The 'Book Review

G4 iBooks, Notebook Sales Growth, Pismo G4 Upgrade, iPod Accessories, and More

This Week's PowerBook and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2003.10.24

Except as noted, prices are in US dollars.

A Few Words on the G4 iBooks

The release of the new G4 iBooks is the big news in the Apple portable orbit this week. Details have been reported elsewhere on Low End Mac, but I'll just lead off The 'Book Review this week with a few observations.

I was surprised that Apple chose to go with the G4 in the iBook rather than the upcoming IBM 750GX G3 chip, with an eye to the 750 HX which is supposed to have some sort of AltiVec processor. In fact, I wouldn't rule out the 750HX or whatever it's designated finding its way into a future iBook.

Unlike some, I bid farewell to the G3 with sadness. I am a fan of its cool-running, low power demand characteristics, which are better suited to portable applications than the G4, or at least the traditional G4. The new G4s reportedly run a lot cooler, which may render the argument moot.

Anyway, in my estimation Apple has enhanced the value of the iBook even more, notwithstanding the $100 price hike for the 12" base model. Rationalizing the higher clock speed processors as being available in the 14" iBooks only makes sense (I wonder if heat from the faster chips bore on this decision).

The dual USB iBook form factor is difficult to improve upon, at least in a conventional laptop, so I'm happy that Apple left it alone. Great stuff!

Gartner Says Notebook Sales Drive Worldwide PC Shipments to 14% Growth in Third Quarter of 2003

Driven by strong consumer and notebook demand, worldwide PC shipments totaled 42.5 million units in the third quarter of 2003, a 14.1 percent increase from the same period last year, according to preliminary results from Gartner, Inc. The worldwide PC industry began to show signs of an upturn in the second quarter of 2003, and it gained momentum in the third quarter. This was the second consecutive quarter of double-digit shipment growth.

"Falling system prices, performance improvements and wireless awareness continue to bring notebooks to the attention of buyers, particularly consumers," said Charles Smulders, vice president of Gartner's Computing Platforms Worldwide group.

"In the short term, the notebook may become a victim of its own success," Smulders said. "Falling prices of LCD screens have increased notebook demand as well as demand for flat panel monitors and the small but emerging growth of LCD TVs. Mobile hard drives have also seen supplies tighten. These shortages may lead to increasing notebook prices in the coming quarters, which could hurt demand."

On a global basis, all regions showed double-digit growth in the third quarter of 2003, with the exception of Latin America. In EMEA, demand continued to strengthen as a result of favorable exchange rates and vendor discounts. Asia/Pacific showed consistent growth, while Japan seems to be recovering from a long recession. While Latin America did not experience double-digit growth, the region is showing signs of improvement with stronger notebook sales, as well as improved economic conditions in Brazil.

These results are preliminary. Final statistics will be available soon to clients of Gartner's PC Quarterly Statistics Worldwide by Region program. This program offers a comprehensive and timely picture of the worldwide PC market, allowing product planning, distribution, marketing and sales organizations to keep abreast of key issues and their future implications around the globe. To subscribe to this program, please call 408-468-8000. Additional research can be found on Gartner's Hardware and Systems Focus Area on Gartner's website.

FastMac PowerBook "Pismo" (FireWire) G4 Upgrades

A significant omission from my PowerBook Pismo processor upgrades article last Monday were the G4 upgrades from FastMac, which offer the lowest price solutions in this category.

With the FastMac upgrades, all you have to do is send in your Pismo's original processor daughtercard in working condition (previously upgraded cards and nonfunctional cards are not acceptable), and they will install a new processor and new, faster backside cache. Using your original daughtercard not only saves money but also eliminates third party software issues some other replacement upgrades can have. Before FastMac ships it back to you, FastMac rigorously tests your upgraded board to make sure it's delivering the best performance possible.

With G4 power, on some operations you'll see speeds double - even triple - that of your original processor. Screen redraws will be faster. Scrolling will be quicker, more responsive. Overall performance will increase. Programs that used to get bogged down will fly, especially in OS X.

