PowerBook sheds pounds, adds battery life

PowerBook sheds pounds, adds battery life

Previous Apple PowerBooks were more like PowerDictionaries - they weighed about as much as an unabridged Webster's. The new Macintosh PowerBook G3/333 is leaner, but still expensive.

Weighing 2.7 kilograms, the G3/333 is about 20 per cent slimmer than its predecessor, the G3/300.

Unfortunately, the new notebook isn't quite as sturdy: the lid is flimsier, and the keyboard feels mushy. And in the take-it-or-leave-it tradition of the iMac, the G3 lacks a floppy drive - even as an option.

I tested a shipping unit of the $4995 G3/333, with a luscious 14.1 inch active-matrix display, a 333MHz PowerPC G3 CPU, a 4GB hard drive, 64MB of RAM, and a 24x CD-ROM drive. (A loaded PowerBook G3 with a 400MHz G3 chip and a DVD-ROM drive costs $6995.) Two USB ports, which replace the venerable Apple Desktop Bus and serial interfaces, are handy for adding a much-needed external floppy or Zip drive.

You'll also find an ethernet port for easy networking, a 56kbps modem, and a connector for SCSI peripherals.

In our tests, the G3/333 was only incrementally faster than the G3/300. Its additional video memory (8MB versus the G3/300's 4MB) lets the system display or extend the screen image on an external monitor - a feature left off recent Apple portables.

Battery life is very good - about 3.5 hours in our tests. But Windows 98, running via Connectix's VirtualPC emulation program (not bundled), was slow.

All in all, with its lighter weight, outstanding display, and long battery life, the new PowerBook is a good read.

The bottom line ****

Macintosh PowerBook G3/333

Pros: Slim design; lightweight; great display.

Cons: No floppy drive, slow Windows emulation, pricey.

Value: A speedy and attractive Mac for the road or the desktop.

Street price: $4995

Apple Store

1300 301 485

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