The 'Book Review

Microsoft Office for Mac Updated for Retina Display, Secondary Mobile Displays, and More

This Week's Mac Notebook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2012.09.21

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

Products & Services

Software

Bargain 'Books

News & Opinion

Office for Mac 2011 Upgraded to Support Retina Display

The Office for Mac Team has announced that Office For Mac 2011 (Version 14.2.4) now supports Retina Display for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook, and says text is now "incredibly crisp" and all key areas of the interface are now sharper than ever.

As long as you have Microsoft AutoUpdate set to check for software updates automatically, you'll be notified when this update is available.

To check your AutoUpdate settings, open any Office for Mac program, click Help from the menu bar, then select Check for Updates. You can choose to update Manually or Automatically on the schedule of your choice.

Led by Apple's MacBook Air, 20 Million Ultraportable Notebooks to Ship in 2012

PR: Despite Intel's marketing campaign to educate audiences about the ultrabook computing platform, most consumers are not biting, and new data from market intelligence firm ABI Research suggests that Intel may have jinxed itself with a premature prediction that 40% of all notebook computers this year would be Ultrabooks. ABI Research found the uptake of thin and light portable computers during the first half of 2012 was disappointing, though new data forecasts 20 million will ship worldwide in 2012.

Ultrabooks, a term coined and trademarked by Intel for ultraportable notebook computers based on its processor architecture, are part of the broader portable computing market typically associated with the terms "laptop" or "notebook" PCs. Targeted at midrange prices, the most popular ultraportable today is not strictly speaking an Ultrabook, but Apple's MacBook Air.

"Initial Ultrabooks came to market several hundred dollars above consumer expectations," comments senior practice director Jeff Orr. High systems prices and waiting for the upcoming Windows 8 operating system are two leading reasons for lack of adoption. Next-generation systems that bring prices down closer to audience requirements along with touchscreen models that provide versatile input methods are promised for 2013. The ultraportable segment has significant growth potential as consumer expectations are met. A healthy growth rate of 53% is predicted over the 2012 to 2017 forecast period."

At the low end of portable computing is the netbook PC. Netbooks kept the portable computing market afloat during the 2009 global recession by offering a low-cost solution for families and students. Now the majority of PC OEMs have shifted focus away from low-margin netbook toward more profitable media tablets.

"The remaining netbook vendors are focused on educational deployments as a learning tool. Both OLPC and Intel's Classmate PC partners continue to promote the use of technology within classroom settings all over the globe. More than 15 million netbooks are expected to ship worldwide this year. Latin America has already taken advantage of the netbook opportunity, while the Eastern European markets are ramping deployments," says Orr.

The new market data Netbooks, Smartbooks & Ultrabooks tracks and analyzes audience and device segmentation for ultraportable computers. It forms part of ABI Research's Netbooks, Smartbooks and Ultrabooks Research Service, which comprehensively analyzes the technology segments affecting growth of global portable computing.

ABI Research provides in-depth analysis and quantitative forecasting of trends in global connectivity and other emerging technologies. From offices in North America, Europe and Asia, ABI Research's worldwide team of experts advises thousands of decision makers through 70+ research and advisory services. Est. 1990. For more information visit www.abiresearch.com, or call +1.516.624.2500.

Publisher's note: Lots of unknowns here. Apple doesn't provide sales figures by model, but best estimates are the Apple sells about 2-3x as many MacBook Air computers as all ultrabooks combined. dk

Battery life infographicWhen Will Batteries Last the Work Week?

Lenovo blogger William Hong notes that most of us only fuel our cars approximately once per week. When can we expect to get the same mileage from our laptops? Imagine charging your laptop once and having it last a 40-hour work week without ever needing more juice. With ever more efficient hardware and processors, Hong says that sort of performance is now on the horizon. So when exactly will it happen?

Lenovo has posted an infographic that breaks down the past, present, and future of battery life. It follows the technological progress of batteries through the years - for example, in 1989 the average battery on a PC laptop would die after 16 minutes of usage.

Hid prediction: We'll have to wait a good 10 years before we see 40 hours of battery life from a single charge.

7" Tablets Could Help Notebooks Stage a Comeback

Tech.Pinions' Ben Bajarin thinks that increasing popularity of 7(ish)-inch tablets could set the stage for a laptop comeback, contending that the fundamental aspect of a solutions-based approach to personal computing understands that multiple screens working seamlessly in conjunction together will equal personal computing.

Bajarin notes that tablets are not a mature category yet with regards to the mass market and says it will most likely take customers at least two generations of owning a tablet to fully establish their needs, wants, and desires for the platform.

Bajarin relates that after switching to a Nexus 7 instead of an iPad as his primary tablet, he began using his notebook more, leading him to speculate that rising popularity of 7" tablets will help to rejuvenate the notebook market.

