The 'Book Review

Sub-$900 iBooks?, New PowerBooks 'Picture Perfect', PatchSleep Enables Deep Sleep on 'Books, and More

This Week's PowerBook and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2005.12.09

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




Tech Trends

Bargain 'Books

News & Opinion

$898 or Less iBooks Coming?

Spymac's Michael Simon says:

"If Apple can drop the current PowerPC-based iBook all the way down to $898 and still make an acceptable profit, perhaps it can build an even less expensive one.

"How about that. Could Apple really undercut Dell?....

"On its annual 'Black Friday' sale, Apple offered its 1.33 GHz iBook G4 for $898 which, in my recollection, is the lowest a non-refurbished Apple laptop has ever been priced. And while sales figures weren't released, the iBook is the only Mac still among the Apple Store Top Sellers.

"So, if Apple can drop the current PowerPC iBook all the way down to $898 and still make an acceptable profit, perhaps it can build an even less expensive one."

Link: $898 (or Less) iBooks?

OS X and PowerBooks Make Life Easier on the Eyes

InfoWorld's Tom Yager says:

"Whether you see perfectly or poorly, you'll see better on a Mac - without all the dials, knobs, and buttons

"My wife's been giving me the stink-eye lately at seeing me basking in the electroluminescent glow of my 17-inch PowerBook G4. Finally, after several silent passes, she stopped and signaled that a lesson was about to ensue. I sat, expecting a lecture about how I'm always on my computer. I'll tell you exactly what she said, and I quote: "I'm still using a PC. How could you let that happen?"

"She dressed me down for the fact that I've spoken at length here about the ways in which OS X excels. I study it, I say it, but apparently it's time to really bring it home. That computers should be useful to users of all ages, skills, and abilities, right out of the box, is one of my major causes."

Link: OS X and PowerBooks Make Life Easier on the Eyes

Filter Keeps Your Laptop's Display Private

Knight Ridder Newspapers' Craig Crossman reports:

"So there you are using your laptop computer at some public venue. You may be traveling on a jet, sitting at a local coffee-shop hotspot, at the library doing research, on a bus, wherever.

"As you're doing whatever it is that you do at your computer, you suddenly get the feeling that your personal space is somehow being invaded.

"You look up and you spot him. And although he probably quickly turned his gaze away, you realize that for some time now, the guy sitting next to you has been reading what's on your screen....

"Fortunately for me and others who need to use their computers in a public place, 3M has come up with a novel solution: the Privacy Filter.

"It is a sheet of transparent film that can be easily attached over any notebook computer's screen. It's a removable, thin, rigid-yet-flexible polymer that also protects the computer's screen from scratches and marks."

Link: Gadget Keeps Your Laptop Private

LED Backlighting Shows Promise for PowerBooks

In his ZD Net log, Jason O'Grady says:

"One obvious way to improve the screens of Apple's PowerBooks and iBooks would be to further increase the available screen resolution. Apple took a step in the right direction with the October PowerBook speed-bumps: the new 15-inch PowerBook sports a 1440-by-960 pixel display with 26 percent more pixels than its predecessor and the new 17-inch PowerBook has a 1680-by-1050 pixel display with 36 percent more space.

"Unfortunately this doesn't hold a candle to the displays available on PC notebooks. High-resolution LCDs available on PC notebooks can display resolutions as high as 1920-by-1200 (WUXGA) on a 15.4-inch screen (Dell Inspiron 6000) and on a 17-inch screen (Sony VAIO VGN-A190)....

"Another display technology that shows real promise for Apple's professional portables is an experimental backlight technology called LED tubes...."

Link: LED Tubes Show Promise for PowerBooks


Higher Resolutions PowerBooks: Picture Perfect

PC Advisor's Ken Mingis says:

"They heard me.

"For a while now, I've railed about Apple's refusal to bump up the resolution of its PowerBook line - especially in light of the higher-resolution screens widely available on Windows laptops.

"Whenever I asked Apple officials about the issue, the standard answer was that the company wanted to keep its screens at about 100 pixels per inch for readability reasons. At high resolutions, they said, text can get tiny.

"Well, it looks like tiny text is in.

"Last month, Apple finally came through for me - and for all of those high-res fans who've wanted the same thing. The company unveiled a tweaked 17in PowerBook boasting a screen resolution of 1,680 by 1,050 pixels, 36 percent more than before and essentially the same resolution as the company's popular 20in Cinema Displays. The 15in-model screen was also changed and now sports almost the same resolution as the old 17in one. (Both models now support Apple's 30in Cinema Display, in case you want even more screen 'real estate'.)"

