The 'Book Review

Faster G4 'Books Possible, New Life for Old 'Books, New Online 'Book Comparisons, and More

This Week's PowerBook and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2004.02.27

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.

New Motorola G4 Chip Likely Bound for PowerBooks and iBooks

The Register's Tony Smith reports:

"Motorola's chip division -- soon to be spun off as Freescale Semiconductor -- today updated its G4-class PowerPC processor, the MPC7447, taking the part to 1.5 GHz and paving the way for one more PowerBook G4 update the line before its upgraded to IBM's 90nm G5 chip, the 970FX.

"The new Motorola part is dubbed the 7447A and adds on-the-fly clock frequency adjustment, allowing system makers to run at reduced frequencies according to workload. The upshot is longer battery life. And there's now a temperature-sensing diode included to monitor die temperature, Motorola says.

"At 1.42 GHz, the chip consumes 20W of power, Motorola claims, which compares well to the 7447's 21.3W at 1.33 GHz. The company also mentions a lower power version of the 7447A that consumes less than 9.3W at 1.167 GHz, which seems no better than the old 7447's claimed 7.5W at 1 GHz. The low-power 7447A has a core voltage of 1.1V; the regular 7447A runs at 1.3V."

"Essentially, the 7447A is a revised 7447, itself a low-power version of the 7457. The 130nm 7447 is currently used by Apple in its PowerBook G4. The iBook is based on the older 7455. The 7447 is a trimmed down version of the 7457, losing the latter's support for external L3 cache....'

Will Apple Bite on Motorola's New PowerPC Chip?'s Ina Fried says:

"Motorola on Monday announced a faster PowerPC chip that could be used in speedier Apple Computer laptops.

"Motorola said it is now producing samples of a 1.42 GHz PowerPC processor, a chip analysts say might soon find its way into the PowerBook, Apple's high-end laptop. Motorola said the chip has a typical power consumption of less than 20 watts, a level that makes it suitable for laptops. The chip also contains multimedia instructions that are required for chips that Apple bills as G4 processors.

"'It certainly would be a fit for a portable Mac,' Mercury Research analyst Dean McCarron said. 'It's obviously up to Apple whether they would do that versus using an IBM (chip).'

"A Motorola representative declined to comment on whether Apple might be interested in the chip. In a press release, Motorola said the chip is designed for a wide range of uses, including in computing as well as embedded, noncomputer, tasks."

Motorola 1.4 GHz PowerPC Processor Consumes Less Than 20W reports:

"Motorola announced the MPC7447A processor. This high-performance, power-efficient 32-bit RISC device, operating in excess of 1.4 GHz, is the latest and fastest member of the MPC74xx PowerPC processor family. The MPC7447A offers developers on-chip power management features, such as the ability to change clock frequencies dynamically. This capability enables users to change CPU clock speed on the fly and significantly reduce processor power consumption to match performance with application requirements. The MPC7447A processor also contains a temperature sensing diode that can be used to monitor die temperature under various operating conditions."

It is speculated that this chip is likely to end up in PowerBooks and/or iBooks.

iFlex FireWire Extension for Apple's iSight Webcam

You're a PowerBook or iBook user, and you don't want to lug around a heavy base with your 'Book. What do you do? Well, here's your answer: the iFlex, the world's only flexible metal tube FireWire extension for Apple's iSight webcam.

iFlex is a lighter version of the SightFlex for use specifically with their PowerBooks or iBooks -- cool and clever little solution for iChat AV/iSight users on the go.


The iFlex is a fully shielded, high quality FireWire cable inside a carefully engineered all-metal flexible tube. It's 18" long and is specifically crafted with just the right stiffness and shape-holding rigidity to provide an easily adjustable stalk for mounting your iSight.

The iFlex simply plugs into the FireWire port on your 'Book -- any model, old or new, with a FireWire port. The other end of the iFlex plugs into the FireWire port underneath your iSight webcam, giving you a high quality electrical and data signal connection. Once the two ends are plugged in, you can play around with the location and the shape of the iFlex and find just the right position for your iSight.

The weight of the iFlex and iSight combination is modest and presents no risk of damage to your FireWire port on your PowerBook or iBook. And, the easy flexibility of the iFlex makes some pretty outrageous mounting positions possible. Some well-balanced positions can be achieved with the iFlex rising from the FireWire port, unsupported. Even more extreme positions can be gained by bending the iFlex so that it is supported by the desk top surface.

Apple is right when they say that the best video chat happens when the webcam is located as close to the video chat window on your screen as possible. With the iFlex, getting that perfect position just became simple. If you want, you can locate the iSight webcam directly in front of your PowerBook or iBook screen, actually overlapping the edge of your iChat AV chat window. Or, you can locate the iSight anywhere you like, either in front of or behind the PowerBook's or iBook's display -- your choice, no restrictions.

