The 'Book Review

Tablets Can't Displace PCs, Acer Losing Money on Ultrabooks, Ivy Bridge Due in April, and More

This Week's PowerBook and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2012.03.09

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

HP: Tablets Have Their Place, but Your College Kid Still Needs a PC

Forbes' Brian Caulfield asks whether you would want to write all your term papers on a tablet, noting that at the third-generation iPad launch, Apple's Chief Executive Tim Cook revealed that 76% of Apple's revenues now come from post-PC devices; that iPad sales now surpass PC sales for HP, Lenovo, Dell, and Acer; and that Apple's iPad has become the poster child of a post-PC world.

Caulfield cites HP's personal computer global business unit's general manager, James Mouton, parrying that while tablets are great at the limited range of tasks they do well, personal computers are still indispensable and remain key tools for everything from video editing, music mixing, and spreadsheet crunching to thoughtful writing, contending that when you're sending your child off to college, the first computing product needed for homework is a PC, and that when the task requires is content creation, business productivity, or immersive gaming - among many other things - a PC is the fundamental and indispensable tool needed.

Editor's note: I agree. I would be delighted if my iPad could do everything I require of a production platform, but it can't by a very long shot, and the Retina display, better camera, LTE availability, and other tweaks added with the iPad refresh don't change that reality one iota. Apple did essentially nothing to address iPad's work platform deficiencies with either its new hardware announcements or with the iOS 5.1 update.

Publisher's note: I guess HP's Mouton wasn't paying attention this week. The version of iPhoto for the iPad is a big step forward, and Garage Band (for music mixing) has also made great strides. Still, give me a big screen, a nice keyboard, and a good desk, and I'm ready to work. Most productivity is still easier on PCs, especially ones running Mac OS X. dk

Acer Says Ultrabooks Are Unprofitable, Yet Aims for Lower Prices

The Verge's Vlad Savov quotes Acer Global President Jianren Weng speaking at the CeBIT trade show in Hannover, Germany predicting that PC Ultrabooks will drop to $499 in 2013 and consequently be able to compete directly against Apple's iPad. However he reports that Christoph Pohlmann of Acer's laptop team told him even the current $799 / $699 price for the Aspire S3 is too low for Acer to generate any profit from it, with the company merely breaking even on the entry-level Ultrabook model and that component and manufacturing costs are prohibitive for any price point approaching a sub-$500 ultrabook.

However, Savov thinks Jianren Weng and Acer's leadership team may well feel that they need a counter-punch to Apple's tablet hegemony by selling ultrathin laptops even at a loss.

More New ULV Ivy Bridge Processors Unveiled

VR-Zone's L.G. Nilsson notes that we'd already seen details of Intel's upcoming Core i7-3667U and Core i5-3427U ULV Ivy Bridge processors back in December, details of three more ULV models have materialized, along with details about the programmable TDP of all five ULV models, observing that Intel has clearly allowed for a lot of flexibility for its partners.

Focusing on the programmable TDP of the two previously revealed models, Nilsson notes that the Core i5-3427U at its stock 17W TDP will operate at 1.8 GHz, but it can go down to 14W or all the way up to 25W, further observing that all Ivy Bridge models can go down in terms of TDP, but not all can go up. The Core i5-3427U's lowest speed is 800 MHz, although at 25W TDP it can operate as high as 2.3 GHz without going into turbo mode. The Core i7-3667U will be able to operate at speeds of 2.5 GHz at a 25W TDP, up from 2 GHz at 17W TDP.

Additionally the Core i3-3217U will be the first Core i3 Ivy Bridge ULV model - a 1.8 GHz CPU with no option to increase the TDP for higher speeds, but that can be lowered to 14W TDP and speeds of as low as 800 MHz.

The Core i5-3317U has a default 1.7 GHz clock speed with no option to increase the TDP, but the same low TDP options as the Core i3-3217U, while the third and final new model is the Core i7-3517U 1.9 GHz chip that supports the higher 25W TDP and increased clock speeds up to 2.4 GHz, plus turbo mode it will range up to 2.8 GHz for two cores and 3 GHz on a single core. So there are several new Ultrabook (and MacBook Pro/Air) processors coming, but Nilsson thinks Intel's Ivy Bridge rollout "delay" means we won't be seeing them in retail products until June or possibly even a little later in the year.

Intel to Release Ivy Bridge Processors at the End of April

DigiTimes' Monica Chen and Joseph Tsai report that Intel is expected to officially announce its latest Ivy Bridge processors at the end of April, and that first-tier notebook brand vendors have been aggressively competing for available capacity from Intel, according to insider sources.

Chen and Tsai note that mass shipments of Ivy Bridge processors were originally reported to be delayed by eight weeks, but Intel has recently clarified that it will only postpone the launch by a few weeks and that production is on schedule according to its existing plans, but the unnamed industry moles are telling them that Intel has adjusted its Ivy Bridge processor capacity deployment to increase the proportions for ultrabook and smartphone platforms, while for traditional desktop and notebook segments, Intel will mainly supply high-end processors initially.

