Today, during his keynote speech at MacWorld NY, Steve Jobs
unveiled Apple's latest creation the iBook. Clearly following
the design scheme of the highly successful iMac, the iBook
features the same curved design and two tone color scheme.
Indeed, Jobs touted the iBook as the iMac to go.... While
the iBooks on display at MacWorld currently only sport two
of the iMac's five flavors, Blueberry and Tangerine, it is
a fairly safe bet that the rest will follow down the road.
From what we have seen, the iBook is another elegantly crafted
combination of form and function. The entire base is a non-skid
rubber surface, and the iBook is the first laptop computer
with a built in handle! Even the power cord is thoughtfully
designed with an inline spooling mechanism to take up excess
slack and lights to indicate the iBook's charge state. Apple
hasn't traded style for power though. Under the hood the iBook
sports a G3/300 processor with a 512k backside cache. Rumors
are that the processor is upgradable but we have not confirmed
Like the iMac, the iBook was not designed with expansion
in mind with one notable exception. Part way through his keynote
presentation, as he was loading a few web pages, Steve Jobs
picked up the iBook and walked around stage as pages continued
to load! He even ran a hoop around the iBook in classic magician
style to prove there were no cables attached. Can you say
"wireless networking?" Apple can, and has teamed
up with Lucent
Technologies to bring secure wireless networking to the
iBook via a device aptly named AirPort.
The AirPort sports an internal 56k modem as well as an Ethernet
port. Apple likens the AirPort to the base for a cordless
phone and it's a good analogy but sells the AirPort short.
With the AirPort plugged into your phone line (or Ethernet
jack) you can not only roam up to 150' from the base but also
share a single internet connection with other iBooks. One
AirPort base supports up to ten computers at speeds up to
11 megabits per second. To make use of the AirPort base you
will need to buy the AirPort card which fits in an internal
slot in the iBook. There is little information available on
the nature of the slot but I wonder if third party vendors
will be able to put it to creative use as they did with the
iMac's. The antenna is built into the casing of every iBook
making it hard to leave behind and virtually indestructable.
The AirPort base runs $299 and the card $99.
| There is little doubt that the
iBook is targeted at students and the consumer markets.
The iBook lacks most of the ports found on its professional
counterpart the Lombard PowerBook. You won't find a SCSI
port or any video out options for example. See the sidebar
"'Book Features Compared" for more information.
Instead, the iBook comes with a healthy software
bundle including AppleWorks and IBM's World Book Encyclopedia
as well as the obligatory internet software. This bundle,
combined with the iBook's tough polycarbonate case, makes
the iBook an excellent choice for students. Apple estimates
a 6 hour life for the iBook's battery, enough to get you
through a day of note taking or an all nighter kicking
out that term paper.
Microsoft Outlook Express
EdView Internet Safety Kit, Family Edition
The World Book Encyclopedia
'Book Features Compared
| PowerBook (Lombard)
|- 2 USB connectors
- 10/100 Base-T Ethernet
- 56k Modem
- 4 or 6GB IDE drive
- 14.1" TFT screen
- 20x CD or 2x DVD-ROM
- 512k or 1MB L2 cache
- 1 PC card expansion slot
- 8MB SDRAM
- SCSI port
- Stereo speakers
- 5.9 Lbs.
- Infrared Port
|- 1 USB connector
- 10/100 Base-T Ethernet
- 56k Modem
- 3.2 GB IDE drive
- 12.1" TFT screen
- 24x CD-ROM
- 512k L2 cache
- Internal "AirPort" slot
- 4MB SDRAM
- No SCSI
- Mono speaker
- 6.7 Lbs
- Optional wireless networking.
Apple has been riding a wave of success generated by
the iMac and, from everything we have seen so far, the
iBook will keep the wave rolling. That's the good news.
The bad news is that the iBook won't be available until
September. The Apple
Store and other
vendors are taking pre-orders and Apple has promised
that iBooks will be available in volume come September.
I hope they are right because it looks like they have
come up with another winner.
ATI RAGE Mobility with 2X AGP
10/100 BT Ethernet