The 'Book Review

OS X 10.6.6 Runs Cooler, Widescreen Laptop Conspiracy, the Cost of Phantom Power Consumption, and More

This Week's MacBook, PowerBook, and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2011.01.14

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

Reviews

Products & Services

Bargain 'Books

News & Opinion

Mac OS X 10.6.6 Cools Hot MacBook

As regular readers the 'Book Value column know, Charles W. Moore hasn't been an entirely happy camper with Mac OS X v10.6 Snow Leopard for several reasons, but largely because it has made his MacBook run substantially hotter than it did in OS X 10.5 Leopard, which resulted in the cooling fans running almost all the time.

However, after installing the OS X v10.6.6 update last weekend, his MacBook is now running in the Leopard-esque low to mid-60°s C range - or even cooler.

Widescreen Laptop Conspiracy?

In April 2007, the Single Founder's Mike Taber said that he's been in the hunt for a new laptop for months and was finding it hard to believe that some of the things he really wants in a laptop were no longer available.

Taber says that in 2006 he bought a new laptop, a bit concerned that the screen resolution wasn't quite what he was used to, but he rationalized that it was a widescreen monitor, and since Apple didn't make anything else for their 15" MacBook Pro series, that's what he went with. However, he hasn't been a happy camper for a variety of reasons and was looking for a new laptop, but after running the gauntlet of every reputable notebook maker, he discovered that finding a laptop with a screen resolution of 1600 x 1200 was close to impossible.

He contends that for software development purposes - and indeed most business purposes - widescreen sucks, sacrificing height for width when the opposite is what you need for software development purposes - more vertical real estate. He blames Apple for part of this phenomenon, since widescreen has been the only format available for its laptop computers for years, with hundreds of lemming companies following Apple's lead and yanking standard format laptops from the shelves and replacing them with widescreens.

If anything, this situation has only grown worse since Taber's article was first posted, with even more extreme aspect ratios common in today's notebook and netbook displays.

Editor's note: I must concur with Taber, and it's equally true on the desktop, where today's iMacs have a 16:9 aspect ratio, making them even more widescreen than they used to be. Some history:

  • The original Macintosh and all other 9" black & white Macs have a 512 x 342 pixel display, which is almost exactly a 3:2 aspect ratio. In the PC world, VGA made 640 x 480 - a 4:3 ratio - the norm. Apple adopted that ratio with the Mac II in 1987.
  • The Macintosh Portable and every PowerBook until the 180c used a 640 x 400 display, a 16:10 widescreen ratio.
  • With the exception of its vertical Portrait Display (640 x 870 pixels, a roughly 3:4 ratio), Apple standardized on 4:3 ratio displays - 512 x 384, 640 x 480, 800 x 600, 832 x 624, 1024 x 768, 1152 x 870, 1280 x 960 - until the January 2001 introduction of the PowerBook G4 with its "megawide" 3:2 ratio display.
  • With the introduction of the 17" iMac G4 in 2003, Apple moved to 16:10 ratio displays.
  • When Apple introduced the 15" MacBook Pro in 2006, it moved from the last generation 15" PowerBook's 1440 x 960 display to 1440 x 900, moving from 3:2 to 16:10. The Late 2009 iMacs moved to a 16:9 ratio.
  • The beloved 12" PowerBook G4 and all the iBooks used a 4:3 ratio display until they were displaced by the 13.3" MacBook with its 1280 x 800 display (a 16:10 ratio) in 2006.
  • The latest MacBook Air models sport 16:9 ratio displays.

As a writer, editor, and online researcher, I find that vertical screen height means a lot more to me than display width. For years my primary display was a 1280 x 1024 (5:4 ratio) screen, and I find the 1680 x 1050 (16:10) Apple Cinema Display on my other production machine wider than I need. I'm not interested in a display that's optimized for watching HD TV and videos; I want a display that's optimized for productivity, as I argued in 16:9 Computer Displays: Let's Not Go There two-and-a-half years ago. For my purposes, a 3:2 ratio and at least 1024 pixels of screen height is just right. dk

Use a MacBook Pro as FireWire Pass-through

Mac OS X Hints contributor 0111000001100100 says:

"Their are many options today for you to attach your trusty old FireWire 400 goodies to your shiny new Mac Pro (that doesn't include FW400 anymore). 6 pin to 9 pin adapters, cables or just buy new gear . . . except you didn't plan that far ahead and now your in the middle of a critical project with one file stuck on a trusty FW400 drive and no way to plug it into your new Mac.

"The suggested workaround is to use an old MacBook Pro as a pass-through for FireWire (converting from 6 pin to 9 pin) and the old computer doesn't even need to be powered up or have the battery in."

How Much Is Phantom Power Consumption Costing You?

In this week's The Book Mystique column on PBCentral, Charles W. Moore take a look at the topic of energy wastage from "vampire" power supply adapters sucking up electricity 24/7 in many instances, and reports that standby power is estimated to account for roughly 10% of US residential electricity consumption, valued at more than US$6 billion annually. California's Department of Energy calculates residential phantom power consumes more electricity in California than all refrigerators in homes in the state.

