The 'Book Review

OS X 10.8.2 Update Fixed, Sonnet's Thunderbolt PCIe Expansion Chassis, and More 'Book News

This Week's Mac Notebook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2012.12.08

News & Opinion

Apple Updates

Tech Trends

Products & Services

Bargain 'Books

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

Apple Puts Some 13" MacBook Pro Component Orders on Hold

DigiTimes' Aaron Lee and Joseph Tsai report that Apple has recently stopped some of the component orders for its 13" MacBook Pro due high inventory, with shipments reportedly down some 20% from Apple's original estimates.

The report leaves unspecified whether the component supply slowdown affects the new 13" MacBook Pro with Retina Display, the old-school non-Retina MacBook Pro (which for some time has been the best-selling Mac system overall), or both.

Apple Updates

OS X 10.8.2 Update Reissued

Apple has reissued its 10.8.2 update for specific Mac systems after having originally released a specific version of the updater for the 2012 Mac Mini, iMac, and 13" MacBook Pro with Retina Display models, then quickly pulled it more than a week ago.

The OS X Mountain Lion 10.8.2 Update for 13" MacBook Pro with Retina Display, 21.5" iMac (Late 2012), Mac mini (Late 2012) is recommended for all 13" MacBook Pro with Retina Display, 21.5" iMac (Late 2012) and Mac mini (Late 2012) systems. It includes all features and updates from OS X Mountain Lion v10.8.2 plus system-specific enhancements and fixes for Late 2012 systems.

New features include

  • Facebook
  • Single sign on for Facebook
  • Facebook as an option when sharing links and photos
  • Facebook friends' contact information and profile pictures in Contacts
  • Facebook notifications in Notification Center

Game Center

  • Share scores to Facebook, Twitter, Mail, or Messages
  • Facebook friends are included in Game Center friend recommendations
  • Facebook Like button for games
  • Challenge friends to beat your score or achievement

Other new features

  • Power Nap support for MacBook Air (Late 2010)
  • Messages sent to your phone number now appear in Messages on your Mac
  • From Safari and Mail on your Mac you can add passes to Passbook on your iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 6

New shared Reminders lists

  • FaceTime now receives calls sent to your phone number
  • New sort options allow you to sort notes by title, the date you edited them, and when you created them
  • Dictation now supports Mandarin, Cantonese, Spanish, Korean, Canadian English, Canadian French, and Italian
  • The Dictionary application now includes a French definition dictionary
  • Sina Weibo profile photos can now be added to Contacts

This update also includes general operating system fixes that improve the stability, compatibility and security of your Mac, including the following fixes:

  • An option to discard the changes in the original document when choosing Save As
  • Unsent drafts are opened automatically when launching Mail
  • Receive Twitter notifications for mentions and replies from anyone
  • URLs are shortened when sending tweets from Notification Center
  • Notifications are disabled when AirPlay Mirroring is being used
  • SSL support for Google searches from the Smart Search Field in Safari
  • New preference to have Safari launch with previously open webpages
  • Graphics performance and reliability enhancements
  • USB 3 reliability enhancements

File Size: 654.49 MB

System Requirements: OS X Mountain Lion v10.8.1

Tech Trends

Should You Buy an Ultrabook with Windows 8?

PC Mag's Tim Bajarin notes that there are dozens of beautiful new Ultrabook laptop designs available this holiday season, with more than 60 new models available priced from $650 to $1,799. But consumers question whether ultrabooks are worth their premium price.

Bajarin is convinced that ultrabooks are the future of laptops but suggests that if you want the most out of Windows 8, which will be on every PC laptop you buy this fall, you really need to buy an ultrabook with a touch screen. The bad news is that many of the best ultrabooks with touch screens start at around $1,100.

However, Bajarin notes that research shows a device like a $499.99 fourth-generation iPad can handle as much as 80% of a person's computing needs, so for tablet owners the tendency is to buy a cheaper laptop or even just opt to extend the life of their current one.

Lenovo X1 Carbon: An Ultrabook for Old Pros and Classic-Laptop-Loving Business Users

InfoWorld's Serdar Yegulalp says if Lenovo's X1 Carbon Ultrabook is any indication, professionals are in no hurry to move to Windows 8, since this new iteration of the ThinkPad ships with Windows 7 Professional instead - eschewing a touchscreen and a tablet form factor in favor of design elements and preloaded ingredients that appeal to both business-class users and business-class IT support folks.

