31 Responses

  1. Christopher Price
    Christopher Price February 25, 2008 at 1:32 am |
  2. swissfondue
    swissfondue February 25, 2008 at 5:21 am |

    Correction: The 12-inch has a maximum of 1.25 GB of DDR memory, not 1.5 GB.

  3. Christopher Price
    Christopher Price February 25, 2008 at 5:46 am |

    Right you are, corrected. I forgot the 2 in the middle.

    Just to explain why though, the 12-inch PowerBook has 256 MB on-board, with a single RAM slot.

    Theoretically you could use a 2 GB PC-2700 SO-DIMM… besting the MacBook Air with a total of 2.25 GB, but I’ve never heard of anyone pulling it off. The 2 GB SO-DIMMs post-dated the 12-inch’s release… so Apple didn’t address if it would work or not.

  4. mark pokras
    mark pokras February 26, 2008 at 5:23 pm |

    I’m using a 4 year old 12″ G4 and I LOVE it. Having recently had it tuned up and installed a new battery, I hope it lives much longer. 12″ is really about a perfect screen size for me and I spend a lot of hours on the computer.

    My only complaint, though, is weight. Being disabled and doing quite a bit of traveling, I’d give a lot for a lighter laptop — even without an optical drive.

    So why haven’t I gotten an Air? I’m hoping that a later version will have a couple more ports, a battery I can change, and SSD prices come ‘way down!

  5. James Browder
    James Browder March 10, 2008 at 9:27 am |


    Greetings. I live in a large family with 10+ macs and run a business with 25+ macs. I personally own 3 portables including an awesome Macbook Pro decked out with 7200 rpm drive, etc.

    My computer of choice? The one I use ever day, and dearly love? 12″ PB G4!!! You can’t beat it for every day use, and it performs admirably for web development, video work, and of course, writing!

    I sold my first 12″ a few months ago, and found that I missed it too much, and bought another one a month ago for $675 (maxed out, like new 1.5 Ghz SD). Since I’ve had this, my MBP-15 just stays at home and rests. I occasionally use it for music production, but it has now become just another “desktop” workstation.

    Why can’t Apple get it right? I would buy a new 12″ MBP in a heart beat!

    And … something no one else here has talked about … ports and FIREWIRE???! That omission alone would tilt this comparison in the Powerbook G4-12’s favor! What was Apple thinking???!!!

    Thank you for this interesting discussion.

  6. swissfondue
    swissfondue March 11, 2008 at 2:12 am |

    I have now sold my almost 3 year-old 12″ G4 1.5 GHZ 1.25GB RAM 100GB HD (including one extra battery and 3 months Applecare) for USD 932.-

    I have ordered the MacBook Air as a replacement. The reason is the weight. I carry the PB to work and back every day and I feel the weight on my shoulders. Then there are other benefits from the MacBook Air: the very bright screen (as compared to the dim PB display), the 13.3″ compared to the 12″, the backlit keyboard and the space saved by the thinness of the MBA. Also I don’t need to burn or rip CDs or DVDs on the road, nor will I import DV movies with FW from my digital movie camera while mobile.

    So I guess I fit the profile for the MBA perfectly.

  7. greyhund
    greyhund March 23, 2008 at 3:48 pm |

    You will have to pry my 12″ PowerBook out of my cold, dead hands. I travel more than 100K actual air miles a year and work from hotels, coffee shops, planes and airport lounges. My laptop’s uber-portability is important, but so is its ability to work hard and long (um, battery…).

    I could have afforded to buy a new MBP, but don’t want to trade the 12″‘ portability. I had hoped the Air would be my aging PB’s replacement.

    No such luck.

    The Air doesn’t seem to have the guts I need to handle web and collateral design as well as the basic writing, email, and accounting software. Let’s hope Apple listens to those of us who need one computer with power to match the portability. I’d pay $3k for that.

  8. Mike Vardy
    Mike Vardy March 23, 2008 at 10:51 pm |

    Man…I stumbled upon this site while figuring out whether or not I should part with my PB 12″ and just stick with my 15″ MB Pro. I use the 15″ at home as a desktop workhorse and the 12″ is my on-the-go machine.

    I was heading towards selling the PB while I could still get decent value for it, but this post reminded me why I got it in the first place.

    So, I’m back to square one.

  9. BernardP
    BernardP March 29, 2008 at 12:44 pm |

    And why doesn’t Apple offer a 12 inch Air?

