3 lbs sub-PowerBook

in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
Some of you may remember the two everlasting "2400 dreams" threads from the old AI boards. I know Retrograde does.

I have to admit that I still entertain hopes for a very light sub-PowerBook subnotebook. After replacing my PB 520c with a Wallstreet immediately upon its introduction, I went back to a PB 2400c. The light weight and compact form factor made all the difference to me. But the PowerBook 2400c was on its last leg and couldn't run OS X, so it had to make way for an iBook (Dual USB) in May.

The iBook is fantastic, especially at the $1300 price point. It's robust, has a great screen, great battery life, runs OS X like a charm (now that we're up to 10.1) and has good AirPort reception. It's so good it is now my main system for everything I do. But when I'm carrying it around, or using it at home, I still wish we had a third portable option from Apple. I crave a 3 lbs or less sub-PowerBook with a Duo-style Dock.

Chances for such a mini-PowerBook are small. The iBook and the TiBook cover the portable market very well between the two of them. In fact, the current iBook fulfills all of my needs. But I can't help but desire something slightly smaller and lighter.

What do you think?



  • Reply 1 of 62
    well, since apple lowered the prices on the new powerbook models, there really isn't any place for a sub notebook......they have all the price range covered. if they had the old pricing, they could justify a $2000 model, but they can't do that anymore. now, they would be getting into the spectrum of the sony notebooks....they're really cool, but apple wouldn't sell enough and then they'd have to pull it eventually like the cube. sony has the resources, since they have a humongous market, other than computers, but apple may already have shot it'self in the foot with the ipod and i don't think they can take another fringe market computer.
  • Reply 2 of 62
    What would you want them to leave out in order to have a sub-3 lb. portable?
  • Reply 3 of 62
    have the optical drive connect through USB or firewire

    [ 11-13-2001: Message edited by: Max8319 ]</p>
  • Reply 4 of 62
    escherescher Posts: 1,811member
    [quote]Originally posted by ColorClassicG4:

    <strong>What would you want them to leave out in order to have a sub-3 lb. portable?</strong><hr></blockquote>

    You know, that's a good question. The optical drive is the obvious answer. Beyond that it becomes more difficult.

    The iBook's robustness is one of the main reasons why I gladly put up with the 1 lbs weight increase from my 2400c. But I really only use the optical drive for software installation. So I'd gladly leave it behind when I'm on the road. With IBM's new 40GB 9.5mm Travelstar drive, you can just make disk images of any CDs you may need to access on the road.

    [quote]Originally posted by Max8319:

    <strong>have the optical drive connect through USB or firewire</strong><hr></blockquote>

    In this day and age, it would have to be bus-powered 6-pin FireWire. USB sucks blocks for anything other than keyboards and mice. The lack of bus-power in the Newer FireWire PC card on my 2400c was one of the reasons that made the new iBook attractive.

  • Reply 5 of 62
    daverdaver Posts: 496member
    AI just wouldn't be right without a never-ending sub-PowerBook thread!

    That said, I'm extremely pleased with my (almost) new iBook. It's no lightweight, but it's still leagues ahead of the behemoths I see most people lugging around. The great sreen, long battery life and sweet keyboard are nice, too.
  • Reply 6 of 62
    bellebelle Posts: 1,574member
    This was one of my favorite discussions from the old AI. I'm happy to see you've resurrected it, Escher.

    I think Apple probably knows, as you've discovered, that the new iBook fulfills most needs for the ultra-portable user. I don't know that a third notebook would be a smart move.

    The current iBook is a shade under 5lbs, and still much more bulky than it need be. Perhaps the next major revision (Probably some time in '03) will bring it closer to the 3lb mark.

    I think the days of the ultra-portable are numbered, because it's just not possible to fit the features people demand of a notebook into such a small and light package.
  • Reply 7 of 62
    [quote]Originally posted by Daver:

    <strong>AI just wouldn't be right without a never-ending sub-PowerBook thread!</strong><hr></blockquote>

    Yes, I must say the whole board is now beginning to feel a little cozier and homey. Glad to see the return of this thread Escher even if for many of us the iBook currently sits as a stand-in. It looks like I too may at long last be getting my hands on an iBook of my very own this holiday season. My trusty Powerbook 5300ce is now ever so long in the tooth and my 6500--as Cipher13 of MacNN will know--sounded the bell toll (startup chime) of its last breath not more than a month ago. So iBook 500 combo here I come with open arms

    I must confess that for me the new iBook is virtually exactly what I wanted--those of you who followed the 2400 dreams thread may remember my desire for a hardwearing, 1024x768, optical drive fitted, 8 1/2" x 11" notebook. But in spite of this I still feel that a supersmall subnotebook would sell and fit into a market segment not currently available to Mac users--and not just because I have been enamoured with portable Macs from my first days with my first Mac, the Powerbook 150.

