iBook performance claims refuted

Apple Computer's claims that its colorful toilet seat-like portable, the iBook, is twice as fast as Intel-based portables are, of course, false. And while it's almost too easy to beat up on a company that continuously makes such bald-faced lies, let's take a look at the first comparison of the iBook with an Intel portable.

According to PC Labs, which ran the first in-depth speed tests of the iBook, Apple's latest portable doesn't live up to the hype. Though the iBook is massive (2 inches thick, and 13.5 inches by 11.6 inches in size), it sports a small 12 inch LCD screen (typical PC displays range from 13.3 to 15 inches; 12 inch displays are reserved for $1000 entry-level notebooks and hyper-thin sub-notebooks). And the expected complaints about the iBook--its heavy weight, lousy mono sound, and loud-as-an-airplane CD-ROM--are joined by calls for industry standard PC card slots, floppy disk, parallel and serial ports, and more than a single USB port. But the big problem with the iBook is its performance. And PC Labs says that's where the iBook falls short.

In a comparison with an IMB ThinkPad iSeries 1480 (which sports a low-end Celeron chip), the iBook came up short. Despite Apple's claims that the iBook is "up to twice as fast as comparable Windows-based portables," the IBM provided significantly faster performance. The iBook took twice as long to load Web pages, and was unable to display as many frames in a QuickTime movie. The Java engine in the iBook was also half as fast as that in the Windows 98-based ThinkPad, an excellent measure of overall speed.

However, some iBook features, according to the report, are nice: The keyboard is large and comfortable, while the machine seems rugged. And though the iBook isn't machine enough to make PC users "go Mac," Mac enthusiast students and home users should like the machine if they can overlook its shortcomings

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