My Turn

PowerBook 1400 Still a Favorite Nearly 10 Years On

- 2006.06.07

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 .

I am writing this on one of my 13 Mac laptops (I have examples from a 1991 PowerBook 100 through a newly purchased MacBook), a circa 1996 PowerBook 1400c. Actually, I have nearly 40 Macs, ranging from a 1990 Classic through my new MacBook. And they all still are working!

Obviously, I am a serious Mac addict, an addiction that began in full force in late 1997, when I acquired my PowerBook 100 at Goodwill ComputerWorks here in Austin. I had always been a Mac fan since first using a Mac Plus back in 1986, and later using Performa models in the early 1990s.

Anyway, I felt compelled to write this, because last night I got out my old PowerBook 1400c, which I haven't used for nearly two years.

A little history here: I got my 1400c in February 2002 from an eBay auction I won for $300. My 1400c had been G3-upgraded to 333 MHz via a Sonnet Crescendo card, and it's RAM was maxed at 64 MB. It was (and still is) running Mac OS 9.1.

This was the PowerBook I bought to use as a main laptop after using my PowerBook 540c from February 2000 to February 2002, and it was also the first PowerPC PowerBook I had owned. The 540c was a step up from my PowerBook 100, and the 1400c was a step up from the 540c.

After heavily using my 1400c from February 2002 through April 2004, I moved to a PowerBook 3400c/180 as my main laptop, which I used through December 2004, when I won a PowerBook G3/233 MainStreet on eBay. That was my main PowerBook until December 2005, when I won a PowerBook G3/266, also on eBay.

Then, on May 20, 2006, I bought my first new Mac laptop, a MacBook (the base model in white), which is simply amazing, the best Mac consumer laptop to date, in my opinion!

Since getting my first PowerBook, the 100, I have also collected many other members of the PowerBook family, as well as Power Macs, Quadras, Performas, classic Macs, an iMac, an eMac and even a original, working Newton Message Pad! I have amassed quite an amazing Mac collection over the years.

PowerBook 1400Powering up the 1400 last night was a real blast to the past. OS 9.1 booted up quickly, and my Dell TrueMobile wireless card immediately connected to my router. Using IE 5, I was soon surfing the Web, surprisingly quickly for this old workhorse. I connected to my eMac and transferred some files and pictures, launched AOL 5.0, and checked my mail all with no problems. I read online articles early into the a.m. and found the active-matrix screen very crisp, bright, and easy to read. While surfing, I popped in an audio CD and listened through headphones.

Even as I type this, I am amazed by this old PowerBook. It's keyboard feels great, and I love the 1400's small form factor. My PowerBook G3s are awesome, but they are pretty large and weighty by comparison.

My 1400 is about as maxed out as it can go. Yes, I know that Sonnet makes a G3/466 processor upgrade for this machine, but I already have it upgraded to a G3/333, and with the 1400's 64 MB RAM ceiling, I don't think there would be much of a performance improvement. As it is, my 1400c is still a highly capable machine for basic tasks: Web, email, word processing, older programs/games, and playing audio CDs.

As mentioned, it even does WiFi via a compatible PCMCIA card in one of it's two PCMCIA card slots.

I think that the PowerBook 1400 is one of the best PowerBooks of all time. It's still a great machine, nearly ten years on!

Also by Heather Anne Hurd

  • Mac Obsession, My First Mac, 200.09.18. "So, in 1997, I went to Goodwill Computerworks, and, after awhile spent looking over their huge selection of old Macs, I came away with a PowerBook 100."
  • The Wonderful PowerBook 100, My Turn, 2000.12.11. "The PowerBook 100 is my favorite PowerBook to this day."
  • PowerBook 100 Series Still Rocks, My Turn, 2002.01.16. A decade after their introduction, old PowerBooks are still great tools that put PDAs to shame.
  • The Underrated PowerBook 190, My Turn, 2002.07.01. How a seven-year-old PowerBook became a personal favorite.

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