The 'Book Review

Can a Mac Lover Go PC?, Notebook vs. Desktop, Add a Second Drive to Unibody MacBook Pro, and More

This Week's MacBook, PowerBook, and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2009.08.28

General Apple and Mac desktops is covered in The Mac News Review. iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV news is covered in The iNews Review. All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News & Opinion


Apple Updates

Tech Trends

Products & Services

Bargain 'Books

News & Opinion

Can a Mac Lover Go PC?

As a lifelong devotee of Apple products, The Independent's Paul McKenzie scorned PCs. But when he needed a new laptop, he decided it was time to consider a switch of loyalties.

Paul ailing iBook G4 sounds like a basket-case. Definitely time for a new computer. But the conundrum - go for a cheaper but touted as "just as good" PC notebook or netbook, or bite the bullet and get another Mac?

Paul does due diligence, checking out a Sony Vaio ("arrives with no instructions . . . so it's a learn-by-feel experience that leaves me flustered and exasperated. The machine itself feels plasticky and fragile...."); a HP Pavilion Notebook dv3-2100 (bulky and heavy . . . too much going on . . . touchpad and the surrounding areas are sensitive . . . the mouse jumps all over the place like a cat on a hot tin roof . . . messy and hard to navigate...."); a Dell Studio 1555: ("imitates many Mac features . . . an affordable laptop that gives the Apple MacBook Pro a good run for its money . . . stunning picture quality and sound, courtesy of 3-watt subwoofer. But it's the price that really wows me...).

And finally: MacBook Pro ("the Rolls Royce of laptops . . . The Leopard operating system is as good as it gets . . . Apart from a paltry GB memory . . . which can be upgraded to 8 GB . . . I struggled to find a fault - except, of course, for the price....")

Paul's conclusion: "...more PC users wish they owned a Mac than vice-versa . . . you get what you pay for. So I'm going to treat myself to a MacBook Pro. Why? Because I'm worth it."

Good on you, Paul.

Mac Notebook or Desktop? Which Mac Is 'Perfect?'

Mac 360's Kate MacKenzie says:

"Debates rage in personal computers. Which is better, Mac or Windows PCs? Brand comparisons aside, a better question might be, 'Which Mac would you rather have?'"

In Kate's estimation, the winner is the 13" MacBook Pro, which is nearly as fast as the more expensive, large screen MacBook Pro models, and with the real strength lying in the trends of the future where portability is king, noting that being able to take a full-fledged, powerful, elegantly constructed Mac in a backpack is even more valuable than having a much more limited Mac - an iPhone - in your pocket, with one being a real computing device with few shortcomings while the other is a wannabe sacrificing capability for portability.

How to Add a Second Hard Drive to Your Unibody MacBook Pro

PowerPage's Chris Barylick reports that a user faced the dilemma of getting the faster SSD hard drive or the larger capacity rotational drive for his MacBook Pro. Instead of settling on either of those options, he removed his DVD drive, hacked together an adapter to interface with the proprietary Apple connector, and installed a second hard drive....

Clean a Spill on a Laptop

PC World's Zack Stern says:

"When liquids meet electronics, you can't waste time. Conductive liquids cause most of the initial damage. Immediately unplug the laptop from its power cord, and pull out the battery. Don't bother closing programs or saving data...."


13" MacBook Pro 'Sleek and Classy'

Notebook Review editor Kevin O'Brien also recently posted a review of the new 13" Apple MacBook Pro, calling it "very sleek and classy" with the unibody design "turning what is usually a mindless appliance into a work of art."

Mid 2009 15" MacBook Pro 'a Wonderful Laptop'

Notebook Review contributor Buddy Sun has posted a review of the top end 15" MacBook Pro, looking at how it performs compared to other computers and MacBooks, and discussing its advantages and disadvantages, and concludes that the 2.8 GHz 15" MacBook Pro is "definitely a wonderful laptop to own."

Apple Updates

MacBook and MacBook Pro May Unexpectedly Go to Sleep when Stacked

A new Apple Knowledge Base article says that if you stack a MacBook (13-inch, Aluminum, Late 2008) or MacBook Pro (Mid 2009) computer on top of another MacBook Pro, it may go to sleep unexpectedly.

Depending on when this happens, it may appear that the computer is having difficulties starting up. Stacking the computers can result in the top computer going to sleep before it's completely started up.

