The 'Book Review

Living without a DVD Drive, WD Portable Drives Go USB 3, Superfast Velociraptor Duo Drive, and More

This Week's Mac Notebook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2012.09.07

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. Older Macs are covered in Vintage Mac News. All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

Purchases made through links to Amazon.com and Apple's iTunes/iBook/App/Mac App Store support Low End Mac.

News & Opinion

Rumor Roundup

Apple Updates (in today's Mac News Review)

Tech Trends

Products & Services

Bargain 'Books

News & Opinion

Living Without a DVD Drive in Your MacBook

AppStorm's Bill Morefield observes that while the CD data disk was revolutionary when it arrived, a vast improvement on 3.5" floppy disks that held only 1.4 MB, and the DVD that soon followed even more so, increasing the amount of data on a single disk to 4.7 GB and beyond with dual-layer DVDs.

However, he observes that software delivery is now most often via electronic download, whether from the Mac App Store or the vendor's website, and the internal DVD drive adds bulk and weight that more and more users deem unnecessary. Apple is busily about redesigning its computers without internal optical drives. The MacBook Air has never had one, and the new MacBook Retina is also sans DVD drive, with the trend line clear that Apple considers optical drive capability unimportant, something best provided by an external drive in the rare times its needed.

However, Morefield notes that computer users can't quite completely ignore the CD and DVD yet, since most boxed software - mainly large suites like Microsoft Office or Creative Suite - still comes on a DVD or CD, many of us have DVD or Blu-ray movie collections and even CD music collections that we'd like to bring with us to the digital world. He takes a look at a few programs either included with your Mac or freely available that will help you deal with those physical disks still lying around, allowing you to get anything you have on those disks onto your Mac.

iPad Cannibalizing PC Sales, Has Less Impact on Mac Sales

Fortune's Philip Elmer-DeWitt reports that although Mac shipments grew faster than the overall PC market in calendar Q3 for the 25th quarter in a row, Needham's Charlie Wolf perceives some cause for concern in latest data, noting that the difference between Mac and Mac vs. PC Market GrowthPC growth rates is smaller than in previous quarters: Mac shipments to education fell, albeit by a minuscule 0.1%, but the first definitive evidence, according to Wolf that the iPad is cannibalizing US PC sales. Elmer-DeWitt notes Apple sold nearly a million iPads to US schools in the quarter.

More troubling for Apple is that while overall PC shipments to consumer customers increased 1.1% worldwide in Q3, while Mac shipments to that demographic fell 4.6%, although paradoxically the Mac continues to thrive in the business market, with Macs shipped to domestic enterprise customers growing 56.6% as overall PC sales fell 8.8%, and globally Mac business shipments increased 22.1% in contrast to a 4.5% decline in overall business PC sales.

Rumor Roundup

13" Retina MacBook Pro Anticipated to Retail at $1,299; No Retina Display for iMac

AppleInsider Staff report that Apple's iMac will reportedly receive a hardware redesign before the end of the year, but it won't get a high-resolution Retina Display, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities, who has a strong track record in making Apple product predictions, and believes a new 21.5" iMac will debut with a "brand new design" in September, with a larger 27" iMac is expected to follow in late October.

However, Kuo does predict that the new iMacs displays will be improved with a new "full-lamination process," integrating the display panel with the protective cover glass.

While he's at it, Kuo also anticipates that a new 13" MacBook Pro with Retina display will be priced aggressively at under $1,300.

Tech Trends

Lenovo Unveils New Affordable Thin and Light S Series Laptops

PR: At the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin, Lenovo announced the expansion its ultraportable IdeaPad product line with the IdeaPad S300, S400, and S405 laptops. These affordable thin and light laptops strike a balance between portability and performance for consumers who want more computing power than a netbook and longer battery life than a traditional laptop, without the premium price of an Ultrabook.

Measuring 21.9mm thin (less than one inch) and weighing 1.8kg (less than four lb.), the S Series features a sleek exterior design with a stylish metallic finish powered by either 3rd generation Intel Core or AMD A-Series processors.

"As a global leader in the PC market, Lenovo's success rests on our ability to deliver consumer-centric innovations in products that deliver a blend of mobility, performance and price," says Bai Peng, vice president and general manager, IdeaPad Business Unit, Lenovo. "Customers don't just want a functional product, though; they also want one that speaks to their sense of style and individuality. The new Lenovo IdeaPad S Series laptops give everyday consumers exactly what they need by matching small size and light weight with the power needed for everything from Web browsing to productivity tasks, all in an affordable package."

