The 'Book Review

Macintel 'Books Earlier Than Expected?, PC Power Users Picking PowerBooks for Personal Use, and More

This Week's PowerBook and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2005.11.11

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

Macintel PowerBooks, Widescreen iBook Sooner Than We Thought?

The Register's Tony Smith reports:

"Apple's notebook lines look set to spearhead the Mac maker's shift to Intel processors next year, with the launch of updated PowerBooks and iBooks coming in the Q1/Q2 2006 timeframe.

"So claimed 'extremely reliable sources', cited by AppleInsider, though the report is short on detail.

"Updated PowerBooks are likely to be announced first. Expect a new 15in widescreen model first, based to an extent on the current design but with much-reduced thickness....

"Alas, the report reckons there will be no replacements for the compact and Register-favoured 12in PowerBook G4.

"One ray of light is the anticipated widescreen iBook, which has been rumoured to be in the pipeline since April 2005, when Taiwanese contract manufacturer sources said Apple had been out looking for a partner to produce the machine."

Link: Intel-Based PowerBooks; Widescreen iBook; Sooner Than We Thought?

Power Users Choose PowerBooks for Personal Use

Blogger Alex Hutton says:

"Most deep-geeks I know now use an Apple. Maybe not as their daily driver when forced by work to use a Windows machine, but two CSO's I know have admitted to me when I've opened my PowerBook in front of them 'Oh, I'll never buy anything else with my own money'. PowerBook adoption is also inevitable due to the status symbol factor. It's like a friend that chartered the adoption of OS X in a big ol' chemical company told me, 'when I opened my PowerBook up in a meeting for the first time, it was uncomfortable, because it was like having a key to the executive washroom - everyone thought that the PowerBook was a sign of, well, power - those who were upwardly mobile got PowerBooks and the rest of you saps are stuck with crappy plastic Dell boxes.'"

Link: Why Open Source Needs Apple, or, How Apple is killing Linux on the Desktop

More on MicroAdapter and Big 'Books

TidBITS' Travis Butler says:

"After last week's article on PowerBook AC adapters was published (see 'Comparing Three AC Adapters' in TidBITS-803), I've received several messages from people about the MadsonLine MicroAdapter and the Macally adapter - specifically, about the amount of power they provide.

"I wrote that the MicroAdapter wasn't recommended for use with newer PowerBooks (the 1 GHz PowerBook G4 Titanium, and all of the 15-inch and 17-inch PowerBooks) because it provides only 45 watts of power, compared with the 65 watts provided by the adapter Apple ships. Several people wrote in to say they were, in fact, using the MicroAdapter with those machines, and that it appeared to work fine...."

Link: More on AC Adapters


External Battery Chargers vs. In-'Book Charging

The Apple Core's Jason O'Grady says:

"If you're like me you probably charge your PowerBook's battery in the PowerBook itself and don't worry too much about it. While this is fine in most cases, it's going to deplete the charge capacity of your battery over time. Especially if you constantly unplug and re-plug your machine....

"If you're constantly partial charging your 'Book, each of these counts toward your total cap of charges before the performance of your battery begins to drop off.

"Apple has finally begun to acknowledge this fact:

"'A properly maintained PowerBook or iBook battery is designed to retain up to 80% of its original capacity after 300 full charge and discharge cycles. You may choose to replace your battery when it no longer holds sufficient charge to meet your needs.'

"I avoid this unnecessary battery abuse by running my PowerBook battery down to empty as often as possible and when a battery dies I charge it in my groovy external battery charger from NewerTech."

Link: Battery Chargers vs. In-PowerBook Charging

Upgrade Your iBook to Match a PowerBook

Hardmac's Gui92 has posted a step-by-step tutorial to turn your 12" iBook into a 12" PowerBook killer.

"The iBook 12" is an excellent compromise between mobility, robustness, performance and price. It can also be transformed to become a strong competitor for its brother, the PowerBook 12". However, it is impossible to equip the iBook 12" as a PowerBook 12" via the BTO from the Apple Store. So, it can be tempting to buy a basic iBook 12" model and upgrade it yourself into a highly performing mobile computer. This article is intended to provide you help to perform such transformation. This transformation is not a 'piece of cake', and requires skills, knowledge and tools. So read this article many times to ensure that you understand properly each step and the action performed. If you have a doubt, do not start!

