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Get an Apple iBook for $399.99

Remember the iBook? It preceded the Netbook by years, but has a Netbook-like processor, screen, hard drive, and, now, price tag. Perception is reality!

Apple's Netbook-like iBook is on sale for just $399.99 shipped. Buy.com

Apple has yet to join the exploding Netbook market, right? Wrong: It joined the market nearly six years ago. It may have even pioneered it!

OK, let me explain. The Apple iBook G4, which debuted in late 2003 and has since been discontinued, has specs that remind me a lot of modern Netbooks. Pokey processor, smallish screen and hard drive, compact design, low price--sound familiar?

Buy.com has refurbished Apple iBook G4 laptops for $399.99 shipped. There are caveats, yes indeed, but this might be just the Apple Netbook you've been waiting for.

The iBook sports a 1.33GHz PowerPC G4 processor, 1GB of RAM, a 40GB hard drive, and a 12.1-inch LCD. It's perfect for the basics, right? You won't do a lot of video editing on it, but word processing, Web browsing, e-mail, and the like are fair game.

At five pounds, it's obviously heavier than most Netbooks, but there's a reason for that: the slot-loading DVD/CD-RW drive. That's definitely something you won't find in a traditional Netbook, but do you mind having one?

I'm no expert when it comes to Apple systems (CNET is--check its review of the iBook G4), and I have no hands-on experience with this model. I do know it comes with OS X 10.5, so at least you're getting (almost) the latest and greatest version of the Mac OS. (FYI, Snow Leopard, a.k.a. 10.6, will not run on PowerPC Macs.)

The only major hiccup here is the warranty: a scant 30 days (and provided by Buy.com, I'm guessing). I'm sure that'll be a deal breaker for some people, and perhaps rightly so, but think about it: The slot-loading drive is the most likely trouble spot, and if it breaks, the iBook is that much closer to a typical Netbook. (How's that for a positive spin?)

Anyway, let me know what you think of Apple's almost-Netbook. Or if you think I'm cuckoo for making the analogy.