The Problem with Macs is Apple, or rather that Apple is a hardware-driven company.
I’ve been gearing up to purchase one of the new sub-$1k iBooks, and on a whim decided to Google for iBook vs Powerbook—if I hadn’t I’d be in for a nasty surprise in a few weeks because I only have experience with Powerbooks.
There are a few potentially deal-breaking differences between Apple’s two laptop families that exist, largely I suspect, only for business not technical reasons. (Sources: 1 <http://www.pbzone.com/ibookspanning.shtml>, 2 <http://www.powerbookcentral.com/news/viewnews.cgi?id=EpAlFylZEFaKniQfFi>).
- iBooks do not support closed-lid operation. If you close the lid it will go to sleep. Powerbooks can be connected to an alternate display device and used with the lid closed.
- iBooks only do display mirroring, not dual-display. With Powerbooks you can plug in a monitor or TV for an extended desktop, also you can run a hardware-accelerated (AFAIK) full-screen DVD, Movie, Game, whatever on one display and still have a usable second desktop. This also limits an iBook to 1024×768 no matter the display. Also this seems kind of useless since you can’t do closed-lid operation.
- Lastly, a minor note in the wake of the above two bomb-shells: iBooks do not have built-in line-in audio.
- Lastly, lastly: Also I’ve heard rumors that the VGA-out adapter is an optional accessory!
There’s a $400 price difference between the low-end 12" iBook and 12" Powerbook, but I think it might be worth the money. Being limited to 1024×768 isn’t terrible on a laptop (esp. given my current Picturebook’s display of 1024×480…), but it is terrible if you can’t expand that by plugging into a capable external display. Also I used dual-displays /a lot/ in my Powerbook days. When I was DMing D&D games, I would have my notes on the laptop and use the TV-out to display maps, pictures, and videos for the players. Also Google-ing for things while giving a Keynote (Apple’s gorgeous PowerPoint clone), or doing homework while watching a DVD on a television-set.