Products Affected: MacBook Pro (17-inch, Mid 2009), MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid 2009), MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2009), MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2.53 GHz, Mid 2009), MacBook (13-inch, Aluminum, Late 2008)

The resolution of this issue is simple: "Do not stack the computers."

Apple says the reason for this phenomenon is that when stacked, the magnet in the bottom computer may activate the magnetic switch in the top computer. This is normal behavior. Automatic sleep operation works based on magnets; a switch in the MacBook Pro, known as a Hall Effect switch, is activated when the magnet in the display clamshell gets close to it. This is how your computer knows to go to sleep when you close the display.

Apple Releases Bluetooth Firmware Update 2.0.1

This update provides bug fixes and better compatibility with the Apple Wireless Mighty Mouse and Apple Wireless Keyboard.

It installs on all Macintosh systems with Bluetooth based on the Broadcom chipset.

System Requirements: Mac OS X 10.5.7 or later

Tech Trends

MacBook Air Clone Full Metal Jacket Edition

China's Shanzai's Yellow Tiger comments that the MacBook Air is positioned as the ultraportable in Apple's MacBook family. While it's super stylish in the looks department, it disappointed a lot of Apple fans with the sacrifices it had to make in order to keep so slim. The Shanzhai guys have just come out with a MacBook Air-inspired device that stays true to the styling, while still offering many of the features the Apple product lacks. And all in a full metal chassis.

Forthcoming Shanzhai ultralight laptopYellow Tiger lists a few of the drawbacks to the MacBook Air:

  1. No Ethernet port - in the interests of thinness, it's wireless only.
  2. Only one USB port, and it's recessed to boot, which will hinder certain peripherals.
  3. No FireWire port. Forget uploading digital video from a camera, or using those spiffy FireWire external hard drives.
  4. No user-replaceable battery. A bit of a hassle especially as your battery life drops to four hours, then three, then nothing. Shades of the iPhone battery issues here.

Shanzai has come up with an unabashedly Apple-inspired new MacBook Air-esque subnotebook that takes advantage of Apple's stylish design, and combines it with Shanzhai's practical feature set and netbook pricing.

Here are some of the Shanzai machine's improvements and features:

  1. Full metal jacket for enhanced rigidity and better thermal sinking.
  2. It features a frameless 11" screen, instead of the Mac Air's 13" screen, for increased mobility.
  3. It has 2 USB ports and a removable battery, plus a reserved PCIe slot inside for a 3G module (no 3G on the MacBook Air).
  4. The dimensions of the device are 277 x 187 x 25mm; slightly thicker than the Mac Air but also lighter at 1.33kg (MacBook Air is 1.36kg).

Other specs include:

  • Processor: Intel Atom 1.6 GHz
  • RAM: 1 GB DDR2
  • HD: 2.5" 160 GB
  • Screen: 11.1 inch, 1366*768 resolution
  • Connectivity: Ports are mainly on left and right sides (as opposed to the back), 2 USB ports, earphone port, power, one RJ-45 port. A card-reader and status lights on the left side.
  • Battery: 3500mAh (removable)

Due out in September this year for around $290.

Time to Drop the Netbook Label?

Cnet's Erica Ogg says:

"Can we all agree on something? There's no longer a difference between a Netbook and a notebook. Thanks to Netbooks' move to more features and larger-size screens, the distinction between the two can now be considered little more than marketing speak...."

Nokia Enters Netbook Fray with Booklet 3G

Nokia Booklet 3GPR: After more than 25 years as a pioneer and leader in the mobile phone industry, Nokia will bring its rich mobility heritage and knowledge to the PC world with the new, Windows based, Nokia Booklet 3G mini-laptop.

Powered by the ubiquitous Intel Atom processor, the Nokia Booklet 3G is claimed to deliver impressive performance with up to 12 hours of battery life, enabling users to leave their power cable behind and still be connected and productive. Nokia touts the Booklet 3G as being able to deliver the rich experience of a full-function PC inside whose compact aluminum chassis weighs a feather-light 1.25 kilograms and measures slightly more than two centimeters thick (MacBook Air 1.36 kg/0.4-1.94 cm) . Despite its diminutive form factor, the Booklet 3G delivers a broad range of connectivity options - including the eponymous 3G as well as HSPA and WiFi, giving consumers high speed access to the Internet, including Nokia's broad suite of Ovi services

Nokia Booklet 3G"A growing number of people want the computing power of a PC with the full benefits of mobility," commented Kai Oistamo, Nokia's Executive Vice President for Devices in a press release. "We are in the business of connecting people and the Nokia Booklet 3G is a natural evolution for us. Nokia has a long and rich heritage in mobility and with the outstanding battery life, premium design and all day, always on connectivity, we will create something quite compelling. In doing so we will make the personal computer more social, more helpful and more personal."

