The 'Book Review

Apple's $2 802.11n Enabler, Two New Battery Technologies, Digital TV Tuner for MacBook Pro, and More

This Week's Mac Notebook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2007.01.26

This Week's MacBook, PowerBook, and iBook News

The biggest controversy this week seems to be over Apple's decision to charge US$2 to enable the 802.11n support already built into most current Macs instead of giving away the enabler for free. Apple claims is required by generally accepted accounting principles.

We have articles about two new battery technologies, both of which appear promising but aren't initially aimed at notebook computers.

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

General Apple and Mac desktop news is covered in The Mac News Review.

News & Opinion


Products and Services


Bargain 'Books

News & Opinion

Apple to $2 Charge for Faster WiFi

Cnet's Tom Krazit reports:

"Some MacBook Pro and MacBook customers have the faster 802.11n Wi-Fi chip already sitting in their systems, but it will cost $2 to light it up.

"Apple on Thursday confirmed reports that it plans to charge customers a fee to download software that will enable the 802.11n capability in the Wi-Fi chips found in some MacBook and MacBook Pro systems...."

"Apple said it is required under generally accepted accounting principles to charge customers for the software upgrade. 'The nominal distribution fee for the 802.11n software is required in order for Apple to comply with generally accepted accounting principles for revenue recognition, which generally require that we charge for significant feature enhancements, such as 802.11n, when added to previously purchased products,' Fox said in a statement."

LED Backlighting Too Expensive for MacBook Pro?

Hardmac's Lionel says:

"A few days ago a rumour suggested that Apple could start using LED to improve the backlighting of its laptop screens.

"Although that rumour has a certain appeal, it does not confront to reality too well. According to DigiTimes this manufacturing process will only start being widespread in 2008. Currently, the adoption of LEDs would double the price of the backlighting, whereas in 2008 it is likely to only represent a 20% increase in price...."

Japanese Inventor Touts Water Activated Battery

Engadget's Donald Melanson reports:

"Japanese inventor Susumu Suzuki claims to have found a solution to some of the world's energy problems (the AA-sized ones anyway), recently showing off his water-powered battery to Reuters. The battery itself is made mostly of carbon-based compounds but is activated with only a tiny amount of water - even licking it will apparently do."

Editor's note: This technology appears to target 1.5V AA through D cells. Suzuki claims it could cost one-tenth as much as regular batteries when mass produced. Today's notebooks are built around higher voltage batteries, so it remains to be seen whether this will be practical for them. dk

Battery Power at the Tip of Your Tongue?

Crave's Leslie Katz says:

"As kids, some people (none of us here at Crave, of course) licked batteries to experience a little jolt. Turns out that old pastime could now have a practical application - producing battery power. A Japanese inventor is developing a battery, made mainly of carbon-based compounds, that's activated by a single drop of water. Susumu Suzuki describes his device in a video interview with Reuters."

Can Ultracapacitors Replace Batteries?

Technology Review's Tyler Hamilton reports:

"A Texas company says it can make a new ultracapacitor power system to replace the electrochemical batteries in everything from cars to laptops....

"The company boldly claims that its system, a kind of battery-ultracapacitor hybrid based on barium-titanate powders, will dramatically outperform the best lithium-ion batteries on the market in terms of energy density, price, charge time, and safety. Pound for pound, it will also pack 10 times the punch of lead-acid batteries at half the cost and without the need for toxic materials or chemicals, according to the company."

"Ultracapacitors have many advantages over traditional electrochemical batteries. Unlike batteries, 'ultracaps' can completely absorb and release a charge at high rates and in a virtually endless cycle with little degradation."

Editor's note: This technology targets electric and hybrid cars. Whether it could eventually be applied to notebook computers remains to be seen. dk


Black MacBook No Great Value's Ben Tudor reports:

"Apple's computer range runs from basic desktops through to high-end MacBook Pro notebooks, but it's the relatively cheap MacBook that steals the show.