Link: Latest PowerBook - Apple's Picture-perfect Package


FastMac Reduces Optical Drive Upgrade Prices up to 35%, Adds Free Panther

PR: FastMac has announced it has lowered prices on its entire line of optical drive upgrades by as much as 35%. 32x Combo drives now start at $49.95 and 16x Dual Layer SuperDrives at $89.95. All optical drive purchases now include a free copy of Mac OS 10.3 "Panther" (a $50 value). Drives are available for iMacs (G3, G4, and G5), eMacs, G3 PowerBooks (Pismo and Lombard), G4 PowerBooks (Titanium and Aluminum), iBooks (G3 and G4), Mac minis, G4 Cubes, and PowerMacs (G3, G4 and G5). All drives come with a 1 year warranty and 30 day money back guarantee.

"If you have a Mac chances are pretty good that one of our Super or Combo drive upgrades will work in it" said Michael Lowdermilk, Business Development Manager for FastMac Performance Upgrades, Inc. "Upgrading your optical drive is a great way to get more functionality and take advantage of the latest and greatest applications now for up to $50 less."

Pricing starts at:


  • 32x Combo - $49.95
  • 16x Dual Layer - $89.95


  • 24x Combo - $109.95
  • 8x Dual Layer - $189.95


PatchBurn 4 Enables Unsupported Burners in Tiger, PatchSleep Enables Deep Sleep on 'Books

PR: PatchBurn is a tool to patch existing CD/DVD-drivers (under Mac OS X 10.2.x) or to generate and install new device profiles (under Mac OS 10.3.x and later)

It allows many otherwise unsupported burners to be used directly with Mac OS X, iTunes, and DiscBurner.

PatchBurn 3 and 4 are just normal maintenance releases. If you already installed PatchBurn 3 or 4, there is no need to download and install the new version.

There is something new - a tool called PatchSleep. This tool enables the so called Safe Sleep mode on many older PowerBooks and iBooks. Try it. It's free.

This version will expire at 06/01/2006

System requirements: Mac OS X 10.4 or later

Link: PatchBurn

Tech Trends

Plastic Logic Develops Plastic 10" SVGA Display's Carrie Yu reports:

"Plastic Logic, a developer of plastic electronics, today announced that it has developed what it claims to be the world's largest organic active matrix display.

"The display consists of a flexible, high resolution, printed active matrix backplane driving an electronic paper frontplane from US-based E Ink. The display will be shown at the 12th International Displays Workshop in Takamatsu, Japan from December 6-9.

"The 10-inch SVGA (600x800) display features a 100ppi resolution and four-level grayscale color. The thickness of the display when laminated with E Ink Imaging Film is less than 0.4mm."

Link: Plastic Logic Develops 10-inch Plastic Display

Asus Preps Carbon-fibre Cased Laptop with WiFi Snag

The Register's Tony Smith reports:

"Asus has rejected standard plastics, impact-resistant materials like polycarbonate, and even metals like aluminium and titanium to kit out its latest notebook computer opting instead for carbon fibre.

"The Taiwanese manufacturer last week introduced the W1 Carbon family, a line of Centrino laptops based on a range of Pentium M processors clocked from 1.6 GHz to 2.13 GHz.

"Curiously, Asus touts the way the machines' carbon fibre casing acts as an 'effective EMI [electro-magnetic interference] protective shield'. The snag here, of course, is that it also threatens to shield against desirable electro-magnetic radiation, such as WiFi and Bluetooth signals. WiFi is a key component of Intel's Centrino platform, but Asus' press release doesn't mention it at all."

Link: Asus Preps Carbon-fibre Cased Laptop

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.

Apple Store

  • refurb 12" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/60/Combo, AirPort Extreme, Bluetooth 2.0, $1,199
  • refurb 12" PowerBook G4/1.33 GHz, 256/60/SuperDrive, AirPort Extreme, $1,149
  • refurb 12" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/80/SuperDrive, AirPort Extreme, Bluetooth 2.0, $1,299
  • refurb 17" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/80/SuperDrive, AirPort Extreme, $1,799

  • 12" iBook G4/1.33 GHz, 512/40/Combo, Bluetooth 2.0, AirPort Extreme, $899.99 with $100 mail-in rebate, free shipping

LA Computer

  • new 12" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/60/Combo, BT, APX, $1,249
  • new 15" PowerBook G4/1.67 GHz, 512/80/SuperDrive, BT, APX, $1,750


  • 14" iBook G3/900, 256/40/Combo, $589.99
  • 15" aluminum PowerBook G4/1 GHz, 256/60/Combo, Bluetooth, $1,199.99

The PowerBook Guy

  • used 12" iBook G3/800 MHz, 256/30/CD, $349.95
  • used 12" iBook G3/800 MHz, 256/30/Combo, $449.95
  • used 12" iBook G4/1 GHz, 256/30/CD, $549.95
  • used 12" iBook G4/1 GHz, 256/30/Combo, $649.95

Baucom Computers

  • used 15" PowerBook G4/867 MHz, 256/40/Combo, $798
  • extra 512 MB add $89

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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