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This product is now very old and outdated but that does not make it useless. The hardware can still do just about anything a new one can though obviously not as fast. The processor is still supported up to version 10.5 of the operating system though support has currently now ended. The old G4 processor is a capable 32bit unit and pound for pound better than a Intel or AMD unit.
The build quality though isn't what I would of hoped for from a Apple. The screen cuts out when the screen is at a certain angle and the keyboard is very tired and falling to bits. The screen is starting to degrade as well with more and more dead pixels appearing every few months. This laptop has been used daily for a good few years but even so for the original price (£1000) it should lasting better than this.
The worst part though is how hot it gets the G4 and then later the G5 suffered from overheating issues from the processor and poor cooling. apple wanted a quiet laptop/desktop but the processor couldn't survive without more powerful cooling. In the end design won over functionality and this is what cripples the product long term
I acquired this laptop from a friend who was upgrading. I wanted to try using a mac before I made the investment of buying a new one. This laptop is more than 4years old (i'm not sure exactly) but it still manages to keep up with everything that I need to use it for in 2009.
Things it can deal with fine:
Skype (but no webcam so must be bought separately)
Google sketchup (basic engineering / design software)
Logic Pro 7 (crashes very occasionally)
Microsoft office for mac (slightly slow to load up but works fine when open)
I Tunes (slow connecting to itunes store)
The other great thing about this mac is it doesn't seem to develop fundamental software problems in the same way old PCs do. This machine is basically still running the same as it was when it was bought. It is admittedly slower than the new macbooks but it has without doubt turned me from a die hard PC lover in to a MAC!!!
And the battery still works fine, this for me is a massive bonus as most old PCs loose the ability to hold battery power. I would definitely recommend buying a mac for a degree course as it will still be there working fine when you graduate. It may be a large investment as the cheapest macbooks start at £799 but if you consider the use that you will get out of it then the extra cost starts to make sense. Alternatively buy a second hand one like this and so long as the previous user has been relatively gentle with it, it should still be working great.
Whether you use a MacOS, Windows, or UNIX system, your search for the world's best high-performance thin and light notebook computer is over. The PowerBook G4 easily runs everything from Microsoft Office to Final Cut Pro to Adobe Photoshop. It also connects to just about anything, from wireless networks to digital cameras to the stunning Apple Cinema Display. Such incredible power deserves equally impressive display capabilities. The PowerBook G4 features a 15.2-inch mega-wide screen with 1280-by-854-pixel resolution, which gives you the largest workspace, best color saturation, and widest viewing angle ever in a PowerBook. Compared with 15-inch XGA screens, you get 39 percent more workspace.
If you need to increase your workspace even more or deliver a presentation, the PowerBook G4 features DVI, VGA, S-video, and composite output options for connectivity to flat-panel displays, CRTs, TVs, and projectors. And for the first time ever, you can have the ultimate pure digital experience and even more workspace by connecting your PowerBook to an Apple flat-panel display. When it comes to networking, the PowerBook G4 has you covered. With an AirPort Card, you're ready to connect to a wireless network at work, at home, or in a café. If you're looking for a high-speed connection via Ethernet, DSL, or cable modem, just plug into the Gigabit Ethernet port. Of course, there's a built-in 56K modem as well. The PowerBook G4: accomplish more, carry less.