Is the 12" G4 the New Modern-Day 'Pismo' PowerBook?
Silver is the New Black in Apple's Bushel of Powerhouse Holdovers


by Joe Leo, Columnist February 28, 2007


OPINION: (2.28.07)-- As most everyone knows, the 2000 PowerBook, also known as the "Pismo" PowerBook (since that was its code name) was a long holdover into the age of the Titanium PowerBook G4 and lasting well even to the Aluminum era. It seems there is a new contender in the ring as the original black Mac notebook is slowly starting to show its age. Enter everyone's favorite new holdover in the Intel era of Mac notebooks, the 12" PowerBook G4.

Just as the Pismo was a holdover in the G4 era of PowerBooks, the little 'Book named "Al" is garnering the same type of following in the age of the MacBook and MacBook Pro. It puts a literal meaning to the term, "silver is the new black" (when referring to the color of anything high-tech these days) if you consider the 12" PowerBook G4 taking on the role / having the popularity that the PowerBook from 2000 used to claim... or maybe, still has?

(The Pismo was the first/only model to be named "PowerBook" with no G3 moniker attached).

There was just something about that black machine that made people fall in love with it and hang onto it for years. Probably the number one feature was its easy-to-upgrade architecture. Unlock the keyboard, flip it over, and start the surgery. Upgrade RAM in a jiffy, if you were brave enough, do the same to the hard drive, and for the more experienced, pop out the old processor (in later years) and slip in a new one. When done, just close it all up.

You couldn't do that with the Titanium PowerBooks with ease, and even more so with the aluminum line. Especially the aluminum line. The Pismo held its own in the aftermarket ranging from $750 to $1000 on average for a unit still in great condition. And people were willing to pay that money to buy an old machine because it was so popular.

Even when pitted up against an iBook G3 or even an iBook G4 which could be had brand new for close to that $1000. Heck, just last year down over at LowEndMac.com, a reader asked our own Charles W. Moore (who writes for that site) whether they should get a new 12" PowerBook G4 or just upgrade their Pismo. What??

Of course there were the pros and cons to making that choice, but no one really cared. It was a sleek machine. And black! (You may remember from an earlier article where I mentioned a comment made by a customer at the Apple Store the day the MacBooks came out, astonished at the fact that Apple was now making computers in black. Hello... it's not a new thing!). It fared pretty well at the time, but seven years later, it's all changing. It's all fading to, uh, black.

Today, you can get the Pismo model on eBay from between $400 to $600. Surprisingly, yes there are still people buying it, but not for what they used to. Because honestly, the Pismo bites the dust (I can't believe I just said that about my first-ever laptop) when compared to today's current line-up--duh--of Mac notebook computers. And when Apple offers high-end iBook G4s refurbished for $699, why bother with the Pismo which definitely begins to pale in comparison?

Now, it seems there is a new contender in the ring, and that is the small silver laptop computer called the 12" PowerBook G4. Apple still offers them for between $1099 to $1299 refurbished in their Special Deals section. When you consider that you can get a faster and better (I beg to differ personally on that one) Intel-based notebook for the same or even less than that, why bother with the little guy?

Because that's what people want and miss. And they're willing to pay a pretty penny to get one. On eBay, the most recent model, the 1.5 GHz version, fetches between $800 to $1000 in used to "near mint" condition. There are even people paying that price for the earlier versions, the 1.33 GHz and 1 GHz models. The first-generation models, the 867 MHz ones, try to compete as well, though not as common, most going below $700.

Even Apple knows this in a way since their prices for the old G4 are still above or on par with that of newer dual-core MacBooks. Not to mention the fact that it's very rare that you'll see them in stock for more than 24 hours. They still seem to be selling like hotcakes and Apple seems to be having a hard time keeping them in stock.

Which is ironic since they're not "in stock" anymore. Not to mention how they're officially going to be declared vintage in a few days. (Trust me. I know. I looked just this morning for a friend of mine who wants one--he only drools over mine almost every day and wishes he had one--and was surprised to find them back in stock again in the Special Deals section. Though by the time you read this, don't expect to find any still there!).


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