Nokia Booklet 3GThe Booklet 3G mini-laptop also comes with an HDMI port for HD video out, a front facing camera for video calling, integrated Bluetooth and an easily accessible SD card reader. Other premium features include a 10-inch glass HD ready display and integrated A-GPS which, working with the Ovi Maps technology, can pinpoint your position in seconds and open up access for a truly personalized maps experience. The Nokia Booklet 3G also brings a number of other Ovi experiences to life, such as access and playback of millions of tracks through the Nokia Music Store, and using Ovi Suite to sync seamlessly from your Nokia smartphone, to your mini-laptop, to the cloud.

Further information, including detailed specifications, market availability and pricing, will be announced at Nokia World on September 2.

Products & Services

BookArc Turns Your Laptop into a Minitower Desktop Computer

PR: BookArc is a simple, elegant way to operate your closed MacBook while at home. It literally turns your laptop into a minitower desktop computer. Carved from strong, heavy gauge steel, BookArc vertically holds any MacBook from MacBook Air to the 17-inch MacBook Pro. Park your BookArc-cradled MacBook next to your LED Cinema Display and you ll have the coolest desktop/laptop setup your desk has ever seen.

Clear off your desk.

BookArc helps you free up valuable real estate on your desk, giving you a cleaner, less cluttered, Zen-like workspace. With a footprint of 10-by-4 inches, BookArc takes up a fraction of the space your MacBook wastes just lying around. And while it takes your MacBook to new heights, BookArc rests on soft, silicone footpads that keep it from leaving any unwanted surface marks or scratches on your desk.

Fits like a glove. Using your MacBook closed on a BookArc while connected to your favorite widescreen monitor, keyboard and mouse is truly the best of both worlds.

To ensure the perfect fit, BookArc includes three different sized scratch-free, silicone cushions. These gently grip the various MacBook models and ensure the perfect fit right out of the box. Cushions are super easy to install and remove making it easy for BookArc to switch from one MacBook to another.

Can a stand speed up your MacBook?

Along with a stunning design and improved ergonomics, BookArc can actually boost the performance of your laptop. When your MacBook is running closed in the BookArc, your machine will automatically dedicate 100% of its video memory to the external display - instead of splitting it with the internal display., so You should enjoy a noticeable speed increase when working in Photoshop, Aperture, iPhoto and other graphics-intensive applications.

  • Provides a cleaner, less cluttered workspace
  • Includes three silicone inserts for perfect fit
  • Improves MacBook performance when using external monitor


  • MacBook Pro (13, 15 or 17-inch)
  • MacBook (black, white or aluminum)
  • MacBook Air


  • Height: 3 inches (7.6 cm)
  • Width: 4.5 inches (11.4 cm)
  • Depth: 10.12 inches (25.7 cm)
  • Weight: 1.2 pounds (.54 kg)

Price: $49.99

Free Ground Shipping available for a limited time in the Continental United States. Select Free Ground Shipping in the checkout process.

Buy a BookArc 6-Pack - $249.99

What's a 6-Pack?

We Mac users tend to hang together. That's why we designed the 6-Pack bundle. Get together with 5 of your Mac friends and your whole team can save big. Want an even better deal? How about FREE shipping?

750 GB Overnight Hard Drive Upgrade for MacBook, MacBook Pro

PR: TechRestore, Inc. has announced that they have begun offering the first 750 GB Overnight Drive Upgrade service for MacBook and MacBook Pro systems that includes data transfer and free shipping. Break the storage barrier with the new 750 GB laptop drive that is compatible with 13" and 15" MacBook and MacBook Pro Unibody systems and the original MacBook Pro 17" models.

TechRestore's high-speed overnight hard drive upgrade service is completed within 24-hours and includes installation of the new drive into the users MacBook or MacBook Pro, data transfer from the old hard drive onto the new drive and Free return shipping. An exact clone of the users data is transferred to the new drive ready for immediate use when their Mac is returned to them.

