The 'Book Review

New G5 Supports Notebooks, 'Books in Color, TiBook Antenna Triples Range, a Low-Cost Wireless Card, and More

This Week's PowerBook and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2004.02.20

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

Apple Will Be First Customer for IBM's 970FX, Will Support G5 PowerBook

InfoWorld's Tom Krazit reports:

"IBM Corp. released further details Friday about the manufacturing process used to create its 90-nanometer PowerPC 970FX chip, its first chip built on the smaller process generation....

"Apple Computer Inc. will be the first customer for the new chip. IBM and Apple confirmed that the Xserve G5, announced in January at Macworld, will use the 90 nanometer 970FX chip. Apple will more than likely adopt the chip for a new series of PowerMac desktops to be released later this year....

Customers will be able to use the PowerPC 970FX chip in everything from PCs to notebooks to networking equipment, said Norman Rohrer, senior technical staff member at IBM. The unique power-tuning technique used in the chip allows it to vary power consumption thousands of times a second, reducing the overall power consumption compared to a chip that consumes a constant amount of power, he said."

Put a Little Color in Your 'Book - 'Pods, Too

color PowerBooksColor-Ware Inc. offers all five of Apple's laptop models in a palette of 24 colors, plus full-size iPods in color as well.

Color-Ware Inc., established in 2000, is an industry leader in altering the color of existing products. The idea behind Color-Ware started with transforming the ubiquitous beige computer into a custom-colored work of art. Color-Ware say they are growing in excess of 48% a year and presently expanding into custom colored business computers, home entertainment systems, and the office interior design field.

Prices and specs:

  • 12.1" iBook G4/800, $1,589
  • 14.1" iBook G4/933, $1,789
  • 14.1" iBook G4/1 GHz, $1,989
  • 12.1'' PowerBook G4/1 GHz, $2,189
  • 12.1'' PowerBook G4/1 GHz, $2,589
  • 15.2'' PowerBook G4/1.25 GHz, $2,969
  • 17'' PowerBook G4/1.33 GHz, $3,589

colored iPodsYou can also send your existing iBook or PowerBook to Color-Ware and have it custom colored for $399.

Not just 'Books, Color-Ware also offers colored iPods:

  • 15 GB iPod, $365
  • 20 GB iPod, $465
  • 40 GB iPod, $565

QuickerTek's New Antenna Triples Wireless Range of Titanium PowerBook G4

QuickerTek, developers of wireless antennas for titanium PowerBooks and external antennas for all Apple AirPort Base Stations, is now shipping an 8 Dbi directional TiBook antenna, extending the range of AirPort cards and/or third party WiFi PC Cards with external antenna ports. This directional 8Dbi antenna triples the range compared to omnidirectional antenna designs.

Both PowerBook G4 users and PowerBook G3 Pismo owners can add wireless range with this new directional antenna. By aligning the antenna with the Base Station, this directional antenna allows users to fine-tune their networks for optimal signal strength as well as data transmission rates. This new directional antenna replaces the QuickerTek Stub antenna in the product lineup. The Stub was a very small external antenna that was optimized for both size and cost.

This new antenna includes all cables, tools, and installation instructions. QuickerTek also includes a software CD for measuring your wireless system performance before and after the installation. All QuickerTek products work with all Mac OS 9 and OS X versions as well as Apple AirPort and AirPort Extreme wireless products.

This product is available for $55 and is in stock for immediate customer delivery from dealers, including MacAnywhere, TechnoWarehouse, and Small Dog Electronics. QuickerTek is the recognized leading innovator of RF products for Apple products, with TiBook antennas as well as antenna upgrades for Apple Graphite, Snow, and AirPort Extreme Base Stations.

RoamAbout 802.11DS Wireless PC Card

Wegener Media offers the RoamAbout 802.11DS PC Card, which offers full 10Base-T networking capabilities plus full compatibility with AirPort base stations and the entire 802.11 network system. Drivers are included for Mac OS 9.0-9.2.2.

Compatible with PowerBook 5300c/cs/ce, 1400c/1400cs, 3400c, 2400c, G3 (Kanga), G3 WallStreet, G3 Lombard, G3 Pismo, and G4 Titanium.

