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PC Mag's First Look: PowerBook 1GHz 111

Posted by pudge
from the where-"first"-look-means-something-else dept.
IrateSurf writes "PC Magazine has completed a First Look review of the new Apple PowerBook, which is the first notebook from Apple with a 1-GHz G4 processor. The notebook also has a nice price cut, running $2,999 -- that's $200 less than the last high-end PowerBook model."
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PC Mag's First Look: PowerBook 1GHz

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  • Cool but... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by XBL (305578)
    you can buy 2 nice iBooks for the price of one Powerbook. I have an iBook, and have been satisfied for the most part, though I use it about 50% of my computer time.

    If you really want to buy an Powerbook, I suggest getting an iBook instead and spend the other $1500 on a PC with a nice 17" LCD display.
    • Re:Cool but... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by GlassHeart (579618) on Wednesday January 01, 2003 @11:39PM (#4996577) Journal
      If you really want to buy an Powerbook, I suggest getting an iBook instead and spend the other $1500 on a PC with a nice 17" LCD display.

      Please do not make unqualified suggestions like these, because it implies that anybody who buys the PowerBook is just stupid. I fully expect, for example, that someone who needs to run Final Cut Pro on the road would appreciate or need the extra power. I can barely edit at full DV quality on a 733 MHz desktop G4, so a top-end iBook (800 MHz G3) could be painful to use.

      Besides, one may not need, want, or even have room for the $1,500 PC with a nice LCD display.

    • ...it's meant to travel with my digital cameras (DV also), and not meant to replace my desktop box.

      I was looking at the dual 1gig desktop G4s, but since I can get a slot-load DVD burner, I think I'll trade in my 12" iBook and get a TI instead. Don't get me wrong...the iBook is great, but it's not a G4.

      And I'd suggest getting a pumped Shuttle (load Mandrake 9.0) and a Samsung 17" LCD for that extra $1500.00 if you do go the iBook route.
    • speaking as someone who has moved up from an iBook to a new IGHZ TiBook with a gig of ram, I couldn't be happier. An iBoook is fine but you can't beat the speed of the TiBook with even consumer level apps like iPhoto, iTunes (the visuals are so smooth now) etc. It is so snappy now. and the wider screen is great, and the PCM slot so i can add multichannel soundcards, GPS cards etc, and the DVD burner is pretty sweet too. I am 100% happy with my new machine. the iBook was always something I was using while waiting for the new TiBooks.
    • Why would you reccomend buying a lesser mac and then wasting your money on a PC and LCD monitor?

      iBook+PC+LCD==$2500 minimum (in your scenario).

      You could buy either the best mac desktop or the best mac laptop for that amount (either way ending up with an LCD as your monitor). Furthermore, there is nothing productive that the PC can do that the Mac cant do better. I said productive, dont give me video game BS.

  • Good to see (Score:5, Interesting)

    by code shady (637051) on Wednesday January 01, 2003 @11:04PM (#4996471) Homepage
    Quoth the article:
    "The processor ratings were always much higher for the Windows notebooks (2 GHz or more), but megahertz ratings between Macintosh and Windows computers aren't directly comparable."

    Its good to see a review from a PC centric publication address this, however minimally. Apple has long talked about the Megahertz Myth while the PC world has largely equated more MHZ meaning faster, when in reality its not that simple. I wonder if this will be a continued trend.
    --
    • It's not that simple, no, but the G4 is still slower than the fastest x86 CPUs. It's lagging behind. Direct benchmark comparisons abound that, for example, compare Photoshop benchmarks on similarly priced G4 and x86 based machines. The G4 loses.

      Hopefully the new IBM CPU will get Apple back in the race.
      • Re:Good to see (Score:1, Insightful)

        by curious.corn (167387)
        Hey man, do you still chase your colleagues with a ruler in your hand like you did in high school? ;-)
        I mean, intel's last promo read: "render a raytraced scene while divx ripping" (the only good thing 'bout it is the anti riaa plug). Huh ok, the kid down the block claims he can have sex 10 times per day; does anybody care (or beleive)?

        Buon anno a tutti,
        Edo
        • The kid down the block needs to move to a different parish.
        • AMD, Intel, Apple, they are all guilty of this kind of advertising. I don't base a chip's power on how it's advertised.

