The 'Book Review

Upgrades for New MacBook, Quad-core MacBook Pro Expected, New MacBook Benchmarked, and More

This Week's MacBook, PowerBook, and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2009.10.30

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


Products & Services

Bargain 'Books

News & Opinion

Upgrading the New MacBook: Memory and Storage

OWC blogger Chris S. says:

"When it comes to redesigns, the new MacBooks have the most external changes. The case is now a Unibody design, only made of a polycarbonate material, rather than the aluminum of the MacBook Pros....

"Despite the outward appearances, though, when it comes to upgrading, there's not a whole lot of difference in options between the older MacBooks and this new one. Your main upgrades will be the memory and the hard drive....

"We all know that the more memory you have, the better your Mac will perform. A stock MacBook comes with 2 GB of RAM.

"If you upgrade to a full 4 GB of memory through Apple, it'll cost you an extra $100. Getting a 4 GB set from OWC will run you almost $30 less if you send in your Apple memory for rebate.

"Getting a bigger, faster hard drive gives you a two-fold increase. First, a larger drive can, quite simply, hold more data. With all the music, photos, movies and other documents we keep on our hard drives, the more space we have, the better.

"If you go through Apple, you can expect to pay extra $150 for a 500 GB hard drive, instead of a 250 GB. By going with OWC, you can get a similar 500 GB hard drive plus an external enclosure for the 250 GB drive that comes with the MacBook (giving you a total of 750 GB of storage) for a total of almost $30 less."

"With OWC . . . you can get a 7200 RPM, 320 GB drive for about $80... a speed increase and a storage increase for less than a C-note. For about $20 more, you can also get an external enclosure for the stock drive...."

You Can't Get a MacBook Equivalent PC Laptop for a Lot Less Money

The Small Wave's Tom Reestman says:

"I sent a series of tweets recently inspired by two things:

"My search for a MacBook-like PC to run Windows 7.

"My realization that no such PC exists for a lot less money than a MacBook, though everyone (including many who should know better) seems to repeat this nonsense.

"I'm sick of these low-voltage 1.3 GHz no-power laptops being treated as MacBook equivalents. It's BS. I'm sick of PC laptop starting prices of ~$650 when they use old or weak processors, old WiFi, have no Bluetooth, etc. Closest is an HP Dv3t configured similar 2 MacBook @ $900 with lots of HP giveaways. Nice, but not a lot less $$....

"Think about this: What would a MacBook cost if Apple used an older Intel processor with just 2 MB cache (or a low-voltage Centrino or Atom processor), slower DDR2 800 MHz memory, Intel graphics, WiFi 802.11 b/g (not n ), no Bluetooth, a weak battery, a tray CD drive, etc.? That's exactly what PC makers do to create the low-end machines they (and a willing press) love to tout so much. And don't even get me started on the big, heavy, lumbering beasts touted for having 15.3" screens even though they have the resolution of a 13.3"....

" thing is crystal clear: if you don't use yesterday's technology, or drop features, or skimp on the battery, etc., it costs money. There is no MacBook-like PC for $700."

Evidence Points to New MacBook Pros on Horizon

AppleInsider's Brian Garner reports:

"After examining the configuration files included in the latest build of OS X, a new report has discovered references to two new MacBook Pro models."

Quad-core MacBook Pros in Coming Weeks?

9 To 5 Mac's Seth Weintraub reports:

"An Applesana forum poster (via Applesfera) is reporting that the new Mac OS 10.6.2 OS build 10C531 contains.... references to new MacBook Pros:

"Separately, we've heard that Apple Store Geniuses are being trained on new Quad-Core (possibly Core i5 and i7) processor MacBook Pros and they expect to take delivery of the new machines at the same time that the new high-end Core i5 and Core i7 iMacs hit stores in November. That would probably be timed right with a 10.6.2 release."

Apple Punts on Lower-cost MacBook

Cnet's Brooke Crothers says:

"By not coughing up a low-cost MacBook, as some had expected, Apple has ceded a potentially huge market to PC makers. But is this just all part of Apple's marketing genius?

"The announcement Tuesday of the $999 white polycarbonate MacBook was pretty ho-hum as product refreshes go (same price, same color as before) but the implication was important: Apple is surrendering a large, emerging laptop market to Microsoft and its coterie of PC makers.

"Not that it's necessarily a bad strategy...."