    The problem with the cube was that it was an attractive concept that in reality failed to cut itself a distinctive market niche. In other words, all it had going for it was style--it was just like a powermac, it only looked different. Now I like style, but style needs to be wed with the practical desire of a section of the market not currently fulfilled by an Apple product. While the iBook is a relatively small and light notebook, there still remains a demand for something smaller--particularly in Japan, ask neutrino.

    Think about it, Apple's marketing moniker at the moment is something like "The centre of your digital lifestyle" or "The Digitial Hub". Now, as I understand it, the digital hub is really only the Mac OS with it's compliment of "i" apps running on a machine with a set of connectivity ports with which you can hook all your digital devices. An optical drive isn't necessary to the hub itself, it is actually one device like any other. Basically what I am suggesting is that the "Digital Hub" concept in its purest form is a subnotebook: the Mac OS running on a machine with connectivity ports. 3lbs for this does not seem unreasonable.
  • Reply 8 of 62
    cdhostagecdhostage Posts: 1,038member
    A subnotebook from Apple would need the iBook's specs, but needs to lose weight.

    Possible places: ditch the optical drive and make the battery lithium polymer. Hey, that's actually a pretty cool idea! Assuming it's the same basic size and shape as the iBook, maybe a little thinner, but same size screen and same size keyboard, I wonder how much weight you would save by offering no internal optical drive and replacing a lithium ion battery with a lithium polymer battery. I wonder how long a full-sizwe lithium polymer battery would last an iBook.

    Anyway, the SubiBook, or PadMac, or what have you, needs the same specs as the iBook line of that generation. So, let's assume Apple releases this subnotebook in January. I predict iBooks and this new subnotebook will be all the same, with the following specs:

    700 MHz G3 Processor

    128 MB RAM

    30 GB HD

    Choice of optical drive (on iBooks)
  • Reply 9 of 62
    macaddictmacaddict Posts: 1,055member
    Ahh, Escher, a new part of AI has been filled with 2400 Dreams.

    I think that the iBook's additional .5lbs is justified by the CDROM drive and low price, as Escher has said. Although I agree that a single model of a subnotebook could fit in well, unfortunately, the Apple market coupled with the lousy economy has changed all of this.

    The two things that could go to a weight and size reduction of the iBook is no CD drive, and a smaller but same resolution (1024 x 768) 10.4 inch screen. Although not necessary, it would be very nice to have the iBook thinned out as well. C'mon, there is nobody out there carrying a 1.3 inches thick "subnotebook".

    A 600 or 700 MHz G3 is all that is needed. Same old Rage 128 mobility is fine and a 20 gig HD at 4200 RPM. As long as it's small and light the features we need can be sacrificed. Plus, the price point needs to stay low. What we cannot sacrifice are ports. 2 USB, and at least one Firewire, preferably two. Slap this into a sleek Titanium case with a frame made with fancy buzzwords and make it rugged. Exposed screws make things look very rugged. However, I'm not sure how large the keyboard can be if the screen is only 10.4 inches with a very thin bezel. Anyone have any numbers on this?
  • Reply 10 of 62
    jutusjutus Posts: 272member
    If a 3 lb escherBook came into existence between the iBook and the TiBook, would we not pine for a 2.5 lb powerbook between the iBook and the escherBook on the product grid?

    I'd rather see a tabletMac.
  • Reply 11 of 62
    crusadercrusader Posts: 1,129member
    jutus, great name for the sub-notebook! "escherBook" Love it. As for the 2.5 lb sub-sub-powerbook/ibook (eB2), once we got that we would have post's like this:

    "While the new eB2, is great for me, I would love for Apple to release a lighter version around a ounce. I figure they can take out the battery altogether, and use solar power. The HD can also be replaced with a 1meg flash rom. We can also reduce the screen size to 10x10 pixels. Chances are for the eB1/2 are small, but I really hope Apple releases it!"

    Ah, love technology
  • Reply 12 of 62
    How about solid-state storage, about 15gb.
  • Reply 13 of 62
    [quote]Originally posted by Belle:

    <strong>I think Apple probably knows, as you've discovered, that the new iBook fulfills most needs for the ultra-portable user. I don't know that a third notebook would be a smart move.</strong><hr></blockquote>

    I agree, I think a sub-PowerBook would probably end up being another cube: a great idea that lots of people love, but just not practical enough to be successful. The only way I could see it working would be if they made the iBook so extremely cute that no self-respecting business-person could ever use one in public. Until such a thing happens I don't see there being enough of a demand to make it profitable.
  • Reply 14 of 62
    pookjppookjp Posts: 280member
    Welcome home, Escher .

