The 'Book Review

MacBook Pro or MacBook Air?, Handling Laptop Spills, World's Smallest USB Drive, and More

This Week's MacBook, PowerBook, and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2010.08.27

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

Products & Services

Bargain 'Books

News & Opinion

Ted Landau's Purchase Dilemma: MacBook Pro or MacBook Air?

The Mac Observer's Ted Landau says he's in the market to replace his three-year-old 15" MacBook Pro, but the purchase remains on hold until he can resolve his dilemma as to what to buy: Should it be a MacBook Pro or a MacBook Air? If the latter, should he wait for the rumored next update? Or perhaps he should forego any purchase at all and attempt to make do with just his iPad for road work, since his primary production computer is a Mac Pro.

Next MacBook Air: Faster CPU or Cooler Running?

Product Reviews' Jamie Pert speculates on a new generation of MacBook Airs potentially being unveiled at Apple's September 1 media event, observing that one problem with the current MacBook Air is that it runs "extremely hot when used for extensive multimedia tasks."

The conundrum posed is which user priority to emphasize, the conflicting desires for faster performance via cooler operation, noting that the 1.86 GHz and 2.13 GHz Core 2 Duo chips used in the 2009 model seem to suffer cooling problems in the MacBook Air's ultrathin chassis; consequently, the faster chip many Air fans are hoping for could logically cause even worse overheating problems.

Product Reviews has posted a poll asking which of these priorities Apple should concentrate on with the 2010 MacBook Air. At present, a faster CPU has more votes than a cooler MacBook Air.

Editor's note: The MacBook Air has 2 GB of RAM that cannot be upgraded, so it's very possible that "extensive multimedia tasks" are forcing it to depend on virtual memory, which involves swapping data between system memory and the computer's hard drive or SSD. A new model with 4 GB of RAM might also address these heat issues. Apple may also move to Intel's more energy efficienct mobile Core i3 or i5 CPU, which should also help cool things down. dk

Apple Patents Point to Future MacBooks with IPS & Touch Displays

Illustration from Apple patent application clearly shows a touchscreen MacBookPatentlyApple reports that on July 19, 2010, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a series of ten meticulously detailed Apple patent applications covering the technology behind Apple's high-resolution LED-backlit IPS displays that are used in the iPad, iPhone 4, and the latest iMacs. The article notes that according to Apple's newly published patents, it appears that Apple's MacBook lineup is destined to gain these state-of-the-art displays as well, plus the patent illustrations and captions reveal that the MacBook family is evidently going to get multi-touch touchscreen display support as well.

Editor's note: Just because Apple patents something doesn't mean it's going to use it. A patent is about protecting technology you've invented, whether you use it or not, and Apple (like many companies) has many patents that have never been put into production. That said, touchscreen MacBooks are inevitable - not a matter of if, but of when. dk

What to Do if Liquid Spills on Your Laptop's Keyboard

Papatek has posted a tutorial on first response if you experience the tragedy of spilling liquid on your laptop's keyboard. The machine specifically addressed in the article is a Dell Inspiron 1545, but the steps described would pertain to liquid spilled on pretty much any laptop computer, although the advice about quickly removing the battery to help lessen the probability of short circuit damage is, of course, impossible with the built-in batteries of recent Apple MacBook models - another downside of that unfortunate design choice.

One workaround that is facilitated by the design of Apple's unibody MacBooks and MacBook Pros is easy removal of the hard drive in order to dry and clean it if necessary and to salvage data or access it by way of an external drive housing or connector while the computer dries out.

Products & Services

SuperTalent Pico C: World's Smallest USB Drive

SuperTalent Pico CPR: A range of USB drives have gone on sale this week boasting the smallest size and weight in the industry. You won't find a USB drive smaller than this.

A key advantage of the USB drive has always been their size. Now the SuperTalent Pico C takes it to another level.

It may be tiny, weighing less than 6 grams, but that doesn't prevent it from holding up to 32 GB of data.

This flash drive is speedy too, "the I/O performance results are amazing when it comes to the Super Talent Pico C." explained Tom's Hardware reviewer Patrick Schmid in 2008. He went on to say that the Pico suffers from slower write speeds, concluding that "the flash-based thumb drive is great for file storage, but not for intensive access."

SuperTalent Pico CMeasuring just 1.5" x 0.5", it's possible to attach the Pico USB drive to a key ring. This means there is no need to worry about losing it.

