The 'Book Review

iBook G4 Hot in Japan, 12" iBook or PowerBook, Fuel Cells, Soyuz Laptop Bag, and More

This Week's PowerBook and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2004.05.21

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 #2 on Japanese Sales Charts

Insanely Great Mac's Remy Davison reports:

"Two iBook models have made the Japanese sales charts' top 20, with the iBook 1 GHz coming in at #2. Another model is at #18.

"Computer models move from hot to not very quickly in Japan. Just a couple of weeks ago, the newly revamped PowerBook G4-12" and G4-15" had made an early impact on the top 20 just days following their release."

12" PowerBook vs. iBook: What's a Mac Fan to Do?

Computerworld says:

"It's a nagging question for which there is seemingly no correct answer, akin to the 'paper or plastic' query at the grocery store: PowerBook or iBook? Aluminum or polycarbonate? Twelve-inch or 14-inch?

"Ever since Apple Computer Inc. released the iBook G3, Macintosh users have debated the relative merits of the company's entry-level laptop and its pro line of sleek PowerBook G4s. Until last fall, when Apple finally plopped a G4 chip into the iBook, the answer seemed pretty clear. If you wanted speed and had the bucks, get the PowerBook.

"That advice is no longer as clear-cut as it once was.

"Apple recently sent Computerworld two of its newest laptops for review purposes: a top-end 14-in. iBook G4, with a combination drive and an AirPort Extreme card for wireless networking, and an entry-level 12-in. PowerBook, similarly equipped - but with a SuperDrive that can burn DVDs as well as CDs. The PowerBook weighs just 4.6 pounds, while the iBook weighs 5.9 pounds.

"The upper end of Apple's iBook line has been edging ever closer to PowerBook territory over the past few upgrade cycles, and that's certainly the case with the latest iteration of white wonders."

Fuel Cells Could Be Next Power Source for Laptops

TechWeb News' Gregg Keizer reports:

"Japanese technology companies are pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into R&D on fuel cells to power laptops, PDAs, and phones, a research firm said Wednesday, in an effort to keep up with the insatiable power demand of electronics.

"Fuel-cell technology, developed by NASA during the opening years of the space program, creates electricity from chemical reactions between fuels - such as hydrogen or methanol - and an oxidant. They've been touted as the power source for everything from future automobiles to in-home generators that take a house off the grid."

Everquest Design Soyuz PowerBook Laptop Bag a Piece of History

Soyuz Laptop BagEverquest's Soyuz TM-8 Space Mission Series is a messenger-type PowerBook and widescreen laptop bag with padded separate compartment. These are unique, limited edition bags with authentic materials from Space Station missions.

Tested for city commuting, the space parachute on the front withstood a lot more than riding on the subway.

The bag features Everquest's Zero-Copy product-design: No two bags are identical since no two pieces of relics can be identical.


  • Front flap with orange and white piece from 1990 Soyuz TM-8 space mission landing parachute.
  • Front flap secures with dual quick-release buckled straps for added capacity and stability
  • High strength waterproof black elephant twill
  • Full-width back pocket Velcro-secured for easy access.
  • Black nylon detachable shoulder strap 2" wide for extra comfort.
  • Padded interior with high strength nylon-cotton black lining
  • Laptop sleeve padded and removable accommodates PowerBook computer from 15" to 17" screen
  • Business organizer with 2 pen pockets, a 4"x6" slash pocket, zippered 6"x8" pocket, and key clip
  • Designed and handcrafted in Canada with North American components
  • Dimensions : 12"h.x15"w.x5d.

Price: $225 US/$185 Euros

Dr. Bott's VGAtor VGA to ADC Adapter for 12" PowerBook G4

With the 12" PowerBook, Apple aimed to satisfy the market hungry for an ultra-portable Mac laptop. The first generation PowerBooks did just that - a powerful 867 MHz G4 processor in a tiny aluminum shell. With the smaller form factor, one big sacrifice Apple initially made was to include only a VGA port for sending video out of the PowerBook. Adequate for projectors or old school monitors, the 12" was a great step forward for Apple's PowerBook revolution.

However, when Apple introduced its line of ADC displays, the 12" PowerBooks were left out of the fun. With only a VGA-out port, these first units were only capable of driving VGA displays. (Later versions of the 12" PowerBook are equipped with DVI video capability, which allow use of Apple's own ADC displays via an adapter like DVIator.)

VGAtor allows the original 12" PowerBook to drive Apple's ADC displays.

VGAtor converts VGA and USB signals into a single digital ADC signal, preserving the original color and resolution and adding flicker-free digital flat-panel quality, often superior to the built-in notebook display.

VGAtor includes an original Apple power supply to guarantee the best available solution for using your Apple flat panel display with a VGA notebook.

Setup is straightforward - all necessary cables are included - just plug everything in and choose "Detect Displays" in the Displays Control Panel, and presto, your ADC monitor is up and running.

A software wizard is included so that you can fine tune image parameters such as Phase (the fuzziness on screen), horizontal and vertical position and, should you ever need to, color as well. VGAtor stores the parameters associated with your display and will remember them until you hook up a different display.

This allows you to leave VGAtor on your desk (the case is just too beautiful to hide it. ) waiting for you to come back and use the extra screen real estate whenever you need it, without even rebooting your PowerBook.

VGAtor is compatible with all PowerBooks with a built-in VGA port as well as all PC notebooks that can use a second display as additional desktop space.

Specifically, VGAtor was optimized for the PowerBook G4 12" with VGA. This PowerBook supports the full range of ADC displays in full resolution and color depth.

