Robbie Coull

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GP Magazine, November 2002 I bought my iBook two years ago and it has been one of the best purchases I ever made. I use is for almost everything - email, internet access, writing letters, sending and receiving faxes, writing computer code, running websites, watching DVDs, storing my digital photos, and playing music. I’ve not managed to teach it to make tea and toast in the morning, but I’m sure this feature is just around the corner. In the meantime, just occasionally, you may catch me playing games on it too.


The iBook comes in two sizes – a 12.1-inch screen and a 14.1-inch screen. I prefer the portability of the 12.1-inch model (£999 to £1299) – it is only 1.3” thick, fits easily in a backpack and weighs only 5 lbs. The screen is the brightest, clearest, TFT flat screen I have come across. Amazingly, text is crisp, clear and easy to read at 1024x768 pixels. The lithium ion battery lasts 2 to 5 hours depending on what you are using the computer for. The iBook has USB and firewire ports to connect printers, cameras etc.. I recommend the ‘combo’ drive which can play DVDs as well as playing and recording CDs. The iBook has up to a 40GB hard drive and a 700mhz processor (remember that Apple computers are roughly twice as fast as Windows computers, so this is equivalent to a 1.4Ghz Pentium III).


Many people don’t realise that there is more than one breed of computers. Whilst over 90% of computers in the world are powered by Microsoft’s Windows, the iBook and it’s software (the operating system) is made by Apple Macintosh. Apple has a reputation for making beautiful, reliable computers, and the iBook proves the point. If you’re going to pay over a thousand pounds for a computer, it’s good to have one that looks nice. The iBook always draws admiring glances (if you like that kind of thing) and your spouse may even allow you to bring it with you on holiday.


The iBook’s beauty is not just skin deep. Apple’s operating system has always been considered by many to be faster, more stable and easier to use than Windows, but last year the mac operating system took a quantum leap forward when Apple released OS X (pronounced ‘oh es ten’). OS X is so good because it has been written from scratch to work on the UNIX computer base. UNIX is the most stable computer platform, which is why most web pages are stored on UNIX servers. So, in practical terms, this means OS X is fast and very stable. Gone are the days of having to restart your computer every time something goes wrong.


The iBook comes email, internet software and Appleworks (which is a word processing, and graphics manipulation package). However, to aid communication with your Windows colleagues, I strongly recommend Office X. The Apple version of the Windows Office application is written by Microsoft’s own Apple development team and is widely regarded as the best version of Office available on any platform.

Bear in mind that you will have problems using some medical software that is only written for Windows. You can run Windows-only programs on an Apple by using a program called Virtual PC. However, the software runs more slowly, and as with all Windows programs it can be tricky to get the setup right.


Adding peripherals, such as MP3 players or joysticks, to the iBook is effortless. If you have ever spent a whole day trying to get your MP3 player to work with your Window’s computer (what’s often referred to as ‘plug and pray’) then you may find the rest of this paragraph distressing. I was lucky enough to be given an iPod MP3 music player for my Christmas last year. As we were driving down to the in-laws on Boxing Day, I opened the box, took out the iPod (about the size of a pack of cards) and plugged it into my iBook. It instantly recognised the iPod and transferred all of the songs I had stored on the iBook to the iPod. I was listening to music with my headphones within 3 minutes of opening the box. Now, that’s how computers are supposed to work.


I’ve also been feeling rather smug about the Bugbear virus over the last few weeks. Like many viruses, the Bugbear virus only affects Windows computers - the iBook is totally immune. Now, whilst there are viruses out there that do attack Apples (and it is essential to have up to date anti-virus software), most viruses attack Windows machines only.


When you do rush out to buy your iBook, don’t let the salespeople in some of the computer shops put you off. Many of them are only experienced with Windows machines and will try and direct you towards what they know. Don’t be put off – insist on an Apple. I know I will from now on.

Robbie Coull

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