The 'Book Review

Monster Apple Sales Expected, Putting an iBook G4 Back in Service, MagSafe Blamed in Fire, and More

This Week's MacBook, PowerBook, and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2010.12.03

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

News & Opinion

Apple Updates

Tech Trends

Products & Services

Bargain 'Books

News & Opinion

ChangeWave Predicts Monster Holiday Season for Apple as Sales Skyrocket

PR: Consumer Electronics spending is up for the holidays in 2010 and will exceed last year, according to a November ChangeWave survey of 2,812 US consumers - and much of it is being driven by Apple, which is having the most explosive holiday season in its history.

The new ChangeWave survey took a close-up look at home entertainment shopping for the holidays, including consumer demand trends for laptops, desktops, iPads, e-readers, and other personal gadgets - along with the biggest winning and losing electronics retailers.

Consumer Electronics SpendingMore than a quarter of respondents (26%) said they'll spend more on consumer electronics over the next 90 days and only 29% say less - representing a nine-point increase from last month and a net three-point advance over the metric from a year ago (Nov 2009).

Boom in Laptop Buying

The survey also revealed a substantial increase in laptop purchasing intentions, with an impressive 10% of respondents saying they'll buy a laptop in the next 90 days - two points greater than last month and matching the highest level of laptop acquisitiveness in three years of ChangeWave surveys.

An Explosive Leap for Apple

The manufacturer most responsible for this surge in laptop demand is Apple, with 36% of planned laptop buyers saying they'll purchase a Mac - representing a huge 11-point spike since since ChangeWave's previous survey of a month ago (Oct '10). This chart shows how dramatic a rise that actually is:

Projected Apple computer purchasesSimply put, it's the highest level of planned laptop buying ever for Apple in a ChangeWave survey.

So to what can this tsunami of laptop momentum be attributed? The timing would indicate that Apple has a runaway market hit on its hands with the redesigned MacBook Air line that was released on October 20, featuring a slimmer design, powerful graphics, multitouch glass touchpads, and standard solid state flash memory - a vertigo-inducing turnaround from the lackluster sales performance of the original edition MacBook Air. The enhanced value of a substantially enhanced feature set combined with significant price cutting has evidently not gone unnoticed by consumers.

Consequently, the ChangeWave analysts contend that while the jump in overall PC sales is welcome news for the entire computer manufacturing industry, the surge in Apple laptop demand is not.

For example, the percentage of buyers who say they'll purchase a Dell laptop (19%) has dropped four points since last month to its lowest level ever in a ChangeWave survey. (The survey abstract notes that that only 20% of Dell's PC business is made up of consumer sales, with the the other 80% corporate.)

Similarly, Hewlett-Packard laptops have suddenly also come under pressure, with just 22% saying they'll purchase an HP Laptop - also four points fewer than last month. (NB: This survey focuses only on the US market, while 70% of HP computer sales occur outside the US.)

However, on a slightly more cheerful note for the Windows PC vendors, ChangeWave says that despite these laptop pressures, overall Holiday demand for Dell and HP desktops remains relatively strong.

Not the case however with netbooks, PC market segment of the that continues to struggle, with just 14% of those planning to buy a laptop indicating it will be a Netbook, representing a 10 point drop over the past 18 months.

Planned consumer electronics purchasesIn terms of individual electronics items, ChangeWave says the Apple iPad tablet is shaping up to be "the clear monster hit this holiday season," with 9% of survey respondents saying they'll buy one in the next 90 days.

This chart, focusing specifically on personal gadgets and home entertainment, shows which items respondents plan on buying for themselves or for someone else during the next 90 days.

Observations in this category indicate that Apple iPods (5%), aren't showing the momentum they did last year. Also on the downside of holiday purchase planning are televisions (16%) and digital cameras (12%), both lower than last year.

And while overall consumer electronics spending is up - which is good news for Amazon - the percentage of Kindle e-Reader (4%) planned purchases remains unchanged compared to a year ago.

An analysis examining the main reasons for these developments will be presented in a follow-up ChangeWave report next week that will focus on the impact of the Apple iPad on the e-Reader market, as well as the Amazon Kindle.

