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Ode to the 12-inch PowerBook G4, Apple's first desktop-quality laptop

Christopher Phin | March 26, 2015
At its best, Apple has the ability to make stuff that reaches right around the rational, pragmatic part of your brain to grab your amygdala and squeeze it till the juice runs out. The 12-inch PowerBook G4 was such a machine. Hell, is such a machine.

And actually, this new material, aluminum, was much more resilient than the titanium shell of the previous PowerBook G4. While all the second-hand "TiBooks" I see on eBay look like they've been through a war — since their silver color was just easily-chipped paint — the aluminum just wears its scars with pride.

As Jason Snell observed in his review, rather than you lifting the keyboard up to get at the internals, the AirPort Extreme card slotted in beside the battery, and there was an access panel on the bottom under which you could fit more RAM.

And, oh, that keyboard! It still feels fab today, thanks not least to its new-found rigidity, and like with the new MacBook it goes right from edge to edge.

Indeed, the new MacBook is in some ways the spiritual successor to the 12-inch PowerBook G4. Sure, the comparisons with desktop power and the idea that it's a no-compromise laptop don't apply here, but the 12-inch PowerBook G4 so completely captured the hearts and minds of a generation of Apple users that we've been calling for it to be reinvented ever since. Something capable. Cute. Tiny. Something, in fact, that we just want.

That's the Apple magic.


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