Publisher's note: This stands in stark contrast to predictions made earlier this year that tablets will improve the sale of desktop PCs (see The iPad May Kill Laptops and Save the Desktop). Although the PC market (not including tablets) is essentially stagnant overall, laptops have been outselling desktops since mid 2008. In 2010, Forrester Research (which counts tablets at PCs) predicted that desktop PCs will only account for 18% of the market in 2015, notebooks and netbooks 59%, and tablets the remaining 23%. That's a desktop decline of 15% from 2010, 3% for laptops, and 17% growth for tablets. With tablets growing the market significantly, laptops are not in trouble. dk

Products & Services

Monster Digital Daytona Series SSDs for Laptops, Ultrabooks, and Desktops

Monster Digital 480 GB SSDPR: Monster Digital is broadening its selection of Solid State Drives (SSD), making it easier to adopt leading-edge SSD technology with its new ultrahigh speed Daytona Series Solid State Drives. The 2.5" Daytona Series SSDs are claimed to be conservatively rated with 550/515 read/write speeds, 60k IOPS, are over-provisioned for extended reliability. Packaged in a super thin 7mm universal fit stainless steel case, they are available as bare drives in capacities of 90 GB, 120 GB, 240 GB, and 480 GB for suggested retail prices of $99.99, $109.99, $229.99, and $479.99 respectively. Monster Digital Daytona Series bare drives are available now on Amazon.com, at Fry's Electronics and PC Mall.

Simple DIY Computer Upgrade Experience

The 120 GB, 240 GB and 480 GB Daytona Series drives are also available with the industry's best and most straightforward Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Easy Installation Kit. The kit allows users to install their new SSD on their own without hiring a computer tech or leaving their laptop at a service center. The all-inclusive kit includes cloning software (Windows), an SATA 3/USB 3.0 adapter, 3.5 drive bay adapter, and quick start guide. It also includes a link to a helpful installation video and even a screwdriver with all the bits necessary to safely and securely install the new SSD drive. Notably, the kit duplicates a computer's existing hard drive onto the SSD, ensuring a seamless transition and an exact clone of all data (Mac users should be able to achieve the same result using OS X Disk Utility, Time Machine, or third-party cloning software). Once installed, users enjoy their exact same computer and data only thanks to its new SSD drive, it's faster and has longer battery life. The Daytona Series upgrade kit is available for a suggested retail price of $134.99 (for 120 GB), $234.99 (for 240 GB), and $484.99 (for 480 GB). The Easy Installation Kit configurations will be available at the end of September at Amazon.com and Fry's Electronics.

Dramatically Faster Than Magnetic Drives

Monster Digital's SSDs are claimed to be 5x faster than conventional 7,200 RPM Hard Disc Drives and 10x as reliable. Notably, because there are no moving parts and are over provisioned Daytona provides superior reliability and touts a 2,000,000 hour MTBF.

Thanks to their low power consumption, Daytona drives provide significantly longer battery life. Power consumption is <5W active and <200mW inactive. Users also enjoy the peace of mind that comes with airtight data security via 256-bit AES encryption. Even compared to most competitors' SSDs, the Daytona series is claimed to be more reliable with more consistent speed due to Reduced Write Amplification and Over Provisioning. Monster Digital SSDs also support TRIM and come with a 3-year warranty.

Monster Digital CEO Jay Tandon notes: "Demand for high-performance SSDs continues to build among today's computer users. Everyone wants faster access speeds, longer laptop battery life and the reliability only SSDs can offer. With our new Daytona Series, we are providing an easily accessible, high-speed option for reliable storage with significantly lower energy consumption and silent operation compared to conventional hard drives. They are the ideal choice for people who want the very best performance and efficiency. Our new Daytona drives are especially well suited to laptops. If your Ultrabook doesn't have an SSD, install a Daytona drive with our upgrade kit today. You'll be amazed at your computer's new performance."

Daytona series drives are available at Amazon.com, Crutchfield, Fry's, InMotion Stores, PCMall, RadioShack or ask your local electronics retailer. D&H Distributing and Synnex Corporation are distribution partners.

Monitor2Go Creates New Product Category for Mobile Secondary Displays

Monitor2GoPR: Mobile Monitor Technologies (MMT) have announced the availability of its next generation products. Building upon its success with Field Monitor Pro, touted as the industry's first full-size laptop companion, MMT has again altered the mobile landscape with an entirely new portable display for iPads, iPhones, iPods, MacBooks, and iMacs, as well as other portable devices and computers.

With a 15.6" HD+ screen, Monitor2Go boasts a resolution of 1600 x 900. And its portable, super-slim design facilitates adding a second screen to MacBook, iMac and Mac Pro displays via USB, and to function as a second display for iPhones, iPads, and iPod touch devices through HDMI.

Monitor2Go"Using iPhones and iPads in the workplace has become a global phenomenon, but viewing, interacting with, and sharing content on these devices can be extremely problematic due to their small screens," says Larry Pensack, President of MMT. "Now with the ability to add dual display capabilities to mobile devices, Monitor2Go is an ideal solution whether you're working or enjoying personal media content."

