Miscellaneous Ramblings

Older PowerBooks, iBook Prices Crowd $1,000-1,500 Range

8 March 2000 - Charles Moore - Tip Jar

Last fall I predicted that used PowerBook prices would fall significantly once the iBook began shipping in quantity. I was inspired to revisit the topic by a note last week from reader Jeff Danick, who reports that his father just got a sweetheart deal on a Lombard 333 demo from a local dealer. The elder Mr. Danick, who is moving up from a PowerBook 5300ce, was offered the Lombard for $1,500, plus $168 for a 128 MB RAM upgrade to a total of 192 MB. "He jumped," says Jeff. Small wonder.

So, are demo/used/refurbished/leftover PowerBook prices really dropping that drastically in general? Not if my trek through a selection of resellers' websites last Saturday evening is a representative indication. I did find a few pretty good deals, but overall, prices on older PPC and G3 PowerBooks haven't changed much over the past four months or so. There is a real traffic jam of various PowerBook models selling in the $1,000 to $1,500 range - some representing great value, and others less so.

One of the best deals I found was at Infinity Micro, who are advertising new Rev. A Tangerine iBooks in stock for $1,349. That's a lot of computer for the money, although I think Jeff Danick's father got a lot more computer for just $151 more.

The PowerBook Guy Has some Lombard 333 machines for $2,099, which is more representative of what these leftover models are going for, although MacSelect has the same rig (PowerBook G3 Bronze 333 MHz) for $1,999 (new) and $1,949 (refurb), and the Rev. A Tangerine and Blueberry iBooks for $1,495.

MacResQ offers refurbished: WallStreet 292 with 128 MB RAM and 8 GB hard drive for $2,249; WallStreet 300 (64/8.0) for $2,199; WallStreet 292 (64/8.0) for $1999; Wall Street 266 (64/4.0) for $1,989; WallStreet 233 (32/2.0/no cache/passive matrix display) for $1,499; PowerBook 2400c/180 for $1,499; PowerBook 1400c/166 (2 GB hard drive) for $1,099; PowerBook 1400cs/166 (64/1.3 or 1.0/ passive matrix display) for $999; PowerBook 1400/133s in various configurations for $949-999; and a selection of PowerBook 1400/117s for $849-899.

Personally, I would be inclined to go for a leftover Lombard 333 at $2,000 rather than any of the refurbished WallStreets - although if you need legacy ports, the WallStreet is still a great computer. I can't imagine why anyone would pay $1,499 for one of the cacheless, passive matrix WallStreets when they can get a new iBook for less. The price of the 2400c is an indication that Apple is missing the boat with no subnotebook offering, and the 1400 prices, while fading a bit, reflect that model's support for processor upgrades.

Incidentally, Sonnet Technologies has reportedly pushed the shipping date for its new G3 333 MHz upgrade card for the PowerBook 1400 back to May from the formerly announced March delivery. If you are buying a 1400 with upgrading in mind, the 117 MHz version makes the most sense, since you will be removing the stock processor card anyway.

Globaldeals.com lists the WallStreet 266 MHz (64/4.0) for $1,899; the WallStreet 233 MHz (32/2.0) for $1,799; the PowerBook 3400C/200 (16/2.0) for $1,150; the PowerBook 3400C/180 (16/1.0) for $1,050; the PowerBook 1400C/133 (16/1.0) for $950, and the PowerBook 1400cs/166 (16/1.0) for $1,035.

I'm not sure whether these machines are used, refurbished, or a combination of both.

DataTech Remarketing has a refurbished PowerBook 3400C/180 (16/1.0) for $999.

Liquidation Station offers refurbished Lombard 333s for $2,162; WallStreet 300 (128/8.0) for $2,059 (used); WallStreet 292 (128/6.0) for $2,055 (used); WallStreet 233 ( no cache/passive display/ 32/2.0) for $1,231 (used); PowerBook 3400C/200 for $1,211 (used); WallStreet 233 ( no cache/passive display/32/2.0 and "slight cosmetic wear/tear") for $1,128 (used); and PowerBook 1400c/133 (40/1.3) for $926 (used).

I'm surprised that PowerBook 3400s, wonderful machines though they are, are holding above the $1,000 mark when you can get a real (albeit cacheless, but still one third faster) WallStreet G3 for the same or less money, and a new iBook for not much more.

L.A. Computer Center has some leftover, new Lombard 333s at $2,049 and Lombard 400s at $3,295; and PowerBook 1400C 133 (16/1.3) for $1,299 (refurb).

Small Dog Electronics will have (as of March 10) one Lombard 333 demo at $1,949, and some refurbished Lombard 400s at $2,429.

Canadian used Mac reseller, cpused.com, lists an assortment of PowerBook 1400s (117cs, 133c, 166c) at from between Can$1,199 to Can$1,499 (deduct about one third for a rough conversion to U.S. dollars). As of Saturday night, they were also listing a PowerBook 180c 12/160 with 14.4 modem for Can$449, which works out to about $300 U.S., so that one must be pretty rough!

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Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at Applelinks.com and a columnist at MacPrices.net. If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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