PowerBook hardware impressions

Posted on Sat 28 February 2004
Some impressions after a few days spent in my new digital home. Let's start by the hardware.

The PowerBook has many features (and non-features) that make life easy with it. Some may seem futile, but are so important when you spend the largest part of your week days with a device.

First of all, the physical contact is a sensual experience: no sharp edges, a smooth texture, nothing that can hurt. Even the screen locker that disappears when the screen is open (a magnet makes it pop out when the screen is closed).

The keyboard is comfortable, even if it lacks page up/down (which as available by combining arrow keys with command and option modifiers). The trackpad is more criticizable: it doesn't drive scrollbars (fortunately, SideTrack comes to the rescue) and has only one button (c'mon, Apple, everybody can use 2 buttons now).

The main feature that makes life easy with the PowerBook is that it's virtually always on. Close the screen, and it goes to sleep in 3 seconds. Open the screen, and it comes back to life in 3 seconds also. When sleeping, the power consumption is very low, meaning you never really switch it off. Open, close, open, close: it's always ready when you need it.

Oh, and it really goes to sleep: sleep mode is shown by a white LED on the screen locker whose intensity varies like the calm breathing of someone sleeping...

The luminescent Apple logo at the back of the screen is also interesting. At first, I thought it had its own light, implying more hardware and more power consumption. But wait: it's just a translucent piece of plastic that lets the screen backlight shine through! What a clever idea: this amazing "feature" actually costs nothing!

On light again: my PowerBook has a backlit keyboard. There are light sensors near the speakers that automatically adjust the screen and keyboard brightness depending on environmental light. So cool at twilight or when you move from one room to the other.

Next, I'll write about software. But I'm still decorating my new digital home, so stay tuned!

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