The 'Book Review

iBook Updates, 100 GB Upgrade, Wireless Mice, Portable Power Source, PB Battery Source, and More

This Week's PowerBook and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2004.10.22

iPod News

Tech Trends

Wintel Watch

Bargain 'Books

iBooks Updated

The big news in the 'Book orbit this week was Apple's iBook update, featuring speed bumps to 1.2 and 1.33 GHz, built-in AirPort Extreme 54 Mbps 802.11g wireless networking across the line, and prices starting at US$999.

The iBook lineup now offers AirPort Extreme 54 Mbps 802.11g wireless networking in every model and an optional internal Bluetooth module for wirelessly connecting peripherals such as the Apple Wireless Keyboard and Apple Wireless Mouse. All iBook G4 models also offer a full complement of I/O ports including FireWire 400, USB 2.0, a built-in 56K v.92 modem, and(10/100Base-T ethernet for connectivity to a wide range of peripherals such as speakers, MIDI keyboards, and iPods.

iBookThe iBook G4 has an ATI Mobility Radeon 9200 graphics with 32 MB of dedicated memory and AGP 4x support for gaming and watching DVDs, as well as VGA video out for easy mirroring to projection systems and external displays. The new iBook G4 also includes either a slot-load SuperDrive (on the 14" model only) for burning both DVDs and CDs or a slot-load Combo drive capable of burning and playing CDs and watching DVDs.

Some have criticized the Radeon 9200's lack of support for the Core Image feature upcoming in OS X 10.4 Tiger.

Every new iBook G4 also includes iLife '04, Apple's suite of digital lifestyle applications including iTunes for managing digital music, iPhoto for organizing and sharing digital photos, iMovie for digital movie making, iDVD for creating and burning Hollywood-style DVDs, and GarageBand, the revolutionary music application that turns a Mac into a professional-quality musical instrument and recording studio. iBook G4 also comes with a collection of productivity and entertainment titles including AppleWorks, Mac OS X Mail, Quicken 2005 for Mac, World Book Encyclopedia 2004 Edition, Marble Blast Gold, and Nanosaur 2.

The new iBook lineup is immediately available through The Apple Store, Apple's retail stores, and Apple Authorized Resellers in three standard configurations. (See Low End Mac's Best iBook G4 Deals for current deals on the new iBooks as well as earlier G4 iBooks.)

The 1.2 GHz PowerPC G4 iBook, weighing just 4.9 pounds, has a suggested retail price of $99 and includes:

  • a crisp 12.1" (diagonal) active-matrix TFT display
  • 256 MB DDR SDRAM expandable to up to 1.25 GB maximum memory
  • a 30 GB Ultra ATA hard drive
  • AirPort Extreme 54 Mbps 802.11g wireless networking
  • two USB 2.0 ports, FireWire 400
  • VGA video out, S-video and composite video out support
  • Ethernet (10/100BASE-T)
  • a slot-load Combo drive

The 1.33 GHz PowerPC G4 iBook, weighing just 5.9 pounds, has a suggested retail price of $1,299 and includes:

  • a crisp 14.1" (diagonal) active-matrix TFT display
  • 256 MB DDR SDRAM expandable to up to 1.25 GB maximum memory
  • a 60 GB Ultra ATA hard drive
  • AirPort Extreme 54 Mbps 802.11g wireless networking
  • two USB 2.0 ports, FireWire 400
  • VGA video out, S-video and composite video out support
  • Ethernet (10/100BASE-T)
  • a slot-load Combo (DVD-ROM/CD-RW) drive

The 1.33 GHz PowerPC G4 iBook, weighing just 5.9 pounds, has a suggested retail price of $1,499 and includes everything in the above model but substituting a slot-load SuperDrive for the Combo drive.

Additional build-to-order options for the new iBook G4 include up to 1.25 GB of DDR SDRAM, a 60 GB or 80 GB Ultra ATA/100 hard drive, internal Bluetooth module, AirPort Extreme and AirPort Express Base Stations, and the AppleCare Protection Plan.

iMac + iBook >= PowerBook?

MacDevCenter's Chris Adamson says:

"MacMinute is reporting that Apple does not intend to release a new PowerBook before the holidays... yeah, so much for the PowerBook G4 update is imminent talk, huh? It's also an interesting side to the 'Apple does not comment on unannounced products' company line... they do comment on an absence of products, especially if potential customers might be waiting for products that are not actually in the pipeline.

