The 'Book Review

'Books Price Competitive with Dells, Sunflower Oil Fuel Cells, VESA Laptop LCD Standards, and More

This Week's PowerBook and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2004.09.03

Macs Are More Expensive, Right?

LinuxInsider's Paul Murphy says:

"At the low end, therefore, the PC desktops are marginally less expensive than the Macs - if you can do without their connectivity and multimedia capabilities - and considerably more expensive if you can't. At the very high end, however, all of the design focus is on multimedia processing and the PCs simply aren't competitive from either hardware or cost perspectives.

"Everyone knows PCs are faster than Macs, but Macs cost more. Right? There are two issues here: cost and performance. Right now I want to focus on the cost side of the myth, leaving performance for another column, possibly in late September.

"For today, I'm simply going to argue that Macs and PCs are optimized for very different kinds of jobs and thus cater to different perceptions of what constitutes performance. Fundamentally, what counts for both is suitability to purpose, not bits shuffled per second....

"The notebook comparisons are comparatively clean and decisive.

"Dell's low-end Inspiron 5150 ($1,079 after 10 percent discount) offers a 15-inch display but is otherwise not competitive with Apple's 12-inch iBook ($1,099). Dell doesn't offer anything to compete with Apple's 17-inch Titaniums ($2,799) at the high end.

"In between, both Apple's 12-inch and 15-inch PowerBooks are less expensive and include more extensive connectivity capabilities than do the PCs."

"So, bottom line, are PCs cheaper than Macs? No, despite what you read in the PC press, it's the other way around...."

Sunflower Oil Adapted for Fuel Cells

Reuters' David Cullen reports:

"British scientists say they have found a new, greener way to power cars and homes using sunflower oil, a commodity more commonly used for cooking fries.

"In a presentation made to members of the American Chemical Society in Philadelphia on Wednesday, researchers from Leeds University in England said the popular vegetable oil could easily be used to make the hydrogen needed to develop fuel cells, a promising alternative source of energy."

Fuel cells have been touted as an alternative to storage batteries as a power source for portable computers and other electronic devices.

Laptop Desktop USB

Laptop Desktop USBForget bulky, expensive monitors and docking stations. The space-saving, moneysaving Laptop Desktop USB converts laptops to desktops in seconds. The built-in 4-port USB 2.0 hub provides convenient one-time connection for computer accessories. And adjustable screen height, tilt, and swivel features ensure optimal viewing and comfort. For all laptops 16" and smaller. One year warranty and free technical support.

Features and Benefits

  • Space-saving, moneysaving solution eliminates the need for extra monitors.
  • Built-in 4-port USB 2.0 hub provides one-time connection for computer accessories.
  • Adjustable screen height, tilt, and swivel for optimal viewing and ergonomic comfort.
  • Curved back and padded insert ensure constant ventilation and secure fit, while enclosure offers protection from spills.
  • Built-in copyholder positions documents in line with the screen for easier viewing.
  • VESA mounting plate can attach to monitor arms, wall mounts, and cubicle hangers.
  • For all laptops 16" and smaller.

Dimensions: 15.0"L x 4.5"H x 12.25"W

Price: $79.99

Verbatim Unveils High Performance Pro Line of Store 'n' Go USB Drives

Verbatim Corporation has announced an all-new Store 'n' Go Pro line of USB flash drives. Offering higher performance, higher capacities and more advanced security features than other popular USB flash drives, the ultra-sleek Pro devices support up to 23 MB/sec read and 14 MB/sec write speeds and are Store 'n' Go Proavailable in capacities ranging from 256 MB to 2 GB. Ideal for content developers, IT professionals, digital photo and music enthusiasts, the Store 'n' Go Pro drives provide the fastest and most innovative way to store, share and transport large data files, presentations, photos, music and video.

With a maximum write speed of 14 MB/sec speed (over 90x in terms of CD speed rating), and a maximum read speed of 23 MB/sec (over 150x), the Store 'n' Go Pro USB drive provides unmatched performance, and can transfer a 100 MB folder to a host system in less than 7 seconds.

