The 'Book Review

Notebook Price Drop, Laptops a Pain in the Neck, iBook 500 Retrospective, Pismo G3/900 Upgrade Tutorial, and More

This Week's PowerBook and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2005.06.03

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

Bargain 'Books

News & Opinion

Notebook Prices Keep Falling

The Register's John Oates reports:

"Prices for notebook computers in Europe are still falling and in the first quarter of 2005 one in five laptops were sold for less than €800.

"Researchers from Context saw the market in the top eight European economies grow by 19.2 per cent."

Is Your Laptop a Pain in the Neck?

CNET's Alorie Gilbert says:

"....according to doctors and ergonomic experts across the country. As people ditch desktop computers to work full time on laptops, doctors expect to see a lot more pains, strains and injuries among white collar workers.

"Notebook PCs may be convenient, but they're also an ergonomic nightmare. And more and more people are discovering that the hard way.

"The good news is that laptop-related repetitive stress injuries are avoidable. Peripherals such as computer mice and separate keyboards can prevent some of the problems, as can lifestyle choices and work habits....

"The main problem with laptops is that the screen and keyboard are so close together. Without the aid of peripherals, laptop users have two choices, neither of which would win them any points for posture. They can cramp their neck down to view the monitor or they can elevate the machine to eye level, which can wreak havoc on shoulders and arms....

"Many laptop-related injuries can be avoided. The use of peripherals such as docking stations, separate keyboards and mice is probably the easiest way to avoid neck and shoulder trouble...."

  • iBook G3/500 Retrospective

    PowerBook Central's Joe Kallo has posted a nice retrospective on the dual USB PowerBook as it enters its fifth year in production.

    iBook G3/500"Amazingly close to exactly four years ago, I wrote a couple of columns here covering the then spankin' new dual USB iBook. I was so enamoured with the promise of the machine during the Stevenote, that I promptly ran out and sold my relatively new Pismo in anticipation of getting my hands on Apple's new laptop. Four years have past, and in that time I've gone through three portable Macs, numerous Apple MessagePad, and a couple of desktop Macs. I've also managed to find a really great job as a technology coordinator in a higher-education department which is very Mac-centric. Amazingly, I've actually managed to keep and often use that iBook through these 4 years for a whole number of amazing things. This week, I'd like to revisit my original thoughts recorded a week or so after I brought the iBook home. My goal? Hopefully something useful can be said here about the nature of our first impressions and the way in which a Macintosh can weather a few years in my backpack."


    PowerBook Pismo Processor Card PowerLogix G3/900 Tutorial

    Philippe Helman has posted a thorough, illustrated tutorial on installing a PowerLogix 900 MHz G3 upgrade card in his PowerBook Pismo 400.

    Products and Services

    PowerBook Central Launches

    PR: Announcing, PowerBook Central's new auction marketplace. Designed to run alongside the site's popular free classifieds service, PowerBook Auctions gives you the ability to auction off your PowerBook or iBook in a standard eBay-like auction setting with all the bells and whistles.

    For those who prefer the auction format...

    In response to numerous requests, PowerBook Central now offers an alternate, and more secure, method to sell your laptop or other Mac. For those who would like to avoid negotiating or like getting the most value for their sale, PowerBook Auctions provides a real alternative to ordinary classifieds and the large auctions houses like eBay. Many of the 10,000 registered users of our classifieds use the service to buy and sell PowerBooks and iBooks because they do not wish to use eBay, and they appreciate the more focused nature of PowerBook Central's classifieds and its knowledgeable users. PowerBook Auctions now gives those users the option of using an auction format to sell their laptop with categories for all PowerBooks, iBooks, other Macs, iPods, and accessories.

    Receive a free $5 account credit when you register and start your first auction at PowerBook Auctions today (that's enough for most people to start their first auction). This offer will only be available for a limited time, so register your username today!

    Here are some recent auctions at PowerBook Auctions:

    • 1 GHz titanium PowerBook G4; from $1000
    • Non-working WallStreet PowerBook G3; from $30
    • Original blueberry clamshell iBook (parts); from $50
    • Original Duo Dock; from $5
    • Microtek ScanMaker scanner + slides; from $30
    • Griffin iCurve laptop stand; from $5
    • Road Tools CoolPad; from $5

    Add your items to the mix today.

    iScroll2: Two-Finger Scrolling for pre-2005 'Books

    PR: iScroll2 is a modified trackpad driver that adds two-finger scrolling capabilities to supported pre-2005 PowerBooks and iBooks on OS X 10.3. Supported models include aluminum PowerBooks introduced from 2003 to 2004 as well as all G4 iBooks.

    Please note that this is not just the driver for the 2005 models hacked to run older models - the new models use a completely different trackpad and driver. iScroll2 is based on Apple's AppleADBMouse-209.0.10 driver for the trackpads found on older models, which is available as part of the publicly released Darwin source code (and covered by the APSL). The code added for supporting two-finger scrolling was written from scratch.

    New in this version:

    • fixed an early memory release (potential crash) in iScroll2Daemon
    • made iScroll2Daemon handle missing defaults gracefully (instead of just crashing)
    • daemon now tries to load settings on startup if a user is already logged in
    • daemon now synchronizes preferences with the system before reading them

    System requirements:

    • Mac OS X 10.3 or later
    • Version 0.25 seems to work just fine under 10.4.1
    Link: iScroll2

    Cordless Notebook Mouse with One Year Battery Life

    PR: With sales of laptops on the rise, Logitech has announced that its growing family of notebook computer mice includes two new mice with battery management features: the Logitech V200 Cordless Notebook Mouse and the Logitech Cordless Mini Optical Mouse.

    Logitech now offers four mice made specifically for notebooks, all highly compact and portable, but differing in design and features to meet the varying needs of notebook users.

