The 'Book Review

Apple Battery Recall, Fuel Cell Breakthrough, $100 400 MHz WallStreet Upgrade, Mac Car Interface, and More

This Week's PowerBook and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2005.05.27

This Week's PowerBook, iBook, and Notebook News

General Apple and Mac desktop news is covered in The Mac News Review. iPod news is covered in The iNews Review.

News & Opinion


Products and Services

Tech Trends

Bargain 'Books

News & Opinion

iBook G4 and PowerBook G4 Battery Recall

"In cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and other international safety authorities, Apple is voluntarily recalling certain lithium ion rechargeable batteries that were sold worldwide from October 2004 through May 2005 for use with the following notebook computers: 12-inch iBook G4, 12-inch PowerBook G4 and 15-inch PowerBook G4. These batteries were manufactured by LG Chem, Ltd. of South Korea.

"The affected batteries could overheat, posing a fire hazard to consumers. Apple has received six consumer reports of these batteries overheating. If you have a recalled battery, please stop using it and order a replacement battery immediately. Once you have removed the battery, plug in the AC adapter to power the computer. If you must temporarily use your computer with the battery, do not leave it unattended and check for signs of overheating.

"Apple has initiated a worldwide exchange program and will provide eligible customers with a new replacement battery, free of charge....

"The recalled batteries are only used in 12-inch iBook G4, 12-inch PowerBook G4, and 15-inch PowerBook G4 computers and have model numbers A1061, A1078, and A1079 and serial numbers that begin with HQ441 through HQ507 and 3X446 through 3X510. To view the model and serial numbers located on the bottom of the battery, you must remove the battery from the computer. The battery serial number is printed in black or dark grey lettering beneath a barcode. Please use the chart below to identify the battery model and serial numbers that apply to your iBook or PowerBook.

Computer model Battery model number Serial number range

  • 12" iBook G4 A1061 HQ441 - HQ507
  • 12" PowerBook G4 A1079 3X446 - 3X510
  • 15" PowerBook G4 A1078 3X446 - 3X509

"Note: If you have a 15-inch PowerBook G4 that has a battery with the Model Number: A1045 with a serial number that begins with: HQ404, HQ405, HQ406, HQ407, or HQ408, your battery is eligible for replacement under the 15-inch PowerBook G4 Battery Exchange Program (2004)."

Battery Recall May Benefit Taiwan Makers's Huang Kung Tien and Jessie Shen report:

"Taiwan-based lithium-battery specialists DynaPack International Technology and Simplo Technology may benefit from Apple's recent recall of notebook-use batteries manufactured by LG Chem of South Korea, as the recall should affect LG Chem's ability to secure more Apple orders, according to market sources....

"Although DynaPack has stated it began lithium-battery shipments to Apple for its PowerBook earlier this year, the company has declined to provide any forecast for total shipments to Apple for the year. However, sources at the maker anticipate DynaPack will ship a total of 4.5 million notebook-use battery packs in 2005, up 51.5% from the 2.97 million units it shipped last year.

"As recently reported, Simplo has also secured orders from Apple, with shipments to start by the end of the year...."

iBooks Required for Education Majors at University of Maine

The University of Maine teacher preparation program is the first in the state to require that students working toward Maine certification have a laptop computer and specific educational hardware as part of their tools for learning. Apple iBook is the designated computer and software.

"The College is committed to preparing aspiring teachers to appropriately and creatively use technology in the classroom. To ensure our graduates are ready for this dynamic responsibility, the College is requiring that students majoring in Education programs leading to teacher certification have a laptop computer and specific software. This requirement is effective with the class entering the College in Fall 2005. These students must obtain the recommended Apple iBook package prior to the beginning of the 2006 fall semester."

More information about the laptop initiative is available on the College's website.

That Feeling of Quality's François Joseph de Kermadec says:

"A few years ago, using a Mac was an act of faith: every newspaper and magazine was claiming Linux would take over the market in a matter of months, that Windows mobile would simply make it impossible to use a telephone without relying on Microsoft software and that the low-end MP3/USB drives combo would make anything else outdated.

