Recently, I had an interest in a Powerbook – specifically, the 12 inch. I don’t particularly like the iBook, as I’ve had all of the commonly mentioned issues happen to my 700 MHz iBook G3. The logic board failures, the backlight cutouts, battery death, power cord failures, you name it; it’s all happened to the iBook I own. It’s working well, but the screws don’t exactly fit, because I’ve opened up so many times, and it’s a little weird – not wonderfully classy like it was when I first got it. My sister now uses it, but complains about speed issues. (Since she’s only using it for email, Adium, and Shockwave games, I don’t care.
But, getting back to my point – when I look at the highest model of the iBooks, and the lowest model of the Powerbooks, I wonder – where is any of the differentiation? The Powerbook 12-inch can actually be a sort of step backwards in some respects. I’ve tried the 12-inch Powerbook before (borrowed from a friend for a weekend), and noticed that it’s only marginally thinner, and the slot-load drive can actually be a disadvantage to some people (specially sized disks, for example), but I do like it. The Powerbook I borrowed had an issue of the palm rest area (just below the keyboard, on the left side of the trackpad), where the outer layer of material (metal, paint, whatever it is) would just come off. I don’t know the history of the ‘book, as it had changed owners several times. It was only an 800 MHz model, but created significant heat, when all I was really doing was surfing the Internet. Did I mention that even with the maximum amount of RAM, the machine still didn’t seem as snappy as it could have been? (It was about as slow as the brain-damaged iBook I mentioned)
Even though the processor of the Powerbook would be 1.5 GHz, as opposed to the 1.3 GHz of the entire line of iBooks, what speed advantage is that? They’re both using the now-disappointing G4 processor – same abilities, everything. That used to be a big issue when the iBook was a G3, but not anymore. Are these things actually going to be faster than an 800 MHz Powerbook? Running cooler? Lots of fan useage?
The 14-inch iBook isn’t all that interesting, because its video card is the Radeon 9200, with 32 MB of VRAM, where the Powerbook doubles that. (What irritates me is that you can only get 128 MB of VRAM on the higher-level Powerbooks) The playing field is slightly evened by the fact that you can apply a hack to make the iBook dual-screen capable, but it makes my 700 MHz machine dog-slow.
The 12-inch Powerbooks just seem to be at a weird spot right now. Sure, they’re cheap and small, but the iBook is creeping into their territory, and at the same time, they can’t have the things that the larger models have – decent (read: 128 MB VRAM) video card, the faster processor, even gigabit ethernet, or silly things like the backlit keyboard. The fallback plan, for cheaper prices, is the iBook. But it hasn’t been a good experience for me with the current one. Why would I want another one? Not to mention that I’ve bought a computer that could easily run a dual display setup, but Apple merely disables it. Lame.
For a while, I was thinking of a Powerbook. But, at this point, I’d rather just wait for the Pentiums. The benchmarks for those test systems are better than the G5 systems, and the test models aren’t up to what Apple will actually be selling in 2007!
How many of you out there have one or two of Apple’s portables? What’s your experience so far?