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Apple Titanium PowerBook G4

For those of you that keep track of your Apple history, the headline doesn’t mention a new product. In fact, the Titanium PowerBook G4, or TiBook for short, was introduced in at MacWorld Expo in January 2001.

By (MAC TALK with Magnus Nystedt)

Published: Sat 14 Jan 2012, 11:59 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 1:53 AM

But even if it’s 10 years old, it’s important to note as it has set the style for so much of what Apple has done in the portable space since so it’s worth a good mentioning.

The first PowerBook G4 featured the G4 processor running at 400 or 500MHz, dramatically increasing the PowerBook G3 it replaced. When the final model was made in 2003, the top speed had increased to 1GHz. It had an — at the time — impressive 128 or 256MB RAM, 10 or 20GB hard drive, and ATI Rage Mobility 128 with 8 MB of VRAM graphics card.

Despite its 15-inch display the TiBook was only 25mm thick, quite a bit thinner than its predecessor. The display was bigger than most anything else available at the time and it was the first portable computer that used a wide aspect ratio display. It had an optical drive but Apple dropped the floppy drive from the TiBook.

Before the TiBook, Apple’s portables were made out of black plastic and had sweepy and curvy designs. Apple also changed the orientation of the Apple on the outside of the display so it’s correctly oriented for onlookers. The design team’s choice of a mix of titanium and carbon fiber make the TiBook stand out and made for a tough but light computer, especially considering the very generous 15-inch display. In fact, the TiBook’s design influenced many later Apple products, like the Aluminum PowerBook G4, Power Mac G5, and even the Xserve.

The TiBook wasn’t without problems however. Especially the hinges cause quite a lot of frustration amongst owners, as they would break often and had to be replaced. With the video cable going in the left side hinge, this made the problems with hinges even worse.

Another problem was wireless reception, caused by the titanium exterior. To put it simply it was abysmal. Many TiBook owners resorted to buying third-party Wi-Fi PCcards in an attempt to boost reception.

Even the exterior, which was meant to be really tough, especially given the “titanium” name, was not as tough as expected. Dents, scratches and other blemishes showed up all too easily on the portable Mac. Despite these issues the power and large display of the Titanium PowerBook G4 attracted Mac fans in droves.

The TiBook was finally replaced by the Aluminum PowerBook in September 2003, thereby putting an end to one of the more iconic portable Macs ever produced. Now, if you excuse me, I have to go dig out my TiBook from under some boxes. It’s missing a few keys on the keyboard and the battery doesn’t hold a charge but it’s great fun to start up once in a while.

Magnus Nystedt, @mnystedt

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