The 'Book Review

Apple Updates MacBook Pro Line, 2.16 GHz MacBook White Benchmarks, Lower Modbook Pricing, and More

This Week's MacBook, PowerBook, and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2009.06.10

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

General Apple and Mac desktops is covered in The Mac News Review. iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV news is covered in The iNews Review.

News & Opinion

Apple Updates

Tech Trends


News & Opinion

Apple Updates and Expands MacBook Pro Family with 13" Model, Lower Prices

PR: Apple on Monday updated the aluminum unibody MacBook Pro line to include 13", 15", and 17" models featuring Apple's innovative built-in battery for up to 40% longer battery life. Each MacBook Pro includes an LED-backlit display with greater color intensity, the innovative glass Multi-Touch™ trackpad, an illuminated keyboard, an SD card or ExpressCard slot, a FireWire 800 port, and state of the art Nvidia graphics. Starting at just $1,199, the MacBook Pro line is more affordable than ever, with some models up to $300 less than the previous generation. The industry's greenest notebook lineup, every Mac notebook achieves EPEAT* Gold status and meets Energy Star 5.0 requirements, setting a new standard for environmentally friendly notebook design.

new MacBook Pro family"Across the line, all of our new MacBook Pro models now include Apple's innovative built-in battery for up to seven hours of battery life, while staying just as thin and light as before," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. "Starting at just $1,199, the aluminum unibody MacBook Pro is more affordable than ever and sets a new standard for environmentally friendly notebook design."

The new 13" and 15" MacBook Pro models include Apple's innovative built-in notebook battery for up to seven hours of wireless productivity on a single charge without adding thickness, weight or cost. Using Adaptive Charging and advanced chemistry first introduced with the 17" MacBook Pro earlier this year, the built-in battery delivers up to 1,000 recharges before it reaches 80% of its original capacity - nearly three times the lifespan of conventional batteries.** The longer battery lifespan equals fewer depleted batteries and less waste.

The new 13" MacBook Pro is a significant upgrade at a lower price than the original aluminum MacBook it replaces. With the same sleek and durable design popular with consumers, students, and professionals, all 13" MacBook Pro models now include a seven hour built-in battery, an SD card slot, a FireWire 800 port, an illuminated keyboard, and an improved LED-backlit display with 60% greater color gamut. Featuring the powerful Nvidia GeForce 9400M integrated graphics processor, the 13" MacBook Pro is available in two models: one with a 2.26 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 2 GB of RAM and a 160 GB hard drive priced at $1,199, and another with a 2.53 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4 GB of RAM and a 250 GB hard drive priced at $1,499.

The perfect balance of performance and portability, the 15" MacBook Pro now features a seven hour built-in battery, an SD card slot, an improved LED-backlit display with 60% greater color gamut and 4 GB of RAM across the line at an entry price $300 less than before. The new 15" MacBook Pro is available in three models: a 2.53 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo system with a 250 GB hard drive and Nvidia GeForce 9400M graphics for a new entry price of $1,699; a 2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo system with a 320 GB hard drive, and Nvidia GeForce 9400M and 9600M GT graphics for $1,999; and a 2.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo system with a 500 GB hard drive, and Nvidia GeForce 9400M and 9600M GT graphics for $2,299.

MacBook ProThe 17" MacBook Pro, which includes an eight hour built-in battery, an ExpressCard slot, a brilliant LED-backlit display, 4 GB of RAM and Nvidia GeForce 9400M and 9600M GT graphics, has been updated to include a faster 2.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and a larger 500 GB hard drive for $2,499, which is $300 less than before.

All MacBook Pro systems feature Apple's revolutionary aluminum unibody design and for the first time can be upgraded with up to 8 GB of RAM, and up to a 500 GB hard drive or up to a 256 GB solid state drive. The 15" and 17" MacBook Pro models can also be upgraded to a 3.06 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor. All MacBook Pro systems include a next generation, industry-standard Mini DisplayPort to connect with the 24" Apple LED Cinema Display.

Apple today also updated the incredibly thin and light MacBook Air, making it more powerful and more affordable. Measuring just 0.16 to 0.76-inches thin and weighing just three pounds, the MacBook Air is available in two models starting with the new entry price of $1,499 for a 1.86 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo system with a 120 GB hard drive and Nvidia GeForce 9400M graphics, and a 2.13 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo system with a 128 GB solid state drive and Nvidia GeForce 9400M graphics for $1,799.

