The 'Book Review

Flash RAM to Replace Hard Drives?, Reducing Fan Noise in 'Books, a Fuel Cell Future, and More

This Week's PowerBook and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2005.07.01

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 about Apple's transition to Intel CPUs and other Intel developments is covered in The Macintel Report.

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News & Opinion

Products and Services

Tech Trends

Bargain 'Books

News & Opinion

Flash Memory to Replace Hard Drives in 'Books?

Macworld UK's Martyn Williams reports:

"Samsung hopes that falling prices for flash-memory chips will mean solid-state memory can eventually replace hard-disk drives in Apple PowerBooks and iBooks as well as other devices, a top executive said Thursday.

"The South Korean company recently made its first step towards this goal with the announcement of a prototype 16 GB drive based on flash chips. Flash memory has several advantages over hard-disk drive storage: it consumes less power, it has higher resistance to shock, it's more reliable because there are no moving parts, it can read and write data faster, and it's silent in operation. But there's a major hurdle to mass-market adoption: it's much more expensive."

Reduce Fan Noise on PowerBooks? says:

"...ever since Tiger, Apple has done the same thing to my PowerBook (Rev A)'s fan. Apparently, Apple has chosen to kick the fan into action on lower temperatures (it'll be cooler), but I prefer a silent hot laptop over a loud (less) hot one. The 'hint' is the same for 10.3, and I've been running it (on Tiger) for over two weeks without any glitches."

[Note: I'm a devotee of silent computing, but the problem with this workaround is that a hotter computer is likely to be a shorter-lived computer. It isn't just a comfort issue. I suggest using an active cooling pad like the inexpensive Targus Chillmat instead. CM]

Free 6MP Digital Camera with PowerBook Purchase

PowerBook Central reports:

"Purchase a new 15" or 17" PowerBook (or any Mac over $1,990) at MacMall through July 17th, and receive a free factory-refurbished Kodak DX7630 6.1MP Digital Camera. Offer is good after mail-in rebate. Other optional bundles, all free after mail-in rebates, include an extra 512 MB of RAM, a carrying case, plus an HP printer....

Products and Services

NoMenuBar Clears System Menu to Make Space for Menu Extras

PR: NoMenuBar is a simple application with only one menu bar item - the application menu - so it leaves lots of space for the right side menu bar items (like time, AirPort status, and any other add-ons).


It will be very useful if you have a small screen (like on a laptop) or lots of right side items.

System requirements: Mac OS X 10.1 or higher

NoMenuBar is freeware.

Commercial Campaign Reveals Truth about Laptop Protection

PR: The manufacturer of Brenthaven high performance computer cases has just released three commercials which go beyond entertainment in order to make a point. "Drop your laptop in any other case than a Brenthaven and chances are your computer will be toast!" The campaign features Harvey Stone who raises some real concerns when it comes to the level of protection and pain that comes with most computer cases on the market today.

The Truth: Harvey, like so many mobile professionals, has a job that takes him around the world and his laptop goes everywhere he does. Being on the move means he needs a computer case that will protect his laptop and all the vital data it stores. It needs to be easy on his shoulders and back and built to endure all the wear & tear that goes with traveling.

Dropping the 'BookIn these entertaining and informative commercials, Harvey smiles with confidence as he shockingly drops his computer case with his personal computer inside to demonstrate that there is no safer place for his computer than in a Brenthaven. And what about the pain?Östraps digging into the shoulder like razor blades causing bleeding and blistering &endash; this is an over exaggeration, but it gets the point across &endash; comfort is important. Harvey demonstrates how owning a Brenthaven provides the insurance mobile customers need to prevent pain and discomfort when traveling locally or globally. Clearly there is no digging, no slipping and no worries with a Brenthaven.

Harvey gives a commanding performance that makes the commercials fun and informative. They wrap up with a compelling reason to own a Brenthaven - Protection, Comfort and Craftsmanship; there is no safer place than in a Brenthaven. And in the real world, people appreciate ads that can do two things at the same time: be amusing and say something; but don't take our word for it go to the Brenthaven website and see all three of the commercials for yourself or call 1-800-803-7225 to obtain copies.

ABSmini Backup System with 1.8" Hard Drive

PR: CMS Products Inc. has introduced its new sleek and stylish 1.8" ultra-portable data backup system, the "ABSmini."