"Well, all that said, I'm in a quandary. See, I just finished writing QuickTime for Java: A Developer's Notebook (yay!), and with a little free time, I'm itching to really get into Core Image / Core Video. However, my sad little 900 MHz G3 iBook doesn't have the GPU chops to handle CI/CV. I had been waiting for a new PowerBook, and the current line can handle CI/CV, but it's getting a little long in the tooth....

"So now I'm thinking . . . my home office is going to be done in a couple of weeks, and I don't travel that much, usually three conferences a year . . . so I could stop paying the portability premium and get into a G5 today."

Chris does the math and discovers that he can get a G5 iMac plus a 12" iBook for just $300 more than the cost of a base 15" PowerBook alone. He concludes:

"I think it's surprising that for $300 more, I get two computers - each optimized for its environment (desktop vs. mobility) - and that the desktop G5 iMac is way ahead of where the PowerBook is going to be anytime soon...."

100 GB Laptop Hard Drive from MCE

MCE Technologies has released a 100 GB/4200 RPM of its MobileStor line of laptop hard drives, featuring an 8 MB cache buffer, fluid dynamic bearings, and a low-power idle mode. The drive works with all G3 and G4 iBooks and PowerBooks including the original "Kanga" PowerBook G3.

A MCE MobileStor PowerBook Hard Drive Installation Kit is included free with every MobileStor hard drive upgrade solution:

  • Installation manual with step by step instructions and photos (makes installation a breeze).
  • All of the necessary tools to open your PowerBook and install your drive
  • Antistatic wrist strap.

The hard drive in the iBook is not enduser, or even dealer/service center, upgradeable. Just accessing the hard drive bay is a job involving the removal of over two-dozen screws, hex-nuts, plastic parts, and very small, sensitive, electronic components. If the proper level of antistatic protection is not maintained and the take-apart procedure not properly documented then a successful upgrade is nearly impossible. This being the case, installation instructions are not included for the iBook in the MCE PowerBook Hard Drive Installation Kit. MCE now offers an iBook hard drive upgrade program.

The PowerBook G3 Series 1998 (WallStreet) has special internal hard drive requirements. As a result of this, it is imperative that you specify whether you have this PowerBook model when you place an order for a MobileStor hard drive to ensure that you are sent the correct solution for your computer.

All MobileStor drive solutions carry a 3 year warranty.

The 100 GB MobileStor drive sells for $279.

ChillHubTargus Notebook ChillHub

The Targus Notebook ChillHub is an extension to the current product line, following on the popularity of the Targus Notebook Chill Mat. In addition to the two-fan cooling system, the ChillHub incorporates 4 USB 2.0 ports to expand the capabilities of the product. By incorporating two products into one, users can save space on their desk. The ChillHub also includes an AC Adapter to power the 2.0 USB ports, as well as the two fans.

  • Color: Silver
  • Exterior Dimensions: 11.75" x 9" x 0.8"
  • Warranty: One Year Warranty
  • Weight: 2 lb 5 oz
  • Prevent overheating: Two-fan cooling system pulls heat away from the notebook and prevents the CPU from overheating during use
  • Protect your workspace: High-heat generating notebooks can damage furniture surfaces; the ChillHub protects furniture from heat damage
  • Expand your capabilities: True plug and play for up to 4 USB 2.0 devices such as mice, keyboard, memory drives, lights, PDAs, etc.

Targus Notebook ChillHub Price: $49.99

Also see my recent review of the Targus Notebook Chill Mat.

BenQ M310 Optical Wireless MouseBenQ M310 Optical Wireless Mouse

Perfect for notebook computers, the M310 Wireless Optical Mouse can be used on almost any surface including wood, plastic or metal without a mousepad! Innovative design allows the wireless receiver to store neatly inside the mouse for easy travel and 800 dpi resolution provides improved accuracy and a smoother response.

Key Features

  • 800 dpi wireless optical technology
  • Wireless receiver stores neatly inside the mouse for ease of travel
  • Automatic power on/off for extended battery life
  • Mouse travel pouch included

QuickerTek Intros High Gain PowerBook Wireless Antennas

QuickerTek, developers of PowerBook antennas and external antennas for wireless Airport Base Stations, has just announced new high-gain versions of these popular antennas. This new design more than doubles the signal strength of the popular Whip antenna design for $99.95 SRP.

Also of importance to wireless Airport users are the price reductions on Apple Airport Base Station antenna upgrades as well as the Whip antenna for titanium PowerBooks. Both of these products are now priced at $69.95, and are available from QuickerTek dealers.

