The 'Book Review

PB 100 Best Gadget Ever, 17" PB the Ultimate Laptop, Apple Overhauls iPod Line, and More

This Week's PowerBook and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2005.02.25

General Apple and Mac desktops are now covered in The Mac News Review.

'Book News

iPod News

Bargain 'Books

This week's Mac News Review: Mac mini switcher's guide, Mac mini dock, iDash, mini opens world to Windows users, new digicams, and more. Mac switcher never going back, Daystar Apple authorized service, Samsung 16x DVD burner, SmartDisk FotoChute, and new digicams from Concord, Rollei, and Olympus.

Apple's PowerBook 100: The Greatest Gadget Ever?

From the BBC: "The Apple PowerBook 100 has been chosen as the greatest gadget of all time, by US magazine Mobile PC.

"The 1991 laptop was chosen because it was one of the first 'lightweight' portable computers and helped define the layout of all future notebook PCs....

"The most popular gadget of the moment, the Apple iPod, is at number 12 in the list while the first Sony transistor radio is at number 13....

"Karl Elsener's knife, the Swiss Army Knife from 1891, is at number 20 in the list."

Four Apple Products Named to Top 100 Gadgets of All Time List

Last week, named the original PowerBook 100 as Number 1 on their list of The Top 100 Gadgets of All Time, commenting:

PowerBook 100"Never mind the Apple versus PC debate: Until Apple unveiled this 5.1-pound machine, most 'portable' computers were curiosities for technophiles with superior upper-body strength. But the PowerBook 100's greatest and most lasting innovation was to move the keyboard toward the screen, leaving natural wrist rests up front, as well as providing an obvious place for a trackball. It seems like the natural layout now, but that's because the entire industry aped Apple within months. The first PowerBooks captured an astounding 40 percent of the market, but more important, they turned notebook computers into mainstream products and ushered in the era of mobile computing that we're still living in today. "

Also included was the Apple PowerBook 500, (#22), because: "The PowerBook 500 wowed the notebook market with a long string of firsts: The first touch pad; the first stereo speakers (with 16-bit sound); the first expansion bay - and the first PC Card slot; the first 'intelligent' nickel metal hydride battery, with a processor that communicated battery status to the operating system; and, last but not least, the first curvaceous case, with gratuitously swooped edges and corners instead of the boxy angles of previous notebooks. Make no mistake, this notebook set the agenda for the following 10 years of portable computer design."

Not bad. Two of six portable computers that made the list are Apple machines (the others are: #19 - IBM ThinkPad 701C, 1995 #27 - NEC Ultralite, 1989; #58 - Panasonic Toughbook 18, 2003; and #76 - HP Omnibook 300, 1993). Two other Apple products also are included: #12 - Apple iPod, 2001 and #39 - Apple Newton MessagePad 120, 1994.

17" PowerBook G4: The Ultimate Laptop says:

"Apple hasn't figured out how to deliver a G5 PowerBook just yet, so a few weeks ago they released a laptop that will meet the needs of the power hungry while lowering the price at the same time. We picked one up a few days ago and this is our initial report.

"So, is the new PowerBook worth upgrading to, or should you wait for the mysterious G5? Is the new PowerBook really new, or just a revamped version of last years model? Not to cop out on an answer here, but it's a little of both. There are some uniquely new features and others that are simple upgrades, deciding whether to buy a new PowerBook is not easy."

SideTrack Trackpad Driver

PR: SideTrack is a replacement driver for most Apple PowerBook and iBook trackpads. With SideTrack installed your standard trackpad becomes a powerful multi-button scrolling mouse.

Leave your external mouse at home and take full control over your trackpad:

  • Vertical scrolling at left or right edge of pad.
  • Horizontal scrolling at top or bottom edge of pad.
  • Map hardware button to left or right click.
  • Map trackpad taps to no action, left click, left click drag (with or without drag lock), or right click.
  • Map trackpad corner taps to mouse buttons 1-6 or simulated keystrokes.
  • Extensive control over accidental input filtering.

SideTrack is multiuser aware and fully compatible with MacOS X 10.3 fast user switching (FUS). Every user on your PowerBook can have different settings depending on their needs.

