The 'Book Review

PowerBook Hinge Problems, 'Books Have Solid Fan Base, The PowerS Future, 3 Battery Monitors, and More

This Week's PowerBook and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2005.01.14

iPod News

Tech Trends

Windows Watch

Bargain 'Books

Apple: Fix Your Hinges!

PowerPage's Jason O'Grady says:

"My five-month-old PowerBook G4 15-inch 1.5GHz is a total piece of crap. The hinges are creaking worse than that old door sound effect from Hallowe'en and I am getting a little tired of it.... Each time I open and close my PowerBook I am reminded of the innumerable hinge problems that Apple has with almost every model.

"In fact, hinge problems are so rampant with PowerBooks that an entire cottage industry has cropped up to fix it. Apple should bundle a tube of AIGlide from with every PowerBook that they sell.

"Note to Apple: Please fix the hinges in the upcoming PowerBook G5 or WE WON'T BUY THEM....

"If the PowerBook G5 turns out to be a US$3000 power-hungry, furnace with hinges that suck, Do us all a favor Apple and keep it in the labs. We won't get fooled again."

I agree with Jason. If it wasn't so awful, it would be almost comical that Apple, with all its industrial design prowess, hasn't managed to build a laptop with decent hinges.

Notebooks from Apple Enjoy Solid Fan Base

Deutsche Presse's Verena Wolff reports:

"They're stylish, small and stable. Yet the laptop computers from Apple often find themselves joining the company's desktop computers on the sidelines in the arena of mainstream computing....

"Still, some experts feel that the iBooks for home users or the potent PowerBooks for businesspeople and other professionals have a lot going for them....

"Among the advantages of the Mac machine are its user friendliness and stability. The fact that they are less common actually offers an unexpected advantage, too.

"They are less frequently the target of virus attacks....

"The community of Mac owners has changed over the years. While it was once composed largely of graphic artists, photographers and desktop publishing specialists, the borders are now less clear."

Apple, IBM Powering Ahead Together

InfoWorld's Tom Yager reports:

"PowerPC and Power form a continuum of compatible, and now open, processor designs - and our guess is that the PowerS design will arrive in some form in an Apple machine in 2005. The companies that rely on PowerPC will do very nicely betting on the No. 2 horse.

"The PowerS hasn't yet arrived in an Apple machine, despite the similarly named PowerPC G5, the Mac's latest, greatest CPU. Apple's CS is actually based on the Power4 - except with a single core, a smaller die, less heat, and lower power consumption.

"In other words, the PowerPC incarnation of the Power architecture is optimized for smaller machines. And that plan seems to be working better than ever: Apple sold 836,000 PowerPC laptop, desktop, and server systems in its fourth fiscal quarter of 2004....*

"Apple is still the driving force behind discrete PowerPC engineering. It drove Freescale, a Motorola spin-off, to create the MPC7447A to replace the inefficient CPU used in the first 17-inch PowerBook G4. Freescale's next work will be the 7448, which doubles the cache size of the 7447A and raises the ceiling on the bus and clock speeds. The company also has a dualcore, 32-bit PowerPC chip coming up."

* In their first fiscal quarter of 2005, Apple sold 1,046,000 computers.

Capacity Meter 1.1 Displays & Tracks PowerBook Battery Capacity

PR: Capacity Meter displays information about your PowerBook's battery, including capacity, amperage, current, and voltage. Using this information and your machine's specifications, Capacity Meter will let you know the current status of your battery. Battery information can be saved in the applications history to monitor battery degradation over time.

The Capacity Meter Helper application, which is included in the download, is designed to provide feedback at startup. This application compares your last saved battery capacity to the current capacity and notifies you if the change is more than the user-defined percentage. If the change is less, the application will still show the current and previous capacities but close after 10 seconds.

Using these applications, you can actively monitor and check your battery to make sure you are getting maximum battery performance.

New in this version:

  • More accurate battery information
  • Fixed a minor bug in Capacity Meter Helper
  • Added custom maximum battery capacity option
  • New Preferences window
  • Added new icon, courtesy of Joseph Roland
  • Made various fixes

System requirements:

  • Mac OS X 10.1 or later
  • PowerBook G3 or later

Capacity Meter is freeware.

