The 'Book Review

Apple Previews iCloud, Sonnet's Fast SDXC ExpressCard, Lapdesk with Retractable Touchpad, and More

This Week's PowerBook and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2011.06.10

General Apple and Mac desktop news is covered in Mac News Review. iPad, iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV news is covered in iOS News Review. All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News & Opinion

Products & Services

Bargain 'Books

News & Opinion

Apple Previews iCloud

PR: On Monday, Apple introduced iCloud, a breakthrough set of free new cloud services that work seamlessly with applications on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, or PC to automatically and wirelessly store your content in iCloud and automatically and wirelessly push it to all your devices. When anything changes on one of your devices, all of your devices are wirelessly updated almost instantly.

iCloudToday it is a real hassle and very frustrating to keep all your information and content up-to-date across all your devices, said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. iCloud keeps your important information and content up to date across all your devices. All of this happens automatically and wirelessly, and because its integrated into our apps you don't even need to think about it - it all just works.

The free iCloud services include:

  • The former MobileMe services: Contacts, Calendar and Mail - all completely re-architected and rewritten to work seamlessly with iCloud. Users can share calendars with friends and family, and the ad-free push Mail account is hosted at me.com. Your inbox and mailboxes are kept up-to-date across all your iOS devices and computers.
  • The App Store and iBookstore now download purchased iOS apps and books to all your devices, not just the device they were purchased on. In addition, the App Store and iBookstore now let you see your purchase history, and simply tapping the iCloud icon will download any apps and books to any iOS device (up to 10 devices) at no additional cost.
  • iCloud Backup automatically and securely backs up your iOS devices to iCloud daily over WiFi when you charge your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. Backed up content includes purchased music, apps and books, Camera Roll (photos and videos), device settings and app data. If you replace your iOS device, just enter your Apple ID and password during setup and iCloud restores your new device.
  • iCloud Storage seamlessly stores all documents created using iCloud Storage APIs, and automatically pushes them to all your devices. When you change a document on any device, iCloud automatically pushes the changes to all your devices. Apple's Pages, Numbers and Keynote apps already take advantage of iCloud Storage. Users get up to 5 GB of free storage for their mail, documents and backup - which is more amazing since the storage for music, apps and books purchased from Apple, and the storage required by Photo Stream doesn't count towards this 5 GB total. Users will be able to buy even more storage, with details announced when iCloud ships this fall.
  • iCloud's innovative Photo Stream service automatically uploads the photos you take or import on any of your devices and wirelessly pushes them to all your devices and computers. So you can use your iPhone to take a dozen photos of your friends during the afternoon baseball game, and they will be ready to share with the entire group on your iPad (or even Apple TV) when you return home. Photo Stream is built into the photo apps on all iOS devices, iPhoto on Macs, and saved to the Pictures folder on a PC. To save space, the last 1,000 photos are stored on each device so they can be viewed or moved to an album to save forever. Macs and PCs will store all photos from the Photo Stream, since they have more storage. iCloud will store each photo in the cloud for 30 days, which is plenty of time to connect your devices to iCloud and automatically download the latest photos from Photo Stream via WiFi.
  • iTunes in the Cloud lets you download your previously purchased iTunes music to all your iOS devices at no additional cost, and new music purchases can be downloaded automatically to all your devices. In addition, music not purchased from iTunes can gain the same benefits by using iTunes Match, a service that replaces your music with a 256 kbps AAC DRM-free version if we can match it to the over 18 million songs in the iTunes Store, it makes the matched music available in minutes (instead of weeks to upload your entire music library), and uploads only the small percentage of unmatched music. iTunes Match will be available this fall for a $24.99 annual fee. Apple today is releasing a free beta version of iTunes in the Cloud, without iTunes Match, for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users running iOS 4.3. iTunes in the Cloud will support all iPhones that iOS 5 (see this week's iNews Review for more on iOS 5) supports this fall.

