The 'Book Review

Diskless Lion Restore Issues, MacBook Air Runs Hotter with Lion, Mid 2011 MacBook Air Reviewed, and More

This Week's PowerBook and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2011.08.12

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

News & Opinion


Tech Trends

Products & Services

Bargain 'Books

News & Opinion

Frustrated 2011 MacBook Air Users Struggle with Diskless Lion System Restores

Cult of Mac's David W. Martin says Apple's decision to not include a USB stick containing a copy of OS X 10.7 Lion for system recoveries with the new Mid 2011 MacBook Air might be causing the company a bit of a public relations issue, with a fair number of new MacBook Air users venting their frustrations over the matter on Apple's Support Community forums.

Martin cites one forum complainant saying, "AppleCare support told me that they'll send out a thumb drive installer of Lion which in the first place Apple should have included in the package!"

Editor's note: Hey, d'ya think! To paraphrase David Pogue's Missing Manuals slogan, it's the installer that should have been in the box. cm

Publisher's note: If you're using Lion, be sure to see Apple Releases Lion Recovery Disk Assistant and Lion DiskMaker Facilitates Burning a Bootable Lion Installer to DVD, USB Drive, or SD Card in today's Mac News Review to learn how to make an emergency boot disk or flash drive. dk

MacBook Air Fans Run More with Lion

T-GAAP's E. Werner Reschke says that as an owner of a 13" MacBook Air, one of the surprising benefits of upgrading to OS X 10.7 Lion was the speed difference. OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard was nice, but Lion took opening windows, using Spotlight, launching apps, and so forth to entirely new level, speed being one of the best things about Lion in his estimation, especially for owners of the older Intel Core 2 Duo processor Airs.

However, he reports that there's a price to be paid for that speed improvement: fan noise.

Reschke notes that with OS X Snow Leopard, his MacBook Air hardly ever used the fans to cool anything, offering silent running with no hard drive spinning and very seldom fans doing anything but standing by. However, with OS X Lion, fan racket is a daily occurrence.

Editor's note: I've had a similar experience moving from OS X 10.5 Leopard on my Core 2 Duo aluminum MacBook to OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. Running in Leopard, the cooling fans very rarely cut in. With Snow Leopard, they're running more often than not, even with an original model Targus Chill Mat's two mercifully quieter fans scavenging away some of the heat.

Intel HD 3000 Graphics a Surprise Hit

Intel's integrated graphics haven't garnered a whole lot of respect over the past few years, taking a back seat to Nvidia's IGPUs, but Hardmac's Lionel notes that many people don't realize that Intel is the biggest graphics solution manufacturer in the world, and with the launch of the HD 3000 IGPU, which is used in all of Apple's current notebooks, Intel's market share jumped by 21% during Q2 2011 as many companies, including Apple, deemed it powerful enough to install in midrange computers such as the MacBook Air and the 13" MacBook Pro.

Upgrading a MacBook with SSD and a 1 TB Hard Drive

Automated Home says:

"In a quest to make our MacBook last out until next year's rumoured major redesign (carbon fibre anyone?) we decided to do the trendy thing and install an SSD.

"However we've always been used to having a big hard drive so the 128 GB SSD we chose wasn't going to allow us to hold our entire LightRoom library and video files on the laptop like we're used to. The solution? Removing our un-used optical drive and replacing it with one of the recently launched 1 TB 2.5" 9.5mm hard drives. SSD speed plus a capacious spindle to store all our stuff on, does it get much better than this? It's an easy project that anyone can follow. Here's how we did it."

2010 Core i7 MacBook Pros Kernel Panicking

Kernel panics used to be pretty common in the early years of OS X, but in our experience they've been a rarity since about the middle revisions of OS X 10.4 Tiger. However, MacFixIt's Topher Kessler reports that a number of people with 2010 MacBook Pro systems configured with Core i7 GPUs and Nvidia graphics are reporting an issue where the systems periodically crash with a kernel panic. The screen shows the classic kernel panic message instructing users to hold down the power button to restart the system.

2010 MacBook Pro Crashes, Kernel Panics, and Black Screens in Lion

OS X Daily says a fair number of 2010 (and some 2011) MacBook Pro users with 15" and 17" machines that have Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs and the switchable Intel HD 3000 and Nvidia 330M GPU are reporting stability issues with their Macs and OS X 10.7 Lion, with problems including kernel panics, random system crashes, blank or black screens, inability to wake from sleep, external displays not working, and assorted other headaches.

A potential fix is suggested.


13" MacBook Air Is 'Apple's Crown Jewel'

MacStories' Federico Viticci says his new MacBook Air is the best Mac he's ever owned, contending that it's the machine that is shaping the future of OS X, both as an operating system and a bridge between iOS and the desktop.

