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The Best Book You Will Get This Year

06.12.2004 Diamond review

Portable, Reliable, Battery Life, Quiet,  It's an Apple !

Compatability, Heat from processor

Detailed rating:


Look & Feel

Comfort & Portability

Robustness & Durability

Value For Money

Memory / capacityGood

Ease of useEasy

Range of Extra FeaturesGood

Instruction manualSatisfactory

Manufacturer SupportExcellent

12 Ciao members have rated this review on average: very helpful See ratings
exceptional by (15%):
  1. VogueRevolution
  2. Pisces1977
  3. MotoAthan
very helpful by (85%):
  1. psychstudent1
  2. TheArchaic
  3. d4rm4n
and 14 other members

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Apple's dominance in the computing market has been further enhanced by the opening of the new Apple Store down in London Regent Street. I actually queued up for fourteen hours before the grand opening to be one of the lucky first customers to walk into the aura of immense clapping merged with U2’s Vertigo in the background. Now back to reality… I actually bought my 12” 800 MHz iBook G4 about a year ago and Apple have since not only made it better value but also greatly improved the specifications of the machine.

Here are the current specifications of a 12” iBook G4 you could pick up off your local Apple dealer or the Apple Store.

• 1.2GHz PowerPC G4
• 512K L2 cache (at 1.2GHz)
• 12-inch TFT Display
• 1024x768 resolution
• 256MB DDR266 SDRAM
• 30GB Ultra ATA drive
• DVD/CD-RW drive
• ATI Mobility Radeon 9200
• 32MB DDR video memory
• AirPort Extreme built-in

I’ll briefly explain the specifications and what they actually mean in English.

The 1.2GHz processor is a massive improvement to its 800 MHz predecessor. This literally signifies the speed of the machine. You cannot compare this 1.2GHz processor to the normal IBM PC’s you use to run Windows as they both have different architectures and therefore having an Apple 1.2GHz does not mean that it will be slower than your 2.4GHz Intel Pentium.

The 256MB RAM(random access memory) is the actual memory of the system. For instance, the more memory the laptop has, the more applications you can run at the same time without experiencing lags in between. The memory you are given is more than enough to run all your everyday programs without giving you the slightest of troubles but you do have the option to upgrade the RAM to a potential 1.25GB if the necessity arises.

The 30GB Ultra ATA drive is the actual storage place for all your programs, music, files, games, etc. 30GB is a fair amount of hard disk space available although you do have the option again to upgrade it to an 80GB drive when you purchase online via the Apple Store.

The slot loading DVD/CD-RW (It’s like pushing the CD through a hole at the side of your laptop) allows you to play DVDs as well as copying your documents or favourite music onto your CD-RW (CD rewritable).

The ATI Mobility Radeon 9200 with 32MB DDR video memory is the actual graphics card that is in the computer. It is a very decent card to have and it runs games like Tony Hawks 4 and Halo with no problems whatsoever.

Airport Extreme is in my opinion one of the most amazing pieces of hardware in this machine. I actually had to splash out about £75 when I bought my iBook for this card but now comes free when you buy an iBook :-| There are three ways for you to connect to the internet via your laptop. Firstly, you could use the internal modem and connect it via the phone line. Secondly, you could use your network cable which is connected to a broadband connection or another computer which is sharing its internet connection. Thirdly you could use the Airport Extreme wireless cards which allow you to surf the internet in the comfort of Starbucks or in your own home if you’ve got wireless internet set up. The difference between this wireless card and those you find in other laptops is the fact that you can normally see a large block sticking out of someone’s laptop when they are using a wireless service but the Apple wireless card actually hides itself under your keyboard! I’ll talk about how this is actually possible later on in the article.


The name Apple itself spells uniqueness and ingenuity. When looks and originality is concerned, the iBook wins hands down. The sleek contour edges along with the ceramic white gives it some sort of aura which will undoubtedly turn heads when you get your hands on one. The inconspicuous illuminating Apple logo at the front of the laptop when you turn it on serves no purpose whatsoever but boy does it make you feel like a rejuvenated person. It’s the pure simplicity of the design that makes you just want to wake up in the middle of the night and have just another quick little peek at it.

The actual size of the machine is incredible. I have yet to understand how they managed to fit so much in such a small place. The screen is 12.1 inches diagonally but is more than sufficient for me to do my work as well as an occasional movie now and then on the train. It weighs a mere 2Kg and supports an enormous potential battery life of over 6 hours! If you use the laptop continuously for general work and stuff, it will realistically last just over 4 hours but this is still about twice the battery life of an average laptop you can buy off your local shops. This amazing statistic did nothing other than pushed me further forward in deciding to go for the iBook.

This piece of machine makes less noise than a night in the middle of the Sahara desert. When I say it makes no noise, I literally mean no noise. Even when you are using it in a place with no external noise, nothing seems to come out of this laptop. Kudos again.

