The 'Book Review

Apple to Rule Notebook Roost, PowerBook Users Most Satisfied, Ongoing Screen Problems, and More

This Week's PowerBook and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2005.12.23

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.

HD PowerBook Screen Problems

News & Opinion


Products and Services


Bargain 'Books

HD PowerBook Screen Problems

Some users of the new, higher-resolution 15" and 17" PowerBooks are reporting problems with darker horizontal lines in the new displays. This has been an ongoing problem with some PowerBooks since the new models were introduced.

Some PowerBook Customers Unhappy with New Screen

CNET's Ina Fried reports:

"Some Apple Computer users are complaining that although the new 15-inch PowerBook packs in more pixels, the screen also displays unwanted horizontal lines.

"Debate has raged for some time on Apple's online forums, with differing opinions as to how severe the issue is and whether Apple should be responsible for replacing the displays....

"The Mac maker introduced the higher-resolution screen PowerBooks on Oct. 19, the same day it unveiled new PowerMacs and its Aperture photo-editing software. Both the 15-inch and 17-inch models were updated with new, higher-resolution screens. However, complaints have centered on the 15-inch model."

Link: Some PowerBook Customers Unhappy with New Screen

PowerBook Screen Riles Apple Customers

CNET's Ina Fried reports:

"Some Apple users are complaining that, although the new 15-inch PowerBook packs in more pixels, the screen also displays unwanted horizontal lines.

"Debate has raged for some time on Apple's online forums, with differing opinions as to how severe the issue is and whether Apple should be responsible for replacing the displays....

"The debate is reminiscent of another screen-quality issue - the battle over dead pixels. On any given LCD (liquid-crystal display) screen, sometimes pixels are either always on (bright) or never light up (dark). Manufacturers have different policies, with some setting specific pixel limits, others using a more complex formula, and still others taking things on a case-by-case basis."

Link: PowerBook Screen Riles Apple Customers

News & Opinion

Apple Will Rule Notebook Roost

The Taipei Times' Jason Tan reports:

"Among all brand-name notebook-computer makers, Apple Computer Inc. is set to take center stage next year, mainly bolstered by its new light-weight models as well as the iPod effect, a recent study found.

"Apple is projected to ship 3.27 million notebook computers worldwide next year, an increase of 42 percent compared to 2.29 million units this year, according to study results released by the Topology Research Institute.

"This translates to Apple's market share in the worldwide notebook market rising to 4.7 percent from 3.9 percent this year.

"According to Yang, Apple notebooks are poised to grab consumers' attention next year as the company will unveil light-weight models with a stylish design aimed at luring female users.

"Compared to its current bulky and older models, the upcoming Apple lineup will include 12-inch notebooks weighing in at 1.5kg as well as 14-inch models below 2kg, he said."

Link: Apple Will Rule Notebook Roost: Study

ThinkPad and PowerBook Users Most Satisfied

PCWorld reports:

"Laptops from Lenovo (née IBM) and Apple topped the satisfaction charts in reliability for the second year in a row. eMachines, another of last year's chart toppers, lost momentum this year, ranking at the low end of average for system reliability. Sony's products showed marked improvement from last year, when readers criticized both the company's service and the reliability of its products. As in the last survey, Compaq's ratings were among the lowest of any notebook manufacturer. Oddly, even though HP and Compaq are one company, HP-branded notebooks scored in the middle of the pack for both reliability and service, beating those with a Compaq logo."

Link: Notebook PCs: ThinkPad and PowerBook Users Most Satisfied

A Pitch for a Cheap Laptop

Gene Steinberg, the Mac Night Owl, writes:

"To some degree, you might compare Apple with Acura, a luxury car maker that sells loaded models, with all or most of the options as standard equipment. There is no such thing as the stripped down model, which is one reason why Macs are believed to cost more than their counterparts from the land of Windows."

Link: A Pitch for a Cheap Laptop

Nortel to Sponsor 'One Laptop per Child' Initiative, Help Bring Technology to Educate Emerging Markets

Nortel announced today that it has become a corporate member of the "One Laptop per Child" (OLPC) initiative. OLPC, a nonprofit organization, was formed earlier this year by Nicholas Negroponte and other faculty members from the MIT Media Lab.

By joining OLPC, Nortel, an existing sponsor of the Media Lab through its University Interaction Program, extends its long-standing relationship with the Lab. As a corporate member, Nortel will provide an annual fee for purposes of funding OLPC initiatives.

The objective of OLPC is to develop a fully functioning, connected laptop to give the largest number of the world's children - especially those in developing nations - an innovative learning tool for independent interaction, revolutionizing information delivery to schoolchildren globally.