Verbatim's new Store 'n' Go Pro drives leverage high-performance flash controllers and US patented technology to deliver what is currently the world's fastest USB drive read and write speeds as well as advanced security features and unprecedented reliability. Key features that position the Store 'n' Go Pro USB drives among the most unique USB drives on the market include:

  • V-Safe Security Software with a user-adjustable security partition, anti-tamper password entry, and secure data encryption.
  • V-Key File Synchronization Software helps users manage data to ensure that the most current information is updated between devices and provides an easy to use onscreen interface for accessing your Store 'n' Go Pro.
  • Customization features let the user personalize the device with a custom volume name, device icon, or preferred audio sounds.
  • An all-new ultra-slim design makes it easier to use in stacked port arrangements, common in today's compact notebooks and USB hubs.
  • A user label area that can be used with the included labels to identify or personalize the device.
  • Individual serial numbers on the case to make each drive uniquely identifiable.

"Verbatim's Store 'n' Go Pro USB drives are ideal for users who routinely work with large files, folders of digital photos, music, or multimedia files and those who synchronize large amounts of data," said Mark Rogers, Verbatim Business Development Manager. "Store 'n' Go Pro's advanced controller is specifically optimized to move large numbers of files to and from the device as quickly as possible. The advanced security features make transporting confidential data less worrisome because protected data is encrypted and an anti-tamper feature protects your data even if it's lost or stolen . . . quite unlike a stolen laptop which can be easily compromised."

For ultra-reliability, Verbatim's new Store 'n' Go Pro drives feature an onboard 32 bit ARM-7 microprocessor that manages I/O operations and many of the drive's technical features. An advanced wear-leveling algorithm is used to distribute writes evenly among flash storage cells. By evenly distributing the writing, Store 'n' Go Pro achieves an unprecedented reliability rating of over one million write/erase cycles. Advanced EDC/ECC (Error Detection Code/Error Correction Code) furthers the Store 'n' Go Pro's immunity to failure.

Store 'n' Go Pro is plug & play-compatible with Windows(R) 98SE*/ME/2000/XP or higher as well as Macintosh 9.x OS and higher operating systems and Linux kernel version 2.6.x (RedHat, Suse, and Turbo Linux) and higher systems. (*Windows 98SE requires Internet access for downloading the driver.)

The Store 'n' Go Pro USB 2.0 Drive is now being released to Verbatim's distribution and retail channels and will be available in September, 2004. Capacities include 256 MB, 512 MB, 1 GB and 2 GB. Suggested list prices range from $74.95 for 256 MB to $599.95 for 2 GB. The complete package includes the Store 'n' Go Pro USB Drive, Carry Lanyard, User Labels, preloaded V-Safe Security and V-Key File Synchronization Software, and a Quick Start Guide. All Store 'n' Go USB Drives are backed by Verbatim's limited lifetime warranty and toll-free technical support.

New VESA Standards Set Electrical Interface and Mechanical Dimensions for Notebook LCDs

Newly released standards from the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) have been developed to enable LCD manufacturers and panel consumers to better control supply and demand cycles.

These specifications will define requirements for the standardization of mechanical dimensions and selected electrical interface requirements of 12.1", 12.1" wide, 15.4", and 17" wide panels intended for use in LCD notebooks. The intent is that panels built to these specifications will be able to be used in most applications without requiring alterations in either the product tooling or the display module.

"The intent is to enable panel suppliers to meet VESA's objective of transparent usage across various product platforms, and to do so while maintaining panel product differentiators that are important to many suppliers, according to Bill Lempesis, VESA's executive director."

Kanguru Solutions Unveils Battery Powered Flash Card Burner and DVD Player

Kanguru Slim FC-RWKanguru Solutions has unveiled the Kanguru Slim FC-RW, a battery powered portable flash card burner that allows digital camera users to copy flash card data onto a CD without a computer.

"We used customer feedback from the first Kanguru FC-RW and created a better solution. In addition to copying flash card data onto a CD, the new Slim FC-RW can be connected to a TV and used as a DVD player or when connected to a computer it can be used as a DVD-ROM, CD-RW, or Card Reader. Coupled with a rechargeable battery, this product offers the ultimate in portability," said Nate Cote, vice president of product management at Kanguru Solutions.

The Kanguru Slim FC-RW works with eight different media types including Compact Flash (Type I/II), IBM Micro Drive, Smart Media, Secure Digital, Sony Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, and Multimedia Cards. The slim FC-RW supports disc-spanning for duplicating flash cards larger than 1 GB - so once a 700 MB CD is filled to capacity, the slim FC-RW will ask for a new CD to duplicate the remainder of the data.

