The 'Book Review

Sleep Your MacBook Faster, Tablets to Displace Laptops?, Mirror iDevice to Mac Screen, and More

This Week's PowerBook and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2012.04.02

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

Products & Services

Software

Bargain 'Books

News & Opinion

Put Your MacBook or Mac mini to Sleep Faster

Upgrading my 2 GHz Core 2 Duo MacBook to 4 GB of RAM several years back speeded it up nicely in most regards, and I'm convinced that 4 GB should be the minimum memory configuration for any Mac user who does more than light-duty stuff on their computer. However, the downside to having more RAM is that it can result in tedious lags - sometimes as long as 20 or 30 seconds - in putting the machine to sleep, and wake-up is more sluggish as well.

That's because since 2005, OS X's default "safe sleep" mode has been to write the entire memory contents to your hard disk or SSD, and it's especially tiresome if you have a slow hard drive like the one in my MacBook. I've been pondering another upgrade to 8 GB while RAM prices are low, but I am concerned that go-to-sleep time will get really ridiculous. Happily, there are workarounds.

If your laptop is almost always plugged into a wall socket, like my workhorse MacBook is, and you rarely run the battery low, this one-line Terminal hack (courtesy of Lifehacker) can restore the rapid sleep/wake-up cycles we used to expect from Apple laptops:

sudo pmset -a hibernatemode 0

If your usage profile changes and you deem it prudent to reactivate safe sleep, running the same command substituting a "3" instead of a "0" at the end will do the trick - ergo:

sudo pmset -a hibernatemode 3

(Publisher's note: The Mac mini, being essentially a MacBook in a desktop enclosure, also writes a RAM image to its hard drive at shutdown. Changing this behavior not only speeds shut down, it also frees up a block of hard drive space equal to the amount of system memory in your Mac mini. dk)

A more elegant, albeit not free, solution is Patrick Stein's $3.99 SmartSleep utility that offers five different sleep modes to chose from:

  1. system default:
    • sleep & hibernate - machine sleeps and hibernates. (default)
    • sleep - machine will go to sleep only (saves state in RAM only, battery keeps RAM contents)
    • hibernate only - machine will go to hibernate only. (saves state on disk, battery will not be used)
  2. smart sleep (if your Mac has a battery )
  3. sleep only
  4. hibernate only
  5. sleep and hibernate

SmartSleep

Note that Just Sleep means that while the notebook will go to sleep fast, you lose the ability to change the battery, as the battery is needed to keep the contents of the memory (RAM) alive. Just Sleep and Hibernate will wake the computer fast, but sleeping will take ages, as the contents of the memory are saved to disk before entering the sleep.

SmartSleep lets you select each sleep state, and the new SmartSleep state lets your notebook just sleep while the battery has a high level of charge. If the battery level drops below a certain point (default is less then 20% or 20 minutes), it will switch to Sleep and Hibernate. Consequently, you get the best of both worlds, and the lifetime of your SSD (if you have one) will be expanded, since your MacBook won't write a hibernate file as often.

SmartSleep Features

  • QuickSleep feature New - sleep your Mac immediately the way you want.
  • SmartSleep Menu Item New - figure out the current Sleep State and QuickSleep.
  • Insomnia feature in Menu Item New to keep your Mac awake.
  • Timed insomnia. Keep your Mac awake only for a time.
  • Five different sleep modes to chose from:
    • system default
    • smart sleep (if your Mac has a battery )
    • sleep only
    • hibernate only
    • sleep and hibernate
  • Does not need admin privileges
  • Runs as a application not a preference pane
  • Beeps when closing the lid, so you don't forget that you have insomnia enabled (plugin).

System requirements: Mac OS X 10.6 or later

$3.99

Working with an iPad Instead of a Laptop

Computerworld blogger Matt Hamblen reports that while his older MacBook was being replaced with a newer one, he worked for two days via an iPad 2 and a Bluetooth keyboard.

Hamblen says he was able to research and file stories, and he downloaded an app simply called Desktop for 99¢ that allows him to split his iPad's screen with notes on the left and a writing area on the right. However, he says he couldn't get the text area to automatically email his stories, so he had to copy and paste and open Gmail on the left panel, or in the regular browser screen, in order to file, observing that this process is not as secure as some large enterprises would probably want.