The new wireless antenna designs feature 5.5dbi gain signal strength and are designed specifically for the Apple Titanium PowerBook as well as the 15" and 17" Aluminum PowerBooks. Users can expect both a gain the wireless range and in the signal-to-noise ratio - giving a stronger signal. The design improvements also extend to the attach and removal method used to keep the antenna in place (on the PowerBook case). Users can use this new antenna and the PC Card slot simultaneously.

"Our new 5.5dbi wireless antennas give aluminum and titanium PowerBook users a double serving of signal strength and range. Both Apple Airport and Airport Extreme users will receive improved wireless performance over a greater distance with higher reliability," stated Rick Estes, QuickerTek. "If you're an Airport Express user and need a more range, then this antenna is the solution," Estes continued.

QuickerTek PowerBook antennas are available from QuickerTek dealers including: Small Dog Electronics, TechnoWarehouse, MacAnywhere, MacGurus and PowerBookMedic.

QuickerTek is the recognized leading innovator of wireless antennas for Apple Airport products including external titanium and aluminum PowerBook antennas, Airport Base Station Antennas for Snow and Extreme, as well as antennas for Power Mac G4 and G5 desktops.

Thin Logitech V500 Cordless Notebook Mouse: Solid State Scrolling Replaces the Wheel

Logitech has announced the stylish, ultra-thin Logitech V500 Cordless Notebook Mouse, arguably the most technologically advanced notebook mouse on the market. It's innovations include an expandable chassis, a touch-sensitive solid state scrolling panel, and 2.4 GHz wireless technology - all wrapped up in a sleek design that will turn heads.

Logitech V500 Cordless Notebook MouseThe product is designed for the mobile professional and a fast-growing notebook PC segment. IDC estimates that the installed base of worldwide portable PCs/laptops will grow from 139.9 million at the end of 2004, to nearly 266.5 million in 2008.

"For the mobile professional, the V500 mouse is in a class of its own," said Ashish Arora, Logitech's director of product marketing, Retail Pointing Devices. "Many mobile mice are so small they are uncomfortable and difficult to use. We've designed this product from the ground up to deliver a superior experience without sacrificing compactness and mobility. Every last detail of this mouse was designed with the precision and style that professionals demand, from the expandable chassis down to the aluminum architecture."

At 3-3/4" by 2-1/4" by 1-1/8", and just 2.3 ounces when packed away, the Logitech V500 Cordless Notebook Mouse is small and light enough to stow in the corner of any laptop bag. However, when opened for use, its innovative expandable chassis rises seven degrees - or about 1/4" - and locks in place for a comfortable fit in the palm of the hand. When it's closed, the Logitech V500 Cordless Notebook Mouse returns to its original slim dimensions to become a solid, compact traveler.

The chassis contains a slot to store and protect its powerful 2.4 GHz Micro-Receiver when not in use - minimizing the chance of misplacing or losing the receiver. The 2.4 GHz USB-based Micro-Receiver is one of the smallest, most powerful receivers on the market. At 9/16 inches by 2 inches by 1/4 inches in size, the Micro-Receiver uses Logitech's proprietary 2.4 GHz digital cordless technology, which helps the mouse achieve a range of 30 feet. The 2.4 GHz technology virtually eliminates interference with other mice or wireless devices - especially important when multiple mobile users work in close proximity.

With its new solid state 4-Way Scroll Panel, Logitech has redefined the scrolling experience by removing the traditional scroll wheel. Instead of a wheel, a touch-sensitive panel, similar to those used in state of the art MP3 players, responds to a finger as it slides up and down and left and right across the surface, translating the motion into horizontal and vertical scrolling on the screen. The panel includes a continuous scrolling feature, allowing people to scroll at a continuous rate in any direction. To activate continuous scrolling, one simply slides a finger to an arrow and holds it there for smooth, fast scrolling without the need for repetitive finger movements.

Because it contains no moving parts, the solid-state scrolling panel contributes to the mouse's durability during travel. The mouse comes with a nylon carrying case to help protect its surface during travel. Its fused aluminum base and shock-resistant bodywork are executed with the details and quality demanded in premium consumer electronics devices. Subtly sculpted finger grips provide precise control and greater comfort - as well as additional elegance to the overall design.

The Logitech V500 Cordless Notebook Mouse will be available in retail stores in the United States, Europe, and Asia beginning later this month. The suggested retail price in the U.S. $69.95.