The first USB flash drive went on sale in 2000. By 2005, many computer manufacturers stopped including floppy disk drives in their products to make way for more USB ports*. USB flash drives act as the modern alternative to floppy disks. Unlike a floppy disk drive, USB ports appear on more than just computers. These days everything from mobile phones to the latest Nintendo 3DS consoles include a USB port.

The need for physical portable storage has declined over the years as the Internet provides most of the services which previously required a floppy disk.

There is still a need for portable physical storage though, as USB drives deliver much greater data transfer rates when compared with standard Internet connections. This looks to remain true for the next few years with the first USB 3.0 compatible hardware going on sale earlier this year, featuring up to 6 times the transfer speed of USB 2.0 connections.

SuperTalent Pico CThe Pico USB drive is also shock and water resistant, meaning a few bumps aren't going to cause it to lose any data.

The Pico C USB Flash Drive is available now.

* Editor's note: In 1998, Apple introduced the original iMac, the first mainstream personal computer without an internal floppy drive and the first Mac to use USB. In 1999, all Macs became floppy-free. dk

40 GB Mercury Extreme Pro SSD Most Affordable SandForce-based SSD on Market

PR: Other World Computing (OWC) has announced a new 40 GB model to its award-winning OWC Mercury Extreme Pro SSD line as the most affordable high performance SandForce Processor based Solid State Drive on the market. Designed and made in the US from imported parts, the new OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 40 GB SSD's special introductory pricing of $99.99 makes it the lowest priced SSD on the market to offer three key high performance features: industry leading sustained read and write speeds over 260 MB/s (with peak speeds up to 285 MB/s), best in class error correction (ECC), and SandForce RAISE redundancy with 7% over provisioning.

Mercury Extreme Pro SSDSandForce DuraClass technology with ultra-efficient Block Management & Wear Leveling for long term durability.

The OWC Mercury Extreme Pro SSD line, which has won Editor's Choice awards and review comments like "Eye popping speed with consistent performance over time", "Best write speeds we've seen", and "The fastest SSD to hit our test bench yet" from leading performance testing sites like Tweaktown, Hot Hardware, MacPerformanceGuide, Maximum PC, Storage Review, and Benchmark Reviews, is available for immediate ordering in nine configurations from 40 GB to 480 GB starting at $99.99. All models are Macintosh and PC compatible and install easily into notebooks, as well as into desktops/towers with an OWC Multi-Mount adapter kit (sold separately).

Doesn't Slow Down With Use Like Ordinary SSDs

Ordinary SSDs offer fast read/write performance during first initial uses, but then experience significant write speed degradation over repeated usage. Independent simu 400 MHz iMac DV G3 (Late 1999)

iMac and eMac Index

400 MHz iMac DV (Late 1999)

code name: Kihei

Development of the new iMac began the day after the first iMac shipped. The new model is an evolutionary development of Apple's 2,000,000 unit seller.

The first iMac with a DVD-ROM drive, the iMac DV runs a lightning fast 400 MHz G3 processor on a 100 MHz system bus. The slot-loading drive protects the drive mechanism, while the new Harman Kardon sound system improves audio output. (HK will release a complementary subwoofer in November.)

The RAGE 128 graphics and 2x AGP will give it superior graphics performance, and the VGA port will allow using an external monitor or LCD projector.

Available in the same five colors as the Revision C and Revision D iMacs, the DV is a bit smaller and has more transparent plastics. The new case allows the iMac to air cool (just like the old Volkswagen Beetle), eliminating the need for a cooling fan.

  • If you are running Mac OS 9.1 or later, iMac Firmware Update 4.1.9 should be installed. If you are using Mac OS X, you must boot from a Mac OS 9.1-9.2.2 writeable partition (not a CD or network disk) prior to updating. You cannot update to OS X 10.3 or later unless you first install Firmware Update 4.1.9.
  • For more information on firmware updates, see iMac: When to Install Available Updaters.

Mac OS X

Non-Apple upgrades and peripherals (such as unsupported USB devices, replacement drives, and third-party memory) may cause problems when installing or booting into Mac OS X.

Be sure to read and follow Apple's "Read Before You Install" install instructions to increase the likelihood of getting OS X installed and running on the first try.


