Apple PowerBook G4 (12-inch review: Apple PowerBook G4 (12-inch

Our 12-inch PowerBook G4 test unit sells for $1,499. We think it's a bit high for the uneven mix of high-end and low-end specs: a 1.5GHz PowerPC G4 processor; 512MB of slowish 333MHz memory (upgradable to 1.25GB); an Nvidia GeForce FX Go 5200 graphics chip with 64MB of dedicated VRAM; Airport Extreme 802.11g wireless; a spanking-new Bluetooth 2.0+EDR card; and a big 80GB, 5,400rpm hard drive protected by Apple's Sudden Motion Sensor technology which stops it from spinning when it detects imminent damage. In comparison, the $1,799 Sharp M4000 contains a bit larger screen and slightly faster memory, though it also has a slower hard drive, integrated graphics, and a watered-down software package. On the other hand, the Sony VAIO S470P costs $1,379 and delivers a bigger screen, quicker RAM, and a double-layer DVD burner.

In CNET Labs' tests, the 12-inch PowerBook G4 excelled with productivity tasks. Using iTunes , it converted a music file into MP3 format in the same fast time as the beefier 15-inch version and surpassed the larger model by more than one minute in our Photoshop CS trials. Despite its small size, the 12-iinch PowerBook G4 has the chops for serious graphics work. Neither model did well, however, on our Unreal Tournament 2004 test, and the 12-inch PowerBook G4's 17.5 frames per second won't cut the mustard for serious gaming.

Likewise, the 12-inch PowerBook G4 delivered just average battery life. The system played our test DVD for 3.1 hours--about average for laptops in general, though a little short for the typical thin-and-light. Still, the 12-inch PowerBook G4 beat out its 15-inch and 17-inch counterparts, which lasted a respective 2.9 and 2.7 hours.

Apple offers an industry-standard one-year warranty with the 12-inch PowerBook G4--the typical term included with most home and small-business laptops. But the company provides a short 90-day tech-support policy--the same that comes with some lower-end Dell laptops but far inferior to the standard one-year warranty that HP and most other vendors offer. At least Apple's support Web site features a useful forum section along with the usual FAQ and troubleshooting items. For more detailed information about warranties and service plans, check out Computer Shopper's overview of 37 major computer vendors.

System configurations:
iBook G4 (1.33GHz, 12-inch)
OS X 10.4.2; PowerPC G4 1.33GHz; 512MB PC2700 333MHz DDR SDRAM; ATI Mobility Radeon 9550 32MB; Fujitsu MHV2040AT 40GB 4,200rpm

iBook G4 (1.33GHz, 14-inch)
OS X 10.3.8; PowerPC G4 1.33GHz; 256MB PC2100 266MHz DDR SDRAM; ATI Mobility Radeon 9200 32MB; Fujitsu MHT2060AT 60GB 4,200rpm

PowerBook G4 (1.5GHz, 12-inch)
OS X 10.4.2; PowerPC G4 1.5GHz; 512MB PC2700 333MHz DDR SDRAM; Nvidia GeForce FX 5200 64MB; Hitachi Travelstar 5K100 80GB 5,400rpm

PowerBook G4 (1.67GHz, 15-inch)
OS X 10.4.1; PowerPC G4 1.67GHz; 512MB PC2700 333MHz DDR SDRAM; ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 64MB; Fujitsu MHT2080AH 80GB 5,400rpm

PowerBook G4 (1.67GHz, 17-inch)
OS X 10.4.2; PowerPC G4 1.67GHz; 512MB PC4200 333MHz DDR2 SDRAM; ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 128MB; Seagate Momentus 5400.2 120GB 5,400rpm

What you'll pay

Pricing is currently unavailable.

Editors' Top PicksSee All


Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Where to Buy

Apple PowerBook G4 (12-inch, SuperDrive)

Part Number: M9691LL/A Released: Oct 19, 2005

MSRP: $1,699.00

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Oct 19, 2005
  • Operating System Apple MacOS X 10.4
  • Installed Size 512 MB
  • Weight 4.6 lbs
  • Optical Drive DVD±RW - fixed
  • Graphics Processor AGP 4x - NVIDIA GeForce FX Go5200 - 64 MB DDR SDRAM
  • CPU PowerPC G4 1.5 GHz