Clients also have the option of having their old hard drive installed into an external enclosure for an additional $39, which works great with the revolutionary Time-Machine backup feature in Mac OS 10.5 Leopard. Nationwide door-to-door pickup service is available for the upgrade as well as local pickup from one of over 2000 TechRestore local pickup centers throughout the United States.

"We continually receive requests for larger storage upgrades from our clients, said Shannon Jean, Founder and President of TechRestore. "The new 750 GB drive is perfect for storing massive amounts of personal data, applications, video, music and more. We are very excited to bring this new service to our clients."

The upgrade is available immediately with pricing as follows:

Overnight 750 GB MacBook and MacBook Pro Unibody Hard Drive Upgrade Service with Data Transfer and Free Return Shipping: $299.

Uniea Back to School SaleUniea Launches 2009 Back to School Sale on Cases, Bags, and Totes

PR: Uniea's Back to School Sale on laptop/iPod/iPhone cases, bags, and accessories began August 24 and runs through September 30.

To get a 10% discount on your choice of Uniea products such as their Haptique shell cases for MacBooks and MacBook Pros and their OmniVerse Universal Totes in silk or nylon, just enter the coupon code "school" on the checkout page at

PRAM Batteries for 17" 1.5 GHz and 1.67 GHz G4 PowerBooks

PR: Newer Technology, Inc. announces a replacement PRAM/clock battery for PowerBook G4 17" 1.5 GHz - 1.67 GHz systems.

NewerTech PRAM batteryIs your PowerBook G4 17" (1.5/1.67 GHz) forgetting what time and day it is? Your clock battery is failing! Time to replace it! A Newer Technology, Inc. replacement battery is a perfect fit to repair your PowerBook.

This replacement PRAM battery is for a specific range of PowerBook G4 17" systems only. Make certain that your system uses this type of PRAM battery before purchasing. We suggest you disassemble your machine using the above linked instructions and verify that you see the same battery backup module.

PRAM Batteries for PowerBook G4 17" 1.5 GHz - 1.67 GHz systems - $29.95

Bargain 'Books

Bargain 'Books are used unless otherwise indicated. New and refurbished units have a one-year Apple warranty and are eligible for AppleCare.

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

Apple Store

Factory refurbished units with Apple's full one-year warranty.

  • 1.6 GHz MacBook Air, 2 GB/80 HD, $999
  • 1.6 GHz MacBook Air, 2 GB/120 HD, $1,099
  • 1.6 GHz MacBook Air, 2 GB/64 SSD, $1,149
  • 1.8 GHz MacBook Air, 2 GB/80 HD, $1,099
  • 1.8 GHz MacBook Air, 2 GB/64 GB SSD, $1,199
  • 1.86 GHz MacBook Air, 2 GB/120 GB HD, $1,249
  • 2.0 GHz Unibody MacBook, 2 GB/160/SD, $899
  • 2.4 GHz Unibody MacBook, 2 GB/250/SD, $999
  • 2.4 GHz Unibody MacBook, 2 GB/128 SSD/SD, $1,299
  • 13" 2.26 GHz Unibody MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SD, $999
  • 13" 2.53 GHz Unibody MacBook Pro, 4 GB/250/SD, $1,299
  • 15" 2.4 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/250/SD, $1,349
  • 15" 2.53 GHz Unibody MacBook Pro, 4 GB/320/SD, $1,449
  • 15" 2.53 GHz Unibody MacBook Pro, 4 GB/128 SSD/SD, $1,599
  • 15" 2.66 GHz Unibody MacBook Pro, 4 GB/320/SD, $1,599
  • 15" 2.93 GHz Unibody MacBook Pro, 4 GB/320/SD, $1,949
  • 17" 2.5 GHz hi-res MacBook Pro, 4 GB/320/SD, $1,999
  • 17" 2.66 GHz Unibody MacBook Pro, 4 GB/320/SD, $1,949
  • 17" 2.66 GHz Unibody MacBook Pro, 4 GB/320/SD, antiglare, $1,999


  • 1.6 GHz MacBook Air, 120 GB, $1,099.99 after rebate
  • 1.8 GHz MacBook Air, 64 GB SSD, $1099.99 after rebates
  • 1.86 GHz MacBook Air, 128 GB SSD, $1299.99 after rebate