"The latest breed of MacBook, now with Intel's Core 2 Duo processors providing the oomph, is an update of 2006's dual-core version introduced last year.

"Outwardly, not much has changed from last years [sic] MacBook, apart from the replacement of the Core Duo processor with the more recent and faster Core 2 Duo. However, several months using the original MacBook unearthed a number of overheating cases that shut down the computer when it got too hot.

"Thankfully, this isn't something we've noticed with two Core 2 Duo notebooks we tested, although both became uncomfortably warm after prolonged use. Nevertheless, it seems Apple has addressed these issues."

17" MacBook Pro Lightest, Thinnest in Class

Cnet's Dan Ackerman reports:

"The high-end 17-inch MacBook Pro adds some hard drive space and screen real estate over the 15-inch MacBook Pro,boosting the base price by $300. The $2,799 system (our $3,374 review unit was tricked out with extra RAM) is very light for a 17-inch laptop, and it's a good choice for anyone needing an easily transportable big-screen laptop, although most users will be just as happy with the excellent 15-inch version.

"The aluminum MacBook Pro is a clear departure from the black or white plastic look of the iPod, the iMac, or the (non-Pro) MacBook. Weighing just 6.8 pounds (7.5 with the AC adapter), it's easily the lightest desktop replacement laptop we've seen. Other 17-inch systems, such as the Dell XPS M1710 and the Fujitsu LifeBook N6420 weigh between 3 and 4 pounds more. The MacBook Pro is also very thin, measuring 15.4 inches wide by 10.4 inches deep by only 1 inch thick. While it's still too bulky to commute with every day, it can certainly make for high-impact presentations and can act as a decent portable home theater."

Products and Services

Cinergy T Express - Digital TV on Your MacBook Pro

Cinergy T ExpressWith Cinergy T Express for the ExpressCard interface of your MacBook Pro you can receive digital TV via antenna (DVB-T) while on the move. The tuner card is extremely compact and can easily be stored anywhere. An additional power adapter is not required, as the Cinergy draws its power directly from the notebook. A suitable compact antenna is included - simply insert the ExpressCard and you're ready to watch TV. Naturally, you can also connect the Cinergy to your roof antenna at home.


This function liberates you from the TV stations' rigid programming schedule. If you still have something to take care of, simply tune in ten minutes after your favorite program has actually started. The elapsed part of the program has been recorded to your hard drive, letting you rewind, fast-forward or pause the show at any time. Simply press a button to skip annoying commercial breaks.

Electronic program guide (EPG)

An integrated electronic program guide (free one-year subscription included) helps you keep a clear overview of the wealth of available digital stations. You therefore have a complete, current program guide for the next one to two weeks at your fingertips. The programs currently running on all stations are conveniently grouped on a single page, and information on the content, actors, production year, etc. is also available from that page.

Powerful hard-drive video recorder

Record programs manually or set up timer-controlled recordings without quality losses and edit out unwanted content such as commercial breaks with ease. To manage your recordings, simply drag and drop them to organize them in playlists. Sort recordings according to series and seasons, artists, genres, etc. You can create as many playlists as you like for convenient searching and perfect organization.

Teletext and digital radio

The convenient teletext function provides useful information related to the TV program and more. Teletext can be displayed on a black background or transparently superimposed on the current program. Navigating teletext is as simple as on a conventional TV set. If radio stations are available via DVB-T in your service area, you can not only listen to them, but also record them to your hard drive and export them to iTunes or your iPod.

Support for iPods with video functionality

Transfer music videos, TV shows and other recordings to your iPod with a single click. Connect it to your TV and enjoy the recordings not only on the iPod's display, but also on your TV screen. The iPod export is fully automatic - as soon as the recordings are complete, they are automatically converted to iPod format and transferred to iTunes for synchronization with your iPod.