Viticci waxes philosophical, asking himself why, if the MacBook Pro he bought three years ago was the best computer he'd ever had, he came to the conclusion that he needed a new one, whilst with a few repairs and tweaks that MacBook Pro could have served him well for a few more years. Surprisingly (or perhaps not), he credits the iPad, which he says changed the rules.

However, he's happy he didn't upgrade to a new Air when the updated models were released in October 2010, since waiting for the revision B netted him a beefier processor, a Thunderbolt port, and backlit keyboard, although he observes that the truth is, if you follow tech rumors, you're never going to buy anything.

Viticci purchased a 13" Air with 4 GB of RAM, 128 GB of flash storage, and Intel Core i5 dual-core processor clocked at 1.7 GHz, and says that over the past months he's come to realize that a 13" display is the sweet spot for him, noting that while a 15" display gives you more choice over how you can rearrange your apps on screen and move things around, the new MacBook Air's 1440 x 900 screen resolution on the 13" version makes the difference between the two sizes a matter of quality, rather than space.

He reports that he's more than impressed with the Air's design and build quality - a premium product sporting solid specs, built upon Apple's best innovations and advancements in portable design with topnotch materials and, most of all, deep focus on users engagement.

"The MacBook Air truly is Apple's crown jewel," says Viticci, "unifying the company's best and most recent accomplishments into a featherweight design with stable OS foundations."

11" MacBook Air the Perfect Portable?

The Inquirer's Khidr Suleman says the MacBook Air epitomizes the term "shiny toy", and the Air's design and light weight are major attractions, drawing praise from all corners of the Inquirer office, including from staunch anti-Apple users, and noting that the latest revision's switch to Intel Core i5 and Core i7 chips pretty much ensures that the majority of users will find little to complain about performance-wise.

Suleman tested a fully tweaked high-end 11" MacBook Air powered by a 1.8 GHz dual-core Intel Core i7 processor, 4 GB of DDR3 SDRAM soldered to its logic board, and a 256 GB SSD drive, and notes that with its trim dimensions of 300 x 192 x 17mm and weight of 1.08 kg, the 11" Air remains the most portable laptop despite stiff competition from Windows-based offerings such as the Samsung Series 9 and Asus U36. Belying its tininess, build quality is superb and the feel. The functionality and power of the high-end 11" MacBook Air meaning that it can conceivably double as a desktop replacement, and that he would opt for the 11" model over the 13" Air, being that the very nature of the MacBook Air is to have a machine that's as portable as possible.

He also suggests that users considering an iPad 2 might look at an 11" Air as an alternative, since it's not much bigger, offers more functionality, will outlast the iPad, and the additional weight is pretty much negligible.

13" MacBook Air: Excellent Performance and Portability

ARN's Ross Catanzariti notes that while Apple's latest MacBook Air may look virtually identical to the previous model, most of its improvements lie "under the hood" - and faster Intel Core i5 and optional Core i7 processors give Apple's ultraportable notebook a huge performance boost, with Apple claiming the processor upgrade makes the Air up to 2.5x as fast as the previous model.

Reviewing a top of the range 13" model with 4 GB RAM, an Intel HD 3000 Graphics processor, and a 256 GB SSD hard drive, Catanzariti says Apple's "instant on" feature is particularly impressive, the Air waking from sleep in less than three seconds, and booting up from power-off in just over 10, giving it immense appeal as a grab-and-go computing device. He also observes that the MacBook Air has no trouble running multiple applications and felt fast and snappy throughout testing, although the lack of serious graphics power means it will never be a gaming machine, but has plenty of grunt for serious business or power users.

11" MacBook Air 'Frankly Unbelievable'

PC Advisor's Andrew Harrison notes that in October 2008, many laptop makers were falling over themselves to rush out cheap netbooks, but Apple had decided that this race to the bottom wasn't for them and already had a can-do mini laptop in the svelte shape of the original MacBook Air, released nine months earlier. But it was only when Apple launched its mini 11" Air late last year that people started to perceive the MacBook Air as Apple's overpriced netbook.

However, he says that unlike technologically hamstrung Wintel netbooks, the MacBook Air is a powerful tool to use for daily computing jobs, and with the new revisions launched last month, the Air has been upgraded to second-generation Intel Core-series Sandy Bridge processors, giving it a performance boost that Harrison calls "frankly unbelievable . . . for such a sliver of portable computing," and counsels that if you'd prefer your next compact computer be a long-lived lightweight laptop with supremely typable (and backlit) keyboard, high-resolution screen, dual-band WiFi, next-gen Bluetooth 4.0, the fastest desktop I/O interface in Thunderbolt, and a multitouch and gesture-driven interface, you ought to look very closely at Apple's new entry-level MacBook Air.

