The 'Book Page

Wanted: A Killer PowerBook

Dan Knight - 2000.02.07 - Tip Jar

PowerBook G3I love a nice crisp high resolution screen. At work, I use a 21" Sony Multiscan 500PS at 1280 x 960 pixels. At home, I run a 19" Optiquest V95 at 1152 x 870 pixels.

I want a laptop computer that will show me at least as much as my 19" monitor - and ideally as much as my 21" screen.

The world is full of laptops like the iBook with 800 x 600 (SVGA in Windowspeak) and the PowerBook G3 with 1024 x 768 (XGA in Windowspeak) displays. They're fine for most users, especially those with a desktop computer to complement it.

Umax S900LBut I want a PowerBook that can replace my big SuperMac S900 and large 19" monitor.

It doesn't have to offer killer speed. Compared with my 250 MHz G3 card, the current PowerBook G3/333 would be a nice step up in performance.

It doesn't have to run for six hours on a set of batteries.

It doesn't need a positively huge hard drive. I only recently outgrew my 2.1 GB hard drive, so anything 4 GB or larger would be plenty for my purposes.

It doesn't have to be ultra-thin or ultra-light like some of the 1" thin 4-5 pound Wintel laptops. Something in the 6-7 pound range would be fine.

I don't need a DVD player in my PowerBook. I can watch DVDs on my much larger television. In fact, it doesn't need an internal CD-ROM or DVD drive for my purposes. An external drive would do the job on those rare occasions when I would need it.

Any PowerBook allows memory upgrades, so base RAM isn't an issue. I'd want to boost it to the 128-196 MB range right away, so I'd expect to have to buy more memory.

So far, the PowerBook G3 or iBook would meet my needs.

But to replace my desktop, I need more screen real estate than any current PowerBook (or most Wintel laptops) offers. I think the current pixel champ is the 15" SXGA+ screen in the Dell Inspiron 7500 at 1500 x 1050 pixels. Nice, but I'd settle for the 15.4" 1280 x 1024 SXGA screen - even if that does make the laptop's footprint a little bit larger.

Give me that in a PowerBook with decent battery life and an AirPort card, and I can surf the web, handle email, and do my web work comfortably.

If it weren't a Windows machine and didn't weigh nearly 10 pounds, the Dell Inspiron 7500 would be very tempting: 500 MHz Pentium III, 15.4" SXGA screen, 12 GB hard drive, 128 MB memory, and even an optional AirPort compatible PC card - at virtually the same price as the nine-month-old PowerBook G3/400.

The Inspiron is a Windows computer, so I'll pass.

But the 7500 clearly demonstrates that the computer I want can be made today. And when Apple gets around to building it, I'll be at the head of the line to buy one.

Update: The notebook I eventually ended up buying was the 400 MHz 15" Titanium PowerBook G4, which Apple introduced in January 2001. The 1152 x 768 display was less than I asked for in the article, but it was enough. The PowerBook G4 served as my main Mac for 2-1/2 years and as my field computer for three more.

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