The 'Book Review

No G5 'Books in Sight, TiBook Hinge Repair, Low Cost USB Drive Case, AirPort Improved, and More

This Week's PowerBook and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2003.06.27

Except as noted, prices are in US dollars.

There's Life in the Old G4 (and G3) Yet, at Least for Laptops

There hasn't been a lot of news on the Apple portable front this week. The rumored 15.4" PowerBook didn't materialize at WWDC - there were no "year of the laptop" announcements at all. However, the release of the G5 Power Macs does clarify things somewhat as regards the potential for a PPC 970/G5 PowerBook, which appears to be slim, at least in the near term.

In that context, the Register's Tony Smith reports that:

"Motorola appears to have brought forward volume production of the next major G4-class PowerPC processor, the MPC7457, from Q4 to Q3.

"The 7457 remains the leading contender for upcoming Apple PowerBooks. While some Mac users hoped IBM's 64-bit PowerPC 970, which Apple is calling the G5, would make it into PowerBooks, the chip's significant heat dissipation prevents it from taking on such a role....

"The 7457 is Motorola's follow-up to the current top-of-the-line G4, the 7455. It not only doubles the G4's on-die L2 cache to 512 KB, but expands its external L3 cache support to 4 MB (though only 2 MB can be used as cache per se; the rest is available as "private memory"). The clock speed will max out at 1.3 GHz, but the extra cache sizes should improve performance even on the 1 GHz version compared to current G4-based PowerBooks. So too will its 200 MHz frontside bus, which paves the way for 400 MHz DDR SDRAM support."

On the heat issue, Smith notes that Motorola claims the new chip consumes 16.6W at 1.3 GHz, compared to the current 7455's 15W at 1 GHz, so it will certainly not improve the heat issue. For comparison, a G3 750fx chip running at 800 MHz draws only 3.6 watts, or a projected 5 watts at 1 GHz (not yet marketed), which is one reason why I contend that the G3 is still the best PowerPC chip for laptops if you don't need the AltiVec horsepower of the G4.

IBM is said to be working an a G3-class processor with AltiVec, but it remains to be seen whether it will offer any power economy advantages over the Motorola chips.

However, the G5 processor used in the new Power Mac towers introduced this week consumes a whopping 42W at 1.8 GHz, making those machines' elaborate nine-fan computer-regulated cooling systems obligatory, and their resemblance to portable space heaters is more than a whimsical observation.

On the basis of that level of power-sucking and heat generation, I would suggest that G5-based laptops are an extremely unlikely prospect any time in the foreseeable future.

Tony Smith contends that the 7457 remains the most likely processor candidate for the 15.4" PowerBooks expected to be rolled out later this summer.

TiBook Hinge Repair Options

Disgusted with the price quoted by Apple to repair his TiBook's broken hinge, P. Sigurdsson figured out a cheap workaround and posted a tutorial on the topic.

If you're looking for an alternative and do not wish to perform the work yourself, MacResQ offers the complete hinge replacement (both hinges) for $499. Learn more at PowerBookResQ or call 1-866-Mac-Repair.

MacResQ QPro Portable 2.5" External USB Hard Drive Case

Easily back up your 'Book's hard drive files. This external 2.5" hard drive enclosure allows you to install a 2.5" laptop hard drive into a USB IDE external enclosure.

QPro driveFeatures:

  • Fits all standard 2.5" IDE hard drives.
  • Supports full speed (12 Mb/sec) transfer rates.
  • Plug & play automatic system configuration.
  • Pocket size and lightweight.
  • Ideal for backup and storage of data files.

System requirements:

  • Mac: iMac or newer computer with USB port. Mac OS 8.6 to 10.1.5 and 10.2.x
  • This case must be plugged into one of the computer's USB ports or into a powered hub. It will not receive enough power if connected to the keyboard or an unpowered hub.
  • Mac software drivers available by download.

Includes: translucent blue hard drive enclosure by WEM Technology, USB A to B cable, PS/2 to DC 5V cable, driver disk, black carrying case.

1-yr warranty.

Price: $24.99

For more information, visit MacResQ.

QuickerTek AirPort Wireless Network Upgrades For PowerBooks

PowerBook users know that wireless networking is a great feature, but it has some limitations - mainly range and signal strength.

QuickerTek offers three new products that enhance wireless performance on PowerBook Titanium and Pismo models.

PowerBook Pismo and Titanium G4 Stub Wireless Antenna

This new antenna provides up to double the range of the standard AirPort card and internal antenna(s) in the Apple PowerBook Pismo and Titanium G4s.

By simply attaching the new antenna cable to the stock Apple AirPort card and then connecting the external Stub antenna, you're ready for way-better reception, signal strength, and reliability. The Stub antenna detaches for easy transport in your backpack or briefcase.