Socket Delivers Take-Anywhere, Go-Anywhere Portable Power Source

Socket Communications, Inc. has announced the Mobile Power Pack, a small and lightweight mobile charging source for users of portable electronic devices such as Pocket PCs, PalmOne devices, cell phones, Smartphones, Blackberrys, digital cameras, and MP3 players, as well as Socket products such as the Cordless GPS receiver, Cordless Modem, Cordless Serial Adapter, and Cordless Hand Scanner. By eliminating the need for multiple battery packs and extending battery life, the product gives mobile users the freedom to use their electronic devices anywhere, whether on a plane or camping.

Mobile Power Pack"The Mobile Power Pack provides users with a powerful productivity solution that is Mobility Friendly," said Vanessa Lindsay, Product Marketing Manager at Socket. "Similar to a universal remote control for TVs, the product eliminates the need for multiple charging sources, one for each electronic device a user carries, and it's extremely light and easy to carry. In addition, its extended battery life gives mobile users the freedom to go anywhere for long periods of time without having to worry about finding a power outlet. This allows mobile workers to be even more productive when 'on the go'."

Socket's Mobile Power Pack is a rechargeable Lithium ion battery pack with a capacity of 7,200 mAh and can extend the run time of an average Pocket PC up to 16 hours - even while operating with accessories and full backlight. The Power Pack is both small - dimensions are 4" x 3"x 1" - and light - it weighs only 11 ounces. It will charge or operate any compatible device that uses an input voltage of +5 volts DC.

The Power Pack has the ability to charge most products that draw power from a USB port. It powers devices by simply plugging in a compatible connector to the Mobile Power Pack. Included with the product are a black soft leather case, a travel pouch, DC output cord, and AC adapter with four input plugs for use in the U.S., Europe, United Kingdom, and Australia.

Socket's Mobile Power Pack will be available during the first week of November 2004 through Socket's website and through Socket's worldwide distribution channels for an MSRP of US$149 and expected street price of US$119-129.

PowerBook and iBook Batteries from Go Electronics

Go Electronics sells laptop computer batteries for just about all the notebook brands available today, as well as for many older versions that may have a hard-to-find battery. This includes replacements for your iBook battery or PowerBook battery.

All iBook battery and PowerBook battery packs are 100% guaranteed to be compatible with the designated model it replaces and are guaranteed to meet or exceed original specifications ensuring they will work with your Apple portable computer. Additionally each iBook battery and PowerBook battery comes with a one year manufacturer's warranty.

Upon ordering, you will receive an order confirmation of your battery purchase via email. Within 24 hours (usually sooner) you will receive another email confirming your order has been shipped and notifying you that you can log into your account to track your battery order.


  • PowerBook 140 through 180c, $51.95
  • PowerBook 520 through 540C, $109.95
  • PowerBook 190/190CS, $87.95
  • PowerBook 5300 through 5300cs, $87.95
  • PowerBook 1400, $99.95
  • PowerBook G3 1998, $159.95
  • PowerBook G3 Wall Street, $159.95
  • PowerBook G3 (Lombard or Pismo), $149.95
  • PowerBook G4 (15" Titanium), $129.95
  • PowerBook G4 (15" Aluminum), $119.95
  • PowerBook G3 Laptop Battery, $149.95
  • iBook (Indigo), $126.95
  • iBook (Lime Green), $126.95
  • iBook SE (Graphite), $126.95
  • iBook (Dual USB - 12"), $126.95

Gallery Announces Metacorder Audio Field Recorder

Gallery UK has announced imminent availability of Metacorder 1.0, enabling users of CoreAudio hardware running with Mac OS X to create a full function audio field recorder on a PowerBook. Although existing audio hardware is perfect for field recording applications, users have been missing a dedicated software user interface and recorder for the demanding requirements of location sound recording. Metacorder replaces complex DAW software, rich with functions not relevant to field recording, and instead offers vital location-sound specific functionality such as 30 second pre-record, mirroring and metadata entry, all in a very intuitive and easy to use package.


Beyond the simple task of recording multichannel audio into Mono, Poly or Dual Poly Broadcast Wave files, Metacorder allows dual-media recording, automatically writing the same data to 2 drives. Metacorder also features a background mirror which automatically copies recorded files onto slower media such as DVD-RAM as soon as you press stop. Metacorder can also burn completed soundrolls to DVD-R or CD-R in the background whilst you continue to record. Metacorder reads LTC timecode through a spare Audio input, and another input can be used for a slate mic, routed to all tracks when the slate button is pressed. An M-S decoder allows stereo monitoring of M-S configured microphones. Metacorder can also playback recordings whilst you continue to record new ones, offering on-set playback functionality. Numerous other location sound specific functions, position Metacorder as the most powerful field recorder currently available, ideal for cart-based sound recording, or post-production transfer. Metacorder writes next generation iXML Metadata, and also Avid / Pro Tools compatible 'bext' metadata, as well as displaying important information like scene and take, in Finder comments.

