The 'Book Review

MacBook Pro Performance, MacBook Air a Cash Cow, TRIM Enabler, GoFlex Slim Performance Drive, and More

This Week's MacBook, PowerBook, and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2011.04.08

General Apple and Mac desktop news 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

Products & Services

Software

Bargain 'Books

News & Opinion

MacBook Pro on Performance Enhancing Drugs?

iSource's PatrickJ says he uses a 2010 15" MacBook Pro as his desktop computer, and while all of his MacBooks have been pretty stellar performers, this one (with a recent memory upgrade to 8 GB) "is just a flat-out speedy beast of a machine. It lives to kick ass and take process names."

PatrickJ's MacBook Pro has been so much of a beast lately that he's beginning to suspect it's been hanging out with a bad crowd, maybe juicing in the clubhouse when he's out of the house, getting some of that PED (performance enhancing drugs) action on its innards.

Robust Sales Make MacBook Air a Cash Cow for Apple

AppleInsider's Neil Hughes reports that more than five months after the second-generation MacBook Air's debut, adoption rates remain robust positioning the air as a meaningful growth driver for Apple and raking in a projected $2.2 billion a year.

The $2.2 Billion MacBook Air

Fortune's Philip Elmer-DeWitt reports:

"According to [J.P. Morgan analyst Mark] Moskowitz, revenue from Air sales tripled and units quadrupled year over year after Apple (AAPL) cut the price, added a camera and introduced an 11-inch model last fall."

Link: The $2.2 Billion MacBook Air

Intel to Launch New Sandy Bridge Chips That Could Be in Next MacBook Air

Hardmac's Lionel reports that with the MacBook Pro's across-the-board upgrade to Sandy Bridge silicon, a lot of people are waiting for Apple to upgrade the MacBook Air, one of the last Macs still running a Core 2 Duo CPU. He notes that in a device as thin and tightly packed as the MacBook Air, adding faster CPUs presents formidable challenges. The 11.6" Air's current Core 2 Duo draws a modest 10W plus the power consumption of the Nvidia 320M IGPU, but Intel's current i3 and i5 CPUs draw at least 25W.

However, Lionel reports that help could be on the way in the form of Intel's new low consumption Core "i" processors, such as the Intel Core i5 2537M CPU, which is clocked at 1.4 GHz and reaches 2.3 GHz in Turbo Mode, but that even this new chip draws 17W - about 70% more than the Air's current CPU - but compensates somewhat by including graphics support on-chip.

Another variant of the low-power Core "i" family will be the Core i7 2657M featuring 2 cores (4 threads), clocked at 1.6 GHz with a turbo mode reaching 2.7 GHz, which would put the 13" MacBook Air in the 13" MacBook Pro's performance ballpark - and still with a power draw of just 17W.

Swapping Batteries in Older 'Books

MacFixIt's Topher Kessler notes that while Apple's current laptops are built with internal batteries to increase power capabilities, older 'Books still have easily removable batteries. In similar systems, the batteries are interchangeable, and while it may be obvious that you can swap batteries among these systems, some people may also have concerns about doing this, such as whether or not the system would read battery status properly and if charge values would be similar across multiple machines.

The article includes tips on live battery swapping without external power and general battery care.

TRIM Enabler Increases Solid State Drive Performance in OS X

Life Hacker's Whitson Gordon reports that a free utility called TRIM Enabler increases solid state drive (SSD) performance in OS X 10.6.7. TRIM manages how data blocks are made available on a solid state drive, and it isn't available in OS X by default. However, if you're running Snow Leopard and have a supported SSD, you can enable it with TRIM Enabler (see below), which patches OS X 10.6.7 systems to take advantage of TRIM.

UNIX fsck Command Also Supports TRIM

Hardmac's Lionel notes that veteran Mac users and many people who've had problems with their hard drives know the fsck command (available with Single-User Mode login - hold down the Command and S keys on startup or reboot - you can't run the fsck routine from the Terminal) on OS X. When starting in Single-User mode, fsck allows verification of the the integrity - and repair if necessary - of the startup disk, and reports that there is an extra line, "Trimming unused blocks" when fsck command TRIM for users whose SSD had slowed down before they activated TRIM.

To proceed:

  1. Boot in Single User mode (command + S)
  2. When asked type the fsck -ffy command (note the space in the syntax)
  3. When fsck is finished running, type exit to continue a normal boot or reboot to restart.

Early 2011 15" MacBook Pro Nearly Matches Mac Pro Performance

Computing's Cliff Joseph observes that Apple's updated MacBook Pro line brings both improved performance and battery life, as well as debuting the speedy Thunderbolt I/O technology, noting that while the 13" model will probably sell in higher volume, the 15" model has enough clout to ensure that it earns its keep and can even match one configuration of Apple's current Mac Pro workstations in performance. He further notes that one interesting thing about Thunderbolt is that it's a "dual-protocol" technology that supports existing PCI Express and DisplayPort devices, suggesting that third-party manufacturers should be able to develop adapters and hubs for existing FireWire and USB peripherals that will allow Thunderbolt to serve as a universal high-speed I/O technology for virtually any kind of peripheral.