          Intel also claims that if I use a P4, my pictures will be richer, my graphics more vibrant, and my sounds more realistic. I don't believe any of that either.
      • Re:Good to see (Score:5, Informative)

        by WatertonMan (550706) on Thursday January 02, 2003 @01:16AM (#4996897)
        While that is true in the desktop, the situation on laptops is more complex as the chips don't typically run at full speed and sometimes shift speeds. I've gotten quite frustrated with my old laptop over those issues. I *know* it should be faster than it is, but it lags significantly as compared to a similar speed desktop.

        The G3 and G4 are very low power, rendering some of the heat and power considerations to change. While I've not used any Apple laptops, I understand that they are much, much more speed competitive with equivalent PC laptops.

        • Re:Good to see (Score:5, Informative)

          by norwoodites (226775) <pinskia@gmailBOYSEN.com minus berry> on Thursday January 02, 2003 @02:23AM (#4997075) Journal
          That is because the chips used in Apple laptops are the same ones that go in the desktop unlike Intel's where there are two (really 4) lines of chips. The G3 in the iBook are newer than the ones in the G3 iMac only because G3 iMacs are no longer made. In my TIbook, I have a G4(7450) 800MHz which was used in the G4 PowerMacs. This what makes a Mac notebook/laptop very attracting.

          Disclaimer: I am an employee of Apple, these are my views, not Apples, all information here is public information gathered from before I was an Apple employee.

          Sorry for a long Disclaimer but it was necessary.
          • Re:Good to see (Score:2, Insightful)

            by pediddle (592795)
            I don't want to bash you or your comment, but about your signature -- do I take it that you're an employee at Apple but don't own a Mac, or is that just advertising? Just wondering.
    • Apple has long talked about the Megahertz Myth [...]

      Apple don't "talk about" the "Megahertz Myth", they make outrageous generalised claims about CPU performance based on a few corner cases.
      The only "Megahertz Myths" that need addressing are the ones originating from Apple - because they are the only ones associating unrealistic performance expectations with CPU clockspeeds.

      [...] while the PC world has largely equated more MHZ meaning faster, when in reality its not that simple.

      By and large, as long as you're comparing similar CPUs, it _is_ that simple. Of course, since PCs have been more than fast enough for 95% of users for a good couple of years now, and the people who really care about performance are smart enough to use applicable benchmarks and not marketing brochures, it's largely irrelevant.

      Except for a few special cases (and on-the-road laptop performance, I'll agree, is one of them), you get _vastly_ more bang for buck from a PC. On top of this, the perceived performance gap is exacerbated due to OS X's sluggishness and unresponsiveness for interactive use under anything more than a trivial load.

      The fact that a G4 is faster at a lower clockspeed means diddly squat when the P4s and Athlons have such a massive clock speed advantage. All that matters for the vast majority of customers is performance per $, where Apple is _seriously_ lacking (even if you go with an "expensive" name brand PC).

      • Re:Good to see (Score:4, Informative)

        by sweetooth (21075) on Thursday January 02, 2003 @02:07AM (#4997027) Homepage
        By and large, as long as you're comparing similar CPUs, it _is_ that simple. Of course, since PCs have been more than fast enough for 95% of users for a good couple of years now, and the people who really care about performance are smart enough to use applicable benchmarks and not marketing brochures, it's largely irrelevant.

        Actually it isn't simple even then. Compare the differances between the AMD K7 series and the Intel P4 series. While they are both X86 they are vastly differant, and MHZ means dick. Sure the Athlon 2600 (2.133Ghz) isn't as fast as the P4 3.6Ghz, but in certain situations the K7 chip does almost as well with a 1.5Ghz differance in speed. This speaks to design being more important than MHZ. You can get more performance out of a chip by boosting the clock, but you can also get more performance out of a chip with better design.
        • Oh, I forgot to link to the P4 3.6Ghz benchmarks done at Toms hardware. This [tomshardware.com] shows a decent example of differances between processors at various Mhz ratings.
        • I interpreted "similar CPUs" as different speeds of the same model, such as a 1400MHz Athlon vs. a 1600MHz Athlon, in which case it pretty much is that simple, barring major differences in mainboard or memory. But that should be obvious, so your point still remains: comparing G4 vs. Pentium, or even Athon vs. Pentium, with MHz alone means dick.
          • [...] comparing G4 vs. Pentium, or even Athon vs. Pentium, with MHz alone means dick.

            But who does, in a situation where performance actually matters ?

      • By and large, as long as you're comparing similar CPUs, it _is_ that simple.

