The 'Book Review

MagSafe Adapter Replacement Program, MacBook Pro Air Rumored, iFixit Opens New MacBook Pro, and More

This Week's PowerBook and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2011.11.11

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

Rumor Roundup

Reviews

Tech Trends

Products & Services

Bargain 'Books

News & Opinion

Apple MagSafe Adapter Replacement Program

A new Apple Knowledge Base article says that Apple may provide customers a replacement MagSafe AC adapter if their adapter shows signs of strain relief. Strain relief is defined as a condition where the DC cable (the thin cord that attaches the MagSafe connector to the power adapter) separates from the end of the MagSafe connector or from the other end of the thin cord, at the power adapter. For more information about strain relief, see section 6 of Apple Portables: Troubleshooting MagSafe Adapters.

T style MagSafe Adapter exhibiting a strain relief issue
"T" style MagSafe Adapter exhibiting a strain relief issue.

Whether your product is in or out of warranty, you can take your adapter to an Apple Authorized Service Provider or Apple Retail Store for evaluation and replacement if necessary. Pending the results of evaluation, you may or may not be eligible for a replacement adapter free of charge. Signs of accidental damage would negate any coverage. Be sure to bring in the computer used with the adapter; it is required to process potential adapter replacements.

For information about the cash payment for replacement adapters referred to in the notice, go to http://www.AdapterSettlement.com or call 1-888-332-0277. You will be provided with a detailed notice and claim form package that contains everything you need.

For more information on this issue and associated litigation, see the MagSafe Power Adapter Settlement Website which notes:

"The purpose of this website is to inform original owners of certain MacBook or MacBook Pro computer and/or if you purchased a standalone 60W or 85W MagSafe MPM-1 (T) Power Adapter for these computers, you could be entitled to benefits under a class action settlement.

"The settlement will provide a cash payment if you are the original owner (by purchase or gift) of certain Apple MacBook or MacBook Pro computer models (Subject Computer) or separately purchased an Apple 60W or 85W MagSafe MPM-1 (T) Power Adapter (Adapter), your Adapter showed signs of Strain Relief Damage, and you purchased a Replacement Adapter within the first three years following the initial purchase of the Subject Computer or Adapter. If the court approves the settlement, you may be entitled to a cash payment in the following amounts depending on whether you purchased your Replacement Adapter during the first, second or third year following the initial retail purchase of the Subject Computer or Adapter: (a) first year, the actual amount you paid (excluding taxes and shipping/handling fees) up to a maximum of $79; (b) second year $50; (c) third year $35. There is a limit of three refunds per Subject Computer. You may also be able to obtain a Replacement Adapter at no charge from Apple if your Adapter shows signs of Strain Relief Damage now or in the future.

"To file a claim, you can print a Claim Form via this website or you can request a Claim Form over the phone by calling 888-332-0277."

MacBook Casing Supplier Reports 15.8% Drop in October Sales

Taiwan News' Lo Hsiu-wen and Frances Huang report that Catcher Technology Co., a Taiwan-based metal notebook casing supplier to Apple, said its consolidated sales for October fell 15.8% from a month earlier due to a shutdown of its operations in Suzhou in China's Jiangsu Province.

As we reported here last month, in mid-October, operations at Catcher's Suzhou facility were suspended by Chinese authorities after a noxious odor was detected emitting from the plant. After the shutdown, the company had forecast its sales in October would fall 20% from September - and 40% in November if its Suzhou operations did not resume by then.

However, Lo Hsiu-wen and Huang report that it turned out October sales rang in better than expected, thanks to the company assigning its facilities in other Chinese cities to assist. In addition, stock of Catcher's semifinished products made up the shortage of production capacity from the shutdown, and the October figure was actually up 44.9% higher year-over-year, although the month-over-month decline in October sales snapped a five month rising streak.

Smaller First-tier Notebook Brands, Including Apple, to Achieve Strong Performance in 2012

DigiTimes Research senior analyst Joanne Chien reports that despite the the global notebook market being expected to remain mired in the doldrums, several smaller first-tier brands are expected to achieve shipment growth in 2011 and will continue to maintain excellent performance in 2012.