Apple Drops MacBook Pro RAM, CPU Upgrade Prices

AppleInsider Staff report:

"As Apple unleashed a number of new hardware options last week, including the new iMacs, the hardware maker also quietly dropped the prices of additional RAM and processor upgrades on its MacBook Pro line."

New iMac, MacBook Evolutionary, Not Revolutionary

WSD's Walter S. Mossberg takes a look at Apple's new Mac offerings, noting that while both sport important improvements, they are evolutionary, not revolutionary, and neither follows the industry trend toward bargain-basement prices.

After testing these new computers for a few days, Mossberg says he can recommend both, noting that they round out a full line of refreshed Macs, but will face stiff new competition from a horde of PCs running the new and better version of Windows.


Macworld Benchmarks Late 2009 MacBook

Macworld's James Galbraith reports that Macworld Labs has received some newly designed unibody MacBooks and been putting them to the test. The new MacBook features a 2.26 GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 2 GB of 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM and a 250 GB SATA hard drive, and uses LED display backlighting.

To see how the under-the-hood changes to the MacBook have affected performance, Macworld ran the system through a series of 19 different tests involving the Finder and 12 third-party applications, then compared the results to a number of reference systems finding that compared to the system it replaces, the new 2.26 GHz MacBook was faster than the older 2.13 GHz MacBook in every test.

New MacBook 'Doesn't Feel Like an Entry-Level System'

Macworld.'s Jonathan Seff reports that the unibody makeover has wrought a lighter, more comfortable, higher-performance MacBook with impressive battery life, but laments the lost FireWire port; lack of an SD Card slot and IR port, and that no video adapters are included.

Overall, Seff says that the new MacBook performs very well and doesn't feel like an entry-level system.

Engadget 'Totally Underwhelmed' by New MacBook

Engadget's Nilay Patel says:

"We'll just come out and say it: we're totally underwhelmed by the new plastic MacBook. Hell, we were underwhelmed by the old plastic MacBook back in June, when we reviewed the refreshed unibody MacBook Pros - we said we were "honestly left wondering" why the $999 plastic model continued to exist when the $1,199 13-inch Pro was obviously superior. So when we heard the first whispers that Apple was working on a total overhaul of its low-end MacBook, we naturally assumed that it would either gain in features or drop in price - but neither one of those things happened. The new plastic MacBook remains priced at $999 in its only configuration, and while it's been updated with the same unibody construction as the Pros, it's also lost some features along the way. So... what's going on here? Did Apple just blow a huge opportunity to totally re-think its low-end formula, or is there more to the MacBook than the spec sheets and price tags say? Read on to find out."

Redesigned MacBook 'Solid'

AppleInsider's Prince McLean says:

"Apple's revamped new MacBook takes everything the company learned from last year's aluminum unibody MacBook Pro redesign and applies it to make a solid, curvy, entry level notebook that carries the same $999 price tag."

Products & Services

OWC Announces Memory Upgrades Up to 8 GB for Late 2009 MacBook

PR: Other World Computing (OWC) has announced the immediate availability of OWC DDR3 1066 MHz Memory Upgrade Kits up to 8 GB for the new MacBook 13" 2.26 GHz model announced by Apple last week. OWC Memory Upgrade Kits offer new MacBook owners the advantages of upgrade options not available from the factory and quality assurance from a Lifetime Advance Replacement Warranty and Money Back Guarantee.

OWC Memory Kits for Apple MacBook 13" 2.26 GHz:

  • OWC 2 GB DDR3 Memory Module (1 x 2 GB memory module) - $44.97
    Replaces existing factory installed 1 GB memory for 3 GB total. Upgrade not available as a factory option.
  • OWC 4 GB DDR3 Memory Kit (2 x 2 GB matched memory modules) - $87.99
    Replaces existing factory installed 2 GB with 4 GB total.
  • OWC 4 GB DDR3 Memory Module (1 x 4 GB memory module) - $247.99
    Replaces existing factory installed 1 GB memory for 5 GB total. Upgrade not available as a factory option.
  • OWC 8 GB DDR3 Memory Kit (2 x 4 GB matched memory modules) - $475.99
    Replaces existing factory installed modules with 8 GB total. Upgrade not available as a factory option.