Perfect Mac integration

EyeTV is a universal application that delivers its full performance on PowerPC and Intel Core platforms. The management and organization of recordings has also been optimized for Mac: each recording is stored in a separate file that you can rename, copy, move or launch in the Finder. The appearance fits, too: all program windows and the elegant onscreen remote control are perfectly matched to the Mac OS design.

Convenient remote control

Thanks to the Cinergy remote control and the full-screen menu of the EyeTV application, you can now enjoy TV on your Mac from the comfort of your sofa. All important functions are literally in the palm of your hand - there's no need to get up continually to use the keyboard. The Apple Front Row media center is fully integrated and only a click away. Naturally, the full-screen menu will also work if your Mac does not have Front Row and an Apple Remote.

Scope of Delivery:

  • TerraTec Cinergy T Express
  • Portable aerial with magnetic base
  • Software CD-ROM: Elgato EyeTV (Mac), TerraTec Home Cinema (PC)
  • Manual on CD-ROM

MSR: €129 plus shipping

Alcantara Sleeves for iPods & MacBooks

Alcantara SleevesMaserati covers Quattroporte car seats in Alcantara. Porsche Boxster interiors are lined in Alcantara. In fact almost every luxury car maker in Europe chooses the sensory comfort of Alcantara as a mark of quality.

Rev up your Apple products with genuine Alcantara sleeves: the slim fitting collection is available in three colours: Jubilee Red, Otter Grey and Slate Black.

Wrappers covers for MacBooks are fitted sleeves lined with microfibre. Our tight, fitted Alcantara tubes for iPod's original and new nano models give access to headphone port, dock connector and hold switch.

Smokey black iPod covers are individually tailored for 30 GB, 60 GB and 80 GB models so make sure to order a size to fit.

Alcantara SleevesiPod nano Alcantara tube

  • Tailored tube for iPod nano original and remastered
  • Genuine Alcantara
  • Contract quality fabric that doesn't loose its shape after machine washing
  • Super soft microfibre lining helps remove fingerprints

Alcantara tube for iPod nano £9.99 plus £3.50 p&p

iPod video Alcantara sleeve

  • Tailored sleeve for iPod video
  • Genuine Alcantara
  • Contract quality fabric that doesn't loose its shape after machine washing
  • Super soft microfibre lining helps remove fingerprints

Alcantara sleeve for iPod video £12.99 plus £3.50 p&p

MacBook & MacBook Pro Alcantara sleeves

  • Tailored sleeve for Apple MacBook & MacBook Pro notebook
  • Genuine Alcantara
  • Contract quality fabric that doesn't loose its shape after machine washing
  • Super soft microfibre lining helps remove fingerprints


  • Alcantara sleeve for MacBook 13 inch £32.00 plus £3.50 p&p
  • Alcantara sleeve for MacBook Pro 15 inch £34.00 plus £3.50 p&p
  • Alcantara sleeve for MacBook Pro 17 inch £37.00 plus £3.50 p&p


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.

PowerBook, iBook, and MacBook profiles linked in our Portable Mac Index.

Apple Store

The only 15" MacBook Pro listed as we go to press is the 1.83 GHz Core Duo, but there are now Core 2 Duo 17" MacBook Pros available. The only MacBook is the 2.0 GHz Core Duo White model.

  • refurb 2.0 GHz Core Duo MacBook, white, 512/60/SuperDrive, $899
  • refurb 15" 1.83 GHz Core Duo MacBook Pro, 512/80/SuperDrive, $1,299
  • refurb 17" 2.16 GHz Core Duo MacBook Pro, 1 GB/120/SuperDrive, $1,999
  • refurb 17" 2.33 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SuperDrive, $2,299


  • new 15" 2.0 GHz Intel Core Duo MacBook Pro, 512/80/SuperDrive, $1,449


  • 14" iBook G3/800 MHz, 640/40/Combo, $519
  • 12" iBook G4/1.2 GHz, 256/60/SuperDrive, $799
  • 12" PowerBook G4/1 GHz, 256/40/Combo, $649


TechRestore is offering a $25 discount to 'Book Review readers off any PowerBook or iBook in stock. Just enter the code CWM during checkout when ordering online. The coupon code is valid from now through 2007.12.31.

