The Friendly TiBook - iBook Rivalry

by Derrick Story

An enjoyable aspect of Mac community life is watching the various hardware-centric neighborhoods and the rivalries among them. The two most happening boroughs in my world are the TiBook and iBook camps.

I'm sure to the eyes of uninformed visitors who surf the Apple Store, the iBooks are the "entry level" notebooks and the Titanium PowerBooks are for pros. Ha! Nothing could be farther from the truth.

iBooks are lighter, more durable, and have greater 802.11b networking range. They won't roast your chestnuts when resting on your lap. They also have their ports conveniently placed on the side of the laptop instead of hidden in the back. Plus they are a helluva lot more affordable.

TiBooks have bigger screens, faster processors, bigger hard drives, better graphics cards, and more advanced optical drives. The new models allow you to burn DVDs and have returned the "audio in" jack to the back panel. One of my favorite features is the PC Card slot on the left side.

Unlike some of the other rivalries we see in the computing world, this one is friendly with a little good-natured teasing just to keep it interesting. And as of last week with revs announced for both lines, each camp has a lot to smile about.

Alright, just for fun here. Which do you prefer iBook or TiBook? Why?


2002-11-10 15:16:37
ibooks lighter?
I have one of each here and if the iBook is lighter it is just by a hair. I do prefer the iBook keyboard quite a bit, though. It feels more solid under my fingers. But I use my computer for real-time audio work and CPU is CPU. My TiBook is the first computer I've truly loved since my Duo 210 + Minidock. If the iBook were also a G4 it would be a hard choice.
2002-11-10 18:34:54
speaking of paint...
much as i love the new powerbook, apple really needs to work out the paint chipping problems. on the other hand, i wish that the "nearly impossible" task of upgrading the ibook hard drive could be kicked down a few notches to at least "difficult" level of the powerbook.
2002-11-10 19:00:47
my choice is icebook
I love the small size and the ports on the side and the much better WiFi range than my spouses' TiBook.

But, I'll sell it in a NY minute as soon as the G4 version comes out.

2002-11-10 20:11:45
Tibook beats the iBook easily...
but then again, I'm a power hog, so I'm extremely biased. The main advantages are the ports and options for those ports. With a Tibook, you can have video spanning by hooking up an external monitor, you have better input ports (hooray for the return of the audio in port), much better video chipset, and the PCMCIA card port (which adds wonderful expandability thanks to wonderful companies like MAGMA). Also the screan real estate is easier on my myoptic eyes (I have to stare at a computer for 10 hours a day, so yeah, I get eyestrain from small screens). Plus the Tibook is ever so much more sexy when you whip it out in public and doesn't look quite so much like a toy, more like a tool, with true utilitarian purposes.
2002-11-10 23:44:25
speaking of paint... ah yes ...
Over the course of a year I've only lost a little paint around the security slot (I use it quite a bit). I've heard of worse with others, but haven't seen it.

BTW: since we're on nits here, seems like the iBook doesn't transfer finger goo from the keyboard to the screen as easily as the TiBook.

2002-11-10 23:47:00
ibooks lighter? Speaking of G3s
Why the heck are iBooks still powered by the G3 processor when every other new Mac has a G4? Does anyone know what's up with that?
2002-11-11 04:46:57
yes, you're so right
actually i bought an iBook two months ago.
And it is cool.

I bought it for the size and the robustness.
Not for the price.
I would like it to be faster, but i was relieved, when i heard, that the new iBooks would still have a G3 processor.

Anyway, as soon as a G4 iBook arrives, I want to have it!

2002-11-11 09:40:16
Mildly unrelated
When I interned for Apple two summers ago, we talked about women in terms of their TiBookness (hot, perhaps too hot to handle, high maintenance and pone to scratching, expensive) and their iBookness (warm, more amenable to touching) and decided we all wanted to date iBook women.

I got an iBook 500 that summer (the computer, not a girl :-) ) and it's been a wonderful relationship, although I wish it had a 100 MHz bus... I must admit that I'm thinking of trading it in and I was all about an iBook 800 until I saw the Radeon 9000 in the G4...


2002-11-11 09:53:30
ibooks lighter? Speaking of G3s
I'm pulling this out of thin air, but the main issue would be one of cost, wouldn't it? With the G3, you get a capable processor that runs at low temperatures and uses low voltages for a cheap price. In other words, exactly the sort of processor you want for embedded and laptop applications.

