posted by David Adams on Tue 11th Feb 2003 19:42 UTC

"The Monitor Controversy"
Now, Eugenia, in her review, mentioned her disappointment with the monitor quality of her 12" Powerbook, and she discussed it at great length with other people in the comments. She's a level-headed person (no, I didn't say cool-headed) and I believe her when she says that her monitor does not compare well with the other LCDs she's held it next to. However, I must say that after peering and squinting, and trying as hard as I can to hate it, I think the monitor on my 12" Powerbook is pretty good. It doesn't have quite the same view angle as my 15" Powerbooks' monitor does, and the resolution is not enough to make the anti-aliasing in Entourage not look blurry, but the brightness is good and I have no complaints about the quality.

There's an inherent problem with monitor resolution in an LCD, and it's that an LCD only looks good at its native resolution. Sure, you can release a laptop with a teeny tiny resolution like some people like, but then other people, perhaps more people, will have to choose between squinting and blurry. I think Apple is prudent to go with a slightly higher resolution than I would otherwise choose. Nevertheless, in the Fantasyland Powerbook, I'd probably go with 1152x864 for a 12" monitor. So for the quality issue, I think we may have to wait until I go visit Eugenia later this month, and we can hold our Powerbooks up side-by side and see if mine really is better than hers or if my standards are just lower. Although, one of the reasons that I have stuck with Apples and Sonys is that I can't stand a crappy monitor.

I tested out the problem with DVD playback that Eugenia mentioned in her review, and my DVDs play smoothly. Software-based DVD decoding has always proven to be a little flitty, so I'm not surprised to hear of strange behavior, though.

I'll have to express some solidarity with Eugenia on one topic: I also managed to crash my new Powerbook in the first few hours. I was doing a big file transfer over Ethernet and also installing some new software. I clicked the button to enter my registration code for LaunchBar and I crashed hard. By the way, if you're using OS X and you don't use LaunchBar, you don't know what you're missing. I was also doing a lot of other things at the same time, so I don't know what caused the crash, but its been rare enough that I think it might be worth mentioning. It may be that the 12" Powerbook has newer hardware on it that really wants 10.2.4, but it shipped with 10.2.3.

Probably the stupidest thing about the 12" Powerbook is the fact that the regular configuration comes with a "throwaway" 128 MB DIMM. 256 MB RAM is not really enough these days (though the Powerbook seems to run well with it for routine stuff) so most users will want to upgrade, and to do so you have to remove the included 128 Meg DIMM. The only excuse I can think of for this is that Apple got a quantity of 128 Meg modules at a fire sale and wanted to use them instead of just including 256 Megs on-board. Now, I must give Apple kudos for not completely screwing build to orderers on the RAM prices. Upping the RAM on a BTO Powerbook to its 640 MB maximum costs a reasonable $150. The best price I could find on a 512 MB module was $135 shipped. So it's still more money to buy from Apple, but it's not a complete rip-off like it usually is when you buy RAM from the computer manufacturer. It's a shame there's only 128 built in. It really should have been 256. I hope you saved a lot of money on this one, Apple!

Table of contents
  1. "My Powerbook History"
  2. "Compared With Other Laptops"
  3. "Aesthetics"
  4. "The Monitor Controversy"
  5. "Conclusion"
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