Price: $19.99

Breathing New Life into an Old PowerBook

PowerBook Central's Noah Kravitz says:

"Last November I wrote about the then-new line of iBook G4s and my newfound lust for upgrading. I even went so far as to put my trusty PowerBook on eBay to see what I could get for it: Had the high bid come in a few hundred dollars higher, I would have said a fond farewell to my TiBook and a grand hello to a faster and sturdier, if smaller, iBook. Alas, the market didn't bear out for me and I realized that 500 MHz of G4 power could certainly tide me over for another year or so.

"Of course last week I had to go and drop my PowerBook on the hardwood floor in my living room and the term "forced upgrade" almost became a new part of my vocabulary. The case cracked in two places (along the lighter grey plastic around the headphone jack and under the screen) but no internal damage was done. Maybe it was my TiBook's way of letting me know the iBook ain't so tough, after all.

"What I didn't spend on upgrading to a new computer I decided to put towards making my machine a little more useful....

iBook Logic Board Fiasco Still Not Over - Class Action Suit Revived

Apple announced several weeks ago a Repair Extension Program to cover a limited range of G3 iBooks built beginning 2002 to some cutoff point in 2003.

The iBook Logic Board Repair Extension Program covers iBooks that have a particular component failure on the logic board, resulting in the computer starting up but the built-in and attached external displays exhibiting one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Scrambled or distorted video
  • Appearance of unexpected lines on the screen
  • Intermittent video image
  • Video freeze
  • Computer starts up to blank screen

The program is available for iBooks with serial numbers in the following range(s): UV220XXXXXX to UV318XXXXXX

iBooks with the serial numbers listed above may be referred to as:

  • iBook (16 VRAM)
  • iBook (14.1 LCD 16 VRAM)
  • iBook (Opaque 16 VRAM)
  • iBook (32 VRAM)
  • iBook (14.1 LCD 32 VRAM)

That would have been a satisfactory solution if it was only machines built to during that interval that were afflicted with whatever the problem is, but that's not the case. I've heard from readers with iBooks both earlier and later than the privileged serial number range specified in the repair program who have suffered the all-too-familiar issues, and who are not amused at being excluded from the remedy.

The class action suit initiative launched prior to the announcement of the Extended Repair Program has been revived. The BlackCider site, which has been coordinating class action suit efforts, reports:

"We're almost there . . . Apple has announced a three-year repair program for some iBooks. A significant victory for some iBook victims, sure, but Apple still has a long way to go. One day they say "no known issues, the next morning they offer a multimillion dollar recall  (oh, sorry . . . "repair program"). Who is zooming who here?"

BlackCider has announced a new class-action initiative for those not covered by current Apple iBook recall, noting that:

"Over 2000 people signed up and were interested in pursuing a class action suit on this iBook issue. These people are the people who deserve credit for forcing Apple to admit that they sold us defective products.

"Our collective voice has already made a difference to many iBook owners . . . let's push Apple the rest of the way. Apple's current iBook repair 'solution' is unsatisfactory. We need to continue to put pressure on Apple to satisfy ALL faulty iBook victims with faulty motherboards.

"If Apple's recent recall does not cover your iBook and you wish to join a class-action suit to have Apple address your logic-board issues, sign up for the new class-action initiative. Our attorney's are still willing to keep this on their radar. This new class-action form is for those who own Apple iBooks and are not covered by Apple's new Logic Board Repair Extension Program ONLY."

TimeLeft 1.0 Laptop Battery & UPS Monitoring Tool

TimeLeft is a unique laptop battery and UPS monitoring tool. It monitors your laptop battery and UPS batteries (connected to serial, USB, or ethernet) in real time.

A little battery icon is displayed on the desktop (as a desktop picture, no menu bar, no dock icon), giving informations (time remaining, battery charge in percent).

TimeLeft can execute an AppleScript when battery level is under a threshold you determine.

To customize TimeLeft's behaviour a preference pane is installed. You can :

  • Choose the power source to monitor.
  • Change battery's color.
  • Select an AppleScript to execute.
  • Determine threshold for AppleScript execution
  • Move the battery on the desktop.
  • Change battery transparency.
  • Launch / Quit TimeLeft.

System requirements: Mac OS X 10.3 or higher

TimeLeft is freeware.

The MacSpeedZone: PowerBook vs. iBook; 16 Tests on 6 Portables

MacSpeedZone has posted performance results for most of the currently shipping Apple laptop computers.

