PowerBook G3 400mhz viable as an every day laptop?

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by orestes1984, Nov 19, 2014.

  1. orestes1984, Nov 19, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2014

    orestes1984 macrumors 65816

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    #1
    Just for kicks I have one of these available to me, lets say hypothetically I buy a replacement battery, put 512mb of RAM, add a faster ATA133 drive in it and add a WIFI card, load it up with OS X 10.4.11, CS2 and Office 2008.

    • Just how tedious would it be for every day usage, for taking notes?
    • What sort of problems will I have connecting to modern wireless networks?
    • Is this feasible for every day usage or am I wasting my time and money?

    I've always wanted one of these machines, but I wonder if I'm wasting time and money. My main uses would be mostly note taking although the ability to download and review photos in the field would be somewhat handy.

    There's just something that's cool about the laptop in an Armani suit otherwise known as the PowerBook G3.
     
  2. PowerMac G4 MDD macrumors 68000

    PowerMac G4 MDD

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    #2

    1. Everyday usage/taking notes:

    Well, taking notes is no problem, as the keyboards on iBooks/PowerBooks are some of the best! It would be even better if you can connect to a network printer to print from. As for other every-day tasks, those are generally going to work fine with this machine. A 400Mhz G3 is (obviously) slow, but things like email and light web browsing, instant messaging, and classic games should work fine. Just know that browsing is a stretch... TenFourFox is great but would run VERY slowly on this. I'd look at Camino or Omniweb for this. NOTE: Office 2008 will be very slow. It's pretty slow on my 800Mhz iBook G4. I would opt for MS Office 2004. Another great, free+lightweight word processor is 'Bean'. Anyway, your web-browsing experience will have to be very light.

    2. WiFi, etc. :

    Your model will be using a first-gen Apple Airport card. Note that this will have trouble connecting to newer networks. WEP is less secure, and I would not open up your own WiFi networks to that. However, if you can cheaply find some old Apple Airport base station, I suppose that would be okay. It depends on your network also... for all I know, yours COULD be able to connect to it. Connecting to a network printer should be fine too, assuming you have the printer drivers.

    3. Feasible? Time-waster?:

    It would be cool to bring this machine back to its glory, but know that it is something to think about. I generally don't like putting money into older machines, but if you want to use this thing, and use it daily, then what the heck. However, it would probably be cheaper or the same amount of money to just buy a better PowerPC laptop, such as a newer iBook G4 or even a newer PowerBook G4. My 800Mhz iBook G4 is just fine for everyday tasks. I find that a 400Mhz G3 kind of a stretch... $50 can get you an iBook G4 running at around 1.07Ghz or something.

    It's fun using an old machine for everyday tasks, esp. for the feel of such a nice old Mac. Yours will be good for light usage, but I personally would go for something a little better if you want a nicer experience. But remember that if this chews your time and money, it's NOT a good idea. Overall, it's worth-it if you will get some use out of this machine, but not if it ends up becoming a chore to deal with.
     
  3. orestes1984 thread starter macrumors 65816

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    Australia
    #3
    Yeah, however, they're not nearly as cool as what the G3 Powerbooks are and what the heck ;) It would only be a daily light usage machine, I have a 2011 MacBook Pro also if I need more power.

    I was thinking about Office 2008 as I need XTML support for what I do, but it might just bog one of these machines down too much.

    It would not need to be fast, it would just need to be somewhat reliable for note taking type tasks, working with word and doing some basic stuff I'd otherwise do on my MacBook with Office 2011.

    RAM and hard drives aren't so much of an issue, what I'm finding is that batteries are hard to find and expensive if you can find them. Other World Computing have discontinued their batteries for these machine :(

    WIFI is a serious issue, particularly getting it to log on to a modern WPA wireless network, this might be the biggest stumbling block in getting it online witlessly particularly in environments that I'm not in control of at the office and etc.

    I can source RAM and hard drives cheap enough they seem to be at a real low point where you can pick up 512mb of RAM for less than $10 second hand, and an IDE drive is really not worth much more than that either.

    It seems wireless networking will be the biggest stumbling block and that no one has made a modern wireless card for the type of PC Card slots in these machines.
     
  4. weckart macrumors 68040

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    Nov 7, 2004
    #4
    We are talking a Pismo rather than a Lombard, right? Firewire is a tad more useful than SCSI.

    It will run Tiger tolerably well if you turn off the rubbish. I run TFF on mine. Max out the RAM to 1GB and it is usable. Inbuilt Airport is 1st gen but the cardbus slot gives you access to a cheap upgrade to 802.11g via a Belkin card. For word processing it is fine but your biggest problem will be batteries. You can use both bays at once but batteries are not cheap. Count on paying £40-£50 for 3rd party clones and no more than 2-3hrs from each.

