posted by Eugenia Loli on Mon 10th Feb 2003 19:02 UTC
IconMy CTX AMD K6-300/128 MB RAM/3 GB drive laptop is obviously at the end of its life. I was in the "shopping" process for a laptop for 2 months now, and I considered a number of PC laptops, including the Compaq Presario 1525US. At the end, I decided to get the new 12" Powerbook, came in last week, and I am since then using it as my primary machine. Here is what I think about it.

The 12" Powerbook is a slick machine. It is really a beautifully constructed computer. It gives the feeling that is more natural and more solid than the iBook or the plastic PC laptops. The Apple logo on the back of the LCD screen is lit by the LCD's backlight and it looks at least cool, especially at night.

The machine features Bluetooth support (connect to other Bluetooth Macs or Bluetooth wireless devices like mobile phones, PDAs, keyboards etc), however, I have no such devices over here, so I couldn't test it. The 12" Powerbook comes with 802.11g support, but the place where I bought the laptop didn't have an Airport Extreme card on stock, so I will have to wait for it as well. The extra 512 MB DDR RAM I ordered didn't make it either, so I used the laptop with 256 MB RAM, but I did not experience any slowdowns because of it. For normal/web usage, the 256 MB seem acceptable with the pre-installed Mac OS X 10.2.3.

The laptop also comes with a normal ethernet port (no gigabit), modem, one firewire port, 2 USB 1.1 ports, a VGA out for mirroring or dual display, line in for audio, headphone jack, a built-in microphone, stereo speakers, 40 GB 4200 RPM ATA-100 drive (60 GB 4200 RPM drive is optional), a CD-RW/DVD combo drive (Superdrive is optional) and a 12.1" 1024x768 TFT LCD screen. The CPU speed is 867 MHz and there is 256 KB L2 cache.

12 inch Powerbook - Click for a larger view
Click for a larger image view

The good

I am in love with its keyboard. I believe that Powerbook's best and finest feature in this model is the keyboard. It just feels great and it "blends" well with the rest of the design. I am generally "difficult" with laptop keyboards, but this one is the first laptop keyboard I worked with that is really easy to get along. My only gripe would be that the arrow keys are half size, so playing pac-man or a fast Tetris game is almost impossible...

Speed is good. It feels much-much faster than my G4 Cube 450 MHz, 1 MB L2 cache and 448 MB SDRAM (which equals or is even better than the fastest G3 iBook selling today at 800 MHz). Running the XBench benchmark, it reaches overall rating from 72 to 75 points, while my Cube ranges from 52 to 56. Yippee, I can resize Safari and even IE now with not much lag. OmniWeb and other Cocoa apps are still slow to resize or scroll though. However, the overall speed is definitely a big improvement over the Cube and surely it will be over the people who currently have iBooks or classic iMacs.

The sound coming out of the speakers is pretty good quality. Not as good as in the 17" model, neither as good as the one found in most Compaq laptops, but still, not bad at all. Fully acceptable playing my favorite Eurodance radio station... ;-)

The laptop is pretty light, not the lightest you can find in its category, but fully portable and easy to carry around. The battery can keep your laptop alive for 3,5 + hours. Recharging it takes about an hour or so. All the ports are located on the left side of the laptop, and not on the back. The reason for this is because the LCD screen lays behind and down, similarly to how iBook does it. The only part that is located at the back are the speakers. On the right hand side you will find a slot loading CD-RW/DVD combo drive, and I tried burning CDs and playing DVDs. The drive works well.

One thing I like about the Apple laptops is the fact that when you close down the LCD screen and the machine goes to sleep, and then you open it back up, you are up and running on your machine in less than 2 seconds. On PCs, depending on the laptop and the OS installed, it can take up to 8-10 seconds.

As I mentioned earlier, I haven't received yet the Airport Extreme card, but this laptop can be twice as sexy after fully using it at home with our wireless network.

The installation of OSX 10.2.3 comes with a few extra software, like a fax app, QuickBooks, OmniOutliner and OnniGraffle, GraphicConverter, Art Director's Toolkit and the demos of MS Office X and FileMaker 6. To be honest, except the graphic converter app, I don't see me using any of the rest extra software offered there... And I had to install the developer tools manually (the package was in the app dir, but it is not pre-installed).

Classic support is also there, so you can run most OS 9 applications via your OSX, but you can't install and boot to pure OS 9 with this laptop. I find this acceptable, it is a strategic move to try to push your customers to OSX.

I also installed the Remote Desktop Connection and it works beautifully. I can log in to my WinXP PRO machine and check out my email there and that works great. I tried VNC, but it was unacceptably slow, so using this Microsoft app really works great for me and makes the "transition" to my Powerbook era, easier. :)

Table of contents
  1. "Intro, The Good"
  2. "The Bad"
  3. "The Bad II, Conclusion"
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