Weighing 5.9 pounds and measuring 12.7 inches wide, 10.2 inches deep, and 1.35 inches thick, the 14-inch iBook G4 has average dimensions for a mainstream laptop, but it's not the best model for frequent fliers. For business travelers and commuters, we recommend the sleeker Apple PowerBook. The 14-inch iBook G4's touch pad is a nice size and sits above the simple, single mouse button. Otherwise, there isn't much to the interior besides the two small stereo speakers, which sit in the corners above the keyboard, and a tiny, built-in microphone on the upper-right bezel around the display.
Along the left side of the 14-inch iBook G4, you'll find a handful of connections, including one FireWire 400 port, two USB 2.0 ports, a video out, Ethernet (10/100BaseT) and modem (56Kbps, v.92) ports, and a headphone jack. The right side holds the 14-inch iBook G4's cool SuperDrive, which reads and writes DVD-R and CD-RW. Instead of the flimsy sliding disc tray found on many PC laptops, the 14-inch iBook G4 has a simple slot that smoothly accepts and ejects discs like a car stereo. There's no memory-card reader, however. This feature is included on more and more PC laptops, and it would be a nice addition to future models.You can choose to configure the Apple 14-inch iBook G4 in a number of ways (see more information in our series review). Our test model featured a 1.33GHz G4 processor with 512MB of Level 2 cache, a 133MHz system bus, 256MB of system RAM, a 60GB hard drive, and the rather ancient ATI Mobility Radeon 9200 graphics controller with 32MB of video memory. The G4 processor--the same one used in the lower-end PowerBooks--is plenty fast for most tasks, as evidenced in CNET Labs' tests. The iBook's minimal RAM, however, leads to degraded performance when you try to do too much at once, such as running video and graphics programs at the same time. Fortunately, the 14-inch iBook G4 can accommodate much more RAM than comes standard (the previous generation topped out at 640MB, but the present one can hold up to 1.25GB), and we recommend shelling out for at least 256MB more ($100 as a build-to-order option).
The iBook's 14.1-inch TFT XGA screen, with a 1,024x768 native resolution, produces a vivid image, but you'll need to adjust it carefully to get the colors right. We also found that tilting the display only slightly too far forward or back muddied colors at the top of the screen. All iBooks now have an AirPort Extreme (802.11g) card built-in--about time, now that most PC laptops include Wi-Fi capability.
The notebook comes with OS X 10.3 as well as Apple's home-computing bundle, which includes a generous selection of apps such as iLife (with iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, and GarageBand), Mail, iChat AV, Safari, iSync, iCal, Quicken 2005, World Book 2004, and the games Nanosaur 2 and Marble Blast Gold. Unfortunately, the 14-inch iBook G4 doesn't come with a full-featured productivity package.Application performance
The iBook 1.33GHz G4 14-inch delivered performance virtually identical to that of the PowerBook G4 17-inch we tested last year. CNET's test measures the time it takes to convert a 10-minute CD audio track to the MP3 format using iTunes. Both the PowerBook and the iBook took about 40 seconds to convert the file, which is not surprising, since they use the same 1.33GHz G4 processor. Thanks to its speedy CPU, the iBook 1.33GHz G4 scored on a par with the PowerBook 1.33GHz G4 in our iTunes test.
Performance analysis written by CNET Labs assistant lab manager Eric Franklin.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Apple iBook 12-inch G4 800MHz
OS X 10.3.2; PowerPC G4 800MHz; 256MB DDR-266 SDRAM; ATI Radeon 9200 32MB; 30GB 4,200rpm
Apple iBook 14.1-inch G4 1.33GHz
OS X 10.3.6; PowerPC G4 1.33GHz; 256MB DDR-266 SDRAM; ATI Radeon 9200 32MB; 60GB 4,200rpm