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Old May 19, 2004, 05:24 PM   #1
oingoboingo
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New 12" PowerBook: first thoughts

I just managed to fetch quite a good price for my 6-month old 1GHz 12" PowerBook, with the aim of making a low-cost changeover to the new revision C 1.33GHz model announced about a month ago. I picked up my new PowerBook yesterday, and after spending last night re-installing my software and restoring my personal files, I can say a few things about first impressions of the new machine.

Firstly, the extra 333MHz of core CPU speed, and the increased front side bus speed from 133MHz to 167MHz is definitely noticeable. I haven't done any solid benchmarking yet, but there is a pronounced improvement in the overall perceived speed of the system. I know that the rotational speed of the 60GB hard drive in the rev C is rated the same as my previous rev B, but it also feels faster. I haven't checked the specific drive characteristics, but maybe it has a faster seek time or a larger buffer. Does anyone know? One thing is sure about the hard drive though...it's noisier. You can clearly hear the hard drive working when doing something disk heavy. On my rev B, you really had to listen closely to hear the hard drive working.

Expose seems to run more smoothly with a few windows open. I don't know if this is due to the extra video RAM, the faster CPU, or due to my imagination. Anyway, at this stage I can't tell the difference in the fluidity of Expose animation between the rev C 12" PowerBook and my 1.6GHz G5...there was a definite difference with the rev B 12" PowerBook...while Expose was never really 'choppy' with 5-10 windows open, it was clear that it had dropped a few frames compared to the G5/Radeon 9600.

Heat production also seems to be improved. The two palm rest areas on either side of the touchpad haven't got anywhere near as warm as the rev B used to. I've mostly been performing disk copy and software install operations so far, so maybe I need to get busy with some CPU intensive stuff to really warm this thing up, but impressions of heat production are good at the moment.

One of my few complaints with the rev B 12" PowerBook also seems to have been addressed...screen brightness. I don't seem to have to squint in a bright room with the rev C model...maybe screen brightness has been improved a notch or two. Or of course it could just be that I now have a nice clean screen free of any dust (for about the next 5 hours)

There's only one downside so far...IT WOBBLES!!! There is a very annoying wobble along the front left to back right diagonal axis of the machine. I have a folded piece of paper under the rear right rubber foot of the PowerBook at the moment to stop it driving me crazy while I type. The old rev B PowerBook didn't have any chassis or structural problems like this, although its battery never fitted flush with the chassis, whereas my new rev C has a much tighter fit between the battery and the chassis. Not perfect, but better. To be honest, I think I would prefer a little bit of an exposed lip from the battery rather than a wobbly notebook, but it's my only complaint so far.

So any other new rev C 12" PowerBook owners out there? Any first impressions?
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Old May 19, 2004, 05:32 PM   #2
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Nice review!
But do you think it would be worth trading my Rev B and iPod for a Rev C? Is it really THAT much faster?
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Old May 19, 2004, 05:52 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oingoboingo
I just managed to fetch quite a good price for my 6-month old 1GHz 12" PowerBook, with the aim of making a low-cost changeover to the new revision C 1.33GHz model announced about a month ago. I picked up my new PowerBook yesterday, and after spending last night re-installing my software and restoring my personal files, I can say a few things about first impressions of the new machine.

Allot of people talk about gently pressing the wobble corners down to straighten the chasis out. Check the boards to see if anyone has caused any problems with it.

Hows the underside heat when using it intensly?
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Old May 19, 2004, 05:52 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by tekno_geek911
Nice review!
But do you think it would be worth trading my Rev B and iPod for a Rev C? Is it really THAT much faster?
The reason I upgraded was that this year I am now a university student (for the second time), so I was able to qualify for Apple's educational discount. A combination of big price drops in Australia on all PowerBooks, the educational discount, and me managing to get a *very* good price for my Rev. B 12" PowerBook all combined to make the upgrade quite cheap...a few hundred Australian dollars, with the added bonus that .edu purchases in Australia receive a 3 year warranty instead of the standard 1 year deal. So, even without any speed improvements, it would have still been a tempting changeover for me, since the changeover cost was several hundred dollars cheaper than buying AppleCare to get the extra 2 years of warranty. I didn't really have any particular problem with the speed of the rev B, but extra speed is always nice

But...if you're not in that situation, and would be forced to lose something like an iPod to make up the price difference, then I would probably have to say that the speed increase isn't worth it. The 1GHz rev. B 12" was (and still is) a pretty solid performer for an ultra-compact. It's just that the rev C is a little faster on top of that, and the extra 20GB of HDD space and extra 32MB of VRAM are nice bonuses too. Like I said, I haven't done any proper benchmarking yet, but a friend of mine still has a 1GHz rev B, so I can do some proper comparisons. My impressions of speed so far are only subjective.

