The 'Book Review

Dual Core 'Books; Cooler, Quieter Laptop Drives; Beverage Spills; iMac G5 for Almost All; and More

This Week's PowerBook and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2004.10.15

iPod News

Tech Trends

Wintel Watch

Bargain 'Books

An Apple with Two Cores?

Forbes' Arik Hesseldahl reports:

"Was that maybe, just maybe, a chip aimed at a forthcoming PowerBook that Freescale Semiconductor was talking about?

"Apparently not - or at least not yet.

"In a presentation at this week's Fall Processor Forum, Freescale, the former chip making unit of Motorola, disclosed plans to produce a dual-core version of its PowerPC chip that it said was aimed primarily at networking applications.

"But news of Freescale's impending presentation of a dual-core version of its e600 chip (e600 is the new name for the line of chips that used to be called G4), prompted a bit of speculation that perhaps a new Mac-oriented chip with two cores might have been in the offing, which would indeed be news....

"While the chip Freescale described on Tuesday - which bears the arcane product name MPC8641D - probably isn't going into a Mac anytime soon, there's nothing stopping Freescale from adapting it and making a dual-core chip aimed at Apple's flagship product, says Kevin Krewell, analyst with Instat/MDR, the market research outfit that hosted the Processor Forum event."

Cooler, Quieter Laptop Hard Drives

PC World's Rex Farrance reports:

"Western Digital has announced its first foray into mobile hard drives. If the new drives live up to their promise, they should be among the best options available....

"The Scorpio line of drives debuts in 40 GB, 60 GB and 80 GB capacities. The drive has a rated average seek time of 12ms and comes with a 2 MB buffer (an upgrade to 8 MB is optional).... Scorpio drives will spin their platters at 5400 rpm....

"The company claims that models in the Scorpio line are the quietest mobile hard drives on the market. Heat won't be a problem either...."

Dealing with Beverage Spills on Your 'Book

MaxFixIt writes:

"Your errant hand or a curious pet can inflict serious damage on a PowerBook or iBook if liquids are nearby. A spilled beverage - especially those containing sugar or of naturally high acidity - can be damaging or even terminal for your laptop.

"Aside from the general advice of never keeping any food or beverage within striking distance of your 'book, there are some methods for possible resurrection of a flooded unit, as well as preventative measures that can ensure your investment will not be completely lost."

Lightest Car/Air Power Adapter

Car/Air Power AdapterEver get stuck on the road with a dead laptop battery and an hour's worth of work to do? Never again! Just use the Kensington Universal Car/Air Adapter for Apple to plug your PowerBook or iBook into any car cigarette lighter or Empower-equipped airline seat, and you've got the power you need. Internal circuit protection prevents overheating, and a compact, lightweight design keeps you mobile.

Features and Benefits

  • Powers and charges notebook in a car or on a plane
  • Adapter tips fit Apple PowerBooks and Apple iBook notebooks
  • Eliminates the need to carry heavy, extra batteries
  • Internal circuitry prevents overheating and protects notebook
  • Compact and 20% lighter than any other adapter
  • Only available in the US

Universal Car/Air Adapter for Apple is backed by the Kensington one year warranty.

Price: $77.95

Targus Rolls Out USB Bluetooth Adapter

Targus Inc., inventor of the notebook case and specialist in mobile accessory solutions, has announced the availability of its USB Bluetooth Adapter for notebook computers. The latest in Targus' expanding family of Bluetooth accessories, this tiny device allows users to wirelessly connect up to seven Bluetooth devices, such as printers, PDAs, mobile phones, mice and keyboards, to their notebook computer.

Targus USB Bluetooth AdapterWith plug-and-play convenience, users can install the Bluetooth Adapter by simply connecting it to their system's USB port for immediate connectivity with any Bluetooth v1.1-compliant device. Once connected, users can perform a variety of tasks such as wirelessly transferring files and synchronizing PDA or smart phone contacts and calendars with Microsoft Outlook.