  10. Doofus
    Doofus April 2, 2008 at 1:54 am |

    I too was about to buy an Air to replace an as-new top of the range 12″ Powerbook bought used for $575.

    Upon researching the issue I’m sticking to the PB until the foreseeable.

  11. joe
    joe April 8, 2008 at 10:38 pm |

    i love my 12″powerbook. i wish apple would make a 12″mbp.

  12. Sam Kong
    Sam Kong May 13, 2008 at 11:37 am |

    I have 12-inch PowerBook and 13.3-inch MacBook.
    I prefer the former.

    There are several things I’d wish for it, though.

    1. Brighter screen
    2. Intel CPU
    3. Camera
    4. 2 finger touch pad scroll (3rd party driver doesn’t work smoothly.)
    5. Backlight keyboard

    I’d buy 12-inch MBP.

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  14. swissfondue
    swissfondue July 2, 2008 at 6:46 am |

    By the way, I wrote a user review on the MacBook Air that also mentions how it compares to the 12″ PowerBook.


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  17. ceopione
    ceopione October 6, 2008 at 10:18 am |

    I have a few portables, one of which being the 15” MBP, i am considering getting a 12 inch PB G4, but i was just wondering, are there any downsides to the 12 inch powerbook g4? I have seen them at a local coffee shop, and they fit perfectly on the small table, so the person can eat and work at the same time. I have to push my MBP to the other side of the table, so i can put my food in front of it, not next to it. I really need something smaller, yet still powerful.

  18. Christopher Price
    Christopher Price October 7, 2008 at 8:42 pm |

    The main thing that you’ll notice, is the speed hit. Keep in mind that your MacBook Pro is at least two to four times faster (and probably much more, depending on your generation) than the PowerBook G4.

    Other than that, be sure to max out the RAM when you get your PBG4 (at least use a 1 GB SO-DIMM). The system only comes standard with 256 MB on-board (though later they bumped it up to 512 MB with one chip in the slot).

    If you care about performance, be sure to get a 1.25 GHz or 1.5 GHz model. There’s really nothing different between the two, aside from the speed bump. You can save some cash by going with the 1.25 GHz… but if speed is essential, get the 1.5 GHz.

    SuperDrive or Combo… that’s your choice. As to OS, I’d suggest Leopard. Even though it maxes out the CPU much more often than Tiger, the real-world performance is noticeably higher. This is because Leopard prioritizes tasks so well, that it can handle running at 100% utilization constantly.

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  21. Tom
    Tom January 8, 2009 at 7:45 pm |

    I just spent 2 hours in the Apple Store today, trying to convince myself to pick up th 15″ MBP to replace my 12″ Powerbook…but walked out empty handed! I’ve tried a few times now, but I just can’t give up the potability of the 12″ Powerbook. It’s perfect in an airport, on airplanes, or even in a hallway before walking into a meeting. The performance is fine and I even do video and audio editing on it. Maybe Apple will FINALLY hear the cries and release a 12″ MBP! I’d be first in line.

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  23. Dan
    Dan March 7, 2009 at 2:56 pm |

    i have had a PB 12″ G4 now for 3+ years. I produce music, design websites, do graphic design, record live music, edit video and of course all the typical stuff too… it’s been in use almost NON-STOP since purchase. It fell off a piano and fell off of my car once (don’t ask)!…. I killed the keypad by spilling water on it…. but even now with and external keypad it still works good as new. Original battery too still lasts over three hours.

  24. Clyde
    Clyde March 24, 2009 at 6:17 pm |

    Was looking for a fairly cheap, sturdy Apple ultraportable and rediscovered the 12″ 1.5 after I sold my first one two or three years ago. Great condition, 80 gig hd, maxed out ram, almost pristine condition for $400.00.

    While I had been using a lenovo ideapad hackbook for a home browsing/email/word processing computer, I found keyboard, battery life and jumping cursor issues too distracting. With the maximum ram (why, oh why didn’t apple let the machine accept 2 gigs? oh right, they wanted us to buy the 15″ to get that) and safari 4, the machine will hold against any of its modern siblings for basic tasks. (I’m not trying to use it for encoding video like I did five years ago.)

    And the keyboard is luxurious. Overall the machine is a delight to use. I couldn’t be happier with it.

