My Turn

Time to Buy an iBook

Korin Hasegawa-John - 2002.11.18

My Turn is Low End Mac's column for reader-submitted articles. It's your turn to share your thoughts on all things Mac (or iPhone, iPod, etc.) and write for the Mac web. Email your submission to Dan Knight .

Wednesday, 11/6

I finally gave up on the 2400. It's been a great computer, but now I have to let it go. For the last few weeks it has been a luggable, since after a hard fall it no longer recognizes batteries. This negates much of its usefulness, so I have decided to part it out. Watch the swap list if you need some 2400 parts.

I ordered the new beast today. It's a stock 800 MHz iBook with a Combo drive (I can add my own RAM and AirPort card later, as well as a fast IBM hard drive), plus the handy S-video adapter and an extra battery. With the education discount I can get, the grand total is $1,457 with tax. Quite affordable.

The 800 MHz Combo was a better deal for the $100-ish premium over the old Combo 700. I liked the new Radeon 7500 graphics with 32 MB VRAM (great for games, plus Quartz Extreme) and the extra 100 MHz, plus the 16x burner on the Combo drive.

Thursday, 11/7

Well, the battery and S-video adapter shipped today. I also want to find a nice wireless mouse, but that can wait. I'm expecting a rather long wait for the iBook, since the PowerBook G4/1 GHz with SuperDrive is backordered until January. Might be a long wait.

Friday, 11/8

A pleasant surprise! My iBook shipped out today. Can't wait. It should be here by Thursday or Friday. I should really order more RAM. I'm not sure if I can afford to max it out, but I'd really like to. My current main machine has 567 MB, which is acceptable. I think I'll go with another 256 MB for a total of 384 MB to start with. If it really is too little, I can add more later.

Wednesday, 11/13

Well, the iBook arrived. A day early! Unfortunately, the massive amount of homework my teachers have loaded on me (karma?) precludes me from playing with it immediately. I satisfied myself with taking it out of the package and looking at it for 15 minutes. It's not really that interesting to look at strictly, since after all it looks identical to every iBook since the original iBook 2000 (P29). The difference is that this time it's mine.

The biggest question: How does the iBook stack up against the competition? It's by far a better value than the old iBook, but how will it fare against the likes of Dell and Gateway? In order to find out, I visited Dell's website and put together an Inspiron 2650 laptop. I attempted to match the specs to the iBook.

Dell

  • 1.7 GHz P4 mobile
  • 14.1" TFT Active Matrix screen
  • 30 GB ATA hard drive
  • 128 MB PC 100 RAM
  • 24x10x40x8x CD-RW/DVD combo drive
  • 32 MB VRAM GeForce 2Go AGP 4x
  • Extra 59Whr Lion Battery
  • 1-year limited warranty with CompleteCare
  • Windows XP Home

Grand total? $1,634 not counting shipping. Now for the iBook

iBook

  • 800 MHz G3e
  • 12.1" TFT Active Matrix screen
  • 30 GB ATA hard drive
  • 128 MB PC 100 RAM
  • 16x10x32x8x CD-RW/DVD combo drive
  • 32 MB VRAM Radeon Mobility 7500 AGP 2x
  • Extra Lion Battery
  • 1-year limited warranty
  • Mac OS 9.2 and Mac OS X 10.2

Total: $1,457 including shipping.

These two are fairly comparable machines. The iBook has a lower price tag by approximately $200 and weighs less. The Dell has a larger screen (although is heavier) and a faster CD-RW drive. Everything else is comparable. I think Mac users (including switchers) are getting a good deal with the latest iBooks - at least on paper.

Next time: The iBook does OS X.

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