For users away from their offices, value added features offered by the adapter include the ability to connect to the Internet or network by using their phone as a wireless modem, to print from a phone or PC to a Bluetooth printer, or to fax from a PC through a smart phone.

"As Bluetooth technology becomes more popular within the mobile computing space, Targus' Bluetooth Adapter offers an inexpensive solution for users who do not have this emerging technology built in to their notebooks," said Michael Greco, senior product manager for Targus. "Users can operate Bluetooth devices seamlessly and without messy wires, using as many Bluetooth accessories as necessary at one time."

Weighing less than half an ounce and measuring 2.22" by 0.79" by 0.43", the miniature adapter easily fits in a pocket and will not add bulk to heavy carrying cases. Operable in almost any environment, the adapter can communicate with devices within a 33' range and will function through walls and other nonmetal barriers. Targus has included built-in 128-bit encryption and authentication to ensure wireless communications are secure.

The Bluetooth Adapter is compatible with notebook and desktop computers running Windows XP, 2000, ME, 98SE and Mac OS X. The adapter comes with a Quick Start Guide, Full User Guide, and driver CD-ROM.

Targus' USB Bluetooth Adapter is currently available at major retailers including Circuit City and Office Depot, resellers including Ingram Micro, TechData, D&H, and CDW, or online at Targus' website by searching for product number ACB10US. The adapter has a suggested retail price of $39.99 and includes a one-year warranty.

iMac G5 the All-In-One for Almost All

iMac G5Fortune's Peter Lewis says:

"Has Apple got a deal for you - a brilliant, 17-inch LCD flat-panel display for $1,299, with a powerful desktop computer thrown in free. But the real bonus is that the computer itself does not take up any desk space. Zero. Zip.

"With its new family of iMac G5 computers, there's a fancier 17-inch model for $1,499 and a 20-inch model for $1,899....

"But as impressive as the iMac is, it comes at an awkward stage in the evolution of the PC. Many desktop computer owners are choosing to replace their bulky PCs with laptops, which are smaller, lighter, and more versatile, and the trend will continue despite Apple's impressive engineering achievement with the iMac. The 17-inch iMac I've been testing weighs 20 pounds and is relatively easy to move from one room to another, but compare that with my Apple PowerBook G4, which weighs a third as much and perches easily on my lap, which the iMac definitely does not....

"But let's pretend I already have a portable computer and I'm looking for a desktop machine for use at home as an alternative to lugging the portable to and fro. (And let's pretend I can afford to buy both a laptop and a desktop.) In that case, the iMac is certainly worth considering, even for people whose political persuasion leans toward the Windows operating system instead of the Mac OS.

"I've shifted most of my work to the Macintosh, in part because of my appreciation for the Mac system's stability and ease of use, but in larger part because I'm sick of downloading Microsoft security patches and worrying every minute about viruses and worms and other threats aimed at Microsoft's Windows infrastructure...."

Touchscreen for 17 PowerBook Available November 15

Web UK, Ltd. has announced the innovative TouchStar pSeries17 touchscreen enhancement will be available worldwide beginning November 15, 2004 for €495 plus VAT.

The new TouchStar pSeries17, first shown at the Apple Expo in Paris, is the first in the new line of TouchStar products for Apple's portable and desktop LCD displays. TouchStar products allow Apple users to easily add or remove touchscreen functionality to their displays without system modification using a patent-pending slipcover design. The TouchStar frames are made of durable aluminium that elegantly matches Apple's award winning designs. Simply slip the TouchStar system over your screen, install the drivers, and plug in the USB cable; your Apple display is touch enabled. Drivers and calibration tools are provided for both Mac OS X Jaguar and Panther.

The TouchStar pSeries17 for PowerBooks is the first in the pSeries that will include TouchStar pSeries12 and pSeries15 for the Apple 12 and 15 PowerBooks respectively. Those will ship by Q1, 2005. The cSeries for Cinema displays, the iSeries for iBooks, and the mSeries for the G5 iMacs will follow.