Every Mac notebook achieves EPEAT Gold status and meets Energy Star 5.0 requirements, setting a new standard for environmentally friendly notebook design. Each unibody enclosure is made of highly recyclable aluminum and comes standard with energy efficient LED-backlit displays that are mercury-free and made with arsenic-free glass. All MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models contain no brominated flame retardants and use internal cables and components that are PVC-free. The built-in battery design results in less waste and depleted batteries can be replaced for $129 or $179, which includes installation and disposal of your old battery in an environmentally responsible manner.

Every MacBook Pro comes with Apple's innovative iLife '09 featuring iPhoto for managing photos, iMovie for making movies and GarageBand for creating and learning to play music. Every Mac also runs Leopard, the world's most advanced operating system, featuring Time Machine, an effortless way to automatically back up everything on a Mac; Spaces, an intuitive feature used to create groups of applications and instantly switch between them; Mail with easy setup and elegant, personalized stationery; and iChat, the most advanced video chat.

The new 13" MacBook Pro, 15" MacBook Pro, 17" MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air are now available through the Apple Store, Apple's retail stores, and Apple Authorized Resellers. Mac OS X Snow Leopard™ will be shipping in September 2009, and any new Mac system purchased without Snow Leopard from Apple or an Apple Authorized Reseller between June 8, 2009 and the end of the program on December 26, 2009, is eligible for the Mac OS X Snow Leopard Up-To-Date upgrade package available for a product plus shipping and handling fee of $9.95 (US). Users must request their Up-To-Date upgrade within 90 days of purchase or by December 26, 2009, or whichever comes first.

Macworld Posts 2.13 GHz MacBook White Benchmarks

Macworld's James Galbraith reports that the latest entry-level 2.13 GHz MacBook rolled out by Apple last week, according to Macworld Lab tests, now outperforms the 2 GHz aluminum unibody MacBook costing $300 more, running about 6.5 percent faster with an 8 percent boost in Photoshop times and iTunes MP3 encoding scores, and Cinema 4D about 5 percent faster.

Apple Extends MacBook Pro Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT Graphics Defect Coverage to 3 Years

Apple has announced that their extended service program for MacBook Pro users whose machines have certain Nvidia graphics processor units and are experiencing video anomalies such as distorted or scrambled video - a fault that has been acknowledged by Nvidia, will be extended to three years coverage instead of the previously announced two years.

A new Apple Knowledge Base article says:

In July 2008, Nvidia publicly acknowledged a higher than normal failure rate for some of their graphics processors due to a packaging defect. At that same time, Nvidia assured Apple that Mac computers with these graphics processors were not affected. However, after an Apple-led investigation, Apple has determined that some MacBook Pro computers with the Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT graphics processor may be affected. If the Nvidia graphics processor in your MacBook Pro has failed, or fails within three years of the original date of purchase, a repair will be done free of charge, even if your MacBook Pro is out of warranty.

Reportedly, Nvidia already spent $43.6 million during its last fiscal year covering warranty and product replacement claims related to graphics chips that were manufactured and sold with a "weak die/packaging material set." according to a company report cited.

The June 2007 and early 2008 revisions of the original MacBook Pro are the models that shipped with the allegedly affected Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT graphics processor in both 15" and 17" MacBook Pros manufactured between approximately May 2007 and September 2008.

Specific Apple products affected are :

  • MacBook Pro 15" and 17" models with Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT graphics processors
  • MacBook Pro (17-Inch, 2.4 GHz)
  • MacBook Pro (15-Inch, 2.4/2.2 GHz)
  • MacBook Pro (Early 2008)

These computers were manufactured between approximately May 2007 and September 2008

If you have one of the potentially affected machines, here's what to look for:

  • Distorted or scrambled video on the computer screen
  • No video on the computer screen (or external display) even though the computer is on

If your MacBook Pro is exhibiting any of the symptoms described above, you are instructed take it to an Apple Retail Store or an Apple Authorized Service Provider for evaluation, or call your local Apple Contact Center. Before visiting the Genius Bar at the Apple Retail Store, it's requested that you make a reservation.

Apple is issuing refunds to customers who may have paid for repairs related to this issue. Contact Apple support for details on the refund process.

Note: If your MacBook Pro is not (at least so far) experiencing any of these symptoms, you are advised to not contact Apple, which pledges to continue evaluating repair data on these machines and to provide further repair extensions as needed.

