This model has a new 1.3Ghz G4 processor, which outperformed the earlier model by 34% in Quake III Arena test. This is welcome news, because we heard from our “student test lab” which had complained about the performance of the old model. But Apple also upped the video with the NVIDIA GeForce FX Go5200 graphics chip with 64 MB of RAM, which is double of the previous model. The PowerBook has all of our core features including AirPort Extreme, Apple’s implementation of 802.11g at 54 Mbps. When looking at the 802.11g, it’s not that every “hotspot” has that level of speed; in fact, 802.11g is five times faster than your typical 802.11b wireless access point. What is important is that you’re making an investment in a computer that will be at the cutting edge of technology and not the trailing edge. The PowerBook also included BlueTooth wireless technology so you can use a wireless Bluetooth keyboard and mouse (those will cost extra) or wirelessly transfer data and photos between a BlueTooth enabled phone or PDA. Again, this is another example of Apple incorporating the newest technology before it’s competitors. The PowerBook also had our favorite CD-ROM and DVD burner. This is because the Apple’s SuperDrive as they call it, is slot loading, which means it doesn’t have a CD tray that comes out. All you do is feed a CD or DVD in the slot and it sucks it in. This feature eliminates the tray, which is potentially a component that could be easily broken. It’s also just cool. The most important thing though is the fact that you can make your own DVD’s of your college life. Included is Apple’s iLife suite of software, which includes iTunes, iDVD, iMovie, iPhoto, and GarageBand. Generally we don’t pay too much attention to software that manufacturer’s put on computers because they’re usually limited trial versions. Apple includes full versions of software that are really great. You can make your own DVD’s with iDVD or movies with iMovie. With respect to iPhoto and iTunes, while you might generally get similar software with any camera or mp3 player, these are really great versions of photo and music software. GarageBand is just a cool extra piece of software that let’s you compose or grind if you will, your own music with multiple tracks and multiple synthesized instruments in the software. There is other software like iCal, mail, address book, etc., but you can find similar software on the Dell or Toshiba as far as those basics.
Also note, we recommended and priced the PowerBook with the DVD burner, but there is a model that has a CD-ROM Burner / DVD-ROM drive which is $200 cheaper. That version can play DVD’s but not burn them. A last note about a DVD burner is that you can archive as much as 4.7GB of data on one DVD, allowing you to backup and archive your whole photo or mp3 collection on one disc! The little Things While all of the above mentioned features underscore our editor’s pick for this class of laptop, there are many small things that help round that decision out. Apple’s battery includes externally a button you can press to see how much battery is left. This is nice when you are running out the door; your laptop is asleep and need to quickly determine whether you need to bring your power cord. Also the power cord has the ability to add an included power plug on it which let’s you shed half of the cable length. This is great if you can plug your laptop in within 5 ft 8 in. of a power / wall outlet. Again, these are small features that are the icing on the cake for this student mobile masterpiece.