My favorite place to work at home is on the couch with a laptop connected via an AirPort network. My cat’s favorite place to nap is on my lap in that little bit of open space between the computer and my shirt.
Everyone seemed happy until recently when I was lucky enough to get my hands on a 17″ G4 PowerBook for testing. I’m loving it, but the cat doesn’t seemed impressed. Of course cats don’t have deadlines.
By now I’m sure you’re familiar with the specs for the 17″ — they’re good. The monitor is a 1440 x 900 widescreen TFT, the CPU clocks in at 1.33 GHz, and graphics are powered by the ATI Mobility Radeon 9600 with 64MB of DDR SDRAM. The computer I’m using has been beefed up with 1.5 Gig of RAM.
What’s interesting to me, is not so much that the PowerBook feels fast, as much as it feels right. In other words, it does things as you would expect it too. I don’t think about performance, and that’s the way I like it.
What I do think about are its real improvements over the 15″ TiBook I’ve been using, starting with the hinge that connects the monitor to the body. It is smooth with just the right amount of tension. I know the hinge seems like a silly thing to praise, that is until you have one that you don’t like. I don’t care much for the hinges in the iBooks, and I’m not ecstatic about the one on the TiBook. But this hinge is sweet, and sturdy.
Then there is the keyboard: solid, responsive, and backlit by using over 200 fiber optics. I can barely wait for evening. This backlit keyboard is my favorite laptop invention in a long time. It’s beautiful, futuristic looking, and very useful.
This is also a cooler machine temperature-wise. It’s much more comfortable on my lap, and far less noisy than the TiBook because the fan isn’t kicking into high gear three times an hour.
I’m also digging the improved speakers with much more realistic stereo separation. This is really noticeable when watching DVDs, with the sound moving around in a 3 dimensional space around the laptop. And speaking of DVDs, the 17″ screen is stunning. I pick up details that I didn’t notice when watching the same disc on the television monitor. For my latest test I forced myself to watch the second installment of LOTR again… just for research purposes of course.
AirPort performance is improved too. I get an extra bar of reception over the TiBook. And no more turning my computer to funny angles just to maintain an Internet connection.
At nearly 7 pounds, this is more machine to lug around. I also had to break out my bag from this year’s WWDC because the 17″ wouldn’t fit in my existing backpack. But I forget about all of that the minute I pop open the screen.
If you live a text-only life, this PowerBook might not be for you. Also, if you’re not in the mood to spend over $3,000 US for a notebook, then you might want to look at another model. But if you have the budget for it, and demand crisp audio, saturated pictures, and big time video performance, the 17″ PowerBook is a dream machine. And even when I’m working in text, I can have side by side documents open at full size. Spreadsheets are pretty fun too.
All of this seems lost on the cat however. Not even my lap is big enough for her and the 17″. Therefore, I think she prefers the 15″ model. Well, that makes one of us…