Stub wireless antennaThere's no additional configuration work you have to complete either. Just plug in and you're ready to go. With this new range, you could sit in the parking lot of your favorite wireless coffee shop and surf the Web...

Compatibility:

  • Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X
  • PowerBook G3 Pismo or PowerBook G4 Titanium using the standard Apple AirPort card

Warranty: One year, parts and labor

After the initial antenna installation, the PowerBook need not be disassembled again. The stock antenna(s) remain in place, so no permanent PowerBook alterations are required.

Price: $49.95

PowerBook Wireless Whip Antenna  

The PowerBook Pismo and Titanium G4 Whip wireless antenna gives up to 10 times the range as standard.

PowerBook Wireless Whip AntennaEasy to install and use, the Whip antenna provides additional signal-grabbing power to reach out in wall-filled office environments. Also ideal when you are just out of the normal range of your AirPort network.

Say good-bye to dropped links and flaky connections when your PowerBook is equipped with the QuickerTek Whip wireless antenna. This external antenna connects with Velcro, so there are no permanent modifications to your beautiful PowerBook case. And the antenna is easily repositioned to adapt to any wireless situation.

Don't let its small size fool you, this little antenna offers amazing range.

Compatibility:

  • Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X
  • PowerBook G3 Pismo or PowerBook G4 Titanium using the standard Apple AirPort card

PowerBook Wireless Whip AntennaWarranty: One year, parts and labor

After the initial antenna installation, the PowerBook need not be disassembled again. The stock antenna(s) remain in place, so no permanent PowerBook alterations are required.

Note that when your PowerBook is equipped with the QuickerTek Whip antenna and the QuickerTek AirPort Base Station upgrade, the effective range can be as high as 10 times more than a stock PowerBook and Base Station.

Price: $89.95

Apple AirPort Base Station Antenna Upgrade

Complete your wireless network upgrade with this AirPort Base Station upgrade. Send your graphite or snow AirPort Base Station to QuickerTek and they'll upgrade it and send it back to you. Combine the Whip Antenna with this Base Station upgrade, and you'll have wireless performance that Windows users only dream of. Check the performance specs on this product, and you'll agree that upgrading your AirPort Base Station with the QuickerTek upgrade is the only way to go.

Compatibility: upgraded customer-supplied Apple AirPort base station, graphite or snow base stations

Warranty: One year, parts and labor

Customer ships their Apple AirPort Base Station to QuickerTek. QuickerTek upgrades their unit and ships back. Advance exchange is available. A rebate is earned when the customer ships a working Base Station to QuickerTek. See your QuickerTek retailer for pricing, shipping, and rebate information.

Note that when your wireless network is equipped with a PowerBook G4 using a QuickerTek Whip antenna and this QuickerTek AirPort Base Station upgrade, the effective wireless range can be as high as 10 times more than a stock PowerBook G4 and Base Station.

KoolSink Metal Laptop Cooling Stands

KoolSinkThe makers of the original stainless steel KoolSink have made a lightweight anodized aluminum KoolSink. Perfectly matched to Apple's new line of PowerBooks, the new aluminum KoolSink is designed for laptops emitting higher heat.

The new anodized aluminum KoolSink is claimed to dissipate heat faster than any other product on the market. Users of laptops that generate high temperatures can greatly benefit from this new cooling laptop stand.

No more noisy fans or painful burns and increased battery life and performance by running your CPU cooler. No other laptop stand available on the market does active cooling for under $40.

KoolSink works by:

  • Conduction: The Aluminum KoolSink and Stainless steel KoolSink sucks heat away and your laptop runs cooler and more efficiently.
  • Convection: The minimum gap under the laptop creates a Venturi effect to help cooling.
  • Ergonomics: Reduces user strain by straightening the arm-to-wrist position.

Prices: stainless steel $19.95, aluminum $39.95

Western Digital to Offer Hard Drives for Portables?

Last week, venerable hard drive maker Seagate announced that it will be reentering the laptop hard drive market. Now, Cnet's John G. Spooner reports that Western Digital is also looking at entering the market for hard drives used in notebook computers.

It's not difficult to fathom why this surge of interest in the portable market. Laptops are closing in one-quarter of new computers sold (and with Apple it's heading for 50%). Spooner notes that:

"The Lake Forest, Calif., hard-drive manufacturer, which offers disks for desktop PCs and servers, has begun development work on a new line of mobile drives and could enter the market quickly if it chooses to....

"The notebook drive market is a draw for companies such as Western Digital. While desktops and servers represent the bulk of the available hard-drive market, unit shipments of notebook PCs are rapidly increasing. Notebooks made up about 23.5 percent of the total 136 million PCs shipped worldwide in 2002, according to market researcher IDC."

