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

CleanMyMac 3.9.0 - $39.95
CleanMyMac makes space for the things you love. Sporting a range of ingenious new features, CleanMyMac lets you safely and intelligently scan and clean your entire system, delete large, unused files... Read more
Apple High Sierra 10.13 - The latest OS...
macOS High Sierra introduces new core technologies that improve the most important functions of your Mac. From rearchitecting how it stores your data to improving the efficiency of video streaming to... Read more
OmniGraffle Pro 7.4.3 - Create diagrams,...
OmniGraffle Pro helps you draw beautiful diagrams, family trees, flow charts, org charts, layouts, and (mathematically speaking) any other directed or non-directed graphs. We've had people use... Read more
OmniGraffle 7.4.3 - Create diagrams, flo...
OmniGraffle helps you draw beautiful diagrams, family trees, flow charts, org charts, layouts, and (mathematically speaking) any other directed or non-directed graphs. We've had people use Graffle to... Read more
VueScan 9.5.86 - Scanner software with a...
VueScan is a scanning program that works with most high-quality flatbed and film scanners to produce scans that have excellent color fidelity and color balance. VueScan is easy to use, and has... Read more
ExpanDrive 6.1.0 - Access cloud storage...
ExpanDrive builds cloud storage in every application, acts just like a USB drive plugged into your Mac. With ExpanDrive, you can securely access any remote file server directly from the Finder or... Read more
Yojimbo 4.1 - Data information organizer...
Yojimbo empowers Mac users to manage, effortlessly and securely, the onslaught of information encountered every day at work and at home, even across multiple computers. Yojimbo stores different data... Read more
Airmail 3.5 - Powerful, minimal email cl...
Airmail is an mail client with fast performance and intuitive interaction. Support for iCloud, MS Exchange, Gmail, Google Apps, IMAP, POP3, Yahoo!, AOL, Outlook.com, Live.com. Airmail was designed... Read more
Cocktail 11.0 - General maintenance and...
Cocktail is a general purpose utility for macOS that lets you clean, repair and optimize your Mac. It is a powerful digital toolset that helps hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world get... Read more
Numi 3.17.2 - Menu-bar calculator suppor...
Numi is a calculator that magically combines calculations with text, and allows you to freely share your computations. Numi combines text editor and calculator Support plain English. For example, '5... Read more

