"This Best Selling Apple iBook Laptop 12.1″ M9164LL/A (800-MHz PowerPC G4, 256 MB RAM, 30 GB Hard Drive, DVD/CD-RW Drive) Tends to SELL OUT VERY FAST! If this is a MUST HAVE product, be sure to Order Now to avoid disappointment!"
Details: The PowerPC G4 includes the AltiVec "Velocity Engine" vector processor. System Bus Speed: 133 MHz Cache Bus Speed: 800 MHz (Built-in) L1 Cache: 64k L2/L3 Cache: 256k (on chip) RAM Type: PC2100 DDR SDRAM RAM Speed: 266 MHz Details: Supports a single 200-pin PC2100 DDR SDRAM SO-DIMM memory module. Maximum RAM: 640 MB* Video Card: Mobility Radeon 9200 VRAM Type: DDR SDRAM Details: ATI Mobility Radeon 9200 (4X AGP) with 32 MB of DDR SDRAM. 12.1" TFT XGA active-matrix display with a 1024 by 768 native resolution. Apple reports that it also supports 640 by 480 and 800 by 600 when scaled. Standard Hard Drive: 30.0 GB Int. HD Interface: Ultra ATA/100 Standard Optical: 8X/24X/24X/10X DVD-ROM/CD-RW "Combo" drive. Standard Modem: 56k v.92 Standard Ethernet: 10/100Base-T Standard AirPort: 802.11b/g (Optional, not installed) Standard Bluetooth: 1.1 (Optional, not installed) Details: Internal support for AirPort Extreme (802.11g) and Bluetooth 1.1, although neither was pre-installed. USB Ports: 2 (2.0) Firewire Ports: 1 (400) Details: Two USB 2.0 ports and one Firewire "400" port. Incl. Keyboard: Full-size Incl. Input: Trackpad Details: Apple reports that the integrated keyboard has 77 (US) or 78 (ISO) keys, including 12 function keys, 4 arrow keys, and an embedded numeric keypad. The trackpad supports tap, double tap, and drag capabilities. Battery Type: 50 W/Hr LiIon Battery Life: 6 Hours Details: 6 hours under "normal usage conditions" as estimated by Apple. Pre-Installed MacOS: X 10.3 Maximum MacOS: MacOS 9 Support: Classic Mode Only Windows Support: Emulation Only Details: The iBook G4 models are capable of using Mac OS 9 applications within the MacOS X "Classic" environment. They cannot boot into MacOS 9. Dimensions: 1.35 x 11.2 x 9.0.6 Avg. Weight: 4.9 lbs (2.2 kg)
In summary, this is a well enginerred, quality laptop that will allow you to interface with your Windows work environment. Nice work.
Performance: From G3 900Mhz to G4 800Mhz is certainly an upgrade. As the G4 features a faster 133Mhz Bus (formerly 100Mhz Bus) and also supports DDR Memory (compared to the old PC100). Applications seem to fire up and run better and everything is just snappier. Also if you have altivec enabled applications, G4 is certainly the way to go.
Technical Improvements: USB 1.1 ==> USB 2.0, Airport 802.11b ==> Airport Extreme 802.11g, updated graphics card, tray loading combo drive ==> slot loading combo drive.
Other Improvements: Panther is a more polished and refined OS compared to Jaguar. OS X has finally matured. The keyboard on the G4 iBook has been improved…buttons press smoother and keyboard has less flex (not to mention the greyish tone makes it look better). Also the LCD display seems a little bit more crisper.
All in all I’d highly recommend this 12″ G4 iBook. For this price, it is a tremendous value. You cannot find a comparable 12.1″ laptop in the PC world (w/o spending nearly 2 Grand, and most don’t come with an optical drive built-in).
I don’t see much of a reason to go with 14.1″ as it has the same resolution as the 12″ (unless that you have bad vision). If you want a laptop with a big display, go with the 15.2″ Powerbook (probably the best all-around laptop in the world). If you want a small but still very fast laptop that you can carry everywhere, GET THIS IBOOK! It certainly has the looks and now is a speedster with G4. Can’t go WRONG.
(Added 1/11) For the past 3 months I have yet to experience a crash or problem with this iBook. Past generations of iBooks were prone to logic board failures, it seems like Apple finally got it fixed. I can put this laptop asleep for a week and wake it up, and be ready for use within 10 seconds. This is a sweet laptop, and it’s coming from a lifelong Windows user (who still uses Windows too).
Despite some rumors, iBook’s G4 processor is a true G4 processor with Altivec fully on-board. While it runs slower (800 MHz vs. 1 GHz) and features smaller L2 cache (256 KB vs. 512 KB) than 12″ PowerBook, it comes remarkable close in most performance parameters. They share the same 133 MHz front-side bus and PC2100 (266 MHz) DDR SDRAM.