Ms. Chien believes that notebook brand vendors including Lenovo, Asustek, Apple, and Samsung, will continue to expand their market shares in the future, while Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Acer, which suffered from operational impacts in 2011, will maintain stable shipment performance in the traditional notebook segment in 2012.

However, Ms. Chien notes that as HP and Acer's netbook shipments will both drop significantly in 2011 and 2012, HP's overall notebook shipments will drop 8.8% and 1.2% on year in 2011 and 2012, respectively, with Acer to drop 22.2% and 13.5%.

Meanwhile, she predicts that Japan-based brand vendors, benefiting from a recovery of Japan's PC market, will enjoy shipment growth in 2012.

Rumor Roundup

MacBook Air Pro in the Works

Mac News' Dennis Sellers cites the Japanese Apple-watcher blogsite, Macotakara, which reported last week that Apple is working on a thinner, lighter version of the 15" MacBook Pro. Sellers thinks they're on the right track, and predicts that within 24 months Apple's laptop line will consist of the MacBook Air (11" and 13" models) and the MacBook Air Pro (15" and 17" models). That's right - a 17" MacBook Air Pro model.

If he's right, it doesn't look good for fans of the 13" MacBook Pro, of which your editor is one.

Reviews

iFixit Opens Up the Late 2011 MacBook Pro, Finds Little Changed

inside the MacBook ProiFixit blogger Phillip says that despite skepticism that the refreshed Late 2011 MacBook Pro would be significantly different from the model it replaced, the site bought one and opened it up for a looksee.

Philip notes that their suspicions had been generally correct, with nothing appeared to have changed upon first appraisal, but a closer look revealed that Apple actually did make some "teeny-tiny" modifications to its new laptop, e.g.: new graphics memory chips with double the graphics memory from the Early 2011 edition, updated Radeon graphics processors, and slightly faster i5 and i7 processors.

Apparently not enough change to warrant a full iFixit teardown treatment.

Tech Trends

Ultrabooks to Deliver Ultrafast Growth If Prices Below $1,000

PR: iSuppli's Matthew Wilkins reports that in a bid to stave off the rising competitive threat posed by media tablets, the mobile PC market is embracing the new ultrabook platform in a big way, with shipments expected to rise to account for more than 40% of all notebooks by 2015, according to the IHS iSuppli Compute Platforms service.

Ultrabooks will represent 43% of global notebook PC shipments in 2015, up from 2% in 2011 and 13% in 2012. Following their first year of shipments in 2011, Ultrabook penetration of the notebook market will increase rapidly, rising to 28% in 2013 and to 38% in 2014.

"To compete with media tablets, notebook PCs must become sexier and more appealing to consumers," says Wilkins, principal analyst, compute platforms at IHS. "With media tablets having already reversed the expansion of the previously fast-growing netbook platform, PC makers now are keenly aware that the notebook must evolve to maintain market growth and relevance. Enter the ultrabook, which borrows some of the form-factor and user-interface advantages of the media tablet to enhance the allure of the venerable notebook."

While media tablets aren't expected to bring an end to the notebook market, they are contributing to slowing growth in the segment.

Mainly driven by Apple Inc.'s iPad, the media tablet market is set to boom in the coming years, with worldwide shipments rising at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) more than 42% from 2011 to 2015. Meanwhile, the notebook market has entered a stage of maturity, with shipments increasing at a CAGR of only 10% during the same period.

Ultrabooks Unveiled

Ultrabooks are defined as notebooks that are extremely light and thin, at less than 0.8 inches in thickness. While ultrabooks employ a full PC operating system like Microsoft Windows, they also add features now commonly found in media tablets, such as instant-on activation, always-connected wireless links, solid state drives and battery lives that are longer than eight hours on a single charge. Ultrabooks are targeted to be priced at less than $1,000, although most of the early models are more expensive.

Future ultrabooks are expected to employ convertible form factors and touch screens, allowing owners to use these devices either as notebooks or tablets, depending on their needs.

The initial target market for ultrabooks will be consumers. However, PC makers also are likely to develop models aimed at corporate users.