        But what are similar CPUs? Athlons and Pentium [34]s aren't realy, nor are P3s and P4s, and even within those a FSB speed change, a larger L1/L2 cache or Hyperthreading can mess up the scores and make a x MHz model faster than a 1.1*x MHz one at most tests.

        Of course, since PCs have been more than fast enough for 95% of users for a good couple of years now, and the people who really care about performance are smart enough to use applicable benchmarks and not marketing brochures, it's largely irrelevant.

        Oh yeah, I remember when then happened, it was when Macs beat PCs in MHz numbers and benchmark scores, suddenly it was "But PCs are fast enough for most users anyways" ;-)

        • Ah, but they are fast enough. If it wasn't for recent 3D games, mostly ported from Windows, I'd be completely happy with the performance of my 3 year old iMac. It can even handle Warcraft 3 on minimum graphic settings. Granted, if I was editing video, I'd want something faster, but this is a home machine.

        • But what are similar CPUs? Athlons and Pentium [34]s aren't realy, nor are P3s and P4s, and even within those a FSB speed change, a larger L1/L2 cache or Hyperthreading can mess up the scores and make a x MHz model faster than a 1.1*x MHz one at most tests.

          Similar CPUs are ones in the same family - P3s, P4s, G4s, etc. Compared to the differences clockspeed makes, the architectural differences, for the vast majority of cases, are not significant.

          Oh yeah, I remember when then happened, it was when Macs beat PCs in MHz numbers and benchmark scores, suddenly it was "But PCs are fast enough for most users anyways" ;-)

          Macs haven't benchmarked faster than PCs - except for special cases - for _years_. This is even more true when one takes into account performance/$, and not just "which is the fastest".
          PCs have been "fast enough" since around the days of ~800MHz P3s. There aren't many common uses - except for games - that require a faster machine than that. And even games, at the end of the day, are a niche market.
          Macs, OTOH, _still_ aren't "fast enough" - they still feel slow, sluggish and unresponsive to use. Although I suspect this has more to do with OS X needing optimisations rather than a lacking in hardware, as a dual 867MHz G4 is a very powerful machine.

          • Similar CPUs are ones in the same family - P3s, P4s, G4s, etc. Compared to the differences clockspeed makes, the architectural differences, for the vast majority of cases, are not significant.

            Sure. So when a "slower" chip is actually faster, it isn't.

            Macs haven't benchmarked faster than PCs - except for special cases - for _years_.

            Wasn't it you who wrote "Of course, since PCs have been more than fast enough for 95% of users for a good couple of years now [...]"? Ahh, maybe I should take anything you say too serious.

            • Sure. So when a "slower" chip is actually faster, it isn't.

              I think you misunderstood me. The architectural differences within the same CPU family (eg. hyperthreading in P4s, bigger L2 caches, etc) make little difference to general performance (compared to clockspeed).

              Wasn't it you who wrote [...]"

              Yes. What's your point ?

              PCs have been consistently bechmarking faster than Macs since the days of P2s - and for less money. They've been at the "fast enough" stage since around the introduction of P3s (only P2s if you're happy to stick with older versions of Windows).
              Macs *still* haven't gotten to the "fast enough" stage. I sit down and use a dual GHz+ Mac and it gets chunky and unresponsive under a trivial load. My dual P3/700 and Celeron 450 do not, despite being significantly slower in terms of raw power.
              This is something Apple really needs to address. Their machines are perceived as being slow - somewhat due to slower clockspeeds, but more due to a) they really *are* (much, if you measure per $) slower and b) they are unresponsive and annoying in interactive use.

    • The PC industry is going to have to explain this to their userbase now since the nextgen Athlon will run at even lower Mhz than the current generation - and still run circles around the old chips.

    • "Its good to see a review from a PC centric publication address this, however minimally. Apple has long talked about the Megahertz Myth while the PC world has largely equated more MHZ meaning faster, when in reality its not that simple. I wonder if this will be a continued trend."
      I'd like to believe that the PC world might be (finally) acknowledging the MHz issue because they becoming more enlightened.. but sadly, I suspect that it has more to do with next generation Intel, etc processors coming out at lower clock speeds than current ones.. b/c then they'll then be fighting the same consumer perception (more MHz is always faster) that Apple's been fighting now for years.

      When those next gen chips do come out, it will be interesting to hear the reason why Intel (et al) ends up saying that MHz suddenly no longer matters.. I mean, did it only matter when it was convenient for them?? Which is it, does it matter or not?

