PowerBook G4 12" for iBook user

retta283

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I use an iBook G4 12" as my main travel laptop, but it's quite chunky and heavy. Would a 12" PowerBook be an improvement in portability? And also, is the 12" PowerBook's screen better than the iBook?
 

AL1630

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Apr 24, 2016
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The 12" Powerbook is almost identical in size and shape to an iBook, just made of metal instead of plastic. I believe the screens are similar or the same as well, but the PB has more VRAM. The only reason to get one IMO is if you like the metal more or need a very slight performance boost.
 
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AphoticD

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Feb 17, 2017
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The screen is identical and interchangeable between the PB and iBook 12”. As @AL1630 points out, the VRAM is higher, however in my experience, the 32MB Radeon Mobility 9550 in the 1.33GHz iBook 12” performs a little better than the Go FX5200 in the PowerBook.

The main advantage of the PBG4 12” IMO is the physical design. The edge to edge keyboard is one of the best Apple have ever designed. I enjoy typing on my 12” PB than any of my iBooks or MacBooks/MBPs.
 

retta283

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Actually after research I found out that the PBG4 12" is smaller in every way than the iBook. It's thinner, lighter, and takes up less space. I couldn't find the picture I saw that showed the two stacked, but the PB is definitely smaller. I don't know if that would justify me buying a whole new system though. Esp. since I have the mid 2005 iBook G4 12" so I already have the best of that side.

Is the 14" iBook screen higher quality than the 12"? I know it's the same resolution, but are the colors better?
 

amagichnich

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Feb 3, 2017
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Actually after research I found out that the PBG4 12" is smaller in every way than the iBook. It's thinner, lighter, and takes up less space. I couldn't find the picture I saw that showed the two stacked, but the PB is definitely smaller. I don't know if that would justify me buying a whole new system though. Esp. since I have the mid 2005 iBook G4 12" so I already have the best of that side.

Is the 14" iBook screen higher quality than the 12"? I know it's the same resolution, but are the colors better?
Set the color profile to Adobe RGB and both of them look pretty good. I do not know of any difference between the two screens. As @AphoticD mentioned, the screens are identical.
 
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Lastic

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Mar 19, 2016
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Actually after research I found out that the PBG4 12" is smaller in every way than the iBook. It's thinner, lighter, and takes up less space. I couldn't find the picture I saw that showed the two stacked, but the PB is definitely smaller. I don't know if that would justify me buying a whole new system though. Esp. since I have the mid 2005 iBook G4 12" so I already have the best of that side.

Is the 14" iBook screen higher quality than the 12"? I know it's the same resolution, but are the colors better?
Pictures say more than a thousand words.

iBook 12" next to Powerbook 12"

image1.jpeg

Powerbook 12" on iBook 12" on iBook 14" aligned on the righthand side

image2.jpeg

Shot from the stack on the left-hand side to show the size difference in width

image3.jpeg

As such the Powerbook feels a bit lighter , is a bit lower and a bit less wide.

On keyboards the Powerbook feels more like the older type keyboards where you know what key you pressed and indeed the fact that runs up to the edges makes for a really nice form factor. ( Thinkpad X220 )
Second runner-up for me personally is the iBook 14" keyboard because you have more finger and palm space but it's a bit more chicklet.
(Thinkpad X230)

Screen quality and resolution, others might disagree but for me I have the following observations :
  • 14" has the same resolution as the iBook 12" so what you get in extra screen is lost in resolution
    Regarding colors I don't notice the difference they look identical to me but my colour spectrum might not
    be as sharp as let's say a graphic designer
  • the iBooks feel more bright and more usable in daylight outside but off course due to age my Powerbook's screen could alsohave lost it's brightness .
  • The Powerbook has more ppi and feels more crisp and sharper to read than the iBooks
    I know the comparison is way off but for me it feels like a regular Macbook vs Macbook Retina when reading PDF'
As @AphoticD stated , the iBook's GPU sometimes feels like it has more oompfh than the Powerbook but I can't pinpoint when or what.

