Tech: iBook G4 12 Feature - The Next Level

Tech: iBook G4 12

Time to give Apple a chance? Our tech alumni Louie Tran definitely thinks so. Our full report inside.

Article by Louie Tran (Email)
December 23rd 2004, 08:57PM

Being a diehard PC user for over 15 years, I have never considered switching to an Apple Mac or EVER using an Apple product. In fact I avoided using Quicktime as much as possible because I always thought anything made by them was a joke. I mean my god, why won't Apple just give in and add a second mouse button? Besides, Macs are mainly for graphic designers, moviemakers, musicians or ignorant consumers who need a computer with training wheels. It turns out that I was the one who was ignorant and I was completely clueless in using the Mac OS until I recently acquired this new iBook G4 12-inch to satisfy my Mac curiousity and have enjoyed using it everyday since.

The first few hours with my iBook

After removing the laptop from its extravagant packaging, I was introduced to the first Mac computer I have owned since the Apple IIe. The laptop is very well constructed made by polycarbonate plastic (the same stuff made from bullet proof glass) so you know it's tough and the simple white design adds a lot of class to it. In comparison to many laptops out in the market in terms of physical structure, the iBook feels very solid unlike the cheap, dull plastic feel of Dell or HP notebooks.

The iBook comes with a decent software package with the Mac OS X at its core which includes AppleWorks (similar to Microsoft Works with the word processor, spreadsheet, etc), a suite of production software such as Garage Band, iDVD, iPhoto, iMovie, and more. There's also World Book 2004 and a few full version games installed as well which is a nice addition but a lot of people such as myself will end up deleting to free up the limited 30GB hard drive space. Unfortunately there's no full version of Microsift Office or even the full version of Quicktime.

The first thing that I did while it was recharging was connect the iBook to my router. I got online just fine and was installing the Mac Updates and surfing the web at the same time without any problems. Safari is a much better browser overall compared to Internet Explorer. There is a built in popup blocker so it makes web surfing more enjoyable. The iBook does come with Internet Explorer 5.0 but it's as buggy as hell and I don't recommend using it unless you really want to.

In setting up the actual LAN, my three PCs found the iBook on the network and my iBook found the three PCs. I did run into a small problem while trying to print off my HP PSC 1350 that was connected to one of my PCs on the network, but there is a work around using a free program called Samba (it's a long complicated process but you can find it off Google). The built in wireless adapter also found my Linksys wireless router just fine as well as all of my neighbors' wireless conections.

After that I wanted to test the video playback of my new iBook. Since Quicktime is the default player as to Windows' Media Player, it ran MPEGs and AVIs just fine. However it is extremely annoying that the free version of Quicktime does not play video files in full screen like Media Player does. However, since I don't really view Quicktime files that much anyway, I did a search on Versiontracker and downloaded Video Lan which plays all file formats including DivX and XviD in fullscreen and best of all, it's free. DVDs ran without a hitch as I expected and it had no problems reading my burned DVDs. The built in stereo speakers sound OK, but I suggest getting headphones for a better audio experience. Just to warn you audiophiles out there, the speakers on the iBook have no bass at all.

And finally I wanted to see if it could burn DVDs using my TDK external burner (has both USB 2.0 and Firewire connections). Did some research in how to make "backups" of movie DVDs online and it is very similar to the method that I use on PC. The three programs that you need are Mac the Ripper (free), DVD2ONE X (shareware), and Roxio Popcorn (commercial). Basically what you do is use Mac the Ripper to rip the movie off the DVD, then use DVD2ONE X to compress the movie, and then use Roxio Popcorn to actually burn the movie. The whole process takes about 40 minutes to do, but it was a successful experiment and it was quite satisfying giving my Mac some dirty new abilities.

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