iBook 600 (14.1 inches)

Apple’s consumer portable iBook has been a phenomenal success – becoming Apple’s most popular Mac in just half a year. Its triumph has been most noticeable in the education market, garnering massive sales into schools – particularly in the US, where districts have been ordering them in tens of thousands. The iBook – originally released in July 1999, and redesigned in May 2001 – is an ideal notebook computer because it’s lightweight, slim and compact. It’s a hit with teachers and students alike, because it’s also extremely robust – up for the everyday knocks of getting to and from different classes at school. But the iBook isn’t just for education. It’s a pretty nippy Mac (up to 600MHz G3) that lacks nothing offered by the PowerBook apart from Gigabit Ethernet and S-Video (for power users only, anyway) and infrared. It has all the usual top-notch connectors you’d expect from a Mac: USB, FireWire, 10/100BaseT Ethernet, VGA port, and Video Out. Screen
Its 12.1-inch screen is surprisingly spacious – displaying millions of colours at a 1,024-x-768-pixel resolution. That’s the same as you get on the new iMac’s 15-inch LCD – if more cramped due to the smaller viewing area. The PowerBook G4 has a wider screen, supporting 1,152-x-768 pixels, that measures 15.2 inches diagonally. However, Apple has listened to customer requests – both from education and consumer spheres – that it also sell an iBook with a larger screen. So there’s now an iBook that sports a 14.1-inch TFT XGA active-matrix display. You might think that this larger screen would offer you space to display more pixels, but you’d be wrong. The resolution of the new 14-inch iBook is identical to the 12-incher – maxing at 1,024-x-768 pixels. However, the picture you’ll see is much less squeezed at this resolution, and so is a better bet for people with weaker eyesight. Trade-off
Otherwise, nearly everything is the same on both models. Both have full-size keyboards and trackpads, with 16-bit stereo sound, and built-in speakers and microphone. The video card is the same – an 8MB ATI Rage Mobility. And both can carry up to 640MB of RAM – not so huge nowadays, but easily ample for the target audience. The trade-off you pay for the larger display (allowing for larger icons and bigger on-screen text) is in two of the things that made the iBook so great: compactness and weight. The 14-inch iBook (measuring 32.3cm wide by 25.9cm deep) is less easy to stash in your briefcase or rucksack than the smaller model (28.5cm by 23cm) – not difficult, just less easy. Both are still very slim, however – each measuring just 3.4cm thick. And the larger screen means more weight – in fact, this big iBook (nearly 6lbs; 2.72kg) is the heaviest portable Mac around (the PowerBook weighs just 5.4lbs; 2.45kg). That said, it’s still lighter than fully loaded Windows laptops. Battery boost
One advantage to the larger size is a bigger battery – allowing for up to six hours life away from a power socket, compared to five with the 12-inch. PowerBook?
People requiring a larger screen than the 12-inch iBook should consider the PowerBook G4 (PBG4). The entry-level PBG4 has a larger screen than any iBook, boasts a G4 processor (only the iBook and old-style iMac stick with the PowerPC G3 these days – but it’s fast enough for most people’s needs) that’s optimized for an increasing number of applications, has twice the video memory on a better graphics card, and Gigabit Ethernet. But (with VAT) the 550MHz PBG4 costs £1,999, compared to the 14-inch iBook’s £1,599. £400 is a lot of dosh to step-up an inch or two of screen size. In this respect, the 14-inch iBook is an affordable alternative for those who require a larger screen than the 12-inch model. Full range
Apple has rejigged the iBook range. The entry-level 500MHz iBook (12.1-inch screen; 15GB hard drive; CD-ROM) is £50 cheaper at £1,049 (inc. VAT). The DVD model drops to 500MHz, with £150 off the price. The other 12-inch model (20GB disk) is faster (600MHz), has a larger hard drive (20GB), and sports a Combo CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive – a more attractive option, for just £160 more than the DVD, and £250 more than the CD-ROM. The 600MHz 14-inch iBook also boasts the Combo drive that records CDs and play DVDs, and comes with 256MB of RAM. Otherwise, it’s the same – just larger and heavier.


For most potential iBook users, the negatives – added weight and bulk – will put them off opting for the larger screen, which can’t display anything more than the smaller one – showing the same stuff, only slightly larger. The iBook is a great portable computer – in fact, a great computer full stop. The smaller model is a real revelation – especially with the Combo drive. And there’s now an option for those who find the 12-inch screen too cramped. If you hardly ever take your iBook on the road with you, the larger screen will be easier on your eyes. If the iBook is often in your luggage, stick with the lightweight 12-incher.

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