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The Problem with Macs is Apple

The Problem with Macs is Apple, or rather that Apple is a hardware-driven company.

I’ve been gearing up to purchase one of the new sub-$1k iBooks, and on a whim decided to Google for iBook vs Powerbook – if I hadn’t I’d be in for a nasty surprise in a few weeks because I only have experience with Powerbooks.

There are a few potentially deal-breaking differences between Apple’s two laptop families that exist, largely I suspect, only for business not technical reasons. (Sources: 1, 2).

  1. iBooks do not support closed-lid operation. If you close the lid it will go to sleep. Powerbooks can be connected to an alternate display device and used with the lid closed.
  2. iBooks only do display mirroring, not dual-display. With Powerbooks you can plug in a monitor or TV for an extended desktop, also you can run a hardware-accelerated (AFAIK) full-screen DVD, Movie, Game, whatever on one display and still have a usable second desktop. This also limits an iBook to 1024x768 no matter the display. Also this seems kind of useless since you can’t do closed-lid operation.
  3. Lastly, a minor note in the wake of the above two bomb-shells: iBooks do not have built-in line-in audio.
  4. Lastly, lastly: Also I’ve heard rumors that the VGA-out adapter is an optional accessory!

There’s a $400 price difference between the low-end 12" iBook and 12" Powerbook, but I think it might be worth the money. Being limited to 1024x768 isn’t terrible on a laptop (esp. given my current Picturebook’s display of 1024x480?), but it is terrible if you can’t expand that by plugging into a capable external display. Also I used dual-displays a lot in my Powerbook days. When I was DMing D&D games, I would have my notes on the laptop and use the TV-out to display maps, pictures, and videos for the players. Also Google-ing for things while giving a Keynote (Apple’s gorgeous PowerPoint clone), or doing homework while watching a DVD on a television-set.