According to OLPC, the laptop, currently in the early stages of development, is designed to be the size of a standard school notebook and will use wireless networking capabilities to allow children to interact with each other and access the Internet and community resources. It is expected to leverage built-in wireless capabilities that support WiFi and voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and be used as a conventional computer, electronic book, handheld game console and even function as a TV.

According to OLPC, currently government agencies in Argentina, Nigeria, Brazil, Thailand, China, Egypt, and India are in preliminary discussions with OLPC to distribute the $100 laptops through pilot programs in each of these countries.

"The goal of OLPC is to actively engage children in their own education. The $100 laptop will belong to each child and be part his or her life, in and out of school, for study and for play. By providing Internet access and tools to think with, a child has the opportunity to learn about learning itself. By virtue of all children in a school having their own laptops, a connected community emerges," says Negroponte, who serves as chairman of OLPC.

Involvement with OLPC reinforces Nortel's "Connecting Community" initiative to help improve education, health care and trade in developing markets. Nortel seeks to help develop communities that have little or no existing communications infrastructure and capabilities, and is committed to digital and social inclusion in emerging markets.

"Nortel has a firm belief in the power of communications technology to enhance the lives of people around the world. Our sponsorship of initiatives such as the OLPC can help address some of the greatest challenges in emerging markets," said Martha Bejar, president, Caribbean and Latin America and Emerging Markets Solutions, Nortel. "We believe that wireless broadband technology will be the bridge to connect communities that are today disconnected. These technologies are already being leveraged to address the digital divide that exists between developed and developing markets."

Over one billion people globally are still without access to basic telecom services and 800,000 communities have no connection to global voice or data networks, according to statistics from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). (Source: ITU, May 2004 and June 2005).

One Laptop per Child (OLPC) is a Delaware-based, nonprofit organization created by faculty members from the MIT Media Lab to design, manufacture, and distribute laptops that are sufficiently inexpensive to provide every child in the world access to knowledge and modern forms of education. The laptops will be sold to governments and issued to children by schools on a basis of one laptop per child. These machines will be rugged, Linux-based, and so energy efficient that hand-cranking alone can generate sufficient power for operation. Mesh networking will give many machines Internet access from one connection. The pricing goal is to start near $100 and then steadily decrease.

OLPC is based on "constructionist" theories of learning pioneered by Seymour Papert and later Alan Kay, as well as the principles expressed in Nicholas Negroponte's book, Being Digital. The corporate members are Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Brightstar, Google, News Corporation, Nortel, and Red Hat.


17" PowerBook Big, Not Bulky

The Independent's Stephen Pritchard reports:

"It is a testament to Apple's design team that its updated, large-screen laptop can be so big without appearing bulky. This is helped by the smooth lines of the aluminum case and the fact that there are no protruding buttons, switches or catches to snag on luggage. The computer is also surprisingly slim, and not much heavier than a standard 14- or 15-inch display portable.

"Nonetheless, the ergonomics are not perfect. The large screen would be hard to use in cramped environments such as on a plane or train, and the larger casing means the keyboard is not positioned as well as on Apple's 15-inch model.

"This is unlikely to be too much of a drawback for Apple's main target market, professionals in the creative industry. It would be hard to justify buying a 17-inch display laptop just for word processing, but the raw horsepower of the PowerBook, along with the display, makes it ideal for video editing, sound production, graphic design or visualisation....

"This computer is designed for the niche, rather than the mass market. It might not sell in huge quantities, but the creative professionals who need its capabilities will be happy."

Link: Tools of the Trade: The Apple 17-inch PowerBook

Longer-lasting, Higher-res PowerBook a Winner says:

"When Apple announced the release of updated 15- and 17-inch PowerBooks back in October, one question seemed to drown out the rest: were the refreshed models just place holders before the company's much talked-about decision to switch to Intel processors finally takes effect? We had the chance to test the 17-inch model, and the upgrades to Apple's flagship line of notebooks are certainly not trivial.

"The two largest enhancements being touted by Apple are improved battery life and screen resolution. The notebook's souped-up battery promises to give you up to 5.5 hours of use. When we tested the notebook's life by running a DVD, the PowerBook stayed alive for just under three hours, which should give you more than enough time to watch almost any movie not directed by Peter Jackson. It also suggests you can get at least an hour more of endurance if all you're doing is basic productivity chores."