The Apple operating system is not only incredibly reliable but also immensely easy to use. It follows suit to the amazingly reliable UNIX structure on the inside with a simple to use interface on the outside that anyone can use. It is definitely much simpler to use with contrast to Microsoft Windows. In simple terms, it has a complex structure on the inside for advanced users like programmers and system analysts as well as an easy to use interface (logos and pictures) for your grandmother to master in a couple of hours.

The applications provided like Safari (Internet Browser), iTunes (Music Player), iDVD (DVD player), AppleWorks, iPhoto, iSound, iMovie, Address Book, Calendar, etc are tremendously easy to use and reliable. Most of your applications will be shown at the dock bar at the bottom of your screen (default) instead of the Windows style START bar. Apple wins the points again when it comes to design.

Upgrading the memory or installing the wireless card could not be any easier. There are not any screws for you to play around with at the bottom of your laptop which will indefinitely void your warranty but a lever on your keyboard which you can lift up to reveal the slot for the wireless card as well as a place to put any additional RAM when you decide to upgrade. You can also have the option to install internal Bluetooth (wireless file transfer) on your iBook when you order your laptop meaning you can transfer files between Bluetooth enabled devices like PDAs and mobile phones.

The support service for Apple in this country has done nothing other than impress me. I accidentally broke a key off my keyboard and I called them up to see if they could send me a replacement key for the laptop. They said that they did not provide individual keys but were more than happy to send me an entire keyboard which you can easily install onto the iBook. All they asked me to do was send them the broken one when I received the new keyboard. When the new keyboard arrived, I installed the new keyboard which worked fine and tried finding an address in the parcel to return the old one to them. Unable to find one, I called them up and they just told me to keep the other one as well :D The timeframe between the start of the problem till the solution lasted no longer than three days. Thumbs up in this department from me again!


The most important question made by people when deciding whether or not to switch to Mac from Windows is “Will I be able to use the applications I normally use in Windows on my Mac if I bought one?” There is no straight forward answer for this. You cannot install Windows platform software that you have purchased on your Mac meaning Windows applications are incompatible with the Mac but there are actual ways round it so you can actually use your Windows software on your Mac. Most companies realise the dominance of Apple in the computing market and are therefore forced to make versions that are compatible with the Mac as well. Microsoft is no exception. I have applications like Microsoft Office for Mac, Macromedia Studio MX (web development software), MSN Messenger, Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Windows Media Player, etc running on my iBook so I have no problems when it comes to compatibility. When I actually use programs that are incompatible with the Mac, I use an application called Virtual PC for Mac. This application allows you to access PC-only software, files, networks and devices on your Mac. You can therefore technically run any Windows programs on your Mac!

The only other thing that I can think of as a bad point is the fact that it dissipates a fair amount of heat on the bottom left of the laptop where the processor is located. On the other hand, I cannot think of any other laptop which does not get hot when in use. You can buy stands that actually dissipate the heat anyway if it becomes an issue for you.


When I was looking to buy my iBook, I raised the same questions that you yourself have in mind. After a year with the product, I have yet to find a fault with it. It does not crash while in use and is extremely tough. Considering they have lowered the already fair price and improved the specifications immensely, I strongly recommend you to get one before its too late. If you are a student, you can also get student discount under the education section on the Apple Store website or via the Apple Store in London directly. This should reduce the price from about £750 to £700. If you were still half way in deciding whether the 12” iBook is the right one for you, I hope this review has done nothing but convinced you to pull out your credit card and make the best decision that you will have made this year.

Never ask a man what sort of computer he drives. If it's a Mac, he'll tell you. If not, why embarrass him?
-- Tom Clancy

...But since any reasonable person would choose a Mac over a PC, Apple's market share does provide us with an accurate reading of the percentage of reasonable people in our society.
-- Roger Ebert

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Comments about this review »

d4rm4n 06.12.2005 03:49

this is a great review. thanks for the information:)

godmasterenglish 27.11.2005 21:04

Fully developed, insightful and comprehensive analysis of product. Good awareness of issues for potential converts. Just wish the product was exceptional as the review, which is isn't, so going to have to give a v.helpful on this one as its slightly hyperbolic in parts.

shivs 31.01.2005 20:06

I need a new computer, sounds good!

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Product Information »

Manufacturer's product description

Like to carry around a notebook that delivers exceptional power at an affordable price? Then pick up an iBook G4. W...


MPN M9164, M9164F/A, M9164LL/A, M9164B/A
System Type Notebook
Recommended Use Home use

Processor / chipset

CPU PowerPC G4 800 MHz
Cache L2 - 256 KB
Front Side Bus 133 MHz

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Review Ratings »

This review of Apple iBook G4 has been rated:

"exceptional" by (15%):

  1. VogueRevolution
  2. Pisces1977
  3. MotoAthan

"very helpful" by (85%):

  1. psychstudent1
  2. TheArchaic
  3. d4rm4n

and 14 other members

The overall rating of a review is different from a simple average of all individual ratings.

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