Apple is ready to ramp iCloud in its three data centers, including the third recently completed in Maiden, NC. Apple has invested over $500 million in its Maiden data center to support the expected customer demand for the free iCloud services.

The iCloud beta and Cloud Storage APIs are available immediately to iOS and Mac Developer Program members at developer.apple.com. iCloud will be available this fall concurrent with iOS 5. Users can sign up for iCloud for free on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 5 or a Mac running Mac OS X Lion (see this week's Mac News Review for more on Lion) with a valid Apple ID. iCloud includes 5 GB of free cloud storage for Mail, Document Storage and Backup. Purchased music, apps, books and Photo Stream do not count against the storage limit. iTunes Match will be available for $24.99 per year (US only).

iTunes in the Cloud is available today in the US and requires iTunes 10.3 and iOS 4.3.3. Automatic download of apps and books is available today. Using iCloud with a PC requires Windows Vista or Windows 7; Outlook 2010 or 2007 is recommended for accessing contacts and calendars.

Apple Quietly Upgrading Optical Bay on 2011 MacBook Pros to 6 Gbps SATA

9 to 5 Mac's Christian Zibreg says that when Apple rolled out the new MacBook Pro family with Sandy Bridge chips and Thunderbolt I/O in February, the company surprised and disappointed many by using a SATA3 interface for the hard drive but leaving the SuperDrive on SATA2. However, he notes that appears to be changing with anecdotal reports from multiple sources that Apple has quietly upgraded MBPs delivered lately to 6 Gbps SATA3 connectivity in the optical bay, although that doesn't mean the latest SATA3 SSDs will work in the optical bay due to some compatibility problems with the SATA interface, resolution of which will likely require an EFI update.

Products & Services

Sonnet SDXC UHS-I Pro Reader/Writer ExpressCard/34

Sonnet SDXC UHS-I Pro Reader/Writer ExpressCard/34 AdapterPR: Not only fast, but perfectly sized, the SDXC UHS-I Pro Reader/Writer ExpressCard/34 adapter inserts flush inside your computer's ExpressCard slot so you can store it there when its not in use.

High Speed Alternative to Ordinary SD Media Readers

Sonnet's SDXC UHS-I Pro Reader/Writer ExpressCard/34 quickly transfers files from SDXC and SDHC memory cards to your ExpressCard slot-equipped MacBook Pro or Windows notebook computer on-location, in the studio, or office. No ordinary card reader, this UHS-I speed class-compliant adapter supports at full speed the fastest available SDXC and SDHC memory cards, and future cards up to 104 MB/s.

MacBook Pro with Sonnet SDXCUnlike common SD media readers, including those built into computers, Sonnet's SDXC UHS-I Pro Reader/Writer ExpressCard/34 uses the 2.5 Gbps PCI Express interface incorporated into ExpressCard slots, so it delivers performance superior to built-in readers, and adapters that use the ExpressCard slots slower USB 2.0 interface. Also unlike common SD media readers, Sonnet's SDXC UHS-I Pro Reader/Writer ExpressCard/34 has the extra pins necessary to support SDXC UHS-I and SDHC UHS-I memory cards at full speed - if you're a photographer or videographer using equipment that relies on fast, high capacity SDXC or SDHC cards, this Sonnet adapter will save you time and accelerate your workflow.

Key Features

  • Supports UHS-I SDXC and SDHC media at maximum speeds today, with sustained data transfers up to 104 MB/sec as faster, next generation cards become available
  • Uses the ExpressCard slots PCI Express interface to deliver performance superior to adapters that depend on the ExpressCard slots USB 2.0 interface
  • Fits completely inside the ExpressCard slot with no protrusion - the adapter may be left in all the time

Mac Compatibility

  • MacBook Pro (with ExpressCard slot)
  • Mac OS X Version 10.5+

Windows Compatibility

  • PC notebook (with ExpressCard slot)
  • Windows 7
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows XP SP2

SDXC UHS-I Pro Reader/Writer ExpressCard/34 sells for $49.95.

