The 'Book Review

Seeing iBook G4 Is Believing, Combo Drive for Lombard and Pismo, Aluminum PowerBook Pitting, and More

This Week's PowerBook and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2004.11.05

iPod News

Tech Trends

Bargain 'Books

iBook G4: You Have to See It to Believe It! contributors say:

"I switched from a Compaq PC to this notebook in hopes that Apple's OS X could do all of the things that XP sucks at. Allow me to say I was pleasantly surprised.... Overall I am impressed with this being a first time purchase. I recommend this to anyone looking for a reliable, moderate priced notebook.

" thumbs will be all up for the this machine."

"Powerful , easier to use than a PC, and more aesthetically appealing as well!"

"Faster than the PowerBook 1 GHz...."

"One thing to say. BATTERY LIFE. YOU CAN GET 4-5.5 HRS. out of the battery (depending on what you are doing with it). The construction is superb (beastly) Screen is bright and clear..."

Combo Drive for PowerBook G3 Pismo and Lombard

This new Combo (CD-RW/DVD-ROM) Drive is compatible with 400 MHz and 500 MHz PowerBook 2000 (Pismo) and 333 MHz/400 MHz PowerBook 1999 (Lombard).

  • Bootable - Just hold "C" when booting
  • Buffer Underrun Protection --no more bad CDs
  • Fully Compatible with iTunes, CDBurner, Toast, even Retrospect!
  • 100% Compatible with OS 9.2, OS X, Jaguar, Panther
  • New mechanism by OEM mfr
  • Just slide into your right hand bay, and you're in business
  • Get $40 rebate for sending your old complete DVD drive (dead or alive). Rebate not available for kit purchase

Identical look as original drive. No ugly faceplates or non-matching hardware.

Complete Drives

  • 16x Combo Drive
  • 16x CD Burn capability
  • 10x CD Rewrite capability
  • 8x DVD Playback
  • 24x CD-RW/CD capabilities
  • Complete Drive--just slide in and use!
  • $ 259.99

24x Combo Drive

  • 24x CD Burn capability
  • 16x CD Rewrite capability
  • 8x DVD Playback
  • 24x CD-RW/CD capabilities
  • Complete Drive-just slide in and use!
  • $ 299.99

Combo Kits - Buy as a kit. Use your old drive frame and save.

Requires 3 minute installation. Very easy installation, photo guide and screwdriver included. All electronics are new-you'll just use your old plastic drive frame (the black plastic on the bottom of your drive. Just remove 4 small screws, slide old out, and new drive set in.

  • 16x Combo Drive Kit. Same as Combo drive above, only as kit. $199.99
  • 24x Combo Drive Kit. $249.99
  • 8x Combo Drive Kit. Same as above, only 8x CD-R/RW, 8x DVD, 24x CD-ROM. $149.99

RadTech MacTruck Professional PowerBook Enclosure

MacTruckThe MacTruck is a professional-grade, operate-in, full-time notebook enclosure - a whole new way to think about protection.

Forget everything you know about notebook cases, MacTruck just rewrote the book. The MacTruck closely envelopes your PowerBook with an ultra-tough 5052-H32 aluminum alloy shell that's rugged enough to drive a truck over! And that's just for starters - MacTruck is also designed to protect your notebook while you use it. In fact, once you place your notebook into a MacTruck, you may never need or want to take it out. MacTruck allows full use of your machine, as well as full access to all ports, all while safely cradled in MacTruck's high-density poly padding. The computer is easily removed from the case as well - just lift it out and go!

MacTruckMacTruck keeps your machine as cool as it looks. Generous 5mm air channels located beneath the notebook's bottom case, combined with the superior heat conduction properties of the Aluminum shell, ensure that your notebook stays cool in the most demanding situations imaginable.

Several amenities ensure that this case works for you. The MacTruck's handle is constructed from a graphite enriched poly-resin and shaped for comfort. The handle rotates throughout a full 180 degree arc, very handy if you want to stow the MacTruck within a backpack, shoulder bag, or suit case.