Certified Compatible Plus Additional Savings Available

OWC Memory Upgrades are fully tested and certified for compatibility with the Apple model they are designed for and as such, come backed by a Lifetime Replacement Warranty. Additional money savings are available for customers who take advantage of OWC's rebate programs for Apple factory standard memory modules and factory installed hard drives. With the rebate, OWC's 4 GB Memory Kit for the new MacBook 13" is a full 18% lower cost than the same size factory installed upgrade while a 500 GB 5400 RPM hard drive from OWC is a full 53% lower cost than the same capacity/speed spec drive upgrade offered by the factory.

Memory & Hard Drive Upgrades for All MacBook and MacBook Pros

OWC Memory Upgrades from 2 GB to 8 GB are also available for existing MacBook and MacBook Pro models priced staring at $44.99. In addition, OWC also offers MacBook and MacBook Pro owners a full selection of 5400 RPM and 7200 RPM internal hard drive options in capacities up to 1 TB to upgrade/replace their factory stock drives. Hard drive upgrade prices start at $65.99 for a 320 GB 5400 RPM drive while the performance-minded 500 GB 7200 RPM drive upgrade is priced at $134.99. OWC's free online video installation guides make it quick and easy for anyone to upgrade their memory, hard drive, or both.

OWC memory upgrades are available from 16 MB up to 32 GB for nearly every current and past Apple notebook and desktop computer manufactured during the past twenty years, including Mac Pro Xeon, iMac, PowerMac, Xserve, iBook, and PowerBook computers. By maintaining an active state-of-the-art test lab, OWC can ensure its memory upgrades offer the highest product quality and reliability and backs them with a Lifetime Advance Replacement Warranty and Money Back Guarantee.

OWC's independent memory benchmarks testing on a wide variety of Mac computers consistently demonstrates having more memory provides higher real-world performance. OWC memory performance gains are even more apparent when using memory intensive applications, such as audio/video, photo, 3D modeling, gaming and other applications, where OWC memory upgrades offer the best performance for the investment.

TrayStation Riser Laptop Stand

TrayStation Riser Laptop StandPR: TrayStation is unlike any laptop riser that you may have seen, or used before. In a unique combination design, TrayStation, as riser consists of 2 parts: A steel base Station and acrylic Tray.

TrayStation Riser Laptop StandStarting with the Station, it's of sturdy heavy steel construction with a wide footprint; bent at a particular angle to provide maximum stability. The Station is powder coated in aluminum color, aims to blend itself in with your Mac setup. It provides a 6" lift from the desk, bringing your laptop screen to a more ergonomic height, easing stress to your eyes and back.

TrayStation Riser Laptop StandAt the bottom of the Station, there are 4 non-skid feet, protecting your the surface of your furniture. There are 4 latches at the top of the Station which lock and secure the Tray in place. Once in place, the Tray won't rock, or slide off.

The Tray is all about smart design. To be used as a cooler, on or off of the Station, the Tray is crafted from 5mm clear acrylic. It is very lightweight, durable, and elegant.

To help reducing the build up heat from your laptop during use, the Tray is designed to minimize contact with hot surface underneath the laptop. A gap between the Tray and laptop creates a "heat relief channel". This channel helps ventilating hot air, cooling and improving performance of your laptop.

The TrayStation supports all Mac laptops old and new models. The Tray is designed to be used with or without the Station. No matter where or how you use you laptop, on the kitchen counter, or in bed, or on your lap, the Tray should provide a comfortable cooling support for your machine.

TrayStation Riser Laptop StandFeatures

  • Cooler and Riser In One
  • 6" Lift from desk, provides more ergonomic height
  • Heavy steel construction base Station, powder coated in aluminum color
  • Detachable Tray use as Cooler
  • 5mm clear acrylic, durable, and lightweight more portability
  • Better ventilation design: Heat relief channel
  • Tray can be purchased separately


  • Station: 9.25"(W) x 7"(D) x 4"(H)
  • Tray: 13"(W) x 9.5"(D) x 1.5"(H)

TrayStation Riser Laptop StandPackage includes:

  • Steel Station
  • Acrylic Tray

Price: $54.99

  • One Extra Tray [Add $25.00]
  • Two Extra Trays (Save 10%) [Add $45.00]

Availability: Shipping November 2nd, 2009

Get High Speed 802.11a Wireless on All USB Macs Easy Plug and Play USB Operation

PR: QuickerTek, specialist in power and wireless Apple products, announces a new USB device that adds high speed 802.11a wireless to any Mac with USB. The 802.11a standard is the highest speed wireless available anywhere, working with 5.8 GHz speed wireless equipment. At just under $100, this easy-to-use USB wireless speed booster works with any speed wireless network.