New machines added to the list include:

  • 15.2" PowerBook G4/1 GHz Combination Drive
  • 15.2" PowerBook G4/1.25 GHz SuperDrive

14" G4 iBook or 12" PowerBook? Which Is Faster and Has Better Features?

MacReviewZone Buyer's Guide has posted a comparo of the 14" G4/1 GHz MHz iBook which has the Combo optical drive, to the 12" G4/1 GHz PowerBook.

G3 iBook vs. G4 iBook ... Is the G4 iBook Faster?

This may seem like a "well duhhhh...." proposition, but it turns out that the 900 MHz G3 iBook actually is faster than the new G4 unit in some areas. However, where the G4 machine is faster, it's a lot faster.

You can check it out at MacReviewZone.

iKlear Apple Polish Kit

iKlearChallenge after challenge was created and met utilizing iKlear Apple Polish technology when the new Flat Panel iMac was introduced in January 2002 at Macworld. A full-size Flat Panel display screen, clear acrylic screen surround for adjusting optimal viewing angle, high-luster chrome pivot tube, low-luster designer case materials and DVD players in every model. iKlear Apple Polish will clean, protect and preserve every surface you can either see or touch on the new iMac.

  • (1) iK-5 5 oz non-aerosol pump spray bottle. Antistatic, alcohol & ammonia-free. For hundreds of cleaning applications.
  • (6) iKlear Singles-On-Demand Screen Preservation Kits.
  • (12) Klear Kloths lint-free, non-damaging, aerospace-grade, wood-pulp-free polishing cloths.

Price: $24.95

Small Dog iPod Battery Replacement Program

Small Dog Electronics now offers replacement batteries for both the original and third generation (slim) iPods. These batteries have the same capacity as the original batteries and are available in both kit form for do-it-yourselfers and as an installed product if you send your iPod to Small Dog.

These replacement batteries will include a detailed instruction sheet as well as the ideal tool to open your iPod. Not comfortable opening your iPod? No problem! Small Dog also offers the batteries with installation for $20 more.

FireWire 800 Meets 8X DVD Burning in New UltraBurn VIII Studio Series, Inc. has announced the industry's first 8X multi-format DVD burning solution be available in a speedy FireWire 800 enclosure.

The UltraBurn VIII Studio Series 8x DVD±R/±RW combines a powerful new 8x DVD burning system with FireWireDirect's series of FireWire 800 storage products. The result is the world's first DVD burning system to write at the brand new 8x speeds and include support for the newer faster FireWire standard. FireWireDirect has been in the vanguard of the FireWire 800 rollout with several 800 Mbps firsts and a wide selection of storage products.

The 8x DVD mechanism also finds its way into FireWireDirect's established line of FireWire 400 and USB 2.0 products as well, making 8x DVD burning available in several new products in the popular UltraBurn series of DVD solutions. With 8x DVD±R/±RW multi-format support and the speed promises of FireWire 800, this product will find an increasingly vital role in the digital video and digital audio production environment.

Each UltraBurn Studio Series system includes DVD software for Windows or Mac OS 9.x or OS X, and powerful DVD authoring solutions are available as options on some systems.

"We are very excited about introducing a product that is currently unmatched in the industry," says Daniel Jackson, FireWireDirect's Chief Technology Officer. "By combining FireWire 800 technology with the latest in 8x multi-format drives, we can now offer high performance products that our customers can daisy chain without slowing other FireWire 800 peripherals. Given the increasing number of FireWire 800 capable computers and upgrade options, this product is right for now and will allow users to grow with the new possibilities in upcoming technology."

EZ Quest Pro Audio FireWire 800

EZQuest's new line of Pro Audio FireWire 800 hard drives have a larger 8 MB buffer and new ball bearing fans to decrease noise levels while maintaining a low temperature. The Pro Audio drives are optimized for digital audio, and are preformatted for Macintosh systems. The drives also use internal power supplies instead of space consuming wall warts. Complete and ready to install, the EZQuest Pro Audio hard drives are the only sensible solution for your digital Pro Audio needs.


  • Optimized for digital audio
  • 8 MB buffer
  • Quiet Ball-bearing fan
  • Meets Digidesign requirements
  • IEC power supply -- no wall wart
  • Oxford 922 chipset
  • 2 year warranty
  • Mac formatted
  • Support from experienced audio experts
  • Durable steel-enforced casing

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.


Small Dog Electronics

  • new 14" iBook G3/900, 384/40/Combo, $1,049
  • new 12" PowerBook G4/1 GHz, 256/40/Combo, Small Dog Generic 512 MB PC2100 DDR 266 MHz SO DIMM, iSkin ProTouch PB Keyboard Protector in Arctic White, $1,725

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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