The 'Book Review

iBook G4 Graphics Update, New 'Books in June?, Sulphur Batteries, Apple Tech Support Beats Dell, and More

This Week's PowerBook and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2004.05.14

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.

iBook G4 Graphics Update 1.0 Released

iBook G4 Graphics Update 1.0 is recommended for the 12" 1 GHz and 14" 1.2 GHz iBook G4. It updates the graphics driver to fix a compatibility issue that may exist with applications that use OpenGL.

When this update package is downloaded and installed it will replace the old ATI driver bundle with a new one.

The installer will guide you through the steps necessary to install the iBook G4 Graphics Update.

System Requirements

  • Mac OS X 10.3.3 or later
  • iBook G4

New Apple Laptops in June?'s Huang Kung Tien and Steve Shen note:

"In June, Quanta will begin delivering new notebook models to Hewlett-Packard (HP), Apple Computer, NEC and Sony, further helping the company expand its notebook shipments for the second half, market sources said."

Perhaps Apple will just be shifting some PowerBook production from another subcontractor to Quanta.

Sulphur Fuels Battery Breakthrough

The Register's Andrew Orlowski reports:

"Tucson-based Sion Power Corporation has demonstrated a new generation of batteries based on Li-S (Lithium Sulfur) technology. The demonstration at WinHEC last week powered a Transmeta Crusoe-based Tablet PC for a working day.

"Long anticipated as the lighter successor to Lithium Polymer, Sion claims that the Li-S battery pack at 350 watt hours/kg compared to 150 Wh/kg for today's Li-Poly batteries, and are good for 300 power cycles...."

Apple Tech Support Rated "Significantly Better than Dell" by Consumer Reports

In its current "Workhorse Computer" report, Consumer Reports says:

"Overall, when it comes to technical support for desktop computers, Apple rated significantly better than Dell, while Compaq and HP rated significantly worse. It's not clear how those other companies handle support; Apple, Compaq, and HP did not comment."

Consumers Reports also notes:

"Choose a laptop if price isn't paramount, if you need a full-service computer that's also portable, and if upgrades aren't a major issue for you."

As I've been saying for years, laptops are the logical computer unless you have some compelling requirement for desktop features.

PowerBook FixIt Guides Announced

PB FixIt announced the free FixIt Guide series, a very welcome new set of PowerBook repair instructions. Each FixIt Guide has detailed disassembly instructions that walk the reader through the process of easily accessing and replacing damaged PowerBook components.

"Mac users have always fought the status quo. With these FixIt Guides, we're empowering people to 'Think Different' about repairing their laptop," said PB FixIt's CEO Kyle Wiens. "I can't tell you how many PowerBook owners I've talked to who had cracked their LCD or tripped over their power cord, but couldn't afford $100/hr repair fees in addition to Apple's insane prices for new parts. Our revolutionary FixIt Guides walk you through the repair process step by step, enabling you to replace any part in your PowerBook yourself.

"Many people have the impression that their laptop isn't worth having someone fix. They're right - often it's not cost effective to have others repair it. Our FixIt Guides make it easy for users to do the repair themselves. That's not just marketing-speak. The end users we've tested these Guides with rave about how easy it is to repair their laptops themselves."

FixIt Guides are available for these PowerBook models:

All six FixIt Guides are available immediately for free access on PB FixIt's website.

Printed full-color, bound copies of the FixIt Guides are also available for purchase at $14.95.

PB FixIt launched in 2003 as a purveyor of laptop replacement parts, specializing in hard to find Apple PowerBook parts.

ThermographX 1.2.4 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 support for April 2004 PowerBooks and iBooks.
  • Added user measurements for PowerBook G3/500 MHz.
  • Updated with latest user-submitted temperature measurements.