"Somehow, though, people kept using their Macs, they kept using Open BSD on handhelds, some even switched to these platforms or embarked in even more esoteric choices. The iPod was at the time at the beginning of its career and started to be followed by an enthusiastic crowd& Why?...

"Things fell into place when I sat up an IBM laptop for someone last week - a someone who has since switched to the Mac, a mere 3 days later - and realized that, despite the high-end designation of that machine, I still didn't want to use it. It somehow, felt wrong, felt cheap. The plastics were nice indeed, the thing was not too poorly designed overall and I couldn't really find anything wrong with it but it just didn't click. The OS? Well, seeing an IBM boot screen followed by an Intel Inside one, then a DOS prompt and finally a Windows logo didn't give a feeling of high consistency either - kinda like when you buy a jacket and realize that all the pieces are sewn together in different ways that won't last past cocktail hour."

Classic Macs: The PowerBook 3400

In the first in a new series about collectable and easily obtained Macs published on MyMac, Neale Monks, author of Buying Used Macs, takes a look at the PowerBook 3400, arguably the first portable produced by Apple that was good enough to replace a desktop machine.

PowerBook 3400Neale Monks says:

"Anyone looking for a portable Mac for under $200 is going to be hard pressed to beat a PowerBook 3400 in good condition. In lots of ways, this series represents a threshold value as far as usability goes: it has just enough speed, memory, and expandability to be usable with the Internet, wireless networking, and productivity applications such as Photoshop and Microsoft Office....

"....if you're really strapped for cash and need something that will connect to the wireless network in your office or student union, comes with built-in Ethernet for printing and file sharing, and has enough speed to get your work done, it's hard to knock the PowerBook 3400. While not the best looking PowerBook Apple ever produced, it's turned out to be one of the most solid and reliable. You have the option of running any version of the Mac operating system from OS 7.6 through to 9.1 as well as various types of Linux (such as Yellow Dog Linux 2) if that's your thing. Finally, it's a machine that's easy to upgrade, adding memory taking just a few minutes and swapping out the hard drive only half an hour, tops."

Classic Macs: The dual-USB iBook

MyMac's Neale Monks, author of Buying Used Macs, considers the dual-USB G3 iBooks to be the best value Mac portables about. Find out why in the third of his articles on classic Macs.

"These new iBooks, released in 2001, are bright white like the G4 iMacs and use many of the same materials, but more than anything the 'Ice Book' iBooks, as they quickly became known, share many design features with the iPod and G5 iMacs. The white plastic body is actually protected by a transparent plastic shell that provides both protection from knocks and keeps the paintwork from getting scratched. Fixtures and fittings are either white or silver, and the only black to be seen is the lettering on the keyboard. The overall impression is of a machine made from snow or ice, worked into the shape of a Mac portable, but otherwise left in its clean and pure original condition; in short, they look cool in every sense of the word....

"Fortunately, the iBooks have been very problem free, with only one significant issue know of, that of some dodgy motherboards that were used by some of the early run iBooks.

"The dual-USB iBook has turned out to be a very long-lived design, with versions still being produced today. One of the major changes has been with the screen, which is now available in both the standard 12.1-inch format and a jumbo-sized 14-inch version similar to those on the PowerBooks....

"Over the years there have been a few across the board changes as well, such as the introduction of USB 2 and FireWire 800, but the most important has to be the switch from G3 to G4 processors...."


Your Laptop's Battery: Use It or Lose It

BusinessWeek's Steve Wildstrom says

"Operating your computer unplugged will help maintain its ability to run that way in the future....

"Leaving a lithium ion battery, the type used on virtually all laptops made in the past several years, connected to an AC power source will indeed diminish the life of the battery. Keeping the battery fully charged at all times leads to gradual deterioration of its ability to charge and discharge fully...."


Products and Services

Intelligent Integrated Interface for the Mac in Your Car

PR: Ever wished you could have a Mac in your car? We did, so we got to work and installed a Mac in the car. We soon found out that the beautiful interface of Mac OS X was not the ideal solution for the car environment. Dragging a mouse about was simply too time consuming and extremely dangerous if done while driving.

i3 interface"Wouldn't it be great if we had an interface to get things working instead of having to double click all over the place?" we asked ourselves. Well, we got to work again, and i3 was born. The intelligent integrated interface. Basically it's an application launcher, but it's so much more than that when you start to use it.