Measuring 13.03" x 8.9" x 0.74" and and weighing only 3 pounds, the Carbon X1 qualifies as thin and light, and as its name implies, it's clad in the matte carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic common to the ThinkPad line, instead of the brushed metal that encases so many other Ultrabooks. Yegulalp says it feels rugged, not cheap. Another reviewer observed that the X1 reminds him of none other than Apple's erstwhile G3 PowerBooks in terms of looks and feel. The X1's 14" display is also the same physical size as the old PowerBook's screen, but with 1600 x 900 resolution rather than the PowerBook's 1024 x 768.

The Lenovo comes with a 1.8 GHz Intel Core i5-3427U processor, 4 GB of RAM, and a 256 GB SSD, which compares favorably with the 13" MacBook Air, but starts at a pricey $1,499 (same as the 13" MacBook Air with 256 GB SSD).

Microsoft Surface Pro to Start at $899

AppleInsider's Brian Marder reports:

"Microsoft on Thursday announced the pricing for its forthcoming Surface Pro tablet, starting at $899 for the entry-level 64-gigabyte version with an Intel processor and the full Windows 8 operating system."

"Given the price points and features of the Surface Pro, Microsoft's high-end tablet hardware may be targeted as more of a MacBook Air competitor than something positioned to take on Apple's iPad."

Surface with Windows 8 Pro to Be Priced in MacBook Air's Ballpark

In a Microsoft Blog, Panos Panay, General Manager of Microsoft Surface, has posted pricing information on the Surface with Windows 8 Pro tablet PC that will be available in January 2013.

Surface with Windows 8 Pro will be available in two versions:

  • 64 GB standalone version at $899
  • 128 GB standalone version at $999

That compares with the entry-level Surface with Windows RT 32 GB model that lists for $499, or 44% less than the 64 GB Surface with Windows 8 Pro and a minimum $200 more than a Windows RT Surface with 64 GB of storage.

Microsoft Surface ProBoth versions will both include a Surface pen with Palm Block technology and include the ability to use a Touch Cover or Type Cover (sold separately for an additional $120 for the Touch cover, for a total of $1,019 for the 64 GB version or $1,119 for the 128 GB version).

Surface with Windows 8 Pro uses the same design principles as Surface with Windows RT, including the Dark Titanium VaporMg casing, dual 2x2 MIMO antennas designed specifically for Surface, and the kickstand.

However, it also has some differences.

On the inside, Surface with Windows 8 Pro will come with a much more powerful Intel Ivy Bridge Core i5 processor, which will provide the necessary graphics boost for its 10.6" 16:9 ClearType display that runs at a 1920 x 1080 full HD resolution.

Surface with Windows 8 Pro also includes a full-size USB 3.0 port. Its Mini DisplayPort can drive an external display up to 2560 x 1440 resolution, and the standard Pen input features expanded capacitive and digitizing technology Microsoft is calling Palm Block that will prevent your handwriting from getting interrupted if you accidentally place your palm on the screen as you write.

Surface with Windows 8 Pro will run current Windows 7 desktop applications, will weigh less than two pounds, and will be less than 14 millimeters thick.

Products & Services

Sonnet Echo Express, Echo Express II, or Echo Express Pro Thunderbolt Expansion Chassis for PCIe Cards

PR: Today's ultralight notebooks, mini, and all-in-one desktop computers now have tremendous processing power, power that many people thought would only be possible in full-size desktop computers. Smaller in size and portable, they're very desirable. For professionals in the creative fields, this processing power alone is not enough. You need expansion slots to install specialty cards to connect various video and audio inputs, for processing data, and to connect to high-speed storage and networks. The problem is, only desktop computers (which aren't very portable) have expansion slots, and currently available PCIe expansion for notebook computers has been very limited in performance - until now.

Sonnet Echo ExpressIf you've got a computer with Thunderbolt technology, then an Echo Express, Echo Express II, or Echo Express Pro Thunderbolt Expansion Chassis for PCIe cards is exactly what you need.