      With the next gen IBM Power chips going into Macs this year and at *faster* clock speeds, Apple could stand to make up some ground in the perception war. =)
      • I'd like to believe that the PC world might be (finally) acknowledging the MHz issue

        What's to acknowledge ? P4s and Athlons are simply faster - does it matter to most if this is because of massively higher clock speeds ?
        Any knowledgable buyer knows that clock speed is not the be-all and end-all, and the unknowledgable one simply buy the machines that are the fastest for the least money.

        When those next gen chips do come out, it will be interesting to hear the reason why Intel (et al) ends up saying that MHz suddenly no longer matters.. I mean, did it only matter when it was convenient for them?? Which is it, does it matter or not?

        Ok, I'll be the first to admit I rarely read marketing gumpf, but exactly where are all these alluded-to claims by intel and AMD that only clockspeed matters ?

        Or are you merely getting upset because intel says their CPUs are faster ?

        With the next gen IBM Power chips going into Macs this year and at *faster* clock speeds, Apple could stand to make up some ground in the perception war.

        1. You'll be lucky to see and 970-based Macs before next year...
        and 2. They'll be at higher clock speeds than intel and AMD chips are *now* (actually, a couple of months ago) - by the time they are released clockspeeds will have gone up again.

        OTOH, it might actually make non-portable Macs competitive in terms of speed. Personally, I can't wait...

  • by Guspaz (556486) on Wednesday January 01, 2003 @11:14PM (#4996501)
    But instead I find myself shut up. The specs on the thing are actually quite nice when you compare it to the Area-51m (http://www.alienware.com/main/system_pages/area51 -m.asp) which costs about 250$ less.

    The PowerBook has a 20GB larger HDD, the same GPU, a DVD burner, and gigabit ethernet. However, I still hold reservations about the G4. Mhz is certainly not everything, but the G4 has lagged behind to the point that its outclassed by modern x86 processors. Hopefully we'll see an Apple laptop with that new 64-bit IBM processor soon!
    • by linuxbert (78156) on Wednesday January 01, 2003 @11:38PM (#4996574) Homepage Journal
      the tibook is also half as thick, and gives twice the battery life of the alienware/eurocom unit.

      (eurocom sells its notebooks as a white label to other oems such as alienware. i sell/service both apple and eurocom at work)
    • by sweetooth (21075) on Wednesday January 01, 2003 @11:58PM (#4996637) Homepage
      Too bad the Area51-M has a desktop CPU in it and not a mobile P-4.

      If you start configuring the systems comparably there is little to no differance in price between the PowerBook G4 and any PC laptops. I've been looking at them over the last several months. The PowerBook also has a few things going for it that are hard to find in other laptops. The Superdrive. I've only found a couple of laptops with DVD-R capabilities, and the one from Sony which was most closly matched to the PowerBook was more expensive at the time. It was also the only laptop other than the PowerBook that at the time took up to 1GB of RAM.

      If you are looking for a desktop replacment you have few choices. The powerbook G4 is one, and something like the Sony GRX 600 [sonystyle.com] is another.

      What I find more important is size and weight. The powerbook is very slim at 1" thick and weighs in under 6lbs. The sony GRX 600 starts at 8lbs with one battery and is 1.6-1.8" thick.

      There are other little differances like 10/100/1000 ethernet rather than 10/100 however that's not that important to most people. There is also the DVI output on the Powerbook and the VGA output on the pc laptops. Again, that won't matter to most people, but there are a growing number of digital displays becoming available so it may matter more in the future.
      • There are two important differences between the PowerBook and the Sony laptop that you didn't mention. First, the Sony laptop only includes what they call "i.Link" ports, which are 4-pin FireWire ports. These ports don't carry power on them, which makes it impossible to use things like bus-powered external hard drives and such. That's a serious drawback in my opinion; what's the point of having a laptop if you have to find a wall socket every time you want to use your external drive?

        The other thing is that the Sony laptop apparently doesn't have built-in wireless networking. They offer an 802.11 PC card option, but that isn't nearly as slick as the PowerBook's built in AirPort card and antenna.
      • If the article is to be believed, the PowerBook is a desktop replacement. That and the fact that the PowerBook also has a desktop CPU (low powered or not) seems to make the choice of CPU in the Area-51m irrelevant. Besides, the Area-51m is a gaming laptop, the desktop CPU is almost a requirement.

        I'd think if you configured these two machines similarly, the PowerBook would actually be cheaper than the Area-51m.

