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

I haven't burned a DVD yet, but iDVD looks great. Someone mentioned something in one of the comments on Eugenia's review, and I must say that I agree: Though Apple makes great hardware (let's save the obvious problems with the PowerPC for another discussion), most people really buy Macs for the software. Apple software like OS X and the iApps is really great, but just as important are the non-Apple apps like Watson, LaunchBar, BBedit, Transmit, and (gasp) Office X. All these apps are better (in my opinion) in important ways than their other-OS counterparts, if they even have counterparts. Not only that, the way that these apps interact with the OS, and the intangible way that the whole system fails to get in the way of my productivity is the thing that brings me back to Powerbooks even though I have owned and still own several PCs running Linux and Windows. So it's important to me that the new Powerbook be good. I've had some bad ones (like the poorly-built 5300 and the well-built but dog-slow 1400), and this 12" Powerbook is not a bad one.

Many people have noted that the 12" Powerbook is just a new iBook with a Powerbook name on it. I think that's a silly thing to make a big deal out of. I don't really draw the separation between the two lines like that. It's true that Apple deliberately leaves features out of its lower-priced laptops (like monitor spanning) that I like to have in order to maintain a market for its higher-priced models. In my opinion, whether the 12" Powerbook started out intended as an iBook or not, it's worthy of the Powerbook name. It has monitor spanning, a nifty metal exterior, plenty of ports, performance beyond what I would expect without an L3 cache, an available Superdrive, a small form factor--everything I would expect from the lowest-priced member of the Powerbook line.

Could this Powerbook be better? Of course. There are trade-offs, and every person has different desires, and there can only be so many models. What do I wish the 12" Powerbook had that it doesn't? My Fantasyland Powerbook has:

  • Backlit keyboard like the 17" Powerbook
  • A folding handle like the original iBook
  • 1152x864 resolution
  • Removable DVD drive replaceable with a 2nd battery
  • DVI video out
  • USB 2.0 ports (since they don't take up extra space)
  • Translucent black keys like the Tibook
  • Included Bluetooth-based Mouse (with two buttons and a scroll-wheel)
  • 1 MB L3 Cache
  • 256 MB RAM built-in
What does the 12" Powerbook have that it shouldn't?
  • A hot palmrest
  • Gaps in the plastic trim around the edge
My Fantasyland Powerbook could also have a faster processor, gigabit Ethernet, space for more RAM, a better graphics card, Firewire 800, a slightly larger monitor, and plenty of other bells and whistles, but I don't think I would care about them enough to pay for them.

My rating of the new 12" Powerbook: considering its price and size, I give it an 8/10.

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