12" PB Replacement is Here no, Wait, There
Mac Users Still Searching for Successor to Smallest Mac 'Book Ever

by Joe Leo, Columnist

COMMENTARY: (11.28.08)-- Today is "Black Friday" the day retailers offer huge discounts on products in order to garner huge sales to kick-off the holiday shopping season. While Apple is again discounting its popular line of Macs by $101, hoping to sell more computers this holiday season, seemingly missing from their line-up is the Mac most everyone has on their wish lists.

Searching the ads included in yesterday's paper for any other great deals (be it Apple-related or not), on one particular ad, I found the notebook of my dreams for $299... and dude? It's a... Dell.

AD: If you're looking for a Dell on this site, you made a wrong turn back there dude! But if you're looking for a Mac, you're in the right place. Mac Prices is your one-stop shop for all the Apple deals this holiday season.

With last month's announcement of new and totally revised MacBooks and MacBook Pros, the lead-up to it came the hope of two things highly desired by most die-hard Mac users. One, a true and fitting replacement to the 12-inch PowerBook G4--short of a new netbook style Mac notebook--and two, an entry-level Mac notebook priced under $1000.

Not one that's just a dollar short of that figure, but $101, like Apple's Black Friday-only deals.

Speculation and rumor had it (remember last month's piece about the "Fifth Estate"?) that Apple was finally going to release an $899 MacBook that would kill the competition. Finally a Mac that was cheap enough to afford, but didn't skimp on features. Far out into that speculation was the possibility that this cheaper MacBook could sport a smaller form factor.

Of course, none of that happened and Apple aficionados were once again, disappointed and let down by their favorite Mac maker. Well, they're the only ones that make Macs, so go figure.

Never mind the $899 price point that never surfaced. More people were disappointed over the fact that there still wasn't a real replacement for the ever popular and smallest-to-date Mac notebook ever created, the 12-inch PowerBook G4.

A reader of this site even sent me an email that same day, asking if a used 12-inch PowerBook would be better than the just released brand new 13-inch unibody MacBook in terms of what he was looking for. Basic computer usage, but more importantly? The portability factor which highly took into consideration size and weight, plus the fact that he was on a budget.

Anyone currently looking for a Mac that's small, "cheap" (in the $499 to $699 range), and still does pretty much what you need and has high-end processing power, need not look anywhere else but eBay or Craigslist, since the 12-inch PowerBook G4 is the king of that hill.

Apple doesn't currently carry something like that, nor does it look like they intend to ever bring back the most popular Mac notebook on the planet in any Intel-based incarnation real soon.

Which brings us back to the original point of this story, and dwells on the idea of low price Dells, uh, deals, plus that rival computer maker itself, and the unmentioned third desire from Mac users-- a netbook style Mac portable.

The cute little notebook that caught my eye (and it feels so wrong to be talking highly of this product and wanting it so much... but read on anyway) was on an ad insert from Dell showcasing their holiday deals. On sale for $299 was the new Dell Inspiron Mini 9, which if you didn't look closely enough, you might have thought it was a unibody MacBook.

It's silver (but plastic), it has a black border around its screen, and has a black keyboard. It has an 8.9" widescreen LCD. It's really small. It's the Mac of my dreams. The MacBook mini. The only problem is? It's missing the Apple logo, the whole MacBook thing, and Mac OS X.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs was recently interviewed about this missing link in their company's offerings--the new netbooks which have risen in popularity--and he said that they don't know how to make a $500 notebook that isn't cheap. Okay, so don't make it PC-cheap and don't price it at $500. Create something that's $699 or $799 and make it Apple fantastic.

Unless, he's using reverse psychology and actually saying they DO know how to make a $500 notebook that is NOT cheap, but delivers everything you'd want. Like a one-up on Dell's Inspiron Mini 9 which regularly retails for $349. Offer that, Apple style, for around $500.

Then there was that commentary piece just this week by Frank Fox over at Low End Mac (which by the way, colleague Charles W. Moore also writes for) who posits that Apple should buy Dell. Or rather, "Why Apple Should Buy Dell."

I think I totally agree with Fox, quite, frank-ly (sorry), because OS X would run nicely on that Mini 9. It would also be nice to know, personally--and for all others like me who long for a true 12-inch PowerBook G4 replacement, be it another regular notebook or a netbook--that the computer of my/our dreams is here, rather than there.

Because right now, as I type today's article on my 12-inch PowerBook G4 pulled out from storage (kept as a backup laptop, and also, to preserve its mint condition) since my main laptop, a DLSD 1.67GHz 15-inch PowerBook G4 is with Apple for an LCD replacement?

Dell's "Yours is Here" slogan speaks many truths for me. (Please Santa Steve, all I want for...).