The 'Book Review

Pismo Now 10 Years Old, Whither i5 MacBook Pros?, MacBook Repair Extension Program, and More

This Week's Mac Notebook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2010.02.22

So we can post our three news roundups (Mac News Review, The 'Book Review, and The iNews Review) earlier, we first do a quick proofread and link check, leaving out images. We add images later when time permits. dk

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

'Pismo' PowerBook Turns 10

Accelerate Your Mac reports:

"My friend Matthew sent a note the PowerBook G3 FireWire (a.k.a. Pismo) turned 10 years old today [Feb. 16] and his is still running. That reminded me of my March 2000 review of the PB G3/500 'Pismo' here. (Still on linked on the PowerBook section of the Mac models page.) I'm sure there's a lot of broken off-site links in that decade-old article and remember the comments were relative to what was available at that time. I often forget about all the old articles/reviews from that era here. They bring back a lot of fond memories. (Man where did the last decade go...)

"The Pismo's pricing was $2499 for the G3/400 MHz/6 GB HD/64 MB RAM model and $3499 for the G3/500 MHz/12 GB HD/128 MB RAM model. Of course hardware has advanced a lot since then, but the Pismo was one of the best PowerBooks made IMHO. Rugged and reliable."

Where Are the i5/i7 MacBook Pros?

The Mac Observer's John Martellaro says:

"We've all be eagerly awaiting Apple's launch of i5/i7-based MacBook Pros. These are Intel's quad core CPUs, and Hewlett Packard has been shipping notebooks with these CPUs for some time. Is Apple overloaded with iPad attentions? Are there product timing issues?

"One school of thought says that resources have been diverted from the new MacBook Pros to Mr. Jobs' pet project, the iPad....

"Another possibility is that there are timing issues to work out. With so many people not sure if they need an iPad, but very sure they need a faster Mac notebook, why have tens of thousands of customers shelling out big bucks for a quad core MacBook Pro - only to be flat broke on March 26th or so when the iPad ships?

"If Apple can manage it, now would be a very good time to release those MacBook Pros with the new Intel CPUs...."

Apple: Late to the Core i5 Laptop Party

Cnet's Brooke Crothers says:

"As performance laptops based on the Intel Core i5 processor proliferate, older Core 2 models look, well, old. That means Apple's core silicon is past its prime....

"What began as a trickle about a month ago is now a torrent of new Core i-based notebooks....

"By comparison, Apple offers its aesthetically attractive Core 2-based 13-inch aluminum MacBook Pro with an Nvidia graphics chipset. But the $1,499 model is using last-year's Intel and Nvidia technology."

MacBook Pro Wish List: USB 3.0, WiDi, 3G

9 To 5 Mac's Seth Weintraub thinks Apple's next generation MacBook Pros could be released on any given Tuesday now, but will they simply be Core i5/i7 processor updates or will they offer something more?

Weintraub is hoping for 3G support, the debut of USB 3.0 on Macs (noting that Snow Leopard has native support baked in for USB 3.0), and even as a long shot Intel's new WiDi Wireless display technology unveiled at CES this year.

However, the latter requires Core i3/i5/i7 processors and Intel motherboards, so Nvidia would have to get the heave-ho, and at this point the technology itself only supports 64-bit Windows 7, compressing HD video and sending the signal over 802.11N WiFi to a node on the network which then connects via HDMI to a display.

Gates: iPad Nice, Netbooks Better

Macworld UK's Nick Spence reports that Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates has called Apple's iPad a "nice reader" but still claims netbooks are the way forward, and while Gates copped to BNET's Brent Schlender that he had been in awe of the iPhone when it was first released, he perceives nothing in the iPad to excite him similarly, contending that devices with some mixture of voice, the pen and a real keyboard, ergo: netbooks, are the way forward. commenting that while it's a nice reader, there's nothing on the iPad to make him say, "Oh, I wish Microsoft had done it."

DIY Vinyl MacBook Covers

Adrian Jankowiak says:

"Wherever I go, people ask me how I've managed to get a coloured MacBook. For a few years now, I've been covering my MacBooks in vinyl stickers that I custom make. Apart from the aesthetic advantages, they protect my MacBook, so much so that when I take them off, underneath I still have a pristine white one in case I ever want to sell it. Yesterday I got bored of my old cover and decided to replace it with a new one, but I thought that I'll finally put up a how to for those who might want to attempt it themselves, so read on if you re interested."

DIY Magnetic Power Adaptor says:

"We all know that one of the most common places for a laptop to break is its power adaptor. The combination of being directly attached to the motherboard, heat, and constant moving and shifting leads the connector to become loose and sloppy. Eventually the connection stops working altogether. Apple has solved this problem on their laptops by use of a magnetic power adaptor, unfortunately for us they also patented the idea.

"This is my version of a magnetic power adaptor for an Acer 1410 laptop, You should be able to modify the steps fairly easily for work for any laptop though. It is effective, easy to build with common materials, and takes the strain off of the internal connection and motherboard. It also holds on well enough to not come off unless it is supposed to."

Apple Updates

MacBook Repair Extension Program for Hard Drive Issues

Apple says it has has determined that a very small percentage of hard drives that were used in MacBook systems, sold between approximately May 2006 and December 2007, may fail under certain conditions and are eligible for replacement free of charge, under this program

If your MacBook was purchased in the date range listed above and shows a flashing question mark on the screen, please take it to Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider and they will examine the hard drive to confirm if it is eligible for a replacement, free of charge, under this program.