You assign applications to buttons, so opening up stuff becomes a single click operation (touch if you,ve got a touch screen). That's basically it! Simple and useful. It's now 95% customisable so you can add your own skin designs and add your own button placement.

Download the application and test it out... it's fully functional except for a few red letters accross the screen. If you like it and think that it works, $25 isn't a fortune to ask for the work we've had so far. We are commited to continue developing the application (we are already are!!), and we also commit to help you wherever you need. This is why we've created the forums... grab a beer (non-alcoholic... don't drink and drive!) and give us your feedback, leave your comments or just chat to us. Remember, however, that constructive comments are more helpfull than 2 word statements. We want this to be a comunity effort. The direction i3 goes is truly dependent on your reactions and comments.

Hopefully, one day, all cars will have Macs built in - until then you have i3. Welcome to the future.

New in this version: Version 1.2 is out! Even more customisable options! Resizeable buttons, choice in text color, different screen resolutions as well as a custom sized one, speech feedback on the interface buttons and clock, no need to restart for changes to take effect (big deal!!), some overall graphical changes, a few bugs crushed and a lot of work on overall application reliability. Tested on Tiger (10.4.1) but running (personally) on 10.3.9.

i3 is $25 shareware.

$100 Avanti G3/400 Upgrade for WallStreet

We've all loved the WallStreet. But sometimes it's a bit slow. The Avanti upgrade is a great way to speed it up.

  • 400 MHz or 417 MHz G3 processor
  • 1 MB L2 (backside) 250 MHz cache
  • Runs Cooler than other upgrade kits
  • 100% OSX/Jaguar compatable
  • 100% OS9 Compatable
  • No ROM Upgrade necessary!
  • No software installation!
  • Supports from 32 to 512 MB
  • Good for Mac OS 8.1-Jaguar!
  • 1yr Warranty

The bottom line is, will this thing function? The answer is yes! Avanti have been able to reduce processor heat by nearly 50% cooler than even the G3 PowerBook Pismo. The processor operates at a balmy 50C (that's 121F for you Americans!). And cool is good--this means great reliability for your processor, and excellent performance for you!

Since the system upgrades don't require ROM updates, software installation, or any other drivers, you're guaranteed complete 100% compatability. No need to install ANY software at all! Just plug in the upgrade and restart your computer. Many folks who've bought upgrades requiring ROM installation have experienced problems, requiring them to return the units for re-working. By comparison, our upgrade utilizes the original Apple ROM, therefore completely bypassing the ROM issue, and guaranteeing you complete hassle-free service!

Order according to your processor. Unit will work only in the designated WallStreet system

One unit fits all WallStreet models! WallStreet 1 or WallStreet 2!

Avanti 400 MHz card (for PowerBook G3 WallStreet)

Price: $99.99

Kit includes processor, installation photo-guide, and upgraded heat dissipation panel.

NewerTech Offers High-capacity, Long-life Batteries for 17" PowerBook

PR: Other World Computing (OWC) and Newer Technology, Inc. (NewerTech) have rounded out their complete line of replacement batteries by adding two options for Apple's 17" PowerBook G4.

17" PowerBook G4Not only do NuPower batteries offer as much as 42% more capacity than Apple's factory-shipped battery, but all NuPower batteries are designed, engineered, and built in the USA using only top quality Lithium-Ion cells from Japan and/or Canada.

It's this insistence on quality that ensures the NewerTech NuPower batteries provide a longer runtime for your Apple laptop, as well as a longer useable lifespan for the battery.

"These batteries are a great value, a true representation of more bang for the buck," said Larry O'Connor, president of OWC. "They're priced right, allow you to stay unplugged longer between charges and have a longer lifespan themselves."

The latest additions to the NuPower battery family, the new 17" PowerBook G4 batteries, retail for $139.99 (60 watt-hour) and $169.99 (67 watt-hour) and offer up to 21% more capacity than the original battery shipped by Apple. They also come with a one-year NewerTech warranty.

The batteries are compatible with Apple's 17" PowerBook G4/1 GHz, G4/1.33 GHz, G4/1.5 GHz, and G4/1.67 GHz models.