Tech Trends

Acer Founder: Ultrabooks and Tablets Are Short-term Fads

DigiTimes' Aaron Lee and Joseph Tsai report that Acer founder Stan Shih has commented that ultrabooks and tablet PCs will both be short-term fads, and urged that companies in the notebook supply chain focus on developing more value-added products through innovation. Shih acknowledged that Apple achieved its remarkable success with iPad through its outside-the-box thinking, which is an attitude that all notebook players should learn.

Commenting on Apple bringing tablet PC and smartphone products into the PC market to compete with PC players and creating a great impact on PC demand, Shih pointed out that PCs are the base of the IT industry and tablet PCs are also developed from the base; therefore, in the future, products will still need to go through the PC platform to create even more add-on value.

Shortage of Metal Milling Capacity Pushes Ultrabook Vendors to Fiberglass

DigiTimes' Aaron Lee and Joseph Tsai report that Intel and PC notebook brand vendors have recently been beating the bushes for new ultra-thin laptop chassis materials due to much of the available magnesium-aluminum milling capacity, which requires requires dauntingly expensive CNC lathes, being dominated by Apple, and that surprisingly, fiberglass has recently appeared as the new top choice material among vendors, according to sources from chassis players.

Taiwan-based fiberglass chassis maker Mitac Precision is cited explaining that a fiberglass laptop chassis is produced through RHCM process and combined with plastic to allow a toughness and price competitive against magnesium-aluminum chassis, and since each segment of a fiberglass chassis is $5-10 cheaper than a magnesium-aluminum one, the cost of a fiberglass-based notebook will be $20 cheaper than magnesium-aluminum models with the end market price to be $50-100 cheaper.

Products & Services

OWC Data Doubler for MacBook or MacBook Pro Unibody Offers Up to 2 TB Onboard Storage

PR: With the recent announcement of the new 1 TB capacity for the OWC Data Doubler Kit, MacBook and MacBook Pro Unibody users can now enjoy an unprecedented 2 TB maximum of internal storage capacity.

OWC Data DoublerUntil now, the only 1 TB notebook hard drives available were 12.5mm high; but with the arrival of the thinner Samsung 9.5mm drive at OWC, this new, thinner drive provides expanded upgrade options for every MacBook and MacBook Pro owner. With OWC's value priced DIY kit, 'Unibody' owners can have a previously unimagined 2 TB of internal storage that installs with Plug and Play ease, thanks to the included toolkit and OWC's 'how to' videos.

And now even the earliest pre-'Unibody' model owners can expand from the original factory maximum 120 GB drive with up to 7x more capacity thanks to this 1 TB drive.

DriveSavers Data Recovery Services Available for New Apple MacBook Air

PR: DriveSavers data recovery services has announced the company's data recovery services are available for the newest version of the Apple MacBook Air. DriveSavers Data Recovery Advisors are available 24/7 to help users recover files from a MacBook Air, should data loss occur.

DriveSavers was the first company to successfully perform iPhone data recovery. Like the iPhone and iPad, the newest version of the MacBook Air uses Flash-based memory technology, which improves speed, uses less power, is more resistant to shock and decreases the weight of the device. However, Flash-based technology can be compromised by user error, mismanagement and software or hardware failure making a users precious data such as documents, videos, digital photos and music vulnerable if the MacBook Air hasn't been backed up.

Claiming to offer the most technologically advanced data recovery service to Apple users, DriveSavers says it has successfully completed more recoveries on Flash memory-based solid-state devices than any other data recovery company. With over 25 years of experience recovering data for Apple products, DriveSavers data recovery engineers are able to recover data from MacBook Air, iPads, iPhones and iPods that have suffered common and catastrophic data loss.

"The MacBook Air is yet another popular Flash-based device from Apple that has changed how consumers create and store their precious data," says Mike Cobb, director of engineering at DriveSavers Data Recovery. "As the MacBook Air continues to gain popularity and become more entrenched in consumers everyday lives, the vulnerability of these laptops also increases accidents happen. With over 25 years of experience successfully recovering data from Flash memory-based products, including the MacBook Air, DriveSavers is an expert in data recovery for Apple products."

DriveSavers claims to be the only data recovery company in the world that posts proof of annual, companywide SAS 70 Type II Audit Reports, the Corporate Industry's standard for an overall control structure. Every iPhone data recovery process adheres to stringent data security protocols and is conducted in the safest data recovery environment available. High Security Service is also available for customers who require extra precautions.

DriveSavers Data Recovery Advisors are available 24/7 to help users recover files from the new MacBook Air, should data loss occur. DriveSavers MacBook Air data recovery services are now available to consumers worldwide. To learn more about DriveSavers and our data recovery services, visit or call 800.440.1904

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