Monitor2Go is claimed to improve both the business and entertainment value of portable devices in a variety of ways. For business, sharing content with clients, customers and colleagues becomes easier. Show a fullscreen Keynote presentation from the iPhone. Mirror the

iPad screen and say good-bye to fingerprints and covered content during demonstrations, and remove hand navigation from the audience's view. For entertainment, watch movies from an iPhone or iPod touch or enjoy an HD mobile theater at home, in a car or from a hotel room.

Monitor2GoMMT says what makes Monitor2Go so enticing is the added benefit of its patent-pending iPad slot that houses both iPad 2 and the New iPad (3rd generation). This integrated, brushed aluminum design not only folds to protect and lock iPad during transport, but also allows the user to share the tablet's content on Monitor2Go's larger display with the turn of a wrist. Monitor2Go's display is more than 2X larger than the iPad screen itself and features 360 degrees of accessible, viewable screen area.

While Monitor2Go was designed with Apple products in mind, it also works with all PCs and HDMI compatible devices.

Monitor2Go for Business: Rotate Monitor2Go's 15.6 HD+ screen to share bright, vivid presentations, videos, apps, and more with iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or any HDMI compatible device. With laptops and notebooks, Monitor2Go literally doubles screen real estate and adds second screen productivity via a USB cable

Monitor2Go for Entertainment: Connect your iPhone, iPod touch or any HDMI compatible media player for a mobile theater. Enjoy movies, TV, home video and photo slideshows in crisp HD wherever you go.

Monitor2Go Features

  • Stunning 15.6" HD+ (1600 x 900) display
  • Brushed aluminum and rubberized ABS design
  • 0.45" at its slimmest point, 1.09" at thickest, and weighs only three pounds
  • HDMI input, USB mini-B input and two spare USB-A accessory ports
  • Works with all USB Mac and Windows laptops and desktops
  • Daisy chain up to 6 Monitor2Go's off a host computers single USB port through
  • DisplayLink USB virtual graphics
  • Works with HDMI compatible devices iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, tablets, smartphones, DVD players and more
  • Carry, protect, and lock iPad (iPad 2 and new iPad generation 3)
  • 180 degrees screen pivot in either left or right rotation. Use in either landscape or portrait modes
  • Audio jack output for speakers and headphones (when using HDMI input)
  • Optional battery module
  • Optional VESA mounting bracket

Monitor2Go is available now in two models: HD+ with 1600 x 900 resolution at $329, and HD with 1366 x 768 resolution for $299.

Software

Turn That Extra PC into a Second Display with Avatron Software's Air Display for Windows

Air Display for WindowsPR: People are always upgrading their PC or switching from Windows to Mac. Now they can spare the landfill and get more screen space by using the old PC as an additional monitor with mobile app developer Avatron Software's new version of Air Display for Windows. Users can now get extra real estate on their PC for the PowerPoint presentation, one for the Word doc and another to monitor email or social networks. The PC joins the iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Android smartphones and tablet to extend your desktop wirelessly for enhanced productivity and mobility.

Regardless of how its used, Air Display like all Avatron productivity apps blurs the boundaries between personal computers, mobile devices and the cloud:

  • Business: Move all of your iWork and Office tool palettes and inspector windows onto the extra screen, and let your document fill the main screen.
  • Fill your second display with essential apps like Outlook, Mail, social networks, and more.
  • Graphic design: Make Photoshop and Illustrator usable on your laptop by putting your tool palettes on the second display.
  • Music: Use your extra PC as the ultimate control surface for Logic or Pro Tools with always-on access.
  • Programming: Use the extra display area for such auxiliary development tools
  • Photography: Hold a live feed on one screen; adjust lighting with the other.
  • Keep that second PC working for you as an external monitor, rather than adding to the landfill and get more mileage out of depreciated computers.

"Our newest version of one of our most popular apps allows users to extend the life of their still-useful PCs by turning them into a second display to mirror or extend their desktop," says Dave Howell, CEO of Avatron Software. "Our users have shown us unlimited ways to employ multiple screens for increased productivity and mobility and PCs offer an excellent new option for a whole new audience."

The cross-platform wireless Air Display app, which users can try for free for up to an hour before purchasing, boasts simple setup and instantaneous benefits connecting with a device over a local wireless network. The required Mac or Windows components are installed on the main machine with the Air Display app loaded on the Mac or Windows PC, or iOS or Android-based tablet or smartphone. Immediately following connection, the Air Display screen becomes a second monitor for the main Mac or PC. Simple controls determine whether the second PC acts as a separate monitor or mirrors the contents of the main screen.

While the iOS edition of Air Display just works wirelessly, both the Mac and Windows editions enable either wireless or wired use over an Ethernet connection for optimal frame rate and image quality.

The Air Display app, which has already scored excellent reviews from Cnet, Gizmodo, PC Magazine and Wired, creates extra monitor space for graphics software like Photoshop, Office or iWork or games that require more area than a traditional laptops 13 screen.

Air Display for iPad and iPhone is available for $9.99 in the App Store. Air Display is part of Avatron's family of productivity apps for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.

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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