FastMac upgrade features:

  • Motorola 500 MHz G4 7410 or Motorola 533 MHz G4 7410 running at 550 MHz
  • Upgraded 1 MB backside cache
  • AltiVec velocity engine
  • Photoshop filters and tools accelerated
  • iTunes faster CD ripping
  • Mac OS X significantly better performance
  • Games faster graphics, more responsive controls
  • 1 year warranty

System requirements:

  • Min. System: Mac OS 9.1
  • Supports Mac OS X

FastMac are Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) for a variety of Macintosh upgrade products. The reason you may not have heard of them before is because until very recently did not sell products direct to the public.

You will receive a box via DHL or FedEx with instructions to send your processor board to FastMac. International buyers will be contacted via email on how to proceed.

For a product to be shipped to any country other than the United States or Canada, you need to fax a copy of a photo ID, driver's license, passport, etc., and a copy of the front and back of your credit card with the signature clearly visible. FastMac also needs the customer service phone number of the credit-card issuer.

Turnaround time is from 8 to 10 days (excluding shipping). Also offered is FastBack Service for an extra $29.95. Instead of a 8-10 day turnaround (excluding shipping), FastBack Service guarantees 5 day turnaround (excluding shipping). This shaves an average of 5 days off your wait.

G4/550 Upgrade
Motorola 533 MHz G4 7410 running at 550 MHz. Upgraded 1 MB backside cache. $289.95
500 MHz G4 Upgrade for PowerBook Pismo
Motorola G4 7410 500 MHz Processor. Upgraded 1 MB backside cache. $239.95

MacResQ Announces Full Service PowerBook/iBook Hard Drive Upgrades

MacResQ has announced a new full-service hard drive upgrade for PowerBooks and iBooks as part of their PowerBookResQ repair program. The new service offers PowerBook and iBook owners a quick and easy way to upgrade to a larger-capacity hard drive with PowerBookResQ's 24-hour service and nationwide convenience.

The all-inclusive upgrade includes pickup at the customer's location in a custom PowerBox, overnight delivery to the PowerBookResQ service center, expert drive installation and data transfer within 24 hours, and return overnight shipping to the customer. The old hard drive will be returned and could be used as an external drive or kept as a backup.

The new upgrade is available in two sizes - a 60 GB Hitachi drive for $299 or an 80 GB Hitachi drive for $399. To get started, customers can call 1-866-Mac-Repair or visit the website.

PowerBookResQ and PowerMacResQ also offer Mac repairs for $99, which includes 3-way overnight shipping, the initial diagnostic service, and their unique PowerBox, which the customer may keep for future use. For even faster service, same-day pickup is available in most areas of the country.

Diskology Releases Disk Jockey, Inexpensive Hard Disk Copy and Diagnostic Tool

Disk JockeyDiskology has released the Disk Jockey, an inexpensive new hard disk copy and diagnostic tool that allows users to copy data between IDE hard disk drives at lightening-fast speeds while maintaining all of the attributes of the original hard disk, including hidden folders, multiple partitions, and operating system files. The Disk Jockey also lets you mount, mirror, span, test, compare, and erase hard drives.

The Disk Jockey is a veritable Swiss army knife of disk diagnostic tools - it includes 7 functions in one hardware product. In addition to high-speed data copies, the Disk Jockey also mirrors data between two hard drives, spans two hard drives to look like one logical volume to the computer, tests hard drives at the block level, and verifies data that has been copied between drives is intact.

The Disk Jockey can also mount hard disk drives to the desktop of your Windows or Macintosh computer to be used as standard desktop storage via either USB 2.0 or FireWire. The Disk Jockey can also erase hard drives quickly and securely using either a one-pass or three-pass erase per the National Security Administration (NSA) guidelines.

"The Disk Jockey is truly an amazing hard disk copy and diagnostic tool," said Tony Overbay, CEO of Diskology. "We tried to include all of the features necessary for this product to become a mainstay on a technician's bench, an integrator's lab, or on the desktop of a high-end computer user."

The Disk Jockey works either as a stand-alone duplicator and diagnostic product or attached to a Windows or Macintosh computer via either FireWire (IEEE 1394) or USB 2.0 (the product is also backward compatible with USB 1.1). The Disk Jockey works with any size drive that supports Ultra DMA and requires no additional hardware drivers when used with Windows or Macintosh operating systems that include native USB or FireWire support.