"Required materials:

  • 1x iBook G4/12" 1.2 GHz or 1.33 GHz standard (256 /30 /Combo/Airport Extreme).
  • 1x SuperDrive 8x Matshita UJ-845S multi-formats (-RAM, -R, -RW, +R, +RW).
  • 1x HD Hitachi 80 GB 7200 rpm 8 MB cache (HTS721080G9AT00).
  • 1x Apple Bluetooth kit for iBook (including the module, wires and antenna)
  • 1x very small screw intended to fix the BT module to the motherboard (not necessarily provided with the BT kit).
  • 1x 1 GB of DDR SDRAM SODIMM PC2100 or PC2700 (CAS 25330).


Macworld Reviews New 15", 17" PowerBooks

Macworld's Henry Norr has posted a full review of the new 15" and 17" PowerBooks:

"In announcing the latest changes to its PowerBook family, Apple highlighted the new models' higher-resolution screens and longer battery life but made no mention of their lower prices. Indeed, base prices for each of the three models haven't changed. But because the company has amplified the base configurations - with brand-new features and others previously available only at extra cost - the machines are now better values than ever."

Link: PowerBook G4s boost screen resolution, battery life

17" PowerBook G4/1.67 GHz vs. 15" PowerBook G4/1 GHz's Johnny AppleSpeed reports on PowerBook G4/1 GHz 15" (#M8859LL/A, Released November 2002) and PowerBook G4/1.67 GHz 17" (#M9689LL/A, Released January, 2005):

"Even though PowerBook performance has been lagging, it's interesting to see how far it's come in two years."

Link: PowerBook G4/1.67 GHz 17" vs. PowerBook G4/1 GHz 15" Benchmarks

October 2005 and January 2005 PowerBook Models Compared says:

Major technological changes from last generation of PowerBooks

12 Inch PowerBooks

  1. Low-end model with Combo Drive dropped
  2. Price drops $200

15 Inch PowerBooks

  1. Low-end 1.5 GHz model with Combo Drive dropped
  2. Price drops $300
  3. RAM Type moves from PC2700 (333 MHz) DDR to PC2-4200 DDR2 (333 MHz)
  4. Graphics memory doubles from 64 MB to 128 MB
  5. More advanced SuperDrive, is also slightly faster
  6. 26% Higher screen resolution
  7. Optical digital audio in/out
  8. Support for external display moves from 2048 by 1536 pixels to 2560 by 1600 pixels
  9. Estimated battery time increases one hour, from 4.5 hours to 5.5 hours
  10. Very slightly lighter

17 Inch PowerBook

  1. Price drops $200
  2. RAM Type moves from PC2700 (333 MHz) DDR to PC2-4200 DDR2 (333 MHz)
  3. 20 GB larger hard drive ... Now 120 GB
  4. More advanced SuperDrive, is also slightly faster
  5. 36% Higher screen resolution
  6. Estimated battery time increases one hour, from 4.5 hours to 5.5 hours

Products and Services

Zero Downtime DIY PowerBook Lombard G4 CPU Upgrade from Daystar

PR: Adds complete "DIY" upgrade kits to its popular line of Apple PowerBook G3 based upgrades.

Daystar Technology has announced the expansion of its XLR8 MAChSpeed G4 Lombard product offering. This new offering allows owners of the PowerBook G3 Series (Bronze Keyboard) USB - M5343, often referred to as the "Lombard", to upgrade onsite.

Previously limited to "system based upgrades", where the user had to send their PowerBook to Daystar for installation, the company now offers complete upgrade kits. The kits allow Apple Techs or technically savvy endusers to install the XLR8 MAChSpeed G4 Lombard, without having to send their unit to Daystar

The new product offering allows customers to upgrade in a few minutes, without any substantial downtime. No need to send their systems out, no need to ship their existing card out.

"Our G4 upgrade transforms the Lombard into an excellent OS X performer," says Gary Dailey, president of Daystar. "The addition of our zero-downtime kits, delivers a simple and fast worldwide solution for extending the life of the user's current PowerBook."

