The 'Book Review

Downgrade to Upgrade, 'Book Fragility, Combo Drive for Lombard and Pismo, Smallest Laptop Stand, and More

This Week's PowerBook and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2004.12.03

iPod News

Tech Trends

Windows Watch

Bargain 'Books

Downgrade to Upgrade: PowerBook vs. iBook G4

OpEd: PowerPage UK Bureau Chief Neal Hoskins writes:

"You know the story. PowerBook beginning to creak, the feeling that if you want cash in the chips at least you'll get something for it, and the weekly search online for reviews, comparisons, tests and then its out there. Boom - I need a new PowerBook. But do you really?.

".... These days and after the last iBook refresh Apple is packing quite a punch into their snowy books. And one look at the pricing of the 12-inch model PowerBook makes you ask yourself who would really pay that much?

"So I went and did it - downgraded from a PowerBook G4 Titanium 867 MHz to an iBook G4 1.2 GHz and really there is no difference in performance.... Having had a work iBook for a year has taught me that the wear and tear is so much better, in fact it's in a different league...."

Fragile PowerBook

OpEd: Daily Sentinel columnist Matt Williams says:

"A laptop computer is a fragile creature. I recently pinched the screen on my Macintosh PowerBook and killed it dead.

"In one fatal swoop, the icons on my desktop were lost in a sea of colorful lines resembling those seen on a television screen when a local channel temporarily goes off the air.

"The damage was serious. Irreparable, in fact. Amazingly, I cost myself $1,300 with my index finger and thumb.

"It was a stupid mistake, really. But it taught me a valuable lesson about electronics. I'll never mistreat mine again."

Combo Drive for Pismo, Lombard

Combo drivePR: New from Wegener Media, CD-RW/DVD Combo drives for Pismo (PowerBook G3, FireWire) and Lombard (PowerBook G3 Series, Bronze Keyboard).

Full Compatibility

  • Bootable. Just hold "C" when booting.
  • Buffer Underrun Protection-no more bad CD's.
  • 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 us your old complete DVD drive (dead or alive). Simply return it to our shop and receive a refund check. (details included with your order). Rebate not available for kit purchase

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

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. 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

  • Same as Combo drive above, only as kit. $249.99.

8x Combo Drive Kit

  • Same as above, only 8x CD-RW, 8x DVD, 8x CD rewrite, 24x CD-ROM. $149.99.

For more information, visit:

Stand Smallest Laptop Stand on the Market

PR: The XT-Stand is extremely lightweight with a flexible design that accommodates 12" to 19" notebooks and yet it is the smallest adjustable notebook folding stand on the market.

XT-StandThe XT-Stand's 4-point support design increases the angle between your laptop and desk. This space allows the CPU to dissipate heat easily, thus saving power. This is a fundamental solution for preventing laptop overheating.

The stand is constructed of high quality stainless steel with a titanium alloy coating and uses rubber pads on the feet to reduce slippage.

The rear of the laptop is raised so that the screen of the laptop is more aligned with the human eye. This eliminates reflection and minimizes eye strain.

The XT-Stand sells for $59.95

Temperature Monitor 2.3 Displays Current CPU Temperature

PR: Temperature Monitor is an application to read out all available temperature sensors in Macintosh computers. The program can display and visualize measured values in a large variety of fashions. The application supports the following operations on the measured readings:

  • display in a default window
  • output in a screen display in front or in the background of the screen
  • tabular display in an overview window
  • display in the menu-bar
  • display of a maximum of two readings in the Dock
  • graphical display of short-term and long-term history curves
  • speech output of readings
  • display of minimum and maximum values
  • export to text files

Moreover, the application can display additional technical information about your computer. Among other information this includes:

  • Processor type
  • Processor and bus frequencies
  • Manufacturing information

Of course the application can read out the data only if your computer is equipped with the necessary sensors, and if Mac OS X can access them without needing third-party device drivers. Beginning in summer 2002, Apple has begun to massively drive forward the use of monitoring probes in the PowerMac series, the Xserve series, and in portable computers. Some models are equipped with 38 and more sensors. But Temperature and Hardware Monitor can detect sensors on many older systems as well if they are available.

We try to detect all sensors on as many Macintosh computer types as possible. However, a prediction which sensors are available in which models is not possible, because Apple very often releases "silent product updates", where the hardware equipments of some models are changed but the names are not (specifications are "subject to change without notice"). The particular graphics card and hard disk configuration used is also important because these parts can include independent sensors, too.

Please note that Apple does not support an official or standardized way of reading out sensor data in Mac OS X (the only exception is the Server Monitor application for the Xserve series). Moreover, there is no documentation or other technical note about the individual function of the sensors. For this reason, the development of Temperature Monitor and Hardware Monitor is very costly because the necessary data has to be determined by reverse engineering and tests run on a variety of computer models. Please support the development of the applications by purchasing a registration key for Hardware Monitor.

