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New 15'' PowerBook Full Review


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New 15'' PowerBook Full Review
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Messiahtosh
Apple Historian
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2004-05-18, 21:53

I have now had over two weeks of time for using and testing of this machine. I have to say, I am pleased, but let's start with from when I got it until now.

Packaging

The packaging of this computer was top notch, exactly the quality I expect from an Apple product and it was in line with previous purchases.

Once removed from the cardboard shell, the PowerBook is encapsulated in it's retail packaging. The handle-inlay is pretty nice, if not over the top. A very nice and just cool touch that adds to the cool factor of the unpacking experience, just a nice box before the real box even comes out!

Gotta love "designed by Apple in California."

Remove the styrofoam and it reveals some cables and manuals.

Take off that layer and it reveals a PowerBook covered in protective foam paper, as it lays in it's foam cradle.

The first thing I noticed about the PowerBook was that it was big, honestly, I thought it could have been a 17'' by mistake. But, soon enough I realized that was just me being overwhelmed by the size of the screen, when I am used to the iMac 15'' which is a lot smaller to the naked eye.

Once I got around to using the PowerBook, set up was not too bad. I had to move a lot of files off of my firewire hard drive, but once I had all of my files stored away and had everything organized I was ready to use my new PowerHouse.

Specs:

1.5 GHz G4
15.2'' LCD
1 GB RAM in 1 DIM
SuperDrive
80 GB
5400 RPM HD
Backlit Keys
Bluetooth
Airport Extreme

Ambient Light Sensing Keyboard

One of the things i was curious about trying was the backlit keyboard system. It worked for sure, but I grew to not really liking it because (like others have mentioned) the keys blend in with the light from the LCD and they become unreadable-the opposite of Apple's intentions. I can only see the backlit key feature being useful with the LCD on low brightness in power saving settings, but then again, if you're in power saving why would you want the backlighting to use more power? It's not a really big issue, I just dont find it very functional, so for now I have the feature turned off.

Speed

This thing is a sickly fast tank. I dont really know how to explain it other than that it is a world of difference, going from an 800 Mhz G4 iMac with 512 MB's of RAM, to this thing. iMovie renderings are lickity split, and quicktime compression is speed of light fast, also MP3 or AAC encoding is fast too. I encoded something at like 30 something x, compared to the iMac which did about 6 to 10x. Even rendering web pages is a lot faster, and dont even get me started on GarageBand. This cuts through GB.

SuperDrive

So far I have burned only a couple CD's for music in the car (no adapter for the iPod mini) and the burning speed seems no different than the iMac's was. I have not yet burned a DVD, but it is a faster drive than in the iMac, so I expect it to take around 30 minutes to do a DVD, not 60 to forever like the iMac.

Ergonomics

I have my PowerBook propped up on a VHS tape, so that it sits with a slight tilt, down towards me. It's a funny solution, but it does indeed solve the problem. Other than the fact that the PowerBook sits very flat when it has no support, it is very soundly built.

Portability

I have taken the PowerBook to school twice already. I have taken it one time to Barnes and Noble and one time to Irving's Bagels. I had no problems with weight issues or anything like that, though I must admit I feel a bit intimidated to take it out at school, just because it is HIGH SCHOOL. A lot of d-bags go to high school.

At Barnes and Noble it was fine, I typed some of my senior speech on it and edited my keynote presentation. At Irving's Bagels they have wireless internet, so I opened the lid on the PowerBook and I got a note that popped up saying, "None of your home networks are available, but would you like to join 'Irving's Bagels Wireless Connection'?" So I clicked yes, and off I went on the wireless network for the next two hours. I surfed the net, checked email, and even bought 3 songs off of iTunes while being wireless. It was exhilerating to be so geeky...

Battery Life

I havent used this without a battery source for more than 2 to 2.5 hours, but in that time I have only seen life get down to about a bit less than a quarter tank. It seems normal.

Wireless Mouse

So far the wireless mouse has worked flawlessly, but I am constantly forgetting to turn it off at night. I know I am going to be replacing batteries in that thing like I go to the bathroom after eating a thanksgiving meal.

Final Thoughts

The PowerBook is worth the price I paid for it and will be extremely useful and convenient for me as a college student. The performance is right, the features are right and the cool factor is sky high...now we'll see how the Xbench results are here in a moment. Here is a slightly outdated set up pic in the meantime though.

