APRIL 21, 2003
Apple 17-Inch PowerBook G4
There are some things I haven't gotten into with this machine that you might be interested in. First is battery life. Apple advertises a battery life of about 4.5 hours, and that, from my testing, seems to be accurate. I used it all the way back on the road from Vegas (about 350 miles in a slightly circuitous route), and it was just about out of juice by the end.Second is wireless reception. I know that some people had problems with AirPort reception with the PowerBook Titanium line. Now, as I mentioned, I had no trouble whatsoever with wireless reception anywhere within the Las Vegas Convention Center. At home, with a shiny new AirPort Extreme Base Station, it's a slightly different story. While the new model has two built-in antennae up near the top of the lid--as users have requested--reception with the Base Station wasn't great. At 30 feet and in direct line of site with the Base Station, I was down to 30 percent reception. Maybe I live on top of a uranium deposit or something, but that doesn't seem right. I will say for now that at distances of up to about 75 feet, I was able to maintain an network connection, and speeds seemed adequate, but the signal was fairly weak. At any rate, I've hardly had time to do adequate testing on this, and I'll present more in depth information in a separate review of the AirPort Extreme Base Station later.
Third is noise. After my last PowerBook review, several people wrote in asking about the excessive noise they were hearing from their particular Titanium PowerBooks. In the case of the 17-inch PowerBook--at least the review unit I have--there is no noise whatsoever. Sure, the drive spins up every now and again, but operation on the whole is utterly silent.
The last miscellaneous item worth noting only for people who haven't owned a Mac recently is the software suite that comes with this machine. Aside from the outstanding Mac OS X operating system, there's a full complement of software, including iDVD 3 for DVD authoring; iMovie for video editing; iPhoto for capturing and managing photos; iCal, a calendar application for scheduling; iChat for instant messaging; iTunes for managing and playing music, along with music visualization; and a whole host of behind the scenes software that makes the Macintosh a pleasure to use, from zero-setup networking to automatic device detection for digital cameras, printers and other peripherals.
The bottom line
The 17-inch PowerBook has it all. I'm not sure that there's any stock configuration for any notebook computer that comes close to matching the features of this machine. It has all the wired and wireless connectivity you could possibly need; it has a beautiful, huge, bright, clear screen; it has a built-in DVD and CD burner; it's just oozing with creative and productivity software for everything from keeping appointments to editing video to burning full-blown DVDs that'll run in a consumer DVD player; and, with a full 1 GHz G4 processor, it has the power to get the job done quickly. This is a total mobile solution. I have no choice but to give this machine the highest rating we give: a Must Buy recommendation, indicating that it's the best all-around solution in its class.
The Apple 17-inch PowerBook is available now for $3,299. It ships stock with a 1 GHz G4 chip with 1 MB level-3 cache; a 17-inch display capable of resolutions of 1,440 x 900; 512 MB DDR333 SDRAM; 60 GB Ultra ATA/100 drive; the SuperDrive combo CD-R/DVD-R drive; DVI out; S-video out; two USB ports; FireWire 400; FireWire 800; gigabit Ethernet; a PC Card slot; AirPort Extreme 802.11g card; Bluetooth wireless card; and an Nvidia GeForce4 440 Go graphics display system with 64 MB DDR video memory. For more information, visit http://www.apple.com.
Contact the author: Dave Nagel is the producer of Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; host of several World Wide User Groups, including Synthetik Studio Artist, Adobe Photoshop, Mac OS, Adobe InDesign, Adobe LiveMotion, Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; and executive producer of the Digital Media Net family of publications. You can reach him at [email protected].
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