TweetFollow Us on Twitter

First Look: The New PowerBooks

Volume Number: 19 (2003)
Issue Number: 2
Column Tag: Reviews

First Look: The New PowerBooks

by Michael R. Harvey

At January's MacWorld Expo in San Francisco, Apple wowed the crowds with the introduction of two new PowerBook models, once again raising the bar for all other computer makers to aspire to. Introducing both a monster 17 inch PowerBook G4, and the smallest laptop Apple has produced, they have widened the line of choices mobile computer users can consider, and gave desktop users pause to reconsider the possibility of leaving that old tower behind. From the outward appearance, to the guts, this new iron packs a punch both large and small.

Aesthetics

On the outside, the new laptops are pure eye candy. They just look very sleek, and professional. Constructed of aircraft grade aluminum, they are far sturdier than their titanium counterparts. They are rounded along the edges. Just as a dome has a high strength inherit in its design, so does the rounded design add to the strength of the PowerBook cases. The flex that exists in the lid of the Titanium PowerBooks, just isn't there on these new machines. They are very stable. The hinge on both the 12- and 17-inch PowerBooks is taken from the current Dual USB iBooks. The sleep indicator light now sits within the latch release button. The keyboard on both models is now locked down. You can't get to the internals by removing it any longer. This allowed Apple to firm up the keyboard. You no longer have that bend in it that was necessitated by having it be removable. It has a much better feel to it now when typing. Installing RAM and Airport are now done via a removable plate on the bottom of the units. Also related to the keyboard is a problem that plagued earlier models of PowerBook. Apple has managed to design these new systems so that the keyboard no longer touches the screen when it's latched closed. You can look right through the closed PowerBook and see they are separated. No more gunk building up on the screen.

The 12-inch model is the smallest Laptop to ever come out of Apple. It is smaller, even, than the old Duo sub-notebooks. It weighs in at 4.6 pounds, and has dimensions of 10.9x8.6x1.18 inches. The keyboard is full sized. The 12.1 inch (diagonal) TFT XGA display has a maximum 1024x768 pixel resolution.

Conversely, the 17-inch PowerBook G4 is just a behemoth. It looks and handles great, though. It's large size is obviously to handle the 17-inch (diagonal), 1440x900 pixel, TFT widescreen display. That leaves a lot of real estate to work with. The full sized keyboard looks almost lost on the machine, with what seems like four miles of wrist rest to cross before actually typing. It feels just fine, however, and is very comfortable to type on. There are stereo speakers on either side of the keyboard. The laptop weighs 6.8 pounds. It is rather heavy, but not overly so.


Figure 1: 17" Screen on the G4 PowerBook

Then there is the coolest thing Apple has come up with yet. On the 17-inch model, there are two light sensors hidden under the speaker grills on either side of the keyboard. When the ambient light drops, two things happen. The keyboard lights up from underneath (via fiber optics), glowing through the keycaps, and illuminating the lettering on the keys. The computer also dims the LCD, making it easier to look at in darkened conditions. Trying to describe it just doesn't do the feature justice. You truly have to see it to appreciate how cool it is.

Horsepower

Under the hood, the new systems pack a wallop. They are computers loaded with first time features. Both the 17- and 12-inch models come standard with G4 processors, the first PowerBooks to ship with G4 chips inside. The 12-inch models come equipped with 867 MHz processors, and the big 17-inch models fly along at 1 GHz. Additionally, these are the first computers to ship with Bluetooth built in. They are also the first with the ability to handle Airport Extreme, the 54-Mbps 802.11g wireless networking standard. The 17-inch comes with it installed, and the smaller model is ready for the $99 Airport Extreme card. Each has antennae running up the sides of the LCD screen. Apple reports that these PowerBooks will have much improved wireless connectivity performance over the Titanium PowerBooks.


Figure 2: Top down view of both PowerBooks

Each of the new PowerBooks come with the standard compliment of ports: modem, USB, audio in and out, and video out. The 12-inch version has 400 Mbps FireWire, and 100 Mbps 10 Base-T Ethernet. The 17-inch tops that with gigabit Ethernet, and FireWire running at 800 Mbps. This faster FireWire is backwards compatible with 400 Mbps, but uses a new connector type, so an adapter is needed to connect older devices into the new jack.