The article also notes that:

"...notebook drives have several special requirements, making them somewhat more difficult to design. The drives must be made smaller than their desktop counterparts because of the tighter confines of a notebook chassis. Mobile drives also must limit power consumption to help lengthen notebook battery life."

CMS Reduces Pricing of Notebook Hard Drives by up to 16%

CMS Peripheral Inc., a supplier of backup and hard drive solutions for notebook and desktop computers, has announced price reductions for a majority of the Easy-Plug Easy-Go (EPEG) Notebook Upgrade solutions.

The company reduced the pricing for the 40 and 60 GB upgrade solutions for hard drives and secondary bays of notebook computers by 16% in some cases. Pricing for the upgrades now starts at $269 for the 40 GB EPEG and $419 for the 60 GB EPEG.

The Easy-Plug Easy-Go product line offers support for more than 800 different notebook models from top manufacturers such as Apple, Compaq, Dell, IBM, and Toshiba. With support for a wide variety of notebook manufacturers, CMS' solution offers IT managers a cost-effective alternative to replacing outdated and under capacity notebooks. All of CMS' notebook upgrade solutions are tested to meet or exceed the original notebook manufacturers' drive specifications. Hard drive upgrades are available from 20 to 80 GB and are backed by a three-year warranty.

The price reductions are effective immediately on selected capacities of the Easy-Plug Easy-Go and are available through major distributors, corporate resellers, mail order and direct from the company's website.

DPS Now Shipping Que!007 Portable DVD Burner and Digital Theater Device

Que!007Digital Peripheral Solutions Inc. (DPS) has announced it is shipping its Que!007 Portable DVD Burner and Digital Theater. The sleek, portable, all-in-one convergence device features a FireWire DVD burner that also plays DVDs, CDs, MP3s, Picture CDs, and PowerPoint presentations.

Unlike competitive units, the Que!007 works equally well as a computer peripheral or as a standalone battery-powered device. The built-in FireWire interface allows PC and Mac users to easily record, erase and rewrite DVDs, CDs and MP3 files. The Que!007 also plays DVD movies, audio CDs, MP3s, karaoke, picture CDs and PowerPoint presentations directly to a TV or flat-screen display.

"We designed the Que!007 to replace several of today's most popular PC/Mac peripherals - DVD Burners, set-top/portable DVD players, MP3 players, audio CD players and presentation projectors - with a single, all-in-one, portable, battery-operated device," said Pierre Abboud, vice president of DPS. "This not only makes it easy for users to carry an entire home theater/entertainment center in the palm of their hand, it also saves them hundreds of dollars."

As a computer peripheral, the Que!007 can be used as a transportable data storage or data archiving drive. It includes an impressive array of features for burning DVDs and CDs as well as for playing DVD movies on PCs or Macs. In addition, it allows business users to display PowerPoint presentations, DVD-based industrial training videos, and impressive digital slide shows with built-in interactive screen transitions that pan, zoom, flip and rotate screen effects directly from the Que!007 without requiring bulky, expensive digital projectors or notebook computers.

As a 9-volt DC-powered portable digital theater/entertainment center, the Que!007 serves as a mobile DVD/CD/MP3 player, plays DVD movies in an RV or boat, and entertains children on long car rides (which many parents consider the drive's biggest benefit).

The Que!007 includes 4.7 GB of storage, a 2 MB buffer, built-in LCD display, Dolby Pro Logic and 3D Virtual Surround, a universal headphone/analog/optical audio output jack, and more. Accessories include a 36-key remote, external power supply adapter, detachable rechargeable battery pack, headphone set and all necessary cables. Bundled software includes a DVD authoring program for PCs and a CD mastering program for PCs and Macs.

The device supports virtually all disc formats and most media, including DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, DVD+RW and CD-RW. The unit itself is shock and vibration resistant.

MSRP for the Que!007 Portable DVD Burner and Digital Theater is $599; it is available through PC/Mac Warehouse, PC/Mac Mall, and PC/Mac Zone, and through distribution from Ingram Micro.

Bargain 'Books

There are two different versions of WallStreet running at 233 MHz, the cacheless MainStreet version and the later Series II with a level 2 cache. It's not always possible to determine from the vendor's listing which is being offered, so we've included links within this paragraph to the two models. The same goes for the PowerBook G4/667 (Gigabit Ethernet/2001) and G4/667 (DVI).

Baucom Computers

MacResQ

ExperCom

Small Dog Electronics

Power Max

For more deals on current or recently discontinued models, see our Best PowerBook G4 Deals and Best iBook Deals.

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