The 'Book Review

Apple on White Spots, Location X, Sonnet Price Drop, High Capacity Lombard/Pismo Battery, and More

This Week's PowerBook and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2003.11.07

Except as noted, prices are in US dollars.

Apple Spokesman Addresses 15" PowerBook White Spots, Apple's Portable Present and Future

ComputerWorld's Ken Mingis reports:

"Apple Computer Inc. is looking into complaints about blemishes on the screens of some of its new 15-in. PowerBooks, but it hasn't yet determined what's causing the whitish marks to appear.

"Dave Russell, director of product marketing for portables and wireless at Apple, said late last week that the company is aware of the white blemishes on some new 15-in. screens, but hasn't yet 'captured' enough of the computers to figure out why the spots are appearing. He also noted that any flawed machines would either be fixed and sent back to owners or kept by Apple for study. In that case, PowerBook owners would be sent new laptops."

Russell did not speculate on how long it might take for Apple to come up with a fix.

In a wide-ranging interview with Computerworld, Russell also said Apple "would like" to fit one of its powerful new G5 processors in a PowerBook - if it can figure out how to keep the machine cool enough to operate reliably.... adding: "But it's going to be a while. We think the G4 has a very long life in the PowerBook."

Russell also revealed that the upgraded 12" PowerBooks announced at Macworld Expo Paris were not merely speed-bumped, but "completely rearchitected to address heat management issues, with even a thermo-coupler added to the hard drive.

As for the new G4 iBooks, Russell is quoted commenting: "What we've really done here is brought a high-performance machine down to the consumer level...", and explained that adoption of slot-loading Combo drives across the board was in response to "'the No. 1 request asked for [by schools],' (The previous-generation iBook had a slide-out tray that could be easily broken if not handled carefully.)"

When queried by Mingis about the possibility of the faster iBooks cannibalizing sales of PowerBooks, Russell said he didn't think so, noting that: "While both use a G4, the PowerBook is faster, has twice as much Level 2 cache and can be upgraded to two to four times as much RAM. The iBook goes to 640[MB of RAM], but the PowerBook can go to 1.25 GB or 2 GB [of memory]...."

PowerBooks also have digital video interactive (DVI) video out, and unlike the iBook offer monitor spanning instead of just video mirroring.

Russell also pointed out that OS X 10.3's new FileVault feature is especially valuable to portable users who take their machines road warrioring.

Location X Location Manager

Location X 2.0 provides the functionality found in Mac OS 9's Location Manager utility to Mac OS X users. The update offers a new user interface, a new security model to reduce the number of times you are required to enter your password, enhanced Entourage support, a plug-in for changing the system default SMTP server and default Web home page, and other enhancements. Location X is $20 for Mac OS X 10.2 and later.

Location X allows you to change network, time zone, email settings and more with a single click.

Location XMacintosh portable users who travel between different locations often have to reconfigure their Macs for use at home, school, the office, the hotel, the east coast office, China (you get the picture). Configuring Location X to do this for you is easy using its intuitive and elegant interface. Now using your laptop in different places is a snap.

Location X was designed to allow third parties to develop plug-ins that will allow you to change even more settings than those provided in the Location X package. Location X includes built in plug-ins that let you change your network configuration, Apple Mail settings, time zone, Entourage settings, sound volume, default printer, QuickTime connection speed, Energy Saver settings, Internet preferences, and run AppleScripts and shell scripts. Check back frequently for new plug-ins!

New in Location X 2.0:

  • New User Interface: Managing your locations is now easier than ever. The location detail drawer pops out below your location list and allows you to quickly view and edit your location settings.
  • Reorder or Multiply Your Options: Now you can choose the order of your location options! Drag the options around in the location list to specify the order in which your settings are changed. You can even have multiple instances of each option - just choose the option name from the "Add Option" menu.
  • Simplify Your Security: Getting tired of entering your password? You can authorize each Location X plug-in in the Security pane of the preferences window and never be asked for your password again.
  • New Plug-ins: Location X 2.0 includes two new plug-ins. The Energy Saver plug-in allows you to change your Energy Saver preferences. The Internet plug-in allows you to change your web browser's home page or your default SMTP server, perfect for changing Eudora's outgoing mail server settings. Also included is a greatly improved Entourage plug-in, allowing you to switch details of your SMTP server and even change which schedules are enabled.

Location X is $20 demoware

Sonnet Drops Prices on WallStreet G3 and G4 Upgrades

Sonnet Technologies has cut prices by $50 on Crescendo/WS G3 and G4 processor upgrades for Wallstreet PowerBooks. Sonnet's lower prices for WallStreet processor upgrades are as follows:

  • Crescendo/WS G3 500 MHz $249.95 (was $299.95)
  • Crescendo/WS G4 500 MHz $349.95 (was $399.95)

The complete line of Crescendo/WS products is compatible with the first series and second series of WallStreet PowerBooks.

