The 'Book Review

Buying MacBook Memory, 6 Easy 'Book Repairs, Taiwan Ramps Up for Apple Tablet, and More

This Week's MacBook, PowerBook, and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2009.09.18

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

Tech Trends

Products & Services

Bargain 'Books

News & Opinion

Where to Buy MacBook Memory

mac.blorge's Ronald O Carlson has posted a concise guide to where to get the best deals on MacBook/Pro memory upgrades, noting that after a week of using OS X 10.6 he realized all the cool stuff he likes like about Snow Leopard aside, 2.5 GB of RAM just wasn't making it, so he went shopping and took some notes whilst out and about on the interwebs.

I'm happy to note that Other World Computing, where I purchased my recent 4 GB RAM upgrade for my Unibody MacBook was more than competitive in Ronald's comparison shopping.

And as he observes, "4 GB is just oh so smooth....'

It sure is.

How to Upgrade Memory in a 2008 or 2009 MacBook

Fairer Platform says:

"There are a lot of reasons to love your MacBook with build quality and intelligent industrial design likely topping the list. As you d expect, upgrading the memory in your Apple consumer portable is really quite simple and requires just one simple tool and about 10 minutes of your time."

For my own illustrated account of upgrading the RAM in my Unibody MacBook, see Upgrading My Unibody MacBook's RAM on Power|'Book Central.

6 Easy Laptop Repairs Step-by-Step Guide

Computerworld's Brian Nadel says:

"There's a lot you can do to fix a broken notebook yourself. While many people think that notebook damage can be repaired only by the manufacturer or a computer shop, there are some problems that can be inexpensively and easily fixed with common tools, spare parts and a little effort. Many of these repairs are no harder than high school art projects."

Brian's 6 quick laptop fixes

  1. Frayed charger cord
  2. Cracked notebook case
  3. Bad fan
  4. Stuck key
  5. Scratched screen
  6. Waterlogged laptop

Taiwanese Suppliers Ramp Up Apple's Tablet

While Apple's much-rumored tablet computer is still regarded as speculative here in North America, it appears that in Taiwan it's considered a done deal.

Taiwan Economic News's Steve Chuang reports that Apple will launch its new tablet PCs next February, and some Taiwanese suppliers of parts and components have already managed to join the supply chain and will start delivery to Apple in December, according to unnamed industry sources.

Chuang says the Apple tablet will feature a 9.6" screen, touchscreen control, and a built-in HSPDA (high speed download packet access) module, be powered by an Apple in-house a P.A. SEMI CPU with a long lasting battery pack, and sell for between $799 and $999.

According to the report, DynaPack International Technology Corp. has been exclusively contracted to supply up to 300,000 units of long lasting battery packs for the Apple tablet, while Wanshih Electronic Co., Ltd. is expected to supply around 70% of Apple`s orders for mini coaxial cables for the tablets

Scientific-Technics Co., Ltd. and Wintek Corp. are to supply power chokes and touch panels, respectively.

Dead MacBook Pro Display Update

LogicValue's Paul Lefebvre has posted an update regarding dead displays on MacBook Pro computers, noting that an Apple Genius he consulted was aware of the Nvidia chipset issue and after a quick test to confirm the displays were dead, took it out back to do a "specific test for the Nvidia issue". He came back a few minutes later and confirmed that this was the Nvidia chip failure and confirmed that Apple is repairing it for free even for users who don't have AppleCare coverage.

Use MacBook Pros with 75 Watt Airplane Power Ports

Mac OS X Hints contributor mxcantor says:

"As far as I know, the Unibody MacBook Pros (and probably most MacBook Pros) ship with 85 watt power supplies. Unfortunately, a lot of in-seat power ports on airplanes are limited to 75 watts, and plugging in your 85 watt power supply will quickly overload the power supply. This is not dangerous to the plane or anything, but the power will shut off."

Tech Trends

Different Views on Netbook Shipments for 2010

DigiTimes' Max Wang and Joseph Tsai report that global netbook shipments are expected to reach 25-30 million units in 2009, but that opinions are divided over the 2010 outlook, with some netbook players forecasting growing volumes, while others think netbook shipments will stay flat at 25-30 million units in 2010 or even drop slightly as competition increases from ultra-thin notebooks being sold bundled with 3G services, (or not noted by DigiTimes, but Apple's rumored tablet device if and when it materializes) as well as falling prices of regular notebooks.

Currently, the article says, netbooks account for around 20% of total notebook shipments.

