The 'Book Review

MacBook Air with 4 Displays, Maximize Your Battery, HyperMac Batteries Back Sans MagSafe, and More

This Week's MacBook, PowerBook, and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2011.01.03

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


Tech Trends

Products & Services

Bargain 'Books

News & Opinion

MacBook Air Running with 4 Displays

Blake Patterson has posted to Flickr a photo taken December 15 using an Apple iPhone 4 of an 11.6" MacBook Air driving four screens - an Apple IIc tied into a terminal session via serial cable, a 20" Apple Cinema Display, and 7" Mimo 720-S USB display, and its own display, noting that he could also have hooked up the iPhone 4 and iPad into the mix via AirDisplay.

MacBook Air's Worst Omission: No Backlit Keyboard

ZDNet blogger Jason D. O'Grady says the thing that bothers him most about his new MacBook Air is its lack of backlit keyboard. O'Grady acknowledges that he knew he'd become dependent on the keyboard backlight on my his MacBook Pro but didn't realize exactly how dependent until he bought the un-backlit Air, finding that his typing speed drops substantially on the new MacBook Air in low light.

O'Grady suggests that someone should make white stickers with black letters on them specifically for the MacBook Air, making the keycaps easier to read in low light - even better if they were made from glow-in-the-dark vinyl.

He observes that the original MacBook Air had a backlit keyboard, so there should be no technical impediment to including it in the new one, suggesting that Apple dropped it deliberately, holding something back for the inevitable 2011 Revision B update of the new Air.

Editor's note: Apple is doing everything it can to increase battery life with the 2010 MacBook Air models. I'm sure eliminating backlighting was done for this reason, not as something to reintroduce with the 2011 edition. Still, it would be nice to see the feature return, perhaps with a disable switch to conserve battery power. dk

How to Get the Most Out of Your Battery

AppStorm's Jorge Rodriguez says:

"There are plenty of rumours surrounding how to take care of your batteries. I remember people used to say that whenever you buy a new product, you should leave it charging for at least a day, so that the battery gets 'used' to having full charge. Some other people say that's not necessary nowadays since new batteries are designed differently. The truth is, your battery will lose capacity over time; it's inevitable. What you can change is how fast it deteriorates.

"Today we'll be giving you some tips on how to make your Mac's battery stay in tip-top shape through a bunch of easy and fast actions like calibration. We'll also be taking a look at some applications that can help you with this actions, including Watts and CoconutBattery...."

Thoughts on the 2010 MacBook Air as Replacement for a MacBook

Design Sojourn Consulting's D.T. says the decision to buy a new 13.3" MacBook Air (2010) was quite an arduous one, involving rounds of intensive research before deciding to take the plunge.

D.T. suggests that depending on the economies of scale, the MacBook Air could eventually merge or take over the line of entry level MacBooks, but it should not eat into iPad sales nor replace it, noting that an iPad focuses on media consumption and a MBA focuses on media creation, with most consumers split between the two, and a small group owning both devices.

In summary, D.T. would recommend the MBA to anyone, in particular the 13" version, which is not much heavier or less portable than the 11" but far more comfortable to use.

Apple Integrated Touchscreen Patent Covers Notebooks

Patently Apple reports that the US Patent and Trademark Office has officially published a series of 20 newly granted patents for Apple, including a touchscreen that the patent's illustration indicate could end up in Mac notebooks

2 TB Notebooks Hard Drives Anticipated in 2011

DigiTimes' Erica Yen and Joseph Tsai report that 500 GB platter designs are already mature, allowing 2.5" hard drives to offer 1 TB capacities, and that sources from hard drive makers believe 1 TB platter designs should mature as soon as 2011, with 3.5" 4 TB and 2.5" 2 TB hard drives becoming available.

DigiTimes' sources citing IDC metrics pointed out that the market share of notebooks with 2.5" 500 GB hard drives has already reached 22%, and as demand for 500 GB hard drives has been growing since early fourth-quarter 2010, and that 500 GB units are expected to account for 35-40% of global 2.5" hard drive shipments in 2011, while 320 GB will be 30-35%, 250 GB 10-15%, and 160 GB to be phased out of the market. Meanwhile, 640 GB and 750 GB models will be adopted mainly by high-end notebooks, due to their high cost, accounting for 10-15%.

The sources also cited IDC data indicating that 3.5" drives will be completely replaced by 2.5" models by 2012.