Turn the corners of your trackpad into independent tap actions. Use the corner zones to emulate up to a 6 button mouse or generate custom keystrokes. Customize SideTrack's sensitivity and accuracy. Calibrate to your own trackpad style and adjust filtering to reduce accidental taps while typing. Choose from several mouse acceleration options.

SideTrack 1.1.1 does not support the new trackpad hardware found in the January 2005 PowerBooks. Support for the new trackpad is being investigated and may appear in a future SideTrack release.

What's New in Version 1.1.1:

  • Fixes to "Move to default button" for dialogs.
  • Compatibility improvements with Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar.
  • New Dutch and Traditional Chinese localizations.

System Requirements

  • Apple PowerBook or iBook (for specific supported PowerBook models please see the FAQ)
  • Mac OS X 10.3 (Panther) or Mac OS X 10.2 (Jaguar)

SideTrack is $15 shareware. Unregistered copies of SideTrack will periodically remind you to register.

15" PowerBook G4 Developer Note Released

This developer note is a technical description of the 15" PowerBook G4. The note provides information about the computer's internal design, input-output features, and expansion capabilities.

17" PowerBook G4 Developer Note Released

This developer note is a technical description of the 17" PowerBook G4. The note provides information about the computer's internal design, input-output features, and expansion capabilities.

QuickerTek PowerBook Handles Compatible with New PowerBooks

PR: QuickerTek has announced complete compatibility with the new 12", 15", and 17" PowerBooks.

Hot on the release of the 27dBm transceiver for the base stations, QuickerTek has released the handles for the latest versions of the PowerBooks. QuickerTek provides all tools that make carrying and using your new Aluminum PowerBook safe and convenient.

The handle also acts as an adjustable stand when it is on a desktop, and features an incline that allows for more comfortable keyboarding and better air circulation.

In conjunction with this, QuickerTek has bundled the ubiquitous TiBook 2dBi antenna with the TiBook handle for $85.

QuickerTek is a recognized leading innovator of antenna and RF products for Apple products.

Solo Performer Show Controller 2.0 Adds MIDI Control and More

PR: Alien Apparatus Company, Inc. has released Solo Performer Show Controller version 2.0. Solo Performer Show Controller is a system for controlling the background music, lyrics displays, MIDI effects, and light shows for musicians. The system consists of a six-button foot controller that connects to a computer via USB and software that runs on Windows and Macintosh.

Solo Performer Show Controller plays MP3 files, AIFF files, WAV files, and MIDI files. It can control MIDI effects units, lights that operate using the industry-standard DMX512 protocol, and can display lyrics onscreen in a karaoke-like manner. The software also includes a utility for stripping out unwanted tracks in MIDI files so that only the rhythm tracks play.

In this new release, Solo Performer Show Controller can now send MIDI files to external MIDI devices, change MIDI effects settings automatically, send hotkey commands to control other running applications, and redefine the button functions on the foot controller.

The Solo Performer Show Controller System is currently the only system available for controlling a show that seamlessly integrates audio, MIDI, and DMX512 lighting capabilities. With its six-button foot controller, a guitar player could, for example, play a show in front of an audience and have all of the backing rhythm tracks play from the system while it controls the lights and changes the singer's vocal reverb during the choruses.

Jack OS X 0.6 Audio Connection Kit Implementation

PR: Jack for Mac OS connects audio from any OS X application to any OS X application

Jack (the Jack Audio Connection Kit) is a low-latency audio server, written originally for the GNU/Linux operating system, and now with Mac OS X support. It can connect any number of different applications to a single hardware audio device; it also allows applications to send and receive audio to and from each other.

Jack is different from other audio server efforts in that it has been designed from the ground up to be suitable for professional audio work. This means that it focuses on two key areas: synchronous execution of all clients, and low latency operation.

Jack OS X is an OS X implementation of Jack, and it installs everything necessary to take full advantage of Jack on OS X. This includes:

  • The Jack server: The infrastructure you need in place to use Jack
  • The Jack Audio Router (JAR): JAR is a CoreAudio "user space" driver that allows any OS X CoreAudio application to become a Jack client.
  • The Jack audio plug ins: Both AU and VST "Jack-aware" audio plug ins are provided, which can further expand the limitless audio routing possibilities when using Jack.
  • The JackPilot application: JackPilot offers an easy to use GUI interface that allows you to control the Jack server, and manage the audio connections between applications and/or plug ins.