MacTruck features two full-width, hardened steel latch bars comprising the case's super-rugged slam latch mechanism. And to ensure you'll be using your MacTruck for a long time, we included two Kensington lock ports to keep your case and computer secure! Double D-rings on the case's front-plane allow the attachment of a shoulder strap, shock cord or to lash the case to another object

With MacTruck, you operate your notebook right in the case. The top of the case conveniently rests at 90 and 180 degrees from the base. At the full-open position, MacTruck angles the lower panel a user-friendly and ergonomic 9.5 degrees - providing efficient keyboarding.


  • Designed for extreme duty - nothing is tougher or more compact.
  • Allows full, unrestricted use of a notebook while inside case - ports and drives fully accessible.
  • Aids in cooling via 5mm bottom case air channels and excellent heat conduction of Aluminum shell.
  • Dual steel alloy slam latches able to withstand relentless abuse for years - fully serviceable.
  • Kensington lock port permits the case to be locked shut - notebook and case completely secured.
  • Svelte form is only marginally larger than the notebook itself - stows inside most other bags and packs
  • High-density internal cushioning keeps notebook's case in pristine condition.
  • Rotating ergonomic handle makes carrying and stowing comfortable and easy.
  • Super-hard, powder-coated finish throughout for long-lasting beauty.
  • Three year warranty.

MacTruck Specs:

  • Material: 5052-H32 Aluminum alloy
  • Outer shell dimensions:
    • 12", 30.3 x 26.2 x 4.9 cm
    • 15", 37.8 x 28.4 x 4.7 cm
    • 17", 41.8 x 29.0 x 4.5 cm
  • Aluminum shell thickness: 3.2mm.
  • Weight: 12", 1.9kg; 15", 2.4kg; 17", 2.7kg

Product of USA

Available for all recent Apple PowerBooks, in two stunning, super-hard powder coated finishes - Brushed Aluminum and Graphite.

Price Range: $199.99 to $229.99

Aluminum PowerBook Pitting: Wash Your Hands

MacInTouch reader Jim Whitesell says:

"I am a chemist with some knowledge of metal corrosion. Sweat is salt water and Aluminum will be corroded by salt water, period. Even stainless steel will corrode in the presence of salts. Even if you do not have sweaty palms, you[r] skin still will accumulate salts and the only cure is to wash your hands often, as I do ("studies" show that only 30-40% of men wash their hands after going to the bathroom---why are there not those open containers of mints on the way out of restaurants anymore? Analysis showed heavy contamination with uric acid and urea)...."

A happy thought....

As anyone who has worked around sailboats in a saltwater environment knows, salt water is a corrosive agent to aluminum, although anodizing offers good protection. However, combined with heat and electricity, both present in PowerBooks (which are anodized) all bets are off.

I also wonder how much aluminum, if any, sweaty-palmed PowerBook users absorb through their skin. Aluminum is a suspected factor in Alzheimer's disease.

TiPaint Touchup Kit and iKlear iPod Cleaning Kit Reviewed

Applelust's Dr. Neale Monks says:

"There is no question that iPods, iBooks, and PowerBooks are among the most beautiful machines that Apple has produced, but why do they have to scratch so easily? The Titanium series of G4 PowerBooks were painted using some sort of metallic enamel that doesn't stick to the underlying metal and plastic at all well, and practically every example I have seen, including my own, has had some paint abraded from the corners simply by being transported in a laptop case. Much more annoying is the lack of clearance between the keyboard and screen....

The iBooks and iPods present a different set of problems. Both feature a soft translucent plastic that scratches easily. The small size of the iPods makes any superficial scratches to the plastic much more noticeable....

The TiPaint Professional Touchup Kit consists of two small bottles of enamel paint, one that matches the titanium paint that covers the main body of the PowerBook and the other for use on the light silver PowerBook trim....

"It is possible to pick up computer screen cleaners at Office Depot for a few dollars, so why spend 20 bucks on the iKlear kit? Simply put, it does a really good job and comes with a variety of tools to clean all sorts of different things, from your iPod and iBook through to DVDs and camera lenses...."

iPod News

Turn Your iPod into a Universal Remote

O'Reilly's Hadley Stern, author of iPod and iTunes Hacks, has posted some iPod hack tutorials, including Turn Your iPod into a Universal Remote.