Any Mac that runs Mac OS X 10.4 through 10.6 can use this new wireless speed booster. It's as easy as plugging into the USB part and provides up to 300 megabits per second wireless performance. It also provides immediate access to all Apple Base Stations, including the graphite and the latest dual-band Extreme. Another benefit of 802.11a wireless is an increase of range over previous wireless network standards.

802.11a WirelessAny of the older PowerBooks, the Pismo, iBooks and desktops [which had no previous wireless upgrade possibilities] are all candidates for this new wireless network speed improvement. Users also gain all of the benefits of WEP 64/128 bit, WPA and WPA2 wireless security.

This product is compatible with the following:

  • any Apple Mac or laptop with USB port
  • Mac OS X 10.4 through 10.6
  • Any Apple AirPort Base Station

This new 802.11a USB wireless upgrade also supports prior wireless networking standards - so connection to any speed network is possible. Ideal for those mobile users who are never sure what speed network awaits them at their next destination. It is both small and lightweight, so there's no penalty for high speed wireless. Tossing this USB 802.11a booster into a laptop bag provides the confidence to connect to any wireless situation.

Wireless Support:

  • 802.11a
  • 5.8 GHz 802.11n
  • 2.4 GHz 802.11n
  • 802.11b
  • 802.11g

Who needs 802.11a wireless speeds? Users who have previously avoided downloading videos and/or streaming audio, can now stop flinching when a website "download" button is clicked.

802.11a USB Wireless Booster sells for $99.95

Like most QuickerTek products, the new 802.11a USB Booster is backed with a one-year warranty on parts and labor.

Waterfield Designs Introduces the Muzetto, an Urban Man Bag for the Mobile Age

Muzetto bagPR: Waterfield Designs, a leader in custom laptop sleeves and designer bags and cases for digital-minded professionals, announces the Muzetto bag for men. Designed to complement men's clothing, it features distressed, dark brown leather with a choice of six color accents.

The Muzetto is available in two sizes for daily or travel use: the Personal size for carrying essentials and the Laptop size that fits up to a 13 inch laptop and accessories. All Waterfield Designs bags are made in the USA.

Muzetto bag"With celebrities like David Beckham, Robert Downey Jr. and Brad Pitt toting man bags, there has been a huge increase in demand and popularity of bags for men," notes Gary Waterfield, company founder. "In today's fast-paced world, there is an ever-increasing need to carry around gadgets and essentials far too many to stuff into pockets. The Muzetto offers a man peace of mind that his necessities are safely stowed, while enhancing virtually anything he selects to wear. The textured leather has a certain masculine worldly look as if it has stories to tell and that makes life interesting."

Muzetto bagThe Muzetto is a lightweight, vertical bag with an adjustable strap. Every detail is engineered with look and functionality in mind. The bag includes one main compartment, a back pocket, an under-flap pocket, and a zippered interior pocket, thus men can designate a place for each item. A gold liner lights up the interior making contents easy to differentiate. The flap length and angled sides add to its svelte look. To reduce shoulder and back fatigue, a removable, shoulder pad with a gripping underside keeps the strap firmly in place, and lowered D-ring strap attachments on the Laptop Size bag keep the load balanced.

Options include a choice of six color accents and two sizes to suit your daily or travel needs: the Personal size for caring necessities including a wallet, cellphone, digital camera, MP3 player and sunglasses; and the Laptop size for up to a 13 inch laptop plus more. Used with a Waterfield Designs SleeveCase, the Laptop size is TSA checkpoint friendly. Both sizes are small enough to provide unrestricted motion yet large enough to stow essentials and digital gear. The bag hangs naturally against the body, and its clean, refined look complements any outfit casual jeans to a dressier blazer.

Muzetto bag The Muzetto

  • Personal Size $179
    • Dimensions: 10.5 x 8.5 .
    • Colors: Distressed brown cowhide leather with color accents in black, copper, pine, grass, flame, or pearl.
  • Laptop Size $ 239
    • Dimensions: 14" x 11".
    • Colors: Distressed brown cowhide leather with color accents in black, copper, pine, grass, flame or pearl.

Prices: $179 to $259

Waterfield Designs manufactures custom-fitted, high-quality cases and bags for a full-range of laptop computers, cameras, and other digital gear. All products are manufactured to exacting standards in San Francisco.

Bargain 'Books

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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