Sonnet's Echo Express, Echo Express II, and Echo Express Pro enable you to use high-performance PCI Express (PCIe) adapter cards (sold separately) with any computer with a Thunderbolt port. Imagine using compatible full-size professional video capture, audio interface, SAS & SATA HBA, 8 Gb Fibre Channel, 10 Gigabit Ethernet, and RAID controller cards with your iMac, Mac mini, MacBook Air. or MacBook Pro; these Sonnet products make it possible.

Expanding Outside the Box

Sonnet harnessed the potential of Thunderbolt technology to enable you to connect high performance expansion cards to computers without expansion slots.

Developed by Intel and brought to market with technical collaboration from Apple, Thunderbolt technology supports high-performance data services and high-resolution displays through a single, compact port. Based on PCI Express (PCIe) and DisplayPort technologies, Thunderbolt provides support for two channels on the same connector with 10 Gb/s of throughput per channel in both directions. Connected via a Thunderbolt cable (not included, sold at the Apple Store), an Echo Expansion Chassis carries the computer's PCIe channel to the PCIe slot(s) and passes both PCIe and DisplayPort data through a second Thunderbolt port for daisy chaining other devices.

Standard or Pro

One or two cards, different lengths, different requirements - there's an Echo Express to meet your needs. The Echo Express (ECHO-EXP1H) supports one half-length (up to 7.75" long), full-height, double-width, x16* PCIe 2.0 card. The Echo Express II (ECHO-EXP2H) supports two half-length (up to 7.25" long), full-height, single-width, x16* PCIe 2.0 cards (or one double-width card), while the Pro model (ECHO-EXP2F) supports two standard width, full-length cards, or one double-width, full-length card. All three models support an I/O bracket.

The Echo Express and Echo Express II include a built-in 100W universal power supply; the Pro model includes an integrated 150W universal power supply.

Do you have a card in mind but aren't sure which Echo Express you need? We've worked closely with expansion card manufacturers to provide a list of compatible PCIe cards on our supporting PCIe Card Thunderbolt Compatibility Chart. The chart provides an up-to-date list of cards that have been tested to be recognized over a Thunderbolt connection and compatible with Thunderbolt technology requirements.

Key Features

  • Adds Expansion Card Slots to Any Computer with a Thunderbolt Port: The Echo Express supports one half-length (up to 7.75" long), full-height, double-width, x16* PCIe 2.0 card. The Echo Express II supports two half-length (up to 7.25" long), full-height, single-width, x16* PCIe 2.0 cards (or one double-width card), while the Pro model supports two standard width, full-length cards, or one double-width, full-length card.
  • High Bandwidth: With Thunderbolts PCI Express performance and 10 Gb/s of throughput on each of the two channels in both directions, Echo Express Expansion Chassis are perfect for special-purpose PCIe cards for video capture, audio interface, 8 Gb Fibre Channel, 10 Gigabit Ethernet, digital audio, RAID control, and more
  • Power for Powerful Cards: Integrated 100W power supply (150W in Pro model)
  • Two Thunderbolt Ports: Daisy chain up to six devices to a single port on the host computer
  • Temperature-Controlled, Variable-Speed Fans: Operate slow and quiet with cooler cards, better cooling for hot cards
  • Energy Saver Mode: Powers on/off automatically with the computer
  • Integrated Universal Power Supply: Built-in power supply means no external power brick to dangle or loose
  • Rugged Aluminum Housing: Portable protection for any environment

Constructed of rugged extruded aluminum, the Echo Express' outer shell helps transfer heat away from the cards and securely protects them inside. The top cover slides off to offer quick access to the PCIe slots and enable easy installation of cards. Ventilated front and back panels plus quiet, temperature-controlled fans (with no switches or jumpers to configure) automatically help keep even the very hottest cards cool; when not needed, the fans slow down to a whisper so you can work without a lot of noise in the background. Echo Express products are enviro-friendly, automatically powering on and off with your computer. To keeps things as compact as possible, universal power supplies are integrated inside the chassis so there're no dangling power bricks.

