The 'Book Review

Mac Gamers Prefer a MacBook Pro, Mid 2010 MacBook Pro EFI Firmware Update Released, and More

This Week's MacBook, PowerBook, and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2010.09.03

Two interesting articles on the PC side this week. The Register looks at netbooks, and if you know someone looking for a cheap, very portable back-to-school machine, their advice could be helpful. The second looks at a line of very low power computers that don't plug into AC - instead, they receive their power via ethernet, eliminating one more cable and the need for a power supply that converts AC to DC.

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

47% of Mac Gamers Run a MacBook Pro

AppleInsider's Sam Oliver reports that Valve's monthly survey of the hardware specifications of Steam users has found that nearly half of Mac gamers run a MacBook Pro, while the iMac accounts for nearly a quarter.

Tablets Are Popular but Won't Replace Laptops

InformationWeek's Ed Hansberry says that while Apple didn't make the first tablet computer, they've wrought the first tablet that took the consumer market by storm, and the iPad's spectacular initial success even has AT&T is thinking that a $1,000 tablet could take the place of a full-featured laptop.

However, Hansberry thinks that while tablets may be able to computationally match what some traditional computer's can do, he doesn't imagine that they can comprehensively substitute for a traditional computer, contending that the laptop form factor isn't going away anytime soon and that for raw power and massive storage space, you can't beat a desktop.

He observes that while some people may indeed be able to get by with just an iPad or similar device, they likely are the type of users who didn't use their PC for much beyond email and web browsing, or possibly who didn't have a PC to begin with.

Apple Updates

Mid 2010 MacBook Pro EFI Firmware Update 1.9

MacBook Pro EFI Firmware Update 1.9 resolves a rare issue that may cause the system to freeze during startup or intermittently stall during operation, and it improves compatibility with external displays.

This update is recommended for all 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pro mid 2010 models.

The MacBook Pro EFI Update will update the EFI firmware on your MacBook Pro. Your computer's power cord must be connected and plugged into a working power source. When your MacBook Pro restarts a gray screen will appear with a status bar to indicate the progress of the update. It will take several minutes for the update to complete. Do not disturb or shut off the power on your MacBook Pro during this update.

EFI and SMC firmware updates for Intel-based Macs:

2.16 MB

System Requirements

  • 15-inch or 17-inch MacBook Pro mid 2010 model.
  • Mac OS X 10.6.4 or later.

Tech Trends

Back-to-School 10" Netbooks: Which Machines Score Top Marks?

Register Hardware reports:

"The summer hols are over, and it's back to school for the kids. Or to college, for the older ones. Whatever their age, though, your offspring - perhaps even you yourself - are likely to have their eye on a new computer for the new term.

"And with prices never being lower, there's no longer a financial reason to restrict junior to a hand-me-down machine, especially if you consider the lower end of the market where the Small, Cheap Computer - a.k.a. the netbook - reigns supreme....

"To help you and yours choose the best netbook to take off to university or to keep at home for homework, we asked six of the major netbook suppliers - Acer, Asus, HP, Lenovo, Samsung and Toshiba - to each submit a 10in machine for testing.

"But before we get down to each machine individually, take a look at our Buyer's Guide, which will steer you through the choices and factors you'll need to consider when selecting a netbook, whether it's one of those reviewed here or any of the many other machines on sale."

SkinnyBytes PoE-185 Elite: 18.5" All-in-One Requires No AC Power

PoE-185 ElitePR: SkinnyBytes has launched a new line of PoE Computer, the PoE-185 Elite, an 18.5 AIO (All-In-One). All SkinnyBytes systems are Power-over-Ethernet, therefore they do not require AC power outlets. AC electrical is expensive to install and far more dangerous than the low-voltage DC power provided by PoE. All SkinnyBytes PoE computers are engineered for extremely low power consumption, therefore are able to receive all of their power over a standard network cable via Power-Over-Ethernet. The PoE-185 also supports VESA mounting, making it ideal for a variety of environments including schools, healthcare, professional, retail, and industrial.

PoE Advantages

Value - Eliminating the need for installing AC outlets can easily reduce installation costs by 50% or more. And Power-over-Ethernet computers are eco-friendly computers, consuming 90% less power than a traditional computer, reducing your energy bill.

Safety - AC power is very dangerous due to the high-voltage/high-current it supplies. In classroom environments where the safety of the students is of paramount concern, SkinnyBytes maintains it's| hazardous to install AC outlets within reach of curious students. Power-over-Ethernet computers utilize low-voltage/low-current over a standard network cable, making them compliant with UL classification SELV (Safety Extra Low Voltage) and therefore make ideal classroom-friendly computers.