Even their feature sets come remarkably close. Both sport sharp 12.1″ 1024-by-768 LCD, 256 MB memory and 32 MB graphics memory, FireWire 400 and USB 2.0 ports, and 100/10 fast Ethernet. Both lack the PC Card (PCMCIA) slot but can accommodate AirPort Extreme wireless network.
Other than faster G4 processor, just about the only reasons to consider 12″ PowerBook are:
- Larger memory capacity on the PowerBook (1.25 GB vs. 640 MB)
- Larger hard disk (40 GB vs. 30 GB)
- PowerBook can drive an external display (dual display) up to 2048-by-1536 via DVI port; iBook can only mirror up to 1024-by-768 via VGA port
- SuperDrive (DVD burner) is optional on PowerBook; it is not available on iBook
- Bluetooth is standard on PowerBook; it is optional (built-to-order) on iBook
- Marginally faster GeForce FX 5200 graphics card on PowerBook (vs. Radeon 9200 on iBook)
- PowerBook is slightly lighter (4.6 lbs vs. 4.9 lbs) and slightly smaller (10.9-by-8.6-by-1.18 inches vs. 11.2-by-9.1-by-1.35 inches)
- You like the PowerBook’s anodized aluminum allow chassis better
There are sufficient reasons to get the iBook instead:
- Costs almost 50% less
- It is not dramatically slower
- Longer battery life (up to 6 hours vs. 5 hours)
- Polycarbonate plastic chassis is more scratch proof and offer better wireless network (AirPort Extreme) reception
How is the iBook in itself? For a little over a grand, you get a beautifully designed notebook (similar to iPod) packed with features: combo CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive, optional 802.11g AirPort Extreme wireless network, beautiful LCD, sensible keyboard layout, snappy performance under included Mac OS X Panther 10.3 — all in very portable form factor. This little book represents a serious bang for the buck.
- Very high bang for the buck: good performance and high in features
- Looks beautiful
- Includes almost everything an average computer user needs
- Very portable and durable
- Fantastic wireless reception
- Cannot drive external display higher than 1024-by-768 resolution
- To get built-in Bluetooth, you must order from Apple (built-to-order option) — unlike the AirPort Extreme, you cannot add it later on
- Standard 256 MB memory is based on two 128 MB RAM modules. To add more memory later on, you will need to toss out one of the memory modules (the other memory module is soldered onto the motherboard)
I purchased the iBook G4 12″ 800 MHz in early December 2003. I have quickly recognized it as an excellent compliment to my home desktop computer, a Dual 500Mhz tower, on an AirPort wireless network (a separate review is in the works). Out of the box it is easy to appreciate the design. Packaged with Apple’s OSX 10.3 Jaguar, iLife software, AppleWorks Suite, Quicken 2004, Encyclopedia and a few games (Diemos, Chess and Tony Hawk 4) you can get started right away.
I’m going to change things up from the format that I have used in my previous reviews and start with the “Ugly” as I would like to be a little more pessimistic as I wrap things up!
The Ugly: The Combo Drive is loud. This is more noticeable as you watch a DVD. Also, without headphones, you definitely get nothing more than a small speaker sound from the built-in speakers.
The Bad: I understand the logic behind Apple’s offering of a one-button mouse/trackpad. Sure, marketing and Steve Jobs will tell you it’s all about simplicity – it’s about 3rd party vendor relationships people. Let someone else offer the wanted 2-button mouse/trackpad with scrolling capabilities. I am getting better at using the control key but would much rather have a right click button. Also, a spectacular design like this deserves to maintain it’s integrity – this puppy smudges and scratches easily. I find myself babying it often.
The Good (dare I say great): No longer resembling a toy designed by Fisher-Price, I can pull the iBook out of my lap top bag and not worry about what the person next to me is going to think. In fact, it’s quite the opposite – people usually perform a double take. Often, in fact, mistaking it for the new PowerBook that has been getting a lot of press lately. It is sharp! Kudos for the implementation of the slot loading combo drive – though loud it is nice to have a laptop with less moving parts. I’ve worked on $3000 laptops that felt cheap whenever you needed to access the CD ROM. I am also pleased with the 32MB ATI Display. Some have said that they wish they had a greater choice of screen resolutions (1024×768 is the max) but I feel it is an excellent value for the money. I also like the feel of the keyboard that has been criticized on past iBook models. I have also been pleased with the battery life. Apple claims that you can achieve up to 6 hours – they are close. DVD playing will put you at about 3 hours – respectable. Typical use – Internet surfing, word processing, and the like has resulted in between 4 and 6 hours of battery power. I also like the battery power indicator on the battery itself.