        The size, weight, and battery life of Apple's laptops continue to impress me. I've seen a few laptops that come close, but usually at a huge price premium and reduced features.
        • The area-51m is more expensive configured similarly to the powerbook, and it still has less features.

          The reason I think it is very important to point out that the area-51m doesn't use a mobile p4 is that the desktop p4's don't work as well when not connected to power where a mobile P4 is meant to work efficiently without AC. The PowerBook G4 doesn't have this problem.

          Also, I would hardly consider ANY box with a Radeon 9000 a gaming machine. The Mobile Radeon 9000 is based on the same tech as the Radeon 8500 if I remember correctly, and many people had nothing but trouble gaming with the Radeon 8500 series.
          • That's what I said. Similarly configured, the powerbook would be cheaper.

            Perhaps you wouldn't consider a desktop box with the Radeon 9000 a gaming machine, but since it is (currently) the fastest available graphics chipset for laptops, I'd consider any laptop equipped with one to be built with gaming in mind.

            Any machine built with the GeForce4 4200 Go [anandtech.com] would have to be considered a gaming machine :)
            • The GeForce 4 4200 Go and the Radeon 9000 Mobile are the closes to gaming you can get for laptops however in the PowerBook's case I think it's more important for the OpenGL acceleration being done in the interface. Having a lot of windows open while doing DV playing/editing etc. At least that's why I would want a powerbook with the Radeon 9000.
              • That's true, Quartz Extreme is pretty neat. I'm not a big fan of Apple and their products, but I will say one thing, they are the kings of interfaces. Aqua is incredible, and adding OpenGL acceleration to the GUI is something Microsoft won't even have in action until Longhorn. I just wish that Aqua would be ported to x86 Linux... That's something I'd run...
    • I'm posting from a G4 677. Let me say either one of two things is true: This machine is comparable to a 1.5ghz p4, or OSX is so amazingly optimized that it feels like the former.

      Though I agree the PPC 970 will be a nice addition, everyone I know who knows anything thinks the P4 exists for the sole purpouse of making a higher MHZ number.
  • by cuyler (444961) <slashdot@NoSPaM.theedgeofoblivion.com> on Thursday January 02, 2003 @12:12AM (#4996702)
    I just got the 867 MHz laptop myself and I'd like to take this opportunity to point out a great savings that many students can get (it's been pointed out here before but I don't like people wasting money for no good reason).

    If you are a student in a program that deals with hardware developement (it's one of the requirements but I can't see how they check it) you can save 20% off of these system once in your life time. As you have to do is purchase a $99 (US) membership to save a good deal of money.

    See this page [apple.com] for more info on the program.
    • Indeed this is a good program--and I refer students to it all the time. However it should be noted that its not just "hardware development" that your course has to deal with....its a "developer-related course" you must be in--and they check it by asking you to fax a copy of your student ID and proof of course enrollment with it. I suppose it could be forged...but they COULD check--ya never know.
      • I called the Apple Developer program before buying mine with the hardware purchase program (3 weeks ago) and they said that they dropped the whole "devloper related course" req. If you're an engineering or CS major, you're fine. Dunno about science or other majors...

        They seem pretty lax. By the time I had my student ID, etc. together to fax to them, they'd already shipped the machine. After all, as part of the signup process, they already had my school and student ID no.
    • By the time you add tax and jump through 100 hoops you're not really coming out ahead. You're better off getting one from MacMall or ClubMac (the same people i'm sure) and ignoring all the free bs they try and push. If you're not in CA you'll save tax $$$. I got my first mac through the Education Apple Store since I am working (as is my wife) for the University (me contract and her full time, I called apple and they didn't seem to care either way).

      I'm getting a Powerbook on the next revision. Hopefully it will be 1.4GHz, 2x burning DVD, and priced around $2599 (one can always dream).

      I have a QS 733 G4 Tower and it's been 5x faster since I wiped it and reinstalled 10.2.
      • Re:Not really. (Score:3, Informative)

        by cuyler (444961)
        100 hoops?
        1) Visit website
        2) Signup as a developer (I had already done this for the DC newsletter).
        3) Email Canadian reseller (for Canadian - you US folks can do it all online).
        4) They give you password to the price list.
        5) Tell them what you want to order.
        6) Save $800Cdn (bought some extra things) and have your new laptop next business day ($10 shipping fee added to cost of laptop - yes ten dollars).

        That's 6 hoops for $800. That's a lot of money for a student.

