The 'Book Review

Willow Extends Sale, a Better Battery Monitor, 1 GB+ in iBook G4, 12" PB Heat Fix, and More

This Week's PowerBook and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2004.03.05

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

Willow Design Extends Final Closeout Sale Deadline

Willow Design had planned on shutting down operations permanently by February 29th, but they got so many orders that, even after working flat out for the last three weeks, they will have to sew until the end of March just to complete them. The new plan is to cut off orders March 10 so they can get everything finished by March 31st, a second try at a closing date.

"We have been overwhelmed by the response," says Willow's president Nigel Peck. "It seems everyone who has got one of our cases in the last 16 years has decided they have to have two more. If you have ordered, please be patient as we are days behind in processing the orders. Thanks to everyone!"

Willow manufactures a wide variety of cases, backpacks, handbags, and more for every current Apple product. Their quality of design and construction has been uniformly superb in all of the Willow products I've reviewed over the past several years, and I am profoundly saddened that the company has not been able to make a go of it, largely due to lower priced competition from offshore sourced products made with much cheaper labor than is possible in Canada.

You still have a few more days to take advantage of your last chance to own one (or more?) of these great cases.

Editor's note: I've ordered a slipcase for my 15" PowerBook G4 for those times when I don't need the larger Willow case I've been using for years. Construction quality and protection are impressive, as are the sale prices. dk

SlimBatteryMonitor 1.1 Battery Meter Monitors Laptop & UPS Power

SlimBatteryMonitorSlimBatteryMonitor is a free replacement power gauge for Mac OS X that monitors both laptop batteries and many UPS batteries. Multiple-battery systems (e.g., older powerbooks) are supported as well. A graphical icon shows the power remaining and can be accompanied by a text description (battery charge in percent or time remaining). Colours can indicate whether the system is fully charged, charging, or on battery.

  • three different text displays show percent full or time remaining
  • three different shape options 3 different shape options
  • much smaller than Mac OS X gauge much smaller than Mac OS X's gauge!

You can choose different display options for each battery state (fully charged, charging, or on battery). You may wish to see the time remaining while on battery, for example, but show only the icon during charging and hide SlimBatteryMonitor entirely when batteries are fully charged.


SlimBatteryMonitor agrees closely with Apple's monitor, as both are producing a gauge from the same raw data but is a better choice because it presents the same information in a more space-efficient manner, allowing you to fit other menu bar items on the screen as well.

SlimBatteryMonitor operates as a background application, so it won't use up a space in your dock. It is compatible with Mac OS X 10.2 and up, and it is very easy to configure.

New in this version:

  • SlimBatteryMonitor can now open a warning panel when battery power is nearly depleted.
  • The energy saver system preference pane can now be opened from SlimBatteryMonitor's menu.
  • Enhanced support for 2-battery powerbooks: Now the second battery's remaining time can be estimated from the first battery's power characteristics. Also, times and percentages are now aggregated across both batteries.

System requirements: Mac OS X 10.2 and up

An iBook G4 with 1.12 GO RAM

Hardmac's Olivier made an interesting trove:

"I put an Apple 1 G[B] extra RAM in my G4 iBook which is supposed to be bound to 640 RAM and I discovered the computer would detect and use flawlessly this RAM, thus making it to 1.12 GO de RAM :)

12" PowerBook Heat Fix

Is your 12" PowerBook G4 running hotter than blazes? Try a fix posted on PowerPage to reduce the operating temperature of the smallest PowerBook G4.

Back to the DuoDock?

Apple-x net's Eoban says:

"I'm thinking of a particular portable device made by Apple. It's the smallest and lightest model to date, with a grayscale screen, simplified controls and a dock connector.

"If you're thinking of the iPod mini, that's a good guess, but it's wrong.

"In October 1992 Apple introduced the PowerBook Duo 210, the first model of Duo. At first glance it seemed just like any other PowerBook, although it was the thinnest and lightest yet. Far thinner, it seemed, than would be possible if a user expected full functionality from it.

"But in the case of the Duo line of Macintosh PowerBooks, the computers had no external bus ports whatsoever save a single serial port and a wide dock connector for plugging into a DuoDock, which was designed to turn the Powerbook into a full-fledged desktop.

"It seems more possible all the time that the iPod will embody the legacy of the DuoDock in coming years...."

Matias Laptop Armor Hard Cases

Laptop ArmorStylish and rugged, Laptop Armor hard cases are designed to give your notebook computer real protection from the catastrophic impact of a fall - and look great doing it.