Battorox 1.2 Laptop Battery Monitor

PR: Battorox monitors easy and simple the Battery information in your laptop including its capacity, amps, current capacity, voltage, flags and current capacity in percent.

Note: If the battery is charging you cannot get any info on the battery.

New in this version: Added units. Fixed some little bugs.

System requirements: Mac OS X

Battorox is freeware.

iBatt 1.2 Net-enabled PowerBook Battery Monitor

PR: iBatt is a battery monitor for PowerBooks and iBooks. It goes far beyond the basic charge level information reported by the system and tells you your battery's capacity, voltage, and overall health. In addition, it provides a running graph showing trends in your battery's performance.

iBatt will almost certainly tell you things about your PowerBook's battery that you never knew. All batteries degrade over time, and OS X has no built-in way of showing you just how worn out your battery is. But your PowerBook knows, and iBatt knows how to get that information.

Have you ever wondered if your PowerBook falls short of others in terms of battery performance? iBatt is not just a standalone application, but an Internet-based statistical tool. It reports how your battery measures up against other PowerBooks of your model and gives you the option to submit your own battery statistics to iBatt's Internet database.

iBatt digs deep into the system to get every bit of available battery data. The OS only reports your charge level, but iBatt reports total capacity as well as voltage. This lets you know how worn out your battery is and whether or not it's time to replace it. Battery data can be viewed in either graph or numerical format. The graphing window provides a flexible data view, allowing you to view trends over the course of 10 minutes, up to one month. The statistical view shows you all the current numbers for your battery. It covers Capacity, Charge, Voltage, and State.

But what good is all this data without a frame of reference? Following Rayner Software's tradition for network-enabled programs, iBatt is completely Internet aware. You have the option to report your battery statistics to iBatt's server for use as a benchmark - but even if you opt out of this, you can still view your battery's stats in comparison with averages collected from PowerBooks around the world. This will let you know how your battery performs in relation to the average battery in your model of PowerBook. iBatt also provides a plain English report and a letter grade to give you an easy-to-read battery report card. The registered version of iBatt allows you to check out stats on other PowerBook models.

New in this version:

  • French localization added.
  • Battery statistics reworked to produce better averages.

For more information, visit:

  • Mac OS X 10.2 or higher
  • PowerBook or iBook

iBatt is $15 shareware.

RadTech Announces Tekstyle Soft Cases

PR: With the introduction of Tekstyle lightweight poly-reinforced use-in soft cases to it's line of mobile solutions, RadTech offers a whole new level of freedom and functionality to mobile computing.

"My tekmod made it so easy and comfortable to travel with my laptop. It was a much better experience going through airport security with quick and easy access to my laptop. I never had to remove my laptop... I simply unzipped, connected and powered-on - in a matter of seconds," states Amy Catalano, Marketing Consultant, George P. Johnson Inc.

The unrivaled design features use-in functionality with full access to ports and drives while still in the case. The integrated fold-out stand provides an ergonomic typing angle for comfortable access to the notebook's keyboard.

Lightweight and ultra slim, the unique construction is reinforced with high-impact plastic inserts, making the cases ultra tough for extra protection.

Targus Combines Fashion and Affordability with Launch of Ladies Notebook Carrying Cases

PR: Targus Inc. has established another milestone with the launch of its line of affordably priced notebook carrying cases designed exclusively for women. Starting at $49.99, the cases offer women an attractive alternative to the standard black notebook case and overpriced designer bags that currently dominate the marketplace. Featuring four distinct designs, the Jackie Leather Tote, Katherine Carry Case, Liz Tote Deluxe and Jayne Tote will appeal to fashion-conscious users who appreciate Targus' innovative notebook protection and practical product design elements. Targus' new cases will be on display in the Targus booth during the 2005 International CES in Las Vegas from Jan. 6-9, 2005.

Targus bag"In creating cases specifically tailored to meet the unique needs of women, we incorporated designs which would stand the test of time, keep pace with today's fashions and protect one's mobile computing assets," said Sandra Wirth, global business manager for Targus. "All four cases in the ladies line are packed with smart features to handle the demands of female mobile professionals, while providing protection, convenience and organization in a contemporary and stylish package."