Must Have giftsIn terms of "must have" gifts for kids, Apple leads once again with three of the top five gifts for the holiday season - the iPad (22%), iPod/ iPod touch (9%), and the iPhone (6%). Nintendo's Wii and DS (7%) and Microsoft's Xbox/ Kinect (6%) round out the top five.

Home Entertainment Retailers

While ChangeWave notes that the overall consumer electronics uptick is positive for home entertainment retailers generally, none is benefiting more than Apple (15%), which is up a huge four points in overall market share from a year ago with regard to where consumers say they'll be shopping for their home entertainment products.

The ChangeWave survey was completed November 8, 2010, and includes holiday spending trends for a variety of other retailers including Best Buy, Amazon, Costco, and Walmart, among others.

Report Details Include:

  • Overall consumer electronics spending - past two years comparison
  • Changes in planned buying for laptops, desktops and Netbooks
  • A close look at demand for Apple (AAPL), Dell (DELL) and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) computers
  • Momentum electronics items for the holidays
  • The Apple iPad and emerging Tablet market - including demand for the Research in Motion (RIMM) PlayBook, Samsung Galaxy Tab, and H-P Slate
  • Cannibalization of other products due to Tablet momentum
  • iPad Satisfaction Ratings
  • Wireless service providers future iPad buyers plan on using - Verizon vs. AT&T
  • Leading home entertainment retailers including Amazon (AMZN), Best Buy (BBY), Costco (COST), and Walmart (WMT), among others
  • e-Reader market demand - including a close look at the iPad vs. Amazon Kindle
  • Types of content being read on an Amazon Kindle compared to Apple iPad
  • Outlook for overall Holiday Spending

Companies in the Report: Amazon (AMZN), Apple (AAPL), Best Buy (BBY), Costco (COST), Dell (DELL), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), Research In Motion (RIMM), Walmart (WMT)

The complete, 30-page ChangeWave Research Consumer Electronics Report - Monster Holiday Season for Apple can be ordered from ChangeWave for $1,500.

1 Million MacBooks a Month in Q4 2010

DigiTimes' Yenting Chen and Joseph Tsai report that global shipments of Apple MacBook notebooks in Q4 2010 will reach a monthly average of one million units, with MacBook Air models accounting for a whopping 20-25% of the total volume, according to sources from notebook component makers.

The article cites IDC data indicating that Apple's combined shipments for the first three quarters of 2010 reached about 6.88 million units, and its global notebook market share rose from 3.7% in the first quarter to 5.2% in the third, while its market share in the US market surged from 6.7% to 12.6%.

Evidently, the new MacBook Air is perhaps Apple's biggest runaway smash-hit ever.

Rumored All-SSD, Light Peak MacBook Pro Makes Sense

SlashGear's Chris Davies observes that speculation about Apple's purported intentions for their flagship laptop range, the MacBook Pro, made headlines this week with a new set of rumors suggesting the next refresh could mark a transition to not only solid-state storage but also Intel's super-speedy Light Peak optical connectivity for high-speed data transfers.

Davies thinks that whether or not this particular speculation turns out to be accurate, SSD storage and abandoning optical drives seems the most likely route that Apple will take, noting that one reason this transformation would be remarkable is that the MacBook Pro would no longer have any moving parts, save for the cooling fans, while another would be that dispensing with the optical drive would free up internal space for more battery capacity, while the adoption of Light Peak would contribute to making the MacBook Pro speedier all-round.

All-SSD, No-Optical MacBook Pro Rumor False

Electronista contends that rumors predicting that the MacBook Pro will get a major redesign that would drop optical drives and move to all-SSD data storage and Intel's Light Peak optical technology for I/O "simply isn't true," reporting that Intel has gone on record saying it doesn't expect the 10 Gbps fiber optics in computers until 2012, and suggesting that an all-SSD MacBook Pro line would contradict the nature of the lineup and potentially price it out of the market.

However the debunk piece does hedge a bit, acknowledging that Apple did declare the Air the "next generation of MacBooks," there's no indication so far that there is any substance.