Wait a couple of seconds extra for big stuff to complete, and hang on to that iPod
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Old May 19, 2004, 06:01 PM   #5
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Thanks! Your advice helped out allot since you owned both. I would miss my iPod(I just hate being outdated) lol.

I guess I'll keep my PowerBook until the G5's.

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Old May 19, 2004, 06:27 PM   #6
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If it wobbles that much can't you send it back to Apple for a free exchange? Just say you're not happy with it.

My advice would generally be to people that it's not worth the upgrade unless you have significant incentives such as the original poster here. My 12" PB 1GHz gets 100 on Xbench and I've seen 1.5GHz 15" scores only get 130 odd so I can't see there being much of a noticeable difference, certainly not on normal things. If I was to upgrade, I'd go for the BTO 80GB drive, as it's a 5200 RPM drive - something new for the 12".

All in all though I've had a good nice 7 months with my 12" 1GHz and am happy with everything on it. I will eventually replace with a G5 or G6 of some flavour.
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Old May 19, 2004, 07:42 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aswitcher
Allot of people talk about gently pressing the wobble corners down to straighten the chasis out. Check the boards to see if anyone has caused any problems with it.

Hows the underside heat when using it intensly?
Thanks for the tip. A bit of gentle pressure to the extremities of the case on and off for about 30 minutes seems to have improved the wobbling quite a bit.

I'll get back to you later on the underside heat issue...I actually need to go out to the lab and get some work done at the moment
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Old May 19, 2004, 08:04 PM   #8
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Thumbs up

Quote:
Originally Posted by oingoboingo
Thanks for the tip. A bit of gentle pressure to the extremities of the case on and off for about 30 minutes seems to have improved the wobbling quite a bit.

I'll get back to you later on the underside heat issue...I actually need to go out to the lab and get some work done at the moment
I had the same problem initially. I got mine on the 10th May and i remember the wobbles when I was first setting it up on my desk. However, since then its almost like the heat from general use has caused it flatten itself out. I dont know how else to explain it really as i certainly didnt make any effort to bend the corners. But to contradict myself, the underside barely gets to warm although the longest I have had it on my lap would be 30-45 mins.

I have been impressed with the heat (or lack thereof) that the new rev C pb's generate. I only really notice it when its plugged in and even then it only gets warm - certainly not hot (in the palm rest areas). The thing is so quiet too. Only noise is the the hard drive here and there and it is only audible when there is no other noise around.
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Old May 19, 2004, 08:10 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnyjibbs
If it wobbles that much can't you send it back to Apple for a free exchange? Just say you're not happy with it.

My advice would generally be to people that it's not worth the upgrade unless you have significant incentives such as the original poster here. My 12" PB 1GHz gets 100 on Xbench and I've seen 1.5GHz 15" scores only get 130 odd so I can't see there being much of a noticeable difference, certainly not on normal things. If I was to upgrade, I'd go for the BTO 80GB drive, as it's a 5200 RPM drive - something new for the 12".

All in all though I've had a good nice 7 months with my 12" 1GHz and am happy with everything on it. I will eventually replace with a G5 or G6 of some flavour.
I've managed to mostly sort out the wobbling issue (or the PB has sorted it out itself due to chassis heating issue as another poster has mentioned), so that's good.

I just ran Xbench on the 1.33GHz 12" and got a score of 120.78. I think a 20% increase in performance (well, according to Xbench anyway, it's not the most reliable benchmarking tool) is definitely noticeable, but I agree with your point anyway: unless you can manage a cheap changeover cost, the speed improvement from rev B to rev C probably isn't enough for most people to worry about. I just happened to be able to get a good enough resale price for my rev B, combined with an .edu discount and recent Australian price drops, that it made the small changeover cost worthwhile.
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Old May 21, 2004, 09:20 AM   #10
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1.33 12' PB First impression

