Why Apple Needs a Pro Ultra-Portable Again
And Why Signs are Pointing to Such, Along with a Definite Return?

by Joe Leo, Columnist

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When you put any computer (with the exception of the iBook), sorry, notebook computer--and only Apple ones--next to the 12-inch PowerBook G4, you will see why that model reigns as king in the department of super ultra-portable notebook computers. The 13-inch MacBook replacement is still too big and most users haven't liked Apple's decision to consolidate.

Consolidate at the expense of a beloved friend. And a very popular one on that note!

Even the 12-inch iBook G4 pales in comparison, appearing large next to its cousin. We don't even need to get into how gargantuan the 15-inch, much less the 17-inch models, fall in that realm. (Or the 14-inch iBook).

A return to the 12-inch screen is the most plausible and logical move here, coinciding with CNBC's report Thursday afternoon. Then again... it smells of, been there and done that. And you know Apple as the master of design and king of innovation doesn't like that.

What Apple should be / could be making, and is hopefully making, is one with an 11-inch (or smaller?) widescreen LCD with a sharp and high resolution display. Nothing seems right with making a new ultra-portable notebook with a "big" 13-inch screen. And you can argue and throw into the picture that 12-inch factor as well, since Apple has already done that too.

Though nothing's wrong with a 12-inch screen so as long as it's in widescreen format and in high resolution. That keeps it smaller than the smallest Apple notebook-to-date. And it increases the screen real estate that others look for when they buy the big model but really want a more portable one.

That was the reason why I bought the 12-inch one in the first place. Style and more for portability. The reason I bought the 15-inch model was not because I was being a rebel (and not because I'm getting "old" and eyesight going... no no no), but because of the things I do onscreen. And since the price of the 15-inch is way down, no reason not to get one too.

The reason why I haven't moved to Intel is two-fold. First, my software is still PowerPC-native (I still have some Classic apps that I need to use... reason for the PowerBook G4s instead of Intel-based machines), but I can overcome that obstacle by using my PowerPC-chipped machines. The big reason why I haven't moved to Intel-based Macs is simply this.

There isn't an equivalent to the 12-inch PowerBook G4, yet, on Apple's line of notebooks. The 13-inch MacBook just doesn't cut it in terms of size, and second, ability, for example the video card inside. My 12-inch PowerBook G4 can run Motion and Final Cut Pro (though pokey!). A MacBook can't do that. My PowerBook is the size of a sheet of paper. The MacBook is...

So, while making a new MacBook with a smaller screen, whether it be a pro version or non-pro version, won't make it the first in the world (unless Apple designs it and includes something in it--very highly likely--that would make it such), it'll be welcome just as long as it addresses those issues that a solid user base is looking for.

Those of us users still hanging on to our 12-inch ultra-compact Apple notebooks, who won't be content until a MacBook Pro mini (my favorite name and hope it's called that) or nano comes out. When that day comes (and if rumors ring true at Macworld in January, it'll be real soon!)--whether it be 13" or 12", or even 11" and below)--it'll be hello Intel and goodbye to the G4!

Or, "Hello, I'm the new Intel-based Mac sub-notebook... and I'm the ultra-portable G4."

(Also, when that day comes, the high prices for these precious commodities, the current king of Apple ultra-portables, will plummet everywhere. You might want to sell now while they're hot!!).

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