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Apple iBook G4 M9848B/A

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      06.06.2013 08:59
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      A lovely little computer, for what it is

      Whilst in a psychiatric hospital, my trusty old IBM ThinkPad fell off the arm of a chair. A ribbon cable broke, and the poor thing packed in. A close friend came to the rescue, sending me his old iBook G4, and, despite its age and incompatibilities, it's served me incredibly well

      =External Appearance=

      The iBook G4 has a white lacquer-effect plastic case, with an Apple logo on the lid that lights up when in use. There's a 14" matte screen, and a keyboard not unlike modern Apple keyboards, with white keys with rounded edges, low profiles, and elegant grey lettering. The sides are populated by three USB ports, a subtle, slide-in optical drive, a headphone jack, and an external video port. It's a remarkably pretty laptop; it was one of the first to follow the current Apple design ethic, and it shows. The iBook G4 is meticulously designed, down to the radius of the rounded corners to the little push switch to open the lid.

      =The Software=

      The iBook G4 comes with the usual suite of Mac OS software - the Safari browser, a command prompt, a mail program, an address book... Visually, the OS is extremely similar to that of modern Mac OS X versions, with a bar of programs along the bottom of the screen that appears upon hovering; a silver toolbar, with embossed black icons and lettering, along the top; and little traffic-light buttons to control individual windows.

      The iBook G4 has a PowerPC processor, with the result that it is physically incompatible with the great bulk of Intel PC software in the world. That is a shame, as it's a fast, remarkably robust computer. Groups still exist who support PowerPC as a superior architecture and catalogue software built for it, so finding one of their websites helps immensely. Alternatively, looking through old versions of Mac OS X software will soon turn up something PPC-compatible.

      =The Hardware=

      A 1.5GHz processor may not sound like much, and this computer does struggle with long, repetitive logical tasks - I tried to generate a certain string according to a certain algorithm, and it took some time to hit even a million strings generated. Still, in daily operation, the G4 zips along.

      A 14" screen allows for a nice view of your computing world. It would have been lovely if Apple had made it a glossy screen, rather than the matte, which is prone to accruing marks. However, the iBook was intended as an entry-level range, not as a luxury product, so this is understandable to keep down costs.

      512MB RAM doesn't hold this computer back. One thing I've noticed about this laptop is that it punches well above its weight. It consistently seems to outperform its spec.

      I don't know very much about the iBook's graphics card, but it runs the fading, growing, etc. effects of OS X without a stutter. However, it has been known to choke on video at or above 720p; but this could be a processor issue.

      The keyboard, like all Apple keyboards, doesn't have a delete key, and I find this surprisingly irritating. In most environments, the effect is obtained by hitting Cmd+Backspace, but a delete key, never mind Steve Jobs's opinion of the things, would have been an asset.

      =Conclusion=

      The iBook G4 is a beautiful machine. It's pretty, it's efficient, it's flawlessly designed, and it runs smoothly and elegantly. However, it's not Intel PC-compatible, which rather impacts its modern usage. Also, its video playback can be faltering.

      I'd recommend the iBook G4 to anyone to whom design and price are more important than widespread compatibility. It pains me to give such a beautiful machine three stars, but the powerPC processor really does constrain it in today's world.

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    • Product Details

      For a laptop, the inside of a backpack presents a jarring environment filled with shifts, bounces and the occasional bump. That's why Apple engineers designed the iBook G4 from inside out to stand up to the rigors of a strenuous life on the go. After all, you shouldn't have to walk softly just because you're carrying the world's most appealing notebook.

      Made of ultra tough polycarbonate plastic - the same high-grade material used in bulletproof glass - the iBook's sleek white case resists impact. While that measure alone might have allowed iBook to comfortably survive everyday use and abuse, Apple engineers took the idea of protecting your investment quite seriously. Inside, a sturdy magnesium frame provides superior strength, while reducing the weight of the iBook G4 to well below that of other full-featured PC notebooks. Rubber mounted for added bump tolerance, the iBook's hard disk drive lets you store all of your digital goodies and still enjoy peace of mind. What's more, the iBook has no I/O doors or protruding elements - and no optical drive tray, either - to break or snap off when tucked into a backpack or briefcase.

      Technical Data

      Product Description: Apple iBook G4 - PPC G4 1.42 GHz - 14.1" TFT
      Dimensions (WxDxH): 32.3 cm x 25.9 cm x 3.4 cm
      Weight: 2.7 kg
      Localisation: English / United Kingdom
      System Type: Notebook
      Built-in Devices: Stereo speakers, wireless LAN aerial, Bluetooth aerial
      Processor: PowerPC G4 1.42 GHz
      Cache Memory: 512 KB - L2 Cache
      RAM: 512 MB DDR SDRAM - 333 MHz - PC2700
      Hard Drive: 60 GB - 4200 rpm
      Optical Storage: DVD±RW - integrated
      Display: 14.1" TFT 1024 x 768 ( XGA )
      Graphics Controller: ATI Mobility Radeon 9550
      Video Memory: 32 MB DDR SDRAM
      Audio Output: Sound card
      Telecom: Fax / modem - 56 Kbps
      Networking: Network adapter - Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, Bluetooth, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g
      Input Device: Keyboard, trackpad
      Power: AC 120/230 V ( 50/60 Hz )
      Battery: Lithium Ion
      Run Time (Up To): 6 hour(s)
      Operating System: Apple MacOS X 10.4
      Environmental Standards: ENERGY STAR Qualified
      Manufacturer Warranty: 1 year warranty
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