Price: $27.99

Real World Observations on Apple's 15" PowerBook

MacNet's John Manzione says:

"When I had to decide which model would replace my 12" PowerBook it didn't take long to decide that the 15" SuperDrive model would be the one I would buy. The advantages were many, and the cost was in line with what I wanted to spend. What I didn't expect was how drastically better this new PowerBook is....

"Today's PowerBooks are not only faster, they are less expensive. Consider that the 15" model I just bought comes with Bluetooth, AirPort, and 80 GB drive, and a 2x SuperDrive as standard equipment for $2599 and last year's 12" deluxe model suddenly looks very expensive. What a difference a year makes&

"...Sure, you can buy a cheaper laptop but you can't buy a better one. And it seems no matter what manufacturer you choose, when you price out a laptop that matches (or closely matches) the specs of an Apple PowerBook they are always more expensive."

There is also a fascinating anecdote in this column about how John's PowerBook was able to rescue a PC network.

ZDNet Tests G4 iBook Series

ZDNet's John Rizzo says:

"The iBook G4 is a rugged notebook, well suited for students and home users who want a small, affordable Mac notebook.

"Apple has corrected a problem that caused some iBooks to fail after a few months of operation. The unit we had showed no sign of a defect on the logic board. Apple's iBook Logic Board Repair Extension Program is paying for motherboard replacements, even for units with expired warrantees, and is refunding owners who had previously paid to repair the problem....

"In iTunes, the iBook 800 MHz G4 delivers a 49 percent increase in speed over the iBook 900 MHz G3 when encoding a large MP3. Our iMovie test on the G4-800 MHz indicates a speed boost of 48 percent over the G3-900 MHz. Compared to the PowerBook G4-1.25 GHz, the iBook G4-800 MHz is a close second in iTunes, iMovie, and Quake III."

Desktop vs. Laptop: Which Do You Really Need?

AnchorDesk Executive Editor David Coursey says:

"The March issue of a 'major consumer magazine' that doesn't like its name mentioned in advertising -- OK, it's Consumer Reports (subscription required) -- promises to answer the question, 'Desktop or laptop: Which do you really need?'

"I liked the question, and CR's attempt to answer it, so much that I decided to try and answer it for myself."


"I don't much like widescreen notebooks . . . and wish they'd just go away. The screens add a lot of bulk without adding a lot of functionality....

"...whatever technical equality now exists between the two form factors, there remains both dollars-and-cents and practical/personal choice reasons to choose a desktop, laptop, or both -- which is really my recommendation.

"If I could only have one computer, though, it would be a notebook, but only because writing is my primary task and I've gotten comfortable doing it in the den rather than in my office..."

Or as I've been advocating for years, a laptop is the logical computer to have if you're only having one.

PowerBook 17" Hard Drive Upgrade Tutorial

ComputerWorld's Ken Mingis says:

"OK, I admit it. When it comes to computers, I'm pretty much all about speed. If I can get the latest and fastest (insert Apple product here), I will. A year ago, that meant snagging one of the first 1-GHz PowerBook G4 17-in. models. These days, it means buying the updated 1.33-GHz PowerBook 17. Price: $2,999.

"...just before Thanksgiving, I moved to the newer model, ordering a stock configuration with the 4,200-rpm 80 GB hard drive. Although Apple offers a faster hard drive on its PowerBook (a 60 GB 5,400-rpm version), I was already eyeing an even faster 7,200-rpm alternative from Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, better known as the Travelstar 7K60. I'd read reports online from owners who had cracked open their PowerBooks and, with the precision of surgeons, replaced the stock hard drive with the faster one from Hitachi. All reported notable speed increases, solid performance, little if any increase in heat and silent performance.....

"Having replaced a couple of hard drives in Apple's previous-generation Titanium PowerBooks, I figured I could handle the job, so after using the PowerBook for about six weeks -- in case any anomalies showed up that might require a trip back to Apple for repairs -- I dutifully ordered the Hitachi drive...