Touchscreens emulate a mouse's click, double-click and drag to provide the most intuitive desktop navigation. Simply point and touch with your finger. Not only do these new TouchStar products allow people worldwide to enhance their systems quickly and easily, TouchStar is also the most affordable touchscreen solution around.

TouchStar touchscreens use the latest pressure sensitive, resistive technology and the most modern controller design. They provide 4,096 by 4,096 points of touch resolution and are tested to over 10 million touches for durability. The new calibration utility provides 7 points of calibration for superior accuracy to the edges of the screen. All new TouchStar systems can be secured to the host system using generally available Kensington security cables.

Touchscreen enhancements, while essential for users with physical challenges, are today part of everyone's lifestyle. With these new TouchStar products, Mac developers can create software for the highly lucrative interactive marketplace. TouchStar touchscreens are commonly used for interactive kiosks, retail displays, museum exhibits, building directories, point of sale systems, gaming, vending and ATM machines. Music and video editors use touchscreens in their studios. Presenters use touchscreens for dynamic Keynote presentations. Touchscreens are ideal for industrial controls, medical equipment, and scientific instrumentation. TouchStar touchscreens can be easily shared in classroom and lab environments.

Web UK, Ltd. is based in Surrey, England and is the exclusive international distributor of TouchStar products. Web UK, Ltd. are technology brokers who distribute technology and communications solutions worldwide. Bona fide reseller inquiries are welcome. For TouchStar sales and information email Web UK, Ltd. at

PC Mag Reviews 15" PowerBook G4

PC Magazine writes:

"PowerBook buyers will like this model, but Apple needs to solve the heat problem to make this an ideal laptop."

I/OMagic to Ship Slim Dual-Layer 8x External DVD±RW Drive

I/OMagic Corporation, a provider of data storage and digital entertainment products, has begun shipping its new 8x External USB 2.0 Slim DVD Rewritable Drive into the North American retail marketplace.

8x External USB 2.0 Slim DVD Rewritable DriveThe 8x External USB 2.0 Slim DVD Rewritable Drive is a dual format, double layer portable device that is compact (it measures just 5.7" x 0.8" x 6.5") and lightweight (just over one pound with power supply and USB cable). The drive's dual format technology allows users to read and write in most popular formats, including DVD+R and DVD+R double layer, DVD+RW, DVD-R, DVD-RW, CD-R, and CD-RW, as well as choose either a DVD or CD format, whichever is most compatible with a user's personal computers or home DVD players.

"This portable, slim drive is a smaller than usual, lightweight unit that is easy to travel with or plug in at home," said Tony Andrews, Vice President of Engineering and Product Development for I/OMagic Corporation. "Users can create their own home movies, photo discs, or music on DVD or CD, as well as play DVDs they've produced on most home DVD players."

"I/OMagic's new 8x External USB 2.0 Slim DVD Rewritable Drive allows for storage of up to 4.7 GB of music, photos, movies or other data," continued Andrews. "Or by utilizing the double layer technology, up to 8.5 GB of information can be stored."

I/OMagic's 8x External USB 2.0 Slim DVD Rewritable Drive will write at 8x speeds using DVD+R and DVD-R media, at 4x for DVD+RW and DVD-RW media, and at 2.4x speeds using DVD+R double layer media. The drive also includes software to enable users to create videos, burn DVDs and CDs in various popular formats, and play as well as store, music, photos and movies on either DVDs or CDs.

I/OMagic has started shipping the 8x External USB 2.0 Slim DVD Rewritable Drive to Staples stores with an introductory suggested retail price of $199.99.

iPod News

Griffin PodPod Cradle for iPod or iPod mini

PopPodPut your iPod in the lap of luxury. Your cup holder is a great place for your iPod on the road, but it can still slide around, fall out, and even be scratched. And trying to use a charging cable really complicates things.

