The 'Book Review

Upgrade MacBook Pro or Buy New?, 5 MP Video Conferencing on Retina MacBook Pro, and More

This Week's Mac Notebook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2012.07.13

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

Tech Trends

Products & Services

Bargain 'Books

News & Opinion

Is Upgrading Your Older MacBook Pro a Real Alternative to Buying a New One?

Cnet Crave contributor John Scott Lewinski tests three MacBook Pro upgrade options to find out whether it makes good economic sense to upgrade an older Mac as an alternative to dropping a couple grand on a new machine.

He notes that major hardware upgrade candidates are the hard drive, motherboard, and RAM, of which obviously the motherboard is the most difficult to mess with. However, with our scope limited to just the RAM and hard drive, Lewinski says the average consumer can effectively execute the upgrade process with a few basic tools, a deft touch, and a little patience.

Lewinski's two-phase test plan was to first upgrade a 13" 2009 MacBook Pro with three different storage drive and RAM configurations (8 GB of RAM and one of three SATA SSDs from two different manufacturers priced in the $240 to $340 range), and then to test the upgraded configurations against the current 2.8 GHz i7 version of the 13" MBP with just 4 GB of RAM and a traditional hard drive.

Lewinski came away from the exercise impressed enough with the result to strongly recommend giving consideration to upgrading RAM as a primary upgrade strategy, with an upgraded hard drive as an additional strategy, the cost of which will be a fraction of what you'd pay for a new machine - and it should keep you effectively functioning for at least a couple more years.

Publisher's note: The article is a bit lean on specifics, like whether his old MacBook Pro was the 2.26 GHz or 2.53 GHz and what version of OS X it was running, but it repeats something we have always found to be true of Mac OS X: The more memory you give it, the better it runs, and RAM tends to be a lot more affordable than an SSD, so that's definitely the first place to go when working to improve a sluggish Mac. dk

Retina MacBook Pro vs. Other Macs Running Aperture 3 and Motion 5

Bare Feats' rob-ART Morgan says:

"How well do Apple's Pro Apps run on the new 2012 Apple laptops? Is it time to trade in your Mac Pro for a MacBook Pro? For this test session, we chose Apple's Aperture 3 and Motion 5."

Morgan notes that quad-core MacBook Pros can keep up with the Mac Pro, and that any Mac with at least four cores (eight with hyper-threading) can run Aperture's CPU intensive tasks like Noise Ninja just as fast as the fastest Mac Pro, but that the Retina MacBook Pro was able to perform unrendered playback of the animated template very nearly at real-time speed - the first MacBook Pro in history to be able to do that, and the 2012 MacBook Pro (Retina and 'normal') performs on par with the best Mac Pro with the best graphics cards.

Tech Trends

Dell Looking for Developers to Become Linux Laptop Beta Testers

Dell's Project Sputnik is now recruiting volunteers for the Sputnik Beta Cosmonaut program. A limited number of applicants will be selected to receive a discounted, beta version of the Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook with Ubuntu 12.04LTS installed.

Dell expresses confidence that this new Ubuntu Linux-based laptop will become "the ultimate mobile tool for developers."

Dell last offered a Linux laptop in 2010.

Products & Services

Vidyo Demos First 5 MP Video Conferencing to the Desktop on MacBook Pro with Retina Display

PR: Vidyo, Inc. has demonstrated its ability to deliver five megapixel immersive, multipoint Vidyo conferences with data collaboration on the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display from Apple. With the ability to render a mix of 1080p and 720p video streams, and up to 5 MP (megapixels) data share for an aggregate maximum of 5 MP, Vidyo's software is able to deliver 2.5x the pixel count of hardware telepresence systems on Apple's latest device. Vidyo continues to power innovation in video conferencing at a velocity that cannot be matched by hardware-based solution providers, enabling Vidyo partners to automatically benefit from computer innovations and new form factors as they are brought to market, riding the cost and performance curves of the high-volume computer industry.

Vidyo 5 MP video conference
Vidyo demonstrates a mix of 1080p and 720p HD streams
and content share for an aggregate maximum of 5 MP on
Apple's new MacBook Pro with Retina Display.

"While legacy telepresence platforms require redesign and fork-lift upgrades to take advantage of evolving technology, Vidyo's software-based platform affords the flexibility to capitalize on new, off the shelf hardware, like the MacBook Pro with Retina Display, proving our ability to benefit from Moore's Law," says Vidyo cofounder and CEO, Ofer Shapiro. "Customers have come to expect technology that keeps pace with the emergence of new form factors in an effective and affordable way; Vidyo is the only company that consistently delivers on end-user expectations."