Some reforms and solutions are outlined, including putting your computer to sleep when you'll be away for a brief time and shutting it down when you'll be away for hours, unplugging your laptop and mobile phone chargers when they're not being used to charge batteries, and getting a Kill a Watt (about $21 from Amazon.com) or similar device so you can measure power usage around the house, dorm room, or office to see how much power devices use when asleep or powered down.

AMD to Push Intel Out of MacBook Air?

Barrons' blogger Tiernan Ray reports that Nomura Securities analyst Romit Shah has raised his rating on Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) to Buy from Neutral, intriguingly suggesting that AMD could displace Intel as supplier of CPUs for Apple's MacBook Air, which, if it were to happen, would mark Apple's first ever use of AMD CPU silicon in its computers.

Editor's note: This is based in part on the assumption that Nvidia is no longer an option for Apple, a situation that has changed in recent weeks. (See Intel to Pay Nvidia $1.5 Billion for Technology for more information.) dk

Reviews

Solid State Drive Roundup

xBit Labs' Aleksey Meyev says:

"...today's roundup will talk about all sorts of drives: individual drives, RAID 0 arrays of drives, drives supporting SATA300, SATA600 and PCI Express interface and They all have one thing in common they are SSDs.

"Testing Participants

  • Corsair Force F120 CSSD-F120GB2, 120 GB
  • Crucial RealSSD C300 C300-CTFDDAC256MAG, 256 GB
  • G.Skill Phoenix Pro FM-25S2S-40GBP2, 40 GB
  • Intel X25V SSDSA2M040G2GC, 40 GB
  • OCZ Agility 2, 60 GB
  • OCZ Colossus, 120 GB
  • OCZ RevoDrive, 120 GB
  • OCZ Vertex 2, 120 GB

"Testbed and Methods

  • Performance in Intel IOMeter
  • Sequential Read & Write Patterns
  • Disk Response Time
  • Random Read & Write Patterns
  • Database Patterns
  • Web-Server, File-Server Patterns
  • Multithreaded Read & Write Patterns
  • Performance in FC-Test
  • Performance in PCMark Vantage
  • Defragmentation
  • Performance in WinRAR
  • Power Consumption

"As opposed to the slowly developing HDD market (our recent roundup covered the entire year), solid state drives are evolving at a much more rapid rate and bringing us more news in a shorter period. There are SSD products with new controllers, with PCI Express interface, with new firmware, etc. We, at X-bit labs, have to be running fast just to stay where we are and keep you in touch with the latest market developments.

"So in this review we are going to take a look at an SSD designed as a PCIe controller and check out if it is better than a RAID array built out of two ordinary 2.5-inch SSDs. We will also benchmark low-capacity SSDs based on the SandForce controller."

Products & Services

WD Scorpio Black Notebook Hard DriveWD Scorpio Black Notebook Hard Drives Available in 160 GB to 750 GB Capacities

PR: Western Digital's new fast and efficient hard drives with 7200 RPM spin speed, 16 MB cache, and SATA 3 Gb/s interface are sure to satisfy even the most demanding notebook users.

Features

  • Massive capacity. Up to 750 GB capacity for space-hungry operating systems with plenty of room left over for photos, music, and video.
  • Low power consumption. With 5400 RPM-equivalent power consumption there is no compromise in battery life.

Capacities offered include 750 GB, 500 GB, 320 GB, 250 GB, and 160 GB.

HyperMac External Battery Packs Extend MacBook Battery Life Up to 32 hours

PR: Sanho Corp., the company behind the HyperDrive photo backup devices introduces HyperMac - external MacBook battery packs that work with the entire Apple MacBook family of notebook computers, including all MacBook, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models.

Available in 4 different capacities of 60 Wh, 100 Wh, 150 Wh, and 222 Wh (compared to MacBook Air 37 Wh only internal battery), the external battery is capable of powering the MacBook for up to 32 hours - allowing for long haul flights, extended outdoor shoots, expeditions to remote locations or any situation where electricity is simply not an option. When on the road, there is also the HyperMac car charger which powers and recharges the MacBook directly from the automobile cigarette slot.

Every HyperMac battery is compatible with all MacBook, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models courtesy of proprietary variable power technology which enables the battery to adjust the charging power automatically when connected to different MacBook models. For maximum compatibility, HyperMac charging cables are spliced with the original Apple MagSafe connectors. Not only does HyperMac provides power for the MacBook, it charges the internal battery as well.

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.

Daniel Chin, President of Sanho Corporation, says that "HyperMac allows the MacBook user to easily extend their MacBook battery life. 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, and its clean lines, laser engraved logo and all-white accessories complete the Applesque look.

  • The HyperMac batteries allow MacBook users to easily extend their mobile computing time, especially with newer unibody MacBooks featuring built-in batteries that are nonuser replaceable.
  • Proprietary technology adjusts battery charging power automatically according to the connected MacBook model.
  • Charging cables use original MagSafe connectors for maximum compatibility.
  • MacBook matching silver color aluminum housing, laser engraved logo and all-white accessories complete the Applesque look.