NewerTech's full line of NuPower high capacity battery replacements for Apple PowerBook G3 & G4, iBook G3 & G4 and iPod models can be purchased through OWC and other fine retailers.

Screen Spanning Doctor Supports Extended Desktop with iBook, iMac, eMac

PR: New in Screen Spanning Doctor v0.3.3: Updated to support Tiger.

If you installed the patch prior to updating your OS, you don't need to reinstall the latest version of the patch since only the installation program was changed to work in Tiger.

Fortunately the iBook isn't the only Mac that can handle multiple displays to extend the desktop. Most Power Mac configurations sold within the last 1-2 years and any modern PowerBook can use an extended desktop by default. Unfortunately all of Apple's consumer computers can't without applying a patch to the firmware. What started last summer with the iBook can now be done with many other consumer Macs.

Note that Apple System Profiler will identify Radeon Mobility and Radeon 7500 Mobility chips as RageM6 and RageM7 respectively. Both are supported. The unsupported Rage 128 Mobility chip is identified as RageM3.

If you have a configuration that is not listed below but that is similar to a supported one in the list (most importantly the same graphics chip and from about the same release date) then you most likely can use the patch as well. It's not possible to list every BTO configurations but if you have a configuration that is not listed please let me know and I will include it.

A list of supported machines is linked from the site below.

tekmõd Cases: Stylish, Versatile Protection for Laptops with a Twist

PR: RadTech, makers of mobile computing accessories and more have announced immediate availability of the tekmõd regular, an addition to an innovative line of computer notebook cases. The tekmõd regular is intended for 12-15" notebooks with standard (4:3) viewing ratio.

tekmodThe tekmõd regular works the way you want to work: use it as a conventional top-loading case for quick and easy access to your notebook; or use the unique stay-on feature to work right out of the case - with unrestricted port, slot, drive and storage pocket access! A convenient flip-out riser-stand provides the perfect incline for ergonomic keyboarding. An internal suspension system cradles and lifts the rear of the notebook allowing ample ventilation and air circulation to ensure cool running. tekmõd regular's pockets and pouches completely flatten when empty, yet expand to accommodate a variety of items such as power supplies, cables, peripherals, documents, wallets, keys and more!

Combining sleekness and durability, tekmõd regular is constructed with an outer layer of top-grade 1680D ballistic waterproof Nylon. Reinforced throughout, an internal layer of impact-absorbing 1.6mm high-density Polyethylene armor plating and closed-cell foam provides superior protection for your notebook - without the bulk! Its heavy-duty, removable shoulder strap lets you sling the tekmõd over your shoulder or you can carry it like a briefcase with its contoured rubber handle.

The tekmõd regular is available in a variety of color combinations for $74.95, or for larger notebooks, the tekmõd XL is available for $79.95.

Tech Trends

British Company Claims Fuel Cell Breakthrough

Reuters/CNN reports:

"A small British technology company has claimed it is on the verge of unlocking the vast potential of fuel cells as a commercially viable source of green energy.

"Cambridge-based CMR Fuel Cells said it had made a breakthrough with a new design of fuel cell that is a 10th of the size of existing models and small enough to replace conventional batteries in laptop computers....

"CMR said the new design would run for four times longer than conventional batteries in a laptop or other devices like power tools."

Pepper Pad Combines Broadband Access, Digital Media, and Home Control in Portable Form

PR: Pepper Computer, Inc., announced that its wireless Pepper Pad is now on sale. The Pepper Pad is the first portable wireless device that gives consumers instant Internet and digital media while also controlling other in-home devices. The Pepper Pad's tightly integrated hardware, software and services make it hassle-free and convenient to use and own. It provides, in a lightweight, ruggedized package: Mozilla-based Web browsing, AOL instant messaging, and email; collecting, organizing and sharing videos, music and photos; and TV and stereo remote control. The Pepper Pad is available now exclusively through at $799.99.