The Disk Jockey carries a suggested retail price of $299.95, and is available online via the Diskology website.

"Flying Saucer" Apple Portable Power Adapter Repair Tutorial Posted

Anson Thurston says regarding the Apple "Flying Saucer" 45 W Power Adapter Model #M7332 that shipped with clamshell iBooks and Pismo PowerBooks:

"The Power adapter was working fine for 14 months, although since the time I first purchased the iBook I have been cautious of the power connector and was careful around it for two reasons: First, it was designed in such a fashion that I was afraid of knocking it off and breaking the circuit board on the computer because of the way it sticks out from the side. Second reason is the bare metal tip that protrudes from the plug. I was afraid it was 'live' and could short out if I accidentally brushed against a metal desk leg.

"At one point about two weeks prior to failing I observed that the adapter was sparking. The sparks were in the cable right at the point where the strain relief on the connector ended. The adapter continued to function at this point. I took a magnifying glass to the end and noticed that the sheathing wire of the cable appeared frayed.

"I made a number of phone calls to various parties regarding this failure including Apple Computer. The problem was not something that was considered an issue by Apple, and since I was out of warranty I had no recourse except to purchase another one. The Apple Store informed me that they did not sell them. The reason given was that there were so many different power adapters for the various notebooks it is hard to match the right one, so only dealers carry them.

"Since the quoted price to me was $75, an amount that I felt was excessive since comparable supplies from other sources run about $45, I decided to repair mine if possible. This would also give me the opportunity to investigate the break."

Mike's 12" PowerBook iCons

These freeware icons are intended as hard drive replacement icons for 12" PowerBook users.

15 Gig Hard Drives for $63.99

These are brand new 9 mm, 2.5" 4,200 RPM IDE hard drives with 2 MB buffer. They'll fit:

  • 5300/190
  • 1400c/1400cs
  • 3400c
  • G3 Kangas
  • All iBooks
  • G3 Series (Pismo,Lombard, Bronze,FireWire, Wallstreet)
  • All G4 PowerBooks (Titanium)

$63.99 (USA & Canada), $69.99 ($6 extra international shipping for Europe/Asia/Australia) from Wegener Media.

OWC LSP Laptop Screen Protector

Have you ever noticed that the keyboard is leaving marks on your PowerBook's LCD screen?

PowerBooks made since the 1998 Wallstreet models all the way up to the PowerBook G4 Titanium have had problems with their keyboards coming into contact with the delicate LCD display and leaving marks on the screen that sometimes will not come off. Most are oils left from your fingers on the key caps; however, some are not removable.

Other World Computing has released a keyboard protector made of 100% top grain 1 oz. (approximately 1-2 mm thick) black vegetable-tanned cowhide.

Leather has always been thought of as one of the most durable natural materials, and it is also very soft. The leather used to create the Laptop Screen Protector is glove soft to protect your screen from any marks. The Laptop Screen Protector has one side of the leather finished in a smooth, tight pinpoint grain, called a chrome finish, to protect your screen from any lint or dirt gathered by an unfinished hide. The back side that lays on top of the keyboard is a soft suede backing, natural unfinished leather hide.

  • Laptop Screen Protector for the iBook Dual USB or the 12" PowerBook G4, with Klear Screen Polish, $13.95
  • Laptop Screen Protector for the PowerBook G3 Wallstreet (1998), Lombard (1999), or Pismo (2000) with Klear Screen Polish, $14.99
  • Laptop Screen Protector for the 15" PowerBook G4, with Klear Screen Polish, $17.95
  • Laptop Screen Protector for 17" PowerBook G4, with Klear Screen Polish, $17.99

Laptop Screen Protector Bundles:

