Battle of the Books

At first glance, it looks like an obvious mismatch. Comparing Apple's professional-end PowerBook to the consumer-friendly iBook? That's like Mike Tyson stepping into the ring with TV's Urkel.

But before you write off the iBook's chances in a laptop showdown, consider recent changes Apple has made to its portable products. While new PowerBooks are rumored to be in the works, the 400MHz G3 PowerBook currently shares many features with the iBook SE-64MB of installed RAM, a 10GB hard drive, FireWire support, and a DVD-ROM drive. The difference? The iBook SE packs a greater processing punch -- a 466MHz CPU -- at a lower price. It costs $1,799 -- $700 less than the $2,499 PowerBook.

So it's the iBook in a walkover, right? Sure . . . if processors and price tags are your only criteria.

But those aren't the only things to look at when you're choosing between an iBook and a PowerBook. What you plan on doing with your laptop is just as important. After all, what good are 66 extra megahertz or 700 saved dollars if the machine you buy doesn't meet your needs?

We had the iBook and PowerBook face off in eight categories, from the technical to the aesthetic. We looked at how fast each laptop was, how much each machine weighed, and even how much screen real estate each had to offer -- the sort of things Mac users should consider when choosing a portable machine.

Turns out the Iron Mike-Urkel showdown is a closer contest than you might imagine.

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