OWC/NewerTech Announce Extra High-capacity Replacement Battery for Pismo,Lombard

Newer Technology, Inc. and Other World Computing have introduced an extra high-capacity NuPower replacement battery compatible with the PowerBook G3 FireWire (2000/Pismo) and PowerBook G3 Lombard (1999/Bronze Keyboard) models.

Utilizing the latest Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) cell technology, this new 6600 mAh PowerBook battery provides 37.5% more capacity than the stock Apple battery for these models and is available immediately for $159.95.

"With our extra high-capacity NuPower battery, Pismo and Lombard owners can go longer than ever without plugging in," said Larry O'Connor, president of OWC. "If sales of our G4/500 MHz processor upgrade for the PowerBook Pismo are an indication, the Pismo is still extremely popular. At some point, you either want an extra battery or need to replace one, and our NewerTech batteries offer the longest battery run times you can get!"

The new extra high-capacity battery rounds out the line of additional NuPower replacement batteries for G3 and G4 PowerBooks, including the NuPower 5400 mAh battery for Pismo and Lombard models, which is still available at a reduced price of $145.99.

"These batteries can be real lifesavers," O'Connor said. "There isn't a notebook computer user alive who hasn't wished for extended battery life at some time. Our replacement batteries give users crucial added time when they are in a crunch or away from a reliable power source."

The full line of NewerTech high capacity batteries, including models for the PowerBook G3 Wallstreet and PowerBook G4 Titanium, is available through OWC.

Panther Speeds Up Lombard PowerBook

Accelerate Your Mac has posted a report from a reader who says that OS X 10.3 Panther has given his Lombard PowerBook (400 MHz G3 with 8 MB VRAM) a substantial speed boost.

He notes in part:

"I just upgraded this system to 10.3 with the Up-To-date CD's and just did the update. Took about 2 hours - did a full install with X11 and other languages, but works GREAT!!! In the past, I have been bummed out by the sluggish performance of the Lombard in 10.1.x and 10.2.x even with the QE hack...

"I knew it was a video problem so really didn't want to to sink money into a CPU upgrade especially with heat, battery and technical issues. But in 10.3, WOW. The screen redraws quickly, no Radeon 9800, but it is now certainly acceptable. Expose works pretty darn good, although not perfectly silky. Auto Hide Dock looks great as does the magnification. (Animated apps I have turned off). If 10.3 would just allow the DVD player to work, I would be overly satisfied...."

LapCop 2.0 - Recover Your Stolen 'Book

LapCop's developers are iBook and PowerBook users themselves, and like most Mac portable aficionados they say they could not live one day without their 'Books. To help recover your iBook or PowerBook in case it gets stolen, LapCop is an innovative application that secretly sends an alert email to an address of your choice.


  • LapCop monitors your system.
  • If your Mac is stolen, LapCop sends an alert email to your designated email address as soon as your lost or stolen Mac is connected to the Internet.
  • The alert email contains all information needed for the police to recover your Mac.
  • Send LapCop a copy of the alert email and they will help you locate your stolen Mac.

Laptops are becoming increasingly popular, but their portability makes them very susceptible to theft. Computer theft has reached huge proportions worldwide - there were 591,000 laptops stolen in the US in 2001. According to a recent FBI report, 97% of all stolen computers are never recovered. Apple laptops are especially popular among thieves, because sometimes even thieves have good taste...

There is no way to test LapCop without registering. However, if you are not satisfied after 30 days, they will fully refund it. There are two LapCop packages, one for Jaguar and one for Panther. Jaguar users with LapCop 2 installed don't need to upgrade. Jaguar users who have recently upgraded to Panther, or new Panther users should download and install the Panther version.

This is an update for Panther users. This update is not compatible with Jaguar; Jaguar users don't need to upgrade.

System requirements:

  • Mac OS X 10.3 or higher for this update
  • Mac OS X 10.2 for the Jaguar-compatible version still available on our website

LapCop sells for $25.

New PowerBook Almost Perfect - Coursey

AnchorDesk Executive Editor David Coursey says:

"Apple's new 15-inch G4 PowerBook is very nearly the perfect laptop. The main problem I have with it is that near-perfection comes at a hefty price: $2,600 for the top-of-the-line model or $2,000 for the stripped-down machine."

Well, there's also the mediocre battery life, the infamous "white spots" showing up on many 15" AlBook screens, the uncomfortable amount of heat the machine transfers to your lap, Coursey notes.

"This is beginning to sound like one of those, 'Well, besides that, Mrs. Lincoln, did you enjoy the performance?' jokes. But it isn't. Apple users have come to accept high prices - although this machine compares favorably with high-end PC laptops. They also accept the occasional new model problems and so-so battery life while watching DVDs. I am not sure if the asbestos lap mats have started shipping...."