11.6" MacBook Air: One of the Best Laptops Ever

TBreak's Abbas Jaffar Ali says that Apple leads and others follow as far as hardware designs are concerned, and judging by the 11.6" MacBook Air, he doesn't think that is changing any time soon.

In fact, he's having a hard time putting the 11.6" tester down. He notes that besides looking good, the new MBAs feel incredibly solid with construction quality you seldom see. His only major complaint is that the keyboard isn't backlit on either model - a big disappointment to users who work in dimly-lit places every now and then, but affirms that in general the MacBook Air is one the best laptops he's used - gorgeous to look at, with excellent build quality extremely portable, and a lively performer, and had the keyboard featured a backlight he would have ordered one on the day it was launched - and he is still tempted to get an Air as his primary machine.

Tech Trends

Acer, ASUS, and Lenovo Ape MacBook Air's Display Design

Electronista reports that Apple's manufacturing process for the new MacBook Air is rumored to be getting copied by competitors Acer, ASUS, and Lenovo, which are reportedly building 13.3" and 14" ultraportables that will combine Intel's new Sandy Bridge mobile chips (to be introduced at CES this month) with the ultrathin display assembly technique pioneered by Apple with the Air.

Products & Services

HyperMac MacBook External Battery Packs Return Sans MagSafe

HyperMac External Battery PackPR: Sanho Corporation's HyperMac external MacBook battery packs that disappeared from the market a couple of months back after the company was leaned-on by Apple Legal for bundling the product with recycled MagSafe adapters, have reappeared, with the proviso that users will have to purchase $49 MagSafe connectors directly from Apple.

HyperMac External Battery PackThe auxiliary batteries work with the entire Apple MacBook family of notebook computers, including all MacBook, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models, and are available in 4 different capacities of 60 Wh, 100 Wh, 150 Wh and 222 Wh, and capable of powering a MacBook for up to 32 hours - allowing for long haul flights, extended outdoor shoots, camping trips to remote locations, power blackouts, or any situation where electricity is not an option.

Every HyperMac battery is compatible with all MacBook, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models thanks to proprietary variable power technology that enables the battery to adjust the charging power automatically when connected to different MacBook models. For maximum compatibility,

Users can check the HyperMac battery level anytime with the built-in 4-stage lighted LED indicator. HyperMac battery also comes with a USB power port to charge any USB device including the latest iPhone 3G individually or simultaneously with the MacBook.

HyperMac External Battery PacksDaniel Chin, President of Sanho Corporation, says: "HyperMac allows the MacBook user to easily extend their MacBook battery life." He adds, "With the MacBook moving towards unibody designs with built-in batteries, HyperMac is the only viable option to extend the unibody MacBook's mobile computing time beyond the power grid. Using HyperMac external batteries will also help to reduce the strain on the MacBook internal batteries and extend the overall life span of these difficult to replace batteries," he concludes.

HyperMac batteries uses the same high-end lithium ion cells that are supplied to the US military. It is rechargeable up to 1000 times and comes with a one-year warranty - comparing to industry standards of only 300 recharges and 3 months warranty. With a great attention to detail, HyperMac batteries' silver color aluminum housing are color matched to the MacBook. With clean lines, laser engraved logo and all-white accessories completing the Applesque look.

  • HyperMac External Battery for MacBook/iPad/iPhone (60 Wh): $169.95
  • HyperMac External Battery for MacBook/iPad/USB (100 Wh): $249.95
  • HyperMac External Battery for MacBook/iPad/USB (150 Wh): $349.95
  • HyperMac External Battery for MacBook/iPad/USB (222 Wh): $449.95

Intel Solid-State Drive 310 Series Offers SSD Performance in 1/8th the Size

PR: Intel Corporation has announced its new Solid-State Drive 310 Series, an ultra-small solid-state drive (SSD) that delivers Intel X25-class award-winning SSD performance, but in one-eighth the size.

Intel Solid-State Drive 310 SeriesMeasuring 51mm-by-30mm and only 5mm thick, the Intel SSD 310 is a fast, ultracompact SSD that brings flexibility, ruggedness and scalability to innovative form factors and devices. It can enable highly responsive dual-drive notebooks, innovative single-drive tablets and low-power, rugged embedded industrial or military applications. When paired with a high-capacity hard disk drive (hard drive) in a dual-drive system, Intel says the SSD 310 can improve overall PC system performance by up to 60%.