So in the first 30 days I am admitting to being a big fan of the iBook and would recommend highly to those in the market for a sub $1500 laptop.
I am so glad I got the 12″ screen over the 14″. Everyone I asked recommended the 12″ over the 14″. It’s easier to carry, lighter, easy to sit on your lap with, and you don’t feel the need to buy a huge case to carry it around in. Both the 12″ and 14″ have 1024×768 displays, the 12″ is just denser, about 96 dpi, about the same resolution as my 23″ Apple LCD. Text is sharp and clear and very readable. Both models have the same sized keyboards. No burned out pixels on either LCD!
Wireless networking to my G4 tower was easy to setup, and very fast.
The built in DVD player is also fun, although headphones or external speakers make the experience much more enjoyable – most laptops suffer from small speakers.
Recommended Options: Get the 512M RAM upgrade card (about $125) which maxes the iBook out at 640Megs, and the Airport Extreme card ($99). Wireless internet is happening all over, in many hotels and restaurants. If you travel, consider adding some good Ear Buds if you use it to watch movies on or listen to music.
This is my 5th Apple laptop, dating back to 1992, and by far the best one to date.
What converted me to Mac, though, is the operating system, OS X 10.3 Panther. I’d used a Mac prior to 1995, but then switched to Windows and have been a Windows user ever since. Windows 98/ME was good, and Windows XP is an excellent operating system. I was pretty good with ME and XP, but I thought I’d give OS X a try nonetheless. I was, and still am, blown away. OS X is such an incredibly intuitive operating system that you really must own a Mac to understand. Of course, the first thing you notice is how cool the interface looks. The second thing you notice is how efficient the bundled programs are: Safari, Mail, iChat, iCal, Address Book, Sherlock – these Apple-written programs are incredible. After using the Mac a bit more, though, you’ll notice how much more you can do with it than you can with a Windows machine. If you’re a power user, there are a bunch of utilities you can use to tweak your machine, utilities that Microsoft would rather you didn’t use on Windows. The most important thing I noticed when using the Mac was this: you are actually productive while using it. I can’t explain it any better than that; you must use the Mac operating system to understand.
Many users may be concerned about speed, by which I mean that the iBook has an 800 MHz processor while a similarly priced Windows notebook might have processor between 1.6-2.4 GHz processor. The fact is, “megahertz” or “gigahertz” is really an arbitrary measurement. What Intel doesn’t tell you is the number of instructions per clock cycle. It is because of this fact that an 800 MHz iBook G4 can be, and is, faster than a 2.4 GHz Intel. Hard to believe? I’ll direct those of you who are Intel-savvy to look at the difference between the Intel Celeron and the Intel Pentium-M. Until the Pentium-M, the Pentium 4 and Celeron’s clock speeds well surpassed 2 GHz, nearing 3 GHz in fact. The Pentium-M, however, sports speeds of around 1.2-1.8 GHZ, and they are much faster than the Pentium 4 and Celeron of higher clock speeds.
All that being said, I feel I must explain why I gave the iBook only four stars. I had two problems when setting up the computer. First, I had difficulty connecting to my network with the AirPort wireless card. After a bit of configuration, though, I got it working. Second, I was never able to connect to my networked printer. The printer is connected to a Windows PC, and it’s shared. I’m not sure if the problem is with Apple, Microsoft, Canon (who made the printer), or my own ineptitude. Regardless, I am now connected to a printer via USB, and have no more problems with the iBook.
In sum, I am a longtime Windows user who has made the transition to Mac OS X. You truly must try the iBook yourself to understand. Head out to a retail store and get your hands on an Apple; you’ll see why so many have switched.
Immediately, I notice the difference in speed and performance – so obvious that I won’t go into that. Apart from that, the keyboard is now sturdier, with the keys staying in place better than the G3′s. Bigger hard drive, ATI Mobility RADEON 9200 graphics card + Panther. Great! The newer iBooks are also less scratch prone.
The slot loading drive is definitely sexier than the tray but might be a problem when you are trying to rip your 3″ CD singles.
The one thing that is NOT sexier is the choice of material for the palm rest area. Apple decided to replace the slick metallic finish with a cheap plastic one some time during the release of the last iBook G3′s. Unfortunately, the G4′s inherited that. Dirt stains are more stubborn on this plastic finish making the iBook look old and worn after a few months. Perhaps it is Apple’s way of justifying the value of the PowerBook… now that both are G4′s.
Wishlist: more than one firewire port; I do not have to waste a 128 MB memory chip when I upgraded my RAM to 640 MB; better speakers and metallic finish palm rest please…
Overall, I am very satisfied with my decision to upgrade. Importing music is now much faster and I get to enjoy Panther! A very good value for money…