Your favorite Apple laptop is…

24 Comments

It has been a rainy, miserable weekend – the kind which makes you think about strange things like ‘which apple notebook was my favorite writing machine?’ The 12-inch Powerbook G4 despite the small screen was my favorite – great keyboard, enough screen space to focus entirely on writing instead of websites or emails, and decent battery life. Friends swore by the 12-inch iBook, thanks to its wonderful WiFi capabilities. With a new generation of machines already available, and a new ultrathin 12-inch Macbook Pro rumored to launch soon, I thought it is a good time to get your feedback, and picks.

24 Comments

william

I’m still using an aging Lombard 400 because it has the best darn keyboard that I have ever used. I can type much faster on the Lombard keyboard than I can on any other that I have used — even faster than my brand new Dell. But it is a slow-poke with OS X 10.3.9. Is there a CPU upgrade for this machine?
Also, I wish it could take more RAM and had a backlit keyboard.

Andrew

I’ll second the many votes for the 12″ PowerBook as my favorite Apple portable. Like one of the posters above, I too owned a Toshiba Portege 3490CT and honestly, while the screen was brighter, it did have its failings. The keyboard had good feel, but very counter-intuitive layout, and battery life at about 2 hours was horrible, unless you bought the (big and heavy) extended battery. That said, the Portege was and remains a very thin and light laptop.

Currently Apple doesn’t offer anything that suits my needs. I had one of the first MacBooks and loved the performance, but there were too many quality issues (3 replacements before I gave up). The new ModBook tablet looks very promising, but that really doesn’t count as an Apple portable.

My current laptop is actually not an Apple, but another Toshiba Portege, the M400 tablet. While slightly thicker and wider than a 12″ iBook, its lighter than the 12″ PowerBook at 4.5lbs and of course, its a tablet.

JSolo

I’d like a Macbook with a fast enough processor to make the OS livable and responsive. Too bad the 2 terahertz Intel 16x Core CPU isn’t out just yet.

Mintdog

My favorite laptop is still the Titanium G4 1 ghz. It was THIN (less than 1″ thick) and about 5 points. Unlike the 12″ successors, the 15″ is widescren. Battery life with Tiger with a fresh battery was 4.5 hours, which is fantastic.

Now my new favorite is the 17″. Some would argue that it’s HUGE. Well, it’s big, but not huge. I’m actually more productive on the road with the extra screen space. I do a lot of work where I need to use multiple applications simultaneously (statistical software + Excel + Word + Photoshop). The 17″ is awesome for that.

Ian Andrew Bell

I’ve been the owner of 6 consecutive Powerbooks / MacBooks starting with the G3 Lombard and, most recently, the Core2Duo MacBook Pro 15″.

The two standouts over the years for me were the PowerBook Duo 230c, which so readily embraced the fact that I wanted to use a bigger screen and better keyboard (w/ more power!) when I was at my desk thanks to its super-cool dock; and my G3 Lombard which had a far better WiFi setup than any of my successive (metal) PowerBooks / MacBooks.

It takes more than just a powerful CPU and lots of RAM to make a notebook usable. This is something that Apple’s product management seems to have forgotten, and the reason why after spending $3500 on my latest MacBook Pro I still lament the demise of my Duo 230c, 12 years ago.

-Ian.

NC

Om,

12″ Powerbook is awesome and still the best. The lack of a PCMCIA card has now been mitigated as Sprint has finally released an EVDO USB modem.

Marc Perton

I haven’t been thrilled with any of the keyboards on Apple’s recent laptops. The MacBook represents the absolute nadir, as far as I’m concerned. Once upon a time, Apple made great keyboards, for both desktops and portables, but their last good laptop keyboard was probable on the Pismo or Wall Street.

Honestly, if all you care about is writing, forget about Apple. Get a used ThinkPad and load it up with NotePad, Open Office or whatever. You can always transfer your work over to your Mac desktop for tweaking later.

matthew

My all-time favorite Apple portable was my Powerbook 520c. I loved the design, the ergonomics, the portability (a bit heavy, but small). It’s one of the last Apple portables I really connected with.

Since then I’ve owned everything from an eMate to the new black MacBook. Among these, two models stand out. The MacBook ranks high solely based on the widescreen 13-inch glossy display, and the 12-inch Powerbooks (I owned four).

I’m hoping rumors about a forthcoming Apple ultra portable come true in 2007.