ABSmini Ultra-Portable Data Backup SystemWeighing in at only four ounces, the ABSmini is extremely lightweight and features a compact and elegant design in anodized aluminum. This design provides a solid, rugged housing for the 20 or 40 GB capacity drives. The high-speed USB 2.0 connection provides the perfect solution for storing, transporting, or backing up data files, photos, music, or video. Included with the ABSmini is CMS Products' award-winning BounceBack Express data backup software, a carrying pouch and a USB 2.0 cable. CMS Products provides a 3-year warranty and support via email and telephone.

"Our new 1.8" ABSmini adds another dimension to our solid line of backup, storage and upgrade solutions," said Ken Burke, president, CMS Products. "This new product is helping to revolutionize data backup products with its small form factor and our powerful BounceBack software."

The ABSmini 20 GB is priced at $179; the ABSmini 40 GB is priced at $259. The ABSmini is available from CMS Products, through distributors TechData and Ingram Micro, and through various resellers.

Buffalo Technology's USB 2.0 Portable Hard Drive

PR: Buffalo Technology, a global leader in the design, development and manufacturing of wired and wireless networking, storage and memory solutions today announced it has expanded its award-winning line of storage solutions to include the USB 2.0 External Portable Hard Drive with Bus Power Booster, available in capacities of 40 GB (HD-PH40U2/BST) and 80 GB (HD-PH80U2/BST).

Buffalo External Portable Hard DriveBuffalo's new compact storage device is designed to give mobile PC and Macintosh users the convenience of storing vital data while traveling. Users can quickly and easily access and store files, digital images, music, etc.

"Portable storage has become popular, but the issue of unreliability due to power issues remains. It is essential that mobile users have a solution that not only offers them reliability, but also allows them to free-up limited hard drive space on their notebook," stated Morikazu Sano, vice president of product marketing and public relations. "Buffalo always endeavors to provide its customers with solutions that address their needs. With our new Portable Hard Drive, we are offering on-the-go customers the ultimate in storage mobility - simple, lightweight, compact and affordable."

The Buffalo USB 2.0 External Portable Hard Drive with Bus Power Booster is Windows and Mac compatible and supports USB 2.0 and 1.1. The product offers a 5400 rpm High Speed Drive and includes a Bus Power Booster. This feature provides stable power delivery to the drive even on older laptops, which often lack reliable power delivery over USB, resulting in poor performance or drive failure. The hard drive comes preformatted for immediate use and includes Buffalo's Auto-Installation technology so there is no need for installation CDs.

Its silent operation and compact design make the USB 2.0 External Portable Hard Drive with Bus Power Booster the ideal mobile storage solution.

Backed by a limited one-year warranty and toll-free 24/7 technical support, the USB 2.0 External Portable Hard Drive with Bus Power Booster is immediately available at estimated street prices of $149 for the 40 GB (HD-PH40U2/BST) and $199 for the 80 GB (HD-PH80U2/BST).

Tech Trends

Mobile PC Extended Battery Life Working Group Offers Fuel Cell Advice

The Register's Tony Smith reports:

"The Intel-backed Mobile PC Extended Battery Life Working Group has published guidelines for vendors keen to create fuel cells to power portable PCs.

"The document is intended to provide fuel-cell developers will [sic] details of the devices their products will have to power, whether the cells will sit inside the devices in place of regular rechargeable batteries, or operate as an alternative to an external AC adaptor. Essentially, it defines the problem the fuel cell developers have to solve....

"The Group sees the development of fuel cells for notebooks as particularly challenging. Batteries are well able to provide laptops with as much or as little power as they need, catering for the 'bursty' nature of notebook energy demand. Fuel cells, by contrast, were conceived to supply a continual, steady level of power."

Fujitsu Pushes Hard Drive Limits

Researchers are working on technology that could offer seven times as much storage.

IDG News Service's Martyn Williams reports:

"Researchers in Japan have reported success in an advanced data-storage technology that could help yield hard drives with capacities of seven times or more than today's most advanced drives in as soon as five years.

"Their work is a refinement of perpendicular storage technology, a method of data storage that is only just beginning to come into commercial use in hard drives.

"Drive makers are switching to perpendicular storage because it allows much more data to be stored on a disk. This is because the magnetic particles on which data is stored stand perpendicular to the disk's surface and so more of them can be packed onto the disk than in the current longitudinal recording method in which they lay flat."

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.

This Week's 'Book Deals

Baucom Computers

Apple Store

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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