Targus' new line of cases was designed as a result of extensive feedback received from Targus' female consumers and focus groups conducted with executive women from five Fortune 500 companies. This research revealed that women are increasingly playing a large role in consumer electronics spending and starting up more small businesses than their male counterparts, making the demand for a case designed with a woman in mind greater than ever before.

Targus also sent out surveys to women who carry notebook computers and travel regularly for business. The surveys and focus groups revealed a clear demand among females for stylish cases that would blur the lines between briefcase and purse. In addition, the feedback Targus received was integral in determining what features were essential to the design of the bags. Detailing such as shoulder straps, zipper pulls and lining were designed based upon what female customers said they desired in a notebook carrying solution.

Featuring stylish materials and design cues seen more commonly on handbags and totes, Targus' line of cases allow women to carry their notebook computers without thinking they are carrying a bag designed for a man. With several color choices and contemporary designs, the case names are reminiscent of well-know women throughout history. The four trendsetting cases meet the carryon guidelines of all major airlines and include top-loading designs to give users quick and easy access to the notebook compartment for security removal. Sturdy, long-rolled handles allow easy, over the shoulder transport and five stainless steel feet keep the cases upright and safe from liquid damage when placed on the ground. All four women's cases include a cell phone pocket, business card holders, pen loops and a file folder organization compartment.

Targus' ladies case line is currently available on Targus' website and will be available at national retailers including Office Depot in early 2005. All four cases include a limited lifetime warranty. The following cases are now available.

Jackie Leather Tote (TLT008-red or TLT007-black)

With a choice of a sophisticated black or an eye-popping red exterior, the Jackie Leather Tote features a timeless, elegant design constructed of fine grain leather with contrasting white stitching. The leather exterior is stylish enough for the most fashion-savvy critic, yet deceivingly rugged to withstand the rigors of travel. The Jackie Tote includes a padded notebook compartment that accommodates notebooks with screens up to 15 inches. An adjustable strap secures the notebook in place for maximum protection. The Jackie Tote's zipper closure ensures that valuables can be stored safely inside the case. The textured, padded nylon interior contains a PDA pocket, an internal zipper pocket and an internal key clip. Targus has also included a removable mini bag with the case that is perfect for making loose items easy to find, such as change, makeup or credit cards. The Jackie Leather Tote has a suggested retail price of $149.99.

Katherine Carry Case (TLT005)

With a trendy gray tweed exterior, a functional, roomy interior and black leatherette handles with silver buckles, the Katherine Carry Case easily transitions from work to play. Designed to look like a purse on the outside, the Katherine Case houses a padded interior compartment that accommodates notebook computers with screens up to 15.4 inches. Additionally, the Katherine includes a removable, padded slipcase that accommodates notebooks with up to 15-inch screens. The removable sleeve design allows users to carry the case without the notebook during weekend or personal travel, while protecting the notebook computer left behind. In addition to a notebook, the Katherine Carry Case boasts protective and organizational features for electronic devices, files and other daily necessities, including a PDA pocket, an internal zipper pocket and an internal key clip. A zipper closure ensures all case contents are secure. The Katherine Carry Case has a suggested retail price of $99.99.

Liz Tote Deluxe (TLT004)

The sleek exterior of the Liz Tote Deluxe disguises a roomy interior that accommodates widescreen notebooks with screen sizes up to 15.4 inches. The tote is constructed of black nylon twill with stylish contrast stitching and a zipper closure to keep interior contents secure. The interior features a padded notebook compartment, a side zippered pocket for storage of loose items and a key clip for quick access to keys in a safe location. Exterior pockets on the front and back of the case provide quick access to travel documents or other frequently used items. The Liz Tote also includes a removable mini bag for storage of small items such as money or credit cards. For many women, the additional mini-bag makes it possible to travel without a separate purse, consolidating all items into one easy-to-carry bag. The Liz Tote Deluxe has a suggested retail price of $79.99.

Jayne Tote (TLT001)

The Jayne Tote is an affordable case featuring soft curves, a professional aesthetic and emphasis on lightweight materials. The durable tote design allows a notebook to be carried in style while concealing a vitally functional interior. The tote's black nylon construction incorporates a padded main notebook compartment to protect the case in the event of accidental drops and against wear and tear on the road. A silent magnetic closure secures the notebook and prevents it from slipping out of the case. Weighing less than two pounds, the case accommodates notebooks with screen sizes up to 15.4 inches. The Jayne Tote has a suggested retail price of $49.99.