"Use a Pocket PC to record the 'sounds' an infrared remote makes, transfer them to your iPod, and start changing channels with your new universal remote control.

"We're going to take an iPod and turn it into a universal infrared (IR) remote control, which can be used to control all your home electronic equipment, or just about anything that uses a remote control. For example, in my home, my iPod controls my TV, DVD player, Direct TV, Ultimate TV PVR, Media Center PC, Xbox, XM Satellite Radio, Roomba, and a few other random things, such as a robot. Figure 1-14 shows a variety of remotes your iPod can replace."

Two New irock! Beamit Wireless Music Adapters for iPod, MP3 Players

First International Digital, Inc. (FID), maker of the popular irock! family of digital audio devices and the leader in FM transmitter technology, has introduced its newest series of Beamit wireless music adapters, the 440FM and 450FM.

Beamit allows users to wirelessly broadcast music from portable audio devices to the car or home's FM stereo and is compatible with any MP3 player, including Apple iPods, laptops, and CD, mini-disc, and tape players.

440FM: One-piece, 12 Volt Operation

For the first time, the 440FM features a built-in cigarette lighter power adapter, enabling truly battery-free operation. The device conveniently plugs into the car's 12VDC cigarette lighter socket and the headphone or lineout jack of the audio device. Twelve channels of digital tuning allows users to choose the best FM frequency for the clearest reception of high-fidelity, full stereo sound.

The 440FM measures 3.2" x 2" x 1.4" and offers 90 degree swivel action, enabling users to adjust the device's position for best viewing of the backlit LCD display. The device's MSRP is $29.99.

450 FM: 100 Channel Digital Tuning Equals Crystal Clear Reception

irock 450fmThe lightweight, uniquely designed 450FM, measuring a compact 3.2" x 0.9" x 0.9", plugs into the headphone jack of any portable audio device and sends high-fidelity, full stereo sound to your favorite FM stereo. The device is powered by 1 AAA battery, but also features optional battery-free operation, when used with the included 12VDC auto adapter.

With 100 channel digital tuning and a signal distortion of less than 0.2 percent, the 450FM guarantees crystal-clear reception on your favorite station. The device's MSRP is $39.99.

Beamit's operating range is 10-30 feet (limited by FCC regulations), depending on the quality of the FM radio receiver.

Mini TrailVue iPod mini Case

Mini TrailVue caseThe Mini TrailVue case offers rugged, stylish protection for the mini on the go. A patented belt clip system offers interchangeable clip options. Seven color combinations to choose from.

Case Features :

  • Can sync mini while in the case
  • Ballistic nylon outer construction
  • Fully lined interior
  • Plastic inserts for protection
  • Plastic screen protector affords full view of the mini
  • Clear sides show off the color of your mini
  • Easy access to hold button, headphone jack, and remote ports
  • Multidapt® interchangeable clip system
  • Includes low-profile spring clip


  • Gray Black
  • Olive Blue
  • Gray Gray
  • Lt. Blue Gray
  • Red Olive
  • Orange Purple
  • Lt. Blue

Price: $29.95

Eclipse Solar Gear Backpack Charges iPod, Cell Phone, PDA, GPS, More

Reactor Solar BackpackKeeping the batteries charged and ready to go is an obsession for many consumers of personal electronics. What happens when you are outside in a remote area? Eclipse Solar Gear's Reactor Solar Backpack is designed to trickle charge the batteries of many types and brands of electronics including cell phones, PDAs, handheld GPS units, and some MP3 players with a convenient solar charging solution. Basically anything you can plug into your car using a 12V auto adapter can be trickle charged using the new Solar Backpack by Eclipse Solar Gear.

Ideal for the outdoors-oriented, the Solar Backpack features an integrated solar panel which provides up to 2.5 Watts of power with no extra deployment or effort required other than plugging in your accessory.

The Solar Backpack is made of durable 1680 Denier Nylon and constructed to protect and power your personal electronics and other items. The feature rich backpack includes a padded waist-belt, mesh ventilated padded back panel, contoured and padded shoulder straps, removable padded laptop case, organizer pockets, accessory pockets, water bottle pockets, MP3 pouch with a headphone portal exit, reflective features for nighttime visibility, key-ring lanyard and clip, and of course the solar charging module.