    Get a cheap NEC usb2 cardbus card (the sort that does not protrude) and you can mount most flash drives without additional power. The cardbus port provides enough juice. Unlike the Wallstreets, you cannot boot off cardbus. Apple took that away. Pismos came with DVD ROM drives. You can put in a generic writer in the Pismo drive mount but most likely the door cover will not fit so you swap looks for functionality.

    Office v.X or 2004 would be better than 2008. Office 2001 on OS9 is faster still.

    Beware of the DC in port. The port is only held in by solder and is prone to breaking with heavy handling. The headphone port is particularly fragile. If that goes, you lose sound. You have to dismantle the Pismo to get to it but you will hone up your soldering skills. There is a bug with Pismos that even with functioning sound you often lose the chime on boot up. Don't sweat it if that happens. Nothing you can really do about that.

    I have 3 Pismos. They make for great WP machines and are cheap to buy so why not?
     
  5. PowerMac G4 MDD macrumors 68000

    PowerMac G4 MDD

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    #5
    If you cannot stand using it w/o wireless, you could see if you can open up a WEP network. (although certain aspects of them are insecure). I have an older Apple Airport base station (from 2005) and I once ran a WEP network from it. Of course, that depends on availability of ethernet ports.

    Yeah, I see what you mean about the PBG3 being cooler. Well, seeing as though you are really into this, then what the heck---you have a daily driver, just as anyone does, so this Mac won't be a problem. I once used an iMac G3 (500Mhz, 512MB RAM) as my main machine for some months, in 2011. xD That was such a great feat. Of course, it was more capable then than it is now, even though that was not so long ago.
     
  6. orestes1984 thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #6
    You're right if I really need to be somewhere where I can't be hard wired then I can open my router up at home. I'll just have to steal a network cable at work and in the office.

    It really is the "what in the world" factor that I want to achieve.
     
  7. weckart macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2004
    #7
    You won't. As I already said 802.11g and therefore WPA2 is doable with the right PC Card and Tiger installed.

    This one below works in my Pismo as an Airport card. Later revisions with the same moniker but grey coloured use a Ralink chip rather than native Broadcom and are best avoided. If you can track down the right Buffalo card and suitable kexts from Tiger Server 10.4.7 you can also get 802.11n on Tiger.
     

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  8. bunnspecial macrumors 603

    bunnspecial

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    #8
    Office 2008 runs decent-but not great-on my 500mhz Pismo.

    With 1gb of RAM, a Belkin WiFi card, a 60gb 5400rpm hard drive(the one I removed from the computer was 4200rpm) and 10.4, mine runs acceptable fast for everything I need it to do. It's no speed demon, but definitely useable for day-to-day stuff.
     
  9. gooser macrumors 6502a

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  10. weckart macrumors 68040

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    #10
    A number of sellers on eBay.
     
  11. orestes1984 thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #11
    I was thinking the other way to go would be to a USB2 card and then a wireless N adapter. That would give you the latest support for WPA2 and access to modern networking environments.

    ----------

    There are a number of eBay generic battery providers out there for them. Nothing of the quality of an OEM or Other World Computing battery, but they are still around.
     
  12. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

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    #12
    Depending on what OS you are running I may have a couple of USB wireless adapters that will work. Let me know if you want me to go find the model numbers so you can order one from Amazon.
     
  13. weckart macrumors 68040

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    #13
    That is a messier solution since you would need to power the USB card with a cable from one of the available USB 1 slots on the back of the Pismo and hope that it provides enough juice for both the card and the USB WiFi dongle. It might just work but it won't be pretty plus there are few dongles available that work with Airport under Tiger so you will have to have another app running in the background.
     
  14. roadbloc macrumors G3

    roadbloc

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    UK
    #14
    My advice would be to avoid Office 2008. I write books on two G4 machines (iMac and PowerBook) and Office 2008 is sluggish and just generally notverygood. Office 2004 and the Open XML Converter will see you right.
     
  15. headsh0t95, Nov 21, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2014

    headsh0t95 macrumors regular

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    Netherlands
    #15
    You can get 802.11n on tiger by putting an Edimax ew-7811un dongle into a USB 2.0 port. The drivers disk has a driver for ppc 10.4 and 10.5 machines. On their website, there are drivers up to windows 8.1 and OS X 10.9!
    I have tested this and my power Mac G4 (digital audio with PCI USB 2.0 card) connects to my wpa2 home network at a link rate of 150mbps (n-speed). Only negative point is that it is not a native airport card, you'll have to use the supplied "Wireless Lan Utility" to manage and connect the dongle.
     
  16. gooser macrumors 6502a

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    #16
    i believe these powerbooks were made before usb2 came out. that guy's suggestion about a buffalo card may be your best option.
     
  17. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

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    #17
    I have had good luck with the Netgear WNA1000m. It works extremely well and is not large at all.
     
  18. ClamshellOfDoom macrumors member

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    Tallahassee, FL
    #18
    Because you're running Tiger, go for 1Gb RAM total.
     

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