirements:

  • PowerBook G4 Titanium
  • Mac OS X 10.1 or higher

SoundOn! is freeware.

X-Charge Battery Monitoring Software

X-Charge is battery monitoring software for iBook and PowerBook owners. It displays an antialiased graph of the battery charge over time (up to 24 hours) and keeps a log file of all battery related events.

X-Charge is a useful utility to analyze the state of your battery.

X-Charge also resuscitates the cool looking dock icon that displayed the current charge of the battery in Mac OS X 10.0 that was removed with later versions of the OS.

System requirements: Mac OS X 10.1 or later.

WiebeTech Introduces Next Generation MicroGB+ FireWire Pocket Drive

WiebeTech announces MicroGB+, the next generation of the popular MicroGB FireWire pocket drive.

This dual FireWire port product is smaller, lighter and even faster than the original MicroGB, and is also less expensive. MicroGB+ will be featured at Macworld Expo in San Francisco, Jan. 7-10, 2003, and is available for immediate purchase online.

"MicroGB+ raises the bar for performance, even as the physical size and weight of the product is reduced," said James Wiebe, CEO of WiebeTech LLC. "It offers burst transfer rates in excess of 35 MB/ sec, which is faster than many desktop drives, through its dual bus-powered daisy chainable FireWire ports.

"MicroGB+ is also less expensive than our original MicroGB product," Wiebe continued. "For example, the 40 GB version with 5400 RPM high speed spindle and 8 MB cache is priced at $269.95. This includes the enclosure, drive, FireWire cable and carrying case. We also include a copy of MediaFour's excellent Mac Drive 5 software, which allows Mac formatted drives to be read on Windows computers. This software has a value of $59.95. The user configurable version of the product also includes a screwdriver for easy installation of any 9.5 mm notebook drive."

Price and Availability

  • 0 GB, $99.95
  • 20 GB/5400 RPM, $199.95
  • 30 GB/4200 RPM, $219.95
  • 40 GB/4200 RPM, $239.95
  • 40 GB/5400 RPM, $269.95
  • 60 GB/4200 RPM, $349.95
  • AC adapter, $19.95

Basic product includes: Aluminum enclosure, FireWire cable, carrying case, and screwdriver for easy installation. An AC adapter is optional and required only for use with non-powered FireWire hosts.

  • Connectivity: FireWire, 400 MB/sec.
  • Compatibility: MicroGB+ is compatible with any FireWire equipped host under the following Operating Systems: Windows 98se, ME, 2000, XP, Macintosh OS 9.1, OS 9.2, OS X.
  • Burst Transfer Rate: 35 MB/sec; measured with InTech SpeedTools under OS X.
  • Size: 2.98" x 4.98" x 0.62" (75.7 x 126.5 x 15.7 mm).
  • Weight: 6.9 oz (198 g) with drive installed.
  • Connectors: Dual FireWire, daisy chained; +5v power connector.
  • Indicators: Power, access on front bezel.
  • Power switch
  • Case: Anodized aluminum, silver color, with black plastic bezels.

In the U.S. and Canada, UltraGB may be purchased directly from WiebeTech. Dealers may also purchase the product from WiebeTech's distributor, Dr Bott LLC. All configurations are shipping soon and available directly from WiebeTech. Canadian resellers may purchase WiebeTech products from EMJ.

FMI USB 6 in 1 Card Reader/Writer

The FMI USB 6 in 1 Card Reader/Writer supports six types of flash media: Compact Flash, IBM Microdrive, SmartMedia, Multimedia Card, Secure Digital, and Memory Stick

  • Slim, Portable Design
  • Plug-n-Play
  • PC and Macintosh Compatible
  • No external power required
  • Includes built-in short USB cable for laptop use
  • Includes a 4' USB extension cable for desktop PC use
  • Supports Windows 98/2000/ME/XP and Macintosh 9.x/and X

CompUSA Price: $39.99

Bargain 'Books

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 (Gigabit Ethernet/2001) and G4/667 (DVI).

Small Dog Electronics

  • new PowerBook G4/667, 256/30 GB/Combo, AirPort card installed, Curtis 50 DC to AC Inverter, Kensington FlyLight portable light (platinum with clear LED), $1,985
  • refurbished PowerBook G4/1 GHz, 512/60/SuperDrive, $2,549
  • new PowerBook G4/667, 512/30 GB/DVD, AirPort, $1,749
  • new PowerBook G4/667, 256/30 GB/Combo, $1,949
  • refurbished iBook 600 12", 128/20/CD, $795
  • refurbished iBook 700 12", 128/20/Combo, $1,079
  • refurbished iBook 800 12", 128/30 GB/Combo, extra 128 MB RAM installed, AppleCare, Ogio Prodigy Backpack, $1,475



Baucom Computers

For more deals, see our Best PowerBook G4 Deals and Best iBook Deals.

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