Why Small Is Beautiful

Discussion in 'Product Recommendations/Reviews' started by Reuven, Jun 3, 2004.

  1. macrumors member


    Apr 9, 2004
    Sydney OZ
    (From "The Age Newspaper)


    Ah, the frailties of man. Here I am, in wedded bliss with my 15-inch PowerBook, roses in the garden and bluebirds in the thatch (please, do not ask about the bats), and along comes her little sister to tempt me.

    Get thee behind me, siren. The temptress may flutter her eyelashes and sway her hips, but I am strong and I am faithful - at least I think so.

    For the past week I have had as constant companion one of the new 12-inch PowerBooks and, although I am not about to change my view that the 15-inch machine is the best notebook I have ever used, this newcomer has powerful attractions.

    It is the neatness of it that is so attractive. Among Wintel notebooks several, such as Sony's Vaio, are slim and pretty, but their compactness often means lack of optical drives, and few can match the little PowerBook's features and power.

    Initially I thought that the smaller screen would cause problems, and there were occasions with Photoshop when I felt a little cramped, but were I not so accustomed to the 15-inch, I doubt I would have noticed it much. Having a full-sized keyboard in such a concise package helps too.

    Of all the recently revamped PowerBooks, the 12-inch group has gained the most. As before, there are two models, one with a Combo (CD-RW/DVD-ROM) optical drive and the other with a SuperDrive (DVD-R/CD-RW), but their G4 PowerPC processors are faster, from 1 GHz to 1.33 GHz.

    Hard-drive capacity has been increased from 40 to 60GB, useful for movie makers. (Do you remember not so long ago when we thought 40MB was massive?)

    Solid-state memory is still 256MB, which in my view is now marginal, but the bus speed has been raised from 133 to 167 MHz, and the SuperDrive now burns at 4x, double that of the previous model.

    Better than all that, Airport Extreme (IEEE 802.11g), the local-area wireless connection, and Bluetooth, the personal wireless connection, come as part of the package - a saving of about $300.

    The backlit keyboard that I enjoy on my 15-inch PowerBook is not available on the 12-inch models (they cause a lovely bit of green envy among the hoi-polloi of Wintel notebook users on overnight flights - perhaps they will come on the next 12-inch models), and I/O does not include FireWire 800 or Gigabit Ethernet, both of which are on the larger machines.

    The nVidia GeForce FX Go5200 graphics card is also a bit slower than the model fitted in the bigger PowerBooks, and RAM tops out at 1.25GB, against 2GB in my 15-inch Book, but these are not serious disadvantages for most users.

    Battery life seems good. I got more than three hours out of a single charge doing a fair amount of internet surfing using my Airport base station to connect to Optus cable and a couple of iPhoto sessions. From a full charge, I also watched Saving Private Ryan on DVD and still had quite a bit of puff left.

    In terms of performance, such as Photoshop rendering, iMovie and GarageBand sessions and so forth, the 12-inch machine was probably a bit slower than my 15-inch machine with its 1.5 GHz processor; at least that is how some benchtests found on the internet show it. In practice there does not appear to be much in it.

    It is also noticeable that these new PowerBooks run cooler than the old Titaniums. A TiBook could barbecue your thighs if you used it on your lap for too long, and I worried enough about the walnut veneer on my desk to buy a CoolPad (roadtools.com), but I have now retired it.

    If you travel a lot or use your notebook often on one of those tummy-pinching flaps on lecture theatre chairs, the smaller footprint and lighter weight (a bit more than 2kg) of the 12-inch PowerBook will be advantageous.

    If you run Microsoft Office:mac '04, you can even doze off and let the Mac record the lecture for your more conscious consideration later.

    The iLife '04 suite (iPhoto, iMovie, iTunes, GarageBand and, in the SuperDrive model, iDVD) is included, along with Mac OS X 10.3, a trial version of Filemaker Pro 7 (good stuff), Graphic Converter (also good) and other useful software.

    In short, the new 12-inch PowerBooks have enough improvements - extra hard-drive capacity, faster processors, Airport and Bluetooth as standard and faster DVD burning in the top model, to justify upgrading.

    Retail prices are $400 less than previous models. The Combo is now priced at $2599 and the SuperDrive at $2999.


    Let us lift a glass in a toast to Toast.

    The reason for the celebration is that Roxio's Toast 6 will soon be able to burn double-layer DVDs, so that you will be able to record up to 8.5GB of data - almost twice the current limit of 4.7GB - on a single double-layer DVD+R disc.

    That means more than three hours of MPEG-2 video or, using Dolby Digital compression, more than four hours of programming.

    Unbounded vistas of Neighbours and Kath and Kim may float before your eyes.

    Users of EyeTV, the digital TV recorder now available here for Macs, should soon be able to consign their VCRs to the scrap heap.

    The upgrade will be available on the Roxio website in about a week and will be free to registered users of Toast and Toast with Jam.