"We are reviewing some 9,000 recent UNHCR referrals from Syria. We are receiving roughly a thousand new ones each month, and we expect admissions from Syria to surge in 2015 and beyond." - Anne C. Richard, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
 
Wrao
Yarp
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Road Warrior
 
2004-05-18, 23:10

Be mindful of sweaty palms.
 
netromac
Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2004-05-19, 02:33

Thanks Messiahtosh for a great review. I've planned on buying the 15" pb for some time now, and with the newest release with the faster G4 and the price-drop I'm ready to go for it. I have to say reading reviews like this does make my palms sort of "tingling".
 
Luca
ಠ_ರೃ
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Minnesota
 
2004-05-19, 02:59

Given the number of reports of tiny little holes forming in the aluminum due to palm sweat, I would suggest getting some thin, clear plastic and covering the palm rests with it. I think you can get some specifically designed for PowerBooks somewhere, but I don't know where.

Also, my DVD-R drive will burn 4x DVD-Rs in about 15 minutes, so the PowerBook shouldn't take much longer. Depends on the burning software of course. So far I have only burned DVDs with Toast 6, so I have no idea if other software takes longer to burn. I wouldn't be surprised if iDVD takes longer - I don't know why, it just seems like the kind of app that would take longer. Sort of like how burning CDs and DVDs with Finder takes twice as long because you have to first copy all the items and THEN burn them.

Anyway, enjoy your awesome new PowerBook! It should last you a good long time. One question - did you go for 64 MB or 128 MB of VRAM? You didn't list that in your review.
 
ast3r3x
25 chars of wasted space.
 
Join Date: May 2004
Send a message via AIM to ast3r3x  
2004-05-19, 05:12

I was bothered about the holes forming from sweat. But I figured that if it progresses at the rate it is, I can live with it for another three years. I'll start to be annoyed when I can actually FEEL the holes. Plus I think my palms have better adjusted to not sweating as much when I'm at my computer.

I've noticed that Toast 6 (pirated maybe the cause) burns slow even at 4x DVD. I am using the old toast still because it only takes a little over 13 min to burn a DVD. (G4 QS 733)
 
Messiahtosh
Apple Historian
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2004-05-19, 06:17

Sorry, yes, 128 MB of glorious Radeon 9700 graphics RAM.
 
pscates2.0
Mr. Katan
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2004-05-19, 09:26

As a fellow laptop user, allow me to pass on a cool little nugget you may find helpful: if you really use this thing at home a lot, do what I did and consider springing for an external keyboard and some sort of "eye-level" riser solution.

I used my PowerBook "as is" (with only an Apple wireless mouse) for nearly five months before the shoulder, eye and neck pains and kinks finally forced me to get a clue.



Bought an Apple keyboard (wired) and a Griffin iCurve and INSTANTLY my whole using experience improved and, honestly, became fun and enjoyable again.

I always poo-pooed the whole "ergonomics" talk, but I learned - the hard way - what sitting hunched up, with your shoulders all tight and drawn in and your neck craned down to see the screen and your body lurched forward to reach the PowerBook keyboard can do. Ouch!



With my current set-up I get the best of both worlds: desktop comfort while doing "serious" work at my desk, then I unplug 3-4 cables (power, keyboard, speaker, iPod) and BAM...instant portability and go anywhere I want, truly enjoying the whole idea of owning a portable. I leave the keyboard in place, of course, but the mouse goes in my bag with me...

And since the above pic was taken, I've drilled a 1.5" hole in my desk, outfitted it with a black cable/wire grommet, put a retainer cap in place and now when I unplug the three cables on the left side (keyboard, power, speaker), they stay put on the desk, instead of falling behind/below the desk and I no longer have to go fishing for them everytime I return with my PowerBook.

Try it the way you have it, but I'll bet you'll eventually want to lean back in your chair and type a bit more comfortably...

Nice PowerBook. Enjoy!
 