    The Logitech V200 Cordless Notebook Mouse combines an unmatched battery life of up to one year with virtually interference-free 2.4 GHz digital cordless technology - making it ideal for mobile professionals who need the best wireless technology and don't want to hassle with changing batteries frequently. Meanwhile, the affordable Logitech Cordless Mini Optical Mouse is a good fit for value-conscious notebook PC owners who are frustrated by using a touchpad and want a reliable cordless mouse to improve their computing experience.

    Both new mice make going cordless easy. Each features a convenient battery-light indicator that notifies users when the batteries are running low. Also, both mice are plug-and-play - they include a miniature USB wireless receiver that is paired individually with the mouse during manufacturing. When the receiver is plugged in, the mouse works immediately. When not in use, the USB receiver conveniently snaps onto the base of the mouse. This action automatically switches the mouse power off, saving battery life, while also making the mouse and receiver easy to transport.

    "Logitech has developed a range of mobile mice to complement the increasingly diverse notebook PC user base, which includes many people who are frustrated with built-in pointing devices and touchpads," said Ashish Arora, Logitech's vice president of product marketing for retail pointing devices. "Student or mobile professional, male or female, tech savvy or tech averse - our extended notebook mouse lineup addresses the unique needs of people who use notebook PCs and ensures that anyone using a notebook PC can say good-bye to the touchpad for good."

    Research firm IDC estimates that, worldwide, notebooks will exceed shipments of desktop PCs in 2014. In specific regions, such as the United States and Western Europe, the crossover will happen much sooner - by 2008. Meanwhile, sales of notebook mice are increasing. In the U.S., mice designed for notebooks accounted for 9 percent of total mice sales in 2002 and grew to 25 percent in 2004, according to NPD.

    Logitech V200 Cordless Notebook MouseLogitech V200 Cordless Notebook Mouse

    The Logitech V200 Cordless Notebook Mouse can last up to a year on two AA batteries because it uses 2.4 GHz digital cordless technology. The 2.4 GHz digital cordless technology also provides a stronger connection between the mouse and micro-receiver than found in conventional 27 MHz mice. The 2.4 GHz technology gives users a range of up to 30 feet, which is great for presentations and is less prone to interference when there are other wireless signals in the same area, a common situation in the workplace. The mouse's powerful optical engine works on a wide range of surfaces, giving mobile professionals more flexibility when selecting a place to work. It will work on a chair at the airport or on a coffee shop table.

    The mouse features Logitech's Tilt Wheel Plus Zoom, which allows people to effortlessly scroll left, right, up and down, and zoom in and out of images, Web pages and open documents.

    Initially available in onyx and silver colors, the Logitech V200 Cordless Notebook Mouse builds upon the design of the best-selling Logitech Cordless Optical Mouse for Notebooks. The Logitech V200 Cordless Notebook Mouse will be available at U.S. and European retailers and online this month. The suggested retail price for the product is $39.99 in the U.S.

    Logitech Cordless Mini Optical Mouse

    The Logitech Cordless Mini Optical Mouse is ideal for notebook PC users who value comfort and simplicity. The mouse is shaped to fit in the cup of the hand and provides a resting place for the thumb and pinky on either side. Customers can choose from two color options - aquamarine or silver, both bordered by a gray grip - adding some style to their mobile experience.

    The Logitech Cordless Mini Optical Mouse also features: Logitech's Tilt Wheel Plus Zoom scrolling wheel, a wireless range of six feet, and battery life of up to four months on only one AA battery.

    The Logitech Cordless Mini Optical Mouse will be available at U.S. and European retailers and online beginning in July. The suggested retail price for the product is $29.99 in the U.S.

    [There is no explicit information on Mac compatibility in this press release CM]

    High-capacity Replacement Batteries for G3 iBooks

    PR: Other World Computing (OWC) and Newer Technology, Inc. (NewerTech) offer NuPower high-capacity replacement batteries for all 12" iBook G3 500-900 MHz "Dual USB" models and all iBook G3 300-466 MHz "clamshell" models.

    The 3600mAh "Dual USB" battery is available for $119.99 and provides 9% more capacity than the original Apple battery, while the 4800mAh model for $139.99 provides 45% more capacity. The "clamshell"-compatible 4400mAh battery is available for $129.99 and allows for 37.5% more capacity, with the $139.99 4800mAh model boasting 50% more capacity.

    "It is a pleasure to add these outstanding batteries to our NewerTech NuPower line of replacement batteries," said Larry O'Connor, president of OWC. "They offer owners of G3 iBooks what they have been craving - longer runtimes and less dependence on a connected power source."

    As with all NuPower batteries, the G3 iBook-compatible models are built in the United States using premium Li-Ion cells manufactured in Japan and/or Canada. By using only the best components and building them in the U.S., NewerTech is able to ensure that its batteries run longer at full charge and last longer compared to other batteries built to lesser standards. The high-quality cells also allow for more charge cycles than other batteries, and stringent quality control measures make sure that the batteries are built to last.

    "Considering the low cost and long runtimes of our NuPower batteries, an upgrade from an aging stock battery makes good economic sense," O'Connor said. "And since we really do build these batteries to last, they make good environmental sense as well."

    NewerTech's full line of the highest capacity Apple laptop replacement batteries available can be purchased through OWC and other fine retailers.

    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 both models. The same goes for the PowerBook G4/667 (VGA) and G4/667 (DVI), the titanium vs. aluminum 15" PowerBook G4 at 1 GHz.

    Apple Store

    • refurb 12" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/80/SuperDrive, Nvidia GeForce FX Go5200 (64 MB DDR), AirPort Extreme, Bluetooth 2.0, $1,499


    Baucom Computers

    Wegener Media

    Small Dog Electronics

    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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