    Roxio says other benefits of the upgrade include the ability to create one-click copies of non-encrypted dual-layer DVD movies, squeezing more than 70 hours of music onto a DVD music album using Dolby sound.
  2. macrumors regular

    Apr 21, 2004
    I hate to break a little bit of that bubble, but dual layer recording is only going to be a feature on dual layer drives. Sony currently has an internal one for sale for about 200, and LaCie has an external one coming out soon for about 250. Makes me happy that I didn't waste the extra 200 on the super drive in my brand new 12" PB. I never saw a great need for being able to burn a dvd on a plane or something anyway...
  3. macrumors regular


    May 25, 2004
    Internal TEAC 8x Dual Layer DVD+R/RW is just 100€

    And so far all dual layer drives are all + and Apple is using -...
  4. macrumors 6502a

    Jul 31, 2003
    Plus, replacing the internal optical drive will void your warranty.

    (BTW, I know small is beautiful in laptops, but there are plenty of x86 laptops with internal optical drives (including DVD burning) that are smaller and, more importantly, lighter. Apple needs to work on the weight of the 12"PB.)
  5. macrumors 6502a

    May 17, 2004
    I really don't see the need for SuperDrive built into a notebook. Currently, the Combo Drive burns CDs faster than the SuperDrive, and apparently you can get an external 8X dvd burning drive for only $200.
  6. macrumors 6502a


    Mar 22, 2004
    United States
    Small is beautiful - that includes post lengths! :p I didn't read the whole thread, but I love my 12" PB and indeed, it is beautiful.

  7. macrumors 6502


    Nov 8, 2003
    but seriously..use the 17" once..and you may be hooked on it as well! I sure got hooked on it just seing it!
  8. macrumors regular

    May 25, 2003
    Amen brother!
  9. macrumors member

    May 15, 2004
    san jose OR riverside, Cali
    mm .. i love my new 12" powerbook. i brought it on campus yesterday and my friend was jealous cuz my 12"pb is waaaaaaaay more portable than his 17" sony vaio. and that its pretty too.
  10. macrumors 6502a


    Nov 22, 2003
    That post was so long I got bored of skimming it!
  11. macrumors member

    May 29, 2004
    What, do you all have short attention spans or something?

    Someone takes the time to write a decent contribution to the forum, not leaving out any facts or topics of interest and all you guys do is complain it's too long...

    I prefer to read an article with a little depth, as it is often the little details which make/break a product.

    I mean can you really enjoy a laptop that fries your balls? No, so it's good he commented on that...

    Btw. the previous poster is right about the dual layer dvd thing...you need a special drive to be able to do that.
  12. Moderator emeritus


    Mar 10, 2004
    Bergen, Norway
    Well, small is good, and I don't see how anyone can drag around the bigger 'Books... I was used to drag a 14" Pismo everywhere, but after I replaced that with a 12" iBook I realise what portability is really about...

    12" rules...! :D
  13. macrumors 6502

    Oct 24, 2003
    The article is by Gary Barker, the 'Macman' from The Age (Melbourne, Australia)

    Good to hear you enjoyed the post, but it's actually an article from our local newspaper, The Age:


    I agree with you though - I really enjoy Gary Barker's articles, the right mix of detailed, analytical and gushing :) - despite going for the 15" instead (which he has praised numerous times, so I feel slightly better lol ;))

    Secondly - because it's an article / regular column, you have to understand that the bit about Toast's dual layer burning capability is a distinct news item from the 12" Powerbook review. In fact, I don't see any logical connection between them even in the format posted here. So no need to jump down his throat. But on that point, I also agree, if dual layer burning is anyone's thing (right now I can see the only particular advantage of it is the obvious ability to rip off commercial DVDs with little to no compression - big no no :eek: ), then getting an internal (for a desktop) or a firewire enclosure is the way to go. I don't think anyone will be putting them in notebooks anytime soon for a reasonable price.
  14. macrumors regular

    Mar 31, 2004
    In tha 212
    superdrive questions

    On the 15" pb, does the superdrive make the laptop heavier? Are there any drawbacks to having it other than an extra $200? I just got mine with superdrive as I do some video creation and figured I could quickly throw some files on dvd rather than have to travel with HDs...
  15. macrumors 6502a

    May 17, 2004
    the one drawback I am aware of is that the superdrive burns CDs slower than the Combo Drive, which can be a problem if you like to burn CDs or if you think you will rarely burn DVDs. you picked the right thing for video creation though, so i wouldn't worry about it.
  16. macrumors member


    Aug 21, 2003
    Syracuse, NY
  17. macrumors 68000


    Jul 1, 2003
    While dual-layer is nice and all, please realize the price of actually buying/using the media:


    I spent a little under $30 for a 50-pack of 4X DVD-R's. Plus, I only spent $80 for my NEC 2500A (DVD+/-RW). By the time I actually use up all my media (a year or two's time), then maybe I would consider upgrading to the next level. But until then, I would wait it out a bit. A single 8.5GB, dual-layer costing $19+ just isn't a good deal yet :(

    *Additionally...I would wait getting a dual-layer DVD drive in the first place. 2.4X is painfully slow at this point. I expect that maybe in a year's time, that should hit 4 or 8X, making the waiting time from ~40min, to a reasonable ~20min (which is 4X for standard 4.7GB DVD+/-R media).

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