SkinnyBytes POE notebookTechnology - Utilizing emerging technologies such as Solid State Drives (SSD), low-power Intel Atom Processors, LED backlighting, and passive cooling technologies, SkinnyBytes has created a line of PoE computers that can run on a meager 30 watts of power without sacrificing performance. By eliminating moving components, we are able to reduce the power requirements of our systems by 90% compared with traditional computing systems.

Simplified - One cable provides all of your power and data. Eliminate the tangled mess of cords and power strips.

Flexibility - Built-in stand or VESA mount. Power via PoE or included AC power adapter as needed. You can install or move your computer anywhere without requiring an AC outlet nearby.

SkinnyBytes POE notebookAll of SkinnyBytes' systems are tailored toward business and educational institutions. No moving components translates into highly durable systems with high uptime and long life span. Every system comes with Windows 7 preinstalled, and a variety of custom options including color, capacity, and memory.

Models available:

  • 10.1" PoE Computer - TouchScreen Tablet - $699.00
  • 15.6" PoE Computer AIO 'Touch' - $799.00
  • 18.5" PoE Computer AIO 'Elite' - $999.00

18.5" PoE Computer AIO 'Elite'

SkinnyBytes POE computerFeaturing an 18.5" LCD, this unit is custom engineered for low-power and low-voltage operation. Thanks to the use of the Intel Atom platform with a D510 Dual-Core processor, the power consumption of the POE PC has been reduced by 90% without (SkinnyBytes claims) sacrificing performance. A further contribution to power conservation is the use of a Solid State Disk SSD drive and LED backlit monitor.

Equipment includes a 4-in-1 card reader, integrated webcam, integrated Intel GMA 950 graphics, and a widescreen display, as well as everything you need to get started with PoE including a PoE 'Injector' to supply power to the unit over the network cable. The unit can be powered via PoE or using the included AC adapter, and also supports VESA mounting.

10.1" PoE Computer - TouchScreen Tablet

The 10.1" Tablet power-over-ethernet computer with touchscreen can be used in laptop configuration or flat as a touchscreen tablet. Optional VESA mounting hardware is available.

The 10.1" PoE Computer - TouchScreen Tablet comes with a PoE 'Injector' for supplying power to the device over the network cable. Optional 6, 12, 24 port PoE Injectors (midspans) can be purchased separately for larger deployments. Also included is an external AC adapter, allowing you the flexibility to power the computer via PoE or AC power as needed.

SkinnyBytes touchscreen computer10.1" PoE Computer - TouchScreen Tablet Specs.

  • Intel ATOM N450 CPU
  • 1 GB DDR2 1 x SODIMM slot; up to 2G; 160 GB HDD; no optical drive
  • 10.1" Touch Screen (Multi Touch functionality when loaded with Windows 7 Home Premium OS)
  • 802.11 b/g/n; 3M pixel camera
  • Windows 7 Starter OS; 35W/h polymer (Up 6.5(*) Hrs)


  • PoE Splitter (Power-over-Ethernet)
  • AC Adapter (standard AC electrical power)
  • PoE Injector

Size (LWH): 10.39 inches, 7.13 inches, 1.22 inches

Weight: 2.86 pounds

Products & Services

NewerTech Lowers Prices up to 33% for Intelligent Battery Charging/Conditioning Station

PR: Newer Technology, Inc. (NewerTech) has announced it has lowered the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price on its entire line of NewerTech Intelligent Battery Charging/Conditioning Stations, the only complete line of chargers/conditioners on the market today designed to keep batteries in optimal charged condition for maximum "unplugged" usage.

NewerTech Charging/Conditioning StationAvailable immediately and starting as low as $99 - up to a 33% reduction from the previous MSRP - the NewerTech Intelligent Battery Charging/Conditioning Station is available for the following Apple notebook models:

  • MacBook Pro 15 3 Unibody
  • MacBook 13 3 Unibody
  • MacBook Pro 17 3
  • MacBook Pro 15 3
  • MacBook 13 3
  • iBook G3/G4 12 3
  • iBook G3/G4 14 3
  • PowerBook G4 12 3 "Aluminum"
  • PowerBook G4 15 3 "Aluminum"
  • PowerBook G4 17 3 "Aluminum"
  • PowerBook G4 15 3 "Titanium"

The NewerTech Intelligent Battery Charging/Conditioning Station is available for ordering from NewerTech's exclusive distributor, Other World Computing (OWC), as well as through the retail channel.

