iBook and OS X: First Impressions

Filed under: — 4:45 pm

After playing with my new iBook for a couple of weeks, I’ve had a chance to give the Mac platform a shakedown from a PC user’s perspective. Here are my first impressions:

  • Everyone will tell you that 256 MB is not enough, and they’re right. I added a 512MB chip (total 768 MB) and performance is much better. Installing memory yourself is not too difficult, although you do have to remove the keyboard and it’s a bit tricky to reassemble.
  • The UI is, as you might expect, very well done. I hate to sound like a “switcher” but it really feels like an upgrade compared to Windows XP. It’s very nice to look at, and the animation effects are so smooth and fast that I haven’t turned them off—surprising since the first thing I do with a new Windows installation is turn off all animation.
  • This is a nice little laptop—good keyboard, effortless wireless, and it’s very stable. Since my previous PC laptop was a 400 MHz Sony, the iBook doesn’t have to work hard to impress me.
  • As with every PC laptop I’ve ever used, the trackpad is an annoyance with its default settings. Fortunately there’s a replacement driver called Sidetrack that just about every iBook/Powerbook user seems to recommend. It does nice things like scrolling, but the main feature for me is preventing accidental taps during typing. I’ll probably end up using a USB mouse except when I’m on the road.
  • Setting up a Bluetooth Internet connection to my cell phone was just as difficult as on every other platform, but it works nicely now.

Overall, I’m surprised how easy it was to set up and use this machine. I really expected to be writing about all kinds of strange Mac things that were alien to me as a Windows user, but it’s really not all that different on the surface, and underneath I’m already comfortable with the UNIX core.

7 responses to “iBook and OS X: First Impressions”

  1. Biff says:

    Use Syste Preferences>Keyboard and Mouse>trackpad to turn off tapping input on trackpad

  2. mcx says:

    i’m not nearly new, but none-the-less quite satisfied ibook user. about a year ago i choose G4 12″ ibook over the 12″ powerbook again (small size is important to me) upon finding it is possible to enable dual monitor support in firmware, and to fit affordable 3rd party 1GB memory chip in ibook’s only RAM slot. i never missed pcmcia since ibook has optional bluetooth and wi-fi built in. and that was pretty much all the difference between the two machines considered at that time – besides the price tag.

  3. Chrispian says:

    I’ve only had mine for a little under a year also and you’ve echoed some of the thoughts I had on the whole process too. I’m a long time PC user, you might say “old school”, but when I got me a laptop I went for the ibook. “It just works” is right! I’m hooked on it. I’m about to buy a new one and give my wife the old one. She loves it too, but mainly because of the sound it makes when you change the volume ;)

    I’ve been meaning to install Sidetrack forever now and I’m glad you reminded me. I installed it today and I can’t tell you what a difference it has made. I’ve got big sasuage fingers and I kept “skimming” the trackpad while typing. The small footprint makes it hard not to. But trackpad fixed it. I’ve been typing on it all day and I haven’t accidently triggered expose even once. I usually do that about 20 times a day. The app made an otherwise great product perfect. So thanks for reminding me, I owe you one!

  4. Tim says:

    I am looking to update my laptop soon and I am seriously considering buying an iBook. The only thing that concerns me is the higher price tag and the smaller amount of software that Macs have. But, I have used Macs before and liked them alot.

  5. chrispian says:

    Tim, there is a boatload of software for the mac. That’s somethign I was worried about at first too. I’ve installed very few 3rd party apps on my ibook because it comes with some great stuff to beging with. I’ve siply added a few dev tools. 99% of the software I used on my PC is also available in mac flavors, not to mention all the cool free apps. The higher price is worth it, at least it was for me.

  6. There’s lots of mac software for sure, I’ve even found a few that I wish were available for the PC (blog post about that coming soon.) But if you have really specialized needs, you may run into trouble – for example I have some music-making applications that are PC only. (There are plenty of music apps for mac, just not the ones I’m addicted to.)

  7. Svenni says:

    I just innstalled Os x on a friends G3 Ibook and I can’t seem to get the keyboard and mouse to work !!!!

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