  • OWC Mobility Bundle #1: RoadTools "Traveler" CoolPad, LapBottom Products LapBottom, and OWC Laptop Screen Protector - $46.95
  • OWC Mobility Bundle #2: RoadTools Podium CoolPad, LapBottom Products LapBottom, and OWC Laptop Screen Protector - $49.95
  • OWC Mobility Bundle #3: RoadTools "Traveler" CoolPad, LapBottom Products LapBottom, and OWC TiG4 Laptop Screen Protector - $51.95
  • OWC Mobility Bundle #4: RoadTools Podium CoolPad, LapBottom Products LapBottom, and OWC TiG4 Laptop Screen Protector - $54.95
  • OWC Mobility Bundle #5: RoadTools "Traveler" CoolPad (White), LapBottom Products LapBottom, and OWC iBook Dual USB Laptop Screen Protector - $46.95
  • OWC Mobility Bundle #6: RoadTools Podium CoolPad(White), LapBottom Products LapBottom, and OWC iBook Dual USB Laptop Screen Protector - $49.95

iPod Dock CoverDVForge Limited Edition iPod Dock Cover

MacMice has announced its DVForge DockCover, a CNC machined polished aluminum cover for the third-generation Apple iPod dock.

The DockCover is being offered as an extremely limited edition of only 200 pieces, each one individually serial numbered. Each DockCover is machined from 6061-T6 aerospace grade aluminum, is hand polished, and is laser engraved with both the DVForge mark and a serial number between 001 and 200. The DockCover is fully described and available for paid preorder from the MacMice Workspace Products Co. website. It will ship on November 10th and is priced at $69.99.

Belkin Voice Recorder and Belkin Media Reader for iPod

You can now add recording and digital-image storage to your iPod's amazing music-playback capabilities. The Belkin Voice Recorder and Belkin Media Reader for iPod let your iPod double as a digital voice recorder and allow you to store thousands of digital photos on it. Joining the innovative iPod accessories line from Belkin, these two additions are currently shipping in North America.

Belkin Voice RecorderWith the ultracompact Voice Recorder, you can record lectures, interviews, or conversations simply by plugging it into your iPod. The iPod's abundant storage capacity lets you save hundreds of hours of high-quality audio. A built-in speaker on the Voice Recorder lets you easily review your audio notes. You can then transfer WAV file recordings to your desktop or notebook computer for storage, editing, or sending to others via email. In addition, the Voice Recorder works as a travel alarm clock.

Benefits

  • Features high-quality, omnidirectional microphone and 16 mm speaker for quick playback
  • Attaches securely to your iPod player through remote/headphone connector
  • Indicates recording status of Voice Recorder with LED indicator
  • Requires no software installation, with Plug-and-Play technology; support is already built into the iPod
  • Works with iPod software version 2.1 or later
  • Includes protective cap for the remote connector
  • ESP $49.99

Belkin Media ReaderThe Belkin Media Reader for iPod is the ideal tool for the mobile photographer. Now, you can back up digital images to your iPod, and take them with you on the road. Your iPod can hold thousands of digital photos and frees up your camera's disk space so you can take more pictures. Simply connect the Belkin Media Reader to your iPod's dock connector, and insert any of the six supported media types. Using software support that's already built into your iPod (with software version 2.1 or later), transfer the pictures quickly via FireWire® technology. When at home, simply connect your iPod to your computer to retrieve the data.

Benefits

  • Protects the media slots from pocket dust and dirt at all times with sliding port features
  • Indicates power and data transfer status of Media Reader with LED indicator
  • Supports CompactFlash (Type 1 and 2), SmartMedia, Secure Digital (SD), Memory Stick, and MultiMediaCard (MMC)
  • ESP $99.99

The new iPod software update, Version 2.1, is available now as a free download from Apple.

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).

Apple Store Special Deals

These products are new and unopened units.

Small Dog Electronics

  • refurb 15" PowerBook G4/1 GHz, 512/60/SuperDrive, Macally iceStation Laptop Tray, Apple Bluetooth Wireless Mouse & Keyboard, $2,249
  • refurb 12" iBook 900, 128/40/Combo, Small Dog Brand 256 RAM, Palm Tungsten E Handheld color organizer, $1,375

MacResQ

Baucom Computers

  • PowerBook 1400c/117, 32/1/CD-ROM, floppy, $165
  • PowerBook 1400c/117, 32/1/CD-ROM, $149
  • PowerBook 1400c/117, 32/1/floppy, $139

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

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