Additionally, the Kanguru Slim FC-RW can be used as an external 24x USB 2.0 CD-RW, an 8x DVD-ROM or an 8-in-1 Card Reader when connected to a USB 2.0 port (backwards compatible with USB 1.1) on a computer. Selling for $249.95, the Kanguru FC-RW also works as a portable DVD player when connected to a TV and includes a remote control for media playback and duplication.

"Hook it up to a TV, give your family and friends a slideshow of your pictures and then burn them to a CD for them to take home. This product is especially beneficial for mobile users who don't have easy access to a computer or card reader while on the road," said Cote.

Targus Provides Relief for Mobile Consumers with Rolling Backpack

Targus Rolling BackpackTargus Inc., inventor of the notebook case and the preeminent provider of mobile accessory solutions, has unveiled the industry's first ever Rolling Notebook Backpack. This versatile carrying case offers the same protection as Targus' standard cases while combining the flexibility of a backpack and rolling case into one portable package. Targus' Rolling Notebook Backpack is ideal for students, commuters and travelers.

"Targus' Rolling Notebook Backpack is a practical and professional solution for carrying a notebook in any situation," said Sandra Wirth, global business manager, Targus. "Through research and customer feedback, Targus determined the rolling backpack form factor was a solution needed by a large number of notebook users. When used as a backpack it offers convenience and handsfree portability. But when traveling long distances or when the case is packed too heavily to wear for long periods of time, the ability to roll the bag relieves strain on the user."

The versatile Rolling Notebook Backpack can be worn, rolled, or carried by a co-molded ergonomic handle at the top. When used as a backpack, a rear flap can be lowered and attached to the underside of the case, shielding the user from the wheels. In roller mode, the case glides on inline skate wheels and can be pulled by a two-tier telescoping, locking handle. The rear flap also secures shoulder straps in place. Both the shoulder and handle straps are padded for optimum comfort and a handle grip on the bottom of the case makes lifting it into a car or plane overhead compartment easy.

A removable, padded slipcase fits notebooks with screen sizes up to 15.4". When the slipcase is removed, the notebook backpack can double as an overnight bag. Organizational features include pen loops, a key clip, a business card holder, a side mesh pocket for water bottle storage, a zippered mesh accessory pocket and file dividers. Users will also appreciate the front pocket with protective lining to accommodate a MP3 player, PDA, or sunglasses. The backpack is constructed of ripstop fabric and also includes protective PVC material on the bottom of the case to protect against liquid damage.

Targus' Rolling Notebook Backpack is currently available at Best Buy or on Targus' website. The backpack has a suggested retail price of $69.99 and includes a limited lifetime warranty.

Digital Age Products Releases iSoundz Product Line for iPod and MP3 Players

Digital Age Products announces three new audio products for Apple Computer, Inc's iPod series that will let an iPod owner take and share their music anywhere they go.

The three new products include:

  • The iSoundz Portable Desktop Mini Speakers
  • The iSoundz Sound Wallet Mini Speakers and
  • The iSoundz CarCast FM Transmitter

All three products are priced under $40 and can be found at the Digital Age Products website and at a number of national resellers. Both the iSoundz Portable Desktop Mini Speakers and the iSoundz CarCast FM Transmitter will work with other audio devices such as MP3, CD and Mini Disk players.

The Digital Age Products are designed to combine a quality audio experience with unique product design that simplifies listening to your audio devices, like your iPod, that expand your listening options.

iSoundz Portable Desktop Mini SpeakersThe iSoundz Portable Desktop Mini Speakers need less than 9 square inches of desk space to operate. These desktop stereo speakers deliver a clear, crisp sound powered by a built-in, rechargeable NiMH battery. The speakers cradle the iPod, without hogging your desktop (or your iPod's battery charge). The speakers foldaway, making it simple to take them with you anywhere. The unit includes an AC adapter and an optional USB power cable, which also lets you charge the speakers by connecting them to your desktop or notebook computer. The speakers will also work with other MP3 or PDA devices that have a standard audio jack. The iSoundz Desktop Mini Speakers have an MSRP of $39.95.