'Intelligent' Design Takes Guesswork Out of Battery Charging

NewerTech Intelligent Battery Charging/Conditioning Stations are ideal for users who have one or more batteries and want to keep their batteries in optimal charged condition. The two bay design can accommodate two batteries, and when the first battery is done charging, the unit "intelligently" begins charging the second battery. In addition to charging batteries quickly and correctly, the deep conditioning feature can bring back additional life to a battery that's started to show its age.

NewerTech Intelligent Battery Charging/Conditioning Station Features:

  • 2 Bays: 1 bay charges, 1 bay charges & conditions
  • 2 Year Warranty
  • Power Input/Output: 120~240V 50/60 Hz 1.5A / 24V 2.3A, regulated

"Whether a user has one of the latest MacBook models or a still useful legacy Mac notebook, the NewerTech Intelligent Battery Charging/Conditioning Station is ideal for getting the longest runtime and lifetime from the battery," says Grant Dahlke, Brand Manager, NewerTech. "By both charging and deep conditioning the battery at the same time, users can save both time and restore new life to older batteries."

Compliments Complete Line of High Capacity Batteries

In addition to its line of battery chargers/conditioners, NewerTech also offers a complete line of NuPower high capacity replacement batteries from $79.99 MSRP for MacBook Pro, MacBook, PowerBook G4/G3, and iBook G4/G3 notebooks with up to 68% more capacity than original Apple batteries.

2 New Logitech Speakers Transform Laptop Audio

PR: Laptop computers have dramatically changed the way you enjoy entertainment today, but laptop audio hasn't really kept pace. Because you're watching movies, shows, and Facebook video clips on your laptop, Logitech announced the Logitech Wireless Speaker Z515 and the Logitech Laptop Speaker Z305. Whether you use a Mac or a Windows-based laptop or a netbook, the Wireless Speaker Z515 delivers great sound from your laptop, iPad, or iPhone with no strings attached, while the Laptop Speaker Z305 brings you all-around sound in a compact design.

"The speakers built into most laptops are tiny and can't always reproduce powerful audio," says Mark Schneider, vice president and general manager of Logitech's audio business unit. "Whether you're an MP3 junkie or a movie lover, our two new laptop speakers make it easy to connect, turn the sound up and lose yourself in the things you love. There's no reason that you can't have quality audio while you're watching the latest YouTube sensation or the newest Hollywood release on your laptop."

Logitech Wireless Speaker Z515 - Great Sound, No Strings Attached

Logitech Wireless Speaker Z515To free you from the hassle of cords and let you place your speakers up to 50 feet (15 m) away, the Logitech Wireless Speaker Z515 uses 2.4 GHz wireless technology to deliver wireless audio. And setup couldn't be easier. Just plug the included wireless adapter into a USB port on your laptop, and you're connected in a matter of seconds. Or if you want to connect to an iPad or iPhone, you won't even need the USB dongle just put your device into Discovery mode and the Logitech Z515 speaker will find it and connect wirelessly.

But these speakers aren't just wireless - they also provide rich sound. The speaker's dual two-inch drivers give full stereo sound and plenty of bass. Plus, so you can take your music with you wherever you go, the Z515 includes a rechargeable battery that can power your speaker for up to 10 hours.

Logitech Laptop Speaker Z305 - All-Around Sound from Your Laptop, To Go

Logitech Laptop Speaker Z305If you are looking for a lightweight, compact speaker that is truly as portable as your laptop, look no farther than the Logitech Laptop Speaker Z305. Thanks to 360-degree audio, the Z305 emits sound evenly in all directions so you get a great listening experience throughout the room. The plug-and-play USB connection delivers power and pure, digital audio instantly - without the need for software or an external power supply.

So you can easily use the speaker anywhere you use your computer your office, your bed, the airport the Logitech Laptop Speaker Z305 securely mounts behind the screen so it's out of the way. And the Laptop Speaker Z305 is also extremely lightweight approximately one-half pound which means you'll always be able to take it with you. As an added convenience, the USB cable tucks neatly into the back of your speaker, giving you a look that's sleek and clutter-free.

When you're ready to hit the road, both new Logitech laptop speakers fit easily into the included travel case or your laptop bag.

The Logitech Wireless Speaker Z515 is expected to be available in September in the U.S. and Europe for a suggested retail price of $99.99. The Logitech Laptop Speaker Z305 is expected to be available in September in the US and Europe for a suggested retail price of $59.99.

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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