PowerBook G4 12" – Good for anything?

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by dotnet, Feb 3, 2016.

  1. dotnet macrumors 6502a

    dotnet

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    Apr 10, 2015
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    #1
    A PowerBook G4 12" just returned home to me having spent many years with my mother-in-law. She barely used it and it looks like it's in excellent shape. It's got 1.5GHz/1.25GB/160GB and Leopard 10.5.8 installed.

    My question is, what's it good for these days? I notice that there are quite a few people in the PowerPC forum with this laptop. What are they using it for?

    I'm grateful for any ideas, however if it's practically useless I'll try to get 50 bucks for it on eBay... :(
     
  2. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

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    #2
    It depends on you.

    We use our PowerPC Macs because there are still things they can do for us. But if what you need or demand out of the machine is past it's abilities then sell it.

    But if you have a use for it that is within it's capabiliies then these old Macs are still very useful.

    They are still capable laptops for light web browsing, light word processing, email, iTunes use, syncing with older iPhones, etc.

    My wife's 12" PB is her main use computer and there is a teacher here who uses it every day at work.

    Again, it just depends on your expectations.
     
  3. Daniël Oosterhuis macrumors 6502a

    Daniël Oosterhuis

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    #3
    There are several uses for PPC Apple computers. Lightweight browsing, email, Office applications, music playing (an old version of Spotify that still works is available), DVD/SD Video playback, etc. My favourite use is video games, you can -play a lot of Universal or PPC Mac OS X games, as well as run emulators for old game consoles and even arcade machines. The fact it's a portable is a plus, as you can play classics like Pac Man and Donkey Kong on the go!
     
  4. 556fmjoe macrumors 65816

    556fmjoe

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2014
    #4
    You can do a lot with them.. Most people would be surprised at how useful old computers are. I use a T23 as a daily driver and love it. I have that same PowerBook and it is much faster, so you would be able to do things more comfortably.

    Obviously, they aren't magical. They'll struggle with Flash (which should not be run anyway due to many security problems) and heavy Javascript. But lots of tasks will be fine, as others have pointed out.
     
  5. weckart macrumors 68040

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    Nov 7, 2004
    #5
    Ask for more than $50. The hard drive alone is worth $30+.
     
  6. Dronecatcher macrumors 68000

    Dronecatcher

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    #6
    Can someone remind me what "lightweight web browsing" is :)

    Bear in mind you've got the best spec 12" Powerbook Apple made - not some poor man's model.

    Use XBMC or VLC and you've got a portable media player too (no higher than 720P for common .mp4 though). It can run design, video and music software from the period it was made great too - you just have to remember it's age - eleven years has spoilt us with faster computers.
    You could even use it as a server of some sort as it uses little power compared with a desktop.
     
  7. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

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    #7
    LOL! I know you meant that tongue-in-cheek, but I'll give you my definition anyway - you know, since I brought it up! :D

    Google searches. In my case, quick searches, troubleshooting searches and Google News searches (The Guardian seems to like writing articles about American politics by the way).
     
  8. Dronecatcher macrumors 68000

    Dronecatcher

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    #8
    :) Yeah, it's often used in context of PPCs and it always makes me smile. Myself, I define it as surfing with no script, plugins or images - so yes, text based stuff. With those limitations even a G3 runs fast. Apart from Flash, I've never found normal browsing a problem on portables, it's just slow but you quickly adapt to it.

    The Guardian probably has higher qualified "web people" to push their Google traffic higher :)
     
  9. bobesch macrumors 6502a

    bobesch

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2015
    Location:
    Kiel, Germany
    #9
    The secret of PowerBook / PowerPC - You'll have to find out yourself! ;)
    onething1.jpg
    (BTW: there's more than one! Office, Email, NoVirus, NoUpdates, PDF, GroupFax, DVD, iTunes, beamer-companion,mobile HotSpot, FileServer/File, WebKit-Browser, RemoteDesktop/ScreenSharing/TeamViewer, FirstClass, DevonThink, VirtualPC /w Win2K, eyeTV view&record etc ...)

    PS: many thanks to all McR-PPC-Forum members and their good advice about helping me making the best of PowerPC.
     
  10. Idefix macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2012
    #10
    attach it to your stereo system and use it as a jukebox.

    You could run Eudora!

    Use it to run Shanghai II, a great Mahjong solitaire game!
     
  11. MultiFinder17 macrumors 68000

    MultiFinder17

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Location:
    Tampa, Florida
    #11
    Hello! I'm the teacher mentioned, and as he said, I use it in class every day as my main machine.

    Eyoungren mentioned the PowerBook that I use in my classroom earlier in this thread - I just wanted to give some screenshots of how it's normally used. I snapped a couple at the end of classes today. First up is the Dock to show what's running - Finder, Safari, iTunes, Keynote, Word, PowerPoint, Excel, FirstClass, Calculator, QuickTime, and Preview. The second just shows all my Spaces with their open stuff.

    Everything the district does and distributes is in Office, so Office 2008 is a must for proper compatibility with the XML Office stuff. I know that there are plugins for Office 2004, but they don't work nearly as well from my experience. I track the attendance and take care of the grading on online systems through Safari. I generally keep iTunes open to play some music while I'm eating lunch or on my planning period. FirstClass is for my school email and other district doodads. I show short video clips using QuickTime, and Calculator and Preview are pretty self explanatory.

    This little machine, despite "only" having a 1.5GHz G4, only 1.25GB RAM, and running a version of OS X that's seven years and six versions out of date, handles all of this flawlessly. Add that to the fact that it's tiny, fits nicely on my desk, and has an awesome keyboard (I still like the keyboard on the PowerBooks better than the island on the MacBooks and post-unibody Pros, although I don't really mind that keyboard) and you have the perfect companion notebook for a teacher.