However, Hamblen says he can see some advantages to having a lighter machine to carry around to business meetings in other cities, and while he's had the opportunity to play with many tablets in the past two years, this time he was trying to be serious and productive, and he found it could work, noting the he hears just about everybody saying tablets won't replace laptops, but his experience makes him wonder, and he bets there are many workers who could function well with a tablet, keyboard and accessories.

Will Tablets Inevitably Displace PCs?

Computerworld's Scot Finnie suggests that the tablet computer phenomenon is bigger than you probably realize, noting that before the third-generation iPad's release, Apple announced that it had sold 55 million iPads to date, with the company's CEO Tim Cook putting that metric in perspective at a conference in February where he observed, "It took us 22 years to sell 55 million Macs; it took us about five years to sell 22 million iPods; and it took us about three years to sell that many iPhones."

Finnie cites IDC's February forecast that just under 90 million tablets will be sold worldwide this year, with category sales projected to approach 140 million by 2015, predicting that the marker will be fairly evenly split between Apple's iOS capturing 51% of sales and Android taking 47%. (That forecast doesn't seem to leave enough room for Windows 8 tablets, which I expect to be a bigger factor than Gartner evidently does - cm.)

However, Finnie notes that PC sales are still growing modestly, with a March 2012 Gartner report predicting global PC shipments to hit 368 million units this year - a 4.4% year-over-year increase - and stronger growth in 2013 with sales projected to reach 400 million units. Ergo: Desktop and notebook PCs aren't even close to being dead yet and are not likely to be in the foreseeable future, due to productivity limitations inherent to the touchscreen and virtual keyboard driven user interfaces on tablets that will keep content creators and power users in the desktop and laptop PC fold for the foreseeable future.

Finnie says he's somewhat ambivalent about the third-generation iPad, suggesting that it will likely be remembered mainly for selling in even greater numbers than the iPad 2 did, but in the long view, while the PC isn't dead, its days are numbered, with the touchscreen tablet the next rung on a 30-year evolutionary ladder on up (or down in size) through tower desktop machines; luggable, sewing-machine-size "portables"; and 7 lb. notebook PCs, progressively getting smaller and lighter, with the tablet logically the next evolutionary iteration.

NPD: Changes to the Tablet Market to Blur the Line between Tablets and Notebooks

PR: Reflecting shifts in both the competitive landscape and consumer demand, the tablet market is poised to accommodate new form factors and accessory options that will bring these devices closer to the capabilities of notebooks, according to a new report from The NPD Group's Connected Intelligence. The report, "Tablets: Resizing the Smartphone, Redefining the Notebook," examines the impact of upcoming competitors to Apple's iPad (including Android 4.0 and Windows 8), competition versus Ultrabooks, accessory options, and implications of the growing tablet market for wireless carriers, cable operators, and content providers.

The report notes that while the introduction of Windows 8 tablets later in 2012 is not expected to steal significant share from the notebook market, it will be a strong factor behind the blurring of PCs and tablets. Many Windows 8 tablets stand to have larger screen sizes and more advanced configurations, but they will, most importantly, have the ability to function as a full PC, causing PC vendors to rethink some marketing and sales strategies.

"PC vendors must balance the opportunity to sell an integrated Windows 8 device that can potentially operate in both tablet and clamshell form factors with the opportunity to sell secondary companion tablet devices that may be smaller and less expensive," says NPD Connected Intelligence executive director Ross Rubin. "Among consumers who are looking to purchase a new tablet, screen size and keyboards, two main components of a PC, are important characteristics for these future purchases."

According to the report, 40% of tablet purchase intenders who have a screen size in mind would prefer a screen smaller than 10". Access to a physical keyboard is desired by 40% of consumers who plan to purchase a tablet. Of that 40%, most prefer an integrated keyboard over a detachable or docking keyboard.

"The lack of a keyboard has been a defining characteristic of most tablets on the market," observes Rubin. "However, access to a keyboard is the most popular reason why consumers who own both a tablet and a notebook use their notebook for tasks such as Web access and personal productivity. As tablets expand from content consumption to content creation, consumers are seeking a broader array of input options and screen sizes."

