The 'Book Review

Time to Reinvent Ultralight Notebooks, Greenpeace Slams Apple Again, 200 GB 7200 RPM Notebook Drive, and More

This Week's Mac Notebook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2007.04.20

This Week's MacBook, PowerBook, and iBook News

PC Magazine is calling for someone to reinvent the ultralight notebook computer, and with flash drives and higher density displays, the time has never been better. How about it, Apple?

Greenpeace continues to flog Apple as the least eco-friendly computer manufacturer, yet we suspect a far lower percentage of old Macs have made it into landfills or into Asia for stripping than any other brand of PCs. Oh well, more free PR for Greenpeace.

On the hard drive front, Fujitsu has added a freefall sensor to a new line of hard drives, Intel has selected Toshiba's 1.8" hard drives (the ones found in full-sized iPods) for the next generation of ultramobile PCs, and Samsung has joined the 200 GB notebook drive club with a 7200 rpm offering.

For those who miss notebook handles, be sure to check out The Fin, which gives you a more sure grip of your 'Book and also improves airflow and cooling.

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

General Apple and Mac desktop news is covered in The Mac News Review.

News & Opinion

Hard Drive Tech

Products and Services

Bargain 'Books

News & Opinion

Time to Reinvent the Ultralight Laptop

PC Magazine's Tim Bajarin says:

"As a serious business traveler, I'm a big fan of small and light portable computers, often referred to as ultralights. My first portable computer was an NEC 8201, followed by the Toshiba T1000. Over the years, I've become a connoisseur of smaller and lighter laptops. Today, my favorites are the Toshiba Portegé R200, the Dell XPS M1210, and the Lenovo ThinkPad X60. All run Microsoft Windows, weigh less than 3 pounds, and have screens in the 10- to 12-inch range. No, they don't have optical drives built in, but nor do most other ultralights. And, frankly, I don't really need an optical drive anymore, since I download movies and TV shows rather than having to bring DVDs with me when I hit the road. Most important, my ultralight laptops are completely capable of handling the needs of a demanding mobile computer user - me."

Link: Time to Reinvent the Laptop

Apple Least Eco-Friendly for Laptops says Greenpeace

Notebook Review's Andrew says:

"Al Gore, who's movie 'An Inconvenient Truth' won an Oscar award for its insightful look at global warming, sits on the Board of Directors for Apple Computer. So why is Apple rated the bottom of the barrel for eco-friendly products and Chinese based Lenovo praised by Greenpeace for being a leader?

"It goes to show that not everything is intuitive or as it would seem for this world we live in.

"Lenovo went from worst to first, while Apple has languished in last on the enviro-friendly meter over the past 18 months. Here's how Lenovo compares to Apple on the Greenpeace scoring bracket and why they scored the way they did...."

More details on each company's environmental efforts, and what Greenpeace based much of its scoring on, can be found on their websites.

New MacBook in the Shop with Failed Drive

PBCentral's Noah Kravitz says:

"From the first morning I put my new 'certified reconditioned' MacBook into use I was having problems. iMovie was crashing. A lot. I thought I might have isolated the problem to rendering titles over .AVI clips imported from my wife's digital camera. Maybe that Casio .AVI importer extension was bad, even though their website claimed stable compatibility with Intel Macs, I thought. But then things got worse over the weekend.

"Spinning beach balls started popping up everywhere. Safari pages took longer and longer to load. Things in general were slowing down. I had already run Software Update to make sure I had the latest releases of the OS and other apps. So I started to get worried.

"Then this past Monday morning everything seemed right for about 40 minutes. iMovie was humming along (granted I was avoiding said Casio .AVI clips). And then everything blew up.

"The entire system slowed to a crawl. Single clicks in the Finder took upwards of 30 seconds to register. Something was seriously amiss and my bet was on hard drive failure....

"I signed up for the earliest available Genius Bar appointment I could make at the Walnut Creek, CA Apple Store - 5:40 p.m. on Wednesday - and packed the MacBook back into its box. When the Geniuses (Genii?) tried to reinstall OS X from their FireWire boot drive, Disk Utilities registered my new computer's hard drive as 'Failed' in big red letters. Totally dead.

"The Geniuses were nice about it, and told me that if they had a matching drive in stock they could do a quick swap right there and send me home with a 'good as new' machine. No such luck. I should have my MacBook back in 4-6 more business days ('Hopefully a lot less,' said one Genius, 'but that's the official estimate')...."