  • 12" iBook G3/700, 256/20/Combo, $429.99 less $25 = $404.99
  • 12" iBook G3/800, 256/30/CD, $399.99 less $25 = $374.99
  • 12" iBook G3/800, 256/20/Combo, $429.99 less $25 = $404.99
  • 12" iBook G3/900, 256/40/Combo, $469.99 less $25 = $444.99
  • 14" iBook G3/700, 256/30/Combo, $499.99 less $25 = $474.99

The PowerBook Guy

  • PowerBook Pismo G3/400, 256/20 (new)/DVD, $379.95
  • PowerBook Pismo G3/500, 256/20 (new)/DVD, $429.95
  • 12" iBook G3/600, 128/20/CD, $239.95
  • 12" iBook G3/700, 256/20/CD, $269.95
  • 12" iBook G3/800, 256/30/CD, $299.95
  • 12" iBook G3/700, 256/20/Combo, $379.95
  • 12" iBook G4/1 GHz, 512/30/CD, Minor Case Defect, $379.95
  • 12" iBook G4/1 GHz, 512/30/CD, $429.95
  • 12" iBook G4/1.2 GHz, 512/30/CD, $479.95
  • 12" iBook G4/1 GHz, 512/30/Combo, $529.95
  • 12" iBook G4/1.2 GHz, 512/30/Combo, $579.95
  • 12" iBook G4/1.33 GHz, 512/4020/Combo, AirPort, Bluetooth, $629.95

Wegener Media

  • 12" PowerBook G4/867 MHz, 256/40/Combo, Mac OS X, $599.99

Baucom Computers

  • 12" iBook G3 600, 256/20/Combo, $295
  • 12" iBook G3 700, 256/20/Combo, $325
  • 12" iBook G3 800, 256/30/CD, $379
  • 14" iBook G3 700, 256/20/Combo, $375
  • 14" iBook G3 900, 256/40/Combo, $465
  • 15" PowerBook G4/667 MHz, 256/30/Combo, $625
  • Add AirPort for $69

Power Max

$50 rebate on Power Max MP3 Sunglasses with the purchase of any new or refurbished Mac.

  • refurb 12" iBook G4/1 GHz, 256/30/CD, $599
  • refurb 12" iBook G4/1.2 GHz, 256/30/CD, $749
  • refurb 14" iBook G4/1.33 GHz, 256/60/Combo, APX, $949
  • refurb 15" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/80/Combo, APX, $1,149
  • refurb 15" PowerBook G4/1.67 GHz 512/80/SuperDrive, APX, $1,349
  • refurb 17" PowerBook G4/1.67 GHz, 512/100/SuperDrive, APX, $1,649

Custom Macs

  • Apple Emate 300 PDA - Touch Screen in great working shape - $59.99

Computer Geeks

  • 12" iBook G4/1.0 GHz, 512/30/CD, AirPort, OS X, $519.99
  • 12" iBook G4/1.2 GHz, 512/30/CD, AirPort, OS X, $579.99
  • 12" iBook G4/1.3 GHz, 512/40/Combo, AirPort, OS X, $699.99
  • 12" iBook G4/1.0 GHz, 512/30/CD, AirPort, OS X, $529.99


  • 12" iBook 500, 128/10/CD, OS X, $209
  • 12" iBook 500, 128/30/CD, OS X, $279
  • 12" iBook 600, 128/30/CD, OS X, $329

For deals on current and discontinued 'Books, see our 13" MacBook and MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, 13" MacBook Pro, 15" MacBook Pro, 17" MacBook Pro, 12" PowerBook G4, 15" PowerBook G4, 17" PowerBook G4, titanium PowerBook G4, iBook G4, PowerBook G3, and iBook G3 deals.

We also track iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, iPod classic, iPod nano, and iPod shuffle deals.

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