  • 1.83 GHz Core Duo MacBook, white, 1 GB/60/Combo, $589.99
  • 2.0 GHz Core Duo MacBook, white, 1 GB/80/SD, $619.99
  • 2.0 GHz Core 2 MacBook, white, 1 GB/80/SD, $629.99
  • 2.16 GHz Core 2 MacBook, white, 1 GB/120/SD, $719.99
  • 15" 1.83 GHz Core Duo MacBook Pro, 1 GB/80/SD, $779.99
  • 15" 2.0 GHz Core Duo MacBook Pro, 1 GB/80/SD, $799.99
  • 15" 2.16 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 1 GB/200/SD, $899.99
  • 15" 2.33 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 1 GB/120/SD, $949.99
  • 15" 2.4 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 1 GB/160/SD, $1,049.99
  • 17" 2.33 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 1 GB/120/SD, APX, $1,269
  • 17" 2.4 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 1 GB/160/SD, $1,399

Beta Macs

  • Lombard PowerBook G3/400, 256/6/DVD, OS 9, $179
  • Pismo PowerBook G3/400, 512/10/no optical drive?, AP, $299
  • 2.0 GHz Core Duo MacBook, black, 1 GB/80/SD, $879

Wegener Media - Pismo - Clamshell iBooks - G3 iBooks - G4 iBooks - MacBook

  • Pismo PowerBook G3/400, 128/6/DVD, $299.99
  • Pismo PowerBook G3/500, 128/6/DVD, $349.99
  • Pismo PowerBook G3/400, 256/40/DVD, $399.99
  • Pismo PowerBook G3/400, 256/60/DVD, $419.99
  • Pismo PowerBook G3/500, 256/40/DVD, $439.99
  • Pismo PowerBook G3/500, 256/60/DVD, $449.99
  • Pismo PowerBook with G4/550 upgrade, 256/40/Combo, $529.99
  • Clamshell iBook G3/300, 96/6/CD, blueberry or tangerine, $179.99
  • 12" iBook G3/500, 128/10/CD, $169.99
  • 12" iBook G3/600, 128/15/CD, $249.99
  • 12" iBook G3/700, 128/20/Combo, $329.99
  • 12" iBook G3/800, 256/30/Combo, $399.99
  • 12" iBook G4/800 MHz, 256/30/Combo, 60 day warranty, $289.99
  • 12" iBook G4/1 GHz, 256/30/Combo, 60 day warranty, $369.99
  • 12" iBook G4/1.2 GHz, 256/30/Combo, 60 day warranty, $409.99
  • 12" iBook G4/1.33 GHz, 512/40/Combo, AirPort & Bluetooth, 60 day warranty, $489.99
  • 14" iBook G4/1.33 GHz, 512/60/Combo, 60 day warranty, $499.99
  • 14" iBook G4/1.42 GHz, 512/60/SD, 60 day warranty, $529.99
  • 1.83 GHz Core Duo MacBook, white, 512/60/Combo, $594.99
  • 2.0 GHz Core Duo MacBook, white, 512/60/Combo, $659.99
  • 2.0 GHz Core Duo MacBook, black, 512/80/SD, $719.99
  • 2.0 GHz Core 2 MacBook, white Core2 Duo, 1 GB/80/SD, $769.99
  • 2.0 GHz Core 2 MacBook, black Core2 Duo, 1 GB/120/SD, $799.99


  • 12" iBook G3/800 MHz, 384/30/Combo, $249
  • 2.0 GHz MacBook, white, 1 GB/60/SD, $549
  • 2.0 GHz MacBook, white, 2 GB/120/SD, $699
  • 2.0 GHz MacBook, black, 1 GB/100/SD, $749
  • 2.16 GHz MacBook, white, 1 GB/100/SD, $749
  • 2.4 GHz Unibody MacBook, 2 GB/250/SD, AppleCare, $1,259
  • 15" 1.83 GHz MacBook Pro, 2 GB/80/SD, scratched $699
  • 15" 1.83 GHz MacBook Pro, 2 GB/80/SD, $849
  • 15" 2.0 GHz MacBook Pro, 2 GB/100/SD, scratched $749
  • 15" 2.0 GHz MacBook Pro, 2 GB/100/SD, screen blemish, $749
  • 15" 2.0 GHz MacBook Pro, 2 GB/80/SD, $899

PowerBook Guy

  • 15" 2.5 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/250/SD, $1,499.95

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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