åsen
Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2004-05-19, 12:19

Quote:
Originally Posted by Messiahtosh
Ambient Light Sensing Keyboard

One of the things i was curious about trying was the backlit keyboard system. It worked for sure, but I grew to not really liking it because (like others have mentioned) the keys blend in with the light from the LCD and they become unreadable-the opposite of Apple's intentions. I can only see the backlit key feature being useful with the LCD on low brightness in power saving settings, but then again, if you're in power saving why would you want the backlighting to use more power? It's not a really big issue, I just dont find it very functional, so for now I have the feature turned off.
Me too. I managed to procure a PB with a partially illuminated keyboard, so I can do comparisons on the fly.



When something else fails I'll send it in for fixing, but in the meantime, backlighting is off.
 
Wrao
Yarp
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Road Warrior
 
2004-05-19, 12:24

I've got the most use out of the Backlight when I tilt the screen all the way back and it's dark in the room. I don't even need to lower teh LCD brightness much, having the LCD at that angle prevents the light from the LCD from affecting the Keyboard too much, so it all works.
 
SonOfSylvanus
Fro Productions(tm)
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: London Town
 
2004-05-19, 18:44

Quote:
Originally Posted by pscates2.0
--->8--- I learned - the hard way - what sitting hunched up, with your shoulders all tight and drawn in and your neck craned down to see the screen and your body lurched forward to reach the PowerBook keyboard can do. Ouch!
Can you see me?

I want to do the whole erg thing, but its so expensive to get all that stuff. And I want a multi-button scroll-wheel BLUETOOTH mouse - try finding one of them!

bouncy bouncy
 
pscates2.0
Mr. Katan
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2004-05-19, 19:30

Yeah, it was indeed about a $90 outlay, but a) I planned for it and b) I figure $90 is a decent price to pay for salvaging my neck/shoulders/eyes.



Big picture...

And I've just always been a one-button mouser. On two or three occasions I've tried the "two-button/scroll wheel" thing, but I always come back to my little pill mouse. I just love that shape and feel of the Apple mouse.

MacMice has that new mouse that they modeled after the Apple design, and it has two buttons and a scroll wheel. Maybe I'll give that a shot someday. I e-mailed them and they said a Bluetooth version is slated for June.

But that's also the same site/guy (Jack) who reported about the "boxes of G5 PowerBooks spotted" at some trade show last summer, so...

 
EDS66
Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Arlington, VA
 
2004-05-19, 23:31

Quote:
Originally Posted by pscates2.0
Yeah, it was indeed about a $90 outlay, but a) I planned for it and b) I figure $90 is a decent price to pay for salvaging my neck/shoulders/eyes.



Big picture...

And I've just always been a one-button mouser. On two or three occasions I've tried the "two-button/scroll wheel" thing, but I always come back to my little pill mouse. I just love that shape and feel of the Apple mouse.

MacMice has that new mouse that they modeled after the Apple design, and it has two buttons and a scroll wheel. Maybe I'll give that a shot someday. I e-mailed them and they said a Bluetooth version is slated for June.

But that's also the same site/guy (Jack) who reported about the "boxes of G5 PowerBooks spotted" at some trade show last summer, so...

Just get the Microsoft scroll whell mouse. They are great. The argument that the apple mouse is somehow ergonomically superior is bunk. The microsoft mouse fits the hand much better than the apple mouse (in my opinion, of course.)
 
k squared
Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Verde Amarela
 
2004-05-20, 07:41

Quote:
Originally Posted by EDS66
Just get the Microsoft scroll whell mouse. They are great. The argument that the apple mouse is somehow ergonomically superior is bunk. The microsoft mouse fits the hand much better than the apple mouse (in my opinion, of course.)
Interesting. I'm going to have to try it out. What I like about Apple's Pro Mouse is its heft; it just feels substantial in the hand. But I guess that's what $50 buys you.
 
pscates2.0
Mr. Katan
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2004-05-20, 08:02

Quote:
Originally Posted by EDS66
The argument that the apple mouse is somehow ergonomically superior is bunk. The microsoft mouse fits the hand much better than the apple mouse (in my opinion, of course.)
I don't think I ever said the Apple mouse is "ergonomically superior". I only said I prefer the little "pill shape", and constantly find myself going back to it.

I can't/won't dare speak for everyone, realizing differences in usage style, hand size, personal preference, budgets, needs, etc.

You call something "bunk", then 1-2 sentences later you qualify everything with a "in my opinion, of course" tag. Well, which is it?

Exactly...YOUR opinion.
 