New in this version:

  • Support for all sensors of the iMac G5 has been added.
  • Support for sensors of Nvidia GeForce 6800 graphics cards has been added.
  • Preliminary support for the sensors of the Power Mac G5 October 2004 model has been added. Compatibility reports for this model sent with the respective option in Hardware Monitor are welcome.
  • Support for a large number of additional hard disk temperature sensors has been added.
  • A new status window was added which can display minimum and maximum readouts of all sensors for a selectable time frame of up to one week.
  • An option was added to automatically save history data not only when quitting the application but also in a regular, selectable time interval. This allows you to save reference data for cases where your computer is affected by emergency shutdowns due to overtemp conditions.

System requirements: Mac OS X 10.2.5 or higher

Temperature Monitor is freeware.

iPod News

iPresent It 1.0: Who Needs a Laptop to Give a Presentation?

PR: Make your next pitch using your iPod photo. With iPresent It you can convert your PowerPoint, PDF and Keynote presentations into slideshows that are synched with your iPod photo. Never carry a laptop into a presentation again; it's all on your iPod.


Create slideshow images from any of your PowerPoint, Keynote or PDF presentations.

Saves presentations as albums in iPhoto or subfolders of a folder (such as the folder being used to sync to your iPod photo via iTunes).

Easily update your slideshows whenever you make changes to a presentation. Your presentations will always be ready for synching.

Easily remove slideshows when they are no longer needed. Removing them from iPresent It ensures they will be removed from your iPod photo the next time you sync.

Preview slides as they're converted into a slideshow.

System requirements: Mac OS X 10.2 or greater

iPresent It is $17.95 demoware. Trial version limits slideshows to six slides.

CEO Classic iPod Case

CEO Classic casePR: The CEO Classic case offers elegant protection for the iPod on the go. A patented belt clip system offers interchangeable clip options including belt clips, bike and car holders.

Case features:

  • Leather outer construction
  • Leather-lined interior
  • Plastic screen protector
  • Easy access to hold button, earphone jack, and FireWire port
  • Multidapt® interchangeable clip system
  • Snap closure on flap
  • Includes low-profile spring clip

Color: Black

Outside case dimensions: 4.5 x 2.75 x 1 in. (11.43 x 6.99 x 3.17 cm)

Works with first and second generation iPods.


Tech Trends

UK Prof Pioneers New LCD Screen System

News: The Register reports:

"A Cambridge UK academic has come up with a completely new flat TV concept that relies on total internal reflection in a wedge shaped piece of clear plastic, fed by the same LCD video projectors that drive rear-projection televisions. The technique promises to cost about a fiftieth of the price of current plasma screens and yet deliver a similar quality picture.

"The system works by introducing light at the bottom edge of the wedge, which bounces across and back again up the length of the wedge until it reaches the critical angle at which it escapes and leaves the face of the screen as light. A precise mathematical formula ensures that light for the correct pixel exits the screen at just the right distance up the wedge.

"Dr Adrian Travis of Flat Projection Displays, a spin-off from Cambridge University's Department of Engineering, is negotiating for the concept to emerge onto the market in early 2007 and has it working perfectly on a 15-inch screen and shortly expects to have it ready to go on a 50-inch display."

Windows Watch

Toshiba Introduces Multimedia Center Hub to Enhance Notebook Experience at Home

PR: Toshiba's Digital Products Division, a division of Toshiba America Information Systems, Inc. and provider of industry-leading portable computers, projectors and other mobile-related services and products, today introduced the Multimedia Center Audio/USB Hub that allows consumers to easily connect their notebook computers to their home entertainment systems.

The Multimedia Center Audio/USB Hub enables users of any notebook computer running Microsoft Windows XP Home, Microsoft Windows XP Pro and the recently released Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 to:

  • Play music, movies or games in 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound from home entertainment systems or external PC speakers;
  • Play games in full EAX(TM) Advanced HD Surround Sound for a realistic 3D audio experience;
  • Listen to MP3 play lists on home stereo speakers by connecting the hub to a stereo receiver via a SPDIF coaxial audio cable;
  • Connect joy sticks, steering wheels and game pads for an enhanced gaming experience via any of four USB ports, as well as connect other devices such as a printer or scanner;
  • Connect to the Internet via an integrated Ethernet port to download music or digital video, or just send a friendly e-mail.

"The notebook computer is being transformed from primarily a productivity tool into a personal entertainment hub where users can manage and enjoy multimedia content," said Taro Hiyama, vice president of marketing, Toshiba Digital Products Division. "The Multimedia Center Audio/USB Hub offers consumers a simple and inexpensive way to enhance their multimedia experience on their notebook computers."

Designed in a compact form smaller than a VHS tape, the Multimedia Center Audio/USB Hub is priced at $129.99 and is currently available from ToshibaDirect.

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

  • PowerBook WallStreet G3/233, 192/4/CD-ROM, $209

Apple Store Special Deals: Apple Certified

Power Max

  • used 12" iBook G3/500, 384/10/CD-ROM, $599. With this CPU you qualify to buy OS X (Panther) for $99 and get a free USB Watch (after rebate).

Wegener Media

Small Dog Electronics

  • new 14" iBook G4/1.33 GHz, 256/60/SuperDrive, AirPort Extreme, PC2100 SO DIMM 512 MB DDR 266, Kensington Saddlebag Case Black with Black trim, $1,629
     NOTE: To purchase this special you must be a Top Dog Club Member

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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