The 'Book Review

MacBook's 'Amazing User Experience'; NetDock Combines SuperDrive, Hard Drive, and USB Hub; More

This Week's MacBook, PowerBook, and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2010.06.21

General Apple and Mac desktops is covered in The Mac News Review. iPad, iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV news is covered in The iOS News Review. All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News & Opinion


Apple Updates

Tech Trends

Products & Services

Bargain 'Books

News & Opinion

Apple Laying Groundwork for TRIM Support in Future SSD-Based Macs

AppleInsider's Katie Marsal reports:

"Apple may be laying the foundation for TRIM support in future Macs, a technology that should allow their solid state flash drives to maintain optimal performance throughout the life span of the systems.

"The Mac maker's most recent 13-inch MacBook Pros display an option for TRIM support in their system profilers on SSD-equipped models, one which isn't present in either the second-generation unibody 15-inch MacBook Pros or the latest refresh sporting Intel's Core i5 and Core i7 processors."

Israeli Start-up Claims Huge Boost to SSD Reliability

Computerworld's Lucas Mearian reports:

"Israeli start-up Anobit Technologies Ltd. emerged from quiet mode today and announced its first product, a multilevel cell (MLC) solid-state drive that it says is as reliable as today's higher-end and higher-cost single-level cell (SLC) enterprise-class flash drives.

"Anobit said its Genesis SSDs extend standard MLC endurance from about 3,000 to more than 50,000 write/erase cycles, an improvement of 20 times over the average consumer-class drive today - making MLC technology suitable for high-duty cycle applications such as relational databases."


2010 MacBook Provides 'Amazing User Experience'

PC Mag's Cisco Cheng notes that the gap separating what the Apple MacBook offers versus its pricier counterpart, the 13" MacBook Pro ($1,199 direct) is narrowing, observing that since the iBooks made their debut, polycarbonate plastic has been a staple of Apple's most affordable laptop lines, the material derived from similar types used in bulletproof glass, hardened to handle its fair share of abuse, yet attractive and less expensive to implement than metals.

Tech Trends

Ubuntu Fights iPad Fever with Netbook Shot

The Register's Gavin Clarke reports that Ubuntu Linux founder Mark Shuttleworth thinks desktop Linux is approaching a tipping point with ordinary PC buyers, "despite the industry succumbing to Jobsian tablet fever." Shuttleworth projects that Ubuntu will ship on a record five million machines this year, the vast majority of them desktop PCs and netbooks, rather than a new tablet version of Ubuntu.

Shuttleworth expects tablets will occupy a small segment of the overall computer market, predicting that "The iPad will do very well for Apple, but relative to the volume the PC industry ships, it's still going to be small." He expects that none of Apple's competitors will be capable of shipping a "compelling" tablet for at least two years. Consequently, Shuttleworth believes that the focus for reaching a wider audience for Ubuntu has to be traditional computer form factors, and the goal to get Ubuntu on more PCs from existing and new OEM partners.

Editor's note: Google's Android is already bringing Linux to the smartphone and tablet markets as a viable alternative to Apple's iOS. Ubuntu would have an uphill battle if it pursued the tablet market. dk

Products & Services

NetDock Docking Station for MacBook Air and Netbooks

Aegis NetDock Docking StationPR: Apricorn's Aegis NetDock 3 in 1 Docking Station is not quite a full revival of Apple's Duo concept (see Apple's First Subnotebooks: The PowerBook Duo Family and the PowerBook 2400c for an overview) - there's no provision for memory expansion or expansion card slots - but its attractive, compact enclosure houses an optical CD-RW/DVD±RW drive, a 4-port USB hub for connecting peripherals and external input devices, and a built-in hard drive for storage expansion and/or backup, providing upgraded functionality while retaining the ultralight's easy-to-carry portability when untethered. At home or the office, it connects to your computer by plugging in a single USB cable. (Editor's note: You also need to plug in the AC adapter to power the drives, the USB hub, and provide power to the two "always on" USB ports.)