Link: Broken in Four Days: My New MacBook's in the Shop

Intel Takes the Wraps Off of Santa Rosa

ExtremeTech' Loyd Case says:

"Santa Rosa is the latest iteration of Intel's Centrino platform, and consists of core logic, networking and updated Merom CPUs, which will start arriving in laptop PCs late Spring. The new chipset is the mobile version of Intel's G965 core logic, with enhancements added for improved power management, particularly of the graphics core."

Link: Intel Takes the Wraps Off of Santa Rosa

Hard Drive Tech

Fujitsu Protects Hard Drives from Fall

PC World's Manek Dubash reports:

"Fujitsu Europe is offering the optional fitting of its latest hard drive series MHW2xxxBH with a freefall sensor (FFS). Laptop makers including Lenovo [and, of course, Apple's Sudden Motion Sensor cm] have built similar protection in their computers, but Fujitsu has integrated it in the drive itself.

"According to Fujitsu, the sensor uses the time between being dropped and hitting something to protect the hard drive against head crashes. The new technology is primarily targeted at mobile users so, if a notebook falls off a table during flight turbulence, the sensor is activated and protects the hard drive from potential data loss or damage.

"According to Fujitsu, it uses ramp load technology to move the read/write head from the magnetic medium onto the ramp while the drive is in freefall, thus preventing the head from striking the medium. Once the heads are on the ramp, both they and the medium itself are protected from an impact and the danger of a head crash is reduced."

Link: Fujitsu Protects Hard Drives from Fall

Toshiba 1.8" Hard Drives Provide Robust Storage for Next-Generation Ultra Mobile PC

PR: Toshiba Storage Device Division (SDD), the industry pioneer in mobile storage products, has announced collaboration with Intel Corporation to provide a family of 1.8-inch hard disk drive (hard drive) solutions for the newest-generation Ultra Mobile PC (UMPC) and MID (Mobile Internet Device) platform architecture, which made its debut today at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) 2007 Conference in Beijing, China. Toshiba's 1.8-inch hard drives provide the small footprint, high capacity, low power and ruggedness needed to deliver the UMPC experience using Intel's new Intel® Ultra Mobile Platform 2007.

Available in 30 GB, 4 GB, 60 GB, 80 GB, and 100 GB capacities, Toshiba's 1.8-inch hard drives deliver the storage capacity and responsiveness necessary to support the new platform's advanced computing capabilities while meeting the longer battery life, durability and small footprint requirements of the mobile environment. The Intel® Ultra Mobile Platform 2007 represents a significant step in the creation of a new category of connected mobile devices that support the full range of PC functionality including a seamless Internet experience, location adaptability and anytime connectivity for wireless email, instant messenger chat and VOIP.

"Toshiba's dedication to the advancement of 1.8-inch form factor storage solutions is realized in the new UMPC and MID platforms," said Robert DeLine, Director of Marketing of the Ultra Mobility Group at Intel Corporation. "These storage solutions, combined with Intel's high-performance, energy efficient processor and chipset, are well-suited for the demanding consumer."

As the first company to successfully market the 1.8-inch hard drive form factor, Toshiba commands over 75 percent market share in the category according to IDC and has shipped more than 40 million 1.8-inch hard drives since introduction in 2000.

"Toshiba's continued technology leadership in mobile hard drives has enabled us to offer a robust storage solution for Intel's next-generation UMPC and MID platforms," said Maciek Brzeski, vice president of marketing at Toshiba Storage Device Division. "Storage is a key factor in propelling the UMPC platform forward. Thanks to our introduction of perpendicular magnetic recording two years ago, we have greatly advanced the storage capacity of 1.8-inch hard drives to provide a meaningful solution for the mobile computing arena."

Toshiba will showcase its 1.8-inch hard drives for the new Intel® Ultra Mobile Platform 2007 at the Intel Developer Forum in Beijing, China, April 17-18. The event provides developers, suppliers and OEM partners with a forum to evaluate new technologies and their potential applications.

Link: Toshiba Storage

Toshiba Introduces World's First 200 GB Portable Hard Drive

PR: Toshiba Storage Device Division (SDD) has introduced a 200 GB 2.5-inch USB 2.0 portable external hard drive capable of storing up to 57,000 digital photos, 52,000 MP3 music files, 88 DVD videos, or 23 high-definition videos. The 200 GB portable external hard drive delivers the highest capacity of any backup solution in the compact 2.5-inch hard drive class.

Highlighting the need to preserve and protect digital libraries with its easy-to-use backup solution, the company is sponsoring the "Toshiba Most Prized Digital Memories Sweepstakes" featuring a chance to win a Toshiba Digital Lifestyle Prize Pack that includes a Toshiba Satellite notebook and Toshiba gigabeat music player. To enter, consumers can visit www.digitalmemories.toshibastorage.com.

