REVIEW: MacBook 13.3-Inch

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Date: Wednesday, May 31st, 2006, 10:01
Category: MacBook

macbook-keyboard-250.jpgMy Apple notebook history is as follows: PowerBook 190, 2400c, Pismo, G4 Titanium, 12-inch iBook and now shipped all the way from Shanghai (in four days) to the UK, an Intel Core Duo 1.83GHz lovely whiter-than-white MacBook (80GB/1GB).
First up that Apple design look and feel. The MacBook is very solid and chic, and with the thinner look everything is tighter more slim and solid (though I think that many reviewers will swoon over any fresh-out-of-the-box Mac.)
Everything except the screen width has been shrunken – even the dinky manual (you’ve all seen the svelte boxes by now). I really dig the much more manageable MagSafe power adapter, it really feels like the MacBook is that a rethink of the whole consumer notebook philosophy, sorry Pro users.
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The Apple Core: Apple’s European culture clash

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Date: Wednesday, May 31st, 2006, 09:34
Category: The Apple Core

There’s a shift in Europe to a more homogeneous, centrally-managed Apple – much like it is in the U.S., but I’m not sure that it will work. Europe is a loosely associated collection of neighboring countries with starkly different cultures. The United States, on the other hand, are closely knit units with similar cultures. If Apple is planning to market its products to Europe as a single unit rather than a group of discrete societies they’re bound to have problems.
Read the rest of the story on my ZDNet Blog: The Apple Core.

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Specktone Retro iPod Speaker System

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Date: Wednesday, May 31st, 2006, 08:00
Category: iPod

specktone-retro.jpgSpeck Products has released their first hardware product for the iPod – the Specktone Retro. The Retro is a three speaker tabletop docking system for any iPod that is designed in the style of a retro table radio from the 50s. It’s constructed of real wood (most of the iPod speakers out there are made of plastic) and features a brushed aluminum backlit green volume control knob that gives it a sleek elegance.
The Specktone Retro features a 4-inch subwoofer and 28 watts of power – more than enough to fill a good sized room with sound. It also includes a 1/8-inch mini plug auxiliary input on the back for jacking in other audio sources. I have been jamming out to my Specktone (in black, thank you) over the weekend in preparation for the Pearl Jam tour and have been more than impressed with the sound quality.
The Specktone costs considerably less than other iPod speaker systems at only US$149 and has a lot more style. My only gripe is that I wish it came with a remote control so that I can pump up the rockin’ songs (“Big Wave”) and skip the slow, sucky ones (“Come Back”). I guess that there’s always room for improvement.
The Specktone Retro is available now in black, green and white for US$149 and comes with two free iPod skins for the video and nano.

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Ask the PowerPage: PC or Mac Notebook?

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Date: Tuesday, May 30th, 2006, 09:00
Category: Opinion

Dear PowerPage:
I remember the first time I bought my first laptop, a Sony Vaio laptop with Intel Centrino technology. The first time I opened the box to my laptop I was really excited to use my Sony Vaio because it was a Sony Vaio. After two years of using the Vaio I have realized the benefit of the MacBook’s longer battery life and am now deciding to switch.
I often ask myself, should I really do this? Switching would mean changing operating systems from Windows to Mac. Should this be of concern?
A bigger concern for me is battery life. I normally use my notebook for long periods of time and it only runs for two hours on a charge. If I am sitting in the library and I need to use it for a long period of time, the PC is no good. From everything that I’ve heard this is where the Mac shines.
Apple’s notebook comparison chart states that the battery life of the MacBook is “up to 6 hours” and that the MacBook Pro is between 4.5 and 5.5 hours, but recently I went to a local store and the member of staff told that it only is really more like two hours. Is this true?
Thank you for any help with this important decision!
– Confused

Dear Confused:
The first thing to note is that if you buy a Mac you’re not only limited to using Macintosh software, you can still run Windows and Windows software by installing Apple’s free Boot Camp software, or by installing Parallels Desktop (US$49) – just remember to keep your WinXP CD.
On the issue of battery life, manufacturers always inflate their battery life estimates on notebook computers to the point of it being almost fraudulent. Their battery estimates are usually based on a “perfect world” environment: brand new cells, monitor dimmed and little or no disk or CPU access. This is not reality. I usually take Apple’s battery life estimates and half them for something closer to reality. For example: Apple claims that my MacBook Pro should run for “up to 4.5 hours” but about two hours and 15 minutes is more like it.
That said, jump right in and grab a MacBook or a MacBook Pro and you’ll never look back.
Readers: What are your thoughts on this buyer’s quandary? Should he go with the Mac or stick with a PC notebook?