Luca
ಠ_ರೃ
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Minnesota
 
2004-05-20, 11:28

Remember that "ergonomically superior" doesn't mean anything if you don't use the mouse correctly. The puck mouse was arguably the best mouse as far as ergonomics are concerned, because it forced you to hold the mouse by your fingertips rather than just resting your hand on it. But no one used it right, so it didn't help.

Personally I prefer my Logitech MX700 with its 8 buttons, but I know a lot of people would get freaked out by having so many buttons. Many people even get freaked out by having 3 buttons... or at the least, they prefer the single button. I have to say I can't blame them, especially if they've been using Macs for a long time.
 
AirSluf
Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location:
 
2004-05-20, 13:32

XXXXX

Last edited by AirSluf : 2004-11-15 at 22:52.
 
Luca
ಠ_ರೃ
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Minnesota
 
2004-05-20, 13:44

I have my buttons set this way:

Left click: Standard click
Right click: Right click
Scroll click: Command-click
Forward button: Command-right
Back button: Command-left
Scroll button up: F10
Scroll button down: F9
Quick switch button: F11

So I get all my Expose commands, plus left and right click and forward and back for internet browsing. And command-click for opening links in new tabs. Very handy to have all that on a mouse.

EDIT: Looks like vB3 doesn't like using an e with accent... look:
 
EDS66
Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Arlington, VA
 
2004-05-21, 00:48

Quote:
Originally Posted by pscates2.0
I don't think I ever said the Apple mouse is "ergonomically superior". I only said I prefer the little "pill shape", and constantly find myself going back to it.

I can't/won't dare speak for everyone, realizing differences in usage style, hand size, personal preference, budgets, needs, etc.

You call something "bunk", then 1-2 sentences later you qualify everything with a "in my opinion, of course" tag. Well, which is it?

Exactly...YOUR opinion.
Hey, I just think that using a one-button mouse these days is a little silly. Contextual menus are extremely important if you want to use the computer efficiently, and control clicking is just not the way to do it. That second mouse button is simply a must.

The Microsoft Bluetooth mouse is pretty dang good. Very quiet clicks, smooth wheel, and no drivers needed. I do quite a bit of basic Windows training, and I emphasize right clicking. Once PC users clue into the efficiencies the "right-click" brings to their workflows, they become giddy with glee.

We all need to start right-clicking on the Mac, dang it! It's high time we did. There is no argument anyone can make to convince me that a one-button mouse is in some way -- be it esthetic, ergonomic or whatever -- better than a three-button one.
 
pscates2.0
Mr. Katan
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2004-05-21, 06:11

Probably not. But guess what? I don't really give a damn, either. If I spent all my time trying to convince people here to see/do things my way, well...



I'm completely aware of all the whys and reasons of the one vs. two (or more) button debate. You don't have to sell me on it...I get it. I just don't mind the traditional one-button Apple mouse, and simply like it. Leave it at that, why don't we.

Someday, when I grow up, I might get a real mouse. And you'll be the first to know!


Last edited by pscates2.0 : 2004-05-21 at 09:22.
 
k squared
Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Verde Amarela
 
2004-05-21, 17:13

Quote:
Originally Posted by pscates2.0

I just don't mind the traditional one-button Apple mouse, and simply like it. Leave it at that, why don't we.

I completely agree. I own both a Pro Mouse and a two-button/scroll wheel mouse; the Pro Mouse is the one I always use. Now, if Services and/or OmniDictionary become accessible via contextual menu then I might change.
 
EDS66
Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Arlington, VA
 
2004-05-21, 17:27

Quote:
Originally Posted by pscates2.0
Probably not. But guess what? I don't really give a damn, either. If I spent all my time trying to convince people here to see/do things my way, well...



I'm completely aware of all the whys and reasons of the one vs. two (or more) button debate. You don't have to sell me on it...I get it. I just don't mind the traditional one-button Apple mouse, and simply like it. Leave it at that, why don't we.

Someday, when I grow up, I might get a real mouse. And you'll be the first to know!