Based on 34nm Intel NAND Flash Memory, the Intel Solid-State Drive 310 Series offers similar performance to a 2.5" Intel Solid-State Drive (Intel SSD), but in an eighth of the size.

Reduced boot time? You got it. Increased system benchmark performance? Yes. Longer battery life? The Intel SSD 310 Series has you covered.

Intel Solid-State Drive 310 SeriesThe m-SATA Intel SSD 310 Series enables a flexible, scalable and accelerated storage solution in a form factor that is up to 8 times smaller than a 2.5" hard-disk drive, and weighs 10 times less. Supporting SATA signals over a PCI Express (PCIe) mini-connector, the Intel SSD 310 Series provides compact storage acceleration for single-drive systems like netbooks, tablets and other handheld devices.

High performance Dual-Drive option

The small footprint also augments hard-disk drive performance in dual-drive systems, such as all-in-ones, notebooks and small-form-factor (SFF) desktops. The m-SATA form factor connects easily to an existing SATA port on a PC enabling the SSD to perform as a boot drive, quick access to frequently-used applications or storage.

SSD Ruggedness

A solid-state drive uses no moving parts, and thus is more durable and reliable than a mechanical hard drive, while using less power and providing better system responsiveness. The Intel SSD 310 Series contains 34 nanometer (nm) Intel NAND flash memory and is available in an m-SATA form factor in 40 gigabyte (GB) and 80 GB capacities.

The Intel SSD 310 supports SATA signals over a PCI Express (PCIe) mini-connector for onboard, compact storage in single-drive netbooks, tablets or handheld devices. Weighing just 10 grams, the compact size also enables dual drive all-in-ones, notebooks or small-form-factor (SFF) desktops to help accelerate boot time and access to frequently used applications or files.

"The Intel SSD 310 series will allow us to provide the advantages of a full-performance Intel SSD paired with the storage of a hard disk drive in a small, dual-drive system, says Tom Butler, Lenovo's director of ThinkPad product marketing. We've offered Intel SSD solutions for our highly innovative Lenovo ThinkPad laptops for some time, and now we're looking forward to incorporating this new solution across our ThinkPad line."

DRS ArmorWith its rugged design, the Intel SSD 310 Series has also been chosen by DRS Technologies for a new ARMOR communications tablet PC, to be unveiled at Storage Visions in Las Vegas. The ARMOR mobile and field unit tablet PC is certified by DRS to work in extreme temperatures and hold up to shock, vibration and drops, delivering up to nine hours of operating time.

"In order to meet the rigorous demands of our mobile users, we design for mission-critical tasks that require connectivity and handheld mobility in all-weather operations," says Mike Sarrica, DRS Tactical Systems Inc.'s vice president and general manager. "The Intel SSD 310 Series fits the bill by offering a reliable and high performing memory solution."

Intel's NAND Solutions Group vice president and general manager Tom Rampone says "The Intel SSD 310 Series is the first in a wave of SSD products we will introduce throughout the next year. With this introduction, Intel is offering full SSD performance in a compact, ultra-small form factor."

Already shipping to customers, the Intel SSD 310 is priced to OEMs at $99 for the 40 GB capacity and $179 for the 80 GB version, both in 1,000-unit quantities.

Hitachi Ships First Single-Platter 7mm 500 GB 2.5" Hard Drive

Hitachi 500 GB, 5400 RPM Travelstar Z5K500PR: Hitachi Global Storage Technologies has announced its new 500 GB, 5400 RPM Travelstar Z5K500 drive - the industry's highest capacity, one-disk, 7 millimeter (mm) z-height hard disk drive.

As the industry's only 500 GB one disk product and the only second generation 7mm product family, Hitachi continues to push the areal density bar higher, leading a shift from 9.5mm 2.5" drives to 7mm 2.5" drives across a broad range of market segments.

According to IDC, 500 GB, mobile 2.5" drives represent 22% of the market today, with this capacity projected to grow to 42% annually from 2010 to 2013. Offered in a complete family of 500 GB, 320 GB and 250 GB capacities, which satisfies more than 77% of today's storage needs in the portable PC market, these drives are the industry's only second-generation family of 5400 RPM, 7mm z-height drives, designed to be a direct replacement for standard 2.5", 9.5mm drives in everything from external drives to laptops, netbooks and blade servers.