If you have ever considered using a laptop for field recording, but were put off by the lack of proper, dedicated software, prepare to be amazed at what Metacorder can do for you.

Offering the very latest advances in recording technology such as pre-record ram buffers on all inputs, sample rates up to 192 kHz, and up to 20 inputs, Metacorder has equivalent functionality to proprietary hardware systems costing 5 times as much.

Open Architecture Mac OS X Based Field Recorder

  • Works with Any Core Audio Interface (44.1 kHz - 192 kHz, 16 - 24 bit, 2 - 20 Channels)
  • Make your own choice of Mic Pre, A-D Convertors etc., with easy metadata entry and choice of recording media
  • Any Mac compatible Media, internal IDE, FireWire, USB/USB2, PCMCIA etc., Flash, including DVD-RAM
  • Full Network support via Ethernet / 802.11
  • Any OS X Macintosh including PowerBook, iBook, iMac and Power Macs
  • Supports up to 20 record channels
  • Very clear and concise user interface with instant access to all parameters. No modal windows means that you can press record at any time, no matter what you are doing.
  • Powerful and intuitive Metadata functionality, including Project, SoundRoll, scene, take, track labels and indexes, recording notes. User friendly system automatically updates scene and take using US, UK or generic slating systems. Metadata can be edited before, during or after recording. Metadata stored in several formats including bext and the revolutionary new iXML format for seamless post production.
  • Automatically manages file naming and file system hierarchy on all volumes
  • Dual System record (record identical data to 2 volumes at the same time in real time)
  • Background SoundRoll Mirror (non real time) automatically mirrors current soundroll to slower media as recordings are made (e.g. ideal for Compact Flash, networked, or DVD-RAM for high track counts, where real time record is not possible)
  • 1-30 Second pre-record buffer across all channels at all sample rates/bit depths. Hit record anytime and automatically capture up to the previous 30 seconds into your files. Never miss 'Action' again.
  • Built in sample accurate LTC/Userbits reader, using audio input device.
  • Built in confidence monitor mixer, with M-S decode, per track Mute/Solo/Pan etc.
  • Supports Monophonic, Polyphonic and Dual Polyphonic file recording Modes. Complete flexibility in track arming.
  • Writes Broadcast WAVE, or SD2 files.
  • Supports simultaneous playback of recorded files, during recording of new files (for file checking or on-set playback). One-touch Instant Review Button to listen back to the last take.
  • Features 128 Segment Level Meters on all inputs. Color coded meters to re-enforce track arm status
  • False start function automatically marks files and sets up for retake.
  • Audio Overload alert tone preference.
  • Slate button feeds one input to all tracks whilst button is held, and dims output.
  • Supports variety of USB connected peripherals including programmable keypads
  • Can be controlled via MMC
  • Robust Unix based reliable architecture. Full compatibility with Avid, Final Cut, Pro Tools and all other DAWs.
  • Internal Hard drive can operate as FireWire target device for mounting on DeskTop system (PowerBook / iBook based systems only)
  • Auto records audio with broken timecode into segments (sample accurate across all tracks) for loading location sound from linear tape. Intellimerge feature allows automatic pre-concatenation of voice slate into main sound file
  • Interactively writes mTOOLS and Digibase compatible descriptions whilst loading SFX DATs
  • Writes AES-31 ADLs, Pro Tools Sessions, ALE and Final Cut Pro XML lists for workstation import.
  • Prepares and prints user customisable Sound Reports. - Sound report printing
  • Background DVD-R / CD-R Burn of finished soundroll, using internal DVD-R/CD-R or FireWire device.
  • Optional Ambient TC Generator module.

Price: US$1,795/£995/€1595

iPod News

TunePower and TuneBase from Belkin Keep Your iPod Playing Anytime, Anywhere

Belkin has announced its new TunePower, a rechargeable battery pack, and TuneBase, a device that holds and charges your iPod mini in your vehicle. The TunePower provides 8-10 hours of additional play time - even when the iPod's internal battery is drained. The TuneBase for the iPod mini features a cradle with a flexible-steel neck that powers and charges your mini simultaneously. Both products will begin shipping in North America on October 25, 2004.