He also reports that the 2.2 GHz 15-incher supports Windows 7 via Apple's Boot Camp tool very impressively, with the its overall benchmark score of 7,392 almost matching the 7,882 score achieved by a Mac Pro workstation equipped with a 2.8 GHz quad-core Xeon. He also praises the MacBook Pro's battery life, lasting a full eight-and-a-half hours when left running some fullscreen video, exceeding Apple's own seven hour claim for general tasks such as web browsing and email by a substantial margin - a good thing being as the MacBook Pro battery is built-in and not swappable.

Products & Services

Seagate GoFlex Slim Performance Drive

Seagate GoFlex Slim Performance DrivePR: This ultraportable external hard drive designed to work with both Mac and PC computers features an ultra-thin anodized aluminum case, delivering USB 3.0 connectivity and high performance with its fast 7200 RPM internal hard drive for file transfers up to 40% faster than 5400 RPM drives

Claimed to be the world's slimmest portable external hard drive, GoFlex Slim is about the thickness of a #2 pencil, making it ideal for pairing with your netbook, subcompact notebook, and other portable devices. The rugged case resists damage during transport with a stylish flair.

Seagate GoFlex Slim Performance DriveFeatures include the 7200 RPM internal drive, USB 3.0 plug-and-play connectivity backup software with powerful encryption technology and the Seagate Dashboard management tool for easy management of your backups and file encryption and at-a-glance available drive capacity.

Whether you have a PC or a Mac - or if you go back and forth between the two - you can access and save files on the same portable hard drive anytime without reformatting, although reformatting to HFS+ will be required in order to to use backup software for Mac or Time Machine.

The GoFlex Slim Performance System also lets you view your movies and photos on your TV by pairing the drive with the GoFlex TV HD media player

GoFlex Slim Features:

  • Preloaded premium backup software with encryption & synchronization
  • NTFS driver for Mac preloaded on drive (Compatibility may vary depending on user's hardware configuration and operating system)
  • GoFlex USB 3.0 interface adapter
  • 18" USB 3.0 cable
  • Quick start guide
  • 3-year limited warranty

System requirements

  • Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP (32-bit and 64-bit) operating system or Mac OS X operating system 10.5.8 or higher
  • SuperSpeed USB 3.0 port (required for USB 3.0 transfer speeds. Backwards compatible with USB 2.0 ports at USB 2.0 transfer speeds)

Price $99

Publisher's note: Mac OS X does not yet support USB 3.0, so these drives will only function at USB 2.0 speed without third-party USB 3.0 cards and drivers.

QuickerTek Brings Back Carry Handle for Early 15" MacBook Pros

QuickerTek Carry Handle for 15-in MacBook ProPR: QuickerTek announces that by popular demand they are bringing back Carry Handles for the first and second generation 15" MacBook Pros. Model numbers A1150 and A1226. These are the flat bottom with removable battery model MacBook Air. The new QuickerTek Carry Handle is priced at $79.95 and is available through QuickerTek's web store shipping mid-April.

QuickerTek Carry Handle for 15-in MacBook ProThis new lightweight carry handle is made from sturdy non-flex aircraft quality aluminum for strength and weight savings. The finish on the aluminum also blends in with the finishes on the MacBook Pro, so when the handle is attached, it looks like it belongs there. Countersunk screws add a finish quality that is not commonly found on handles at any price, and the handle attaches with a bracket mount that uses the existing screw holes on the back of the computer, does it not alter your Apple laptop, is completely reversible, and helps ensure that the laptop doesn't slip and hit the floor.

The unique design lays the handle out and the bracket elevates the 15" MacBook Pro, which allows better airflow underneath the laptop, which means a cooler-running laptop. This slight angle adjustment also keeps the keyboard at a raked position some users prefer.

The QuickerTek Carry Handle doesn't alter the laptop and is completely reversible. Styled to match your Mac, it goes with all of your cool Mac stuff. Like most QuickerTek products, the Carry Handles for the Unibody Family and the first and second generation MacBook Pro are backed with a one-year warranty on parts and labor.

Software

TRIM Enabler for Mac

TRIM Enabler for MacPR: Independent developer Rafeed Chaudhury says:

"Today I read reports of new discovered hacks to enable TRIM on any SSD in Mac OS X by editing binary of a leaked kext from MacBook Pro 2011 build.

"I immediately started scripting an application to automize the binary editing and allow users to enable support for any SSD model.

"Then, when I was nearly done, a user on MacBidouille [Hardmac] forum had discovered that you don't even have to edit the kext, you can just remove the identifier altogether.

"So some work went to waste but anyway, I decided to release the application anyway, because some users were having problem with installing their kexts.

"Here you go, TRIM Enabler for Snow Leopard."

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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