Strong Link in the Chain

These Sonnet solutions support daisy chaining of additional Thunderbolt technology-enabled peripherals such as an additional Echo Express, the Apple Thunderbolt Display, video capture devices, and data storage devices. For connected devices requiring extra power, 10 watts is provided through the daisy chain port to peripherals.

* The PCIe slot will physically accommodate up to a x16 PCIe card, however the actual electrical bandwidth of Thunderbolt is x4.

WaterField Unveils New MacBook Pro, Air, and Retina HardCase Laptop Bag

WaterField HardCase Laptop BagPR: San Francisco-based WaterField Designs has announced a redesign of its HardCase bag for Apple's MacBook Air, Pro and Retina laptops. The laptop bag combines sturdy ballistic nylon with smooth leather for rugged laptop protection in a classic, minimalist design. WaterField has extended the bag's main compartment and added additional interior pockets for more carrying capacity and organization. Waterfield's original HardCase Slim remains for those who prefer a more minimalist version.

WaterField HardCase Laptop BagThe new HardCase is designed to hold an Apple laptop, accessories and files. The protective main compartment is layered with a soft, no-scratch, padded liner, a layer of high-density foam and an inner layer of impact-resistant plastic. Within the chamber, a padded laptop pocket offers further protection to cradle the Mac, and two pockets provide organization options. Two additional slim pockets under the flap plus a self-locking zippered back pocket finish the case.

WaterField HardCase Laptop BagThe HardCase projects a tastefully understated refined look, with its dual-tone leather flap, an integrated leather handle, and an aluminum paragliding buckle. Customizable options include a choice of hardware - matte black or nickel; a choice of colors for the underside of the flap - black, cardinal, camel, chocolate, grizzly, kiwi or orange; and different sizes for each Apple laptop model. A removable, Suspension Shoulder Strap with a built-in, non-slip, shoulder pad spreads the briefcase load, making it feel lighter.

"Functionally, the HardCase is an amazing laptop case," says company founder, Gary WaterField. "The combination of the smoothly-finished leather flap with its colored underside along with the unique paragliding buckle, make this case at home in both formal meetings and on city streets."

  • The HardCase 13" sells for $239 and is available now, made to order. Cases ship within five business days.
  • The HardCase 15", sells for $249, and may be pre-ordered now, with shipping to begin in early January.

Options:

  • Hardware: black matte or nickel
  • Dual-leather flap in black plus underside color choice of: black, cardinal, camel, chocolate, grizzly, kiwi or orange (especially good for SF Giants fans).

Real Wood Skin for MacBook

PR: This real wood MacBook skin backed with 3M Pressure sensitive adhesive for easy application.

wenge wood skin for MacBookbamboo wood skin for MacBookebony wood skin for MacBook

The unique design provides grip and protection to your MacBook cover. Each MacBook wood skin is hand made in BKNY so your order is produced only once purchased

three wood optionsThree wood species are offered: Ebony, Bamboo, and Wenge.

The appliqués are available for MacBook Air, MacBook Pro 13, MacBook Pro 15, and MacBook Retina.

Prices start at $25.

New Line of iHome Smart Cases Designed Specifically to Hold Apple Devices

iHome smart casesPR: Packing all your Apple devices for business or vacation travel is often a tangled affair with inadequate protection that often leaves your prized possessions at risk of being damaged or lost. The iHome Smart Case line from Lifeworks features three unique styles. The bags are engineered with pockets specifically designed for individual Apple products and their accompanying gear, and come in three different versions: Smart Sleeve, Smart Brief, and Smart Pack.

"Being big-time users of multiple Apple devices ourselves, we are excited to introduce our cases to the entire Apple community," says Jonathan Freeman, Director of Marketing for Lifeworks. "We went through several design iterations to come up with three different cases that perfectly fits all our gear, and a variety of lifestyles."

Each case has specially designed plush pockets for your iPhone, iPad, earbuds and chargers. The Smart Sleeve can also accommodate up to a 13 MacBook (or 14 laptop); while the Smart Brief and Smart Pack can securely carry a 15.6 MacBook. Complete product information (and Amazon.com purchase links) can be found online.

The Smart Sleeve carries a suggested retail of price of $69.99, while the Smart Brief and Smart Pack are expected to retail for $79.99 and $99.99, respectively.

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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