    - Pook
  • Reply 15 of 62
    nebrienebrie Posts: 483member
    [quote]Originally posted by nonhuman:


    I agree, I think a sub-PowerBook would probably end up being another cube: a great idea that lots of people love, but just not practical enough to be successful. The only way I could see it working would be if they made the iBook so extremely cute that no self-respecting business-person could ever use one in public. Until such a thing happens I don't see there being enough of a demand to make it profitable.</strong><hr></blockquote>

    Well, a lot of PC makers have been coming out with these, sony, ibm, compaq, etc... it is funny flipping them over and seeing a huge fan bulging out of the bottom though. These notebooks are targeted at businesses and executives as they also tend to look very slick as well. The biggest area of demand would be in Japan; this would be a great way for Apple to boost sales in Japan as their level of integration gives them a boost against all the other sub-notebook makers.

    The ibook could come closer if it used titanium rather than that thick polycarbonate.
  • Reply 16 of 62
    ferroferro Posts: 453member
    I would love a sub-powerbook....

    I wouldnt make it a major product unless the demand became soo large...

    I think apple should let out some limited edition prototypes... just to be cool...

    "Sub-PowerBook - Limited", "iPad - Limited Edition"... would sell like hot cakes!

    I think a 25th anniversary product is in order... while theres still time...
  • Reply 17 of 62
    amorphamorph Posts: 7,112member
    I think the 12.1" screen is as small as it will get. The iBook's keyboard stretches across the whole machine, and Steve has inveighed against shrunken keyboards before.

    HDDs get smaller, though, and optical drives get thinner. I wouldn't be surprised if Apple manages to shave some weight and some thickness off the machine in the next revision. A four pound, 1 inch thick iBook would be pretty sweet, no? Maybe in a stainless-steel and white enclosure like the iPod's?
  • Reply 18 of 62
    ferroferro Posts: 453member
    oooooh.... I can see it right now...

    A mini-ibook... that'd be sweet... polished steel....

    I wonder if those mini hard drives get very hot? like the ibooks does?....
  • Reply 19 of 62
    [quote]Originally posted by ColorClassicG4:

    <strong>What would you want them to leave out in order to have a sub-3 lb. portable?</strong><hr></blockquote>

    We had a thread on Macnn for a while about how to reduce weight in an iBook. I looked at changing or removing parts. There is not much to be done there. The CD drive is already very light. My conclusion is that the iBook got its current size and weight as a design decision. It is probably very rugged compared to other small notebooks. I'll bet you could toss them around in backpacks, pile other books on them, drop them (not too hard) and they will keep working where other books would simply shatter.

    So, if Apple makes a lighter subnote the main thing to go will be strength. It will be very thin (lose the CD mostly for space compression, not weight loss) and not as durable as an iBook.

    One possible form factor is that of the Toshiba Libretto. It has a wide LCD (1280 x 760 by memory). This lets it be small and light but still have full size keys.

    If the new book uses the new ultra-low power G3 from IBM then it might also save weight on heat sinks and the battery could be smaller and lighter.

    One target market would be business and professional people who have full size desktops for their main work but need something small and light for travel (work on airplanes, in hotels, giving presentations, etc.). It could be priced over $1,500. Without a CD it would not take share from the iBook crowd.
  • Reply 20 of 62
    A question about Apple's laptop line and market share.

    Sometimes people post that Apple can't have something like a subnote as it is too close to the iBook (similar arguments for other products). Yet, how is it that Sony, NEC, Toshiba and others can have three or four sizes of laptops in their lineup? The wintel market is large but there are a lot of players. Their individual shares can't be much larger than Apple's.

    Just now I pulled off of a website in Japan a ranking of laptop sales in Japan:
    • 1. Fujitsu\tFMVNB890L\tFMV-BIBLO

      2. Sony\tPCG-FX55S/BP\tVaio Note FX

      3. NEC\tLL700/1D\tLaVie L

      4. Apple\tM8599J/A\tiBook G3-600 combo-drive 198,000 yen list

      5. NEC\tLL500/1D\tLaVie L

      6. Sony\tPCG-FX33S/BP\tVaio Note FX

      7. Sony\tPCG-GR5E/BP\tVaio Note GR

      8. Fujitsu\tFMVNB89D\tFMV-BIBLO

      9. Fujitsu\tFMVNB89DR\tFMV-BIBLO

      10. Apple\tM8362J/A\tG4?550 Ti-PB 259,800 yen list

    <a href="http://www.computernews.com/"; target="_blank">http://www.computernews.com/</a>; (Japanese only)

    This doesn't show individual shares, just the ranking. Only Apple posts a list price, the rest have switched to what they call Open Pricing which lets individual stores set their own price (sort of).

    My point is that Apple has two computers in the top ten ranking. That means that lots of companies are getting by on smaller market share than Apple does. So why can't Apple give us more variety in the line up?

    Why not have a super high end dual G4 laptop with a huge screen? It would weigh 10 pounds but for some people that would be fit their needs.

    Why not have a sub-three pound note at the low end?


    I'm not advocating going back to the days when there were half a dozen desktops that were virtually indistinguishable. But why not make things that are really different (very heavy, very light, very fast, very inexpensive) from each other and try to cover a wider market?

Sign In or Register to comment.