Ode to the 12” Powerbook: 14 Wishes for A New Hyper-Portable Macbook

by Hadley Stern Dec 29, 2006

I’ve had a few Mac portables over the years although granted I arrived to the scene a tad late with a Pismo. It was a work machine but I coveted it like it was my own. Suddenly I was free to go everywhere and anywhere with all my stuff. The Pismo, in hindsight, was a great machine and offered some of the flexibility that my Mac Book Pro doesn’t offer now. In particular the ability to have hot swap bays wherein I could have two batteries going at the same time for cross country flights was a godsend. This was also back in the day of the omnipresent zip drive (how is Iomega still in business today?) so I also had that hot swappable device.

My next powerbook was one that I bought myself, a 12” powerbook. Being a designer it was a secondary machine mostly for writing. Apart from penning many thousands of words for Apple Matters it also became the machine I did all the writing for iPod and iTunes hacks on. The 12” powerbook is an absolutely fantastic portable machine. And as much as I love my 15” MacBook Pro it isn’t a portable in the sense that the 12” was. I still miss writing on its keyboard which was full-size and has a much better feel than the MacBook Pros. Plus, I never had to go to the genius bar to get them to pop keys back in.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve looked at the Macbooks. Nice machines and all but that extra inch makes a huge difference. The 12 inch powerbook was a power-users hyper-portable machine, and Apple needs to bring something back like it. I don’t want the hyper-miniature Sharp like experience (I already have a blackberry, thank you very much) but I do want an Apple portable that is truly portable. Here is my wish-list

1. 10-12"inch screen
2. minimum 1024x768 resolution
3. airport (of course)
4. bluetooth (of course)
5. full-size, or darn near close, keyboard
6. magsafe with a small powerbrick, don’t pull a Mac-mini and make the power brick half the size of the portable
7. firewire 800, make this a true power portable
8. built in evdo
9. PC card slot
10. built in isight
11. built in gps
12. Shockingly thin and shockingly sturdy
13. Good battery life
14. An Apple-made docking device, much like IBM does for the (s)ThinkPads. Apple should do this across the portable line.

and finally, please please don’t make it out of the iBook/Macbook plastic. This should be a machine in the powerbook lineage. How is Apple going to do this. Others, and our very own James Stoup (one of the first to write about this, I believe) posits that a flash hard drive might be the way to go.

Apple already proved, by the numbers, that the portable line is very profitable. I have no doubt that there would be a ton of road-warriors who would snap up an Intel successor to the 12” PowerBook. What do you think? What would you like to see in a Hyperbook MacBook Pro


  • It will allow for the rotten HDCP to be employed so the content industries will actually allow you to put out the über-expensive HD-content you just bought to your new HD-display without cutting the resolution back to SD. That of course is in a world where
    a) Apple devices sport some sort of HD-drive
    b) You can gather HD content other than trailers online

    Bad Beaver had this to say on Jan 02, 2007 Posts: 371
  • But Bad Beaver, as we’ve been told time and time again, Apple would never cave in to pressure by the studios to install DRM on content like Microsoft has.  Nevah!

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Jan 02, 2007 Posts: 2220
  • Btw, I’m finally recommending a Macbook for my mother, who’s never owned a computer before.  I hesitate for a couple of reasons, but she primarily wants to do photographs so it seems like the best option for her in that price range.

    She definitely doesn’t need a pie-in-the-sky laptop being discussed here, but I would recommend that such a Mac notebook computer have the option of having Vista pre-installed on it.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Jan 02, 2007 Posts: 2220
  • Right on, Beeb, NE-VAH! smile
    Thing is, I think (CMIIW!) that HDCP is implemented starting at the disc level, which is the way HD will be served for the given time.

    I also see by your second comment that you had a new flame-proof suit under the tree wink

    Bad Beaver had this to say on Jan 02, 2007 Posts: 371
  • Hadley, I’ve evaluated Macs for DJ’ing and think a PC card slot for audio i/o, backlit keyboard and FW400 or FW800 are all important. (Optionally, USB could be used for audio i/o - for example Rane MP4.) Having all this in a rugged 12” Mac Pro would be awesome.

    Namely had this to say on Jan 03, 2007 Posts: 1
  • To me, the built-in audio (on the G4 12-inch Powerbook) is fine as-is, because most DJ’s use an external USB- or Firewire-connected multichannel interface. I use Rane/Serato’s Scratch Live and either the original SSL interface or the USB-connected TTM57SL mixer for this. Other products of this kind either use their own similar interface, or are normally set up to use multichannel devices (M-Audio is popular, RME is higher-end).

    Aside from what I mentioned earlier, the only other real deficiency on the 12-inch Powerbooks is the 10/100 Ethernet…the speed improvement of gigabit is nice when doing large backups over a network.

    MarkSF had this to say on Jan 08, 2007 Posts: 14
  • Great Post; thanks.

    I second these:
    12. Shockingly thin and shockingly sturdy
    13. Good battery life

    While adding these:
    15. $300 price tag (or less)
    16. Touch-screen/tablet interface
    17. Less of the beach-ball mouse cursor (ie, “system is busy”)

    Design Person 1 had this to say on Jan 08, 2007 Posts: 1
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