Saturday, January 14, 2006

First post from the iBook :)

As described in the previous post I am now the owner of a brand new 12'' iBook - probably "different" but in no way "stylish" (and no, the PowerBooks are not very "stylish" either", maybe a little better looking, but in the case of the 12'' version the iBook is a MUCH, MUCH better value for money).

First impression - the iBook is no speed daemon - it might be very hard to even think about that if you consider that it is 6-8 times slower than a top of the line Wintel machine - composed from the 5x SteveJ declared and around 1.2x to 1.6x from the 12'' iBook to the 15'' PowerBook. However speed is very relative - and in some (few) ways the 12'' iBook is faster than a supercomputer from the 70s :) The very first hardware thing was to go to 1 GB RAM, so that was covered too ...

I will start with the (very few) good things - the build quality was not that bad (including the keyboard - it is certainly better than the G3 iBooks) - but FAR, FAR away from serious machines like the Dell X300 (or X200, which was the best built subnotebook that I have ever used). The display is also good. And the battery life with the default battery is (so far) very, very good. And we are done with the good part :))

It is TWICE heavier and TWICE thicker than the X300, actually it might even be heavier than the X300 + D/Bay + the huge extended battery - so the battery life is no longer that impressive ...

The keyboard DESIGN is AWFUL - which probably makes impossible for many people to escape forever paying "the Apple tax" - but (fortunately) that also makes
almost impossible the transition to Apple for anybody that wasn't somehow brainwashed before :)

It is also incredible how inconsistent many things are - starting again with the keyboard (some function keys require to press the FN special key, while others do not) and I miss the much better keyboard from the X300 with the separate Home, End, PageUp and PageDown keys and where you have both Backspace and Delete (also Insert), and also where the Ctrl key is the leftmost one and not the special-for-notebook FN key ... and now that I think twice, the slightly smaller size of the X300 keys is actually better for everybody without huge hands ...

The inconsistent part also creeps into the user interface - when you close some windows that might sometimes close the program itself - and sometimes not; the "zoom" button is BY FAR inferior to the "maximize/restore" one from Windows and generally the entire user interface "screams" of inefficiency and inferior design targeting people that value more the "look" than the substance !!!

But BY FAR the most annoying thing is the one-button trackpad - while the "official party line" is that it forces a simpler approach, the overall result is a HUGE MESS - you now have Ctrl+CLICK, Shift+CLICK, Alt+CLICK, Command+CLICK, Alt+Command+CLICK and many, many other combinations which are both less elegant and less efficient than a second trackpad button (which eventually could have been initially defined by default to have the same action as the left button so that people too dumb to have two buttons would still survive - apparently that was not the case even in the new MacBook Pro so yet again Apple does not give a shit for its customers).

And finally one major engineering problem - the power connector is THE WORST that I have EVER seen in a notebook - it is so pathetic that I believe even the famous 100 US$ notebook designed at MIT has a better one !!! (but apparently the class action suit on this one was getting too close, so it was changed in the MacBook Pro - that one looks interesting but it remains to be seen if it also works).

And don't get me wrong - there are interesting things about the iBook, and in 1-2 weeks I will probably become faster, more productive and more efficient than 99.99% of the normal "Mac population" - but that will NOT be in any way the merit of the Apple design but more likely a result of my "keyboard grassroots" and ability to control computers of any kind ...

The last days were quite full so now I will end this post with another Apple-overpricing-related link - but maybe tomorrow we'll finally find some really cool stuff ...

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