I just got my new PowerBook yesterday and im very impressed.I am a switcher and this is my first mac. I have used macs in the past at school a little, but its changed a lot since then. I have had no wobbleing or uneveness
problems. None of the noises It made seemed out of line for a laptop. Getting on my network took about 0.001 seconds. Messed with some prefrences. Love expose'. Love the UNIX (Im a developer). I was really impressed with Garage Band. Its way more than any Amature deserves! I lost 2 hours just abusing a drum loop with effects! Awsome. Performace was snappy, but i will need some more memory If I'm gonna play with that a lot.I found the screen to be very bright and as sharp as any Laptop screen I have ever seen.This laptop is Perfect. Its so Perfect I'm afraid to touch it! Wanna Keep it mint!
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Old May 21, 2004, 09:37 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sentrido
I just got my new PowerBook yesterday and im very impressed.I am a switcher and this is my first mac. I have used macs in the past at school a little, but its changed a lot since then. I have had no wobbleing or uneveness
problems. None of the noises It made seemed out of line for a laptop. Getting on my network took about 0.001 seconds. Messed with some prefrences. Love expose'. Love the UNIX (Im a developer). I was really impressed with Garage Band. Its way more than any Amature deserves! I lost 2 hours just abusing a drum loop with effects! Awsome. Performace was snappy, but i will need some more memory If I'm gonna play with that a lot.I found the screen to be very bright and as sharp as any Laptop screen I have ever seen.This laptop is Perfect. Its so Perfect I'm afraid to touch it! Wanna Keep it mint!
I just got one yesterday. It's so awesome. Simply the nicest computer I have ever owned. After 2 iBooks, it kicks them handily. It's just so damn solid. And the screen, after all my concern, has turned out to be incredible. I love it.
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Old May 21, 2004, 11:00 AM   #12
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I've had my powerbook 12 inch for 2 weeks now. This is my first apple since my apple IIe! All I can say is that I love it so much, I wish I could marry it.:-)
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Old May 21, 2004, 01:19 PM   #13
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i got my 12" pb on weds. its nice. no wobbles. no dead pixels. everythin works.

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Old May 21, 2004, 03:45 PM   #14
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i would be curious to see what the Xbench scores on a new 15" 1.5ghz with 128MB Vram and 5400rpm HD would be.

my RevA 12" is scores an 86, but if the 15" can break into the 150's... i'll definitely start scrounging for upgrade cash.
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Old May 21, 2004, 04:02 PM   #15
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I owned a Rev A Powerbook, and I had the "rocking" problem you describe with it too...

It seems to be a problem that happens across the whole line of 12" Powerbooks, and a matter of the luck of the draw, unfortunately.

I'll be ordering a Rev C soon I think, though I'm considering waiting to see what's announced at WWDC... we'll see . I do like that it's noticibly faster, and I'm very glad for the extra VRAM... the smallest powerbook screen means the biggest need for dual displays .
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Old May 21, 2004, 08:01 PM   #16
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Many happy people with 12" PowerBooks. That's what I like to see. This is a superb laptop, but many of the MacRumors community don't see it as one. Good luck to you all. Hope you manage to keep your PBs in mint condition!
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Old May 21, 2004, 08:45 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnyjibbs
Many happy people with 12" PowerBooks. That's what I like to see. This is a superb laptop, but many of the MacRumors community don't see it as one. Good luck to you all. Hope you manage to keep your PBs in mint condition!
Agreed. That's why I bought a second one! Two of my friends have the 1.33GHz 17" PowerBook, and despite all the drooling that goes on in these forums over 'Lapzilla', I wouldn't trade the 12" for the 17" if you paid me. I feel that it's just too big to be practical as a true 'go anywhere anytime' portable machine. Oh yeah...and I have to take off my watch when I type on the 17" PB because the metal-link watchband scrapes on the left wrist rest of the PB and scratches the case I don't need to do that on the 12".

There's not much that I would want Apple to change in the 12". A faster video chip would be nice of course, and maybe exposing the second DIMM slot so that it was user accessible, but this might require a full motherboard redesign. Stuff like a backlit keyboard is a bit of a novelty feature for me, but I could see it being added to the 12" at some time in the future if Apple chose to. A FW800 port might also be handy, but I'm not sure if there is any physical room to put it!

Now that I've been using the 1.33GHz 12" for a few more days, I can definitely say that it runs cooler than the rev B...no doubt about it. I've shown the screen to a few people as well, and it seems to be the common consensus that the LCD panel is also brighter than the rev B panel too. A few nice little refinements.
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Old May 30, 2004, 12:18 AM   #18
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i'd like to second the rev c 12" is amazing. i would like to see a few improvements tho beyond the video card and 2nd upgradeable RAM slot.

1. two firewire ports (800 would be nice)
2. 7200 rpm HD.
3. Gigabit Ethernet.
4. Digital Audio Output (S/PDIF via coax or optical)
5. Digital Audio Input
6. TWO button trackpad (1 button is ridiculous, my fingers all playing twister on the keyboard is a joke).
7. Larger Keyboard, there is still plenty of room, enough for a full function keyboard (volume buttons). Once again, typing FN+? is quite ridiculous.
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Old May 30, 2004, 09:52 AM   #19
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I'm glad to be in the same club as you guys. I have a rev B 12" PB, and its awesome. Its the perfect system, and all I can ask for is a brighter screen when its bright outside.

@Oingoboingo: The reason your screen looks brighter is because they're using a new display on the 12" PBs. They used to use the same display as the iBook, I believe. It used to be an XGA TFT, but now its just an XGA screen. Or vice versa.
However, screen brightness is necessarily the fix, as LCD's generally have a problem when used outdoors on sunny days. Its an inherent issue, and won't really go away until they develop those other display alternatives in the future. One low energy display is called ULED or something, and its supposed to be better regarding this issue.