The XLR8 433 MAChSpeed G4 Lombard Upgrade Kit includes all components and tools needed for completing the upgrade onsite:

  • XLR8 Upgraded 450 G4 CPU Card with 250 MHz Cache
  • XLR8 MAChSpeed Control CPU Software.
  • Daystar Modified High-Performance Metal Heat Sink.
  • Flathead and Philips Screwdrivers.
  • Arctic Silver Premium Thermal Compound.
  • Instruction / Installation Sheet.
  • Daystar $55 Rebate Form
  • Free Telephone Installation Information

The kit also includes a rebate, form which allows customers to send the old CPU, EMI Shield and Heat Sink back to Daystar. In return, Daystar sends them a rebate check for $55 US.

The Total Cost of the Upgrade, Before the Rebate is $299 (Users can take advantage of the $55 rebate after upgrading... a net cost of $244).

Link: MAChSpeed G4 Lombard

Targus Urban Cases Designed for Young Professionals

PR: Targus, Inc., maker of the world's best-selling notebook cases and accessories, today launched the Urban series of laptop cases with an edgier look and feel, aimed towards young professionals. The four styles in the Urban collection include the Urban Messenger, Urban Topload, Urban Backpack and Urban Travel Roller. Targus has coupled brighter colors with an urban-like design to offer young professionals an alternative to the traditional, uniform notebook cases.

"The Urban collection's edgier appeal offers a unique and stylish alternative in the marketplace for young professionals carrying notebooks," said Steven Robert, Targus general manager. "We created a more trendy and fashionable line of cases to appeal to the young professional's desire for design and functionality, featuring vibrant colors and personalized pockets that carry a notebook and all essential mobile accessories."

Targus personalized the Urban collection to include pockets to accommodate the accessories and consumer electronics products typically carried in a young professional's notebook case, such as an iPod, six-slot CD/DVD holder, removable accessory pouch, and key holder. The custom iPod/MP3 pocket includes a headphone port for added convenience.

All four styles feature fashionable silhouettes, designed with padded interior compartments lined with a soft, scratch-resistant fabric to protect notebooks with up to 15.4" screen sizes. The cases are made from quality nylon with rugged, weather-resistant bottoms, and are lightweight.

Urban MessengerUrban Messenger (#TSM005US)

The Urban Messenger is top loading for easy access to the notebook compartment and includes a removable padded slipcase and file section, as well as pen/pencil holders, ID holder, key clip, headphone port, six-slot CD/DVD sleeve and removable accessory pouch. The ergonomically designed handles and padded, slip-resistant shoulder strap allow maximum comfort and versatility. External dimensions are 16.5" x 4.25" x 12.25" and the weight is 3.31 lbs. MSRP is $59.99.

Urban ToploadUrban Topload (#TST004US)

Organization is made easy with a padded notebook compartment, separate file sections, ID holder, pen/pencil holders, key clip, headphone port, six-slot CD/DVD sleeve and removable accessory pouch. Designed to enhance the safety of digital devices, this case also includes an easy-access compartment for an iPod or MP3 Player. The Urban Topload can attach to luggage with a pass-through trolley sleeve for added convenience while traveling. External dimensions are 16.5" x 4.25" x 12.25" and the weight is 3.31 lbs. MSRP is $69.99.

Urban BackpackUrban Backpack (#TSB013US)

Functional, fashionable and fun, the Urban Backpack is ideal for busy young professionals with many electronic accessories. Equipped with dual side pockets for carrying an iPod or MP3 Player and a mobile phone, the Urban Backpack also offers internal mesh pockets for notebook cables and accessories. The ergonomically designed shoulder strap and chest straps ensure maximum comfort while on the go. External dimensions are 15.75" x 8.5" x 17.75" and the weight is 3.31 lbs. MSRP is $69.99.

Urban Travel RollerUrban Travel Roller (#TSR001US)

The Targus Urban Travel Roller is an all-in-one travel case, designed with a separate, padded easy-access notebook compartment in the storage area to provide the ultimate in protection. A spacious inner compartment easily accommodates clothing and overnight personal items. Front zippered pockets feature custom compartments for accessories such as a mobile phone, ID, files and electronic devices. The Urban Travel Roller's lightweight design makes traveling easier with a telescoping handle and inline skate wheels that deliver smooth performance. External dimensions are 16" x 8.26" x 19.5" and the weight is 8.82 lbs. MSRP is $119.99.

Each case in the Urban collection includes a lifetime-limited warranty.

Link: Targus


Capacity Meter Now Compatible with Tiger

PR: Capacity Meter displays and tracks information about your PowerBook's battery, including capacity, amperage, current, and voltage. Using this information and your machine's specifications, Capacity Meter will let you know the current status of your battery and track degradation over time.