Available in 200 GB, 160 GB, 120 GB, and 100 GB capacities, Toshiba's new personal storage line offers consumers convenient and simple options for preserving and transporting treasured digital files.

"Each year, consumers are generating thousands of digital content files that represent cherished memories, beloved entertainment content and important family and business information, yet the notion of preserving this information with a backup solution is just beginning to take hold," said Maciek Brzeski, vice president of marketing, Toshiba SDD. "We have addressed a critical need for preserving digital memories for years to come with a high-capacity, easy-to-use solution that takes the mystery and worry out of data backup."

Consumer-Friendly Setup and Operation

Toshiba's USB 2.0 portable external hard drives come bundled with the award-winning NTI Shadow™ software. The click-free, switch-free and button-free backup solution enables users to simply connect the drive, set the backup parameters and enjoy peace of mind in knowing critical and cherished digital information is protected. This easy-to-use solution is ideal for any home or small business.

Built with Portability and Reliability in Mind

Toshiba's USB 2.0 portable external hard drives have been designed with convenience and portability in mind. Leveraging its years of experience in designing mobile hard disk drives for notebooks, digital audio players and other handheld devices, Toshiba has incorporated a special patent-pending shock mount system to provide extra protection against normal wear and tear.

In addition, the drives' ventilated and sleek black aluminum housing makes them stylish complements to other digital devices and helps dissipate heat more efficiently than similar products on the market. Other features of these eco-conscious, RoHS compatible drives include:

  • Compatibility with both Windows and Mac operating systems
  • A convenient four-foot USB cable to enable users to easily plug in to any laptop or desktop PC and access their stored files
  • USB Hi-Speed Certification for use of the drive in any USB port configuration
  • A fingerprint and scratch-resistant black aluminum housing

Toshiba's new USB 2.0 portable external hard drives are available at www.toshibadirect.com and through other major retailers and online outlets. For a complete list, please visit www.wheretobuy.toshibastorage.com. Manufacturer suggested retail prices (MSRP) are:

  • 200 GB: $229.99
  • 160 GB: $179.99
  • 120 GB: $149.99
  • 100 GB: $129.99

Toshiba USB 2.0 Portable External Hard Drive

  • Capacities 100 GB, 120 GB, 160 GB, 200 GB
  • Dimensions 0.94" (H) x 3.5" (W) x 5.6" (L) 23.65mm (H) x 88.0mm (W) x 142.08mm (L)
  • Interface USB 2.0; (USB 1.1 Compatible)
  • System requirements:
  • Microsoft Windows 2000/XP/Vista
  • Macintosh OS X 10.3.9 or later
  • Available USB 2.0 Port
  • CD-ROM Drive (for software)
  • USB 1.1 requires 2 USB Ports

Link: Toshiba Storage

Samsung SP2004C 200 GB 7200 RPM Notebook Hard Drive

PR: Superior performance and high capacity combine to give you truly magical graphics and audio visual performance. Samsung's P120 Series allows you to store more movies and music titles on your PC and dramatically increases the range and quality of your PC experience.

  • 200 GB
  • 7200 RPM
  • 8 MB Buffer Memory
  • SATA Interface

High-capacity hard drive to Increase Productivity for Professionals

Typically, 10 gigabytes is required to produce a new catalogue for backup files. When several persons are working together, it is more efficient and convenient to keep the backup files on the hard drive rather than on other media, such as CD-RW media and floppy disks. Therefore, the capacity of the hard drive can directly affect the productivity levels of graphic arts professionals, such as graphic designers.

SilentSeek

Samsung set out to minimize the data seeking noise that has always irritated users, we have developed and applied SilentSeek™ technology, which makes the movement of the head actuator much smoother. While

other competing technologies, such as the AAM option, cause performance degradation to lower the noise level, Samsung's SilentSeek™ technology causes virtually no degradation in performance.

Serial ATA

The parallel interface, Ultra ATA/100, in most of today's desktop storage systems is now facing its limit. The parallel ATA interface has been in use as the standard legacy storage device for individual users for over 17 years. However, with the continuous increase in data transfer rate, the need for totally new interface has arisen. Samsung has adopted the new interface, Serial ATA, in its P80 S-ATA product, and will continue to launch products with Serial ATA interface for years to come.

The benefits of the Serial ATA

The Serial ATA is an inside-the-box storage interface with high cost-performance ratio.