Apricorn's NetDock transforms your MacBook Air or netbook into a basic mini-desktop that allows you to conveniently install new software or updates from disks, access additional storage, watch and burn DVDs and CDs, or connect the computer to a printer - all in in a package with a not-much-larger footprint than a CD case.

Latest Optical Engine

Whether looking to load the latest software, play a DVD or burn a CD, the NetDock's optical drive has you covered.

High Capacity Hard Drive Enclosure

The NetDock's built-in hard drive enables you to store your media collection in one location. Synchronizing software is included for keeping your data up-to-date between your Netbook and NetDock.

4-Port USB 2.0 Hub

Aegis NetDock Docking StationConnect to all your USB peripherals in just one simple connection - especially useful with the port-impoverished MacBook Air.

Two Always-On USB Ports

With two, always on USB ports, the NetDock works nicely for charging USB devices, such as iPhones, iPods and iPads.

Auto 'On' and 'Off' Feature

The NetDock's auto "on" and "off" feature, powers-down the NetDock down when not in use, automatically turning it on when connected to your computer.

Aegis NetDock Docking StationApricorn NetDock's slim, compact form factor makes it ideal for use in small places such as dorm rooms, and as a supplement not only to a MacBook Air or netbook but also to any other portable USB devices. Including a vertical stand, the candy-red NetDock enclosure module's tiny footprint (it can be used either flat or vertically in its included stand) can be accommodated in most workspaces or study areas.

The NetDock is also happily designed to enable its enclosure to be opened with a single screw, making hard drive swaps a breeze.

At its modest price, the Apricorn NetDock is a very attractive means of adding some desktop functionality to an ultralight laptop, alhough I can't help fantacizing how cool it would be if there were an upscale model that would let you expand the MacBook Air's mediocre 2 GB of RAM and incorporating some ExpressCard or even SD Card expansion slots, or even more powerful graphics support for driving larger desktop displays - a real revival of the Duo.

NetDock specifications

  • Data Transfer Rate: USB 2.0 - up to 480mbps (dependent on hard drive and controller)
  • Power Supply: Input/Output: 100V - 240V 50/60Hz 2A / 12V - 2A and 5V 2A
  • Enclosure Interface: Hi-Speed USB 2.0 - 4-Port USB Hub with two "aalways on" USB Ports
  • Hard Drive Specs: (Models without hard drive also available)
    • RPM: 5400
    • Buffer size:8MB
    • Average seek time: 12 ms
    • Shock - non operating: 1000G 1ms
    • Shock - operating: 300G 2ms
  • Optical Drive Specs:
    • Dual Layer Recording: Yes
    • DVD±R DL Write Speed: 4X
    • DVD±RW Write Speed: 8X
    • DVD Read Speed:8X
    • CD-R Write Speed: 24X
    • CD-RW Write Speed:24X
    • CD-ROM Read Speed:24X
    • Buffer Underrrun Protection: Yes
  • Dimensions: 6.25" x 5.75" x 2.125"
  • Warranty: 1 year limited
  • Mac System Requirements:
    • Hardware: G3 or later CPU, 64 MB RAM, USB, CD-ROM or CD-R/RW drive
    • Supported Operating Systems: OS X 10.x
  • PC System Requirements:
    • Hardware: Pentium II 350 MHz CPU, 64 MB RAM, 40 MB of hard disk space for included software
    • Supported Operating Systems: Windows 2000 sP4, XP SP2 or later, and Vista

Prices range from $89 for the basic unit with no hard drive installed to $189 with a 500GB drive included.

The Next Evolution of Computer Backpacks by Mobile Edge

Mobile Edge EVO Laptop Backpack CollectionPR: After years of actual customer feedback, Mobile Edge designers created the ultimate laptop backpack. The EVO Laptop Backpack Collection was inspired by customers resulting in the most stylish and functional backpack you will ever own. After years of analyzing customer feedback we have built what just may be the perfect computer backpack.