New in version 1.1.1:

  • Tiger compatible
  • Fixed issues with the 10.3.8 update

Requirements: Mac OS X 10.1 or later, PowerBook G3 or later.


Link: Capacity Meter 1.1.1

Tech Trends

Lower Consumption LED Backlights to Penetrate Notebook Market

DigiTimes' Ida Chen and Jessie Shen report:

"The adoption of LEDs as a backlight source for 12- and 14-inch notebooks should begin in the second quarter of 2006, when the price gap between CCFL- (cathode fluorescent lamp) and LED-based backlight modules narrows to less than NT$100 (US$3), according to LED maker Everlight Electronics.

"Currently, available notebooks that feature displays based on white LED technology are Sony's VAIO TX series, the Libretto U100 from Toshiba and the T70 (only in Japan) from Fujitsu....

"Compared to CCFLs, LED backlighting has various advantages for notebook use, including slimmer profile, less power consumption, and mercury-free requirement in line with the EU's Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) legislation that will take effect on July 1, 2006. In order to reach equal brightness as CCFL backlighting, a 12-inch notebook needs about 45 white LEDs and 2,400 RGB LEDs for a 32-inch LCD monitor...."

Link: LED Backlights to Penetrate Notebook Market in 2Q06 (subscription required)

Surging Notebook Demand Creates 2.5" Drive Shortage

DigiTimes' Kevin Hsu and Jessie Shen report:

"The supply of 2.5-inch mobile hard disk drives (HDDs) will continue to be short of demand in 2006, due to surging sales of entry-level notebooks, according to Daven Chiang, Seagate general manager and director of Sales & Marketing for Taiwan. Toshiba Taiwan expects the shortage to carry on throughout the first quarter of next year....

"Besides 4,200-5,400 RPM (revolutions per minute), 40-80 GB, 2.5-inch drives, the high-end segment 7,200 RPM, 100-120 GB drives are also experiencing strong demand at present, said Chiang from Seagate....

"Currently, demand for 2.5-inch drives is exceeding supply by about 25%, Toshiba Taiwan indicated. The gap will likely expand in the fourth quarter of this year, when notebook shipments peak on seasonal effects...."

Link: Surging Entry-level Notebook Demand Driving 2.5-inch HDD Shortage Into 2006

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.

Wegener Media

  • 15" PowerBook G4/400 MHz, 128/10/DVD, $599.99
  • 15" PowerBook G4/500 MHz, 128/20/DVD, $609.99
  • 15" PowerBook G4/550 MHz, 256/20/DVD, $639.99
  • Upgrade to a 24x Combo drive, $149.99 installed
  • Upgrade to 1 GB of RAM, $209.99
  • Upgrade to 512 MB of RAM, $59.50
  • Upgrade to 40 GB hard drive, $79.50
  • Upgrade to 60 GB hard drive, $99.50
  • Upgrade to 80 GB hard drive, $119.50
  • Add an AirPort card, $109.99, installed

Apple Store

  • refurb 14" iBook G4/1.33 GHz, 256/60/Combo, APX, $899
  • refurb 14" iBook G4/1.42 GHz, 512/60/SuperDrive, APX, BT, $1,049
  • refurb 12" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/60/Combo, APX, BT, $1,199
  • refurb 12" PowerBook G4/1.33 GHz, 256/60/SuperDrive, APX, $1,149
  • refurb 15" PowerBook G4/1 GHz, 256/60/Combo, $1,299
  • refurb 15" PowerBook G4/1.33 GHz, 256/60/Combo, APX, $1,299
  • refurb 15" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/80/Combo, APX, BT, $1,449
  • refurb 15" PowerBook G4/1.67 GHz, 512/80/SuperDrive, APX, BT, $1,599
  • refurb 17" PowerBook G4/1.67 GHz, 512/100/SuperDrive, APX, BT, $1,999


  • used 15" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/80/Combo, APX, $1,474
  • used 15" PowerBook G4/1.67 GHz, 512/80/SuperDrive, APX, $1,649

The PowerBook Guy


Baucom Computers

For more deals on current or recently discontinued models, see our best aluminum PowerBook G4 deals, best titanium PowerBook G4 deals, best iBook G4 deals, best PowerBook G3 deals, and best iBook G3 deals.

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