Consequently, they project that with Ultrabook vendors aggressively placing orders for Ivy Bridge-based processors, some are expected to be able to release second-generation ultrabooks as soon as May with prices dropping to around $799-899, and by year-end 2012, ultrabooks are expected to account for 15-20% of total consumer notebook shipments with the proportion to rise to 40% in 2013 and surpass 50% by the end of 2013, the insider sources predict.

According to the report, new Ivy Bridge-based ultrabook processors expected to launch at the end of April include:

  • Dual-core i7-2677M at 1.8 GHz, $317
  • Core i7-2637M at 1.7 GHz, $289
  • Core i5-2557M at 1.7 GHz, $250
  • Core i7-2657M at 1.6 GHz, $317
  • Core i7-2617M at 1.5 GHz, $289
  • Core i5-2537M at 1.8 GHz, $259

Quick Overview of Intel's Ivy Bridge CPU Release Roadmap

Hardmac's Lionel, citing a Fudzilla report, says that while the release of Ivy Bridge CPUs is now planned for April 29th, Intel CPU rollout roadmap looks like:

  • April 2012: Ivy-Bridge and 22nm engraving.
  • mid 2013: Haswell, revamped CPU design, 22nm engraving.
  • mid 2014 Broadwell, first CPU to be engraved at 14nm, with a design similar to Haswell.

First Ultrabook with Discrete GPU

From CeBIT 2012, The Register's Caleb Cox reports that Acer has announced a 15" Ultrabook and a range of slimline notebooks. Acer's Aspire Timeline Ultra M3 packs a 15" display with the latest Intel Core processor and a dedicated Nvidia GeForce GT640M graphics chip, making it the first Ultrabook with a discrete graphics processor unit in addition to HD Graphics integrated graphics processor, and also the first to include both an optical drive and a hard drive, with an SSD-only config optional.

Acer's V3 series, available in 14", 15.6", and 17.3" versions are powered by the latest Intel Core processors and include an Nvidia GeForce GT series graphics setup.

Products & Services

Elgato Now Shipping External Thunderbolt SSD Drives

Elgato Thunderbolt SSDPR: Elgato has long been a player in advanced TV and video solutions for the Mac, as well as innovative storage technology. The vast majority of FireWire drives contained Elgato software, and even early flash-based products were powered by Elgato.

Over a decade later, with the new Thunderbolt ultra-high-speed interface now on most Mac models, and more PCs, Elgato decided to go back to their roots and create what they've always been longing for: a truly portable, ultra-fast external drive.

Lightning-fast

The Elgato Thunderbolt SSD is claimed to be the fastest single-drive storage solution for your Mac. Using a Solid State Drive (SSD), it dramatically outperforms state-of-the-art portable FireWire or USB drives.

Truly Portable

Elgato Thunderbolt SSDWhile you're on the go, less is more. That's why the Elgato Thunderbolt SSD is engineered to draw power directly through the Thunderbolt port, without needing a separate power supply. Its bus-powered operation ensures that your data is always there with you, even when you're not near a power source.

A Safe Bet

Elgato Thunderbolt SSDDue to the lack of moving, mechanical parts, as portable devices Solid State Drives are far less prone to accidental damage than traditional hard drives. Even better, the Elgato Thunderbolt SSD uses a solid metal enclosure, guaranteeing not only good looks, but also added protection for your valuable data. Quieter Than A Whisper

The Elgato Thunderbolt SSD is designed to work without the need for a noisy fan. With its advanced enclosure and the inaudible Solid State Drive, that means you'll never hear a sound, despite its constantly screaming performance.

The Elgato Portable High-Speed Drive starts shipping today (March 7), and is available in two capacities:

  • 120 GB, $429.95
  • 240 GB, $699.95

Sleek and Classy Briefcase for MacBook Air

MacBook Air BriefcasePR: Happy Owl Studio say they set out to design a briefcase that highlighted the slim form of Apple's MacBook Air, and this beautiful leather case is what resulted - designed to fit all of your essentials in a sleek and slim package.

The Briefcase has an easy to access double-closure method (magnet & leather straps) to ensure your MacBook Air and other belongings are kept safe and secure. On the inside there is a padded computer sleeve that protects your MacBook Air from everything daily life can throw at you.

Features

  • MacBook Air BriefcaseThin profile
  • Built-in holders for pens and business cards
  • Built-in cable loops for easy organization
  • Rear flat pocket for papers, folders or an iPad
  • Made from top quality genuine leather
  • Handcrafted by skilled artisans
  • Padded laptop pocket specifically designed to fit Apple's MacBook Air
  • Fully-lined interior
  • Silver finish metal hardware
  • Includes removable & adjustable shoulder strap
  • Top carry handle
  • Holds the 11-inch or the 13-inch MacBook Air comfortably

Physical

  • Exterior Dimensions: 11" x 14.25" x 2.25"
  • Interior Dimensions: 9.75" x 13.5" x 1.75"
  • Maximum laptop size: 13-inch MacBook Air (12.8" x 9" x 0.7")
  • Weight: 3 lb.

1 year warranty

MSRP: $199.99 plus shipping

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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