HP Takes on MacBook Pro with ENVY Premium Notebooks

PR: HP's new line of premium, high-performance notebooks are bright, thin, high-performance, come in 13" and 15" versions, and are obviously inspired by the unibody MacBook Pro.

HP ENVY notebooksThe HP ENVY is being pitched as a high-end sub-brand that offers customers precision-crafted, high-performance models featuring HP Metal Etching and HP's concierge service and support.

HP says the new ENVY 13 boasts the brightest display in its class, and that the HP ENVY 15 is the company's fastest consumer notebook PC ever.

"HP ENVY includes the latest in materials and technology inside and out and pushes the technological and performance boundaries of what can be done in sleek, powerful and lightweight notebook PCs," said Ted Clark, senior vice president and general manager, Notebook Global Business Unit, Personal Systems Group, HP. "Discerning consumers will get a premium experience and performance."

Metal Etching on the lid and palmrest of the ENVY 15, and on the palmrest of the ENVY 13 is a luxury touch. The combination of materials provides the metal look and feel while using energy-responsible manufacturing methods.

The HP ENVY line

To offer consumers what it claims to be the best audio experience available on a notebook PC, HP partnered with Beats by Dr. Dre to develop a unique, high-performance audio software solution. Available exclusively on the HP Envy, Beats Audio offers users playing music or audio through headphones or external speakers the optimal sound experience - the way the artist intended it.

The lightweight heavyweight: ENVY 13

HP ENVY 13 notebookThe ENVY 13's Radiance display is claimed to be twice as bright as other notebook displays in its class - 410 nit - providing an exceptional movie and photo experience, even in high ambient light conditions. With 82 percent color gamut (versus standard 45-60 percent), photos appear richer with amazing color depth. Additionally, with fast 8-millisecond response time, users can view movies with TV-like performance.

The ENVY 13 is less than an inch thick and weighs 3.74 pounds. The exterior's aluminum and magnesium construction provides durability in a sleek design. An VGA webcam optimized for low light also is included.

HP placed the same focus on design into its optional Slim Fit Extended-Life Notebook Battery. Taking the form of a "slice," it preserves the svelte look of the ENVY 13 while giving users up to 18 hours of battery life with the extended-life battery. The standard battery is user-replaceable, which some of us still prefer to Apple's non-swappable mode.

ATI Switchable Graphics technology dynamically switches between ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4330 discrete graphics and the Intel integrated graphics processor for either high-powered graphics processing or low power consumption for long battery life without booting the notebook. The Core 2 processor provides the power of dual processor cores while delivering extended battery life when the notebook is unplugged.

The ENVY 13 notebook's AC adapter is small and light, and draws minimal power, has built-in surge protection and includes a rubberized strap that keeps the cables organized and the adapter from slipping off a slick surface. An optional HP USB Ethernet Adapter also is available.

Performance Powerhouse: ENVY 15

This ENVY 15 is touted as HP's fastest consumer notebook. The full metal case features a laser-etched metal design on the lid that is repeated on the palmrest, while the magnesium alloy casing provides lightweight durability in a 1-inch thick, 5.18-pound package.

Customers have maximum speed and mobility with the future Intel Core i7 processor and up to 16 GB of DDR3 1,066-MHz system memory in four SODIMM memory slots. Storage options include the ability to add two solid-state drives in a RAID-0 configuration to improve the overall speed of the ENVY 15 while providing excellent disk performance. Bundled are full versions of Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 and Corel VideoStudio Pro X2 for creating photo and video content.

Power users and gamers can take advantage of premium graphics performance via ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4830 graphics with 1 GB of dedicated video memory for visually intense applications, DirectX 10.1 games and high-definition video playback.

A choice of two 15.6-inch HP Brightview high-resolution LED backlit displays, including the Full High Definition LED HP Ultra BrightView Widescreen Display with up to 300-nits brightness, provides an appropriate display experience for a notebook in this class. A Nightvision VGA webcam that is optimized for low-light or zero-light conditions is standard on the HP ENVY 15, incorporating an infrared LED that assists the webcam by providing the necessary illumination in dark environments.

The ENVY 15 has an optional Slim Fit Extended-Life Notebook Battery, giving up to seven hours of battery life.

Designing the ENVY

The HP ENVY line includes HP's QuickWeb instant-on technology that lets users access key applications without booting the PC. In less than 30 seconds, you can can access the Internet, music, videos and photos, and email.