TechSci: Ultrabooks and MacBook Air Market to Grow at 92% Compound Annual Growth Rate

PR: Ultrabooks are expected to boost sales in the segment where only Apple MacBook Air existed until recently, according to the recently published report: "Global Ultrathin Portables (Ultrabooks & MacBook Air) Market Forecast & Opportunities, 2017," by TechSci Research.

The report observes that PC Ultrabooks are mounting a challenge in the ultraportable computer segment where heretofore only Apple's MacBook Air existed as a lightweight, ultraportable, thin, high performance notebook. Intel initiated, and is backing and pushing the Ultrabook specification, which has defined physical design and internal specifications with an entry-level price target lower than the cheapest MacBook Air.

Six players launched Ultrabooks within 6 months of Intel's announcement of the Ultrabook formula, and some 10 models of Ultrabooks are now on the market. With this increasing availability of choices for the consumers at more affordable prices, the MacBook Air/Ultrabook class is expected to be the central focus of the laptop computer market for the foreseeable future. Combined together, the global Ultrathin Portables market was around US$ 6.04 Billion in 2011. While Smartphones have captured the biggest market share in the global computing devices market recently, they are not in direct competition with Apple MacBook Air or Intel's Ultrabooks.

TechSci Research predicts that the market for lightweight ultraportable notebooks will expand enormously in the coming years. Globally, the Ultrabooks and MacBook Air Market is expected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 92% till 2017. The report notes that Apple is still popularly perceived to be a luxury brand, and PC Ultrabooks less so. However TechSci Research predicts that the entire market size for Ultrathin Portables will increase as a greater number of retailers enter the market offering competitive products at competitive prices.

This move is expected to decrease the average Ultrabook selling price which was around US$960 in 2011. Acer was the first player to launch an Ultrabook as per Intel's specifications. Asus, Toshiba, Lenovo, LG and HP have followed suit. TechSci Research observes that Apple's strategy of winning on profit margin instead of raw sales volume has restricted the pool of potential buyers for the MacBook Air and thus, the market's overall size until recently, since it was essentially the only player. However, with the entry of Ultrabooks, the ultrathin portables category is expected to represent up to 61% of the global computing devices market by 2017.

Rumor Roundup

New 15" MacBook Pro Production to Start in April, 13" MacBook Pro in June

DigiTimes' Aaron Lee and Joseph Tsai report that while Apple OEMs will start mass producing a new generation of 15-inchers in April, their sources in the upstream supply chain are saying that the company is ordering far greater numbers of a new 13.3" Pro than of the 15" model, suggesting that Apple is more focused on the 13.3" notebook segment. However, the word they have is that the new 13.3" MacBook Pro will not enter mass production until June.

Lee and Adam Hwang also report that sometime Apple subcontract supplier Pegatron has undertaken exclusive ODM production of a 15" Ultrabook for Acer since mid-March, with monthly shipments of 100,000 units, according to Taiwan-based supply chain sources.

Acer's big new Ultrabook features a fiberglass case and is expected to be launched in April-May, the unnamed sources told the reporters, noting that monthly shipment volumes ranging between 30,000 and 50,000 units are more typical for most ultrabooks, so Acer's planned monthly shipment volume for this new model is ambitious.

Lee and Hwang observe that while most first-generation Ultrabooks have been 13" screen-size models, 14" and 15" are expected to be the mainstream display sizes for second-generation models from the second quarter of this year going forward. They also say their industry sources anticipate Ultrabook sales will significantly increase in Q2 2012 in a first wave due to Intel's expected launch of its latest Ivy Bridge Core i processors, with a second wave to come in the third or fourth quarters when Microsoft launches Windows 8.

Products & Services

SXSW Homage to Oscar Winner The Artist - WaterField Designs Muzetto Outback Laptop and iPad Bag

PR: SFbags.com pays homage to the 2012 Academy Award winner The Artist at the SXSW Film festival with this silent video featuring the Waterfield Muzetto Outback iPad/laptop bag - a "man bag" that complements either a casual work suit or hiking boots. The flexible Muzetto can be worn across the chest with anything or as a shoulder bag, and has you ready to trek the Urban Outback in high style.