"As it happens, the drive arrived on the same day heavy snow squalls were expected locally. I dutifully took my PowerBook into a quiet room, away from curious dogs and a cat who thinks he's being helpful by walking on my desk, turned off the laptop, unplugged the AC adapter, removed the battery and took a deep breath....."

Laptop Keyboard and Trackpad Ergonomics

PowerPage's Bo says:

"Since heavy users of laptops must typically use their trackpads and mouse click heavily, one would think that Apple with its rigorous attention to human engineering would constantly produce better overall keyboard workspaces.

"The last good feeling and easily reached Enter key, trackpad, and mouse click was the Pismo PowerBook over four years ago.

"Since then the Ti & Al PowerBook positioning of the trackpad and mouse click button has been separated further from the keyboard and particularly the enter key. The 'rims' or edges surrounding the trackpad and mouse button are less distinct by feel. It is now more difficult when navigating the web to use the Enter key (which is used a lot) along with the trackpad and mouse click with one hand. People with small hands indeed are at a disadvantage."

MacResQ Launches 24-Hour Nationwide iPod Repair & Battery Replacement Program

MacResQ has announced the launch of a unique new nationwide repair service for Apple iPods. The service, known as iPodResQ, will provide iPod users throughout the United States with a source for 24-hour repairs and battery replacements on their iPods.

iPodResQ is the only service of its kind offering 24-hour turnaround on repairs and nationwide, overnight pickup & delivery at the user's location. It joins MacResQ's other wildly successful and award-winning 24-hour repair programs, PowerBookResQ and PowerMacResQ.

"We've repaired thousands of PowerBooks & PowerMacs in 24 hours with our PowerBookResQ & PowerMacResQ services during the past 24 months," said Mr. Shannon Jean, President of ResQ Systems, LLC. "Our customers have been asking for a 24-hour repair and battery replacement service for iPods, and we're thrilled to offer the new service."

The iPodResQ program offers fast, safe, and reasonably priced repairs for iPod owners. Customers start by visiting or calling the toll-free number, 1-877-Pod-Repair, where they can request either the "iQ" Battery Replacement Service or the iPodResQ 24-Hour Repair Service. iPodResQ dispatches a custom-designed "iBox", built to insure safe transit for all iPods, via overnight courier to the customer. The customer simply slides their iPod into the iBox and it is returned to the iPodResQ Service Center overnight. For the "iQ" Battery Replacement, an iPodResQ technician installs a new iQ battery at a fully qualified static-free workstation and returns the iPod to its owner via overnight service. If the customer ordered the 24-Hour Repair, an iPodResQ technician conducts a thorough diagnosis and contacts the customer with a detailed repair estimate. Once approved, the repair is then completed within one business day and the iPod is returned overnight.

The cost of the iPodResQ 24-Hour Repair Service is just $29. This includes the 3-way overnight shipping, the initial diagnostic service, and the iBox, which the customer may keep for future use. The "iQ" Battery Replacement is offered at a special introductory price of only $79, which includes the 3-way overnight shipping, the iBox, and all parts & labor for an expert battery replacement.

"iPodResQ brings our exclusive 24-Hour Turnaround to all iPod owners in the United States. Whether they need our 'iQ' battery replacement or a complete repair of a dead iPod, they can enjoy the quick turnaround that PowerBookResQ and PowerMacResQ customers have raved about," said Jean.

ThermographX 1.2.3 Temperature Monitoring Utility

ThermographX 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.
  • Graphs customer-submitted temperature results for comparison with your own system.

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.
  • iBook G4
  • G4 Cube

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" G4s.

New in this version:

  • Added user measurements for G4/500 MHz and single G4/1.25 GHz.
  • Added user measurements for iMac/500 MHz and iMac/600 MHz.
  • Updated with latest user-submitted temperature measurements.

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 iBook G4, 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.

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) and the titanium vs. aluminum 15" PowerBook G4 at 1 GHz.

Baucom Computers


Small Dog Electronics

New G3 iBooks:

The Apple Store Special Deals

Previous Generation iBook G3 (Dual boot, OS X/OS 9 configurations). These products are new and unopened units.

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

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