Enter the PodPod. The PodPod holds your iPod or iPod mini at an easy-to-see angle. The material won't scratch the iPod's surface, and Griffin says, "while we haven't rolled any cars, we know that your iPod isn't likely to fall out." The PodPod also leaves room on the inside for a docking cable and provides a place for the cable to run without disturbing your iPod's new found peace.

The Griffin PodPod is the best seat in the car for your iPod or iPod mini. Even your wallet will thank you.

Now you can rest your trippin' iPod in it's own comfy seat for the ride. This also gives the iTrip a great spot close to your car's antenna, where it can do its job the best.

BiblePlayer for iPod Lets You Read and Hear the Bible on Your iPod

Now you can take God's Word with you anywhere you go. Using iPod's "Notes" feature, you can read and hear the Bible on your iPod. Each book is logically organized so finding the chapter you want is a breeze. The Bible translation is the King James Version. Soon to come are the Modern American Standard Version (World English) and Spanish Reina Valera.

BiblePlayer™ also includes:

  • entire King James Bible (more to come)
  • play links to each chapter's audio
  • Spurgeon's Faith's Checkbook, a daily devotional
  • Over 100 bible stories including all major parables of Jesus
  • Bible reading plans to help you read the entire bible

The audio CDs includes:

  • Entire Bible in MP3 audio on only 2 CDs
  • Additional reading plans
  • Morning and Evening devotional
  • Daily Proverbs Module
  • God's Promises Module

New in this version:

  • added way for reading plan to continue year to year by adding next links from month to month
  • fixed the way Bible books are arranged so the alphabetical ordering in iPod works properly
  • fixed typos in Bible text that the programming script introduced on its own
  • improved documentation to help new users install the app properly

System requirements:

  • Any 3rd or 4th generation iPod (including mini)
  • Mac OS X

Tech Trends

People Not Lured by 17" Notebooks

The Inquirer staff reports:

"An analyst from DisplaySearch said that sales of 17-inch notebooks slowed dramatically during the first half of this year, and it's probably lack of consumer demand that caused the blip.

"Chris Connery, senior analyst at DisplaySearch, made the comments during the recent DisplayForum 2004 conference held in The Hague, and also pointed to other trends in the marketplace....

"Fifteen inch notebooks remain the leading seller, but growth was slower during the same period. Meanwhile, in the third quarter, 12.1-inch notebooks showed steady and growing demand."

Higher Power Requirements in Portable Devices Spark Interest in Micro Fuel Cells

The proliferation of power-hungry portable electronic devices has ignited fresh interest in next-generation micro fuel cells that are compact, lightweight, and powerful with inherent capabilities to bridge the growing power gap.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, World Micro Fuel Cell Markets for Portable Devices, reveals that unit shipments in this industry are projected to reach $125.2 million in 2010.

"Once fuel cells enter the mainstream market, they will provide significant improvements in energy storage and also allow portable electronic devices to incorporate new features while simultaneously increasing their operating time," says Frost & Sullivan Industry Manager Sara Bradford.

The hype surrounding micro fuel cells is understandable. Their ability to deliver more energy per volume weight compared to existing lithium-ion rechargeable battery technologies is a much-awaited benefit. It is expected to resolve the issues related to shorter run times between chargings.

"Current advanced lithium-ion rechargeable batteries offer only three hours of continuous operating time while micro fuel cells could provide 20 or more hours of usage time, even in high-drain portable devices," emphasizes Bradford.

Micro fuel cells score over traditional batteries in many other facets. In addition to being several times lighter, micro fuel cells are simpler and quicker to recharge.

Military applications are potential early adopters of micro fuel cells, given the need for uninterrupted operation and the desire to lighten the battery load for soldiers.

However, micro fuel cells are likely to encounter several challenges on their path to commercialization. For instance, the selection of toxic materials such as methanol requires greater attention to transport and packaging safety.