        It wasn't a difficult process. The Canadian reseller company (EMJ) was quite good to deal with - actually more polite than dealing with BMac (the best Apple store we have in my area).

        The 10-20% that you save on all Apple products through this program is most often 20%. I got a second battery for my laptop for $88(Cdn) and they are $194 new or $150 with a new laptop.
  • by slevin (67815) on Thursday January 02, 2003 @02:04AM (#4997020) Homepage
    I did a little comparing of all the major brands of laptops recently, and there really is nothing comparable to the Power Book. There are faster laptops, certainly. And there are cheaper laptops. But there is nothing else on the market that offers similar features.

    Only the Area51 also offers a high end graphics card. Only one of the sony's offers a large screen while staying reasonably light weight. No PC laptops at 6lbs and under qualify as desktop replacements. I've been carrying around a PowerBook G4 for almost 2 years now, and it is as heavy as a laptop should be - anything more really is too much. I'd love all the power of a top end IBM or Area51, but they are in the same price range (or more for the IBM) and both are in the 8lb range.

    If I had one thing to change, it would be the fact that the power book has both a "return" and "enter" key. As a developer, I could really use another control key to make my emacs life easier. Who says, "boy am I glad that there is both and enter and return on this keyboard - I couldn't get by without it."

    • There are quite a few laptops offering the Mobility Radeon 9000 now. ATI [ati.com] has list of systems that use it. You can get a Dell Inspirion 8200 etc. Of course you are going to be getting a bigger, heavier laptop if you go with one of the PC vendors.

      Also of note, and I pointed this out in another comment. The Alienware Area51-M doesn't use a mobile processor which is of debateable value in a laptop.
    • If I had one thing to change, it would be the fact that the power book has both a "return" and "enter" key. As a developer, I could really use another control key to make my emacs life easier.

      You should try uControl [gnufoo.org]. Does just what you want.
    • Who says, "boy am I glad that there is both and enter and return on this keyboard - I couldn't get by without it."

      Well, I do, for one. Return performs a carriage return... great for typing long passages in text boxes, such as this one, with actual paragraphs.

      Enter performs a function, such as executing the default button on the page... to submit a form on a web page, send an email, etc.

      It's really a much more elegant idea than having two return keys, like every PC keyboard with a numeric keypad does. If more software developers were aware of the difference between return and enter and wrote their programs to take advantage of it, such as the way Claris Emailer did, you might see the significance, too. :)

  • by hprotagonist0 (312387) on Thursday January 02, 2003 @03:37AM (#4997263)
    ...and I'm loving it. First Mac I've had in about 10 years (my first computer was a Mac Plus - 8" screen, 1M RAM, no HD). It's gorgeous, fast, and just plain well-designed.

    About the only thing bad I can say about it is that the keyboard layout's kind of lame. Considering the amount of room made avaliable by the form factor of the LCD screen (which is beautiful), you would think they could manage to sqeeze in pgup, pgdn, and delete keys without having to do fn-key combos (fn-up, fn-down, and fn-backspace, respectively). Also, I hate using the one-button trackpad, but that's a beef with Macs in general, and easily fixed by plugging in my Logitech trackball. Haven't had a chance to burn DVDs yet, but it's nice to have the option there.
    • About the only thing bad I can say about it is that the keyboard layout's kind of lame. Considering the amount of room made avaliable by the form factor of the LCD screen (which is beautiful), you would think they could manage to sqeeze in pgup, pgdn, and delete keys without having to do fn-key combos (fn-up, fn-down, and fn-backspace, respectively)

      As a recent switcher myself, that's been one of my few disappointments with my 1-GHz Tibook as well... they give me keys to adjust my monitor brightness and switch dual-display modes, but don't give me an ins, del, pgup, or pgdn without requiring contortions with the Fn key.

      Also, I hate using the one-button trackpad, but that's a beef with Macs in general, and easily fixed by plugging in my Logitech trackball.

      I've gotten used to the single button trackpad a lot faster than I thought I would... in general they seem to have paid a lot of attention to some of the human interface issues like this. The only irritation I've had is when I need to do things like contextual menus (ctrl-click) or command-click on something, since sometimes it makes me feel like I'm a finger contortionist.

      Haven't had a chance to burn DVDs yet, but it's nice to have the option there.

      It will teach you the value of patience, it's only a 1X DVD-R (unlike the desktop superdrive which is 2X IIRC). And I don't think it supports DVD-RW like the desktop superdrive. But, hey, it's a 1" thick laptop, I'm not picky.