Targus Leads Notebook Case Innovation with Industry's First Sidewall Impact System

PR: Targus Inc., maker of the world's top-selling notebook cases and accessories, today announced its latest innovation in notebook computer case design with the introduction of the Dome Protection System. Developed by Targus, the Dome Protection System is the first sidewall impact system to be integrated into a notebook computer case. The Dome Protection System will dramatically improve protection for larger format notebook display screens, which are the most susceptible to costly screen damage.

The first case to incorporate the patent pending Dome Protection System will be Targus' HP Evolution Ultra Portable Leather Notebook Case (Model # HP800). Targus plans to roll out its own branded line of cases featuring the Dome Protection System by the end of the first quarter of this year.

Designed specifically to shield a notebook's display during travel, the Dome Protection System is made up of a series of layered and modulated foam circles built into the walls of the case. As part of the case's construction, the Dome Protection System diverts external force toward the edges of the notebook, where it is stronger, and away from its delicate LCD display. The new protection system provides up to 350 percent more sidewall protection than cases without the Dome Protection System.

The HP Evolution Ultra Portable Leather Notebook Case by Targus, featuring the new Dome Protection System technology, also incorporates Targus' patented SafePORT Air Cushion System, providing five times the protection of standard foam padding found in many cases.

"Our SafePORT technology is one of the top reasons that corporate IT buyers and consumers trust Targus to protect their notebook investments," said Ron Smith, chief marketing officer, Targus. "We initially developed the Dome Protection System out of sensitivity to larger screen size trends in the notebook industry. Larger screens are highly fragile, and require a special level of protection in the center of the notebook case. The Dome Protection System addresses the vulnerability by redirecting impact forces toward the edges of the notebook."

"When we realized how powerful the Dome Protection System could be in protecting notebooks, we knew that we had to offer the feature in cases of all sizes. The HP Evolution case, our first product with the system, is designed for notebooks with screens up to 14 inches," said Smith.

Weighing less than three pounds when empty, the HP Evolution Ultra Portable Leather Notebook Case incorporates a top loading case design for easy notebook insertion and retrieval. The case also incorporates Targus' patented Equalizer Suspension Strap and signature molded overlapping handles for maximum carrying comfort. Side access belt loops allow users to clip on a pen or cell phone for quick access and a luggage strap secures the case to a standard rolling travel case. A patent pending, retractable airline ticket and passport holder makes accessing travel documents possible without having to open the case.

Targus' new case is designed to make high-use items easily accessible by incorporating features such as business card compartments, pen loops, accessory pockets, key clips, a patent-pending, hidden mesh water bottle holder, a protective, removable CD/DVD sleeve that holds up to four disks, and a removable accessory pocket that is ideal for power cables.

The HP Evolution Ultra Portable Leather Notebook Case by Targus is available through authorized HP resellers or direct via the Web at Targus also plans to make the cases available on its own website. The case will include Targus' limited lifetime warranty and is priced at $79.99 (MSRP).

iPod News

MacMice Announces PodBuddy Car Connection System for iPod

PR: MacMice, a division of DVForge, Inc. showed its new PodBuddy car connection system for Apple's iPod at its booth at this week's Macworld Expo.

PodBuddy"As the originator of using flexible steel tubing for mounting Apple products, with our SightFlex, iFlex, and MicFlex products, we decided last year that a flex tube would be a great solution for mounting an Apple iPod in a car," said DVForge Executive Vice President, Chuck Leonard. "So, we have spent a year doing the needed engineering and design work to build a great product. That product, the PodBuddy, is the first car mount solution in the world to work without an adapter with any model of Apple dock-connector equipped iPod or iPod mini. And, while we were at it, we completely reengineered the way that FM transmitters have historically worked in cars. We think we've hit the mark, and that the PodBuddy is the first car mount FM connection device to come to market that will please any owner."

