Retro Review: 1999 PowerBook G3, Lombard

Originally published in 1999

The 1999 PowerBook G3 was an evolutionary change from previous G3 models, not revolutionary. Lombard, as they are called, was 20% thinner and 2 pounds lighter than previous models and sported a 5 hour battery life – 10 hours when using two batteries. The series was separated into two models (PowerBook G3/400 and PowerBook G3/333) based on processor speed, among other things. Below are the MacBench 5 benchmarks for a PowerBook G3/400 with 192MB RAM running OS 8.6 and extensions disabled:

PB G3/400 Benchmarks

I purchased a PowerBook G3/400/DVD in June, 1999. Coming from a PowerBook 1400c/233 (Vimage), Lombard’s screen seemed huge. I didn’t realize what I was missing. Bigger is certainly better as far as screen sizes go. Lombard was a little lighter in weight than the 1400, even with the battery and DVD installed, and its sleek design made the 1400 look like a dinosaur.

Speed? Oh, yeah, Lombard was fast. I had a beige Power Mac G3/300 at work at the time, and I thought that the Power Mac was much faster than my 1400c/233. After I got a PowerBook G3/400, though, I thought that the PowerBook was faster than the Power Mac. Boot time was cut in half, and then some, and applications opened so fast that you didn’t have time to read their splash screens. The DVD-Drive was very nice, and Apollo 13 ran flawlessly on my screen – no skipped frames or any other type of slow down. The speakers were also a major improvement over the one in the PowerBook 1400.

Yes, the Apple logo glowed brightly on the lid – not that you could see it when you were typing, and I did think it was upside down. When the screen was open, the Apple logo was glowing upside down. The keyboard, power button, trackpad, trackbutton, and lid-latch were all bronze-translucent. Nice touch, but the translucent nature of the keys made them a little harder to recognize. Compared to the 1400, having the sound controls (up, down, and mute) as Fn keys was very convenient, but I missed the full-size arrow keys and oversized command key.

Downsides? Well, I wasn’t thrilled with the keyboard and trackbutton. I’m still convinced that the keyboard on the 1400 was the best ever made on any laptop, Mac or PC, period. The new one was a little squishy and not properly seated. The trackbutton on Lombard also takes more force to hold down compared to the 1400. Finally, I’d have liked to have the modem RJ-11 jack outside the port door. I didn’t experience a high-pitched whine, like others have reported, nor did I hear a loud fan very often (although CDs – not DVDs -spin loudly). My machine ran silent and not too hot. Lombard is a nearly-perfect and flawless laptop, at least in my experience, and I’d recommend it for nearly any application in today’s world.

Rating

At the time: A+

General (PowerBook G3/400)

  • 400MHz PowerPC G3 processor
  • 1MB backside L2 cache
  • 64MB standard RAM, maximum 384MB
  • Available 6.0GB or 10.0GB hard drives
  • DVD-ROM drive
  • 56k internal modem
  • No floppy drive
  • Available as build-to-order through Apple Store

General (PowerBook G3/333)

  • 333MHz PowerPC G3 processor
  • 512K backside L2 cache
  • 64MB standard RAM, maximum 384MB
  • Available 4.0GB, 6.0GB, or 10.0GB hard drives
  • 24x CD-ROM drive
  • 56k internal modem
  • No standard floppy drive
  • Available as build-to-order through Apple Store

Ports

  • 2 USB
  • stereo in
  • stereo out
  • video out
  • S-video out
  • HDI-30 SCSI
  • IR
  • 2 expansion bays
  • 1 PC card slots
  • ethernet
  • internal modem

Display

  • 14.1" TFT XGA active matrix at 1024×768 resolution, able to display varying resolutions.

Weight

  • 5.9 lbs.