Capslock to Control 1.1 Converts Caps Lock/Enter Keys on G4 PowerBooks

A lot of people have been waiting for a solution to the Caps Lock/Control problem under Panther. Well...

Capslock to Control 1.1 is a modified keyboard driver for G4 PowerBooks (it may well work on other machines). This driver will map the Caps Lock and Enter keys to Control.

New in this version:

  • Removed the mapping of the Enter key. By default, only the Caps Lock key gets mapped to Control. You can re-enable the Enter key mapping by editing the Info.plist file in the driver bundle and changing the value of the 'Enter Remap' property from 0 to 1.
  • Also added another optional remapping (controlled in the same way via the Esc Remap' property). This maps the `/~ key to Esc when unshifted and ~ when shifted. The Esc key gets mapped to ` unshifted and ~ shifted. A PGP signature can be found by adding .sig to the end of the download URL.

System requirements:

  • G4 PowerBooks. It may well work with older systems. Only tested on a TiBook and AlBook.

Capslock to Control is freeware.

ThermographX Temperature Monitoring Utility

ThermographX, now out of beta, monitors the various temperature sensors inside your modern Macintosh G4 or G5.

  • Records maximum and minimum temperatures.
  • Shows temperature records over time, using a zoomable display so you can analyze short-term or long-term.
  • Shows individual sensor temperatures on models that have them.

ThermographX compatibility is still being determined. So far, it is known to provide accurate sensor readings on these models:

  • 12" & 17" PowerBook G4.
  • "Aluminum" 15" PowerBook G4.
  • "Mirror Door" G4.
  • Power Macintosh G5.

Note: Motorola's MPC7450CE/D Rev 5 errata indicates "The thermal assist unit (TAU) is no longer supported on the MPC7450, MPC7451, or MPC7441.". Because of this, you will not be able to measure the junction temperature on any system with these processors. At current, this includes the "Gigabit" PowerBook G4 and the "2001 Quicksilver" G4's.

System requirements: Mac OS X 10.2.4 or higher (Panther compatible); requires a Macintosh with compatible thermal sensors (so far, these have been found on the Aluminum 12", 15" and 17" PowerBooks, the "mirror-door" G4 and the G5, and some G3 PowerBooks and G4 Cube models)

ThermographX is $7 shareware.

ice>Link:iPod Car Kit

ice>Link:iPod is a car kit for your Apple iPod. iPod audio is routed through your head unit's CD changer port and keypresses including FF & RW are passed from your head unit (and steering wheel controls in suitably-equipped vehicles) to your iPod, resulting in safe control of your iPod while driving.


ice>Link:iPod is compatible with first, second, and third generation iPods and works with a wide range of factory-fit OEM and aftermarket head units.

ice>Link:iPod is available with an optional cradle manufactured by Brodit. Cradles are available for classic and third generation iPods, including Brodit's range of ProClip damage free mounting brackets which are available for a wide range of vehicles and mounting locations.

Toshiba 20 GB/40 GB 1.8" Hard Drive

Toshiba Storage Device Division (SDD) has announced its newest family of 1.8" embedded hard disk drives (HDDs) available in 20 GB (single platter) and 40 GB (dual platter) capacities. Digital entertainment and business devices continue to drive demand for robust storage in a mobile footprint as people want to take their digital content with them when traveling between the office, home, school and car.

"Toshiba continues to build on the 1.8" product line to deliver high-capacity drives capable of storing everything from digital music and photos to videos and presentations," said Amy Dalphy, manager, HDD business unit, Toshiba SDD. "We've been expanding our manufacturing capabilities in an effort to address this burgeoning demand as products are selling faster than the drives can be produced."

Toshiba's 1.8" family is now available in 5/10/15/20/30 and 40 GB capacities, providing a selection of "digital suitcases" to accommodate a range of applications. Products based on 1.8" technology include mobile entertainment devices, MP3 players, handheld computers, ultraportable notebooks, portable handheld GPS units, automotive jukebox systems and other specialized digital devices.

Measuring 54 mm wide and 78.5 mm deep, and weighing 51 and 62 grams respectively, Toshiba's 20/40 GB drives are smaller than a credit card and lighter than a pager - helping manufacturers create small form factor, more portable digital products. The 1.8" drives can withstand operational shock of up to 250g and nonoperating shock up to 1,000g, providing a rugged, durable storage solution for today's mobile devices.

Toshiba's 20 GB and 40 GB drives are available now.

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).


Apple Store Special Deals


Small Dog Electronics

Baucom Computers

Wegener Media

For more deals on current or recently discontinued models, see our Best PowerBook G4 Deals and Best iBook Deals.

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