Link: Apple PowerBook G4 - Even Without Intel Inside, This Longer-lasting and Higher-res Mobile Mac Is a Winner

Products and Services

iDrops Cleaner/Polish for iBooks, iPods, eMacs, and More

PR: PodShop, makers of specialized accessories for portable audio electronics and computing devices, today announced the immediate availability of their updated iDrops product - an all-in-one cleaning, polishing, and scratch removing solution specifically designed for use on the plastic/acrylic surfaces of Apple's iPod (all models), iBook, eMac, and iMac (G3/G5), Mac mini, and Power Mac (G3/G4).

iDrops is a two ounce bottle of "liquid health" for plastic/acrylic surfaces that features a dropper top, allowing easy, mess-free use for helping to repair and restore your blemished, scuffed, or scratched product. iDrops can also be used on the plastic/acrylic surfaces of CD/DVD media, cell phones, Game Boy, PSP, and numerous other items.

iDrops - introduced in November 2004 - features improvements throughout the entire product, including updated iDrops solution, bottle, dropper, and label. Priced at $14.95, iDrops is available from the company's website.

Link: iDrops

The Laptop Stand Fits Desktops, Camera Tripods

PR: Pfeffer Industries' new The Laptop Stand is a strong, lightweight, sleek, and totally adjustable laptop stand. Ever take your laptop somewhere but have nowhere to set it? Now you can bring along the "Laptop Stand".

The Laptop Stand (Widescreen Model)The "Laptop Stand" attaches to any standard camera or video camera tripod securely and easily! It also looks attractive sitting on its desktop stand on any flat surface. Great for business presentations, classrooms, audio video setups, and countless other applications. The laptop stand also works great for projectors, propping up books, as a writing surface in bed, or for use on a podium. Its attractive design makes it fit in with any decor. Bring your laptop virtually anywhere . It also attaches to your tripod in seconds for an instant workdesk for your laptop. Use it at the airport, in the office for additional space, or even take it to the park.

As well as mounting to any standard camera or video camera tripod, it can be used on any flat surface. The Laptop Stand is fully adjustable for viewing your laptop! The "Laptop Stand" is a safe surface on which to mount your laptop.

The Laptop Stand can be packed away with your laptop in your laptop case for portability and extra stability for your laptop! The Laptop Stand will support virtually all models of laptops from Mac to PC.

With the Laptop Stand, you have all the choices for anywhere you go. You can use it on your desk, or mount it securely to any standard camera or video camera tripod.

When you order the Laptop Stand, specify what color you would like. Colors available are Blue, Red, Yellow, Green, Black, and White. Custom colors can also be ordered.

The Laptop Stand does not come with a tripod. But, if you need a tripod to attach yours, you can order one from Pfeffer Industries.

Also check out the optional Mousepad Attachment.

The Laptop Stand (Standard Model)The Laptop Stand (Standard Model)

  • High Quality / Laser Cut / Clear / 11"x13"
  • Made in the USA
  • Fits most laptops
  • $39.95

The Laptop Stand (Widescreen Model)

  • High Quality / Laser Cut / Clear / 11"x16"
  • Made in the USA
  • Fits widescreen up to 17" monitor laptops
  • $49.95

The Laptop Stand (Mini Model)

  • High Quality / Laser Cut / Clear / 7.25"x10"
  • Made in the USA
  • Fits mini laptops and other presentation devices
  • $29.95

Mousepad AttachmentMousepad Attachment

  • High Quality / Laser Cut / Rigid Gooseneck / Clear / 7.5"x8"
  • Made in the USA
  • Works with the Laptop Stand (Standard and Widescreen)
  • $19.95
Link: The Laptop Stand

Notebook Arm Unlocks Full Use of Docked Displays for PowerBook, iBook Users

PR: A new, first-of-its-kind LX Notebook Arm mounting accessory, designed to enable Apple PowerBook and iBook users to obtain full use of their notebook computers when docked in a desktop environment, is being introduced by Ergotron at the 2006 Consumer Electronic Show (CES) show in Las Vegas this January 5 - 8.

The new Ergotron LX Notebook Arm, available in either black or silver, is especially useful for high-intensity home office or work applications where multiple kinds of information need to be viewed onscreen. This ingenious 12-pound space- and timesaving accessory enables Apple users to tilt, turn, swing and lift their notebook computer off their desk to place it side-by-side with their LCD monitor.

The Ergotron LX Notebook Arm is compatible with any Apple laptop computer and docking station weighing up to 17.5 lb., including the 12-, 15- and 17-inch PowerBooks, and the new iBook G4. Available in early-February 2006 through and other retailers, the LX Notebook Arm will have a sugg. retail price of $179.00.

The LX Notebook Arm incorporates Ergotron's Constant Force (CF) lift-and-pivot motion technology, which converts a conventional spring's linear force curve into a constant flat force through the entire range of lifting or pivoting motion for the PowerBook or iBook. As a result, Apple users exert less effort to noiselessly adjust their computer display with up to 24-inches of expansion and contraction.