  1. Low pin count
    Serial ATA has two pairs of lines, i.e. 4 lines (7 lines including ground connections). Each pair controls respective signals, one from controller to device and the other from device to controller, sending only 1 bit at a time. Therefore, there is no signal skew caused by signal timing restraints as is found in parallel ATA.
  2. Low voltage
    Serial ATA boasts a low voltage of 0.5V, one-tenths of that of the 5V parallel ATA. The low voltage reduces electromagnetic interference and power consumption rate during data transmission. Low power consumption is especially suitable for mobile products.
  3. Easier installation
    Serial ATA eliminates the need for a master/slave jumper by connecting hosts to individual devices in a point-to-point fashion. This enables users to use thin cables of 1 meter in length, providing more flexibility in contrast to parallel ATA. This feature improves airflow in the system and provides design flexibility with the chassis of slim PCs. The simplified cables eventually lead to simple connectors. The figure below shows that Serial ATA is comprised of a data cable and a power cable. The connector at the end of the thin, red data cable has seven pins, four controlling signal lines and three controlling ground connections. One additional line of 3.3V has been added to the power cable of 12V and 5V lines, to comprise five lines. This 3.3V line provides power directly when the voltage in the hard drive circuit drops. As shown in the lower right figure, the previous ATA connector was relatively large, with 40 pins, while Serial ATA offers slimmer connectors suitable for the 2.5" hard drive used in laptop PCs. Since the connector is designed with a common standard for both 3.5" and 2.5" drives, the same power connector can be used on both 3.5" and 2.5" form factor products, allowing simpler PC system design with further cost reduction.
  4. High data transfer rate
    Serial ATA 1.0, with its cable noise tolerance and serial transfer features, supports bandwidth of 1.5 Gbit/s which provides 10% faster data transfer rate; up to 150 MB/s compared to ATA-133. The simplified data transfer protocol of Serial ATA minimizes time delay in command process.
  5. Hot-plug capability
    The Hot-plug capability is an essential feature required at a RAID system. Serial ATA Hot-swap enables restoration of the system and recovery of previous functions without interruption. This feature allows the drive to be utilized in servers.
  6. Improved data reliability
    Although Cyclic Redundancy Checking capability exists in P-ATA, Serial ATA has improved its capability to protect data, thus enhancing data reliability.

NoiseGuard

Samsung has developed and applied NoiseGuard™ technology that is a combined technology to eliminate each noise source or to minimize energy transmission. First, modification of the spindle motor's design minimizes the noise source. In addition, the cover is designed to optimize the flow of air. The Damper utilizes vibration absorbing

material, installed on the area of highest density, which maximizes the transmission of energy to the outside.

ImpacGuard

ImpacGuard™, Samsung's patented technology, is designed to prevent any head actuator vibration during a nonoperating environment, which reduces the possibility of collision between the head and the disk even further. Besides, hard drive parts can also fail due to corrosion or contamination. Samsung analyzed and eliminated these kinds of problems, at the source, and in advance, by applying the best failure analysis technology adapted from our experience in the semi- conductor business. For example, the microscopic pin holes on the disk surface causes corrosion, which then causes one type of hardware failure. Samsung analyzed this fact to solve the problem in cooperation with our disk component suppliers.

Link: SP2004C Hard Disk Drive

Products and Services

The FinThe Fin Portable Computer Handle/Stand

PR: The Fin Portable Computer Handle/Stand is designed to work exclusively with the following Apple notebook models:

  • MacBook 13"
  • MacBook Pro 15" and 17"
  • PowerBook G4 12': 15" and 17"

The FinFeatures:

  • Elegant one piece, patent-pending design
  • Manufactured from durable, aircraft grade aluminum
  • Natural aluminum finish to match MacBook Pro and PowerBook G4s, powder coated black or white to match MacBooks
  • Places notebook on an ergonomic typing angle
  • Increases airflow under laptop and dissipates heat
  • Easy installation and removal
  • The FIN for an Apple MacBook Black Notebook
  • The FIN for an Apple MacBook White Notebook
  • The FIN for an Apple MacBook Pro 15" Notebook
  • The FIN for an Apple MacBook Pro 17" Notebook
  • The FIN for an Apple PowerBook G4 12" Notebook
  • The FIN for an Apple PowerBook G4 15" Notebook
  • The FIN for an Apple PowerBook G4 17" Notebook

All models $29.95

Link: The Fin

RhinoSkin MacBook Hardcase

RhinoSkinPR: Durable ABS hardcase protection designed specifically for your new MacBook

  • Proper ventilation provided on all sides and bottom as well as neoprene padding to prevent scratches
  • Openings provide access to CD/DVD drive, data ports, charger jacks and all other functions while inside the case
  • Double-hinge cover design flips underneath to provide raised angle for easy typing and visibility
  • Detachable accessory box holds AC charger, cables and still has room for other items
  • Removable backpack straps included

Link: RhinoSkin (link not working at publication)

Bargain 'Books

Bargain 'Books are used unless otherwise indicated. New and refurbished units have a one-year Apple warranty and are eligible for AppleCare.