HP Clickpad integrates the buttons into the touchpad and allows users to disable the clickpad if desired.

The keyboard's direct-action keys (versus typical function keys) allow users to quickly access often-used commands such as print and volume adjustment.

An optional external optical drive complements the ENVY design and gives users the flexibility to carry the extra weight only when necessary. Two USB ports transform the drive into a dock for additional capability.

The HP ENVY 13 and ENVY 15 are expected to be available in the United States on Oct. 18 with a starting price of $1,699 and $1,799, respectively; Register for availability notification at:

Acer Launches Ferrari One Netbook with VISION Technology from AMD

PR: The Acer Ferrari One, unveiled at the Italian Monza Formula 1 circuit last week, with its racing red cover proudly displaying the Scudetto Ferrari that has dominated Formula One since the very first race, is pitched by Acer as "quite simply the world's most exclusive netbook, designed and created with the same passion and technological experience the drives two of the world's finest brands."

Acer Ferrari One Netbook
Photo Courtesy Flickr

The new Ferrari netbook comes with an 11.6" high-definition 1366 x 768 pixel resolution, 16:9 aspect ratio, Acer CineCrystal LED LCD display that the company says provides true HD entertainment driven by VISION technology from AMD and support for simultaneous multiwindow viewing via Acer GridVista.

Complementing its video sophistication, the Ferrari One's speakers are specially engineered to optimize an enhanced audio quality - each pair fine-tuned by Dolby Laboratories with advanced audio tuning technologies featuring Dolby Home Theater v3 to delivers a true cinema-style experience in vibrant surround sound.

Dolby Home Theater v3 features:

  • Dolby Pro Logic IIx that expands stereo or 5.1-channel audio from movies, music, TV, or games to 6.1-or 7.1-channel playback on machines built to support it as well as changing stereo content to a 5.1, 6.1, or even 7.1 surround sound listening experience.
  • Dolby Headphone that simulates 5.1-channel surround sound through any stereo headphones.
  • Sound Space Expander that dramatically widens the perceived field of sound and opens up your digital sound experience.
  • Natural Bass that extends speaker bass response by up to an octave without distortion or risk of damage to any components.
  • Dolby Digital Live that converts any audio signal from a PC into Dolby Digital for easy connection to home theater systems.
  • High-Frequency Enhancer that improves high frequencies for a stunningly real sound experience and • Audio Optimization that corrects common audio problems caused by the physical limitations of laptops.

The Ferrari One's "engine" is a Second Generation AMD Ultrathin Platform for notebooks with VISION technology the AMD Athlon X2 Dual-Core Processor L310 featuring low-power CPU design, DDR2 800 MHz, and AMD HyperTransport 3.0 technology and an ATiRadeon HD 3200 Graphics chipset coupled with up to 4 GB of DDR2 667 MHz system memory.

The Ferrari One will be released next month with preinstalled 64-bit Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium or Windows 7 Home Home Basic operating systems.

Ferrari One detail
Photo Courtesy Flickr

A 160 GB hard drive is standard with larger capacities optional. The keyboard features a dedicated key that instantly launches the web browser and connects to, while the Ferrari-engraved touchpad offers multi-gesture functionality, including the possibility to scroll up and down when surfing the web pages, viewing documents, navigating files, checking music playlists, viewing photos up or down, pinch to zoom-in or zoom-out in various applications such as Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, and Google Earth, flip back-and-forth through photos, web pages, PDF documents, Microsoft Office documents or media albums by sliding two fingers and also rotate images while viewing pictures.

As for connectivity, the Ferrari One sports the Acer InviLink Nplify 802.11a/b/g/Draft-N WiFi CERTIFIED network connection, supporting Acer SignalUp wireless technology and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR (Enhanced Data Rate). Optionally, the Ferrari One can be had 3G-ready and also features the Acer Video Conference solution that includes the low-light enhanced Crystal Eye webcam for super-clear VoIP call quality, even in noisy environments.

All Acer notebooks come with a standard 1 year Carry In (International travelers warranty - ITW).

The Acer Ferrari One will ship in October at a price estimated to be around $800.

Products & Services

Laptop Burka Lets You Use Your 'Book in Bright Sunlight

PR: The new Laptop Burka lets you work and play on your laptop without the glare of sunlight or stares from uninvited strangers. Laptop Burka lets you work or watch movies in your own portable private space, and its made from high-quality, breathable, lightweight fabric.

