12" PowerBook - First Impressions

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by moby1, Jan 31, 2003.

  1. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2002
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    Sunny San Diego
    #1
    I received my new 12" PowerBook yesterday morning. I haven't spent much time with it but for those considering Apple's smallest PowerBook ever, here are my first impressions.

    It's small. Yes, I knew it would be but until I got it on my desk, it's dimensions were only abstract to me. My last PowerBook was an Ti 800. Now my desk looks like a scene from "Honey I Shrunk The PowerBook". The T68i phone beside it reinforces the illusion.

    It's quiet, really, really quiet. The noisy click-click of the TiBook is gone. Imagine a toothpick falling on a linoleum floor...in the next room. I really applaud Apple's efforts to engineer quieter machines. This thing is nearly completely silent. For those of you considering replacing the hard drive, I'd reconsider. It's very nice to have a machine that only makes music and only when you ask it to.

    It can get hot. It shares the same trait I noticed on the iBook; the left area below the keyboard where you rest your left hand gets very warm. I don't think it gets quite as hot as the iBook. It may be that the Aluminium casing dissipates heat better. I noticed the bottom of the machine getting hot after playing a DVD but when I breifly lifted it, the case started to cool almost immediately. I use one of those tilt & swivel stands, this keeps the case elevated and out in the air. The left palm rest still gets warm though. It bothered me, others I talked to who used the iBooks said they didn't mind. I don't think it's and worse (and perhaps better) than on the iBooks. The fan never comes on. Is there a fan? I did hear a fan when I burned a CD.

    It's fast. I posted benchmarks in another forum but I won't get into specifics. It will take me time to completely evaluate this new PowerBook but it's faster than an iBook. It feels only slightly less snappy than my last Ti 800 but I still have only the stock 256 MB. I just installed Photoshop and I'm pretty impressed. This thing is faster than it looks. The 12" PowerBook is no slouch!

    It's solid. It feels built well. A step up from the iBook but not quite the sophistication of the TiBook. There are areas like the gap below the keyboard and the sharp edge on the clicker that remind me that this is a less expensive model than the TiBook. On the other hand, I don't feel like I have to handle the machine like eggs. I was always very carefull when I handled my TiBook. I don't think the finish will scratch but it will smudge from skin oils. I keep an eyeglass wipe cloth handy.

    It's portable. Truly portable. If I had a TiBook beside it, I'd probably grab the lil' AlBook 9/10's of the time. There were plenty of times I thought about toting my 15" PowerBook somewhere but decided it'd be too much of a hassle. That won't be an issue with this little guy!

    The screen isn't as nice as the one on the TiBook. Besides the extra real estate, the TiBook's screen seemed more vivid. I don't think the screen on the this AlBook is any better or worse than the iBook's screen. This little PowerBook might be a digital photographer's dream as far as portability but I think if placed beside the larger 15" PowerBook, serious photographers might have second thoughts about which screen they'd rather see their work on.

    The keyboard isn't as pleasant to use as the TiBook's. I feel like my hands are too cramped together when I type. The touchpad also is shipped with the speed setting way too low. I noticed this in the Apple Store, I changed it almost immediately.

    The ports on the left side can be annoying. I don't mind the power cable but the network cable is an eyesore. This thing screams for an Airport Card.

    About the cost; I got the $1799 model bundled with a free battery, case & printer. I figure I got about $200 worth of free stuff, that brings the price down to $1599 - only $300 above the price of an iBook! Apple should have a hot seller here.

    More about the heat issue; I moved 30 GB of data over from my PC, the hard drive was silent. The littlest PowerBook did get hot under my left palm but it seemed to reach a plateau and never exceeded it even though I kept the drive busy for over an hour.

    The 12" PowerBook suits my needs right now. When the Al version of the 15" comes out, we'll see...

    If you want the ultimate in portability and you're a power user - this might just be your next machine.


    moby1

    p.s. Other new 12" PowerBook owners, I'd welcome your comments.
     
  2. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2003
    #2
    Nice impressions.

    Thx, and good luck with it!
     
  3. macrumors 65816

    iAlan

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    #3
    Moby1, now I've got computer-envy....
    Thanks for the update. I wish I had an excuse to get a 3rd Mac!!:p
     
  4. macrumors 68020

    jayscheuerle

    #4
    This thing is soooooo much more solid than the TiBook though. The lightest touch on the back of the TiBooks screen distorts the images. You have to push HARD to get the 12"'s screen to distort.

    It does look like a little metal iBook. Even down to the little round nubs that keep the screen off the keyboard.

    My friend is trying to decide between the iBook and this new 12"'er. Powerwise, they're not that different, but the cool factor is definately swaying him. He's a bit of a klutz though, so it will be interesting to see what kind of abuse these things can take...
     