I have a client who just bought the Apple Pro Bluetooth mouse. She had no idea that other Bluetooth mice, like Microsoft and Logitech were out there. When I pointed out to her that for the same price she could have gotten a Microsoft Bluetooth multi-button mouse, she said, "Great, get it for me..but what color is it?". I said, dark blue. She said, "forget it; it does not go with the color motif of my office..." I shook my head and said, OK.
 
pscates2.0
Mr. Katan
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2004-05-22, 01:25

Can't win 'em all, can you, Sparky?

Why the crusade?
 
Messiahtosh
Apple Historian
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2004-05-22, 12:22

I enjoy my uno botone mouse from Apple, plus, it has no wires and is comfortable to the touch. Dos botones mouses are for photoshop whores and stuff...lol, I dont know.

"We are reviewing some 9,000 recent UNHCR referrals from Syria. We are receiving roughly a thousand new ones each month, and we expect admissions from Syria to surge in 2015 and beyond." - Anne C. Richard, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
 
DMBand0026
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Chicago
 
2004-05-23, 03:06

I'm a photoshop whore, although I resent the title
I do FCP, photoshop, Illustrator, stuff like that.
Guess how many buttons my mouse has?

ONE
and it will never have more.

You can have my one button mouse when you pry it from my cold dead hands.

Come waste your time with me
 
Mac+
9" monochrome
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: 🇦🇺
 
2004-05-23, 03:37

Quote:
Originally Posted by Luca
Remember that "ergonomically superior" doesn't mean anything if you don't use the mouse correctly. The puck mouse was arguably the best mouse as far as ergonomics are concerned, because it forced you to hold the mouse by your fingertips rather than just resting your hand on it. But no one used it right, so it didn't help.
...[snip]...
I actually use a corded Logitech MouseMan Traveler with a mouse pad that has a built in gel rest. Although it is very small - it is a surprisingly comfortable way to work, since I just use my fingertips and rest my wrist on the gel pad - thus elevating my wrist to an ergonomically acceptable/comfortable position. My hand never fully grasps or rests upon the mouse itself so it doesn't get into a state of fixed tension.

It is a two button mouse, btw - three if you count the scroll wheel. As implied, the scroll wheel can be assigned to click and I use that to delete items in the Finder. Just select the document or folder and click - off to the trash can it goes!

It is also silver with black trim so it matches my TiPB. (I can understand that office worker's reluctance to have a mouse that did not match her office decor. ... I'd hate to have a white mouse with the Pro gear.)

All I want is a simple life
twitter

Last edited by Mac+ : 2004-06-05 at 09:54. Reason: typo discovered and changed three to two
 
n2nrn
Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Upstate
 
2004-05-27, 22:47

I use a $23 Kensington Optical Elite 5 button scroll wheel mouse.
I have arthritis issues with my hands and this wired mouse is real comfortable.
I love Mouseworks with its configurable acceleration too.
my $.02
n2nrn

For every problem there is a simple elegant solution, and it doesn't work.
H.L. Mencken
 
EDS66
Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Arlington, VA
 
2004-05-27, 22:56

Quote:
Originally Posted by n2nrn
I use a $23 Kensington Optical Elite 5 button scroll wheel mouse.
I have arthritis issues with my hands and this wired mouse is real comfortable.
I love Mouseworks with its configurable acceleration too.
my $.02
n2nrn
You had better be careful. Pscates et al will jump on you for your absence of monobutton mouse loyalty arthritis or no arthritis.


 
n2nrn
Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Upstate
 
2004-05-27, 23:06

Yeah but I got a groovy red light and a groovy blue light,
And at Christmas I can run wheat bulbs around the cable,
so the bluetooth folks can feel jealous too.

For every problem there is a simple elegant solution, and it doesn't work.
H.L. Mencken
 
LudwigVan
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Minnesota
 
2004-05-31, 11:34

Quote:
Originally Posted by EDS66
Hey, I just think that using a one-button mouse these days is a little silly. Contextual menus are extremely important if you want to use the computer efficiently, and control clicking is just not the way to do it.
Why not? Is your other, free hand busy when using a one-button mouse?
 
netromac
Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2004-06-16, 06:50

Finally ordered my 15" powerbook today

Quote:
PowerBook G4 15.2 1.5GHz G4

Est. ship On or before 23/06/2004

512MB DDR333 SDRAM - 1 SO-DIMM
ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 128MB
Backlit Keyboard & Mac OS
DVD-R/CD-RW
AirPort Extreme Card
 
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