TunePower - MSRP $99.99

Ideal for long plane flights, hikes, or for anytime you do not have access to an AC outlet, the TunePower provides 8-10 hours of backup time(a) on all iPod models. Three sleeve sizes are included to accommodate all iPod and iPod mini players with dock connectors. It features a small and compact design with a power-level indicator so you can monitor when batteries are low.

Its detachable DC/FireWire cable, when used with the Apple AC wall charger included with your iPod or any FireWire port, will charge both the iPod and the TunePower simultaneously(b). The TunePower also features a protective case design to prevent dirt, dust, or impact from damaging the connector.

(a) Performance may vary based on Apple iPod firmware version in use.

(b) When used with the Apple iPod AC power brick or any laptop or PC with a FireWire port

TuneBase - MSRP $49.99

The TuneBase for iPod mini offers the most flexible way to use your iPod mini while in your vehicle. It features an iPod mini holder with an innovative, flexible-steel neck, and offers easy repositioning of your mini for your convenience and safety while driving. The TuneBase works from any cigarette lighter outlets within the car.

While mounted in the TuneBase, your iPod mini powers and charges simultaneously. The TuneBase also features a 3.5mm line-out for use with the specially designed Belkin Mobile Cassette Adapter or TuneCast Mobile FM Transmitter (not included) for high-quality audio through your car stereo.

Tech Trends

NEC to Show Laptop with Built-in Fuel Cell

The Register's Tony Smith reports:

"NEC will this week show a prototype notebook PC powered by its own fuel cell unit, the company said today.

"The power supply marks a big improvement over NEC's previous fuel cell efforts, the company said, with what is effectively a 20 per cent reduction in the size of the cell for the same power output. Indeed, where the current prototype doesn't look out of place as part of the notebook's construction, the previous version, shown over a year ago, had a rather large fuel cylinder positioned behind the screen."

NEC Delays Notebook Fuel Cell Launch

IDG News Service's Martyn Williams reports:

"NEC Corp. has succeeded in reducing the size of a prototype direct methanol fuel cell for use with notebook PCs but says it is unlikely to see commercialization until at least two years later than previously forecast.

"Direct methanol fuel cells (DMFC) mix methanol with air and water to produce electrical power and are viewed by many as a potential successor to lithium-ion and other batteries used in devices such as notebook personal computers and other portable electronics devices. Their byproducts are heat and water....

"A single 250 cubic-centimeter methanol fuel cartridge can provide enough power to run a notebook PC for 10 hours....

"While development of fuel cell technology is more or less at the point where it can be commercialized, a number of other issues have yet to be solved...."

Olympus Total Imaging Solution Provides Means to Shoot, Organize, Store, and Print Digital Images without a PC

Olympus has introduced a PC-free, modular imaging system that will alter the way the world experiences digital photography. Emphasizing design and mobility, the Olympus Total Imaging Solution breaks free from the stringent requirements of the current computer-reliant imaging process. It allows consumers to organize, print, and store photos quickly and hassle-free virtually anywhere, while putting the digital camera at the center of the solution where it belongs.

Now users are able to eliminate the often burdensome and intricate computer-based process currently necessary to print, save and share images from a digital camera. The Total Imaging Solution makes this endeavor as easy as connecting the camera and cradle directly to an Olympus printer, hard drive or DVD/CD burner. By selecting images for printing and saving without requiring a computer - essential for other imaging systems - Olympus has removed several steps in the process.

At the heart of the solution is the new IR-500 digital camera with a 360-degree rotating semi-transmissive TFT color LCD, 4.0 megapixels, a 2.8x optical zoom lens (40mm - 112mm equivalent), 30X total zoom including digital zoom, and an f/2.9-4.8 aperture range. The IR-500 connects with other products available in the Total Imaging Solution, such as the S-HD-100 hard disk drive, and the P-S100 dye-sublimation photo printer, and a DVD burner (available at a future date). Form follows function with all components being lightweight, sleek and pearl white - projecting an image of style, along with ease-of-use and high performance.

"Olympus, once again, remains true to its pioneering heritage of delivering innovative solutions to the imaging industry," said Richard Campbell, Product Marketing Director, Olympus Imaging America Inc. "With breakthrough, revolutionary product design we're putting the camera back in the forefront of photography so it's not just another peripheral for your PC. In doing so, we have streamlined the overall digital imaging experience for the consumer."