The integrated solar charging module can be utilized by plugging in your existing 12V auto adapter. There are no extra adapters needed. The solar panel is made to withstand the environment and provide a long lasting source of solar energy.

Designed to be a durable product and a convenient source for an alternate charging solution, the Eclipse Solar Gear's Solar Backpack should be ideal for the outdoors-oriented mobile professional.

The Solar Backpack is available online from Eclipse Solar Gear and from at a retail price of $129. Future products include a Messenger Bag due to hit the market in late November or early December.

Adjustable Car Dock & Charger for iPod mini from TEN Technology

TEN Technology, maker of the top selling naviPod wireless remote control for the iPod, is proud to introduce its next hot new product: the TEN flexDock mini - for the Apple iPod mini.

The TEN Technology flexDock mini for the iPod mini features a dock on an adjustable arm that plugs into standard cigarette lighter sockets in most automobiles worldwide. The flexDock mini will securely hold and power the iPod mini. TEN Technology expects to ship the flexDock mini in November 2004.

The TEN Technology flexDock mini for iPod mini provides the most flexible yet secure way to use the iPod mini in the vehicle. The dock on a flexible metal arm allows easy and secure positioning of the iPod mini for convenience and safety while in the car. The dark gray color of the flexDock mini will match most car interiors and lets the iPod mini shine. The flexDock mini plugs into standard cigarette lighter sockets in most cars and charges the iPod mini. The flexDock mini also features a 3.5mm line-out jack on the plug for use with the included cassette adapter or most self-powered FM transmitters (not included) for high-quality audio through your car stereo.

"The TEN flexDock mini is our first product to address the question of where to park your iPod mini inside the car," says John Lin, CEO and founder of TEN Technology. "It will conveniently and securely display the iPod mini while charging it and provides line-out audio for better sound quality."

Users can also use the TEN naviPod along with the flexDock mini, giving them wireless remote control of the iPod mini inside their car. Now how cool is that?

"flexDock mini is such a great accessory, and just in time for the holidays as a stocking stuffer for your favorite iPod mini owner," said Eric Prentice, CEO of Dr. Bott, LLC, master distributor of TEN products. "This product is innovative, elegant, and intuitive. It is always a pleasure to bring a great product like the flexDock mini to market!"

Pre-ordering for the flexDock mini will be available through the Dr. Bott Online Store and through TEN Technology's online store. The flexDock mini will begin shipping in November 2004 and also will be available through the Apple Store Online. The suggested retail price is US$49.95/CAN $69.95.

Tech Trends

Smaller, Cheaper, More Powerful Laptop Fuel Cells Coming

IDG News Service's Paul Kallender reports:

"A new fuel cell for notebook PCs, more compact and powerful than competing technologies, could be on the market in early 2006 at a price of around $90, its Japanese inventors said Tuesday.

"Materials and Energy Research Institute Tokyo Ltd. (Merit) is betting on direct borohydride fuel cell (DBFC) technology, which it sees as cheaper and more compact than the direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) technology other Japanese companies are developing....

"Merit's fuel cells develop about four times more power for the same area of membrane than DMFCs...."

Bargain 'Books

There are two different versions of WallStreet running at 233 MHz, the cacheless MainStreet version and the later Series II with a level 2 cache. It's not always possible to determine from the vendor's listing which is being offered, so we've included links within this paragraph to the two models. The same goes for the PowerBook G4/667 (Gigabit Ethernet/2001) and G4/667 (DVI) and the titanium vs. aluminum 15" PowerBook G4 at 1 GHz.

Small Dog Electronics

  • new 12" PowerBook G4/1.33 GHz, 256/60/Combo, AirPort Extreme, Bluetooth, 512 MB PC2700 SO DIMM DDR 333, iSkin ProTouch PB Arctic White Keyboard Protector, $1,725
  • new 12" iBook G4/1 GHz, 256/30/Combo, 1 GB PC2100 SO DIMM DDR 266, $1,219

Power Max

Free shipping (after rebate)

PowerBook Guy

Apple Store Special Deals: Apple Certified

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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