WaterField Designs Muzetto Outback Bag for Laptops and the New Apple iPad

Muzetto Outback BagWaterField Designs Muzetto Outback is offered as a waxed canvas version of its popular Muzetto line of cases. The Outback is available in dark brown canvas that gains character over time, a choice of six accent colors and five sizes - two designed specifically for the new Apple iPad. The Muzetto Outback began shipping on March 26, and like all WaterField Designs bags is made entirely in San Francisco.

Originally used for waterproofing sailing garments and popularized by mariners, gamekeepers, and outdoorsmen, waxed canvas is a naturally durable, time-tested fabric that brings a rugged and weathered look to the new Muzetto Outback. The bag is sewn in small batches to take full advantage of the material's unique characteristics; working the fabric during production brings out its distressed quality, making it an ideal match for the style-conscious, urban adventurer.

Muzetto Outback Bag"What appeals to me about waxed canvas is the old world, retro look," explains Gary Waterfield, company founder. "It ages like leather, and each bag develops its own unique character. I like to think it's something a modern Indiana Jones would use for his new iPad tablet. Plus, scratches and marks can be softened by applying some heat from a hair dryer, giving it that handsome, well-worn look."

Muzetto Outback Bag in redThe Muzetto Outback is a vertical messenger bag with one main compartment to hold the iPad or laptop, a back pocket for easy-to-retrieve paperwork, a pocket under the flap, a zippered interior pocket for stashing cash, and an adjustable strap. A Waterfield signature gold liner lights up the interior making it easy to see contents. To reduce shoulder and back fatigue, a removable shoulder pad with a gripping underside keeps the strap firmly in place. The bag's flap length and angled sides add to a svelte look. The Outback's urban rustic style complements anything from casual work outfits to well-worn hiking boots.

Muzetto Outback Bag in greenPersonalization options include six accent color choices and five sizes: the Personal Size for daily necessities including a wallet, cellphone, digital camera, and a naked iPad or an iPad in a minimalist case; the 10" Portable Size for the iPad within a protective case; the 11" for the 11.6" MacBook Air, the Laptop Size for up to a 13" MacBook, and the 15" for the 15" MacBook Pro or similarly sized laptops - naked or within a SleeveCase. All size options are small enough to provide unrestricted motion yet large enough to stow essentials and digital gear.

Pricing & Availability

  • Personal Size Price: $149, Dimensions: 10.5" x 8.5" x 1.5"
  • 10-inch Portable Size Price: $159, Dimensions: 11.5" x 9.3" x 2.0"
  • 11-inch Size Price: $169, Dimensions: 12.25" x 9.75" x 2.25"
  • 13-inch Laptop Size Price: $179, Dimensions: 14" x 11" x 2.5"
  • 15-inch Laptop Size Price: $189, Dimensions: 15.5" x 11.75" x 2.7"

Colors: Distressed, dark brown, waxed canvas with color accents in black, copper, pine, green, flame, or pearl.

Software

Reflection: Wirelessly Mirror Your iPhone 4S or iPad 2 to Any Mac Running OS X 10.6+

PR: Reflection lets you easily demo iOS apps on any Mac running OS X Snow Leopard or Lion using AirPlay Mirroring on iOS 5, or kick back and play any iOS game on your Mac's screen.

Note that Reflection only works with iPad 2 (and new iPad) and iPhone 4S, since AirPlay mirroring requires the beefed up hardware of the iPad 2 up and iPhone 4S to handle the mirroring. This an iOS 5 imposed limitation.

To enable mirroring, download Reflection and copy it to your Applications folder. After launching the app, double-tap the home button on your iPhone 4S or iPad 2 and swipe right on the multitask tray until you see the AirPlay icon next to the volume slider. Tap this and select your Mac from the list. Last, toggle the "Mirror" switch, and voilà!

You can AirPlay audio from your iPhone 4S or iPad 2. Reflection sends the screen and audio from your device to your Mac. You can also use your Mac as an AirPlay audio receiver (without any video).

Your Mac and iOS device must be on the same network to communicate. This means your iPad 2 or iPhone 4S must be connected to WiFi as Reflection can't communicate over 3G. Make sure your devices are using the same WiFi access point as well.

Jailbroken devices may or may not work with Reflection.

$14.99

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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