Note: If your MacBook is not experiencing the symptom listed above, you do not have to contact Apple or any Apple Authorized Service Provider. As always, Apple recommends that you back up your data. Learn more.

Identifying Affected MacBook Systems:


  • A flashing question mark appears on screen when the MacBook is turned on.

Affected MacBook models

  • 13-inch black and white MacBook models with the following processor speeds and hard drive capacities:
  • Processor speed - 1.83 GHz, 2 GHz, or 2.16 GHz
  • Hard drive capacity - 60 GB, 80 GB, 100 GB, 120 GB, or 160 GB

If your MacBook exhibits the flashing question mark symptom and matches the affected model descriptions above, the hard drive needs to be examined.

Take your MacBook to the Apple representative most convenient for you:

Apple Retail Store - Set up an appointment with a Genius.

If Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider confirms that your hard drive is affected, Apple will replace it with a new hard drive. You will need to have the original OS installation discs that were shipped with your product in order to reinstall your operating system, other applications, and any backed up data.

Some customers may have paid for out of warranty repairs that qualify under this program. Apple will contact affected customers (where contact information is available) with details on the reimbursement process. If you believe that you paid for a repair covered by this program and you have not been contacted, you may contact Apple Technical Support.

This worldwide Apple program does not extend the standard warranty coverage of the MacBook.

This program covers affected MacBook models for 3 years from their original date of purchase or until August 15, 2010 whichever provides longer coverage. Apple will continue to evaluate the repair data and will provide further repair extensions if needed.

Editor's note: Models covered include the Mid 2006 Core Duo MacBook, the Late 2006 Core 2 Duo MacBook, and the Mid 2007 Core 2 Duo MacBook. The Late 2007 "Santa Rosa" and later models are not included. dk

Tech Trends

HP Announces Android Netbook

HP isn't resting on its laurels as #1, and VentureBeat's Paul Boutin reports that its Compaq division will launch a new netbook- the cloud-white Compaq AirLife 100 - running on the same basic (and fully multitasking) Android operating system as Motorola's Droid phones and Google's Nexus One.

However, the AirLife 100, which sports a 10.1" display, a "92 percent full size" keyboard, a 16 GB SSD storage drive, an SD card slot, and a touch interface, will initially be sold exclusively through Telefonica in Europe, and there's no word as yet about when/if it'll be available in North America.

Acer Developing Ultrathin Laptop, Puts MacBook Air on Notice

Engadget's Vladislav Savov says that Acer was perhaps the biggest believer in Intel's Core 2 Duo ULV processors, with its Timeline range running almost exclusively on Intel's lower voltage parts, so it's no surprise to hear that the Taiwanese laptop specialist is investing heavily again in Intel's 2010 ULV variants of its Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs, thus paving the way for an aggressively ultrathin (think: 1.9cm (0.7 inches) challenger to Apple's getting long-in-the-tooth MacBook Air.

Acer Ultrathin Would Get Intel ULV Core i5 or i7 CPUs

Electronista also weighs in on Acer's prospective MacBook Air rival, noting that what is being touted as an "ace in the hole" system would use Intel's ULV Core i5 or i7 processors and still be slightly thinner than the MacBook Air, albeit those low-energy Core i5 and i7 top out at 1.2 GHz, but can ramp up to 1.86 GHz and 2.26 GHz in Turbo Boost mode in short bursts and also support Hyperthreading to occasionally perform more like quad-core processors.

Products & Services

LaCie Rugged eSATA/USB 2.0 500 GB External Hard Drive

PR: <img src="{filedir_5}lacierugged2th.jpg" border="0" alt="image" name="image" width="317" height="106" align="left" hspace="10" /> Make your hard drive eSATA bus-powered with the Power eSATA interface. eSATA lets you work faster; up to 90 MB/s. Rugged; ideal for protecting valuable data

The LaCie Rugged Hard Disk has both the universal USB 2.0 interface as well as the new Power eSATA interface, which, when connected to a Power eSATA port on your laptop, will allow your drive to be bus-powered. With the included USB power-sharing cable, it can also work with a standard eSATA port as well, making it more versatile. Its unique varnished, scratch-protected aluminum shell and shock-resistant metal and rubber design with internal anti-shock bumpers by Neil Poulton makes the LaCie Rugged Hard Disk especially resistant to harsh elements for extra protection wherever you go.



  • Capacity: 500 GB
  • Interface: USB 2.0, eSATA 3 Gb/s
  • Rotational Speed (rpm): 7200
  • Interface Transfer Rate: USB 2.0: up to 480 Mbits/s; eSATA: up to 3 Gbits/s
  • Data Transfer Rate: USB 2.0: up to 36 MB/s; eSATA: up to 90 MB/s
  • Seek Time (Read): <15.5ms
  • Maximum Drop Height: 2.2 m/86.6 in. in nonoperating mode (dropping is not recommended in operating mode)
  • Software: LaCie Backup Assistant; LaCie Setup Assistant
  • Size: 90 x 145 x 25 mm/3.5 x 5.7 x .9 in.
  • Weight: 239 g/8.8 oz.

System Requirements:

  • Computer with an eSATA or USB 2.0 port
  • High speed Internet for online storage
  • Latest versions of Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7/Mac OS X 10.5 or 10.6
  • Minimum free disk space: 600 MB recommended


Box Content:

  • LaCie Rugged Hard Disk
  • USB 2.0 cable
  • USB power-sharing cable
  • Power eSATA cable
  • Quick Install Guide

Warranty: 3-Year Limited Warranty


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.

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