MacBook: The Great Compromise

Australian Macworld Intern Blair Hanley says that expensive computers are a lot like sports cars: you get (and pay a premium for) style and performance. However, most people don't really need the added performance and panache which is why basic sedans sell so well. The MacBook, says Hanley, is the four-door sedan of the laptop computer world, while the MacBook Pro is its sports car.

Hanley contends that the MacBook provides all that's necessary in a reliable, competent, useful computer, and that as a college student he's found his MacBook more than adequate for taking notes listening to music, watching TV on, photo editing in iPhoto or Photoshop and videos in iMovie, and while the MacBook Pro offers some advantages over the MacBook, he doesn't think they justify the Pro's higher price for non-power users, and the MacBook is the best Mac for the average consumer.

6 iPad Features Laptops Should Copy

TechRepublic's Jason Hiner contends that the iPad's success could be beneficially studied by laptop designers, noting that in the second quarter of 2010, Apple sold 3.3 million iPads, outselling MacBook laptops by about 800,000 units.

Hiner says that laptop makers should look at the factors behind the iPad's popularity and consider how some of those characteristics could be incorporated into notebooks. (Arguably Apple has already done this with the new MacBook Air. cm)

Particular areas to consider would be:

  1. Battery life (Apple's notebooks do very well here)
  2. Instant-on (partly there with the MacBook Air)
  3. Centralised software (Apple is working on this with the coming Mac OS X app store, and Ubuntu Linux 10.04 has already made promising progress in that direction.
  4. Simple user interface
  5. Content consumption
  6. Size matters (again, the 11.6" MacBook Air has just about the same footprint as the iPad)

Are Hybrid Hard Drives a Good Alternative to SSDs?

Pack Rat's Steve Foskett answers a reader query about hybrid hard drives as a less expensive alternative to SSDs, noting that hybrids, such as the Seagate Momentus XT, makes a nice compromise between "spinning disk" capacity and SSD performance with an emphasis on low cost

The Momentus XT, an integrated hybrid drive, includes an on-disk controller that attempts to keep its 4 GB of SLC flash memory full of the data you're likely to ask for. So it's always trying actively to predict what you'll need and move that data between disk and flash. This is very different from what happens with an SSD, which always uses flash, or a hard disk drive, which mostly relies on the spinning disk for performance.

One of Foskett's interesting observations is that while some users report that the Momentus XT makes their computers feel much faster, others have encountered serious issues with Windows crashing and an odd noise from the drive, and noting that the hybrid is possibly more stable in a Mac than a PC, and concluding that was he going to upgrade his internal hard disk drive on his Mac today, he'd buy a Momentus XT in a second, observing that even modest-capacity 128 GB SSDs are not yet available for anywhere near the $120 that gets you a Momentus XT, although conceding that just about any SSD you pick will absolutely destroy the Momentus XT in both benchmark and real-world performance.

He also notes that a consideration regarding SSDs in Apple machines is that Mac OS X does not support TRIM, so ordinary SSDs will run into serious performance issues once they start filling up.

Editor's note: Macworld recently reviewed the Momentus XT in a MacBook Pro and Mac mini under OS X 10.6.4 and found a significant improvement. Bare Feats compared the Momentus XT to the Momentus 7200.4, previously the fastest 2.5" hard drive it had tested, and found the XT was faster with random writes and copying small files.

There have been reports of problems with OS X 10.6.4 and hybrid hard drives - see Possible Problem Momentus XT and OS X 10.6.4 and If You Have Problems with Momentus XT, Please Come In... in Seagate's forums and 10.6.4 Makes Applications Crash After Upgrade in Apple's discussion forums. These problems seem to be mostly related to 2010 Macs. One report in Seagate's forum indicates early success with 10.6.5. dk

MacBook Air Outperforms Most Windows Netbooks and Ultraportables

PCWorld's Alex Wawro reports that the PCWorld Labs team loaded Windows 7 on two MacBook Airs and found that they ran faster than almost any other recent netbook or ultraportable laptop, and that judged solely on raw performance, the new MacBook Airs dominate, based on objective benchmark testing using the WorldBench 6 test suite and the games Call of Duty 4 and DiRT 2, but that their battery life is relatively anemic under Windows, especially compared to netbooks, and the power comes at a premium price.