I would throw my iBook in a bag and am a bit less carefull when handling , the Powerbook gets treated like a delicate precious machine
since it's way more dent and scratch frail .
However in general I treat all my computers gently, I feel they are precious working tools and not a (MBp) 1500$ thing on which you can rest your elbow when they are in clamshell mode ( Had to tell people that they are denting my screen )
 

eddjedi

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Sep 7, 2011
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Is there any particular reason why you need PPC while travelling? You can buy an 11" Intel Macbook Air for under $200 now, not only will it perform better than any PPC laptop but it will be literally a quarter of the size and weight, a massive difference. I have a 2016 MBP now and really miss the portability of my 11" MBA, I think it was the best laptop Apple ever made.
 

retta283

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Is there any particular reason why you need PPC while travelling? You can buy an 11" Intel Macbook Air for under $200 now, not only will it perform better than any PPC laptop but it will be literally a quarter of the size and weight, a massive difference. I have a 2016 MBP now and really miss the portability of my 11" MBA, I think it was the best laptop Apple ever made.
I use a lot of PPC apps and a few OS 9 apps. The 11" Air is nice but sadly won't run a lot of the apps I'm using.
 
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eddjedi

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Sep 7, 2011
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Well if you're going to go down that route....
Actually I reckon the 11" MBA is both thinner and lighter than both of those :)

In all seriousness, I'm a big believer in using the right tool for the job. I have many 'legacy' computers at home that I use for things they are good at. However when travelling, THE most important thing is portability. I would not sit on a train with my G4 Cube set up to do a bit of word processing when I could use either my laptop or even phone.

So if there is some obscure program you genuinely need a PPC on the road for, sure look at the PowerBook. But I'd hazard a guess that whatever you're doing has a perfectly capable modern equivalent, that is probably even backwards compatible if you want to use the files on a PPC machine later (I was using CorelDraw 2018 last week and you can still save as far back as version 6 from the mid 90s.)

I love old tech, there's just a time and a place for it, and for me travelling is never the time.
 
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filmbuff

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Jan 5, 2011
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As someone with the iBook G4 I keep coming back to the 12" Powerbooks - they just look so neat. I'm confused why the Powerbook from the same time period is seemingly not as good as the iBook, especially with the price difference. Less RAM, really? Yes it is a tiny bit smaller and the metal looks nice, but the plastic iBook also seems to hold up better. All the aluminum ones I see for sale are dented up and scratched.

I'll probably still end up getting one. What's a good price these days?
 

retta283

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As someone with the iBook G4 I keep coming back to the 12" Powerbooks - they just look so neat. I'm confused why the Powerbook from the same time period is seemingly not as good as the iBook, especially with the price difference. Less RAM, really? Yes it is a tiny bit smaller and the metal looks nice, but the plastic iBook also seems to hold up better. All the aluminum ones I see for sale are dented up and scratched.

I'll probably still end up getting one. What's a good price these days?
A lot of banged up ones for sale from $60-$90. $100 plus for good condition ones last I checked.
 

z970mp

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Jun 2, 2017
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From my experiences (I own both), the iBook has a more robust latch mechanism than the PowerBook's.

The iBook's keyboard is also more easily serviceable than the PowerBook's.

The iBook does not get so hot as often as the PowerBook.

The iBook's feet consistently stay where they belong. The PowerBook's, on the other hand, can fall off and are difficult to replace, which means less thermal ventilation for an already very hot running notebook.

And, the iBook plays nicer with Linux, thanks to its ATI graphics chip.

It's the little things.
 

pochopsp

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Apr 6, 2016
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Is there any particular reason why you need PPC while travelling? You can buy an 11" Intel Macbook Air for under $200 now, not only will it perform better than any PPC laptop but it will be literally a quarter of the size and weight, a massive difference. I have a 2016 MBP now and really miss the portability of my 11" MBA, I think it was the best laptop Apple ever made.
You're so lucky for being in the USA... Here in Europe, in Italy in particular, technology is so expensive... The 11 MacBook air here will go for 300 EUR minimum which is almost 340 dollars...
 

bobesch

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Oct 21, 2015
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The most prominent distinction I've found between both of my 1.33Ghz models is that the iBook rarely switches it's fan on - the powerbook however, even with help from G4Fan Control, switches on doing moderate work.
My 1.5GHz 12"PB runs at 65° steady-state on high load without fans (using settings via 'g4fancontrol') and it feels damn hot and might burn your thighs. I didn't notice that with the iBook, but I do imagine that it is burning hot inside but the polycarbonate-shell is a good insulator.
[doublepost=1549662549][/doublepost]
Actually I reckon the 11" MBA is both thinner and lighter than both of those :)

In all seriousness, I'm a big believer in using the right tool for the job. I have many 'legacy' computers at home that I use for things they are good at. However when travelling, THE most important thing is portability. I would not sit on a train with my G4 Cube set up to do a bit of word processing when I could use either my laptop or even phone.