Take it anywhere, anytime. No more eye straining or battery draining from glare. Take your Laptop Burka to the pool . . . the patio . . . the park . . . anywhere.

Laptop BurkaLaptop Burka works with any hat that has a brim.

Easy to use:

  1. Slip it on ...
  2. Tighten the flexible draw cord ...
  3. You're ready to go

Logitech Portable Lapdesk N315 Joins Lineup of Notebook Products

PR: If you can't imagine using your laptop without a mouse, the new Logitech Portable Lapdesk N315 offers a comfortable base, a retractable mouse pad and a thin and light design.

Logitech Portable Lapdesk N315If you have a laptop, you've likely found yourself browsing the Internet from the couch with the TV on in front of you, responding to e-mail from the kitchen table, or watching a movie while relaxing in bed.

Although laptops are great at helping create flexible workspaces, you've most likely experienced some discomfort while trying to balance your laptop on your lap or avoid the heat given off by the laptop. To help out in that area, Logitech have developed several products that are meant to help beat the heat and add comfort - including the newly announced Portable Lapdesk N315.

Portable Lapdesk N315

If you can't imagine using your laptop without a mouse, the new Logitech Portable Lapdesk N315 offers a comfortable base, a retractable mouse pad and a thin and light design. The anti-slip top helps keep your notebook (15 inches or smaller) firmly in place, and because we know that accidents can happen, we've made the washable surface easy to clean. The Portable Lapdesk N315 will be available in the US and Europe this month for a suggested retail price of $29.99 (US).

Comfort Lapdesk

If you're looking for a simple way to be more comfortable when using a laptop around the house, the Logitech Comfort Lapdesk has a stable, lightweight design that acts as a heat-shielding barrier. It's angled for improved neck and leg comfort (when used in a seated position).

Cooling Pad N100

For improved airflow around the laptop, the Logitech Cooling Pad N100 features USB-powered fan that distributes air quietly and evenly. The slotted surface allows for virtually silent airflow and a rear intake design enables for steady, unobstructed airflow.

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/120 HD, $1,099
  • 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/128 GB SSD, $1,249
  • 1.86 GHz MacBook Air, 2 GB/120 GB HD, $1,349
  • 2.13 GHz MacBook Air, 2 GB/120 GB HD, $1,549
  • 2.13 GHz MacBook White, 2 GB/160/SD, $849
  • 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 GB 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" 2.53 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" 2.66 GHz Unibody MacBook Pro, 4 GB/320/SD, $1,949
  • 17" 2.66 GHz Unibody MacBook Pro, 4 GB/320/SD, antiglare, $1,999

Mac Connection

  • 2.0 GHz Unibody MacBook, 2 GB/160/SD, $924.99


  • 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
  • 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

BetaMacs - G3 PowerBooks - G4 iBooks

  • Lombard PowerBook G3/400, 256/6/DVD, OS 9, $179
  • Pismo PowerBook G3/400, 512/10/no optical drive?, AP, $299
  • 12" iBook G4/1.33 GHz, 768/40/Combo, AP, OS X 10.6, $299

Wegener Media - Clamshell iBooks - MacBook - 15" MacBook Pro - 17" MacBook Pro

  • Clamshell iBook G3/300, 96/6/CD, blueberry or tangerine, $179.99
  • 1.83 GHz Core Duo MacBook, white, 512/60/Combo, $499.99
  • 2.0 GHz Core Duo MacBook, white, 512/60/Combo, $549.99
  • 2.0 GHz Core 2 MacBook, white Core2 Duo, 1 GB/80/SD, $599.99
  • 15" 1.83 GHz Core Duo MacBook Pro, 512/80/SD, $599.99
  • 15" 2.0 GHz Core Duo MacBook Pro, 512/100/SD, $639.99
  • 15" 2.0 GHz Core Duo MacBook Pro, 512/80/SD, $629.99
  • 15" 2.0 GHz Core Duo MacBook Pro, 1 GB/80/SD, $634.99
  • 15" 2.16 GHz Core Duo MacBook Pro, 1 GB/100/SD, $669.99
  • 15" 2.16 GHz Core Duo MacBook Pro, 1 GB/120/SD, $694.99
  • 15" 2.2 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 1 GB/120/SD, $849.99
  • 15" 2.2 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 4 GB/120/SD, $939.99
  • 17" 2.4 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 4 GB/160/SD, $1,169


  • 12" iBook G3/800 MHz, 384/30/Combo, $249
  • 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, $849

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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