Wawro notes that the 11.6" MacBook Air is netbook-sized but offers the performance of an ultraportable laptop, and the 13.3" MacBook Air also compares very favorably with contemporary ultraportable laptops, with its WorldBench 6 score of 103 compared with an average of 74 for ultraportable laptops, while lasting five hours on a full charge under laboratory conditions.

Apple's 10.6.5 Update Fixes MacBook Air Video Issues

MacFixIt's Topher Kessler reports:

"Apple has released a knowledge base document pertaining to the latest OS X 10.6.5 update, which mentions that the incompatibilities in OS X 10.6.4 that resulted in corrupt graphics and display flickering in the new MacBook Air systems have been corrected. The issue was first noticed in both the 11-inch and 13-inch 2010 model MacBook Air systems earlier this month."

Apple Puts Kibosh on MacBook Air 256 GB SSD Upgrade Kit

In October, Taiwanese firm PhotoFast announced that it would offer a 256 GB SSD upgrade kit for Apple's new MacBook Air. However, 9 to 5 Mac is reporting, citing a source close to the company, that Apple has leaned on PhotoFast, convincing them to terminate production of the upgrades.

According to the article, the leverage Apple exerts over PhotoFast is that the latter is a member of in Apple's MFi program, licensing them to create accessories for Apple products, and they don't want to risk losing the license.

Why Did Apple Kill Faster MacBook Air Replacement Drives?

OS News' Thom Holwerda notes an "interesting" confluence of events, with his brand-new MacBook Air 11.6" in the shop at at his local Apple retailer because either the SATA part of the logic board or the SSD died mysteriously, and now we have news of Apple blocking PhotoFast from selling their faster, more spacious replacement drives.

Holwerda says the MacBook Airs come with a fancy new type of SSD drive developed and built by Toshiba that look like RAM sticks and are somewhat user-replaceable, so Taiwanese OEM PhotoFast got clever and offered a faster and more spacious alternative for those not worried of voiding their warranty, and observing that PhotoFast's SSD drives are available with 256 GB of capacity, and run at 250 MB/s - as opposed to Apple's 150-160 MB/s, also offering a kit that let you turn Apple's slower SSD into a USB drive.

"Well, Apple wasn't pleased with this," says Thom.

7 Questions to Ask Before You Buy a Laptop, Netbook, or Tablet

CIO's Bill Snyder notes that these days, we're fortunate to have an array of choice in computing devices that can handle everything from sending an email to watching movies or writing a thesis, with the range of choice ranging far beyond PC vs. Mac or desktop vs. laptop.

Categories of products to consider this year include full-featured traditional laptops, netbooks, and tablets, as well as smartphones in the mobile category, and of course desktop machines. Snyder focuses on the first three categories as presenting one of the toughest choices for what will suit you best, noting that while certain specific circumstances might call for a desktop computer, by and large, there's no longer a reason for most users to anchor themselves to a stationary box.

Because the iPad has become so overwhelmingly dominant so fast, Snyder sees it as a proxy for the entire tablet category, but suggests that will change next year as manufacturers bring out competing devices, also noting that netbook sales have been battered by the iPad, but argues the netbook's low price and low weight still make it a good choice for some users.

Snyder proposes seven key questions to ask yourself before you start shopping for a portable computing device:

  1. How much do I want to spend?
  2. Do I want to watch movies when I fly?
  3. Do I need to run Windows applications?
  4. Do I need to run Office Applications?
  5. My back hurts, what's the lightest load?
  6. What's best for writing work?
  7. Do I want to play a lot of games?

