The Mac Webb

Return to Pismo

- 2002.09.03

A funny thing happened over the last few months. Some of you may have read my column highlighting the sale of my Titanium PowerBook and a return to using an iBook as my main machine.

Something unexpected happened in the intervening weeks, and I realized that I would have to split time on the iBook with my wife. After years of working to get her comfortable with computers, the iBook and OS X have finally turned her to computer use. About the third time we fought over the machine, I decided that I needed to make other arrangements.

I was looking into a second iBook when I found a great deal on - a PowerBook G3 (Pismo) 500. Two years ago, this was the first Mac portable that I had ever purchased. I sold the machine about a year ago and regretted it every day after. As much as I loved my Titanium machine and my iBook, the Pismo remained my favorite machine. The combination of performance, expandability, and durability remains unsurpassed in laptop computing.

While perusing eBay, I found a wonderful deal on a Pismo. For US$950, I received a machine with 576 MB of RAM, PowerBook G3a 10 GB hard drive, two batteries, an expansion bay hard drive (very cool), and a Zip drive. To seal the deal, the machine is still under AppleCare for another 6 months.

The transaction was completed, and I eagerly ripped open the box much like a kid on Christmas. The machine was in great shape, and I pretend that the machine I sold a year and a half ago returned to my door.

I quickly added a wireless card and swapped the internal hard drive for a 20 GB drive I had in excess inventory. I loaded OS X 10.1.5 and was very happy with the performance.

Note: as of this weekend, I have been happily running OS X 10.2, and I feel it is the OS Apple should have released last year. All speed issues are solved and I defy someone to tell me the OS is slow!

One piece of the rig that I had never used before was the expansion bay hard drive. I set up an emergency partition on both the expansion drive and the internal drive, leaving about 37 GB of space to use. This coupled with a 40 GB FireWire drive made certain I did not miss the beige servers I packed up and sold.

In my previous article on the reasons I moved away from my PowerBook G4, I mentioned durability, expandability, heat, and wireless range as my main reasons for the move. I really have little use for a G4 chip and find a G3 suits my purposes. My PowerBook must allow me to read, write, listen to music, surf, and communicate.

The only really intensive thing I do is computer gaming. The only PC in the house handles my gaming, as I still like having one around to keep my tinkering and problem solving skills up to date.

The good news is that I do not have to upgrade my Macs ever year as I do with a gaming PC.

For those of you needing a good solid PowerBook, I heartily recommend the PowerBook G3 (Pismo). The machine is a rugged performer with all of the bells and whistles of its heir. A nice Pismo package can be had for between $750 and $1,200 depending on processor and accessories. For those requiring a G4, Other World Computing sells a Newer Technologies upgrade G4/500 for $299. I was looking into this upgrade but have shelved the plans after the OS X 10.2 performance increase.

One caveat: I have heard of some Pismo screens giving way with age and fading to pink. Try to find one still under AppleCare. LEM

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