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JUNE 6, 2001
G4 500 MHz
Apple's new strengths
new Titanium Powerbook G4 is a visually striking addition to the
ho-hum world of laptop computersand offers interesting potential
for the video professional. The unit I tested had a 500MHz processor,
256MB of built-in memory and a 1MB backside cache, a 20GB hard drive,
DVD drive, 56K internal modem, one PCMCIA slot, and Mac OS 9.1.
There is no mistaking this laptop. The gray titanium case is sleek,
distinctive, and yes, thin. While Apples marketing touts titanium
as exceptionally strong, the computer has a delicate feel. Titanium
or not, Im not going to risk dropping it. But at 5.3lbs. and
just over 13x9.5, it packs a lot of electronic muscle
in a small package. It also benefits from Apples penchant
for clever design. The white Apple logo on the cover glows from
the screens backlight. The cleverly designed cover clasp pulls
into the case when disengaged so that it wont snag skin or
Opening the cover reveals what seems like acres of screen real estate.
The 15.2-in. screen is bright and clear with 1152x768-pixel resolution.
The extra screen space translates to greater productivity in computer
tasks. More windows can be open and available at once and large
enough, in many cases, to eliminate the need for scrolling around
documents and images.
The power of 500MHz processing is immediately apparent upon startup.
About 85 seconds pass between Apples distinctive chord and
complete startup. That beats my Powerbook 266MHz G3 by 30 seconds.
All of the functions are noticeably peppieropening and closing
windows, launching applications, and saving your work.
In order to give
a comprehensive review, I wanted to be able to use my typical set
of applications. Instead of copying them all onto the new machine,
I used a portable drive insteada 10GB FireWire/USB drive from
LaCie, which gets its power from the laptop. The Powerbook G4 has
one FireWire port and two USB ports on the back panelall hot-swappable.
view of Apple's Titanium Powerbook G4, which has a list price
Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, Filemaker 5, and Netscape Communicator
all ran from the LaCie drive. All of the applications were quick and
responsive thanks to the 500 MHz processor and the FireWire connection.
provided a copy of Final Cut Pro 1.5, which I quickly installed from
So to this point I have described a very nice, relatively expensive
laptop computer. Exceptional design and fully featured. What, if anything,
would draw a video professional to this computer? iMovie 2 and Final
Theres money to be made with this computer, those two programs,
and any FireWire-capable camera. iMovie 2 is an amazing little editing
program. Although major nonlinear editing systems have no reason to
fear this feisty application, the program is capable of producing
who need short and relatively simple featurettes, say for a website,
iMovie 2 can deliver. I tested this application by creating a two-minute
wrap-up of a local high school basketball game. I shot it on a Sony
PC100 DV camcorder, loaded the footage directly from the camera
into the computer via FireWire, and output a web-ready streaming
movie. Once the footage was loaded, the editing took about 10 minutes,
including creating a title and rendering two or three effects between
For another test, I took the Powerbook G4 and my Sony DSR200 three-chip
DV camera to a major nonprofit clients office. There I recorded
a 10-minute standup presentation by the chief executive. What was
unusual about this job was that I did not use any tape. I connected
my camera to the computer via FireWire and recorded the presentation
directly to the hard drive using Final Cut Pro. The material was
immediately available for review on the Powerbooks large bright
screen. When I returned to my office, I played the program out via
FireWire through the camera to a VHS deck and delivered two VHS
copies to the client the next day.
While a complete
review of Final Cut Pro is beyond the scope of this article, in
just the few days I spent working with it I found it full-featured,
easy to operate, and flexible for various styles of editing.
The bottom line on this new laptop from Apple is that it can quickly
help the bottom lineas a revenue-generating addition to
a video professionals bag of tricks. In addition to the traditional
functions of word processing, graphics creation, and financial calculations,
the Titanium Powerbook G4 can do real video production.
a message in the Creative Mac World
Wide User Group.
Jim B. Grant
is president of Communicating Services, a full service corporate and industrial
production company in Atlanta. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2001, Intertec Publishing,
A Primedia Company All Rights Reserved