Intel and Nvidia in Settlement Talks That May Help Apple

News from Electronista that the Intel/Nvidia Core iX chip feud may be nearing resolution, with the two companies in discussions to try and settle their dispute over system chipsets. If an accommodation is achieved, it would be beneficial for Apple, potentially making it possible to use Core i CPU silicon in conjunction with Nvidia's superior GeForce 320M integrated graphics chipsets in the smaller-sized MacBook families - the 13" MacBook Pro, MacBook, and MacBook Air models, which currently employ older-generation Core 2 Duo chips.

Electronista reviews the history of the dispute, which has effectively excluded the use of Nvidia IGPUs with Intel's Core i7, Core i5, Core i3, and Atom chips, with Nvidia noting that the de facto ban was implemented just as its chipsets like the Ion and GeForce 9400M were proving to be several times faster than Intel's own integrated video.

Here's hoping.

Putting an iBook G4 Back Into Service

SmokingApples' Milind Alvares says:

"I remember when I got my first Mac, the iBook G4 14-inch. Powered by a 1.33 GHz G4 processor, 512 MB RAM, 60 GB hard drive, and a resolution of 1024 x 768 (meaning 91 pixels per inch), all of which was absolutely stunning at the time....

"Of course, software evolved, Leopard came along, hard drives got full, and relative to the newer machines, the G4 felt slow to a point that it wasn't usable anymore.

"The other day I came across Dave Coalo's article on how he has switched to using his G4 iMac as his primary work machine. The iBook immediately popped to my head, and I was determined to bring it back to life.

"Most of the tasks we use the computer for remain the same. You can't type faster than any computer. The iBook ran MS Office just fine, it ran Safari just fine, and email worked perfectly. If it did so much back then, why not make it do all that today?

"I chose Tiger over Leopard because it was intended on being used by people in an office environment, who needed word processing, Internet, and email. And this is what most people use a computer for."

iPad Cannibalizing Notebooks? Not!

Trefis reports that the average price of Apple's Macintosh notebook has declined from an estimated $1,460 in 2007 to around $1,230 in 2010, led by greater demand for notebooks over desktops, causing PC manufacturers like Apple, HP, and Dell to increase production and lower prices in order to boost sales.

The report also notes that notwithstanding a growing consensus that tablets like the iPad are cannibalizing sales of notebooks, in hindsight it appears more that the iPad created a new market for tablets, which to this point has not affected Mac notebooks noticeably.

27" Cinema Display Sound Issues for Some Users

MacFixIt's Joe Aimonetti reports that users in a growing Apple Support Discussions forum thread are expressing concern over what appears to be a hardware-related sound issue with Apple's 27" Cinema Display. The main issue seems to be that sound will randomly cut out, ceasing to work until a system restart.

MagSafe Adapter Blamed for House Fire

The Register's Rik Myslewski reports that Apple's oft-derided MagSafe power adapter is now being blamed for causing a fire in a Connecticut home, with the insurance company that paid for resulting damage suing Apple to recover its payout.

Myslewski cites excerpts from the complaint, filed earlier this month:

"On or before May 23, 2008, Carolyn Marziali had plugged the MagSafe power adapter into an outlet above a desk in an alcove in her bedroom at the residence.

"The other end of the MagSafe adapter was connected to the MacBook Pro computer on the desk in the alcove of Carolyn Marziali's bedroom in the residence.

"On May 23, 2008, the MagSafe adapter ignited combustible materials within the residence of Eric and Penelope Marziali, causing a fire.

"After being awaken[ed] by a smoke detector, Eric Marziali investigated the source of the alarm and entered Carolyn's bedroom where he observed heavy fire that appeared to him [that] was in the area of the desk in the alcove and moving from that area into the bedroom."

Myslewski also notes that MagSafe adapters have been named in at least one other lawsuit, have burned at least one Reg reader, and has earned the sobriquet "Sparky the wonder adapter" due to such postings on Apple's own discussion boards, and that in 2008, Apple announced a free out-of-warranty replacement program for some MagSafe adapters after it acknowledged that some had insulation that could work its way loose from the magnetic block.

Mac OS X Running on MacBook Pro Knockoff?

MIC Gadget's Herman Lai reports:

"We had talked about the MacBook Pro knockoff before, remember? The old glowing Dragonfly logo is finally upgraded to a glowing Apple logo. Based on the photos of the clone, it makes us think it runs Mac OS X, but is that true? Tell you later."