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 (VGA) and G4/667 (DVI), the titanium vs. aluminum 15" PowerBook G4 at 1 GHz, and 1.25 GHz to 1.5 GHz 15" PowerBooks.

PowerBook, iBook, and MacBook profiles linked in our Portable Mac Index.

Apple Store

  • refurb 15" 2.16 GHz Core Duo MacBook Pro, 1 GB/100/SuperDrive, $1,499.00
  • refurb 15" 2.16 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 1 GB/120/SuperDrive, $1,599.00
  • refurb 15" 2.33 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/120/SuperDrive, $1,999.00
  • refurb 17" 2.16 GHz Core Duo MacBook Pro, 1 GB/120/SuperDrive, $1,999.00
  • refurb 17" 2.33 GHz Core 2 MacBook Pro, 2 GB/160/SuperDrive, $2,299.00

Wegener Media

  • 15" PowerBook G4/867, 256/60/Combo, $599.99
  • 15" PowerBook G4/1 GHz, 256/60/Combo, $679.99
  • Upgrade to a SuperDrive for $79.99 installed
  • Upgrade to a 8x SuperDrive for $139.99 installed

Baucom Computers

  • 12" iBook G3/800, 256/30/CD, $329
  • 14" iBook G3/900, 256/40/Combo, $409
  • Add AirPort for $75
  • 12" iBook G4/1.2 GHz, 256/40/Combo, $529.00

ExperCom

  • 12" iBook G3/900, 640/60/Combo, AP, $549
  • 12" iBook G4/1 GHz, 256/30/CD, APX, scratches, $479
  • 15" PowerBook G4/1 GHz, 512/80/SD, APX, $849
  • 17" PowerBook G4/1.33 GHz, 512/80/SD, APX, BT, $1,099

Power Max

  • Apple refurb 15" PowerBook G4/1.33 GHz, 256/60/Combo, APX, $999
  • Apple refurb 15" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, 512/80/Combo, APX, $1,049
  • Apple refurb 17" PowerBook G4/1.67 GHz, 512/120/SD, APX, BT, $1,288

We Love Macs

  • 12" iBook G3/500, 192/10/CD, $284.95
  • 12" iBook G3/600, 128/20/CD, case, $324.95
  • 12" iBook G3/700, 256/20/CD, $379.95

TechRestore

TechRestore is offering a $25 discount to 'Book Review readers off any PowerBook or iBook in stock. Just enter the code CWM during checkout when ordering online. The coupon code is valid from now through 2007.12.31.

  • 12" iBook G3/700, 256/20/Combo, $399.99 less $25 = $374.99
  • 15" PowerBook G4/500, 256/20/Combo, $549.99 less $25 = $524.99
  • 15" PowerBook G4/550, 256/20/Combo, $599.99 less $25 = $574.99
  • 15" 2 GHz Core Duo MacBook Pro, 512/80/SD, $1,499.99 less $25 = $1,474.99

The PowerBook Guy

  • 12" clamshell iBook G3/300, blueberry, 64/3/CD, $169.95
  • 12" iBook G3/500, 128/10/CD, $199.95
  • 14" PowerBook Pismo G3/400, 256/20/DVD, $379.95
  • 14" PowerBook Pismo G3/500, 256/20/DVD, $399.95
  • 15" PowerBook G4/667, 256/20/DVD, $529.95

Custom Macs

  • Apple Emate 300 PDA, Touch Screen in great working shape, $69.99
  • 12" iBook G3/300, 128/3/CD, OS X 10.2 installed, tested battery and power cord, $259.99
  • 12" iBook G3/600, 128/20/CD, OS X 10.2, working battery and power cord, $299.99

Computer Geeks

  • 12" iBook G4/1 GHz, 512/30/CD, APX, $449

BetaMacs

  • 12" iBook G3/500, 128/10/CD, OS X, $209
  • 12" iBook G3/500, 128/30/CD, OS X, $279
  • 12" iBook G3/600, 128/30/CD, OS X, $329

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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