by Daniel Grotta & Sally Wiener Grotta

No question, apple’s $1,599 ibook notebook is cute. Its fruit-colored, transparent case gives it more personality than typical gray or beige laptops. With its one-configuration-fits-all approach, the iBook will appeal to iMac aficionados looking for a compatible laptop, but its limitations and relatively high price will probably keep graphics users and potential PC converts away.

The iBook is low on flexibility, but simple to use. It’s equipped with a built-in 24X CD-ROM drive, 56K modem, and both a 10/100 Ethernet and a USB port. There’s also a built-in antenna, designed to work with Apple’s wireless AirPort networking system. (The wireless card is a $99 option, the base station is $299.) The iBook’s performance is generally as fast if not faster than a comparably priced 333MHz notebook.

There’s a lot to like about the iBook. The full-sized keyboard is pleasant to the touch, the touchpad is responsive, the screen is sharp and bright, and the battery is rated for six hours.

On the minus side, the iBook is bigger and heavier than most PC notebooks. Its maximum screen resolution is only 800 by 600 dpi, and it can’t be hooked up to an external monitor. There’s no floppy drive, or PC card slot. And because of a lack of ports, an adapter will be needed to use older peripherals. Also, you would probably pay less for a comparably equipped PC notebook.

As a serious business machine, the iBook is extremely easy to network, but its funky-looking design may throw off a few clients. When it comes to software, the bundled Apple Works productivity suite includes basic word processing, spreadsheet, and database applications. Heavy-duty business users may need to purchase a more powerful suite to make this a full-fledged business system.

The iBook is a high quality, portable Mac that can work well for those with basic needs. But if you need a professional notebook that is higher on substance and lighter on good looks, either check out Apple’s PowerBooks or consider buying a PC notebook.

Small Business Computing Staff
Small Business Computing Staff
Small Business Computing addresses the technology needs of small businesses, which are defined as businesses with fewer than 500 employees and/or less than $7 million in annual sales.

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