Intel Impetus

While multiple companies are pushing ultrabooks, the strongest supporter is PC microprocessor giant Intel Corp., which made the announcement at Computex Taipei 2011 and discussed its concept of the platform at its Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in September.

Intel's vision of the ultrabook includes the use of the company's second-generation Core microprocessors, along with Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8 operating system. The company said the first Intel-style Ultrabooks are expected to be shipping in time for the Christmas sales season this year, and some PC original equipment manufacturers - including Acer and Asustek - already are selling the products.

Intel at IDF also previewed the next generation of ultrabooks set for release in 2012 that will be based on the company's third-generation Core microprocessor line, codenamed Ivy Bridge.

Infection Point

While Intel's ultrabook push could be viewed as a reaction to the rise of media tablets, the effort could set the stage for the revitalization of the electronics supply chain.

"With the introduction of the ultrabook, the computing industry is poised for yet another paradigm shift," comments Len Jelinek, research director and analyst, semiconductor manufacturing at IHS. "The technology now exists that actually could bring about a convergence of major mobile devices. If an attractive price point can be achieved and the consumer deems this a must-have product, the entire semiconductor manufacturing supply chain could rapidly reorient itself to serve the fast-growing ultrabook market."

Jelinek predicted this event could bring to an end the current slowdown in the semiconductor and electronics manufacturing industries.

"In the age of the ultrabook, the demand for technology would not be limited to only a few companies," Jelinek says. "Ultrabooks require a comprehensive bill of materials, so companies focused on memory, logic and power management all would participate in the revitalization of demand."

One potential significant growth area would be in flash memory. The transition from the hard disk drives commonly used in notebooks to the solid state drives employed in ultrabooks will increase unit demand for flash memory while stabilizing chip average selling prices. The benefits would not just be confined to chip manufacturers alone but also positively impact other supply chain participants, such as battery suppliers and electronics contract manufacturers.

Products & Services

Tom Bihn Cadet Briefcase for 'Books and iPads

PR: Seattle-based designer, manufacturer, and retailer of laptop and travel bags Tom Bihn has introduced the Cadet, a laptop briefcase designed for Apple laptops including the 15" MacBook Pro, 11" and 13" MacBook Air and the iPad 2. The Cadet is designed to carry your laptop or iPad, a few files or magazines, power supplies, pens, notebooks, and other small accessories. The Cadet is a checkpoint friendly laptop bag: using two clips, the bottom edge of the Cadet Cache attaches to two vertical pieces of webbing sewn into the Cadet.

The Cadet is available is two sizes: 15/13" and 11/iPad. Both sizes feature a removable protective laptop sleeve (called the Cadet Cache) in sizes designed specifically to fit Apple laptops and the iPad: the 15/13 size fits both the 15" and 13" MacBook Pro, the 13" MacBook, and the 13" MacBook Air, while the 11/iPad size fits the 11" MacBook Air and the iPad/iPad 2. In addition to a laptop, the Cadet can also fit an iPad or iPad 2 with or without a protective case or sleeve.

Tom Bihn Cadet caseThe Cadet is made with an exterior of 1050d U.S. ballistic nylon, which has twice the abrasion resistance of 1680 denier fabric, and an interior of ultra-lightweight Japanese Dyneema/nylon ripstop fabric, made for Tom Bihn in Japan. In between the exterior and the lining is .25"/8mm closed cell foam on the front, back and bottom, which gives the Cadet its shape and provides additional protection for your laptop (and if you choose to go au naturale, this foam will provide some protection for an unprotected laptop). It features #10 and #8 YKK splash-proof zippers with metal pulls. Want cord pulls? You can buy accessory Cord Zipper Pulls separately, allowing you to add them to the metal zipper pulls or replace the metal zipper pulls entirely.

The bags have two padded handles that meet above the bag's center of gravity; when the Cadet is zipped shut, the handles come together so you needn't fish for them when it's time to grab and go. Shoulder strap attachment points are on the left and right sides of the Cadet and feature exclusive (designed by Tom), super-heavy-duty DuPont Delrin eye-loops, tested to 260 pounds each. A Standard Shoulder Strap is included with the Cadet. You have the option of upgrading to the company's Absolute Shoulder Strap for an extra $20. The Cadet can be worn three ways: across-body ("messenger style"), on one shoulder, or carried in hand as a briefcase.