The iSoundz Sound Wallet Mini Speakers combine a handsome and protective leatherette carrying case with a set of built-in, self-powered stereo speakers. Like the iSoundz Portable Desktop Mini Speakers, they are powered by a rechargeable NiMH battery and also include the AC adapter and optional USB power cable. The iSoundz Sound Wallet Mini Speakers make it easy to take and share your music and audio books (from companies like, a Digital Age Products partner) anywhere you go. The case is great for small group meetings or classroom use. Both the Sound Wallet and the Portable Desktop Mini Speakers work with all generations of iPods. It has an MSRP of $39.95.

The iSoundz CarCast FM Transmitter operates wirelessly via your car's FM radio. Just set your car radio to station 107.7 FM, plug in the CarCast to your cigarette lighter and its mini-jack plug to your audio device. CarCast makes it simple. There is no fussing and fiddling with multiple stations trying to lock in a clear signal. Because the CarCast FM Transmitter uses power from your car's cigarette lighter, there is no need to buy expensive batteries to power the transmitter. And the CarCast doesn't drain battery power from your iPod or other audio devices. Your listening will never be interrupted by weak wireless signals due to low battery power again. Developed with frequency phase-lock loop technology, The CarCast delivers stable, practically interference free music and voice from your MP3 player, PDA, CD player or minidisk. The iSoundz CarCast FM Transmitter has an MSRP of $24.95.

Digital Age Products will be introducing other new products over the next couple of quarters that will enhance not only your audio experience but simplify connecting and using all sorts of other digital devices.

  • iSoundz Portable Desktop Mini Speakers, $39.95 MSRP
  • iSoundz Sound Wallet Mini Speakers, $39.95 MSRP
  • iSoundz CarCast FM Transmitter, $24.95 MSRP

Matias Releases Clear Hardcase for iPod mini

Clear iPod Armor mini caseMatias released its new Clear iPod Armor mini case at Apple Expo Paris this week. With a clear ABS plastic front and rugged aluminum back, the new case features docking port access and iTrip compatibility.

"We wanted to offer iPod mini owners a less expensive option that still provided great protection and convenience. Voilà: the Clear iPod Armor mini case," said Vesna Vojnic, Marketing Manager for Matias. "It is the same design as our high-end, all-aluminum iPod Armor mini case, but with a plastic front, so now you can see how great your iPod mini looks."

The Clear iPod Armor mini case is available immediately, and retails for US$34.95.

Talking Panda iLingo Language Translation Software for iPod

Talking Panda iLingo sets a new standard for language translation software. Designed for the iPod, it's stocked with over four hundred essential words and phrases of the language you want to speak, organized for instant access. Download and install the program and begin your adventure abroad. Virtual fluency available in French, German, Italian, Spanish. Euro Pack containing four languages for $39.95 or $14.95 per language.

Universal Bathroom Sign Organized for Quickness and Ease

Talking Panda iLingo is organized into categories such as: Greetings, Shopping, and Emergency, so if you are lost or stuck without a bathroom, you can find the sentences you need instantly. You'll never be caught with your nose in a dictionary again.

US Passport a Lot to Talk About

Talking Panda iLingo contains all the basic phrases you'll need while traveling, but to add to the fun we've tailored the translator for each country you'll visit. You can find a Sumo Tournament in Japan or eat at a vegetarian restaurant in Paris.

iPod Headphones Perfectly Pronounced

Conventional phrase books and dictionaries can't teach you pronunciation. But with Talking Panda iLingo you can replay the words and phrases as many times as you like until you can speak like a native! Or if you're really shy, pop the iPod headphones into a waiter's ear, press play, and get exactly what you want!

Talking Panda iLingo products published by XtremeMac:

iLingo Euro Pack Box Multi-Packs ($39.95 each)

  • English Euro Pack - English to French, German, Italian, and Spanish
  • Français Euro Pack - français à allemand, anglais, espagnol, italien

Individual Languages ($14.95 each)

  • English to French
  • English to German
  • English to Italian
  • English to Spanish
  • français-allemand
  • français-anglais
  • français-espagnol
  • français-italien

Try the Talking Panda iLingo online demo (Requires Flash 6 or later.). Download a trial version of iLingo English to Japanese with 65 phrases.


  • Each translator comes stocked with over 400 phrases.
  • Categories include:
  • Getting Directions, Dining, Making Friends, and Entertainment, just to name a few.
  • Audio files created by native speakers provide proper pronunciation for all included phrases.
  • Windows version coming soon.
  • Installing Talking Panda iLingo will create a numbered backup of your current notes, accessible when the iPod is mounted.