The IR-500 is the first Olympus camera to feature a 360-degree rotating (front to back) LCD display. By rotating the display, users can view their subjects when taking images from a variety of angles. The multi-swing display also ensures portability and protection by covering the lens and the LCD monitor when in its closed position. The LCD monitor, at a generous 2.5 inches, enhances still image and QuickTime(R) movie viewing pleasure. The high-contrast 210,000-pixel Semi-Transmissive TFT Color LCD is designed for enhanced clarity and easy viewing in bright outdoor light.

The new Album Function on the IR-500 allows users to organize images into photo albums on the camera's xD-Picture Card from the images taken by the camera, or even those transferred to it from a computer. Users can create up to 12 separate albums of 100 images, sort them as they chose, and access them conveniently. The new built-in Calendar Function automatically organizes and recalls images by specific dates. If users desire to transfer images to a computer, they can do so with the Auto-Connect USB 2.0 that does not require software drivers (for most computers/operating systems), enabling hassle-free and full-speed image downloads.

The camera offers a choice of 19 Scene Program Modes for shooting in a wide range of conditions. Simply select a scene mode and the camera is ready to photograph the situation at hand with the optimum aperture, shutter speed, white balance, color saturation and flash setting. Scene Program modes include: P-Auto, Landscape, Landscape + Portrait, Night Scene, Night + Portrait, Indoor, Fireworks, Sunset, Portrait, Self Portrait, Available Light Portrait, Cuisine, Documents, Sport, Beach & Snow, Candle, Behind Glass, and Vivid. The QuickTime Movie mode incorporates a camera shake correction function to reduce image unsteadiness and allow more carefree movie shooting.

By connecting the IR-500 or any USB 2.0 compatible digital camera to the compact S-HD-100, an astonishing 40,000 4.0-megapixel-class images (approx.) can be stored on its 40-gigabyte hard disk drive anywhere, allowing the user to continue taking images with the same memory card.

The S-HD-100 is equipped with a built-in CPU that enables image file management functions. For example, when downloading images from a digital camera that supports the dock, the S-HD-100 checks each image to see if it has been downloaded previously and only downloads the images that are new.

The S-HD-100's handheld size of 4.9". (W) X 0.8". (H) X 5.0". (D) (approx.), and weight of 10.94 oz. makes it extremely portable. The hard drive can be easily connected to a computer when necessary to transfer, edit and back-up images

The IR-500 connects directly to the P-S100, a new dye-sublimation photo printer designed to work without any connection to a computer, for instant printing. It prints 4x6 inch photo lab quality prints in 84 seconds (approx.). The P-S100 is compact, sleek and lightweight, and measures a mere 6.6". (W) X 2.8". (H) X 5.7". (D), and weighs just 38.8 ounces.

The P-S100 offers a higher-than-average 50-sheet paper capacity to reduce the need for frequent paper replenishment. Each print is sealed with a light and moisture-resistant over-coating, which ensures that prints retain their beauty for a long time. Vivid and beautiful print quality is achieved with 16.77 million vibrant colors.

The P-S100 Printer features PictBridge technology so that any PictBridge-enabled camera may connect to it via USB 2.0 cable and start printing right away.

The IR-500 also includes a CD ROM with OLYMPUS Master Software. OLYMPUS Master software enables users of Olympus digital cameras to get the most out of their digital experience. With a logical and intuitive user interface, OLYMPUS Master allows users to instantly store and manage images by keyword or by shooting date in an easily searchable Calendar View database so they never misplace digital photos again. Powerful, one-click editing tools enable users to optimize their images prior to printing on a postcard, index card, calendar, or via online services. Online support, templates, firmware upgrades and other services are just a mouse-click away.

U.S. Pricing

IR-500 Estimated Street Price: $499.00

For more information, visit:

Wintel Watch

Sharp's Newest Ultralight Actius Notebook Hits the Scene

Sharp Systems of America has introduced the successor of the Award-winning Actius MM20 notebook computer, the stylish and performance-enhanced Actius MP30. Building on the success of the very popular Actius MM20, Sharp has introduced the newest ultraportable notebook in the Actius notebook family. Continuing the award-winning value of the MM20 ("Best Buy" Award, Laptop Magazine, April 2004), the thin and light Actius MP30 adds built-in multimedia capability to Sharp's ultraportable form factor. Ideal as a supplemental system for frequent travelers, or as a stand-alone machine for highly mobile individuals, the ultraportable MP30 provides users with a notebook that blends productivity and leisure in a compact package.