The demonstration on the new MacBook Pro highlights the extensibility of Vidyo's architecture to incorporate collaboration based on the capability of each individual end point - all on the same Vidyo Infrastructure. Vidyo's flexibility was similarly highlighted by the company's latest collaboration with imaging solutions provider Barco, demonstrating the first 4K immersive video conferencing and collaboration system at InfoComm in June. Vidyo also recently announced HD quality, low-latency video conferencing for the new iPad with the first 3 Megapixel content share on the mobile form factor.

By delivering high quality at disruptive price points using general purpose devices over ubiquitous networks like the Internet and wide area wireless, Vidyo's platform has become the engine for change in many industries such as healthcare, education, manufacturing and government.

"Vidyo allows ASU students and faculty to participate and collaborate in high quality Vidyo conferences with researches in remote locations," says Charles Kazilek, Assistant Dean of Technology, Media and Communications, with ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. "Our ability to share high resolution data via multiple devices, including laptop or desktop PCs or Macs, is critical for our Desert to Rainforest project in Panama and beyond. Vidyo's platform support for the new MacBook Pro and its exceptional video quality will open the door even further and expand our visual collaboration, allowing students, faculty and researchers to continue to move beyond the classroom walls."

Vidyo's Adaptive Video Layering technology enables more capable endpoints like the new MacBook Pro to participate in multipoint conferences with lesser performing endpoints, such as traditional telepresence systems, with each receiving dynamically optimized video and audio experiences throughout the conference, based upon the unique and changing capabilities of that end point and its network connection.

The Vidyo communication and collaboration platform is software-based, highly flexible and can be easily customized for individual enterprise and vertical market video conferencing needs. The VidyoRouter is based on the company's patented Adaptive Video Layering architecture and leverages H.264 Scalable Video Coding (SVC)-based technology. It eliminates the MCU and offers unprecedented error resiliency, low latency and rate matching enabling natural, affordable, high quality video to work over the Internet, LTE, 3G and 4G networks. The Vidyo platform allows users to quickly leverage the latest hardware innovations and new consumer devices, making it uniquely attractive to partners. Vidyo has been active driving H.264 SVC and SIP videoconferencing interoperability in various standards bodies since 2005.

Apple's FireWire-Thunderbolt Adapter Offers a Powerful New Connectivity Option

The 1394 Trade Association said that Apple's decision to provide a FireWire 800-Thunderbolt adapter for its new and legacy Macs provides an innovative and useful option for a broad range of users.

At its June 11 Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple introduced a new FireWire adapter for use on MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac mini PCs. Expected to be available for $29, it can be used with the Thunderbolt ports included on the new models and also can be used on similarly equipped 2011 versions of these computers.

"The cable adds a wired interface to the MacBook Airs now in use. In 2011, Apple updated the MacBook Air, which typically use wireless connectivity, to include a Thunderbolt port," says Dave Thompson, Distinguished Engineer in system applications at LSI Corporation. "The new cable Apple has developed means these users can put a wired interface to work if they want to provide faster and in many instances more reliable downloads."

"Audio system suppliers that have worked extensively with FireWire in their professional audio systems and consumer products can be assured that FireWire's features and benefits will be extended indefinitely," says Morten Lave, CEO of TC Electronic. "The new adapter offering is an innovative and useful addition to the Apple product portfolio that will be welcomed among audio system designers."

While the new systems will not natively use FireWire Target Disk Mode, the adapter makes it possible to read FireWire systems in Target Disk Mode via Thunderbolt. The adapters also bring FireWire 800, which runs at 800 Mbps, firmly into the Windows PC market for users who want that kind of speed and bandwidth. Apple also is providing a Gigabit Ethernet-thunderbolt adapter, which is now available.

The 1394 Trade Association is a worldwide organization dedicated to the advancement of the IEEE 1394 standard. More than 2.5 billion FireWire ports have shipped on a wide range of computing, consumer electronics, industrial, storage and other systems.

RadTech ScreenSavrz Laptop Display Protection and Cleaning

PR: RadTech ScreenSavrz protect delicate MacBook Pro, MacBook Air and PC laptop display screens from abrasion caused by the close tolerances present in modern ultrathin notebooks. ScreenSavrz positively shield and protect your display screen from oils, dirt, shock, keyboard marks, and top case abrasion. ScreenSavrz also expertly clean and polish LCD displays without sprays or wet wipes - dampen ScreenSavrz with water and easily remove existing keymarks and scuffing.