  5. Das
    macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2003
    #5
    What about Photohop benchmarks? Has anyone tried running it yet and comparing it to other pbs like the 800? Just wondering how it handles it since I'll be getting mine soon and since it is sans L3. Also, how would I go about getting the info off of my XP box and onto the pb? I've tried networking with my G4 450 in X and it was like child birth.

    My main thing is the ammount of noise it make since both of my computers sound like they have turbine heatsyncs, my PC has 3 fans not to mention gfx card and heatsync (God bless overclocking).
     
  6. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #6
    Thanks for the review, Moby1! I am still waiting for my 17 inch AluPB. Now.. you mentioned a battery, case, and a printer with the purchase? Do you want to share the secret-- Where did you buy it??????????
     
  7. macrumors 65816

    pyrotoaster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2002
    Location:
    Oak Park, IL
    #7
    Thanks for the info!
    I used the 12" at an Apple Store recently, and was impressed by the compact look and solid feel.
    Now if I can only get $1800...
     
  8. macrumors 68000

    MacFan25

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2003
    Location:
    USA
    #8
    Yeah, thanks for the info. I hope that you enjoy it! Sounds like a great little computer. :D
     
  9. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2002
    Location:
    Hyannis, MA
    #9
    I'm picking mine up tomorrow the instant the store opens, at 10:30EST on the dot!!!! w00t!!! I hope it's nice, i've never got to see one in person, but after the apple store came back up- I told the store to contact me the minute they come in and that was 2 hours after the store closed yesterday :mad:
    10:30 ON THE DOT!!!!!!!!!
    ONLY NINE MORE HOURS!!!!
     
  10. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2002
    #10
    how is the airport reception on the 12"PB? 150 ft?

    like the ibook?
     
  11. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2002
    Location:
    Hyannis, MA
    #11
    I'm no sure how good the reception is, i heard it's just as good as the ibook, i haven't gotten to try it yet on my 12", the store hasn't gotten the new airport base stations or cards yet

    btw, this new powerbook ROX!!!!!
     
  12. macrumors 604

    iJon

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2002
    #12
    well i watched lord of the rings side by side with the 12 inch and the 15 inch. the 12 inch seemed much more crisp to me than the 15. i will have to investigate some more. as for the 15 feeling nicer than the 12 doesnt make any sense to me. to me the 15 inch is like the nice dining room table to you buy for the house but never use it because you want it to stay nice. the hinge on the new powerbook comapred to the 15 powerbook in much bette. it is a flawless hinge that is so smooth, no creaks our anything. as for the ports being on the side is a very smart move by apple. in my opinion the ports being on the back is just plain annoying and a terrible idea. it wouldnt be so bad if the 15 inch powerbook hinge didnt go over the ports. because of this it makes it difficult to unplug things like ethernet cables. i sure hope they move the ports to the side on new visions of the 15 inch. also the 12 inch has rubber grips so it never touches the screen (too bad apple didnt think of that 3 years ago). the only complaint i have about the new powerbook is that the lockdown is at the bottom of the computer. thats really not a problem though. its jsut at our store our laptops stay on a lockdown so you learn to hate it. but if you dont lockdown this will be a great computer. just ask me if you have anymore questions.

    iJon
     
  13. thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2002
    Location:
    Sunny San Diego
    #13
    Using the 12" PowerBook

    I've been using the 12" PowerBook for a couple days now and I have some more thoughts on it.

    I was worried about the lack of L3 cache on this thing. I've been using Photoshop, Bryce 5 and Keynote and I'm pleased with the performance. Rendering in Bryce was much faster than I expected. Editing my digital photos in Photoshop was no problem. The machine feels on par with my last Ti 800 model and the P4 1.8 ThinkPad I was using. I still have only 256 MB RAM! I'll order a 512 MB chip ASAP (the DDR RAM is more expensive). :(

    Battery life seems good too. I brought the 12" AlBook to my local coffe shop today and spent about 3 hours translating my class notes into a Keynote presentation (Keynote rocks!). I got an extra battery free in my bundle from MacWarehouse but it hasn't arrived yet. When it does, I'll never carry an AC adapter.

    This thing is so much easier to tote around than my 15" TiBook was but I do miss the nice 15.2 widescreen. I'm concerned about the eyestrain I might be experiencing with the smaller screen; it's not for everyone.

    I may have found the 12" AlBook's Achille's heel. I don't think it's the L3 cache, I think it's the graphics chip. DVD's and Divx movies look great (MPlayer rocks!). However, I did have problems when I was editing my photos. Skin tones looked washed out and I had trouble getting the reds to look right. I think there may be an issue here for photographers or graphics users. I'd like to see some graphics professionals take a real close hard look at the 12" Al's display and report back.