Juris Kaza

I have ordered and had delivered a black Macbook Core 2 Dual (2GB RAM, 160 GB harddisk)to an address in the US where I will pick it up in January (prices in Latvia and Europe are outrageous compared to the US). I have had a Powerbook G4 for a couple of years and love it (though one harddisk died and had to be replaced). It is a bit dim on the screen. Before that, a black Powerbook G3 Lombard (sold)which had a great screen and looked pretty slick. Also had an old black & white screen Powerbook from way back with a huge 80 Mb harddisk (for those times :))

LG

Posting this on my much loved/hated G4 Powerbook 12″.
It’d be a great machine except for the following

1) No PCMCIA Slot
I didn’t think this would be a problem when I bought it, but then EVDO/HSDPA came along and I was completely screwed. Now there is a USB solution (3 years later), but it’s almost quadruple the price of the PCMCIA… Sucky

2) Crap exploding battery
The battery had already had it after 14 months (300 charge/discharge cycles, I’m a moderate-but-not-heavy road warrior), but fortunately it was replaced under the oh-my-god-we-may-kill-people-with-our-cheap-crap-batteries recall program.

3) Poor screen brightness
Having come from a much older Toshiba Portege 3490ct (now that’s thin and light), I was pretty disappointed in the Powerbook screen, which is noticeably dimmer than this 2000 model notebook (And has shorter battery life to boot).

4) Good-but-not-great battery life
4hrs is an absolute minimum for me, and that’s usually about what my G4 powerbook provides — sometimes even a little less if I’m going the Wifi/disk writing hard. The 512mb of RAM may not be helping that, as it (probably) has to occasionally disk-thrash when paging stuff to and from the HDD.

Having said that, it’s served me well for over 2 years, and has seen almost 20 countries on 3 continents, so I shouldn’t complain too much.

After 2 1/2 years of owning it: I’d give it a 3.5/5. My old Portege 3490ct: a 4.5/5. Next purchase: Undecided, the 13.3″ Macbook is really too heavy for me, although it is nice looking. The Portege R200 is almost double the price for the same performance, although with the extended battery (which doesn’t spoil its’ lines at all, and still leaves it almost 3/4 of a kg lighter than the Macbook), it gets an 8hr runtime, which is more like what I want these days.

Jake

Powerbook G4 17″. March 2003 to now.
This has been a great machine for both work and play.

Marc Orchant

I’ve been using a MacBook 13″ for the past six weeks and it may be the best all-around Apple notebook I’ve used. The price is right, the size and weight are ideal for all-day lugging around, the battery life is above average (when you use common sense), and the performance is great.

The bigger MacBook Pros, powerful and sexy as they are, are too big, too expensive, and get too hot. For the work I do – primarily writing and communicating via e-mail, voice, blog, and wiki – that’s too many strikes. If I were still doing design and web site development, I’m sure I’d feel differently.

I did have two favorites from the past. The Pismo (bronze) PowerBook – same era as the Lombard referenced in the comment above – was a wonderful machine in its day. I also had a great experience with the Duo 230 and it’s dock – the first true ultra-portable laptop.

Gerald Buckley

My 17″ PowerBook pegged out at 2 Gb ram. It’s the last of the non-Intel breed and I’m loving it. It has none of the early gen Intel gotchas and a pretty respectable responsiveness to it.

Mike Steinbaugh

I’m happy with my PowerBook G4. It’s plenty fast after upgrading the RAM to 2GB and I don’t have to worry about finding universal binaries.

Raj

I bought a Macbook around a year back. About a month ago it crashed. I took it to Apple store in Palo Alto. It took them around 10 days to fix the machine. I was happy that I got my machine fixed.
However, it crashed again the next day I got my machine. I took my machine to Palo Alto store and talk to the store manager he was really really rude.
My experience with the Apple customer service was so bad that I had to switch away from Apple.
No More mac for me!!

morebouncetotheounce

the bronze G3 range (lombard etc), built in firewire, lovely curves and the best keyboard apple have ever made.

it was the first time mobile audio production really became viable too.

Ryan

My only consistent computer for the last 2.5 years, on top of intermittent XP/Linux systems, has been a 12″ iBook and I love it. It is dependable, strong, has a bright/crisp screen, and runs applications as fast as I could ask it to do. The new 12″ MacBook Pro rumor is exciting though as I have been feeling the urge to upgrade. Good, relevant topic. Have a good week Om and Crew.

PXLated

If I was a writer, it’d be the Powerbook 12″. Nice, light, and portable. Being a designer, I need space so it’s the Pro 17″. If I was a road warrior lugging something around all day I’d probably compromise and go with the 15″.

peetee

I bought a MacBook Pro fairly early on and have evangelized it to almost everyone I’ve met since then. My hardware has a nasty heat problem, but that’s the only knock on an otherwise excellent piece of hardware

Derek Punsalan

Despite having upgraded to the 15″ MacBook Pro, I must admit that my personal favorite out of the iBook, Powerbook, MacBook, and MacBook Pro was the MacBook. The 13″ was a great machine which offered just enough screen width without sacrificing portability. To this day I still think the 15″ is much to cumbersome. 12″ / 13″ is the ideal notebook size. I hope that the rumors are true concerning the slim 12″ MacBook Pro.

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