Drop tested. They don't recommend that you do this with your laptop, but to test how well Laptop Armor performed, Matias dropped one 10 feet (3 meters) off a second floor ledge onto concrete. Both laptop and case survived.

Hard exterior, soft interior. The key to Laptop Armor's protective capability is the combination of a hard outer shell and a padded foam interior. The Foam Pillow design surrounds the edges of your laptop with multiple layers of foam, insulating it from the outer shell of the case. In the event of a fall, the hard outer shell absorbs most of the impact, while the Foam Pillows cushion your laptop and keep its fragile corners away from the collision.

Custom fit to your laptop. Laptop Armor's patented Foam Pillow design is adjustable to custom fit virtually any size laptop or notebook computer. Velcro-backed Foam Pillows are used to re-size the inside of the case, matching it to the size and shape of your laptop, ensuring a snug fit.

Pocket and file storage. Laptop Armor cases have magazine/file folder storage plus 3 pockets: one large pocket for your power adapter and cables, a smaller pocket to stow a mouse or iPod/MP3 player, and a tall one to hold your sunglasses and pens or pencils. All models include a padded, removable shoulder strap. Laptop Armor cases are available in "Slim" sizes for thinner notebooks, as well as a "universal" size for larger/thicker models.

Laptop Armor cases also come in 2 styles: The basic models are black and consist of a lightweight EVA shell, encased in a rugged metal frame. They offer economical, dirt-resistant protection.

Laptop ArmorAluminum models have a beautiful metallic finish and modern styling. Available in three colours - polished aluminum, black aluminum, and white aluminum - they offer practical protection and rugged good looks.

Fits: 12" to 15" Apple laptop for Laptop Armor

Laptop Armor sells for $99.95 to $149.95.

You can read Applelinks Senior Editor Kirk Hiner's review of Laptop Armor online.

Notebook Ergonomics, Usability

A mezzoblue blog says:

"Using a notebook as my primary system is proving great for keeping everything I need with me at home or at the office. (Yes, the infamous iBook, though I don't expect that to hold true much longer.)

"But the past two months of this are taking their toll. Placing a notebook on a desk and then hunching over the small screen all day is a quick way to a stiff neck; doing so day after day is a quick path to long term disability. I'm willing to spend the pennies now to avoid the corrective dollars later, so I went out and bought an iCurve notebook stand and a Logitech keyboard. Skirting around Apple's generally more expensive hardware, I picked up a PC/Mac compatible USB cheapie keyboard. Smart."

"Well, not so fast...."

Notebooks Becoming the Computing Equivalent of a Second Car

The New York Times reports:

"The notebook PC is becoming the computing equivalent of a second car in many households. Notebooks finished off last year with strong sales, continuing to grab a growing share of the consumer PC market, NPD Techworld reported last week.

"Mobile machines accounted for more than 35 percent of all PC's sold in retail stores last year, up from 29 percent in 2002 and 23 percent in 2001, the research firm said."

"But most notebooks are not getting lighter. They typically come with DVD players and CD burners. They are more movable than mobile."

This squares with my long term contention that laptops are the logical computer for most people and that a large proportion of laptop owners use them more as desktop substitutes than for mobile computing, but it's incredibly convient to have the option of either.

Apple laptop sales are roughly 50% of systems shipped.

Sendstation Systems's PocketDock FireWire Adapter for 3G iPod

You're familiar with PocketDock, yes? The handy adapter that allows you to use a standard FireWire cable with the 3G or mini iPod.

How many ways will it save your day?

Here's what it can do:

  • Connect a standard FireWire cable to any 3G iPod (with the dock connector on the bottom)
  • Charge the iPod
  • Transfer data to and from the iPod
  • Use accessories you bought for your original iPod with your new one
  • Make it so you don't have to disrupt your iPod's dock every time you want to take your iPod on any extended journey

System requirements: Compatible with the following Apple iPods that use the dock connector: iPod mini, 10 GB (M8976LL/A), 15 GB (M8946LL/A), 20 GB (M8976LL/A), 30 GB (M8948LL/A), and 40 GB (M9245LL/A).

Price: $18.95

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.

Power Max

Baucom Computers

Wegener Media



  • used tangerine iBook G3/300, 64/6/CD-ROM, 30 day warranty, $399.99

Small Dog Electronics

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

For more deals on current or recently discontinued models, see our Best PowerBook G4 Deals, Best iBook G4 Deals, and Best iBook G3 Deals.

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