System requirements:

  • iPod with dock connector on the bottom (including the iPod mini and the Click Wheel iPod).
  • NOT compatible with any iPod that was purchased before May 2003, has a wheel that physically moves, a direct FireWire connection on the top, or buttons around the wheel.
  • Mac OS X 10.2 or later
  • 30 MB free space on the iPod
  • iTunes (version 4.1 required)
  • Compatible iPods: 3rd generation iPod, iPod mini, Click Wheel iPod

Walmart Deal Not Good for Taiwan Notebook Makers's Steve Shen reports:

"A recent agreement between US retail giant Walmart and Elitegroup Computer Systems (ECS) is not a good deal for ECS and other Taiwan notebook makers, according to market sources and media reports.

"Although ECS is estimating that it will post a pretax loss of NT$645 million in 2004 instead of a pretax profit of NT$598 million, the Chinese language Commercial Times reported the company has started delivering a WiFi-equipped notebook to Walmart, which will sell for less than US$600 through online sales.... it will be difficult for ECS to derive any profit, if any, from its deal with Walmart...."

Transmeta Enters Chinese Market with New Ultraportable Notebook

Transmeta Corporation, the leader in efficient computing, and Amoi Electronics Co., Ltd., a leading Chinese electronics manufacturer, announced the availability of the ultraportable Amoi NBPC V3 notebook powered by the Transmeta Efficeon processor, ushering in a new eon of efficient computing in China.

With the successful production of the NBPC V3, Amoi has broken new ground and expanded the boundaries of traditional notebook design by using Chinese independent research and development in addition to its high-quality manufacturing expertise. Additionally, Amoi engineers worked with the full support of Transmeta engineers from the local Shanghai office and U.S. headquarters resulting in the first notebook that has been designed and manufactured by Amoi in China.

The high performance Efficeon processor and the small, lightweight, silent operation of the Amoi V3 offers users a quiet computing experience, with enough performance to run today's most demanding applications. The magnalium (magnesium/aluminum) case enables increased strength and durability, and utilizing the low-power Efficeon TM8600 processor enables the Amoi V3 to run up to two and a half hours on a standard battery and up to five hours on the extended battery.

"After an extensive search for the ideal processor, it became evident that the high-performance and energy-efficient characteristics of Efficeon were perfectly suited for the development of the Amoi NBPC V3," said Yale Guan, general manager of the IT Division at Amoi Electronics, Co. Ltd. "In addition, Efficeon enabled Amoi to develop the quintessential ultraportable notebook for today's fast-paced, mobile lifestyle in a sleek, affordable package."

The V3 features an impressive array of integral connectivity features for an ultraportable notebook weighing in at less than three pounds; the Amoi V3 is geared toward on-the-go users who require an attractive, lightweight and high-performance device for business and entertainment use anytime, anywhere.

"We are excited that our Efficeon processor has been selected as the core of the Amoi V3 - a very timely and much anticipated product for the Chinese market," said Matthew R. Perry, president and CEO at Transmeta Corporation. "Through this launch, Transmeta begins a new long term relationship with Amoi, strengthens its presence in China and continues to expand into new high-growth global markets with best-in-class technology for efficient notebook computing."


  • Transmeta 130nm Efficeon TM8600 1.0 GHz processor with fully integrated Northbridge
  • ULI M1563 Southbridge with HyperTransport I/O
  • 32 MB ATI Mobility Radeon graphics controller
  • 10.6" WXGA LCD with 1280 x 768 native resolution
  • Choice of 30 GB or 40 GB hard drive
  • Choice of 256 MB or 512 MB DDR SDRAM
  • 2 USB 2.0 ports
  • IEEE 1394 port
  • PCMCIA A Type II slot
  • V.92 MDC modem
  • 10/100Base-T LAN and 802.11b/g WLAN
  • Small 270 x 183 x 25.5 mm form factor design
  • Light 1.20 kg (approximately 2.65 lb.) total weight, including standard battery and WLAN

The official V3 product launch will take place on August 28, 2004 at the Amoi IT Production Line facility in Xiamen City, China. The V3 is available immediately in China.

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


Power Max

Small Dog Electronics


Apple Store

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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