The Lenovo IdeaPad S300 and S400 laptops are available with Intel's 3rd generation Core i3 or i5 processors, while the IdeaPad S405 is equipped with up to AMD A8 quad-core processors. Up to 500 GB hard disk storage capacity (up to 1 TB HDD in the S405) offers plenty of space to store music, movies, and documents, and an optional 32 GB solid state drive on the S400 and S405 can help speed boot time and application responsiveness. In addition, intelligent energy management features not only increase time spent between charges - up to 5 hours - but also protect the long-term durability of the battery.

All of the new S Series laptops offer Microsoft Windows 7 Home Professional and will be eligible for the Microsoft Windows 8 upgrade program. Designed for Windows 8, the updated S Series intelligent touchpad gives users a more controlled experience when scrolling and zooming, while the AccuType keyboard with individual rounded keys provides a platform for comfortable and accurate typing.

Users can also take advantage of innovative ease-of-use features such as Lenovo Quick Start instant on functionality to get online in seconds. Even data protection is made easy with Lenovo's OneKey Rescue System, which offers an amazingly simple and quick way to back up and restore data, recover corrupted system files and run a complete virus scan.

Less than an inch at their thickest point and weighing under four pounds, Lenovo's new consumer laptops are offered in a selection of tactile metallic finishes and colors including crimson red, silver grey and cotton-candy pink. With up to a 14" HD widescreen display, HDMI output, stereo speakers and Dolby Advanced Audio v2 certification, the new S Series laptops offer premium features for immersive entertainment and multimedia activities.

The Lenovo IdeaPad S300, S400, and S405 will be available starting immediately through Lenovo sales representatives and business partners in the US starting at $499.

Products & Services

WD Portable Hard Drives for Mac Rev Up on USB 3.0 Speed and Larger Capacity While Keeping Compact Design

PR: WD has added the USB 3.0 interface to its line of My Passport for Mac portable hard drives and increased capacity for Mac computer users up to 2 TB. Popular among students and other Mac users who take their digital content everywhere, My Passport for Macthe My Passport for Mac with USB 3.0 allows users to quickly and conveniently take advantage of the faster transfer speeds USB 3.0 provides when connecting the drive to their MacBook computer or MacBook Air computer with that interface.

While continuing to provide a sleek and slim design, the My Passport drive also has been a favorite among consumers and professionals who have safety and security at the top of the list of requirements for portable drives, which is why the My Passport for Mac includes password protection and hardware encryption features to protect content from unauthorized use or access. The My Passport for Mac drive is also compatible out of the box with Apple Time Machine for easy backup to further protect valuable files.

"Today's mobile consumers are looking for fast, safe, compact and reliable ways to access and transport their digital files," explains Ralf San Jose, director of product marketing for WD's consumer storage products group. "My Passport for Mac with USB 3.0 adds the convenience of a very fast USB connection that includes added security features that mobile consumers need My Passport for Macwhen away from home. Adding all these benefits with an unmatched industry capacity of 2 TB provides the perfect solution for the demanding Mac customer."

My Passport for Mac drives remain a favorite among Mac users whose environments also include extensive travel or outdoor and adventure locations. Additionally, when action and adventure are on the schedule, My Passport for Mac drives will fit nicely inside WD's Nomad (My Passport for Mac 2 TB does not fit into the WD Nomad rugged case) rugged case for protection against dirt, dust, moisture, and sudden impacts.

My Passport for Mac comes with a 3-year limited warranty and is available on the WD store and at select retailers and distributors. My Passport for Mac drives has Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices (MSRP) of $99.99 for the 500 GB, $129.99 for the 1 TB, and $199.99 for the 2 TB.

WD Introduces VelociRaptor Duo, Fastest My Book External Hard Drive System Ever

PR: WD has combined two high-speed technologies to produce one of the fastest and most robust dual-storage systems ever offered. Supported by the Mac OS X operating system, the new My Book VelociRaptor Duo dual-drive storage system becomes the ultimate storage drive for performance hungry Mac computer users and creative professionals.

WD VelociRaptor DuoMy Book VelociRaptor Duo provides bleeding edge speed and performance with two 1 TB, 10,000 RPM, WD VelociRaptor drives along with two Thunderbolt ports. The 2 TB dual-drive storage system is ideal for editing high resolution video, 3D rendering, graphic design, and other demanding digital media applications. This boost in performance delivers solid state drive (SSD)-like data transfer rates of up to 400 MB/s for greater workflow productivity. The dual-drive storage system offers RAID 0 for performance or RAID 1 for protection; and the twin Thunderbolt ports offer daisy-chaining multiple My Book VelociRaptor Duo drives and other high performance peripherals without impacting data transfer speeds or performance. The My Book VelociRaptor Duo also comes complete with a Thunderbolt cable in the box and is user-serviceable.