System requirements: Mac OS X 10.2.4 or higher (Panther compatible); 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

EZ-Disk USB 2.0 Flash Drives

EZ-Disk USB 2.0 Flash DriveEZQuest's new line of USB 2.0 Flash Drives are designed for portability. They are the world's smallest USB flash drives, the length and thickness of 2 quarters, and can hold up to 512 MB of information. Sleek, portable, and inexpensive, the EZQuest USB 2.0 flash drives are the perfect solution for your portable storage and small file transfer needs


  • USB 2.0 and USB 1.1 compatible
  • Bus powered
  • Transfer rate of 950 KB/sec
  • Small size, easy to remove protective cover
  • Plug and Play on most operating systems
  • Mac and PC compatible
  • Transfer data easy between Mac and PC systems
  • Low cost

EZ-Disk USB 2.0 Flash Drives

  • 128 MB
  • 256 MB
  • 512 MB


  • Read Data Transfer Rate: 1000 KB/sec
  • Write Data Transfer Rate: 950 KB/sec
  • Power Supply: bus powered (4.5v to 5.5v)
  • Interface: USB 2.0 (USB 1.1 Compatible)
  • Data Retention: 10 Years
  • Supported OS: Win 98Se, ME, 2000, XP
  • MacOS 9.0, Mac OS 10.1 or later
  • Included Software: Instruction manual on mini CD
  • Windows 98SE Driver
  • Operating temperature: -10 degrees C to +60 degrees C
  • Storage temperature: -20 degrees C to +80 degrees C
  • Weight: 4 grams
  • Dimensions: 1.88"(L) X 0.75"(W) X 0.13"(H)
  • Warranty: 1 Year

Windows Watch

New Sony Notebook PCs Aimed at PowerBook Market

Sony's full-sized notebook PCs go wide this month. The new VAIO A series PCs pack big screen entertainment into a stylishly transportable package.

With a 17" WUXGA (1920x1200) display, the VAIO VGN-A190 model claims the highest resolution display available on a notebook computer. And Sony's own XBRITE technology ensures that video playback is crisp and vivid.

Users can create and watch DVD movies with the built-in DVD±RW drive, as well as live or recorded TV with the aid of Sony's own Giga Pocket Personal Video Recorder and what is likely the most powerful TV tuner ever offered with a notebook. The Sony-engineered tuner is part of an AV entertainment dock that comes standard with this model.

The AV entertainment dock also includes a variety of analog and digital AV ports and Sony's S-Master digital amplifier, which preserves music quality from the PC through delivery to the specially tuned stereo speakers for true sound fidelity.

"Sony knows entertainment," said Mike Abary, general manager of VAIO PC marketing for Sony Electronics. "For the A series, we are using various AV and IT components, software and services developed throughout the company to deliver the best entertainment experience possible on a notebook PC."

To ensure that the quality of video playback is optimized for almost any environment, A series notebooks employ an ambient light sensor. ErgoBrite technology, originally developed for Sony's stand-alone IT displays, automatically adjusts screen brightness to accommodate various lighting conditions. No more worrying about struggling with configurations when plugging your PC into an external display device as Sony's Smart Display Sensor automatically adjusts to a compatible screen resolution and aspect ratio when using an external monitor or projector.

Intel Centrino mobile technology provides the processing muscle for this PC, while allowing the unit to run quite, cool and efficient. The mobile processor also contributes to the computer's thin profile, making it the lightest notebook of its kind.

In addition to hardware breakthroughs, the A series also sport newly enhanced Sony exclusive software. Among these are Click to DVD and SonicStage Mastering Studio applications for effortless DVD burning and professional quality re-mastering of analog music to digital formats. VAIO Media, Sony's entertainment networking software has also been updated to support a wider variety of digital content formats for video and music.

VAIO A series notebooks will be available at retail and online in a variety of configurations. In addition to the VGN-A190 model that will sell for about $2,800, the VGN-A160 model with a 15.4" wide format display will be available for $2,300 including the AV dock. For business users, the VGN-A130 model will be sold through business-to-business channels and online at It has a 15" 4x3 aspect display and will be available with an optional business dock.

Sony Unveils Tiny Wireless Pen PC

The Register's Tony Smith reports:

"Sony will ship a keyboardless PC in Japan later this month. But it's no Tablet PC - instead, this pen-operated, wireless-enabled Windows XP machine will be pitched at mobile media consumers.

Sony Vaio VGN-U70

"The consumer electronics giant is billing the Vaio VGN-U70 as the world's smallest full-function Windows PC. The unit measures 16.7 x 10.8 x 2.6cm and weighs just 550g. Much of the machine's face is taken up by an 800 x 600 transflective colour LCD. The display can also operate at up to 1600 x 1200, but at this stage it's not clear if that's a native resolution."

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

PowerBook Guy

Apple Store

New and unopened units

Wegener Media

Baucom Computers

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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