February 21, 2005 - New version 0.6 now available for download - many bug fixes and compatibility improvements, including much better compatibility with Native Instruments applications, and now using the latest version of Jack server (0.99.49). The full change log is included in the documentation that comes with the package.

Jack is freeware.

Daystar Apple Authorized Service and Sales Launched

PR: Daystar Technology, a longtime leading Macintosh Technology Integrator, has expanded its Service and Sales offerings. As an Apple Authorized Reseller since March of 2004, Daystar now provides full in-warranty and out-of-warranty services via its website.

Utilizing Apple Certified technicians and its wealth of knowledge gained over the past 16 years, the company is able to deliver top-quality, 24 hour service options on any Apple system.

Why Daystar?

  • The longest history of technology development and expertise available in the Apple market.
  • Level 3 technicians available on-site for all services including component level BGA rework.
  • Exceptional PowerBook service expertise, over 2,000 units serviced to-date.
  • Fast diagnostics and service, 24 hours in most cases.
  • Customizable service and shipment options available via the web.
  • Top-rated customer service (see
  • Live Chat with technicians and online status updates.
  • 99% of all services, stay fixed.
  • Exclusive Daystar 90/720 warranty (see
  • Full Service, Apple Authorized Reseller.

"We're excited to expand our availability of services," said Gary Dailey, president of Daystar. "Being able to easily meet our customers' needs for new system sales, services and of course upgrades, means that Daystar is the true One-Stop-Shop!"

Daystar Technology is a Macintosh Technology Integrator. The company specializes in developing custom solutions, and integrating leading performance technologies for consumers, enterprises and graphics professionals. Daystar operates as an Apple Authorized Reseller and Service center, and maintains a staff of Apple Certified Technicians. Daystar is also the designer and manufacturer of XLR8 brand products. With its history as the creator of the original Mac upgrade, the company continues to deliver the best of the best for the Apple based computing platform.

Daystar currently distributes XLR8 brand products and select, qualified performance and expansion products via its web store at, via eBay and select resellers. Daystar offers a wide array of Apple performance products. It also sells and services Apple products via its storefront in Buford, Georgia.

iPod News

Apple Overhauls iPod Line

Earlier this week, Apple replaced the iPod mini with two new minis, discontinued the 40 GB iPods, dropped the price of the 60 GB iPod photo, and introduced a new iPod photo.

The new 4 GB iPod mini is available in silver, blue, green, and pink; the gold finish is no longer available. Retailing for US$199 - just $50 more than the 1 GB iPod shuffle - the new mini has more than double the battery life of its predecessor (18 vs. 8 hours). A second iPod mini holding 6 GB of data was also introduced at US$249.

The new 30 GB iPod photo is slimmer than the 40 GB models it replaces. It retails for just US$349 - only $50 more than the monochrome 20 GB iPod.

The top-end 60 GB iPod photo has been repackaged and now retails for US$449, a $150 reduction.

The new iPods and repackaged 60 GB iPod photo no longer include FireWire cables. Apple reasons that most iPods are sold to Windows users, where USB 2.0 is far more common than FireWire, and Macs made in recent years also include USB 2.0 support. A FireWire cable is offered for US$19 additional.

UPDATE: The new iPods are not backwards compatible with the USB 1.1 specification. Your computer must support USB 2.0 or FireWire to work with the new iPods.

The iPod Dock, formerly bundled with some models, is not a US$39 accessory - just one more way for Apple to trim the retail price.

Apple also introduced a US$29 iPod Camera Connector to facilitate importing photos from digital cameras.

For current prices from a variety of sources, see our Best iPod Deals.

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 (VGA) and G4/667 (DVI), the titanium vs. aluminum 15" PowerBook G4 at 1 GHz, and 1.25 GHz to 1.5 GHz 15" PowerBooks.

Baucom Computers

Apple Store

PowerBook Guy

Wegener Media

  • PowerBook Pismo G3/400, 128/10/DVD, $499.99
  • PowerBook Pismo G3/500, 128/10/DVD, $549.99
  • With 40 HDD and 256 RAM, add $150
  • Get a PCMCIA wireless card with purchase of Pismo, add $10
  • Add an Airport Wireless card, $89.99 installed
  • G4/550 MHz upgrade card (with purchase of Pismo), $249.99

Small Dog Electronics

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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