The 'Book Review

iBook Sale Panedemonium, PB G4 Graphics Update, Workspace Ergonomics, Overclock Your CPU, and More

This Week's PowerBook and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2005.08.19

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


Windows Watch

Bargain 'Books

News & Opinion

iBook Sale Ends In Pandemonium

The Register's Lester Haines reports:

"A sale of second-hand iBook laptops in Richmond, Virginia, yesterday ended in complete pandemonium as thousands of bargain-hungry punters stormed Richmond International Raceway in a desperate scramble to get their hands on the $50 machines...

"Seventeen people were treated for injuries...."

Panic Ensues in Rush for Cheap iBooks

AP reports:

"A rush to purchase $50 used laptops turned into a violent stampede Tuesday, with people getting thrown to the pavement, beaten with a folding chair and nearly driven over. One woman went so far to wet herself rather than surrender her place in line....

"More than 1,000 people turned out at the Richmond International Raceway in hopes of getting their hands on one of the 4-year-old Apple iBooks...."

PowerBook G4 Graphics Update for 1.67 GHz Models

This update is recommended for the following PowerBook G4 computers:

  • PowerBook G4 (15", 1.67 GHz)
  • PowerBook G4 (17", 1.67 GHz)

The PowerBook G4 Graphics Update 1.0 improves graphics stability for some 1.67- GHz PowerBook G4 computers.

System requirements:

  • Installation of the PowerBook G4 Graphics Update requires Mac OS X 10.4.2
  • PowerBook G4 (15", 1.67 GHz)
  • PowerBook G4 (17", 1.67 GHz)
Link: Apple PowerBook G4 Graphics Update 1.0 for 1.67 GHz Models

Apple's PowerBook G4 - Dead Man Walking?

Gizmodo reports:

"Rumors are flying that Apple is giving their PowerBook G4 lineup one last run around the track before sending it to the glue factory."

Tear Down a Mac mini and You Get a Notebook PC

DigiTimes' Michael McManus says:

"What do you call a mobile computer that has no display, no keyboard and no other input devices? Apple Computer calls it the Mac mini and it is really a desktop PC that is designed and built like a laptop. A recent dissection conducted by iSuppli Corp.'s Teardown Analysis service reveals that the Mac mini employs a cutting-edge design that showcases Apple's aplomb for developing elegant systems that pack a great deal of functionality into a tiny form factor....

"iSuppli's Teardown Analysis service estimates the bill of materials cost for the Mac mini at $274.69. With manufacturing costs added, the total rises to $283.37...."

When Laptops Are a Pain in the Neck

The Guardian's Jack Schofield reports:

"My problem arose partly because of the perfectly natural tendency to use the fastest machines around, and both my newest computers - an IBM ThinkPad X31 and an Apple iBook - were notebooks. Both have WiFi, too, and if you work at home, you get extra points for staying-home time.

"As a result, I've spent too much of the past 18 months slumped over a notebook rather than sitting upright at a desktop. This helped accustom my upper spine to being in a bad position. Then I woke up one morning with a cricked neck, and the pain didn't go away in a couple of hours, it got worse. And worse. Soon, the only way I could raise my right arm was if I lifted it with my left.

"As someone who has read more than one book on computer ergonomics, I was surprised to find my physiotherapist so hostile to notebook PCs. With the keyboard at the correct height, I felt my typing position was comfortable, and my posture was not particularly different from the one used when reading books.

"However, keen readers can change their posture at frequent intervals, holding the book in a different position. That's much harder to do with a notebook computer...."


Buyer Be Wise When Looking for a Laptop

The Washington Post's Rob Pegoraro says:

"An amazing thing has happened over the past decade: Laptop computers, once expensive niche products, have become commonplace.

"By one estimate, they outsold desktops for the first time in the United States in the second quarter of this year.

"Many people buy laptops that will never leave a desk, just because they like having all of the computer in one unit.

"But as laptops have reached mainstream status, they have not become a simpler purchase to make. They're marketed just like most other electronic items: Manufacturers skimp on features and capabilities to save money, or so that you'll buy other products and services from them. It's up to you to spot what got left out."

DIY PowerBook AC Adapter Repair

theappleblog's Tony Korologos says:

"Apple engineers are some of the most imaginative and pioneering in the technology industry. But they missed the boat on the design of my 65W PowerBook G4 adapter.