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Alternative use of iPod Ratings Stars

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Date: Tuesday, May 30th, 2006, 09:00
Category: iPod

The original iPod was a triumph of form and function. It looked great, its interface was simple and intuitive, and it stored and played thousands of songs in an attractive, portable unit.
My first iPod was a ‘third generation’ 20GB model. It was the first model that I considered to have enough memory to carry around a library of songs that represented my CD collection. I then upgraded each time there was an increase in hard drive capacity. As a result, I now own a 60GB iPod Photo which I listen to through my car, studio and home stereo system.
I love elegant, simple design. The problem is, when a designer simplifies things, they have to leave stuff out. And one designer’s ‘disposable’ is another person’s ‘essential’. I think there should be a couple of programmable buttons on the iPod, allowing you to bypass the menu system for your most-used functions. I would employ them to switch between shuffle and sequential mode, and to allow instant access to the ‘Contacts’ list, but I’m sure a wide range of uses would be found for them.
In an ideal world, I would also like to be able to edit data that is contained on the iPod, but I do understand that this would clutter the interface. One of the reason’s for the iPod’s success is that it does one thing very well. It is an entertainment unit, not a PDA.
However, there is a function on the iPod that allows you to input data while on the move – the ‘star-rating’ system. I find the conventional use of the ratings system doesn’t work for me. I like all the songs in my iTunes collection, that’s why they’re there! And how much I like them depends on mood and context, not on any kind of permanent ‘star’ rating.
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Voodoo Envy u:909 – Insane Gaming Notebook

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Date: Tuesday, May 30th, 2006, 09:32
Category: PC Notebook

voodoo-ENVY-u-909.pngThe Voodoo ENVY u:909 may be the most powerful notebook yet – too bad it only runs Windows. The u:909 features a 19-inch monitor running at 1680 x 1050 resolution powered by dual NVIDIA Geforce 7800 GTX 256 MB graphic cards. The brains behind the machine is an AMD Turion 64 processor.
All that gaming muscle doesn’t come without a price however, the u:909 weighs in at a hefty 16 pounds and will set you back US$7771 when configured with a 2.4GHz ML-44 processor, dual video cards, 2GB RAM and a 120GB HDD. The ENVY u:909 is pictured above in imola pearl orange.

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The Apple Core: Apple Premium Reseller Program

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Date: Tuesday, May 30th, 2006, 08:13
Category: The Apple Core

Last week I reported that there was a movement afoot in Amsterdam forcing Apple authorized resellers to change their names from “Apple Centre” to “Apple Premium Reseller” and how it may be a sign that Apple is planning to open their own line of Apple Stores in the area and essentially compete with their own channel. It appears that Apple’s global assault on retail is larger than just the Netherlands.
Read the rest of the story on my ZDNet Blog: The Apple Core.

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MacBook 13-Inch 3D Game Performance Benchmarked

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Date: Friday, May 26th, 2006, 17:11
Category: MacBook

BareFeats just ran Doom 3, Quake 4 and UT2004 tests on a 2GHz MacBook 13″ and compared those results to the MacBook Pro, PowerBook and iBook. As expected the MacBook 13″ was a real “slouch,” even being beat by the iBook.

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The Apple Core: PowerPage wins on appeal

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Date: Friday, May 26th, 2006, 17:19
Category: The Apple Core

The PowerPage and I got a big win today in the Apple vs. Does case. Our petition in O’Grady, et al. v. Superior Court of Santa Clara County (Case: H028579, 6th District) was granted.
All discussion of the Apple case are being posted on my ZDNet blog. Abstracts are posted here for interested readers.
Read the rest of the story on my ZDNet Blog: The Apple Core.

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Plastic Strip Blocking Exhaust Vent on MacBook

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Date: Friday, May 26th, 2006, 13:10
Category: MacBook

macbook-film.jpgIt’s not clear how widespread this issue is, but at least one user has dicovered that a thin plastic film was covering the exhaust vent of his new MacBook and prevented it from cooling properly: 

Just as many other MacBooks, mine got really hot and that got me a bit concerned. This is my first Apple laptop and I take a lot of pleasure in discovering new things about it. After playing around with it I found that the vent under the screen is covered with a piece of laminate. I briefly checked the manual and it doesn’t mention anything about it. It’s very hard to get to it as the gap between the screen and the base is very tight. However, I was able to remove it and surprise… my fans went quiet. The laminate covers the whole vent so no air gets out at all.

G-Stahl.com: MacBook’s vent blocked

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