      My first few weeks of owning the Tibook have been quite pleasant... this thing makes my Dell Latitude at work look clumsy.

    • The Home-End-Page Up-Page Down keys? The Mac desktops from a few years ago didn't even have them, and while they're on the current Apple Pro keyboards, like the one I'm typing on now, mine are noticeably dusty. I doubt any longtime Mac users make much use of them.

      Hint: when typing on a Mac, and you're on the bottom line and want to go to the end, down-arrow works like End.

  • 1ghz powerbook (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lunartik (94926) on Thursday January 02, 2003 @04:20AM (#4997348) Homepage Journal
    I recently umm.. switched-back, I guess.

    Collecting dust in my basement is a Mac LC (complete with 2400 baud prodigy bundle modem that still will connect to some things) with a 40MB HD.

    Shortly after it was purchased Apple came out with the LCII and the LCIII and suddenly my hardware was pretty out of date. I still spent countless hours using it, and it still boots perfectly if I ever get nostalgic for Phrase Craze Plus or Bomber. Eventually I migrated to a PC.

    I have always wanted to go back to using a Mac. Every time Win9x would get so buggy that it would require a reinstall, or worse, a reformat or devices wouldn't run properly I would check into Apple and windowshop. When I took a Photoshop class and the class computers were Macs I felt like somebody that came back home, to find things the same, but yet different. After a few classes it felt natural again.

    Recently, I have had the fortune to have some spare cash and the need for a laptop, so again I searched around. I decided on an iBook. Once I saw that there was no SuperDrive available I jumped up to PowerBook. Several clicks later I somehow ended up with the top of the line 1 ghz (and bumped up to 1 gig of RAM for $40 extra during the promotion).

    I am not a gamer. I primarily use a computer to create documents, create graphics, browse the web, communicate with people, and listen to music. Whether or not Mhz can be believed, if Apple products are bested in speed, matters little to me. Everything works fantastically for my needs.

    I have yet to find a P2P client worth using (even following suggestions on this and other sites) yet my iTunes library stands at over 700 songs. This is due to the ease of ripping a cd with iTunes. It recognizes your cd, you deselect any tracks you dont want to rip, press a button and an entire CD is automatically labeled and filed away.

    Anyway, if you ascribe to time = money (which, if you read this site, you probably should) the amount of time you will spend using a Mac makes it a bargain. I haven't touched my PC in a while. It sits in a room broadcasting information to my Airport (which works better than a D-Link card I previously had in a Dell, contrary to some earlier reviews I read).

    I know someone that just switched from OS 9 to OSX, and she says that its a tough switch for her, that its very different. I last regularly used a Mac with System 6.0.7 and come to OSX from Windows XP and I have found it easy to use, but probably touching on references from both.

    By the way, the REALLY expensive part of owning a Mac is that you want to buy stuff for it all the time. An iPod, a DV camera, a Wacom tablet, Creature speakers, etc, etc. It really does work seamlessly, and makes you want other gadgets.

    -DM
    • On the topic of P2P networks, I've found the current version of LimeWire, 2.8.5, to be very nice. Just make sure that if you have DSL, you make sure that uploads can't grab all of your upload bandwidth, or else your download speeds will be crippled. Though I will admit that downloading files that aren't popular takes some patience, first to find them, then to find a server willing to let you start your download. But I've seen nothing better.

      Nice post, by the way.

  • Wasn't it last summer or fall that John Carmack reportedly said current Macs lack the CPU power that will be needed for Doom 3? Will this slight bump to the Powerbook cut it?
  • I had a G4 PowerBook about a year a go. It's a nice looking machine, but it can't be called a portable computer. It's too fragile to be carried around. The titanium casing gets scratched and bumby quite easily. Just carry it around in your backpack, and you'll see what I mean.

    If you really need a laptop, not just a very good looking computer, get an iBook or some of the Dell's.

    *lbrt
    • by davesag (140186)
      last year I stacked my bike [davesag.com] and my old TiBook came flying out of my backpack and hit the road, open and on. I was wearing my iPod and it hit the road too and was still playing as I scraped myself up off the cobble-stones. The TiBook was anything but damaged. I have tipped two drinks though it in the past, a Vodka and Ice and a Beer and both times my tibook was fine after a quick wash and dry. who cares about a few scratches here and there. everything fades. the tibook actually looks kinda rugged with a few nicks in it. now i have a new tibook (my old one was stolen) and love it.
    • My TiBook has been going around in my bag for over a year. It has a dint in the lid and the paint has just about peeled off the hinges and is coming away all around the base. These are just cosmetic things though, I've had no operational problems with it. I like it looking used.