The 12- and 17-inch models are equipped with slot loading optical drives. The larger, 17-inch model comes with a Super Drive. It is the only option for this machine. The 12-inch comes standard with a Combo drive, or Super drive can be had as a build to order option. The standard version of the 12- and 17-inch systems have 40 GB and 60 GB hard drives, respectively.

Both have the latest NVIDIA graphics chips on board. NVIDIA provided Apple with their newest GeForce4 Go chips, the 420 for the 12", and the 440 for the 17", with 32 MB and 64 MB of DDR SDRAM respectively. Both run on a 4x AGP bus. With a .15 micron manufacturing process (the last iteration from NVIDIA was a .18 micron size), the small graphics chip size provided Apple with alternately more room for features, and the ability to wedge full graphics features on a small board. Features like mirroring and dual monitor support on both models are thanks to the power of this graphics subsystem.


Figure 3: Top down view of the 17" PowerBook

Look and Feel

Apple really has done it again in the coolness department. The machines look great. The Titanium's were a great industrial design, and these new G4 PowerBooks are even better. They are stylish, functional, and hardy. These are also the first machines to boot solely into OS X. OS X, however, is a whole other article.


Figure 4: 12" Screen on the G4 PowerBook

The Bottom Line

The 12-inch PowerBook has a price tag of $1799. The 17-inch version weighs in at $3299. Both have the usual build-to-order options available. Higher processor speeds, bigger hard drives, more RAM, or add an Airport card (for the 12-inch). The 17-inch PowerBook is about as tricked out as it can be at the above price point. Bumping it up to 1 GB of RAM will dent your wallet to the tune of $3599. On the other hand, loading up a 12-inch PowerBook with Airport Extreme, a Super Drive, bigger hard drive, and more RAM will set you back $2298. Both models should be shipping by the time you read this. They are drool-worthy systems that anyone looking for a new computer should consider seriously. Steve Jobs said in his keynote that this is the year of the laptop for Apple, and with offerings like these, 2003 will very likely be just that.


Michael R. Harvey

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

PDFKey Pro 4.3 - Edit and print password...
PDFKey Pro can unlock PDF documents protected for printing and copying when you've forgotten your password. It can now also protect your PDF files with a password to prevent unauthorized access and/... Read more
Kodi 15.0.beta1 - Powerful media center...
Kodi (was XBMC) is an award-winning free and open-source (GPL) software media player and entertainment hub that can be installed on Linux, OS X, Windows, iOS, and Android, featuring a 10-foot user... Read more
DiskCatalogMaker 6.4.12 - Catalog your d...
DiskCatalogMaker is a simple disk management tool which catalogs disks. Simple, light-weight, and fast. Finder-like intuitive look and feel. Super-fast search algorithm. Can compress catalog data... Read more
Macs Fan Control 1.3.0.0 - Monitor and c...
Macs Fan Control allows you to monitor and control almost any aspect of your computer's fans, with support for controlling fan speed, temperature sensors pane, menu-bar icon, and autostart with... Read more
Lyn 1.5.11 - Lightweight image browser a...
Lyn is a lightweight and fast image browser and viewer designed for photographers, graphic artists and Web designers. Featuring an extremely versatile and aesthetically pleasing interface, it... Read more
NeoOffice 2014.11 - Mac-tailored, OpenOf...
NeoOffice is a complete office suite for OS X. With NeoOffice, users can view, edit, and save OpenOffice documents, PDF files, and most Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents. NeoOffice 3.x... Read more
LaunchBar 6.4 - Powerful file/URL/email...
LaunchBar is an award-winning productivity utility that offers an amazingly intuitive and efficient way to search and access any kind of information stored on your computer or on the Web. It provides... Read more
Remotix 3.1.4 - Access all your computer...
Remotix is a fast and powerful application to easily access multiple Macs (and PCs) from your own Mac. Features Complete Apple Screen Sharing support - including Mac OS X login, clipboard... Read more
DesktopLyrics 2.6.6 - Displays current i...
DesktopLyrics is an application that displays the lyrics of the song currently playing in "iTunes" right on your desktop. The lyrics for the song have to be set in iTunes; DesktopLyrics does nothing... Read more
VOX 2.5.1 - Music player that supports m...
VOX is a beautiful music player that supports many filetypes. The beauty is in its simplicity, yet behind the minimal exterior lies a powerful music player with a ton of features and support for all... Read more