The PowerBook G4 Titanium with VGA output is limited to 16 Bit color at higher resolutions and may be limited to the 15, 17 and 22" Apple ADC displays, depending on the graphics chip set and operating system your particular model is using.

Older PowerBook G3 (Pismo, Lombard and Wallstreet) models are limited to 1280 x 1024 (15 and 17" ADC Studio Displays) and video quality may be lacking at the top resolution.

Certain iMac G4 and iBook models are also compatible. These computers will work out of the box if they have a built-in VGA-port (adapter in the box for iBooks, optional for iMac G4) and the screen size is 1024 x 768. These iBooks and iMacs allow mirroring to a 15" ADC Studio Display via VGAtor*.

DVIator supports the Apple 15" Studio Display, the 17" Studio Display, the 20" Apple Cinema Display, the 22" Apple Cinema Display and the 23" Apple Cinema HD Display with ADC connectors (see ADC connector on the right).

The now obsolete ADC 17" CRT Studio Display is not supported by VGAtor.

VGAtor is independent of a specific OS, so there is no special requirement for the computer or the operating system other than requirements dictated by the video card.

Use any ADC display with the 12" VGA PowerBook

  • Works with Apple ADC displays from 15" to 23"
  • Easy to set up
  • Crystal-clear image up to 1600 x 1200

Price: $299.95

Hear Your Music aNywhere Works with OS X

Hear Your Music aNywhere (HYMN) is a hack of questionable legality that circumvents DRM restrictions on iTunes Music Store downloads The Mac OS X version includes a drag-n-drop graphical user interface.

You can check it out here, but be aware that HYMN almost certainly violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in the US.

Upgradable Laptop Video?'s Lionel reports:

"Who hasn't looked into the possibility of changing the video card of an aging laptop ?

"Well, lots of people, given the popularity and the recurrence of that question on the forums. So far the answer for an iMac, iBook or eMac is still a firm no.

"However things could change. Nvidia introduced a prototype of a replaceable video card for laptops.

Camera Added to USB Flash Drive

The Register's Tony Smith reports:

"We've seen MP3 players and WiFi adaptors integrated into USB Flash drives, but now Taiwanese manufacturer Transcend has extended the format with a digicam/storage combo.

"Transcend JetFlash DSC. The JetFlash DSC is a typical 8 x 2.9 x 1.6cm, 26g Flash drive, but there's a 640 x 480 digicam built in there too, along with a tiny rechargeable battery to keep it operational."

sterBatteryInfo 1.1 Battery Info Tool

sterBatteryInfo is a freeware battery info tool for 'Book users.

New iSkin eVo iPod Protector

The Think Different Store now has in-stock the iSkin eVo, the new, improved protector for the 3G Apple iPod. The manufacturer, iSkin Inc., refers to the new eVo as "proof of eVolution". iSkin Inc. has taken all the good stuff, like form fitting design, rear heat release pores, and elegant lines from its immensely popular iSkin eXo2 and combined them with new features and refinements to create the iSkin eVo.

RevoClipFor example, the iSkin eVo now sports a completely redesigned rotary RevoClip (right). It's made of a durable, non-shattering, lightweight plastic polymer that won't snap apart. The new RevoClip design offers one of the lowest profiles found on belt clips of its kind.

It features a rotary click-lock movement that rotates 180°. It integrates seamlessly into the iSkin eVo and clips securely to your belt. The new RevoClip can be completely removed if desired and is fully compatible with the iSkin eXo2.

It also comes with an improved screen protector that maintains an ultra-clear view of the iPod's screen. The new eVo now allows devices like the iTrip to connect seamlessly while maintaining solid protection by featuring a new, thinned-down top surface with beveled edges.

iSkin has increased the available color selection to include a series of Ultra-Glo (glow-in-the-dark) shades that produce a vibrant glow in the dark (left). They're so cool, you'll want to own them all.

Many iSkin customers want to use their favorite top mounting iPod accessories with their iSkin. So it is possible to plug devices like the iTrip and NaviPod into the iPod without having to remove the iSkin eVo first.

The top of the iPod remains protected by the iSkin eVo and gives you easy access to the hold switch. The iSkin eVo also features a bottom dock connector port cover that won't fall off and get lost. It securely plugs into the iPod's docking/charging port to keep out dust, dirt or liquids that may enter and cause permanent damage.

The company believes that the iSkin eVo is testament to its open ear towards customer feedback, and its latest offering shows they've been listening. 

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.

Apple Store

These products are new and unopened units.

  • 14" iBook G4/1 GHz, 256/60/Combo, $1,199
  • 12" PowerBook G4/1 GHz, 256/40/SuperDrive, $1,499
  • 15" aluminum PowerBook G4/1 GHz, 256/60/Combo, $1,799
  • 15" PowerBook G4/1.25 GHz, 512/80/SuperDrive, AirPort Extreme, $2,299
  • 17" PowerBook G4/1.33 GHz, 512/80/SuperDrive, AirPort Extreme, $2,599

Small Dog Electronics

  • used 12" iBook G3/700, 128/20/Combo, $699
  • refurb 12" iBook G4/800, 128/30/CD-ROM, $799

Baucom Computers

  • PowerBook 3400/200, 80/2/CD-ROM, $184
  • iBook G3/300, 128/3/CD-ROM, $289
  • iBook G3/366, 160/6/CD-ROM, FireWire, $379

  • 17" PowerBook Notebook G4/1.33, 512/80/SuperDrive - used & new from $1,550

Wegener Media

  • PowerBook G4/500, 128/20/DVD, 60 day guarantee, $899.99
  • with 16x Combo drive installed, $1099.99

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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