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Portables (Apple) Businesses Apple Hardware

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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  • 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.
  • Re:1 Ghz ! (Score:5, Informative)

    by GlassHeart (579618) on Thursday January 02, 2003 @12:11AM (#4996700) Journal
    You can get a notebook with a 1.8Ghz AMD or 2.0Ghz Pentium for half that price.

    Compared to the Dell Inspiron 8200 (1.7 GHz P4, $1,499), the PowerBook has 512 MB RAM (Dell has 128 MB), 1 MB cache (512 KB), 60 GB disk (30 GB), DVD-R drive (DVD), GB ethernet (100 Mbps), a 5-hour battery life (2-3 hours), weighing in at 5.4 lbs (7.9 lbs), measuring 1.0 inches thick (1.75 in).

    So no, I don't think the two are comparable. Upgrading the RAM, hard drive, and video card (ATI Mobility Radeon 9000) to match up better resulted in a $2,277 package, with the PowerBook still holding significant advantages in size, battery life, and a DVD-R drive for a 25% price premium.

  • by cuyler (444961) <slashdot AT theedgeofoblivion DOT 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.
  • 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: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.
  • Re:Good to see (Score:5, Informative)

    by norwoodites (226775) <pinskia@gmail.cYEATSom minus poet> 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:1 Ghz ! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Toraz Chryx (467835) <jamesboswell@btopenworld.com> on Thursday January 02, 2003 @06:36AM (#4997548) Homepage
    " 1 MB cache (512 KB)"

    And the rest. the 1MB cache block in the Powerbook is L3, the 7455 has 256KB of L2 as well.
  • by mithras the prophet (579978) on Thursday January 02, 2003 @07:56AM (#4997689) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • Re:Not really. (Score:3, Informative)

    by cuyler (444961) <slashdot AT theedgeofoblivion DOT com> on Thursday January 02, 2003 @06:55PM (#5002301)
    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.
  • Form factor (Score:2, Informative)

    by Enrique1218 (603187) on Friday January 03, 2003 @03:54AM (#5004723) Journal
    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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