PowerBook 12", "Rev D", Five Months Later

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by buddhagoth, Nov 9, 2005.

  1. buddhagoth macrumors newbie

    Nov 9, 2005
    Bay Area, California
    Hello Folks:

    I took delivery of a new PowerBook 12", 1.5 Ghz, 768MB RAM, in June. I've been a Apple/Mac user since my first Apple, a IIsi with a "revolutionary" Radius Full-Page Display that physically rotated from landscape to portrait. (Anyone remember that silly thing? :D ) Here's what I think of my latest Mac, why I got it, and the things that matter to me.

    The Build Quality: Pretty amazing. Fit and finish are flawless with only one key slightly off perfect set-in. This PB does not have the completely solid, rugged feel of my old clamshell iBook, but it isn't supposed to. It was built to be a very compact, powerful unit and it is just that.

    Physical Operation: Overall, superb. The keyboard is the primary reason I bought the PB over the 12" iBook -- there is a night and day difference between typing on both models. The metal keys of the PB have a responsive, solid "click" and since I do not use an external keyboard, it's a real pleasure to have such a good touch-feel in a laptop. I spent quite a few days in my local Apple Store with the 12" PB and iBook side by side, typing away. While the iBook is a good portable, no question, its "bouncy" and plastic keyboard will probably make a big difference to anyone that does a lot of continuous writing/typing vs. the PB.

    Software: I started out with Tiger 10.4.1 installed and currently run 10.4.3. No problems with any programs, AirPort works very well. I mainly use this laptop for writing and have about a dozen word processing and outlining programs installed. All work without a hitch.

    The hots on the heat: there has been much talk all over the place about various levels of heat generated by the Al PBs. When I first got this PB, it did seem -very- hot from what I was used to from my old iBooks and such. However, after freaking out about it, running various temperature monitoring programs and worrying too much, I realized all was well. It does run hot if I'm burning a lot of CDs or something, but under normal use it's warm but not uncomfortable. I can't say for sure, but 10.4.2 seemed to have made it cooler and 10.4.3 seems cooler still. Overall, though, according to the temp monitors, my PB never got even close to "overheating" or to the point it was uncomfortable to the touch.

    Portability: I never considered the 12" vs the 15" because I fly on planes a lot. The 12" has no trouble standing up properly on any airline fold-down traytable I've encountered. I've seen people with the 15" having a lot of trouble if the person in front reclines their seat even a bit. Also, the 12" is very portable in that it's not much bigger than a large book and can "hide" in any carry-on I happen to be using. I keep it in a ZeroShock sleeve and have never had any problems tucking it away.

    Other things: the scrolling trackpad is wonderful and makes me wonder why all laptops don't come with this as a standard feature. I've had no problems with it, either. One thing that initially worried me but turned out to be nothing was that the bottom of the case seemed to warp a bit after two months, causing the PB to be slightly unsteady on flat surfaces. I simply -very- gently bent the case back in the opposite direction and it's fine. ("Don't try this at home" unless you know a little about fixing electronics and how they're put together inside! :) )

    Lastly: the 12" PB is an exceptionally fine laptop that serves my needs well and exceeds them on most occasions. I've not had any significant problems with it (not even one kernel panic) and would happily buy it again. I will, however, be sorely annoyed if Apple drops the 12" PB and doesn't make an iBook to "replace" it, especially with something equivalent to the excellent keyboard in the current PB's.

    That's my two cents.

  2. GWS macrumors member

    Sep 7, 2004
    Atlanta area
    Great Review

    Thanks for the great long-term review! I don't "need" a laptop, but I want one. Like so many, I'm debating "iBook vs. Powerbook vs. wait for the Mactels". I'll probably go ahead and get a laptop sooner than later, with the idea I can hand it down to the wife or kids if I later decide to move to a Mactel laptop.

    So, I'm bascially torn between saving some money by buying the iBook, or going ahead and splurging a bit on the Powerbook. I'll definintely get a 12" model as I want the portability. I agree with you, the difference in keyboards between the iBook and Powerbook is quite obvious. Having typed on IBM keyboards for so many years, I much prefer the solid tactile feel of the Powerbook. Most of the other advantages of the Powerbook (DVD burner, dual displays, audio in, faster hard drive, etc.) I can probably live without since, to be honest, I probably won't be able to resist the new Mactels for long. But, my primary "excuse" for getting a laptop now is for writing while away, so I'll probably be happier with my purchase if I go with the keyboard I like best. It's a tough time to be making such purchase decisions.

