With Apple now shipping its Intel dualcore powered MacBook Pro, the Apple iBook G4 can seem slightly dated in comparison. However, at almost half the price and with strong performance, this laptop still has plenty to offer the entry-level market.

Finished in the recognisable white chassis of the iBook range, the 324 x 244 x 36mm dimensions of the Apple make it highly portable. While its rivals may weigh less, the iBook remains well suited to long-term travel use.

An array of ports provide easy access on the left side of the chassis. A slot-loading recordable DVD optical drive keeps operation simple, adding to the travel ability of the Apple; as does its powerful battery life of 280 minutes under test.

Using a PowerPC G4 processor running at 1.4GHz, with 512MB of DDR RAM in support, the iBook carries entry-level components. At this affordable price point, performance is competent if not exceptional, but will suit most basic home use.

Since MobileMark software is unable to run on Apple systems, Cinebench test software was used instead. Scoring 146 points, the iBook will struggle under high-performance applications, but provides ample power for writing and browsing the Internet on the move.

The user interface is equally geared towards mobile use, as the chassis stays cool at all times. With an excellent keyboard and touchpad providing strong usability, the iBook has one of the best designed interfaces around.

Just for fun

Although games are thin on the ground for Apple systems, the iBook carries a dedicated ATi Mobility Radeon 9550 graphics card for mid-level multimedia ability. Scoring 709 points from Cinebench graphics tests, the iBook will suit DVD use perfectly.

Since Apple currently never uses Super-TFT screens, a standard 14.1-inch TFT screen is in place. Quality is high, although the screen's 1024 x 768-pixel XGA resolution is low, and doesn't allow for much screen space.

In line with most similar systems, networking options are mixed. While highspeed wireless connections can be set-up using the integrated 802.11g Wi-Fi card, Ethernet is restricted to 10/100 Base-T speed. This is fine for home use, but may be too slow for office connectivity.

While many higher powered laptops are available at this price, Apple laptops are usually bought on the strength of design and usability more than raw performance. To this end, the Apple iBook G4 provides a decent and highly mobile travel companion and is well worth a test run.