The 'Book Review

Windows 7 on MacBook Air, Screen Size Dilemma, 6G eSATA Adapter, DesktopMonitor App, and More

This Week's MacBook, PowerBook, and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2011.04.29

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 Air with Windows 7: The Best of Both Worlds?

WinSuperSite's Paul Thurrott notes that there's a cute little trend in tech circles where a Windows blogger will try to justify his recent and "otherwise embarrassing" Mac purchase by writing about his walk on the dark side and offering up years-late observations about how Windows and Mac OS X differ.

Thurrott points out that he purchased his first Mac, a 2001 iBook, before Apple released Mac OS X, and has used every single version of Apple's flagship OS on one or more Macs ever since, having probably bought more Apple computers and devices and thrown more money at Apple than most Apple enthusiasts, so he knows whereof he speaks.

He's just bought a MacBook Air that he's going to run Windows 7 on, thereby inviting criticism from partisans on both sides of the digital divide.

However, Thurrott allows that the MacBook Air represents the state of the art in laptop design and in mobility and portability, and since he doesn't use his laptop as his primary machine but only when he's traveling or moving around the house to catch up on email or the news while watching TV or otherwise relaxing - and netbooks or most PC ultraportables just don't cut it because their small keyboards and wrist rests are just too uncomfortable for serious use.

Apple's second-generation 13" MacBook Air, on the other hand offers a full-sized keyboard but weighs just 2.9 pounds, has a very high-res (for its size) at 1440 x 900 display, although tricked out as required came to almost exactly $1,500 taxes included. He'll also need to buy a full, retail version of Windows 7 to run on this machine as well, adding an other $200 to the cost, and then there's Office, but he travels a lot and portability is important to him.

In a follow-up article, Thurrott discusses how he configured the MacBook Air for Windows, including a discussion of the relative merits of using VMware Fusion or Parallels Desktop to allow you to install and run Windows in a virtual machine environment vs. dual-booting using the built-in Mac OS X Boot Camp utility - or alternatively just wiping out Mac OS X and installing Windows only, as Thurrott did but doesn't enthusiastically recommend for most folks.

MacBook Air Screen Size Dilemma: 11.6" or 13.3"?

AppStorm's David Appleyard says that as his 3-year-old 15" MacBook Pro (MBP) starts to show its age, he's starting to think that he'll soon be in the market for a new Apple notebook. Appleyard praises the MBP as having been a fantastic machine to own, but after three years of lugging a 15" portable around, he's decided that a laptop this big isn't particularly portable and has been casting his eye in the direction of Apple's second generation MacBook Air machines, which have been receiving rave reviews since their release last October. The big dilemma for Appleyard is as to whether an 11.6" or 13.3" screen makes the greatest sense, and are either of them really adequate to replace a 15" display?

Recycled iBook iPad Sleeve

The Katz Blog has posted a video tutorial on converting an end-of-life iBook into a cool iPad case, noting:

"My son and I gutted the machine, and took out everything we could leaving the empty shell. Using a Dremel I removed any part of the inside that was sharp or took up space. I then glued some soft fuzzy material inside to cradle the iPad and secured the two sides of the iBook together.

Apple Changes Drive Mounting System on 2009 and 2010 MacBooks

Hardmac's Lionel notes that Apple sometimes changes repair parts for economical reasons or to improve performance or comfort of the user. Examples are the case top of the original MacBook, which had been prone to discoloration and cracking, the upper case on Unibody models to obviate having to replace the entire assembly if the trackpad is faulty, and most recently the shock resistant hard drive mounting in the 2009 and 2010 MacBook.

Products & Services

SeriTek/6G eSATA ExpressCard/34 Adapter Boots 2011 17" MacBook Pro

PR: The bootable new 2-port, SeriTek/6G eSATA 6Gb/s ExpressCard brings eSATA support and enhanced I/O performance, offering read transfer rates over 380 MB/s when matched with the Early 2011 17" MacBook Pro.