About one year after I bought my $3900 PowerBook, the power supply started to short out. Of course this event occurred after the warranty had expired. The smaller white cable coming out of the supply takes on a ton of stress through daily use. Eventually this thin cable weakened and shorted out completely. It shorted out to the point of actually sparking and melting the plastic. I'm lucky I didn't have to sue Apple for my house burning to the ground....

"This week my 2nd adapter shorted out completely. And since my battery only lasts about 7 minutes I was dead in the water. I really didn't want to fork out more bucks on another new supply so I decided to crack it open. I was able to fix the problem and put it back together, just like new . . . sort of...."

Guidelines for Monitor Placement and Lighting

Ankrum Associates' Dennis R. Ankrum CIE says:

"How do you set up a computer workstation? Do you buy monitor risers or remove the CPU from beneath the monitor. Will even lower monitor positions cause neck strain? Can you get away with tipping the monitor down to avoid glare or should you invest in indirect lighting? How about viewing distance? 16 inches? 25 inches? Or even farther? Does screen color make a difference? Is there any evidence that ergonomic workstations improve work performance?

"This article suggests guidelines for monitor placement and lighting. They are based on the latest scientific research. Demonstrations illustrate the principles behind the recommendations.

  • Eye-to-screen distance: at least 25", preferably more.
  • Vertical location: viewing area of the monitor between 15° and 50 below horizontal eye level.
  • Monitor tilt: top of the monitor slightly farther from the eyes than the bottom of the monitor.
  • Lighting: ceiling suspended, indirect lighting. Use blinds and shades to control outside light.
  • Screen colors: dark letters on a light background.

[Long, detailed article]


12" iBook G4/1.33 GHz

The Washington Post's Michael Tedeschi reports:

"Apple Computer's hardware tends toward the cutting edge of industrial-design chic, with sleek, clean lines. Sometimes that style costs extra, sometimes it doesn't.

"Apple's laptops exhibit that trend nicely. Most of them, especially the larger PowerBooks, sell at a premium over similarly equipped Windows portables. If you need DVD-burning capability, a PC Card slot or a larger screen, you'll have to pay that extra price.

"If, on the other hand, you just need an everyday machine that won't weigh heavily on your shoulder, the entry-level iBook G4, at $999, stands out as a great deal."

Macworld Looks at New iBooks and Refreshed Mac mini

Macworld Magazine's Jennifer Berger reports:

"Some new Mac offerings are groundbreaking - the Mac mini's debut in January comes to mind - while others are just incremental. The latest revisions to the iBook G4 and Mac mini lines fall somewhere between these extremes; their additional standard features are few, but lower prices significantly increase their value."

Products and Services

Wraparound Speakers for Notebook Computers

[PR] For people who want better-sounding audio performance from their notebooks, Digital Age Products introduces the Wraparound 2.1 Notebook Speakers. The Wraparound Notebook Speakers combine performance and innovative design to enhance the weak audio output of many 14" and 15" notebook computers.

Wrap-Around SpeakersThe Wraparound Notebook Speakers were created to be portable and designed to be one with your laptop, not just a pair of boxes that hang off the side of your computer connected by miles of wire.

The Wraparound Notebook Speakers slide on and clip to the back of your laptop's screen, held tightly with padded grips (a sizing dial adjusts the tightness). Then the foldaway, wing-designed speakers fan out from the back. When not in use, the speakers swing closed and recede invisibly into the back of the notebook.

Powered by the notebook's USB port, the Wraparound Speakers deliver increased volume that is sharp, crisp and loud enough to fill a conference room, lecture hall or living room. And for extra depth, the Wraparound Notebook Speakers come with a small but powerful sub woofer that adds base and resonance (powered separately by its own AC adapter).

"The Wraparound Notebook Speakers are easy to carry, easy to connect and easy to use. They enhance any audio situation, from business presentations to listening to your favorite audio or Podcast, to watching your favorite DVD's," said Larry Reich. "We think they are the best and most complete notebook sound system for your laptop."

Wraparound Notebook Speakers - $59.95

All Digital Age Products can be purchased at major CE and computer retailers like J&R, Laptops For Less, and other national resellers, as well as the Digital Age Products website.

FlashPoint, a USB Flash Drive with a Brain

[PR] Xmultiple has developed a new and patent pending technology called FlashPoint. FlashPoint provides users the freedom to transfer files between flash drives, "Sharing-On-The-Go" (SOTG), without the need of a notebook computer or cumbersome USB Bridges.