RadTech ScreenSavrzMade from RadTech's exclusive, super-soft Optex fabric, a non-woven, ultrathin advanced polishing fabric developed specifically for LCD panel care and cleaning, ScreenSavrz allows you to safely clean the screen or any surface of your notebook. Thin, soft and supple, ScreenSavrz stow as easily as a dollar bill and can be washed 1000's of times. Models for all notebooks, including MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, MacBook, PowerBook, iBook, and PC notebooks.

Engineered for MacBook Air: The extremely close tolerances in the ultra-slim MacBook Air notebook necessitated a host of model-specific design requirements. To ensure that all potentially colliding surfaces are fully protected without negatively impacting latching or sleep functionality, RadTech developed the thinnest gauge Optex fabric yet - just 0.5mm thick. And to completely eliminate the possibility of trackpad button depression, and a subsequent wake from sleep, the button-covering section of the ScreenSavrz is debossed to a thickness of just 0.2mm. No other display protector combines these features to ensure that your MacBook Air is fully protected, with no loss of functionality.

Show off your style by choosing the ScreenSavrz color or pattern that suits you best - Gray, Fuchsia, Indigo, Green, Grape, Black & Shagwire.

Custom emblazoning available in any quantity - visit http://www.radtech.us/custom for full details.

Features

  • Shields and protects notebook LCD's from oils, dirt, shock, scratching and abrasion
  • No oily residue or shedding as with leather or commercial microfiber protectors
  • Expressly designed to protect, clean and polish LCD displays - never buy another wet wipe
  • Easily removes prior LCD screen damage, abrasions and key marks
  • Ultra-tough and lightweight cloth lasts for years - won't ever wrinkle, fray, run or tear
  • Optex construction provides the most safe, effective and economical screen cleaning solution available
  • Polish and clean your entire notebook, your peripherals, accessories, iPod, eyeglasses, CDs, DVDs, and more
  • Sizes for all brands and models of notebooks. If you don't see it, contact us
  • Combine with Wildeepz Display Cushions for maximum protection on MacBook Pro, PowerBook and iBook
  • Machine-specific, tailored sizes for all notebook models
  • Universal Series fits any notebook with a keyboard

Notebook ScreenSavrz Specs

  • Material: Optex 0.05 denier Ultra-Microfiber
  • Thickness: 0.6mm / 0.5mm (MB & MBA)
  • Colors: Gray, Fuchsia, Indigo, Green, Grape, Black & Shagwire
  • Weight: 5 - 12g
  • Product of USA

Prices start at $16.95

Add matching Sleevz Case: $24.95

RadTech Laptop Sleeve for MacBook Pro with Retina Display

PR: RadTech's Sleevz cases for Apple Notebooks protect the exterior finish of your notebook from all of life's little bumps and grinds. Made from RadTech's Optex Super80 fabric and available in 6 color choices: gray, pink, blue, green, purple, and RadTech Sleevzblack. Sleevz stretch on like a glove, hugging every curve of your machine and RadTech's exclusive Optex fabric allows you to safely clean the computer's screen with no fear of scratching. Sleevz can also be used to insulate laps or furniture from hot notebook bottoms.

Extremely lightweight, flexible and durable like RadTech's popular ScreenSavrz, which are made from Optex as well, Sleevz offer substantial protection without adding to your load. Average weight is just 36 grams, and Sleevz fold up small enough to easily fit in your pack, purse or pocket. They protect the exterior finish of the notebook from your larger case's zippers, rough linings and hardware - or anything else which might cause damage. Makes a great, hassle-free tote when you just need to take the 'Book. And all RadTech Sleevz are TSA Checkpoint Friendly.

Features

  • TSA Checkpoint Friendly
  • Super-light, formfitting protective sleeve provides elegant and stylish protection
  • Made from RadTech's exclusive Optex fabric. Clean and polish computer's case and display screen
  • Patent pending one-piece design offers incredible strength and completely flat seams
  • Offers significant protection - Sleeved notebooks have survived incredible perils
  • Positively prevents display unlatching - no more dead battery surprises
  • Fits your notebook like a glove - exquisitely tailored to hug every curve
  • Great for protecting your lap and furniture from hot notebook bottoms
  • Enhances grip while carrying - shields lap and furniture from heat while using
  • Fully breathable, yet repels liquids, spills and debris
  • Washable, and naturally resists soiling and staining
  • Greatly enhances your grip while carrying
  • Available in 6 exciting colors to suit any style
  • Get your own custom logo

Specs

  • Material: Optex Super80
  • Weight: 33 - 42g
  • Material Thickness: 0.8mm
  • Product of USA

$30.95

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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