Apple’s Specifications:

PowerBook G3 Series (bronze keyboard, 400 MHz)
     

Logic Board Ports Power
Processor: G3, 400 MHz
PMMU: integrated
FPU: integrated
Data Path: 64-bit, 66/83Mhz
L1 Cache: 64kb
L2 Cache: 1 MB
2nd Processor: none
Slots: 2 Type II PC Card
ADB: none
Video: HDI-15
Floppy: none
SCSI: HDI-30
Geoports: none
Ethernet: 10/100 Base-T
FireWire:
Mic Type: PlainTalk
Other Ports: Printer, Modem, Speaker,
Headphone,
Max Watts: 45
Amps: 1.2
BTU per Hr: 153.9
Voltage: 100-240
Freq Range: 50-60 Hz
Battery Type: 50 Wh Lithium Ion
Soft Power: yes
Memory Video Memory
Logic Board: none
RAM Slots: 2, SO-DIMM
Min – Max RAM: 64 MB – 384 MB
Min RAM Speed: 10ns
RAM Sizes: 64, 128, 256 MB
Install in Groups of: 1
Resolution Video Memory
built-in LCD (8MB VRAM)
(built-in)
512 x 384 n/a
640 x 400 n/a
640 x 480 n/a
800 x 600 n/a
832 x 624 n/a
1024 x 768 32-bit
1152 x 870 n/a
1280 x 1024 n/a
Physical Software Storage
Introduced: 5/7/1999
Discontinued: n/a
Form Factor: PowerBook G3 Series
Gestalt ID:
Weight (lbs): 5.9
Dimensions (in): 12.7 H x 10.4 W x 1.7 D
Addressing Modes: 32-bit
Orig SSW: 8.6
Orig Enabler:
ROM ID:
ROM Ver:
ROM Size:
AppleTalk Ver:
Mac OS
Supported:
Floppy Size: none
Floppy Inject: n/a
Min. Int HD Size: 6, 10 GB
Int HD Interface: IDE
Orig CD Speed 24x
Int CD Support: yes

PowerBook G3 Series (bronze keyboard, 333 MHz)
     

Logic Board Ports Power
Processor: G3, 333 MHz
PMMU: integrated
FPU: integrated
Data Path: 64-bit, 66/83 Mhz
L1 Cache: 64 K
L2 Cache: 512 K
2nd Processor: none
Slots: 2 Type II PC Card
ADB: none
Video: HDI-15
Floppy: none
SCSI: HDI-30
Geoports: none
Ethernet: 10/100 Base-T
FireWire:
Mic Type: PlainTalk
Other Ports: Printer, Modem, Speaker,
Headphone,
Max Watts: 45
Amps: 1.2
BTU per Hr: 153.9
Voltage: 100-240
Freq Range: 50-60 Hz
Battery Type: 50 Wh Lithium Ion
Soft Power: yes
Memory Video Memory
Logic Board: none
RAM Slots: 2, SO-DIMM
Min – Max RAM: 64 MB – 384 MB
Min RAM Speed: 10 ns
RAM Sizes: 64, 128, 256 MB
Install in Groups of: 1
Resolution Video Memory
built-in LCD (8 MB VRAM)
(built-in)
512 x 384 n/a
640 x 400 n/a
640 x 480 n/a
800 x 600 n/a
832 x 624 n/a
1024 x 768 32-bit
1152 x 870 n/a
1280 x 1024 n/a
Physical Software Storage
Introduced: 5/1/1999
Discontinued: n/a
Form Factor: PowerBook G3 Series
Gestalt ID:
Weight (lbs): 5.9
Dimensions (in): 12.7 H x 10.4 W x 1.7 D
Addressing Modes: 32-bit
Orig SSW: 8.6
Orig Enabler:
ROM ID:
ROM Ver:
ROM Size:
AppleTalk Ver:
Mac OS
Supported:
Floppy Size: none
Floppy Inject: n/a
Min. Int HD Size: 4, 6, 10 GB
Int HD Interface: IDE
Orig CD Speed 24x
Int CD Support: yes
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