Apple 17-inch PowerBook

The 17-inch PowerBook G4 delivers a competitive set of features, a great software package, good battery life, and style in spades, but you can find plenty of less expensive options out there.

Apple PowerBook G4 (17-inch) series
Apple's desktop-replacement model, the $2,499 PowerBook G4, has a gorgeous 17-inch display, and at 6.9 pounds, it's among the lightest laptops of its size on the market. It's also one of the most expensive. Like its 15-inch sibling, the 17-inch PowerBook offers a 1.67GHz PowerPC G4 processor, 512MB of RAM, and 128MB of dedicated VRAM, as well as a raft of multimedia-friendly features that make it particularly well suited for graphics work. The $500 difference between the two PowerBook models can best be chalked up to the 17-inch model's larger standard hard drive and its gorgeous 1,680x1,050 display. While we appreciate the beauty of the 17-inch PowerBook and love working on a screen that size, we're unconvinced that it's worth the inflated price. Again, we'd prefer to buy the more portable 12-inch model and use the money left over to buy an LCD monitor to use at home or at work.

Build-to-order options are scarce, but we'd recommend getting your 17-inch PowerBook G4 more RAM, since a professional-level machine should have more than the base 512MB. Get 1GB for $100 or 2GB for an extra $500. Aside from that, there isn't much to choose, unless you want to save $50 by replacing the slot-loading DVD burner with a combo drive, which doesn't burn DVDs. Since all PowerBooks come with 802.11g wireless and Bluetooth 2.0+EDR built in, they're already fairly complete. Now, if only they had TV tuner cards.