FlashPointSOTG technology is embedded into Xmultiple's ShareDrive line of USB flash memory pen drives and can easily download and upload data files between a ShareDrive pen drive and any other USB Memory pen drive or any other USB memory peripheral such as computers and MP3 players.

ShareDrives are small, lightweight devices and are powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and are available in 128k, 256k, 512k, 1 GB and 2 GB sizes. Features include:

  • Easy one-step file transferring procedure Upload data from any computer or host device or any other pen drive Download data to other ShareDrives or any other pen drive Automatic USB battery pack power management Low battery power indicator
  • With Xmultiple's FlashPoint ShareDrives applications are only limited by the imagination. At last sharing electronic data has truly been set free of the bulky hardware. Now you can transfer data without the use of a computer or USB bridge:
  • Share business files at lunch, while traveling or at meetings as simply as shaking hands! Transfer Mapping Software to your Vehicle Exchange or transfer data from one cell phone to another Download digital photos from your camera to be shared with other USB flash drives or most any USB equipped peripheral Swap MP3 music or photo files with friends at school, around town or at the office Teachers and Students - Exchange Class Lectures, assignments, research, etc. All without a computer using SOTG technology. Exchange business card, Catalogs or product sheets at trade shows electronically Make back-up recordings of other pen drive files or USB equipped peripherals.

New FlashPoint ShareDrive USB Memory pen drives are small enough to fit on a key chain for convenience and have enough capacity for maximum enjoyment. This new technology will play a big role in the ever-increasing portable digital formats for data files, digital photos and the growing MP3 segment of the music world.

Not just a USB Memory pen drive, but a USB Memory pen drive with intelligence.

This product is the worlds first computer-less USB copying device . . . the product operates with almost any thumbdrive.


CPUswitch: Switch Your CPU Performance Settings

[PR] CPUswitch allows you to change the CPU speed by a click. It shows the current speed setting in the title bar of it's window.

If you push the "I" button, it will show the current load of the last minute and the current CPU usage in percent next to the pushbutton.

These values are not automatically updated to prevent unnecessarily consumption of CPU time. If you want to monitor your CPU constantly, please go to the "Preferences" menu and enable the "calculate CPU" and "calculate Power Source" checkboxes. This will increase you system load for approximately 2%.

The window title shows you your current power source and the current CPU setting.

  • "c:" means you are currently using a charger
  • "b:" means you are currently using a battery
  • "a:" (pulldown menu only) set CPU performance for all power sources

New in this version:

  • CPU and Power Source can now set to be automatically updated
  • Calculation of Power Source is now more reliable
  • you can now have individually settings for battery, charger and all supplies
  • You can close the application window now without quitting CPUswitch
  • When you start CPUswitch the preferences window will pop up and ask for the Admin password

System requirements: Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later. No indication on website which Macs CPUswitch works with.

CPUswitch is freeware.

  • CPUswitch (Editor's note: I was unable to download CPUswitch in Firefox, but I could do so in Safari.)

Windows Watch

Toshiba Libretto U100 Ultraportable Notebook

Pocket Lint's Stephen Patrick reports:

"Toshiba has been designing and manufacturing notebooks for 20 years, starting with the T110 in 1985, which weighed in at over 7kg, had a battery life of 60m and possessed a green screen. To celebrate, the company has chosen to revive one of its older ultraportable lines, in the form of the Toshiba Libretto U100. Initially there will be this one model but if it proves popular, the line will be expanded...

"The U100 is no normal laptop. Instead, it's a showcase for how far miniaturisation has come. The U100 looks and feels more like a shrunken notebook. Its proportions are in keeping with larger machines - it's not a slimmed down ultraportable."

One wonders if Apple will someday release a subnotebook like this 8-1/4" wide, 2.2 lb. Toshiba with its 7.2" 1280 x 768 display.

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.

  • 12" iBook G4/1.33 GHz, 512/40/Combo, AirPort Extreme, $999.99 less $100 mail-in rebate

Baucom Computers

  • 12" iBook G3/500, 128/20/CD, $345
  • 12" iBook G3/500, 128/20/CD, AirPort, $409
  • PowerBook Pismo G3/500, 256/12/DVD, $449
  • 12" PowerBook G4/867, 512/40/Combo, $819

Wegener Media

  • PowerBook G4/400, 128/10/DVD, $549.99
  • PowerBook G4/500, 128/20/DVD, $579.99
  • PowerBook G4/550, 256/20/DVD, $639.99

Apple Store

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


  • 12" iBook G3/700, 256/20/Combo, $549.99

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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