Mobile Edge has unveiled the next generation of computer backpacks. The Mobile Edge EVO Backpack is a result of years of customer research and end-user feedback. Just in time for the Back-to-School season, the new EVO Backpacks incorporate of ergonomic design, quality and value. Designed for 17" MacBook Pros and 16" Wide-screen PC Laptops.

Mobile Edge EVO Laptop BackpackThe EVO backpack is designed to protect all the popular models of wide-screen laptops up to 16", as well as many 17" models like the 17" MacBook Pros. The EVO features sixteen interior and exterior pockets for all your travel accessories and personal items. A new interior workstation was added to hold popular sized memory cards, flash drives, business cards, pens and pencils, plus a media pocket for your iPod or MP3 player.

"We are very excited to add the new EVO Backpack to our growing product assortment," says G. David Cartwright, President & CEO, Mobile Edge. "After years of analyzing customer feedback we have built what just may be the perfect computer backpack."

Mobile Edge EVO Laptop BackpackAnother Mobile Edge exclusive feature is their Cool-Mesh padded back-panel and shoulder straps designed for user comfort over prolonged use. A ruggedized bottom panel was added to protect the backpack from moisture, dirt and grime and for overall durability.

The EVO also features a clever zip-open water bottle carrier that will hold various size liquids - a key request among backpack users. Topped off with great styling, quality construction and backed by a lifetime warranty, the EVO Backpack may be the last backpack you will ever need!

The EVO Backpack is available in four accent trim colors: Black with a Silver Reflective trim, Black with Yellow trim, Black with Blue trim and Black with Red trim. The EVO Backpacks begin shipping this week and carry an SRP of $79.99.

New and Improved Apple Juicz External Battery for the MacBook Air

Apple Juicz external batteryPR: QuickerTek announces the third generation Apple Juicz external battery for the revolutionary Apple MacBook Air laptop. This product design now exclusively uses the standard MagSafe power adapter (that comes with the MacBook Air) to recharge the external battery. No extra clunky AC power adapter to lug around.

This is the very first and only external battery for the MacBook Air with two female USB ports. These ports can simultaneously charge any USB device that can gets power via USB. The Apple Juicz External Battery also features propritary circuitry for the iPhone, iPod iTouch or iPad or any 30-pin iPod, while chargiing and power all models of the MacBook Air laptop.

MacBook Air External Battery/ChargerIndustrial grade Li-ion polymer high-capacity 9400 milliamp hour (mAh) batteries recharge in excess of 2000 times. This long product life design should last as long as the MacBook Air itself. More than a simple external battery, the Apple Juicz has advanced features for battery powered devices, including circuitry for fail-safe protection. Additional features include temperature control and charge/discharge rates monitoring, cell balancing and a fuel gauge indicator that when pushed tells how much "Juicz" is left in the battery.

The new third generation Apple Juicz External Battery for the MacBook Air is available from QuickerTek's website and resellers, like Tekserve, for $399.95. Like most QuickerTek products, the Apple Juicz External Battery for the MacBook Air is backed with a one-year warranty on parts and labor.

OWC DIY Drive Upgrade Kits for Mac mini, MacBook, and MacBook Pro

PR: The new base model Mac mini comes standard with a 320GB drive that can be factory upgraded to 500GB for an additional $100. To provide a better value than the factory upgrade, OWC offers DIY upgrade kits of up to 640GB starting from $59.99. These kits include the drive, five-piece installation tool kit, and an external, bus-powered, pocket-sized enclosure for the continued use of the existing drive replaced during the upgrade process. Compared to the factory option, the $89.99 500GB OWC Do-It-Yourself Kit not only costs $10 less to end up with the same 500GB internal capacity, but also provides a 320GB bus-powered external drive as well.

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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