Photographers, graphic designers and post-production professionals can conduct several high intensity tasks such as video editing and 3D rendering, while completing other graphics-intensive projects. My Book VelociRaptor Duo customers will now have the ability to transfer 22 GB full-length HD movies in less than 65 seconds, 2,000 5 MB pictures in less than 33 seconds, and over 500 5 MB songs in less than 8 seconds.

WD VelociRaptor Duo"The My Book VelociRaptor Duo is the fastest and most reliable high performance consumer storage device on the market today," explains Jody Bradshaw, senior director of WD's consumer storage solutions group. "Creative professionals now have access to a supercharged storage drive that will keep pace with even the most demanding projects. Daisy-chaining multiple My Book VelociRaptor Duo devices together offers even greater speed, more capacity and flexibility."

While RAID 0 maximizes the drive's speed and capacity, RAID 1 support allows users to create a second copy of their digital content on the drive for added protection, security, and peace of mind. The drive also provides a JBOD (just a bunch of disks) option for users running a Windows operating system on a Mac.

Additional features found on the My Book VelociRaptor Duo dual-drive storage system include out-of-the-box compatibility with Apple Time Machine and HFS + Journaled for Mac computers; capability for multi-stream workflows; and a 3-year limited warranty.

The My Book VelociRaptor Duo dual-drive storage system is currently available at select US retailers and online starting at $899.99 MSRP.

Safeguard Back-to-School Electronics with WaterField's Protective, Stylish Cases

PR: Students everywhere head back to school with laptops, iPads and other electronics in need of protection. WaterField Designs, a San Francisco manufacturer of custom laptop sleeves, bags and cases for digital gear, offers custom-fitted laptop and tablet sleeves for any laptop or tablet on the market, plus a bevy of iPad cases and wireless keyboard sleeves, ready for today's digitally connected, on-the-go student.

"Laptops and iPads are integral gear for students headed back to school. Running around campus, they need a reliable way to carry and protect their laptop, iPad and other too-expensive-to-damage electronics," notes WaterField Designs owner, Gary Waterfield. "WaterField offers options so that students can find a case to meet their functionality and protection needs and still match their own personal style."

Laptop SleeveCase

  • Custom-sizing available for any Mac or PC laptop on the market.
  • Black ballistic nylon envelopes 6mm of high-grade neoprene for rugged protection.
  • Slanted back pocket holds a file or notebook.
  • Bottom loop helps ease laptop into and out of the SleeveCase.
  • Choices: checkered Indium or brown leather trim; vertical or horizontal sleeve orientation
  • Optional add-ons: Flap for extra protection; D-rings and strap to transform the sleeve into a shoulder bag; removable Piggyback pouch to store accessories.

Tablet Ultimate SleeveCaseTablet Ultimate SleeveCase

All SleeveCase materials, functionality and options, plus:

  • Impact-resistant insert to protect tablet screen
  • Ultrasuede lining on screen side to help keep screen free of smudges
  • Extra flap protection included as standard

iPad Cases and Bags

  • Five sleeve-style iPad case options for various needs and levels of protectionUltimate SleeveCase, EXO SleeveCase, Smart Case, Slip Case and Suede Jacket.
  • Two minimalist iPad + keyboard + accessory options available with or without shoulder strapsiPad Travel Express and iPad Wallet.
  • Three vertical messenger bags designed specifically to carry iPad + accessories; two in leather, one in waxed canvasThe Indy, Muzetto Leather and Muzetto Outback.

Keyboard Cases

Three Apple Wireless Keyboard Sleeve choices offer a range in protection, style and price - the Keyboard Socket, Slip, and Sleeve.

Two Keyboard + accessories cases include the Keyboard Travel Case and the Keyboard Travel Express.

Pricing & Availability

  • Laptop SleeveCase: Price: $49. Add-on options: brown leather trim: $10; padded Flap: $15; D-rings: $5; D-rings and Simple Shoulder Strap: $12; D-rings and Suspension Shoulder Strap: $22; Piggyback accessory pouch: $25 to $27.
  • Tablet Ultimate SleeveCase: Price: $59. Add-on options: brown leather trim: $6; D-rings: $5; D-rings and Simple Shoulder Strap: $12; D-rings and Suspension Shoulder Strap: $22.
  • iPad Cases and BagsPrice for sleeves: $19 to $65 (+ options); iPad Travel Express and Wallet: $69 to $79; iPad vertical messenger bags: $159 to $199.
  • Keyboard CasesPrice for sleeves: $15 to $39. Keyboard Travel Express and Keyboard Travel Case: $49 to $69.

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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