Tesugen

12-inch PowerBook First Impressions

Apple PowerBook 12 inch After using a 17-inch PowerBook as my primary (only) computer, for both work and play, I have now switched to a 12-inch one. An opportunity to switch presented itself, but I had some doubts about whether such a small machine would work as my only computer. The doubts primarily concerned the screen size and overall system speed. But I wanted a more mobile laptop, and after reading some reviews and working for two days in 1024×768, I felt pretty confident it would work, so I seized the opportunity. I plan to post an entry on my experience of switching down in a couple of weeks, but here are some first impressions.

Regarding the screen. I don’t know if this is a personality trait, but I have found that I actually prefer to have fewer visible windows. As I went from 14.1 inch screen (“Wallstreet” PowerBook) to 15.2 inch (first generation PowerBook G4), I felt that the extra screen real estate was very valuable – not to mention the move from 15.2 to 17 inch. But I begin to have doubts about this. Anyway it’s too early to tell.

What I can tell is that my fears of the 12-inch screen being more sensitive to the viewing angle were unfounded. The first version of the 12-inch PowerBook had this problem. But although the screen of this one (Rev. C) is slightly more sensitive to viewing angle than the 17-inch screen, it’s not something that you notice unless you compare them side to side, or something that bothers you.

One thing I became aware of when using the 12-inch was that I rest my hands on the speakers of the 17-inch, so at first I found it hard to type. But after a while I became comfortable with the new position of the hands. Also, it’s very comfortable to “grab” the right side of the PowerBook while navigating Pulp Fiction with my thumb (backspace = delete, return = bring up entries in the web browser).

While reading reviews of the 12-inch, I saw complaints about heat. Perhaps this was an issue prior to Rev. C, but I find that it gets less hot than the 17-inch (which was the first, 1 GHz model). The fan starts slightly more often, but not annoyingly often.

As for speed, I can’t really tell yet as the extra 1 GB of memory hasn’t shipped yet. This one is 1.33 GHz and the lower resolution makes screen updates less expensive performance wise, but it lacks the 1 MB level 3 cache. Anyway, unless it begins to swap (256 MB is way too little) it certainly feels faster. I ripped seven CDs on it yesterday, and that felt much quicker.

Another thing I like is the midrange speaker under the keyboard. While the bass isn’t exactly booming, the sound is deeper than on the 17-inch, and I quite enjoy listening to music without headphones on the 12-inch.

So far, after having used it for three days, I’m very satisfied with the switch. I’ll get back on this in late August when I have used it for work as well.

The above was posted to my personal weblog on July 2, 2004. My name is Peter Lindberg and I am a thirtysomething software developer and dad living in Stockholm, Sweden. Here, you’ll find posts in English and Swedish about whatever happens to interest me for the moment.

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