SeriTek/6G eSATA ExpressCard/34 AdapterThe SeriTek/6G features an energy efficient, two channel, SATA 6Gb/s compliant, native eSATA interface. This ExpressCard is compliant with the Serial ATA Revision 3.0 specification which supports SATA 6.0 Gb/s, 3.0 Gb/s and 1.5 Gb/s hard disks and Solid State Disks (SSD). The SeriTek/6G is also backward compatible with 2010 and 2009 MacBook Pro 17" models. However, pre-2011 MacBook Pro models will provide slower read performance and are not bootable with the SeriTek/6G. For maximum performance, FirmTek recommends using the SeriTek/6G with the 2011 Apple 17" MacBook Pro.

The FirmTek SeriTek/6G supports FIS-based port multiplier aware hardware which allows up to ten disks to be connected to the controller when two 5-bay SeriTek/5PM enclosures are available. A port multiplier configuration can provide massive storage volumes for audio/video editing, multimedia libraries, or backing up data. The SeriTek/6G optimizes performance for up to five hard disks per data port by utilizing the advanced bandwidth characteristics of the PCI-Express architecture. Port multiplication also delivers significantly less cable clutter. A single eSATA data cable can attach up to five hard disks to the computer. The SeriTek/6G can dramatically increase on-hand data storage capabilities. With up to 10 hard disks connected simultaneously, accessible storage limits can be effectively eliminated for all but the most demanding applications.

Using a direct connect storage enclosure like the FirmTek SeriTek/2EN2 allows up to two external SATA hard disks or SSD's to be attached to the SeriTek/6G. This configuration offers optimal bandwidth for high performance single disk or RAID installations. The SeriTek/6G eSATA controller supports a wide variety of hard disk configuration options for maximum connectivity.

Key Features and Benefits

  • SATA 6Gb/s compliant
  • Supports SATA 6.0 Gb/s, 3.0 Gb/s and 1.5 Gb/s Disks
  • Fully compliant with Serial ATA Revision 3.0 specification
  • PCI-Express compliant
  • S.M.A.R.T. application support for third party Macintosh utilities
  • Supports Apple Disk Utility RAID and JBOD hard disk configurations
  • Bus Mastering off-loads data I/O handling from CPU
  • Complete CRC error checking, offers enhanced data protection
  • Two independent data channels with external Serial ATA (eSATA) connectors
  • Automatically identifies and configures drive types
  • Supports Mac OS Port Multiplier FIS based switching
  • Supports Native Command Queuing (NCQ)
  • Low power consumption and aggressive power management
  • Direct connect support: Connect up to 2 disks with a SeriTek/2EN2 enclosure
  • Port Multiplier support: up to 10 disks using SeriTek/5PM enclosures
  • Oxford 936DS/936QS enclosure support

System requirements:

  • Mac OS X 10.6.x (Snow Leopard) - 32-bit and 64-bit modes supported
  • Windows 7, Vista and Windows XP (Windows notebooks with an available ExpressCard/34 slot)

The SeriTek/6G ExpressCard/34 adapter comes packaged with two external eSATA I-Type connectors for MacBook Pro and Windows notebook computers.

This ExpressCard/34 external host adapter does not ship with cables, so you'll have to order the appropriate number of external shielded SATA cables for your application. Also, if you want to use this adapter with enclosures that utilize the original style L-Type Serial ATA connectors, you'll need the SATA-SeriTek/I2L-1M eSATA/I-Type to L-Type cable. Conversely, if you plan to use this adapter with newer enclosures that support the latest eSATA I-Type connectors, you'll need the SATA-SeriTek/I2IESDC-1M eSATA to eSATA cable.

The SeriTek/6G ExpressCard/34 MacBook/Windows notebook adapter is also available as a bundle with the SeriTek/5PM 5-bay port-multiplication enclosure.

The FirmTek SeriTek/6G ExpressCard/34 adapter is available now for $119.95.