Apple Updates

MacBook (Mid 2010) EFI Firmware Update 2.0

The MacBook EFI Firmware Update 2.0 is recommended for the MacBook (Mid 2010) model. The update resolves an issue where an attached external display may occasionally incorrectly show a purple coloration.

After this update has successfully completed, your Boot ROM Version will be: MB71.0039.B0B

File Size: 1.98 MB

System Requirements: Mac OS X 10.6.5

13" MacBook Pro (Mid 2010) EFI Firmware Update 2.0

For 13-inch (Mid 2010) MacBook Pro models

MacBook Pro EFI Firmware Update 2.0 is recommended for MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid 2010) models. The update resolves an issue where an attached external display may occasionally incorrectly show a purple coloration.

After this update has successfully completed, your Boot ROM Version will be: MBP71.0039.B0B

File Size: 1.98 MB

System Requirements: Mac OS X 10.6.5

MacBook Air (Late 2010): Troubleshooting Slow Startup or Wake from Standby

A new Apple Knowledge Base article says if your MacBook Air (Late 2010) seems to take longer than usual to start up, or if it seems slow to wake from sleep or standby, things to check out include:

  • Make sure the startup disk is set correctly in the Startup Disk preferences.
  • Choose System Preferences from the Apple menu.
  • Choose Startup Disk from the View menu.

Make sure your internal drive is selected.

MacBook Air: Cannot Select Ethernet During Setup Assistant Routine

A new Apple Knowledge Base article says:

"After you start up your MacBook Air for the first time and connect a USB Ethernet adapter during the Setup Assistant, the Setup Assistant may not allow you to select Ethernet to transfer your information from another Mac or to configure your Internet connection.

"Products Affected: MacBook Air, Mac OS installation/setup (any version), Mac OS X 10.6, Mac OS X 10.5

"Resolution: Connect the USB Ethernet adapter before you power on your computer.

"If you have reached a step in Setup Assistant where the Ethernet options are grayed out or not displayed, follow these steps:

  • Press Command-Q.
  • Click Shut Down.
  • Connect the USB Ethernet adapter to the computer.
  • Start up the computer.
  • Complete Setup Assistant."

Tech Trends

Acer Iconia Hybrid Tablet-Laptop Has Two Touchscreens and a Virtual Keyboard

PR: At a media event in New York, Acer presented Iconia, a new concept device combining the versatility of a conventional 14" laptop form factor with a unique dual-screen layout featuring intuitive all-point multitouch functionality, which means you can use all the fingers of your hands to navigate Iconia.

Acer Iconia Hybrid Tablet-LaptopAcer Iconia Hybrid Tablet-LaptopAcer Iconia Hybrid Tablet-LaptopIf you are looking for a different and innovative approach to personal computing, look no further. With its two all-point multitouch displays Acer Iconia claims to offer an enhanced content consumption experience and brings the interaction with the tablet to a new level.

Multimedia, entertainment, communication, web browsing and office productivity seamlessly flow across the dual screen, allowing users to set the best scenario for what they are doing. To improve readability of web sites or documents, the window can be spread across both screens. But the dual screen also means you can do one thing in one screen and something else entirely on the other: you can browse a website on the top screen and view the contents of your favourite folder on the bottom one or you can watch a video on the top screen and check out your multimedia library in the other.

"We took this insight and created a range of easy to use devices with touch technology including Smartphones, Notebooks, AIO PCs, Tablet and our latest addition, the Iconia Touchbook: this level of commitment to touch technology is something no other PC vendor can compete with," commented Acer Inc. Vice President and ITGO President Jim Wong. "The Intel Core i5 processor together with our experience with touch technology has allowed us to completely remap the user experience to create a far more natural interaction with our devices."