  25. Stacy
    Stacy May 30, 2009 at 2:33 pm |

    I am writing this on my first and only mac the 12″ powerbook G4 (4+ years old.) I recently upgraded the guts to the fastest I could get and a new huge hard drive. It runs even better than before. The only thing is, now I am lusting after Aperture for picture editing and it doesn’t run on this machine (at least according to the specs. So I am considering getting a Macbook Air or even just a Macbook unibody just to edit photographs. Am I willing to sell my Powerbook, are you kidding? I am like that previous guy who said that you will have to pry it from my cold dead hands.

    Apple, please make a 12″ MacPro I would pay whatever you asked!!

  26. Deborah
    Deborah June 13, 2009 at 5:01 pm |

    I have a 5 yr old 12″ PB 1.33 GHz/1.25 RAM running Tiger. I love my PB, it has NEVER had a problem (knock, knock). I’m thinking of getting a 24″ iMac and then wiping the PB and upgrading it to Leapord. Then just use it for portability and put on it only what i need in terms of docs, music, photos, etc and sync other stuff via MoblieMe. Any thoughts? Can my PB handle Leopard well if the 150 GB hard drive is mostly empty?

  27. Poster
    Poster July 6, 2009 at 1:40 am |

    Seriously people. I did web development on the last Powerbook 15″ … apache, mysql, aquadata suite, textmate, RoR. That’s all the programs I needed every day. It was too slow! Developing with that machine was possible, but it was achingly slow. A C H I N G L Y slow.

    When I got my MacBook Pro 2,4 Ghz it was like changing to a Porsche 911. Much more productive now. However, since I carry my MacBook Pro every day everywhere, it’s too heavy. I’m thinking of switching to an MacBook Air.

  28. Devon
    Devon August 11, 2009 at 6:41 pm |

    I had a 12″ powerbook g4 and loved it! Once the new aluminum macbooks came out, I sold it and upgraded….though I loved the unibody macbook, I have dreaded that decision ever since. The macbook was the best laptop I ever owned, and I babied it every day, but in the end it was just too big, and I never used the webcam. Though I loved the large trackpad w/multi-gesture among other features, I sold my macbook, and now I’m going back to the 12″ Powerbook. I love the portability, and the speed is perfect for me…I’m only using microsft office, iwork, ilife and Safari. It was the perfect laptop to carry on campus, and to take notes.

    You’re probably thinking I”m crazy downgrading from a macbook to a four-year old powerbook…but hold on. My powerbook is strictly for portability around campus and at my local coffee shop. I’m also gonna wait unitil Spring to buy a new 24″ iMac. Word is that Apple will drop the price once again, while adding more features/specs. And they might update the three-year old aluminum look, though I wouldn’t be dissapointed if they didn’t because the aluminum iMacs are sexxy. 🙂

    Anyway, I wont get rid of the 12″ Powerbook G4, until Apple releases a 12″ macbook pro….hopefully that will be soon.

  29. Ryan
    Ryan October 10, 2009 at 3:18 am |

    Great article and good comments. The PB 12″ is an excellent computer. Fast, for its time, small, nice looking… had everything anyone would ever want in an ultra-portable.

    But you can’t be serious when you say that the PB 12″ is a better machine than the Air. Not now. While the optical drive and a few other features might make it a better fit for some people, in terms of processing power and features, the Air has it beat I would say.

    I am typing a new 2.13 GHz MBA with a 128 SSD running SL. Backlit keyboard, amazing 13.3″ screen, super thin and light, built-in isight camera, Apple Remote infrared window, 1 USB 2.0, a DVI out and an audio out. Large, multi-touch trackpad (the PB 12″ trackpad is too small…). It does lack some IO but this thing is fast, very fast. And with the new Nvidia shared 256 MB graphics chip, there are no hick ups in OS X: it plays HD just fine.

    1.6 pounds weight difference is HUGE. That makes a big difference when carrying it. If you want something ultra-portable, the MacBook Air is it. The PB 12″ is too slow and the screen too small for todays world of HD movies and multi-media rich Internet. The MBA is a home run. Really.

  30. macdaddy
    macdaddy November 22, 2011 at 6:23 pm |

    i would love to see a 12 in macbook pro. lighter and smaller than the 13in maybe even smaller than 12 11in would be a challenge but i think there is a market for it. i mean if you look at the ipad it is pretty much along those lines just a screen without the keyboard.

  31. omar nesbeth
    omar nesbeth November 24, 2011 at 2:59 pm |

    Picked up a powerbook g4 1.5 12 inch for $25 all it needed was a hard drive. I couldn’t be happier. Great little machine. Its going nowhere!


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