The PodBuddy has a high-grip cigarette lighter plug, connected to an adjustable iPod holding cradle by a 6" length of flexible steel tubing. The mounting/charging cradle uses a patent-pending adjusting mechanism to fit any model of dock connector iPod or iPod mini. The built-in all-original FM transmitter includes a patent-pending circuit that automatically selects and displays the best available FM radio frequency, permitting the user to simply accept that frequency, and tune the car radio to the same station, avoiding the constant hunt for open stations required by other music transmitters. PodBuddy also includes a high-quality line output jack at the lighter plug end of the product, for direct connection to an appropriate car stereo system.

PodBuddy is offered in both white and Special Edition black versions and will begin shipping in February at a MSRP of $99.99.

Tech Trends

75 Million Toshiba 2.5" Hard Drives Shipped

Toshiba Storage Device Division (SDD) has announced it has surpassed the milestone of cumulative production of 75 million 2.5" hard disk drives (HDDs), demonstrating the increasing popularity of mobile PCs and other consumer electronics gear such as GPS, MP3 players and automobile entertainment systems based on the 2.5" form factor.

Toshiba's innovations in the mobile HDD space have allowed the company to stay in the vanguard of HDD development. Toshiba was the first company to introduce a 100 GB 2.5" HDD earlier this year, giving muscle to thinner and more powerful notebook PCs to meet the growing population of mobile users. As Toshiba integrates Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR) technology into its 2.5" HDD in the coming years, the company plans to drastically improve capacities, while continuing to perfect technical specifications, particularly for unique operating environments in the consumer electronics space.

"Our 2.5" platform is the anchor of our mobile HDD lineup," said Scott Maccabe, vice president and general manager, Toshiba SDD. "The continued investment in research and development we've done in this form factor, as well as years of learning and advancing the technology, have enabled us to bring to market other leading innovations like the 0.85" HDD. The continued strength of our 2.5" HDD is a testament to Toshiba's leadership and innovation in mobile storage."

Toshiba's mobile hard disk drives are available in every capacity point, including 20 GB, 30 GB, 40 GB, 60 GB, 80 GB. and 100 GB capacities.

Toshiba Introduces First Slim-Line Optical Drive with LightScribe Direct Disc Labeling Technology

PR: Toshiba Storage Device Division (SDD), an industry pioneer in optical storage technology, announced availability of the industry's first slim-line optical drive equipped with LightScribe Direct Disc Labeling from Toshiba Samsung Storage Technologies (TSST). This new technology, developed by HP, will enable mobile computer users to easily burn silk-screen quality labels onto CD and DVD discs directly from the drive.

CD burned with LightScribeUsing LightScribe technology, TSST's TS-L532L drive is ideal for creating visually appealing and personalized CDs and DVDs with graphic images such as corporate logos or personal photos. LightScribe technology eliminates added steps for creating labels or using pens to identify disc content.

As a leader in the development, design and manufacturing of optical disk drives, TSST worked closely with the LightScribe team at HP to successfully integrate LightScribe technology into its latest drive. The TS-L532L drive has write speeds of 8x for DVD±R, 4x for DVD±RW, 24x for CD-R, and 10x for US CD-RW to provide a complete solution for quickly and easily creating and labeling CDs and DVDs.

"Consumers want simple-to-use technology that gives them more benefits - and that's the beauty of incorporating LightScribe technology into Toshiba's optical drives," said Maciek Brzeski, vice president of marketing at Toshiba SDD. "Mobile computer users can be more creative while using an easier method for CD and DVD creation, which ultimately increases the value and functionality of mobile computers."

Notebook computers incorporating LightScribe technology are expected to start shipping to customers in Q1 of 2005.

Windows Watch

Lenovo Won't Change ThinkPad Notebooks, IBM Exec Says

Mobile Pipeline's David Haskin reports:

"IBM's ThinkPad line has attracted a loyal following in the enterprise, but IT managers - and users - need not worry about the line's future despite the sale of IBM's Personal Computing Division to China's Lenovo.

"At least, that's the strong statement from one IBM executive.

"'All the (ThinkPad) engineers will remain the same,' Rob Herman, program director and manager for the Worldwide ThinkPad brand, said in an interview last week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. 'The plan is to keep everybody in place.'"

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

Wegener Media

  • iBook G3/300, 96/6/CD-ROM, blueberry/tangerine, $279.99
  • Order with AirPort Card installed, add $89.99
  • Upgrade to 320 MB RAM, add $39.50

Small Dog Electronics

Apple Store

Free shipping.

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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