The HyperMac battery and car charger are now available for preorder at HyperMac.com and will be shipping later this month for $149.95 (car charger), $199.95 (60-watt-hour battery), $299.95 (100 Wh), $399.95 (150 Wh), and $499.95 (222 Wh).

Specifications

  • Dimensions:
    • 4.92 x 3.78 x 0.83" (60 Wh)
    • 7.48 x 4.92 x 0.8" (100 Wh)
    • 8.9 x 4.92 x 0.83" (150 Wh)
    • 10.1 x 5.91 x 1.34" (222 Wh)
  • Weight:
    • 0.8 lb (60 Wh)
    • 1.6 lb. (100 Wh)
    • 2.4 lb. (150 Wh)
    • 4.7 lb. (222 Wh)
  • Battery: Lithium ion
  • 4 stage LED battery level indicator lights
  • USB 5V/1A power out

The first and only battery pack and car charger that powers and recharges the entire Apple MacBook family of notebook computers, and is available in four different battery capacities of 60 Wh ($199.95), 100 Wh ($299.95), 150 Wh ($399.95), and 222 Wh ($499.95) - compared to MacBook Air 37 Wh internal battery.

The new HyperJuice external MacBook batteries including both the modification kit and car charger will be available later in January, for prices ranging from $100 for just the car charger to $500 for the modification kit, car charger, and 222-watt-hour battery.

mBrace, a Handle for the 15" MacBook Pro

mBrace for MacBook ProPR: Boston based startup venture Creativity Different announces the mBrace, a simple and stylish accessory for your MacBook Pro designed to improve the comfort and convenience of carrying a notebook around the office, on campus, or anywhere you take your Mac.

mBrace for MacBook ProThe mBrace, made from a high quality Acetal plastic and incredibly strong Uretek fabric, easily and securely attaches to a MacBook without affecting any of its typical uses. You can leave it on your MacBook Pro all the time because even with the mBrace attached, the MacBook Pro still fits nicely in most bags and sleeves with no problem. It even fits with most covers and cases attached. But just in case, the mBrace detaches as effortlessly as it attaches to your notebook. And as a bonus, when attached the handle can rest underneath the MacBook Pro to provide an angled keyboard and ventilation prop.

mBrace for MacBook ProThe mBrace is the first project for Creativity Different, a startup venture with the mission to design and manufacture innovative and stylish mobile accessories. Creativity Different intends to leverage Kickstarter to raise financing for manufacturing costs through donations. As an incentive, each donor of $30 or more will receive a complimentary mBrace when they are available to the public (effectively a preorder). Creativity Different anticipates a late spring 2011 release of the mBrace. The Kickstarter approach is all or nothing. If Creativity Different cannot generate enough interest (2,500 preorders) by Feb 10th, none of the donors will be obligated and the project will not be funded.

"I am really excited about this opportunity to finally bring the mBrace to life and I am equally excited to have discovered the Kickstarter platform and community that made this opportunity possible." says Terrance Kirkwood, founder of Creativity Different.

Waterfield Designs Introduces the Muzetto Man Bag in Luxurious Black Leather

Muzetto Man Bag

PR: Waterfield Designs announces the new black leather Muzetto. Available just in time to house the new tablets, notebooks and gadgets announced at the 2011 Computer Electronic Show (CES) and upcoming Macworld, the Muzetto is available now for preorder at sfbags.com. This fashionable bag for men is now available in luxurious, naturally-tanned, black leather with a choice of six accent colors and five sizes, as well as a selection of other color themes. All Waterfield Designs bags are made in San Francisco.

Muzetto Man BagThe Muzetto is engineered with style and functionality in mind. The hip, leather, vertical bag includes one main compartment, an under-flap pocket, a zippered interior pocket for extra security, and a back pocket ample options for men to designate a place for each item they carry. An adjustable strap allows users to wear the Muzetto across the chest or hanging from one shoulder. To reduce shoulder and back fatigue, a removable, shoulder pad with a grippy underside keeps the strap firmly in place.

Muzetto Man BagA gold liner lights up the interior making contents easy to differentiate. The flap length and angled sides highlight the Muzetto's svelte look.

The clean and refined design of the Muzetto complements any outfit from casual jeans to a dressy blazer. Personalization options include a choice of six color accents and five sizes. The Personal & Portable sizes can carry daily necessities like a wallet, cellphone, sunglasses or an Apple iPad case. The 11-, 13- and 15-inch sizes are ideal for carrying the MacBook Air SleeveCase or alternate laptop sleeves in these respective sizes. Each Muzetto is small enough to provide unrestricted motion, yet large enough to stow the essentials.

Muzetto Man Bag"With all the gadgets we carry around these days, it's time we had a bag to store it all in," says company founder Gary Waterfield, "We designed the Muzetto for just that purpose. If you're like me, you want a bag that has a certain refinement to it simple and elegant yet functional. The Muzetto is just that."

The Muzetto is available in five sizes: The Personal ($179), The Portable ($199), and the 11" ($219), the 13" ($239), and the 15" ($259) models.

Each Muzetto size is available in black or brown high-quality leather with color accents in: black, copper, pine, grass, flame, or pearl.

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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