Apple iBook

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Apple iBook
  • Apple iBook
  • Apple iBook
  • Apple iBook
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • Solid range of features, stable

Cons

  • Not incredibly fast, no DVD-writer

Bottom Line

Apple's iBook range offers solid features and functionality for anyone that spends a lot of time on the road and doesn't demand blistering performance.

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Apple's iBooks are designed to offer a less-expensive alternative to the impressive flagship PowerBook range. The company offers two models - fitted with 12- or 14-inch displays, and either a 1.33GHz or 1.42GHz PowerPC G4 processor.

The 12-inch review model boasts a 1.33GHz processor with 512MB of memory and a 40GB hard disk. It comes with an impressive array of ports including a Kensington lock, modem, Ethernet, Firewire, HDMI and 3.5mm Walkman connectors. Two USB ports are also present on the left face, with a slot-loading CDRW/DVDROM drive on the right. Bluetooth and 802.11g Wi-Fi are bundled in as standard, too.

The graphics subsystem features a capable ATI Mobility Radeon 9550 graphics adaptor driving a 12.1-inch TFT display at a native resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels. Though the screen is relatively small, the resolution allows ample desktop real estate, and the machine doesn't feel cramped in use. The white keyboard is well-spaced and comfortable to type on for longer periods, and the sensitive touchpad features scrolling functionality to help navigate large documents or web pages.

The iBook ships with Mac OS X v10.4 Tiger, and a standard bundle of Apple extras including iLife '05, AppleWorks, Apple Hardware Test and a 30-day trial of iWork '05. The suite is adequate to get most users up and running and will suffice for surfing the net, handling email, or light office tasks.

The iBook is built to take a bit of abuse and doesn't feature any protrusions that could snag on the way in or out of a notebook bag. The white polycarbonate plastic shell is reinforced with a magnesium frame, which Apple claims is extremely rugged and durable. Apple's engineers have also worked in a clever Sudden Motion Sensor (SMS), which automatically detects when the machine is dropped and parks the hard disk heads automatically to avoid damage (and subsequent data loss).

In testing, we found the iBook responsive, easy to use, and stable. The Li-Ion battery allowed the machine to kick on for over five hours of operation with aggressive power saving enabled, and a shade over two and a half hours of DVD playback. It's not incredibly fast or powerful, but at around 2.3KG, the 12-inch unit is a delight for a less demanding user that spends lots of time on the road.

Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.

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