This Week at 148Apps: May 18-22, 2015
May Days at 148Apps How do you know what apps are worth your time and money? Just look to the review team at 148Apps. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you're looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the... | Read more »
Biz Builder Delux (Games)
Biz Builder Delux 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Ah, there's nothing like the rhythmic bustle of a burgeoning business burg... especially when you're the one building it... | Read more »
Auroch Digital is Bringing Back Games Wo...
| Read more »
Blades of Brim is a New Endless Runner f...
SYBO Games, the minds behind the ever-popular Subway Surfers, have announced their latest project: Blades of Brim. [Read more] | Read more »
Carbo - Handwriting in the Digital Age...
Carbo - Handwriting in the Digital Age 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Productivity Price: $3.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Draggy Dead (Games)
Draggy Dead 1.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.1 (iTunes) Description: Ditch your dead end job and take up a rewarding career in Grave Robbing today!Guide the recently deceased to a fun filled life of... | Read more »
Bad Dinos (Games)
Bad Dinos 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
The Apple Watch isn't Great as a Fi...
| Read more »
Show the World What You See With Stre.am...
Live broadcasting is getting popular on mobile devices, which is why you can now get Stre.am, by Infinite Takes. [Read more] | Read more »
PhotoTime's 2.1 Update Adds Apple W...
The latest PhotoTime update is adding even more functionality to the handy photo organizing app. Yep, including Apple Watch support. [Read more] | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

12-inch MacBook stock status for Monday, May...
The new 12″ Retina MacBooks are still on backorder at The Apple Store with a 3-5 week waiting period. However, a few models are in stock today at Apple resellers. Stock is limited, so act now if you’... Read more
New 27-inch 3.3GHz 5K iMac in stock with free...
Adorama has the new 27″ 3.3GHz 5K iMac in stock today for $1999 including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only. Adorama will include a free copy of Apple’s 3-year AppleCare Protection Plan. Read more
Memorial Day Weekend Sale: New 27-inch 3.3GHz...
Best Buy has the new 27″ 3.3GHz 5K iMac on sale for $1899.99 this weekend. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale price for online orders only, in-store prices may vary... Read more
OtterBox Maximizes Portability, Productivity...
From the kitchen recipe book to the boarsroom presentation, the OtterBox Agility Tablet System turns tablets into one of the most versatile pieces of handheld technology available. Available now, the... Read more
Launch of New Car App Gallery and Open Develo...
Automatic, a company on a mission to bring the power of the Internet into every car, has announced the launch of the Automatic App Gallery, an app store for nearly every car or truck on the road... Read more
Memorial Day Weekend Sale: 13-inch 1.6GHz Mac...
Best Buy has the new 13″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air on sale for $849 on their online store this weekend. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale price for online orders... Read more
Memorial Day Weekend Sale: 27-inch 3.5GHz 5K...
Best Buy has the 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMac on sale for $2099.99 this weekend. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale price for online orders only, in-store prices may vary.... Read more
Sale! 16GB iPad mini 3 for $349, save $50
B&H Photo has the 16GB iPad mini 3 WiFi on sale for $349 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $50 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model. Read more
Price drop on 2014 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro...
B&H Photo has dropped prices on 2014 15″ Retina MacBook Pros by $200. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro: $1799.99 save $200 - 15″ 2.5GHz... Read more
With a Mission to Make Mobile Free, Scratch W...
Scratch Wireless, claiming to be the world’s first truly free mobile service, has announced the availability of a new Scratch-enabled Android smartphone, the Coolpad Arise. The smartphone is equipped... Read more

Jobs Board

Payments Counsel, *Apple* Pay (mobile payme...
**Job Summary** Apple is looking for an atto ey to join Apple 's Legal Department to support Apple Pay. **Key Qualifications** 7+ years of relevant experience Read more
Touch Hardware Design and Integration Enginee...
…Summary** Design, develop, and launch next-generation Touch solutions in the new Apple Watch product category. The Touch team develops cutting-edge Touch solutions and Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Retail Sales...
**Job Summary** As an Apple Solutions Consultant (ASC) you are the link between our customers and our products. Your role is to drive the Apple business in a retail Read more
*Apple* TV Live Streaming Frameworks Test En...
**Job Summary** Work and contribute towards the engineering of Apple 's state-of-the-art products involving video, audio, and graphics in Interactive Media Group (IMG) at Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.