Tough Choice: TiBook Versus iBook

| Editorial

There have been a sprinkling of articles all over the web about Appleis two mobile computing offerings, and all of that press-play has given the TiBook and iBook a lot of attention from people who would normally be thinking about buying another Wintel laptop. Truth be told, I wouldnit be too surprised to learn that a good number of Wintel desktop owners now call an Apple laptop home, but for those who are thinking about making the move to one of Appleis Books, the question you are likely to face is which one?

Many Mac owners can spit out the general specs of the TiBook and the iBook , and, if your mind does not feel as if someone tossed it into a blender and punched iliquefyi, you might be able to make that decision. Apple hasnit helped matters much because both laptops offer a boatload of bang for a reasonable buck.

The Titanium PowerBook G4 is just plain slick. Itis got the biggest screen on any laptop, 1GB RAM capacity, a 20, 30 or 48 GB hard drive (I wonder why 48 and not 50 GB? Are we being cheated out of those 2 GBs? Is someone hoarding them? Do they think no one will miss 2GB of space? Note to self: Call Apple.), itis 1 inch thick, and it comes in a titanium skin. Added to this, Apple just made the DVD/CDRW combination drive standard on all TiBooks. Even if your inner geek is the size of a pea, itis got to be screaming, “GIMME, GIMME, GIMME,” right about now. Muzzle that puppy for a second and stroll on over to the iBook.

Some of us are financially challenged, but are no less lovers of great technology, and we need to have cool mobile computing too. iBook fills that need nicely, and then some. Although the screen is a small 12.1 inches, in this case at least, size really does not matter, because the iBook sports one of the best displays in the industry. If thatis not enough, of course, there is now a 14" iBook available as well.

The fun doesnit stop there. The basic iBook comes chock full of hardware and software, including 128MB RAM, CD-ROM drive, 2 USB ports and 1 FireWire port, and iMovie2. That means that, even with Apple least expensive laptop, you can still author a movie to send to grandma, or showcase your science project. And if you have a bit more cash to throw at it, the iBook can give you a faster system bus, more RAM, bigger hard drive, and a built-in DVD-CDRW combo drive. Which means that, in the same space a small textbook would normally occupy, you could watch a movie, burn CDs, and send a note to Uncle Percy and hit him up for more cash.

The only help Apple gives you in making your decision is price. If you donit have deep pockets then the TiBook is probably beyond your means. That doesnit make you any less of a Mac fan, just prudent with your dineros. The bottom line iBook is a full $1100 less than the low end TiBook. The other big difference is the processor type. The iBook still runs a G3 (500 and 600 MHz) and the TiBook uses a G4 (550 or 667 MHz). The difference is noticeable , especially if you are using Mac OS X or other tools that take advantage of the G4is AltiVec engine. Still, if you can afford either you have got to be scratching you noggin and cursing Steve Jobs for producing such a dilemma.

So, which will it be? Do you opt for saving space and some dough and go with the iBook, or do you go for power and the ability to display two full pages of text on the screen at once with the TiBook? Your inner geek has got to be going completely bananas.

So, is there a downside to picking either? Well, that depends on what you consider to be a downside. The TiBook comes with lots of software, but not as much as the iBook . Missing from the TiBookis software list and included on the iBookis is AppleWorks 6, and 3 games. AppleWorks 6 is a nice package (not as nice on OS X, but better than it was), and should be included with all Macs, I believe, but not having it is not a big downside. The TiBook may not be as rugged as the iBook. The titanium shell may not hold its good looks if you, say, work in a gravel pit. The iBook, on the other hand, is built to take the punish school age kids can dish out, which is saying a lot. Still, neither are delicate machines. You can pick either up by its screen without fear of breaking something. Both are extremely well made and meant to be used, and that does not help making a choice any easier.

Weight could also be a factor. If you do a lot of traveling then lugging anything heavy through airports gets old fast. The iBook only weigh 4.9 pounds versus the hefty 5.3 pounds of the TiBook. Hmmm. If .4 pounds makes that much of a difference then I suggest that you get a health club membership, quickly. A half a pound difference is a dead heat considering the larger screen size the TiBook offers. No help there.

There are obviously other differences, but none of this really meant a lot in the long run, because both are very capable machines, which is why you are considering them in the first place. So which is it?

Iim with ya. Iim thinking about buying an Apple Book too, and I have no idea which one to get. At the moment Iim leaning towards the TiBook. I can afford the low end model, and that screen is absolutely marvelous, but I like the dinky size of the iBook. I donit know. I just donit know. If *you* figure it out, be sure and drop a note in the comments below.

Vern Seward is a frustrated writer who currently lives in Orlando, FL. Heis been a Mac fan since Atari Computers folded, but has worked with computers of nearly every type for 20 years.

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