Apple's PowerBook, built around a copper-based 333- or 400-megahertz PowerPC G3 processor, is optimized to run high-end, processor-intensive applications and scores high on benchmark tests. The machine was obviously designed and engineered with great care, and the result is an exceptionally sturdy portable built to withstand the rigors of a life on the road.
At 10.4 inches by 12.7 inches by 1.7 inches thick, it's not exactly the sub-portable that was rumored to be on its way from Apple, but it is far easier to slide into a briefcase than its burly predecessor. It weighs 5.9 pounds with a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive and battery installed, so it's quite portable though still big enough to be a user's primary machine.
The new PB comes with a choice of a 4-gigabyte, 6-gigabyte, or 10-gigabyte IDE hard-disk drive (the 10-gigabyte drive is available only in the machines you configure at Apple's Web-site store). The expansion bay in the front of the case is hot swappable and accepts a CD or DVD drive, third-party storage solutions such as Zip or SuperDisk drives or a second battery. The machine ships with both a preloaded and CD-ROM version of Mac OS 8.6 and a paltry software bundle that includes Faxstf fax software, Netscape and Microsoft browsers and not much else. There are two 12-megabits-per-second USB ports, along with a SCSI port for daisy-chaining seven external devices. The power port takes a small AC adapter. Kudos to Apple for not shipping such a sleek machine with a big black brick as some other computer companies do.
Communications features include a 10/100BASE-T Ethernet connector and a RJ-11 connector for the built-in 56K V.90 modem. There's also a Fast IrDA and two PC Card slots, which support CardBus and Zoom Video. The VGA and S-Video ports allow dual display and video mirroring. Excellent 16-bit CD-quality stereo input/output with two built-in stereo speakers makes this machine a frontrunner for the perfect presentation portable.
Eight megabytes of SDRAM video memory support millions of colors on external displays. Built-in 2-D/3-D graphics acceleration is supplied through an integrated ATI RAGE LT Pro video controller that makes for smooth, fast and jitter-free playback of any and all multimedia files. You can add an optional third-party FireWire CardBus card for connecting to peripherals such as digital video cameras and external hard disks. The PB's 14.1-inch TFT XGA active-matrix screen supports millions of colors at 1,024- by 768-pixel resolution. Images and text are clean, crisp and vibrant, and the color saturation is even and bright from corner to corner. And, with its dual-display capability, users can plug right into an external monitor, TV or projection device.
The 50-watt-hour lithium-ion battery provided a bit over 4.5 hours on a single charge, and just a hair under 10 hours with two batteries with power management fully enabled, while working with Microsoft Word and PowerPoint. The full-sized keyboard makes for very comfortable typing.
If you run a Mac-based operation, this machine is a very worthwhile addition to your mobile fleet. And while it seems that every quarter-inch that gets shaved off a machine's form factor ends up costing the user big-time in dollars and onboard features, the new G3s are both fully packed and gently priced at around $3,499.
For more information, contact Apple at www.apple.com.