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Apple iBook 14.1" 9/10 - Date Posted 20/08/2002

I have been a PC user for a long time. Last November, I decided to give Apple a try, having been hugely tempted by Apple's iPod MP3 player. However, in order to use it, I needed a Mac, for which I chose an Indigo iMac. The iMac was certainly fun too use. Unfortunately it was too slow, taking an age to load applications. As such the iMac remained a secondary machine for browsing the net and copying music on to the iPod. When I received this iBook from Apple's PR department, I hoped that it would embody the qualities of the iMac with an adequate amount of speed.

Happily, the iBook proved to be far better than the iMac! It's difficult to compare the speed of it with my machines, but it feels zippy and I managed to run a few filters on Photoshop just for some comparison. It also seems to cope quite well with multitasking. This top of the range iBook is powered by a 700 MHz G3 processor, coupled with 256MB RAM and 30GB Hard Disk. The screen is quite large (14.1 inches) and reasonably bright. It is not cheap, however, at over 1250 British pounds, comparable with PIII and P4 notebooks. Also bear in mind the iBook is very much a lightweight notebook, so it's not fair to compare it with 3KG monsters which cost the same price! You pay a premium, for what is probably the best looking notebook around. It is covered by transparent plastic (polycarbonate to be precise!), which looks spectacular. The rest of the machine is designed exceptionally well too (for example it has no irritating fans). Everything seems built-in to this machine, Firewire, USB, Modem, Ethernet etc. The operating system is Apple's new Mac OS X based on UNIX. It is billed as offering all the advantages of UNIX (security, speed and flexibility) with an easy to use interface. It was pre-installed on iBook. In my opinion Mac OS X is a good alternative to Windows XP. Setting up the network was very simple, on my mixed PC/Mac network. Within 10 minutes I was surfing the net (through a proxy server) and copying files. It's quite amusing that Apple make it very simple to access Windows PC, but Microsoft don't let you access Macs without additional software. However, Mac Office is 100% compatible with Windows Office. I installed Mac Office, and could easily edit files on my Mac and then transfer them to my PC, for viewing in Windows Word. Apple must realise that the only way to persuade PC users to switch is by making it easy to integrate with Windows environments. AppleWorks (like Microsoft Works) is included with the iBook, but I am sure most users will opt to buy Mac Office by Microsoft.

The speakers are above average quality, when compared to other notebooks. The sound output through the headphone socket is fantastic, but the lack of microphone jack is an oversight, leaving users only a built-in mic at the side of the screen, so musicians will need to buy a USB sound card. There are a few other minor niggles, such as the finger pad and the slightly flexible keyboard. Apart from these small things I cannot fault the machine. The battery for example seems last hours, something that cannot be said of some notebooks!

This iBook is a great machine, ideal for both PC and Mac users, even if your setup is mainly Windows based. It misses out on a 10/10 rating simply because of its price. If you want a bit more power consider the Titanium Powerbook, which I might review soon! The iBook is a work of art (as well as a computer) and is very light too.

Photoshop Filters

It was not surprising that the Pentium 4 beat the iBook (P4 had 512 MB RAM and SCSI RAID array). The G3 is mainly pitched against P3 machines. From my tests I think it would be reasonable to compare this iBook to a 750 MHz P3 laptop (with similar specs. ie. RAM).

  Pentium 4 1.5 Ghz iBook G3 700 Mhz
Gaussian Blur 1.92 5.5
Ink Outlines 20.6 57.7
Glass 7.8 31.9