My New Powerbook (and why I didn't regret waiting for MacBookPro)

Written at 17:25, on Thursday 12 January 2006. Tags: personal .

We did good last year, and my iBook was getting old, so my employer rewarded me with a new PowerBook G4 (thanks Eric!) It arrived just before the end of 2005. I let my employer order one with a 7200 RPM, 100 GB hard drive instead of the 5400 RPM 80 GB drive, because in all my laptops, the hard drive was the main speed bottleneck. And while I waited for it for just over 6 weeks (apparantly because of some crazy schedule in the assemblation process over at the factory in Dublin), I don’t regret that I didn’t wait a bit longer for for the newly-announced MacBook Pro

And while I regret that my machine is apparantly four times as slow as the MacBook Pro (at least in some benchmarks with Intel-optimized binaries, which stress the dual-core Intel at 1.83 Ghz and the 4 times faster memory bus etc.), speed was not my primary reason for choosing a PowerBook. Display size (1440×960 @ 15”), battery life (up to 5,5 hours) and maturity of the platform (last of the PowerPC line) were my primary reasons. And apart from memory (the default 512 MB) I do not have any reasons to complain about this model. Already, the negative reports have started to tickle in about less features (no S-Video, no dual-layer DVD burning, no FW-800) and a smaller display (1440×900). Also, since the Intel Macs were introduced allmost half a year in advance, it means that many third-party developers will not have had enough time to make their applications suitable for Intel through a Universal binary. At least the Adobe bundles (which include the Creative Suite, but also Macromedia Dreamweaver and Flash), as well as Microsoft Office, have not been optimized for for Intel yet.

One big gaping hole on the MacBook Pro’s features is battery life. There is no mention of it anywhere! This, together with a higher power consumption (60-watt-hour battery compared to the old PowerBook’s 50-watt-hour battery) probably means a serious degradation of mobile independance; I suspect that no more then 2-3 hours of battery life, especially since the screen has become brighter again.

Of course, this is all acceptable for a first revision of a totally new platform. These issues are mostly a matter of time. But it will probably take at least a year before we can truly enjoy the new powers and speedups gained. And I’m still in high anticipation of the speedups and power savings which will be gained from adopting Intels’ Robson cache technology which was also rumored to debut now.

Update: the Macworld Macbook Pro FAQ mentions that battery life is expected to last roughly the same as the current PowerBook G4, due to higher capacity batteries which mitigate the effect of the higher power consumption.

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