    I did hear the fan come on (I think). It's incredibly quiet, I might have heard it when I was playing a DVD.

    I still like the Ti case better, I think more engineering (and cost) went into it. I do like the Al's keyboard better, the keys feel more solid than the iBooks I've used and the key travels feels better than the TiBooks - and the silver keys look cool. ;)

    This is the first Apple computer to ship that will only boot OS X. That's still a bit scary for some of us. One thing I liked about dual booting is that I could resolve problems by booting into the other OS and running utilities from there. Now I may need to carry a bootable disk with the utilities on it.

    Can anyone tell me how to build a bootable OS X disk with Norton Utilities, NAV and Drive 10 on it?

    moby1
     
  14. macrumors 604

    iJon

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2002
    #14
    Re: Using the 12" PowerBook

    personally iwould save your time and buy diskwarrior 3 which is suppose to come out this month. from working back in apple service, i have saved a bunch of peoples data and stuff (even my own stuff) with this program. i think they have put a lot of development into this new version. i would buy it. probably cost like 70 dollars but it will be worth every penny.....and then some.

    iJon
     
  15. thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2002
    Location:
    Sunny San Diego
    #15
    DiskWarrior 3

    Will it defrag my drive? I'd like to have a CD with a bunch of tools on it.

    How would I do this?


    moby1

    p.s. I love the 12" AlBooks keyboard. I thought it was too cramped at first but now that I'm getting used to it it feels great.
     
  16. macrumors 604

    iJon

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2002
    #16
    Re: DiskWarrior 3

    yeah it will defrag your drive. you just click a button and take a coffee break.

    iJon
     
  17. macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2002
    Location:
    Location Location
    #17
    the 12" PB isn't hotter than the iBook? I have read about heat being a problem on the 12" PB, but never a problem in the iBooks. That's just what I hear and read on this message board.

    I would have also imagined that the lack of L3 would have made a large impact on performance when compared to a new 15" PB, or even your old 15.2" PB. I think its a bit odd for there to be no performance downside to this.

    And did MacWarehouse bundle a battery, a case, and a printer with your 12" PB for free, or was it a small $100 additional fee or something? If its free, then its the best deal around. :)
     
  18. macrumors 604

    iJon

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2002
    #18
    you guys also gotta remember, the ibook has double the l2 cache than the 12 inch powerbook. from the early tests, the powerbook barely beat out the ibook. and since you can do the spanning hack on the ibook, you really gotta think if the bluetooth, airport extreme, superdrive, slot load and looks is worth the extra cash. depends on how much a dollar is worth to some people. wait till the new ibooks come out, then we will really have to do some tests.

    iJon
     
  19. thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
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    Sunny San Diego
    #19
    I worked on an iBook for a while some time ago. The area under my left palm rest would get very hot, I could never get used to it. The 12" Al doesn't seem to get any hotter - it may get 'as hot' but it seems to cool down very quickly.

    I'm sure the lack of L3 cache does impact the performance, I'm just saying that it doesn't seem to be as big a deal as I'd expected it to be (and I'm comparing this 867 Al to my last Ti 800).

    The MacWarehouse deal involves rebates - a total of 4 rebates I think. It's a great deal if you don't mind dealing with rebates - and waiting a while for the money. I think the battery alone is an awesome deal ($129 value!).
     
  20. thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2002
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    Sunny San Diego
    #20
    Is it a 'real' PowerBook

    I guess the real question is; "Does if feel like an iBook upgraded to PowerBook specs or does it feel like a PowerBook stuffed into iBook size?".

    So far, I'd say it feels more like a PowerBook stuffed into iBook form factor - with a couple of exceptions; RAM limited to 640 MB (still good for most people) and the lesser graphics chip (NVIDIA GeForce4 420 Go). It's the 420 that has me worried (see my above post about editing digital photos).
     
  21. thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #21
    Also...

    I'm going to have alot of fun with this thing but I'm keeping my eye out for the next 15" PowerBook...
     
  22. macrumors 604

    iJon

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2002
    #22
    i would do some benchmarks for you guys but all i have on display is the 12 inch powerbook and the low end ibook.

    iJon
     
  23. macrumors 6502a

    ibjoshua

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2002
    Location:
    Japan
    #23
    Re: Re: DiskWarrior 3

    A support guy once told me Unix drives didn't need to defrag. I had no reason to disbelieve him till now. Was he wrong?

    i_b_joshua
     
  24. macrumors 604

    iJon

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2002
    #24
    Re: Re: Re: DiskWarrior 3

    well im no expert, im just saying on the behalf of playing with dw3. it has an optimization button, which if im not mistaken, is the same as defrag. so to answer your question, i dont know if he was wrong, but someboyd on this forum will know.

    iJon
     
  25. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
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    #25

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