Requiem for a MacBook

Blogger Andrew Currie says:

"Last night I handed over my 2007-vintage BlackBook to my sister in law, whose IBM ThinkPad has been compromised - most probably by her kids clicking on banner ads.

"Though this is the last version of Apple's consumer portable to have FireWire (and target disk mode) built-in, it has become too cumbersome for me to cart around and has been replaced by a diminutive Asus Eee PC running Linux."

Currie goes on to muse on what he'll miss about the MacBook and what he won't.

Apple Netbook Makes More Sense Than iTablet - For Now

So says The Mac Observer's John Martellaro, arguing that there is a known market for notebook computers, and that market had been soaring until the economy went bonkers. There is a known and growing market for netbooks, and Apple can, if it wishes, carve out a piece of that market as well. But what is the market for an iTablet?

But that market has to be driven by fundamental needs combined with new, compelling technology. That's why I now think the MacNetBook will come first, in 2009, and as the needs of mobile users gets sorted out, Apple will unexpectedly seize a new, emerging market that doesn't mimic the Lunar Lander scenario. It will be wholly unexpected and ground breaking. But that market won't emerge until we're out of the recession in 2010.

Finally, the consensus of the blogsphere and twitterverse is that Apple will release an iTablet soon. I take that as the necessary and sufficient condition that Apple will do something much smarter. Build a MacNetBook that isn't crap, flesh out the product line, and make money.

Apple Updates

MacBook Pro SMC Firmware Update 1.3

The MacBook Pro SMC Firmware Update 1.3 adjusts the fan behavior in MacBook Pro systems (15" and 17") when running under high workload conditions.

The updater application will be installed in the /Applications/Utilities folder and will launch automatically. Please follow the instructions in the updater application to complete the update process.

File Size: 833 KB

System Requirements

  • Mac OS X 10.4.11
  • Mac OS X 10.5.7

Apple Portables: Calibrating Your Computer's Battery for Best Performance

A newly updated Apple Knowledge Base article explains how you can calibrate your iBook, PowerBook, MacBook, MacBook Air, or MacBook Pro computer's lithium ion battery for best performance.

The article notes that battery has an internal microprocessor that provides an estimate of the amount of energy in the battery as it charges and discharges. The battery needs to be recalibrated from time to time to keep the onscreen battery time and percent display accurate and to keep the battery operating at maximum efficiency. You should perform this procedure when you first use your computer and then every few months after that. If you normally leave your Apple portable computer connected to AC power and very rarely use it on battery power you may want to perform this process once a month. The website has more helpful information regarding batteries and offers an iCal calendar to remind you to calibrate your battery.

Tech Trends

Dell Axes Hackintosh Makers' Favourite Netbook - Inspiron Mini 9

Register Hardware's Tony Smith reports:

"It's official: one of the most hackintosh-friendly netbooks, the Dell Inspiron Mini 9, is no more.

"Dell has knocked the 9in machine on the head, preferring instead to point punters at the 10in Mini 10 and Mini 10v.

"...according to Boing Boing's guide to netbook hackintosh compatibility, the 10v isn't as Mac OS X friendly as the Mini 9 was...."

Microsoft Redefines 'Netbook' to Push Up Windows 7 Price

Electronista reports that Microsoft at Computex said it wants PC builders to avoid using the term "netbook" in the future, and instead to call them "low cost small notebook PCs" [good luck with that] because many of these devices support features that are no longer just for the Web. The article suggests that Microsoft's objective is to force system makers into using more expensive versions of Windows 7 on certain models.

Netbooks Not for Multimedia, But Sales Are Booming Anyway

Forbes' Brian Caulfield notes that Intel staged an unusual demonstration for investors last month in aid of impressing on its OEM customers that computers based on the Intel Atom processor, widely used in small "netbook" laptops, is not designed handle streamed video and such, and that it should be made clear to netbook consumers that they're not intended as multi-media platforms - a point of confusion Caulfield notes has led to netbook return rates as high as 30 per cent for last year.

All of that notwithstanding, Caulfield cites Gartner Group predicting netbook sales will double to 21 million units in 2009 from 11.7 million units last year.

The Future Is Ultra-Thin: New Intel Chips Redefine Laptop Style, Performance, Battery Life

Intel CPUIntelPR: At Computex, Intel Corporation introduced four new processors, including a low-power version and a value chipset, to usher in mainstream ultra-thin laptops. Intel ultra-low voltage (ULV) processors will enable new sleek consumer laptop designs less than an inch thick, weighing 2 to 5 pounds, and at mainstream price points. These processors also consume less power to enable longer battery life, delivering the type of experience consumers expect from Intel-based laptops. In addition, Intel also announced the addition of new devices that can now wirelessly connect using optional Intel My WiFi Technology.