"With the Actius MP30, Sharp strikes a balance between 'lean-forward' power computing, and 'lean-backward' leisure computing," said Mark Romano, Director of Product Planning for Sharp Systems of America. "A traveler who just put the finishing touches on the big report can pop in a DVD and spend the rest of the flight enjoying a movie, or listening to music without hassling with external drives or bulky wiring. And thanks to the innovation of Sharp's engineers, the Actius MP30 is faster, thinner, lighter and less expensive than most of our closest competitors."

"The innovation inherent in Sharp's ultraportable notebook designs is making both business and consumer users sit up and take notice," said Arthur Swift, President and Chief Executive Officer of Transmeta. "The Actius MP30, with its tremendous multimedia capability, showcases the outstanding performance and energy efficiency inherent in Efficeon."

Boasting advanced 90-nanometer process technology and enhanced virus protection, the exceptional performance and responsiveness of the Transmeta Efficeon TM8800 (1.6 GHz) processor provides the Actius MP30 with high performance and efficient battery life while offering substantial system level virus protection in a thin and light package.

In addition to its efficient computing power, the Transmeta Efficeon TM8800 is equipped with No Execute (NX) virus protection, which takes advantage of advancements in the release of Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), providing extra security at the platform level. This added level of protection gives users a first line of defense against certain malicious viruses, adding improved integrity of the user's home or office network.

"With a travel notebook users may find themselves outside of the protection of a corporate or home-based firewall as they connect to the open networks of hotels and coffee-shops," notes Romano. "This is like 'running with scissors.' The platform-level protection that the Transmeta Efficeon TM8800 offers, provides users with a key ally against a computing environment rife with rogue malicious code."

Strutting its stuff with a clean, white stylish design, the Actius MP30 steps lightly on the scale at only 2.8 lbs and flaunts a thin profile that is just over an inch-thick. The sleek yet powerful Sharp Actius MP30 notebook computer is designed for highly mobile users who don't want to sacrifice a multimedia drive in an ultraportable computer, but demand performance and reliability. The Actius MP30 delivers on these demands by providing a thin-and-light computer with a high performance CPU and 32 MB graphic accelerator (ATI Mobility RADEON 7500), and includes a built in CD-RW/DVD combo drive. The unit is powered with standard memory of 512 MB DDR RAM, and can be expanded to 1 GB of memory.

Equipped for wireless connectivity via integrated 802.11g WiFi (supporting Atheros Super G Mode), the Actius MP30 notebook provides users with a lightweight, wirelessly enabled notebook that serves as a stand-alone computer, or as an adjunct to a main desktop machine through the functionality of DirectHD technology. By connecting via USB 2.0, users are able to take advantage of DirectHD technology, which allows the Actius MM20 to be accessed as an external USB drive. Users are able to then transfer files back and forth at will, providing them with data mobility that competing notebooks can't match without the hassle of network settings.

The Actius MP30 also features a plug-in remote control for multimedia and AV control as well as other applications that can be setup by the user. The finger-sized, plug in remote control, attached to a pair of ear-bud headphones, allows users to easily operate multimedia functions and can also be used for advancing through presentations and scrolling through word processing and other popular applications. Additionally, the Actius MP30 acts as an instant multimedia player thanks to the built-in Instant Play feature, which allows users to quickly start and play DVD videos and/or music CDs at the touch of a button, without having to fully boot up the machine.

Taking advantage of the Actius MP30's capability for multimedia, the notebook also includes sharp-fx, Sharp's exclusive DVD optimization software. This included module for InterVideo's WinDVD player automatically adjusts image contrast for optimum clarity.

As an added enhancement to the 4.6-hour life for the Actius MP30 battery, Sharp has included a 'Mobile Mode Switch,' which provides users with an energy saving option. When in use, 'Mobile Mode' decreases the brightness of the display and the frequency of the processor to extend the life of the battery when a user might need it most.

Shipping with Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition Service Pack 2, the ultraportable Actius MP30 comes with a 40 GB(1) hard drive, and a 10.4 inch XGA LCD (1024 x 768) with Sharp's Clear LCD finish, which provides users with highly saturated, rich colors and a color purity that isn't available with the matted finish traditionally available for notebook computers.

The Sharp Actius MP30 is competitively priced with an estimated street price of $1,899.

Sharp Actius notebook computers are available for order immediately through Sharp directly or through Sharp's network of retail partners and reseller channels.

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

Small Dog Electronics

Power Max

Wegener Media

  • iBook G3/300, 96/6/CD-ROM, blueberry or tangerine $339.99
  • With Airport Card installed, add $89.99
  • Upgrade to 320 MB RAM for $44.50
  • Get OS X Jaguar for $19.99 with purchase of iBook

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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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