With its slim profile and high capacities, the Hitachi Travelstar Z5K500 drive family delivers better cost per gigabyte and gigabyte per cubic millimeter (GB/mm3) when compared to solid state drives (SSD), and 2.5" and 1.8" 9.5mm hard drives, offering a compelling value proposition for OEMs and system integrators. With the broadest selection of 7200 and 5400 RPM 7mm drives to choose from, Hitachi customers can differentiate product lines by utilizing space savings to produce thinner devices, add battery capacity, increase shock robustness, or improve internal airflow - all better uses of the volume in a system than shipping a partially-empty 9.5mm 2.5" hard drive with only one disk.

Delivering the right balance of power and acoustics, the drives feature 1.8 watts (W) read/write power and 0.55W low power idle, and deliver a nearly silent operation at 1.9 idle / 2.1 seek bels, which is quieter than most ambient noise in a household. All Travelstar Z5K500 drives feature an 8 MB cache and a Serial ATA 3 Gb/s interface. They are also Hitachi's second generation Advanced Format drive, which increases the physical sector size on hard drives from 512 bytes to 4,096 (4K) bytes, thereby improving drive capacity and error correction capabilities.

All Hitachi Z-series 7mm drives feature common connectors and mounting points for standard integration into existing systems, and enable greater design flexibility to differentiate and meet market demands for new thinner, lighter and more robust devices.

Security, Reliability, Availability

Travelstar Z-series family features optional bulk data encryption (BDE) for hard drive level data security. When employing BDE, data is scrambled using a key as it is being written to the disk and then descrambled with the key as it is retrieved. The Travelstar Z5K500 drive family will also be offered in Enhanced Availability (EA) models in capacities of 320 GB and 500 GB, which are designed and fine-tuned for applications needing always-on protection in 24x7, low transaction environments including blade servers, network routers, video surveillance and compact RAID systems.

The Travelstar Z5K500 family will first be shipping to select distributors this month.

Notes: Reference IDC WW 2010-2014 hard drive Forecast Update, IDC Doc# 226082, December 2010.

7mm 500 GB Travelstar Drive Enables Sleek, Elegant G-Technology G-Drive Slim

PR: The G-Technology G-Drive Slim leverages the new rugged, 7mm Travelstar Z5K500 drive, making it the thinnest 500 GB, 2.5" external hard drive in the world. With its ultra thin profile and sleek design that complements the MacBook, MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air, users now have increased capacity in a stylish footprint to help them move, work and play with their digital content. Now at 500 GB, the drive has enough room to store up to 125 hours of high-definition video, 500 hours of standard video, 178 movies, 125,000 4-minute songs or 250 games. Formatted for Macs with simple plug n play connectivity, the G-Drive Slim is Time Machine ready for added backup protection. It is USB-powered, so there is no need to carry around an extra power cord.

The 500 GB G-Technology G-Drive Slim will be shipping to retailers in early Q1 2011. Pricing has not been set.

Ultra thin and light devices are, without argument, a growing trend. In order for these innovative designs to live up to their true potential, they need rugged, reliable high-capacity hard drives that can withstand the rigors of a portable environment and satisfy the storage demands of their end users, and Hitachi continues to deliver, said Brendan Collins, vice president of product marketing at Hitachi GST. As the industry's only 500 GB one disk product and the only second generation 7mm product family, Hitachi continues to push the bar higher, and is leading the shift from 9.5mm 2.5" drives to 7mm 2.5" drives across a broad range of market segments.

G-Drive Slim Portable Hard Drive for MacBook Air

PR: G-Drive Slim hard drives are the perfect hard drive for someone on the go. G-Drive Slim fits in your pocket and looks cool! Travel around with 320 GB of Hitachi disk drive storage space - ideal for important documents, MP3s, and digital photo files. G-Drive Slim is formatted for your Mac and Time Machine Ready, making it an easy plug-and-play storage device. Built for those on the move, G-Drive Slim is made with a lightweight aluminum enclosure. Portability has never looked so good!

Easy to Setup - Time Machine Ready

G-Drive Slim is formatted at the factory HFS+ with Journaling and is Time Machine ready right out of the box. A simple initialization is all it takes to prepare G-Drive for use with Windows systems.

Warranty & Support

G-Drive Slim is backed by a standard 3-year factory warranty and unlimited free technical support by representatives experienced with the latest content creation applications

Quick Facts

  • 320 GB Ultra-slim hard drive
  • Formatted for Mac, and Time Machine Ready
  • Lightweight compact aluminum enclosure
  • Bus Powered via high-speed USB 2.0 port
  • Plug and Play on Mac OS
  • Standard 3-year factory 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.

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

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