    Anyway, thanks again for the great review. Lots of folks post their initial impressions after getting a new computer. It's actually more beneficial to hear from some folks after they've used their computer for an extended period of time. Thanks for posting!

  3. bilyou macrumors newbie

    Jul 18, 2005
    Sounds like you've had an excellent user experiencce.

    I'm gettin a 12" PB in the next couple of weeks but can't make up my mind whether to go with 768MB Ram or the 1.256MB. Does anybody have any opinions on going right up to 1.256 or sticking with 768MB?
  4. dcv macrumors G3

    May 24, 2005
    Hey buddhagoth

    Nice review... I also bought my 12" PowerBook in June and am just as pleased with mine :)

    I definitely agree with you on the build quality and specifically the keyboard front, compared to the iBook etc. I too would be really disappointed if Apple decided to drop the 12 inch PB... think i'd be forced to go with the 15 inch model next time then, even though to me that seems far too big. To me the iBook just doesn't compare.

    I've got 1.25GB of RAM in mine... so bilyou I'd say get the maximum memory you can afford. Don't buy it from Apple though, get it from Crucial and install it yourself.
  5. Gordy macrumors 6502a

    May 22, 2005
    Bristol, UK

    Another june powerbook buyer here and I can echo almost all of your points.

    Its a great little laptop, the keyboard is excellent and everyone who see's it asks lots of questions about it. I'm very happy I went for it in the end.

    I got a stick of 1gb ddr to put in it after a few days and it was a breeze to install. I got mine from crucial but used generic ddr sodimms not the apple specific as its the same ram for 30quid more which takes the piss.

    Only problem is the chassis warping I had the same thing as you, and took it back to get it fixed but they were going to need 10days to fix it. Which is not good enough for me, I need my laptop all the time. So I just bent the chassis back myself which seems to have done the trick! :)

    My only other complaint is that I cannot stand Iphoto as it doesnt give me the control I wish. It doesnt have an option to use folders to store images in that I choose as I've got them organised perfectly on pc so I know where everything is. So thats a pain I just use preview for viewing images and iphoto is very rarely used.
  6. buddhagoth thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 9, 2005
    Bay Area, California
    Thanks & Keyboard note

    Hello Gary & All:

    Thanks for the comments -- nice to hear June was a good month for buying a 12" PowerBook!

    As for that keyboard difference, yes I really thought long and hard about whether paying 4-600$ more for a computer basically for the better keyboard was worth it. To me, it was. I certainly enjoy the "extras" the PB has over the iBook, but it really was the keyboard difference that made the decision for me. I spent so much time in our local Apple Store doing my side-by-sides that I got to know most of the folks there on a first-name basis. :D

    Whether or not anyone else thinks it's worth the cost is certainly arguable, and if budget is a big issue, there is nothing wrong with the iBook and i'd have been pretty happy with it myself. But since I use my PB for writing about 1,500 to sometimes 5,000 words a day, I'm very happy to have been able to afford the metal keys.

  7. Ryan T. macrumors 6502a

    Ryan T.

    Jun 13, 2005
    Rochester, NY
    I would say 99% of new notebooks do. Apple awas pretty much the absolute last to integrate this.
  8. Bern macrumors 68000


    Nov 10, 2004
    I got my 12" about the same time and I love it. You're review is great. I can't find any fault with my Powerbook. I added a 1GB stick to it and bought an external 17" monitor.
  9. Dafke macrumors 6502


    Mar 24, 2005
    nice review buddagoth, i fully agree with you. the 12 incher is a winner. but i must say that with the upgraded screens the new 15 inch pb is tempting. i have mine 12 incher for a year now, if i would be buying now it would be thougher to choose.

    i upgraded my ram to 1.25 gb, it's great and i'll probably upgrade the hd to a 7200 rpm drive, instead of my current 4200 rpm. it's nice to upgrade some things once a while, makes you feel like you have a new computer.

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