Tom Bihn Cadet caseThe bag has three exterior access compartments, six interior organizer pockets (five on the 11/iPad size), and one exterior open-top pocket (on the back). The small, front horizontal zippered pocket is lined with Ultrasuede and designed to fit an iPhone or iPhone. Like the bag's other compartments, this pocket zips shut with a YKK Uretek splash-proof zipper.

Tom Bihn Cadet caseBehind the small zippered pocket is a contoured zippered compartment that opens to about half of the height of the bag, revealing organizer pockets sized for a Magic Mouse or similarly sized device; cellphone; passport; plus three pen/pencil pockets. There's plenty of additional room in this compartment for a power supply and phone charger as well - even a small notebook or your lunch. Inside this front compartment you'll also find two O-rings. If you already have one of Tom Bihn's bags, you probably know about (and perhaps love) their O-rings. If you're new to these products, you may be wondering - what's all this about O-rings? They are just as they sound: small, plastic "O" shaped rings that are sewn inside of the compartments and pockets of our bags. Clip an extra Key Strap to an O-ring to keep track of an extra set of keys or your work or school ID. Clear, Dyneema/nylon, Padded, Cork, or Cordura Organizer Pouches can be clipped to O-rings to add further (and color-coded) organization. A Guardian Light can be clipped to an O-ring to serve as an interior bag light. Clip a 3D Clear Organizer Cube via a Key Strap to an O-ring, and you have a TSA 3-1-1 liquids bag on a tether - making sure you won't lose it when going through the airport security line. There are endless uses for O-rings and the accessories that clip to them.

Tom Bihn Cadet caseInside of the Cadet's main compartment is a Cadet Cache: a specially modified version of Tom Bihn's Cache laptop sleeve. Using two Gatekeeper clips, the bottom edge of the Cadet Cache attaches to two vertical pieces of webbing sewn into the Cadet. When passing through a TSA checkpoint, you can easily slide your laptop/iPad (still in its protective Cadet Cache) out of the Cadet for X-ray inspection; your laptop remains protected and attached to the Cadet. Also inside the main compartment is a large open-top pocket: your files or magazines won't come along for the ride when you slide the Cadet Cache out at the checkpoint.

Tom Bihn Cadet caseThe Cadet works well as briefcase for those who eschew laptops and just want to carry files or a book or two; you can buy it sans Cadet Cache for $30.00 less. And if the Cadet's native organizational structure is not enough, you can add a Horizontal Freudian Slip so you can be the most organized person on the planet (Note Horizontal Freudian Slip fits in the larger 15/13 size only, not the 11/iPad size).

The outside back of the Cadet features a wide, quick-access pocket for a magazine or newspaper (the only pocket on the Cadet that doesn't zip shut). The bottom of this pocket unzips so you can slide the Cadet over the handle of rolling luggage.

Tom designed the Cadet for people who want a smallish briefcase, simple with lots of features: a safe place to carry a laptop, comfortable handles, and easy-access phone and magazine pockets. Plus the Cadet zips up for use in zero-gravity situations like being turned up-side-down in your car or under the seat of an airplane.

Features:

  • Ultrasuede lined iPhone pocket
  • Exterior of 1050d U.S. ballistic nylon
  • Interior lining of ultralight Japanese Dyneema/nylon
  • YKK splash-proof Uretek zippers
  • Three exterior access compartments, six interior organizer pockets, and one exterior open-top pocket
  • Lifetime Guarantee
  • Made in the Tom Bihn factory in Seattle, Washington, USA

The Cadet sells for $170 and includes the Cadet Cache protective laptop sleeve and Standard Shoulder Strap. It is available for preorder in colors Black/Steel, Black/Iberian, Steel/Solar, Forest/Steel, Navy/Solar, and Cardinal/Steel and ships by mid-to-late November.

The 15/13 Cadet is available for preorder and ships by mid-November.

The 11/iPad Cadet is available for preorder and ships by late November.

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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