      Working with people who have company supplied Dell laptops I wouldn't recommend buying one. The main reason being battery life, both in the length of time you could use it without mains power, and the length of time before the battery stopped taking a full charge.

    • So a few scratches in the paint make it a bad laptop? I've beaten the hell out of my TiBook for the last 2 years or so, and yes, it's got dents and scratches, but yes, it still works perfectly well.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      "The titanium casing gets scratched and bumby quite easily. Just carry it around in your backpack, and you'll see what I mean."

      Or, get a backpack or carrying case actually *designed* for carrying a laptop. It doesn't make a lot of sense to spend for a good laptop, and then make like Ebenezer Scrooge for something to carry it in.
  • ...which has supposedly been fixed in this revision... But Powerbooks manufactured before this latest revision can suffer from the infamous paint chipping/cracking/flaking problem [djedwhite.com].

    After 8 months of complaining, Apple *did* replace my defective unit, but I fear that this new machine will delevop the same problem. Functionally, these are wonderful machines.... especially for the tech-savvy crowd.

    My obligatory screenshot link [djedwhite.com].

    • I've finally figured out that any paint missing from my PowerBook was probably scratched off by my metal watch. It's not a big deal, it's just paint, get over it. My problem with my PowerBook is that the cord for my power supply broke right where it plugs into the computer. With all these electronics for the LEDs I don't know if I can fix it. I've got a replacement on the way from Apple, although I should've just driven to the Apple Store a few hours away, because I don't know if I can wait nearly a week to use my PB. In the meantime I bought GTA Vice City for my PS2.
  • Battery Life (Score:3, Informative)

    by qwijibrumm (559350) on Thursday January 02, 2003 @11:46AM (#4998641)
    Although I will concede that the PPC has lagged behind x86 in overall speed (not by too much), there is one area that the PPC destroys the x86, Power consumption.

    Now to a desktop user, power consumtion is not a very big deal, one loud fan takes care of it. But in laptops we see where the PPC shines. My 500Mhz ibook gets equal performance to a Sony Viao PIII 900 and about 2 hours more battery life (provided I'm not spinning the DVD drive). It is also way more compact because cooling is less an issue.

    Don't get me wrong, performance is a big deal. And Motorola has should have kept up on PPC performance better. But the PPC has not lagged that much, and on a laptop scale I think the PPC is an overall better platform.
  • by Spencerian (465343) on Thursday January 02, 2003 @12:59PM (#4999094) Homepage Journal
    I had a PowerBook FireWire ("Pizmo"), a G3 system, running OS X 10.2.3 and 384MB RAM of late. Nice, but it lagged badly when I was running Virtual PC 5. It worked, mind you, but I couldn't do anything else with the 'Book.

    Enter my new 1GHz system, with 768MB RAM. Because Virtual PC 5 is optimized for G4 chips, as well as the performance updates of 10.2.3, Virtual PC is a welcome and powerful member of my applications at work. In fact, as I type this, Virtual PC is running an instance of Windows 2000 Professional with 256MB RAM allocated to the environment, connected to my company network, while about 4 Mac OS X apps are running without any slowdowns. I could probably switch on Red Hat 8 in addition without any slowdowns if I wanted.

    An iBook is good, but the G4 chip is designed for heavy loads in Mac OS X. If you are a power user that needs multiple environments from an emulator or through other UNIX software such as X Window, the 1GHz system is worth the extra expense. Just load it up with RAM.

    Don't get the G4 PowerBook for super-heavy games. While it comes with a Mobile Radeon 9000 with 64MB RAM, it's a functional arrangement for Quake-engined games such as Jedi Knight II and Return to Castle Wolfenstein, but not the optimal one. On the other hand, what PC laptop out there could actually play any of the popular PC games with a Quake or Unreal engine?
  • Form factor (Score:2, Informative)

    by Enrique1218 (603187)
    There is one important point that seems to be overlooked.

    The powerbook only weighs 5.3 lbs.

    I challenge anyone to find any other notebook with a 15"+, DVD-R, 60 gb hd and a radeon 9000 gpu that fits in the same slim package as the powerbook.

    For the pundits that complain about power and price, you actually overlook the fact that you can take this notebook away from your desk quite frequently.

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