"Intel is proud that our close collaboration with Acer has helped to deliver the world's first 10 finger multitouch dual-screen notebook with an exciting and innovative end-user experience, powered by the Intel Core i5 processor, observed Intel vice-president of PC Client Group Mooly Eden, who was in attendance at the New York event. "Combining the adaptable and energy efficient performance of the Intel Core i5 processor with Acer's Iconia provides new and immersive ways to seamlessly view and interact with your favorite videos, photos, websites and movies."

Both 14" displays have HD 1366 x 768 resolution, high-brightness Acer CineCrystal LED-backlit TFT LCDs, and take advantage of cutting-edge technologies supporting all-point multitouch for precise onscreen input. Protected by the ultra-thin yet durable Gorilla Glass, the displays are scratch and fingerprint resistant, easier to clean and offer the same touch functionality.

Iconia is designed to provide the optimal all-point multitouch experience on a dual-display tablet, and Acer has equipped it with a full range of intuitive and easy to use features and applications that fully exploit the countless possibilities of multitouch technology. The starting point to launch Iconia's touch features and controls as well as applications is the Acer Ring.

The Acer Ring appears simply by placing five fingers on the screen and making a grab gesture. The Acer Ring allows you to start touch applications by scrolling through the App cards and tapping on the one you choose. The Ring also provides fast access to: Virtual Keyboard, Gesture Editor, Window Manager, and Device Control Console.

The Virtual Keyboard can be launched from the Acer Ring or by placing both palms on the bottom display. The intelligent design senses the position of the user's palms and launches the keyboard. It comes with a full-size QWERTY layout with international language support to give users the same experience of a traditional physical keyboard and features predictive text input for natural-speed typing while avoiding mistakes. The Virtual Keyboard also includes a touchpad and a numeric keypad and can be easily switched to handwriting mode. With all these functionalities you won't miss the traditional physical keyboard!

With the Gesture Editor you can set customized gestures to launch specific applications, open websites, view your desktop or lock your computer. The Gesture Editor offers a simple and intuitive way to personalize Iconia to best suit your needs.

Window Manager allows users to organize the various application windows on the double touch screen. Windows and applications can be moved across displays, so you can always have what you need where you need it. Plus, you can browse through a list of running application, and resize, dock or close windows.

A wealth of built-in touch applications designed to easily manage content provides a seamless experience. Besides those already implemented on Acer's touch devices, such as TouchBrowser, TouchPhoto, TouchMusic and TouchVideo, allowing an enhanced browsing experience with onscreen gestures to zoom, rotate, flip and scroll and to access and enjoy your multimedia from an integrated touch-optimized interface, Iconia includes three new ones: SocialJogger, My Journal and Scrapbook.

SocialJogger lets you gather and check updates from Facebook, YouTube and Flickr in all in the same place, taking advantage of the dual screens to check posts and updates on the bottom display and use the second display for exploring and viewing more content.

You can use MyJournal to collect web clippings on your preferred topics. Web clippings are dynamically updated to display all the latest information and can be categorized and displayed according to your needs. Simply tab on a collected Web Clip to display the full webpage on the top screen for a complete access.

Scrapbook lets you easily store clippings, posts and just about anything else from different sources in the same place. You can capture screen shots from the web or an application, edit them and add notes. You can create photo collections with notes and comments. You can also add your scraps to presentations, and documents. Scrapbook helps you keep track of anything you find interesting, funny or valuable and share it!

Acer Iconia is based on the Intel Core i5 family of processors, delivering smart performance for multimedia, social networking and other demanding mainstream applications.

A fusion of the latest and best technology, Iconia can also be equipped with 3G connectivity, for total freedom, while an HDMI port guarantees high-definition viewing and the Dolby Home Theater v3 provides vibrant audio for an immersive sound experience.

The result? An outstanding entertainment experience!

Iconia will offers an entirely new computing and touch experience. Are you ready?

Iconia's US and UK release is projected for January 16 2011. No US pricing has been announced at press time, but UK pricing will reportedly start at £1,500, which converts today to $2,371.24.

How to Choose a Linux Laptop

PCWorld's Katherine Noyes says that with the many choices and factors to consider, choosing a laptop of any kind can be a considerable challenge [this is true even if you restrict your shopping to Macs, for example choosing among the MacBook, 13" MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air]. Noyes notes however that choosing a 'Book for use with Linux brings its own special set of considerations, since it's not yet always a plug-and-play world for the open source operating system, and she offers some guidelines for choosing the one that's right for you.