The G4, on the other hand, uses more power, runs hotter, and is more expensive. In order to get comparable battery life, I would bet that Apple has to spend more on motherboard components and/or motherboard engineering R&D -- particularly to support the larger screen, hard drive, newer optical drive, and newer/faster/hotter video processor.

In short, you need to look at the laptop as a system, not at its individual parts. The TiBook costs more than the iBook due to its collection of parts and the extra engineering that goes into it to make it run as well as it does. I'd be willing to bet that if you could drop a G4 into an iBook chassis (and I'm sure Apple has done this already), you'd get a laptop that has a battery life of 1-1.5 hours and that melts a hole in the case. The TiBook DOES have a fan in it for a reason... and "burnt chestnuts" is definitely an indicator of something serious.

Also, with the economics of building a G4-based laptop, as extrapolated above, it doesn't make much sense to try and build a smaller, ultra-portable laptop sporting a G4 -- not that I consider the iBook to be "ultra-portable", but it more closely approximates that niche than the TiBook. Truth told, I'm surprised that Apple has not recently made an attempt on the ultra-portable niche. I'd happily buy an ultra-portable based on a G3 processor, while I don't think I get enough value from the iBook in terms of weight and size when compared to the TiBook. And yes, Apple, if you are reading this, I'd pay more for the ultra-portable, too. But probably not as much as for a TiBook.

I'd doubt that Apple has plans to do an ultra-portable any time soon, though. The Duos were cute, but not really effective, and I don't think they sold very well compared to the PowerBooks. Docking stations are inefficient solutions to a problem that shouldn't exist. And on top of that, a new ultra-portable would diminish/dilute the brand-consciousness of the iBook as "consumer" and the TiBook as "professional", as it would necessarily sacrifice raw computing power for smaller size. The resultant sacrifice would still price it in the "professional" range, but it would only have the performance numbers of the "consumer"-level iBook.

2002-11-11 11:57:42
Chestnuts and Paint
Buying a new laptop I was looking at an iBook for its small size and cool running, but with the new models I've been gravitating towards the TiBook because of the DVD burner, the display, the speed, etc. The "$40 RAM doubler" is good too.

So... is the TiBook really that much less durable than the iBook? How much hotter does it run?

2002-11-11 15:16:41
Chestnuts and Paint - Answers
As for durability, the TiBook is very sturdy and has withstood the rigors of travel quite well. So I have no complaints there at all. I have managed to chip away a little paint around the security port, but that's because of the metal locking device rubbing directly again the TiBook.

As for heat, well, these babies do warm up. It heats up my lap when working for extended periods of time, and the fan is noticable when it kicks on. But my real concern has more to do with shortened battery life. I recommed that "heavy use" TiBook owners purchase the "Podium CoolPad" by

This inexpensive perch for the notebook has really helped keep the unit cooler, and I believe, has extended the life of the battery.

One other battery point regardless of which notebook you use: Be sure to "calibrate" the battery when you first get your laptop. It makes a tremendous difference toward how much runtime you get with each charge.


2002-11-11 15:21:28
ibooks lighter? Speaking of G3s -- Interesting
Not a bad answer at all, especially for pulling it out of ... thin air :)

I particularly like your point that we should think about these notebooks as integrated systems and not a collection of computer parts. Excellent food for thought.


2002-11-12 18:11:59
Derrick, How does one calibrate a battery?
2002-11-15 09:47:57
I don't know who upsets me more: Apple for charging so much more for G4 models, or the bastards that have enough money to throw at these things. I'm unemployed and love elegant technology, and a little bitter about my situation. I say 100 Tibook users on the bottom of the ocean are... a good start. BTW will anyone will come up with a Transmeta-like PowerPC? I'd love to update a processor like firmware- Probably too good an idea for anyone to actually implement
2002-11-18 07:26:38
Pretty simple: First charge the battery to max, then run it down until you get the low battery warning. Charge it back up, and you're set. Now you can recharge anytime you want for as long as you want without hurting performance.
2003-09-19 16:43:08
speaking of paint...
Check out

TiArmor covers existing scratches and paint damage.
It is available for all PowerBook G4 models, including the new Aluminum 12", 17" and both 15" models.