QUESTION: What's the battery life on the rev C 12" PB's?? I've been trying to get a straight answer, because people keep telling me their rev C's last over 5+ hours. That's insane! I know that the rev C's use a new battery, but how long does your rev C last, and under what settings? (screen brightness, energy saver settings?) My rev B can last for 3h20min to 3h40min while working on MS Word and Excel, with Energy Saver set to AUTO and screen brightness set 1/2 or 2/3 full. If I turn on iTunes, it'll last 2h50min.

I want to see if the new battery for the PB is worth buying.
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Old May 30, 2004, 11:20 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Abstract
I want to see if the new battery for the PB is worth buying.
That's interesting. I get the same kind of battery life that you get on my rev B. The batteries are quite expensive but then, another one would give me double the battery life as well when out and about.
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Old May 31, 2004, 01:34 AM   #21
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No, I OWN a rev B, and thats my battery life. The rev C 12" PB battery is new. It has a higher capacity, so I just wanted to get some battery life quotes from the new owners. The new batteries are compatible with the rev A and B 12" Powerbooks, so that's not an issue.
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Old May 31, 2004, 03:54 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Abstract
No, I OWN a rev B, and thats my battery life. The rev C 12" PB battery is new. It has a higher capacity, so I just wanted to get some battery life quotes from the new owners. The new batteries are compatible with the rev A and B 12" Powerbooks, so that's not an issue.
Yes I know. I was commenting that my rev B with its rev B battery gets around 3:40 like your rev B with its rev B battery. You are looking to improve your battery life in your rev B by getting a higher capacity rev C battery. I was saying that I may do the same (also giving me two batteries - my old rev B one and the new rev C one, effectively more than doubling my battery life on the go, as I could swap batteries). Sorry if I wasn't clear.

Mind you, how do you know the rev C has a better battery? It doesn't say anywhere and you're the only person I've heard who's mentioned it. Just because the rev C gets the same battery life with better speed processor, etc doesn't mean anything - they may have improved the processor power efficiency, etc.
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Old May 31, 2004, 04:33 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianKonarsMac
1. two firewire ports (800 would be nice)
That would be nice but I'd still rather a smaller less expensive 'Book than 800
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianKonarsMac
2. 7200 rpm HD.
Get one if you want but I like my 16MB Cache 80GB 5400rpm Toshiba which Apple now provides as BTO. Ijust don't think that 7200rpm Laptop drives are reliable enough yet to trust one.
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3. Gigabit Ethernet.
How many people outside Universities actually have Gigabit LAN? Again, I'd probably rather have the cheaper 'Book than a feature which isn't really relevant to 95% of people.
Quote:
4. Digital Audio Output (S/PDIF via coax or optical)
Agreed - This is a necessity on all high end Apples
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5. Digital Audio Input
Don't know how many people need this though? I think a third party USB/Firewire adapter is more sensible for the few who require it over and above Analogue Input.
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6. TWO button trackpad (1 button is ridiculous, my fingers all playing twister on the keyboard is a joke).
A two button trackpad is a very strange invention - it is not analogous to a two button mouse and is an inconvenience to most people.
Quote:
7. Larger Keyboard, there is still plenty of room, enough for a full function keyboard (volume buttons). Once again, typing FN+? is quite ridiculous.
If you need Function buttons all the time you can swap the modifier keys around so that FN+? means you press the volume key or whatever.

I like the Rev C just as it is - Inexpensive with Combo option, fast, light and very quiet.
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Old May 31, 2004, 04:46 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by johnnyjibbs
Mind you, how do you know the rev C has a better battery? It doesn't say anywhere and you're the only person I've heard who's mentioned it. Just because the rev C gets the same battery life with better speed processor, etc doesn't mean anything - they may have improved the processor power efficiency, etc.
1. The battery life of the rev C 12" PB is reportedly 5+ hours. I don't turn all my energy sucking functions down drastically like some people do, so I'd expect to get 4.5 to 5 hours from what 3 people have told me about the battery. That would be an increase of 1 or 1.5 hours, maybe even more. All I'd like to hear are a few more experiences.

2. They don't normally have updated batteries for updated Powerbooks, but the 12" and 15" both got better ones after the recent updates. The new rev C 12" is rated at 50 mAh (milli-ampere-hours) or around that figure. It used to be in the 40's (approx 42 or 44 mAh). Its an indication of the size of the battery and how long it lasts. The 15" got a better battery, but not as big an increase as the 12".
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Old May 31, 2004, 05:01 AM   #25
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5 hours is listed as the maximum time for a 12"PB. I don't know why anyone would expect it to last longer when traditionally, in real usage, the maximum reached against Apple's numbers is 2/3 or so.
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