(From "The Age Newspaper) http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/06/02/1086058887846.html?oneclick=true 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. MAC FILE 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.