  • introduced 1999.10.05 at US$1,299; replaced by iMac DV and DV+ on 2000.07.19
  • requires Mac OS 8.6 through OS X 10.4.x
  • CPU: 400 MHz PPC 750
  • bus: 100 MHz
  • performance:
    • Geekbench 2 (Tiger): 177
    • MacBench 5: CPU, 1139, FPU, 1296 (beige G3/300 = 1000)
    • BYTEmark: 13.1
  • RAM: 64 MB, expandable to 1 GB using two PC100 SDRAM (3.3 V, 64-bit, 168-pin, 100 MHz)
  • Video: supports resolutions of 640 x 480, 800 x 600, and 1024 x 768 using ATI RAGE 128 VR chip set and 2x AGP, has VGA port for external monitor, which can only display same resolutions as internal monitor
  • screen: 15" CRT (13.8" viewable) multiscan to 1024 x 768
  • L2 cache: 512 KB 160 MHz (5:2) backside cache
  • hard drive: 10 GB EIDE drive. Maximum IDE drive size is 128 GB without third-party support. See How Big a Hard Drive Can I Put in My iMac, eMac, Power Mac, PowerBook, or iBook? for your options.
  • DVD-ROM: 4x
  • SCSI: none
  • PCI slots: none
  • USB: 2 separate USB 1.1 ports and controllers
  • FireWire 400: 2 ports
  • modem: built-in v.90 56k modem
  • ethernet: 10/100Base-T
  • WiFi: 802.11b AirPort Card, requires AirPort Card Adapter
  • Microphone: internal
  • power: 150W
  • PRAM battery: 3.6V half-AA
  • height: 15.0 in/38.1 cm
  • width: 15.0 in/38.1 cm
  • depth: 17.1 in/43.5 cm
  • weight: 34.7 lb/15.8 kg
  • part numbers: M7493 (blueberry), M7673 (strawberry), M7672 (grape), M7671 (tangerine), M7674 (lime)
  • family numbers: M5521
  • machine ID: PowerMac2,1

Online Resources


  • You cannot plug the iPod shuffle directly into the iMac's USB port - it will not fit. It will not charge if plugged into a keyboard USB port or an unpowered USB hub. To charge it while using it with your iMac, you must us a USB extension cable, powered USB hub, iPod shuffle dock, or a USB power adapter.
  • Update Firmware Before Installing Jaguar!, Geoff Duncan, TidBITS, 2002.10.28. If your firmware isn't at version 4.1.9, you need to boot into OS 9.1 and install it before attempting to install Jaguar (OS X 10.3) on your slot-loading CD-ROM or DVD iMac.
  • You must have the keyboard plugged directly into an iMac USB port to boot with the power key; it will not work if the keyboard is attached to a hub.
  • You cannot boot the iMac from an external USB drive.
  • The iMac loads the MacOS Toolbox into RAM, unlike other Macs which use it from ROM. You lose the use of 3 MB of memory but gain faster performance.

Go to the iMac and eMac index.

About LEM Support Usage Privacy Contact

lation tests by leading drive performance experts confirm the OWC Mercury Extreme Pro SSD's ultra-efficient Block Management & Wear Leveling technologies are able to eliminate virtually any reduction in data transfer speeds over heavy long term usage of the drive and without dependency on less than effective OS TRIM management.

Longer Notebook Battery Runtime

Because the OWC Mercury Extreme Pro SSD uses as little as one-third the power compared to the most power efficient 2.5" hard drives and up to 50% less power than other leading brand SSDs without any performance sacrifice, notebook users can now maximize their "unplugged" mobile use time while desktop/tower users can enjoy the benefits of a more energy efficient system.

Video Highlights Performance Gains

The OWC Mercury Extreme Pro SSD models are an ideal way for typical Mac or PC desktop and/or notebook computer users to dramatically increase the performance of their existing machine. In several side-by-side comparison tests, the OWC Mercury Extreme Pro SSD was able to boot the OS and load six apps up to four times faster than the factory stock configuration. And even older machines equipped with an OWC Mercury Extreme Pro SSD saw an up to 2.5 times faster performance gain over newer machines with faster processors and more RAM.

"Throughout this revolutionary product's evolution, it has scored numerous industry achievements," says Larry O'Connor, Founder and CEO, Other World Computing. "From being initially announced as the fastest SSD on the market, to offering the highest capacity found in a SandForce-based SSD, to now offering the most affordable high performance model available on the market, the OWC Mercury Extreme Pro SSD line continues to make headlines for all the right reasons."

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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