iBook 600 (14.1 inches) full review

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.
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