The best visual novels on mobile
Narrative games have been around for ages, but only now have they been creeping into the mainstream spotlight. These games tell some of the industry's finest stories, and they break new ground in terms of gameplay and mechanics regularly. Here are... | Read more »
The best new games we played this week -...
It's pretty much been one big release after another. We were privy to a bunch of surprises this week, with a lot of games we'd been waiting for quite some time dropping unexpectedly. We hope you're free this weekend, because there is a lot for... | Read more »
Stormbound: Kingdom Wars guide - how to...
Stormbound: Kingdom Wars is an excellent new RTS turned card battler out now on iOS and Android. Lovers of strategy will get a lot of enjoyment out of Stormbound's chess-like mechanics, and it's cardbased units are perfect for anyone who loves the... | Read more »
The best AR apps and games on iOS right...
iOS 11 has officially launched, and with it comes Apple's ARKit, a helpful framework that makes it easier than ever for developers to create mobile AR experiences. To celebrate the occassion, we're featuring some of the best AR apps and games on... | Read more »
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Spirit of...
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Spirit of Justice 1.00.00 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.00.00 (iTunes) Description: ************************************************※IMPORTANT※・Please read the “When... | Read more »
Kpressor (Utilities)
Kpressor 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Utilities Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: The ultimate ZIP compression application for iPhone and iPad. - Full integration of iOS 11 with support for multitasking.-... | Read more »
Find out how you can save £35 and win a...
Nothing raises excitement like a good competition, and we’re thrilled to announce our latest contest. We’ll be sending one lucky reader and a friend to the Summoners War World Arena Championship at Le Comedia in Paris on October 7th. It’s the... | Read more »
Another Lost Phone: Laura's Story...
Another Lost Phone: Laura's Story 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Another Lost Phone is a game about exploring the social life of a young woman whose phone you have just... | Read more »
The Witness (Games)
The Witness 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $9.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: You wake up, alone, on a strange island full of puzzles that will challenge and surprise you. You don't remember who you are, and... | Read more »
Egg, Inc. guide - how to build your gold...
Egg, Inc.'s been around for some time now, but don't you believe for one second that this quirky clicker game has gone out of style. The game keeps popping up on Reddit and other community forums thanks to the outlandish gameplay (plus, the... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Snag a Certified Refurbished Apple Pencil for...
Apple has Certified Refurbished Apple Pencils available for $85 including free shipping. Their price is $14 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for a Pencil. Read more
12-inch 64GB iPad Pro on sale for $749, save...
Adorama has 12″ 64GB iPad Pros on sale today for $749 including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only. Their price is $50 off MSRP. Read more
Apple Certified Refurbished iPad minis availa...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 128GB iPad minis available today for $339 including free shipping. Apple’s standard one-year warranty is included. Their price is $60 off MSRP. Read more
12-inch 1.2GHz Retina MacBook Pros on sale fo...
B&H Photo has 2017 12″ 1.2GHz Retina MacBooks on sale for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax in NY & NJ only: 12″ 1.2GHz Space Gray MacBook: $1199 $100 off MSRP 12... Read more
Sunday sale: 13-inch 3.1GHz MacBook Pros for...
Amazon has 2017 13″ 3.1GHz MacBook Pros on sale today for up to $150 off MSRP, each including free shipping: – 13″ 3.1GHz/256GB Space Gray MacBook Pro (MPXV2LL/A): $1649.99 $150 off MSRP – 13″ 3.1GHz... Read more
Looking for a 2017 12″ Retina MacBook? Save $...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2017 12″ Retina MacBooks available for $200-$240 off the cost of new models. Apple will include a standard one-year warranty with each MacBook, and shipping is free.... Read more
Apple Offering Up To $455 Credit Toward iPhon...
iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are now available at the Apple Store, and you can receive up to $375 credit toward a new iPhone purchase when you trade in your eligible smartphone. Photo Courtesy Apple Just... Read more
AnyTrans Offers iOS Users Three Ways For Movi...
iMobie Inc. today announceed AnyTrans v6.0.1, which now can help iOS users move all data to iPhone 8/8 Plus seamlessly. The software is available both on Mac and Windows and fully able to move all... Read more
Snag a 13-inch 2.3GHz MacBook Pro for $100 of...
B&H Photo has 2017 13″ 2.3GHz MacBook Pros in stock today and on sale for $100 off MSRP, each including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only: – 13-inch 2.3GHz/128GB Space Gray MacBook... Read more
Verizon offers new iPhone 8 for $100-$300 off...
Verizon is offering the new iPhone 8 for up to $300 off MSRP with an eligible trade-in: • $300 off: iPhone 6S/6S Plus/7/7 Plus, Google Pixel XL, LG G6, Moto Z2 Force, Samsung Galaxy S7/S7 edge/S8/S8... Read more

Jobs Board

Data Engineer - *Apple* Media Products - Ap...
Job Summary Apple is seeking a highly skilled data engineer to join the Data Engineering team within Apple Media Products. AMP (home to Apple Music, App Read more
Development Operations and Site Reliability E...
Development Operations and Site Reliability Engineer, Apple Payment Gateway Job Number: 57572631 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: Jul. 27, 2017 Read more
Development Operations and Site Reliability E...
Development Operations and Site Reliability Engineer, Apple Payment Gateway Job Number: 57572631 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: Jul. 27, 2017 Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
Instructional Designer, *Apple* Product Doc...
Job Summary The Apple Product Documentation team is looking for an instructional designer or a video editor to write user documentation for its professional video Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.