STM Vertical Laptop Shoulder Bag with Dedicated iPad Pocket

STM Vertical Laptop Shoulder BagPR: STM's vertical shoulder bag organizes and protects your computer gear within a unique ergonomic design and slim profile that assures a comfortable carry and features.

  • High-density foam padded laptop compartment with super soft plush cord lining
  • Designated padded iPad pocket with soft nylex lining
  • Quick access zippered pocket (on front flap)
  • Organisational panel for keys, wallet, cords and accessories
  • Removable padded shoulder strap
  • Comfy foam grab handle
  • Main fabric: 300D water resistant micro ripstop polyester
  • Lining: STM plush power corduroy lining

STM Vertical Laptop Shoulder BagSpecifications:

  • Laptop space: 14.8 x 9.8 x 1.6 in / 37.5 x 25 x 4 cm
  • External bag: 16.3 x 11.8 x 3.1 in / 41.5 x 30 x 8 cm
  • Weight: 2.0 lb. / 0.91 kg

Pricing:

  • Small - Fits up 13" - $69.99
  • Medium - Fits up 15" - $69.99

Available colors: Black, Sage, Mushroom

Waterfield Designs MacBook Air and 13" Pro Travel Express Case

MacBook Air Travel ExpressPR: Waterfield Designs unveils its new MacBook Air Travel Express, a compact, stylish case in three custom sizes to fit the 11" and 13" Airs and the 13" MacBook Pro.

MacBook Air Travel ExpressThis light and sophisticated case for smaller MacBook models protects and organizes not just the laptop, but also the power adapter, the SuperDrive or power cord extension, the mouse, and additional accessories - all in one place. With its sporty stripe and compact form, the MacBook Air Travel Express can be stashed inside a bag or, with the optional strap, worn over the shoulder.

The compact Travel Express protects the laptop and its accessories while maintaining the light feel that makes the MacBook Air in particular such a popular mobile device. A YKK zipper opens the case along the top and side panel for easy access to contents while maintaining their security.

MacBook Air Travel ExpressFeatures:

  • Custom-sized, scratch-free, inside pockets for the MacBook Air or MacBook Pro, the power adapter, the SuperDrive or power cord extension, and a mouse
  • Additional stretchy, interior pockets for cables, adapter, cell phone, keys, wallet, etc.
  • Space internally for a thin magazine or similarly-sized notebook
  • Custom made with domestically produced, 1050 denier, ballistic nylon
  • YKK zipper opens case along top and side panel for easy access to, while maintaining the security of, internal contents
  • Two impact-resistant, plastic inserts protect laptop and accessories
  • Bold stripe in a choice of six earthy colors to match other Waterfield Designs gear
  • Use alone (under an arm, in a briefcase) or with optional D-rings & strap as stand-alone bag

"We wanted to accentuate the MacBook Air's light weight and thin size," explains company founder Gary Waterfield. "With the MacBook Air Travel Express, you can pack all your accessories in and it still looks thin and svelte against your body. The best part? It feels light on your shoulder."

This new MacBook Air bag joins its cousin, the iPad Travel Express, in Waterfield's new Travel Express product line - light, boldly-stylish and protective cases for the mobile professional.

MacBook Air Travel Express.

  • Prices: 11" Air - $79; 13" Air - $89; 13" MacBook Pro - $89.
  • Colors: Black Ballistic with a stripe in - Black, Copper, Flame, Green, Pine, or Pearl.
  • Add-ons: D-rings - $5; Simple Strap - $12; Suspension Shoulder Strap - $22.

Available now for preorder at the company online store. Shipping begins May 1, 2011.

Software

DesktopMonitor DesktopMonitor Monitors Fan Speeds, CPU/GPU Temperature, and More

PR: Buick Wong's DesktopMonitor lets you monitor your Intel Mac's fan speed and CPU/GPU temperature and displays the result your desktop, showing the temperature in both Celsius and Fahrenheit.

System requirements:

  • Intel
  • Mac OS X 10.6.6 or later.

$1.99

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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