Issues such as methanol crossover, catalyst/membrane interface, membrane operating conditions, and electrode flooding in conventional proton exchange membrane (PEM)-based direct methanol fuel cells (DMFCs) also impede full-blown commercial acceptance.

"Although technology has evolved radically over the past few years, there is still room for improving the current efficiency rates of 20-30 percent closer to 100 percent," notes Bradford.

Ultimately, standardization of fuel cartridge size, shape, and other form-factor dimensions is essential for the micro fuel cells industry to take off. In response to this need, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is looking at uniform specifications for fuel cell cartridges and their chemical composition.

"By establishing a critical mass for fuel-cell-enabled devices, standardization is likely to be the key factor in giving micro fuel cells a larger share of the retailer's shelf space," reiterates Bradford.

Large-scale acceptance of micro fuel cells also hinges upon the ability to efficiently mass produce them at a reasonable price. Reduced usage of platinum and tie-ups with manufacturing facilities can drastically alter the cost of production.

After commercialization, the cost of the fuel cell system is expected to be in line with the prices of existing rechargeable batteries. Industry participants expect prices for each refill cartridge to fall below $1.

In addition to affordability, the added benefits of quiet operation and environment-friendly features are likely to propel micro fuel cells as the next big thing in power source technologies.

World Micro Fuel Cell Markets for Portable Devices, part of the Batteries Subscription, evaluates the current state of the market for consumer, industrial, and military portable devices. The study focuses on trends shaping the market and discusses possible ways of gaining market share. Emerging applications, competitive analysis, and unit shipment forecasts for both portable devices reviewed and micro fuel cell penetration give participants a clearer perspective of future opportunities. Executive summaries and interviews are available to the press.

If you are interested in an analysis overview which provides manufacturers, endusers, and other industry participants an overview, summary, challenges and latest coverage of the World Micro Fuel Cell Markets for Portable Devices, send an email to Julia Paulson, North American Corporate Communications, at with the following information: Full name, Company Name, Title, Contact Tel. Number, Contact Fax Number, Email. Upon receipt of the above information, an overview will be emailed to you.

Researchers "Pleased" by Progress in Development of Battery Based on "Nanograss"

An executive with mPhase Technologies has reported that the team of scientists working on a project to commercialize a nanobattery based on a Bell Laboratories discovery is very encouraged by the progress achieved in only six months of collaboration with the research and development arm of Lucent Technologies.

"We have to remind ourselves that our agreement with Lucent was only signed at the end of February," noted Steve Simon, mPhase's EVP for R&D. "The team is very pleased by the development of the first working prototype. This capped a series of processes, including plating metals in microscopic dimensions and selecting chemistries to prove that it is possible to fabricate a nanotexture-based battery that does not degrade until it's needed to generate electric current."

Simon made his remarks as part of a panel, "Enabling Existing Energy Solutions," at the NanoCommerce 2004 Conference being held at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place in Chicago, Oct. 5-7.

The prototype battery, developed at Lucent's New Jersey Nanotechnology Consortium (NJNC) - one of the world's most advanced design, development and fabrication facilities for nanotechnology - is based on a Bell Labs discovery that liquid droplets of electrolyte will stay in a dormant state atop microscopic structures called "nanograss" until stimulated to flow, thereby triggering a reaction producing electricity. The experiment proved that this super-hydrophobic effect of liquids can permit precise control and activation of the batteries on demand.

Future batteries based on this technology have the potential to deliver far longer shelf life and better storage capacity than existing battery technology. Potential initial applications for this technology may include defense, industrial, healthcare and consumer electronics. mPhase is also targeting the nanobattery for use in a technically improved, lighter weight battery design.

Wintel Watch

Dell Recalls 4.4 Million Laptop Power Adapters

The Register's Tony Smith reports:

"Dell . . . asked 4.4m notebook users to return their power adaptors after it admitted these peripherals pose both a fire and electric shock hazard.

"The potentially faulty parts may overheat. If they do, they could catch fire or split open, exposing live electric connections. Dell asked users affected by the problem to cease using their adaptors immediately."