"We're thrilled to offer an ergonomically designed accessory that adds unprecedented adjustability for PowerBook and iBook users," said Lee Schalk, VP of North American Sales for Ergotron. "Now you can come into the office where you keep your docking station, open up a docked PowerBook or iBook notebook, and position it next to your flat-panel monitor on the desk - enjoying a dual display benefit that's been available all along, but hasn't been functional before this product launch. Plus, Apple users are going to love the sleek visual design of the Notebook Arm's brushed aluminum exterior."

Link: Ergotron



ThermographX monitors the various temperature sensors inside your modern Macintosh G4 or G5.

  • Records maximum and minimum temperatures.
  • Shows temperature records over time, using a zoomable display so you can analyze short-term or long-term.
  • Shows individual sensor temperatures on models that have them.
  • Graphs customer-submitted temperature results for comparison with your own system.

ThermographX is compatible with many recent Macintosh models. It is known to provide accurate sensor readings on these models:

  • 12" & 17" PowerBook G4.
  • "Aluminum" 15" PowerBook G4.
  • "Mirror Door" G4 (see note #2 below).
  • Power Macintosh G5.
  • iBook G4.
  • G4 Cube (see note #2 below).
  • iMac G4 & G5.
  1. Motorola's MPC7450CE/D Rev 5 errata indicates "The thermal assist unit (TAU) is no longer supported on the MPC7450, MPC7451, or MPC7441.". Because of this, you will not be able to measure the junction temperature on any system with these processors. At current, this includes the "Gigabit" PowerBook G4 and the "2001 Quicksilver" G4s.
  2. Mac OS X 10.3.5 eliminates compatibility with some older Mac's, like the G4 Cube. I'm investigating if there is a workaround.
  3. Some of the most recent PowerBooks don't have updating temperature sensors, and thus their readings may not vary in realtime. This includes the 1.5 GHz and 1.67 GHz models.

New in version 1.3.1:

  • Added support for dual-core G5's.
  • Fixed some sensor readings on older G5's.
  • Added measurements for iMac G5's with iSight.
  • Updated user measurements for all other models.

System requirements: Mac OS X 10.1 or later.

ThermographX is $7 shareware.

Link: ThermographX

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

  • Lombard PowerBook G3/333, 128/4/CD, $319.99
  • Lombard PowerBook G3/400, 128/4/CD, $369.99
  • G4 processor upgrade, only with machine purchase. Upgrade installed & setup at time of purchase. $179.99
  • RoamAbout Wireless Card (special only with machine purchase), $24.99
  • Upgrade to a 20 GB HDD (valid only with machine purchase), $49.99
  • One full year of coverage against issues from date of purchase, $119.99

Apple Store

  • refurb 12" iBook G4/1.2 GHz, 256/30/CD, $699
  • refurb 12" iBook G4/1.2 GHz, 256/30/Combo, APX, $719
  • refurb 12" iBook G4/1.33 GHz, 512/40/Combo, APX, BT 2.0, $799
  • refurb 14" iBook G4/1.33 GHz, 256/60/Combo, APX, $899
  • refurb 14" iBook G4/1.33 GHz, 256/60/SuperDrive, APX, $999
  • refurb 14" iBook G4/1.42 GHz ,512/60/SuperDrive, APX, BT 2.0, $1,049
  • refurb 12" PowerBook G4/1.33 GHz, 256/60/Combo, APX, $1,099
  • refurb 12" PowerBook G4/1.33 GHz, 256/60/SuperDrive, APX, $1,149
  • refurb 12" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/60/Combo, APX, BT 2.0, $1,199
  • refurb 12" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/80/SuperDrive, APX, BT 2.0, $1,299

  • used 12" iBook G3/600, 384/20/CD, $389.49
  • used 12" iBook G3/700, 256/20/CD, $429.49


  • used 12" iBook G3/800, 128/30/CD, $399
  • used 12" iBook G3/800, 128/30/Combo, $419
  • used 14" iBook G3/700, 256/30/Combo, $459
  • used 12" PowerBook G4/867, 256/40/Combo, $699
  • used 12" PowerBook G4/867, 256/40/Combo, AirPort, $779
  • used 12" PowerBook G4/867, 640/40/Combo, $799
  • used 12" PowerBook G4/867, 256/40/SuperDrive, $849
  • used 15" PowerBook G4/667, 256/30/Combo, $649
  • used 15" PowerBook G4/800, 512/40/Combo, AirPort, $849

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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