My Turn

The PowerBook 190: Still a Great Little Laptop

- 2005.12.01

My Turn is Low End Mac's column for reader-submitted articles. It's your turn to share your thoughts on all things Mac (or iPhone, iPod, etc.) and write for the Mac web. Email your submission to Dan Knight .

Despite its faults, the PowerBook 190 is a good little machine. I've only had mine since April of this year, but I've fallen in love with it.

The keyboard is starting to show its age, and the battery needs to be reconditioned, but it's still a great machine. As a travel machine, it's wonderful, due to a small footprint and being fairly lightweight (6 lb.). It's pretty heavy compared to current iBooks and PowerBooks, but it's lighter than most new Windows notebooks.

I did have to replace the logic board on mine. That's a common occurrence on older notebooks, and the power connector woes that plagued the PowerBook 190 and 5300 (the PowerPC version of this 'Book) are still popping up.

PowerBook 190Also, the 9.5" 640 x 480 screen is pretty small, especially compared with the 17" CRT on my PC desktop, but the little grayscale display is comfortable to read.

I really can't say much about this little machine except for how good it's been. The keyboard, as much as it's showing its age, is still better than any of my PCs have, both desktop and notebook. Also, despite some serious abuse, it's held up pretty well.

I'm having trouble describing this little machine, for it almost defies description. Sure, the specifications are there, but numbers can't describe the emotional experience of being a Mac owner. So instead of pointing out little things I like about this little laptop, I'm going to share some true stories about my carrying the little 'Book out into the big, bad Windoze world.

What Is It?

I was out on a church trip to the local waterfalls, and I was sitting on a hill overlooking the falls, watching the Junior High bunch playing in the water and writing, when I noticed a crowd starting to gather around me - to be more precise, around the little 'Book. Someone even asked what version of Windows it ran.

The moral here is that even the little 190 is a beacon shining out over the stormy seas of Windows, calling out to the masses and offering them a way of escape to a warm, cozy home.

Scoffer Changes Tune

I had the 190 with me at the BPA National Leadership Conference in Anaheim earlier this year, along with Ben and Rod, my fellow conspirators in Macinations.

Rod, who was at that time an avid Windoze user, was poking fun at the little 190. I mean, it's a 10-year-old laptop - of course it's not going to be impressive. Fortunately, he was also poking fun at Ben's new PowerBook G4, until he saw the multimedia capabilities of OS X.

But this article is about the 190. Well, I told Rod that if he thought Macs were so miserable, why doesn't he try it out. Within 10 minutes, I had him wanting to replace his dull Dell with a Mac.

Moral: The 190 is still much better than a new Windows machine. Enough said.

I know that my stories are just the typical, biased Mac fanatic spiel that everyone has, but it's still not a bad machine.

My Impressions

The 190 is a solid, inexpensive way to start out with a Mac. The fact that it's a 68K machine limits its capabilities somewhat, but it's still a solid contender, along with the Duo and 5xx series PowerBooks.

And the ability to upgrade to a 5300 logic board is always nice, not that I ever would....

PowerBook 1400Unfortunately, my days of carrying the little 190 are over. She's getting old, and I'm requiring more and more power for my daily use, in addition to needing a battery replacement that is more expensive than it would be to buy a nice used 1400.

She will always hold a dear spot on my bookshelf, but the nostalgic days of running System 7.5.3 and doing more than just typing are waning fast.

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