So if there is some obscure program you genuinely need a PPC on the road for, sure look at the PowerBook. But I'd hazard a guess that whatever you're doing has a perfectly capable modern equivalent, that is probably even backwards compatible if you want to use the files on a PPC machine later (I was using CorelDraw 2018 last week and you can still save as far back as version 6 from the mid 90s.)

I love old tech, there's just a time and a place for it, and for me travelling is never the time.
You've made the point.
And in situations, where 8 kg is the limit on a flight, the 11" Air is the Book to go with ...
(if you ran out of Palm m5xx ... ;) )
 
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weckart

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Nov 7, 2004
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As someone with the iBook G4 I keep coming back to the 12" Powerbooks - they just look so neat. I'm confused why the Powerbook from the same time period is seemingly not as good as the iBook, especially with the price difference. Less RAM, really?
There's an obvious reason for that. The last iBook was launched six months after the last PB G4 12". RAM got a bit cheaper so the iBook benefitted from that. What did surprise me given the RAM imbalance is that Apple never saw fit to refresh the PB the way it did with the Mac Mini G4 and at least give parity on onboard RAM.

I suppose Apple was well into getting the Intel switch under way and didn't want to waste any more time or money on their brand new but soon to be legacy products.
 

bobesch

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Oct 21, 2015
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Kiel, Germany
There's an obvious reason for that. The last iBook was launched six months after the last PB G4 12". RAM got a bit cheaper so the iBook benefitted from that. What did surprise me given the RAM imbalance is that Apple never saw fit to refresh the PB the way it did with the Mac Mini G4 and at least give parity on onboard RAM.
I suppose Apple was well into getting the Intel switch under way and didn't want to waste any more time or money on their brand new but soon to be legacy products.
Well, taking into account, that pre-ordering and further planning for enhancements will take maybe 6+6 months, there's nothing to keep the juggernaut off going his path following the supply chain ...
 

weckart

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Nov 7, 2004
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Well, taking into account, that pre-ordering and further planning for enhancements will take maybe 6+6 months, there's nothing to keep the juggernaut off going his path following the supply chain ...
Maybe. However, Apple mananged a silent CPU upgrade for the Mac Mini G4, which it never even bothered announcing. If Apple could disrupt that supply to production line for a pricier component, it could easily do the same for the iBook with a cheaper component.

It's not as if people weren't grumbling about it at the time.:)
 

Project Alice

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Jul 13, 2008
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As @AphoticD stated , the iBook's GPU sometimes feels like it has more oompfh than the Powerbook but I can't pinpoint when or what.
The Radeon 9550 is way better then the Go 5200 in almost every way, aside from it being less vram in the iBook. The 5200 doesn't even have full core image, which makes leopards menu bar remain solid. An eyesore IMO on the 12" PB.

Aside from that, I also own both systems. I like the PowerBook better for its size and its looks. Plus mine is a 1.5Ghz model. You really won't see much difference other than the obvious look and feel. The 12" PB has smaller bezels around the screen which makes it look way more "professional" than the iBook. Personally, I use a 15" Al PowerBook G4 as my travel notebook. 2GB of ram and a Radeon 9700 with 128MB of vram is great.
 

Project Alice

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Jul 13, 2008
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But how does the Radeon's impressive benchmark translate in real use? I've always found my Powerbook to feel and do better.
I'm guessing the Radeon would be better at games?
It depends on the game. The 64MB is more useful for games than it is anything else. But the Radeon would tear it apart with more memory. The full core image support is what makes it smoother in leopard. Which PowerBook is yours? The 1.5Ghz PB will feel faster than the 1.33Ghz iBook.