Apple CEO Steve Jobs gave an update on one of the most critically acclaimed lines of portable computers, the PowerBook G4, during a presentation in Paris last week.
The 12- and 17-inch models, introduced for the first time in January, received a speed boost to 1 GHz and 1.33 GHz, respectively, but the main item of interest was the newly updated 15-inch PowerBook, now sporting the new case that made the 12- and 17-inch models so popular among enthusiasts.
When the G4 PowerBook was first introduced in January 2001, it was a groundbreaking product as it offered the UNIX-based OS X along with Apple’s legendary design. Many professionals, such as programmers and IT personnel who had previously said they would never use a Macintosh, made the switch to the new PowerBooks.
Many students have also found the PowerBook a better solution for their everyday tasks, because it does not run the security flawed and crash-prone Windows. It usually comes as a shock to many Windows users that the PowerBooks, running OS X, can operate for countles months without a single crash.
The legendary one-inch thick metal case, coupled with the 15-inch display, was also well-received among road warriors. Jobs said in his recent presentation “other computer makers still haven’t caught up” as their offerings are either much bulkier or lack important features.
There were, however, some problems with the casing, such as weak AirPort reception and an easily scratched paint cover. Windows users will recognize AirPort, a standard Apple feature, as WiFi.
Apple has since answered the criticism and taken these problems into account by adding an aluminum case to the redesigned PowerBooks. Base features also include AirPort Extreme (a new WiFi standard, 802.11g, offering 54 Mbps speeds while being compatible with the older 802.11b standard), Bluetooth, DVD burners at 2x speed, FireWire 800 as well as USB 2.0.
For the 15- and 17-inch models, a backlit keyboard is also available.
At first glance the clock speeds, ranging from 1 to 1.33 Ghz, are easily topped by other equally priced portables. The overall architecture of the PowerBooks, along with the well-designed OS X gives enough raw power for even more intensive tasks like video or sound editing and is a dream come true for heavy Photoshop use and writing tasks.
Power alone, does not after all, save time if the system crashes, something OS X hardly ever does.
Interfacing with Windows networks is handled with ease as the PowerBooks connect without the need for complicated setups.
The 12-inch model is ideal for any student’s needs, while the new 15-inch model is still small enough to be portable, yet gives more power and screen real estate.
Prices range from $1,599 for the 12-inch model to $2,999 for the 17-inch through most retailers, but the online Education Apple Store as well as the Apple Retail Store at the International Plaza Mall have special pricing for students, bringing the price range down to $1,399 to $2,699.
The Education Apple Store can be found at . Once there, click on the education link on the left and select a school.
More information and technical specifications can be found at www.apple.com/powerbook. The presentation by Jobs can be found as a Quicktime streaming video at www.apple.com/quicktime/qtv/expo03.