Pepper PadThe Pepper Pad is a 2.3-pound, WiFi-enabled device, with a large, high-resolution screen, 20 GB hard disk, built-in speakers and a thumb keypad, providing a powerful, versatile platform for a much wider range of online and off-line activities than any other portable device. Its 8.4" display is ideal for viewing full-width Web pages and watching full-screen videos. The Pepper Pad can store hours of music and videos, plus thousands of photos. And, with three forms of wireless communication - WiFi, Bluetooth and infrared (IR) - the Pad can access and control a wide range of devices around the home, from WiFi access points, to keyboards and mice, to TVs, set-top boxes, music systems, home theaters and media servers. It's an ideal way for consumers to have Internet and media access plus wireless remote control in every room of their home.

Pepper PadThe Pepper Pad can be used anywhere, with or without WiFi. Consumers can take advantage of home networks and public wireless hotspots for access to online services, or offline, they can play digital media they've saved on the Pepper Pad's built-in hard disk. The Pepper Pad is fully functional and ready to use right out of the box. It offers a far richer viewing experience than small-screen PDAs or mobile phones, but much less maintenance than complex laptops, making it attractive for both computer novices and experienced computer users alike. The Pepper Pad is water-resistant and comes with a rechargeable lithium polymer battery with advanced power management for a day's worth of activities.

"The Pepper Pad was designed for the world consumers live in today, whether they're around the house, in the car, at a friend's house, or off to the beach," said Len Kawell, CEO of Pepper. "Music, photos and videos are becoming as much a part of daily life as email, IM and the Web and consumers want to have them all in one easy-to-use product. The Pepper Pad offers the power of the Internet, the simplicity and reliability of TVs and the convenience of instant-on, wireless access."

The Pepper Pad has an SVGA TFT LCD screen with an 800 x 600 resolution and resistive touch screen. The system is based on a 624- MHz Intel PXA270 application processor, Intel 2700G media processor, and 256 MB of SDRAM. The WiFi is complemented by Bluetooth, IR, SD/MMC card slot, and a USB port. It also features built-in stereo speakers and microphone; jacks for headphones, external microphone, and external video display; plus a direction-pad and scroll wheel for navigation and game playing. It has two options for easy and reliable text entry: a built-in lighted thumb-style QWERTY keypad or a separate (optional) keyboard connected wirelessly by Bluetooth or wired via USB. currently is the exclusive online retail outlet for the Pepper Pad in the US, offering the product at a discount from the initial suggested retail price of $849.99. The Pepper Pad is available to consumers outside the US through It will be available through selected "big-box" retailers later this year.

Bargain 'Books

Bargain 'Books are used unless otherwise indicated. New and refurbished units have a one-year Apple warranty and are eligible for AppleCare.

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

  • PowerBook Pismo G3/500, 256/12/DVD, $459
  • 15" PowerBook G4/550, 256/20/DVD, $619
  • 12" PowerBook G4/867, 512/40/Combo, $825

Apple Store

  • refurb 12" PowerBook G4/1.33 GHz, 256/60/Combo, AirPort Extreme, $1,099
  • refurb 12" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/60/Combo, AirPort Extreme, Bluetooth 2.0, $1,299
  • refurb 12" PowerBook G4/1.33 GHz, 256/60/SuperDrive, AirPort Extreme, $1,299
  • refurb 12" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/80/SuperDrive, AirPort Extreme, Bluetooth 2.0, $1,499
  • refurb 15" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/80/Combo, AirPort Extreme, Bluetooth 2.0, $1,699
  • refurb 15" PowerBook G4/1.67 GHz, 512/80/SuperDrive, AirPort Extreme, Bluetooth 2.0, backlit keyboard, $1,999
  • refurb 17" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/80/SuperDrive, AirPort Extreme, $1,999


  • 12" iBook G3/800 Combo, $649.99
  • 17" PowerBook G4/1 GHz, Superdrive, $1,699.99

Small Dog Electronics

  • 12" iBook G4/1 GHz, 256/40/CD-ROM, AirPort Extreme, $849
  • 12" PowerBook G4/1.33 GHz, 256/60/SuperDrive, AirPort Extreme, Bluetooth, $1,399

For more deals on current or recently discontinued models, see our Best PowerBook G4 Deals, Best iBook G4 Deals, Best PowerBook G3 Deals, and Best iBook G3 Deals.

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