With an ultra-thin laptop powered by Intel ultra-low voltage processors, consumers experience a unique balance of performance and power consumption that is incomparable in the market today all in a slim, sleek package, said Mooly Eden, vice president and general manager of the Mobile Platforms Group at Intel. And at mainstream price points, Intel is proud to deliver ultra thin for all.

Intel extends its leadership on the standard voltage (SV) Intel Core 2 Duo processors, with offerings up to 3.06 GHz. These energy-efficient processors deliver breakthrough mobile performance and responsiveness for demanding business users and consumers. Users will see improved performance when running multiple, intense applications simultaneously, as well as dual-core optimized applications.

Intel CPUIn addition, Intel unveiled the Mobile Intel GS40 Express Chipset for the new ULV-based laptops. This value chipset enables ULV-based laptops to support features consumers have come to expect from laptops including HD playback, Windows Vista!" Premium support and native support for integrated HDMI.

Consumers have choice when it comes to their wireless options by adding embedded WiMAX or Intel My WiFi Technology to their laptops. Using Intel My WiFi Technology, more devices can now wirelessly connect to Intel Centrino 2 processor technology laptops. My WiFi Technology transforms a laptop into a WiFi personal area network, connecting directly with up to eight WiFi certified devices without cables or wires, including cameras, printers, HDTV and MP3 players, to print, share, show and sync wirelessly at home or on the go. With high-speed broadband WiMAX networks rolling out in new cities around the world, embedded WiMAX is also an option for users, putting consumers on the forefront of 4G wireless with an entire city as their own hotspot.

+System performance, battery life, power savings, high-definition quality, video playback and functionality, and wireless performance and functionality will vary depending on your specific operating system, hardware, chipset, connection availability and rate, site conditions, and software configurations. References to enhanced performance including wireless refer to comparisons with previous generation Intel technologies. Wireless connectivity and some features may require you to purchase additional software, services or external hardware.

See and for more information on performance, wireless, power savings and energy efficiency.

#Requires WiFi-enabled devices connecting to the PC via the Intel My WiFi Technology. WiFi devices must be certified by the WiFi Alliance for 802.11b/g/a and support WiFi Protected Setup. Check with your PC manufacturer for more details.

*Intel, Intel Core, Centrino, Intel vPro and the Intel logo are trademarks of Intel Corporation in the US and other countries.

*Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.


New Options, Lower Pricing: Modbook 'Mac Tablet' from $1,899 at OWC

PR: Other World Computing (OWC) has announced the availability of new memory and data storage upgrade options and a $200 price reduction on brand new units of the Axiotron Modbook, the world's only Mac-based tablet computer that lets users draw and write directly on the screen. OWC is an exclusive US-based distributor for Modbook, as well as being an Axiotron Authorized System Manufacturer (AASM) and fully certified to convert existing MacBooks into full-featured Modbooks via the Modservice program.

New Modbooks Ship Within 48 Business Hours

OWC offers consumers a variety of Modbook 'Build to Order' customization options. A new 13.3" Modbook tablet computer starts at $1,899 (including instant rebate) and comes standard with a Core 2 Duo 2.0 GHz processor, 2 GB of memory, 120 GB internal hard drive, an 8X Dual-Layer SuperDrive, and WAAS enabled GPS (while supplies last). Both base unit and custom configured orders with new performance upgrades like memory up to 6 GB, internal hard drive storage up to 820 GB or a Solid State Drive (SSD) up to 160 GB, and Core 2 Duo processor up to 2.4 GHz ship from OWC within 48 business hours.

'Bring Your Own 'Book' (BYOB) Option

Owners of existing Intel Core 2 Duo white or black MacBook computers can select the "Bring Your Own 'Book" (BYOB) Modservice option and have OWC fully convert their MacBook into a full-featured Modbook with all of the same functionality that has earned Modbook numerous awards and accolades. Modservice prices start at $1,149.99 for the turnkey service, which includes a protective shipping box and FedEx shipping to and from OWC.

Both new Modbook and Modservice conversion offerings are backed by a One Year Warranty, which can be optionally extended to a full Three Year Warranty for an additional $349. The Extended Warranty covers the original MacBook components; any customer-selected upgrades installed by OWC at the time of modification, and the tablet components.

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