Products & Services

iResQ Offers Flat-Rate Solid State Drive Replacement Services for MacBooks & MacBook Pros

PR: iResQ, the Midwest-based Apple Authorized Service Provider and pioneer of Apple computer, iPod, and iPhone mail-in repair, has added Solid State Drives to their available repairs for all MacBooks and MacBook Pros. The flat-rate services include three different storage capacities and a variety of shipping methods are now available at

"I have spoken with literally thousands of people who have lost their data after their hard drives failed and have to start from scratch with pictures, music and documents," says Eric Kautzi, Apple Certified Macintosh Technician and manager of iResQ's notebook division. "Now there is an option for storage with no moving parts, so they have very little chance of failure."

"Apple has been releasing portable devices that use solid state or flash memory for the last few years with enormous popularity," Kautzi observes, "As with any technology, SSDs are growing more affordable all the time. Smaller formats may have cost over a thousand dollars just a few years ago, but high capacity drives are now much more accessible to the average consumer."

Since there are no spinning disks or mechanical parts in Solid State Drives, there are very few factors that can cause failure. iResQ is currently offering 64 GB, 128 GB and 256 GB Solid State Drives starting at $249 plus shipping. As with their standard hard drive replacement services, drives will be installed by an Apple Certified Macintosh Technician and data will be transferred to the new drive free of charge, barring complete mechanical failure of the source drive. All available Solid State Drives are 2.5" SATA interface, so they're compatible with any MacBook or MacBook Pro except the MacBook Air.

For more information or to order repair services, call 1-888-447-3728 or visit

Fast and Tiny: LaCie FastKey Goes from 0 to 260 MB/s in 26cm3

PR: LaCie has announced their smallest SSD USB 3.0 drive, delivering speeds up to 260 MB/s - LaCie FastKey.

LaCie FastKeyLaCie FastKeySmall enough to hide in the palm of your hand, LaCie's FastKey can transfer 1000 MP3 or five DIVX files in less than 60 seconds.

100 Times Faster than USB 2.0

While the FastKey can perform up to 10 times faster than USB 2.0, its peak performance goes far beyond that. LaCie claims that by combining the performance of SSD, USB 3.0, and DRAM cache technology, the FastKey can write small files up to 100 times faster than your average USB 2.0 hard drive.

"With most flash drives, transferring a large number of photos and MP3 files can take a few minutes," says Luc Pierart, Business Unit Manager, Personal Storage, LaCie. "With the FastKey, transferring small files is immediate. You can back up or share your music and photo libraries as you head out the door."

Compact Metal Design

Combining the highly robust solid-state flash technology, with sturdy aluminum casing, the FastKey ensures your data is as safe as it is mobile. But don't mistake its high capacity for a 2.5" mobile SSD. The LaCie FastKey packs 120 GB into a sleek flash drive (measuring just 26cm3) with no wasted space. And with the included strap, users can secure the FastKey to a keychain or bag for additional on-the-go convenience.

Full Data Protection

The LaCie FastKey not only protects data from the outside, it includes software AES 256-bit encryption so your data is secure no matter how it's used. Simply choose the amount of capacity you want to encrypt, and access it with a custom password. Now you can pass the FastKey to colleagues and friends and know your personal files are secure. If privacy is a priority, you can encrypt the full capacity.


  • Lightning-fast speed up to 260 MB/s*
  • World's smallest SSD USB 3.0 drive
  • Ultra-secure AES 256-bit encryption
  • Stylish and sturdy metal casing

For even more storage and sharing options, the LaCie FastKey also comes with 4 GB of secure online storage from Wuala.

The LaCie FastKey is available in 30 GB, 60 GB and 120 GB capacities through the LaCie Online Store, LaCie Corner, and LaCie Reseller+ starting at $149.99.

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We also track iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, iPod classic, iPod nano, and iPod shuffle deals.

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