    Picture 7.png
     

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  12. iModFrenzy macrumors 6502a

    iModFrenzy

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    #12
    "Good for anything?" Absolutely! I use my PowerBook 15in 1.25ghz a lot. I love using mine to play games. Star Wars Battlefront is what I play most,Call Of Duty,Halo,Quake,etc. I also used it for assignments for school as well. I remember one assignment which really put it to the test, I had to multitask PhotoShop CS2, LibreOffice, and giant Wiki pages. PowerBook handled it fine. Luckily my printer manufacture still makes drivers for older OS X versions(EPSON in case your wondering). In fact, I'd have to say my PowerBook is more reliable than any of my computers when doing assignments. My ThinkPad T60 can be a bit slow sometimes,Toshiba Satellite don't even get me started.

    MacintoshGarden has really saved me, tons of software on there.

    Point is, they are still good for many things.
     
  13. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

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    #13
    Just call me Erik. :cool:
     
  14. gooser macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 4, 2013
    #14
    several times a week i pick up and use one of my ibook g4's. if i can find a use for them then you can find a use for your powerbook. (just perfect for using in my lap while sitting on the sofa and glancing back and forth from the screen to the tv set.)
     
  15. MysticCow macrumors 6502a

    MysticCow

    Joined:
    May 27, 2013
    #15
    No, it's not good at all. You should send it to me for free.

    (STOP TRYING TO GET ME BANNED!)

    Seriously, if you can use it for something, use it. I use PowerPC for word processing, web browsing, emailing, an iTunes music library, and a few other things. That's with a G4 Digital Audio with inferior specs compared to that PowerBook.
     
  16. dotnet thread starter macrumors 6502a

    dotnet

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    Sydney, Australia
    #16
    Thanks everyone for your suggestions and encouragement!

    I've downloaded a few classic video games and will see how well they work. Unfortunately, it turns out the PB can't play Handbrake DVD rips without dropping lots of frames. I suppose the lack of hardware support for H.264 decoding is to blame. Maybe games work a bit better.
     
  17. thescotsman4 macrumors member

    thescotsman4

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    Nov 11, 2015
    #17
    @dotnet Congrats on your mac coming home.I picked up a nice condition 12" PB with the same specs as yours. They are cracking little machines, lots of character and of course an awesome keyboard! I think I may need to replace the thermal pads and fan as my PowerBook gets a bit hot browsing the web.

    Does anyone reckon that swapping in an SSD would help the performance of handbrake? I'm tempted to swap in an SSD when doing the pads and fan.
     
  18. Dronecatcher macrumors 68000

    Dronecatcher

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    #18
    If they're 720P or lower and no more than 30FPS they will play in VLC, MPlayer and XBMC.
    --- Post Merged, Feb 4, 2016 ---
    No, the rate of data streaming off the hard drive isn't the problem - it's the horsepower needed to decode it.
     
  19. Daniël Oosterhuis macrumors 6502a

    Daniël Oosterhuis

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    #19
    DVDs don't do 720p. That's lower end Blu-Ray/HD-DVD territory.
     
  20. MysticCow macrumors 6502a

    MysticCow

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    #20
    Have to agree on trying VLC for video playback. I've had videos drop frames in QT only to work perfectly in VLC.
     
  21. dotnet thread starter macrumors 6502a

    dotnet

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    Apr 10, 2015
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    #21
    Interesting, I'll give VLC a shot.

    And yes, the videos are 480p or thereabouts, at circa 2Mbps bitrate.
     
  22. bobesch macrumors 6502a

    bobesch

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    Oct 21, 2015
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    Kiel, Germany
    #22
    If you're going to detach the PB for maintenance swapping the HDD to a mSata/IDE-Adapter is really a no-brainer even if Handbrake isn't that faster since speed for encoding video is more related to the CPU.
    Prsonaly I do enjoy every day working with my fast and silent iBooks(G3/G4) and Powerbook.
    It's a shame, swapping the hard drive is such a hassle on the old iBooksG3/G4
     
  23. thescotsman4 macrumors member

    thescotsman4

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2015
    #23
    Yeah I've been toying with the idea of the SDD, I've already got the mSata/IDE-Adapter just need an mSata SSD and the motivation to do it! I love the form factor of the PB but can't help wonder if I'd be better off selling it an snagging an early MacBook Air 11".
     
  24. bobesch macrumors 6502a

    bobesch

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2015
    Location:
    Kiel, Germany
    #24
    I've started using iBooks after my MacBookAir 11" (early 2014) was stolen.
    The 11" MacBookAir was my best experience for a portable computer and I am very good now in tricking me not to buy another one.
    As a replacement and to be up-to-date I now use a 2008 MacBookAlu 2.4GHz with El Capitan (price was 250€ and I maxed out RAM to 8GB and added an SSD). That my "Standard" for daily use, VPN-Connections to a Win2008-Server etc.
    In addition to that MacBook2008 I use two iBooksG4 (both ca,60€ plus 20€ for a new battery) on a regular base.
    Except from VPN-connectivity and Browser performance I prefer to use the iBooks, when it comes to use them in combination with beamer and USB-sticks.
    The Pros for the iBook are: GroupFax, NoUpdates, NoVirus, Full Office (2008) AND most Software (except from Multimedia) runs pretty good on iBook/PPC.
    Adding mSata/ide connector is a benefit for a reasonable price in combination with an capable and inert PPC-machine.
     

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