Logitech Touch Lapdesk N600 Features Large, Retractable Multitouch Touchpad

Logitech Touch Lapdesk N600PR: So you can browse comfortably right from your lap, Logitech has unveiled the Logitech Touch Lapdesk N600, featuring a large touchpad that makes it easier than ever to point, scroll and swipe your way through the Web.

"We've seen people using everything from pillows to pets to shield their laps from the heat their laptops generate," says Denis Pavillard, vice president of product marketing for laptop accessories. "Our lapdesks are much more effective and, with the addition of a multitouch touchpad, you'll get the added capability to more easily move through your favorite content without attaching additional peripherals."

Logitech Touch Lapdesk N600The Logitech Touch Lapdesk N600 features a 5-inch, retractable touchpad with multitouch navigation. You can move the pointer with one finger, scroll using two, and swipe through pages or pictures with three.

The multilayer, heat-shielding design of the lapdesk protects you from laptop heat so you can browse in cool comfort, and the anti-slip surface helps keep your laptop in place. To get started, you just plug the tiny Logitech Unifying receiver into the USB port and start navigating. For your convenience, Logitech's newest lapdesk offers up to six months of battery life.

The Logitech Touch Lapdesk N600 is expected to be available in the US and Europe beginning in June, for a suggested retail price of $69.99.

NewerTech AdaptaDrive Bracket for Installing 2.5" SATA Drive in 3.5" SATA Drive Bay

PR: Newer Technology, Inc. (NewerTech) has announced the NewerTech AdaptaDrive converter bracket for installing any capacity size 2.5" SATA hard drive or Solid State Drive in a 3.5" SATA drive bay equipped desktop Mac, PC or external enclosure.

Works With All 2.5" Drives, Including Latest SATA 6G 6Gb/s SSDs

NewerTech AdaptaDriveThe AdaptaDrive supports 1.5 Gb/s and 3.0 Gb/s drives, so existing notebook hard drives can be utilized for extra storage; or a high performance 3G SSD such as the Mercury Extreme Pro can be added for an incredible system speed boost. Power users and gamers seeking maximum drive speed can now easily add the latest high performance 6G SSDs, like the Mercury Extreme Pro 6G, and experience data transfer rates over 500 MB/s from their SATA Revision 3.0 (6Gb/s) compatible home/office computer or external drive.

Maintains Highest Performance While Offering Ultimate Convenience

The NewerTech AdaptaDrive has been benchmark test proven to deliver the same data transfer rates as is experienced when a drive is connected directly to the SATA data bus. The AdaptaDrive doesn't create a bottleneck or any performance throttling . . . it delivers pure data pass-through performance and drive use convenience from any 2.5" SATA hard drive or SSD.

AdaptaDrive Features and Specifications:

  • Compatible with any 2.5" SATA hard drive or Solid State drive
  • Fits all 3.5" SATA drive bays, including backplane trays found in the Mac Pro
  • Fully SATA 3.0 Revision (6Gb/s) compatible
  • Backward compatible with SATA 2.0 Revision (3 Gb/s) and 1.0 Revision (1.5 Gb/s) drives
  • Open design allows for full air flow for proper drive cooling
  • Material: Black painted aluminum
  • Measurements: 5.77" L (146.7mm) x 3.98" W (101.2mm) x .35" H (9mm)
  • Weight: 3.5 ounces
  • Warranty: Five years
  • Includes all drive and drive bay mounting screws

"AdaptaDrive offers Mac and PC desktop and tower users a Plug and Play method to experience the performance advantage SSDs offer," says Grant Dahlke, Brand Manager, Newer Technology, Inc. "With industry standard 3.5" drive screw mounting locations and all mounting hardware included, adding a state of the art SSD like the OWC Mercury Extreme Pro is a breeze."

The NewerTech AdaptaDrive is available immediately starting at $24.99 MSRP from NewerTech's exclusive distributor, Other World Computing (OWC), as well as through the retail channel.

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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