Sharp Actius MP30Sharp's Ultralight Ultraportable

PC Magazine reports:

"Sharp Systems of America introduces the Actius MP30 ultraportable, which will replace its popular Actius MM20 line. The newest ultralight system looks nothing like its predecessor, with a stylish white frame (recently introduced on the Actius AL27) that calls the Apple iBook G4 to mind."

Toshiba Notebooks to Include 17" and 15.4" Widescreen Displays

Toshiba's Digital Products Division (DPD) has announced the latest additions to its Qosmio brand of digitally converged AV notebook PCs - the Qosmio G15-AV501 and Qosmio F15-AV201. Featuring a 17" widescreen display and Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, the Qosmio G15-AV501 offers consumers a unique "four-in-one" experience, eliminating the need for multiple consumer electronics devices such as a DVD player, PVR, TV, and stereo. The Qosmio F15-AV201 offers the same functionality with a 15.4" diagonal widescreen display.

The latest additions to the Qosmio AV notebook line feature the same features as the previous version, including a built in TV tuner, DVR capabilities, and a high-quality QosmioEngine that enables increased video and graphics performance. The new notebooks also include increased hard disk space, up to 100 GB (two hard drives: 60 GB + 40 GB) to provide users with enough room to copy, edit, and save video content, photos, or music files without the worry of running out of storage space.

Coupled with Ultimate TruBrite wide screen displays, the Qosmio G15-AV501 and Qosmio F15-AV201 have two lamps for extreme brightness and an extended viewable range to create an audio/video experience comparable to stand-alone CE devices. Additionally, users can enjoy a more cinematic-quality experience when listening to music or watching movies on the new notebooks through the SRS WOW & TruSurround XT technology and large Harman/Kardon stereo speakers.

The G15-AV501 and F15-AV201 also include the QosmioPlayer, allowing users to watch TV or DVDs - or listen to CDs - with a simple touch of a button instead of having to boot up the Windows operating system. With this feature, Qosmio owners can use the remote control or quick access buttons to enjoy their audio or video content within seconds - just as if they were using a stand-alone TV, stereo or DVD player.

With extensive video in/out connectivity options, Qosmio users can access and share photo and video content quickly and easily. Users can hookup their favorite gaming console or camcorder to the Qosmio for on-the-fly gaming or to display home movies on the road, at home or on vacation.

Also a powerful computing tool, the Qosmio G15-AV501 and F15-AV201 feature Intel Centrino mobile technology, providing outstanding mobile performance and built-in wireless connectivity to improve productivity and enhance the entertainment experience. The Qosmio AV notebooks feature Intel PRO/Wireless (802.11b/g) to make connecting to the Internet at home or on the road at wireless hotspots convenient. The units are also Bluetooth enabled, which means they provide easy access to wireless accessories.

Toshiba offers a stylish aluminum briefcase specially designed by Zero Halliburton to fit any Qosmio computer (regardless of screen size). The optional case is customized to conveniently house the PC, remote controls, AV cables, A/C adapter, and IR receiver as well as Bluetooth-enabled headphones or mouse and other personal effects. The case is available at and sells for $299.

All Toshiba notebooks are eligible for optional SystemGuard accidental damage coverage, providing repair of damage caused by spills, drops and other accidents at no additional cost. The ServiceExpress program provides customers with a high priority depot or carry-in repair to ensure a quick turnaround. And for added convenience, Toshiba offers At-Home service where a Toshiba-trained technician will arrive directly at a customer's home to perform the necessary hardware repairs. Each of these programs can be combined with a Toshiba Extended Warranty program, providing up to three additional years of warranty coverage. For more information and pricing on these and other available services visit

The Qosmio G15-AV501 and Qosmio F15-AV201 notebooks will be available at and retail distribution channels including computer superstores and consumer electronics stores.

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.

PowerBook 1400Wegener Media

Baucom Computers


iBookPowerBook Guy

Power Max

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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