With all of the excitement about the MacBook Air lately (Due largely to their excellent commercials), we thought it might be interesting to compare the cutting edge Apple MacBook Air with its predecessor from back in 2000.
Has notebook technology made a huge leap forward in features and functionality, or has it made a few measured steps targeted mostly at the "cool kids"?
We shall see, as we dissect its ancestor, the Apple G3 Pismo Firewire. Named such because it was the only G3 series notebook to feature Firewire ports which were quite the rage in 2000, but seemed to stall and fall by the wayside somewhere between 2000 and 2008.
We'll start with a few notable comparisons of the two, and while doing so, we find that this also serves as a comparison by proxy to most other notebooks of the time and of today as well.
The dimensions are the most obvious, the Air being .95 inches slimmer than our Pismo, and indeed, most other notebooks. As a point of reference the screen alone on our Pismo is approximately the same thickness as complete AirBook. As Mark Kaelin pointed out, that was accomplished in part by eliminating the cumbersome drive bays.The Screen sizes are similar, 13.3 for the AirBook, and 14.1 for the Pismo.Battery life technology hasn't done much in 8 years, as they both have a 5 hr battery life. You might consider however, that the Air battery is extremely thin and light, and if it were the same size/weight as our Pismo battery, we may well get much more time out of it. According to Mark Kaelin, the battery was modeled after those found in the iPods.
Don't forget that you can click the image to enlarge.
Here we have the front view of our subject. It was really very typical of notebooks at that time, aside from the sexy lines that it exhibited compared to its x86 competitors.
Not too exciting
The left side where we see the battery, the case fan vent, and the PC slot - yawn.
Front and Center
Here we have a view of the business end of the Pismo - a veritable cornucopia of ports. The two scantly used Firewire ports are front and center - well, center at least.
In contrast, we see the very humble ports that adorn the MacBook Air (inset). The right-hand port appears to be the port for external devices, which you will be using quite a bit if you plan to use cutting-edge devices such as CD/DVD players and the like. There is one USB and audio, which will do nicely for most of us.
The right side of the notebook - DVD player and a vent with no fan to go with. Another smaller yawn and nod of the head.
Bronze it is
Here we have what we all know as "The Pismo" - the big difference here vs other notebooks of the time, was the opaque "bronze" keyboard that came with the Pismo. They may have used the same keyboard on other G3 models but I could not confirm/deny.
The Airbook has a similarly cutting edge keyboard, as it's profile is so low as to appear to be a touch pad.
Here we have a brief summary of the spces for the unit, courtesy of Apple. All of the info you need to call for service. Though from my limited experience with Apple PCs, you probably won't need it.
Working on a few notebooks in my short time here on earth, I really appreciate this happy little gadget to remove the keyboard - a turn of the flathead screwdiver and...
...activate these great little latches (red arrow indicates) and out comes the keyboard. There is two actually, one on each side of the release screw. The other one not shown because the photographer cut its head off, as it were.
Sheilded from society
Keyboard removed, ribbon unplugged, we see our first target. The heat/noise shield. Two yellow circles identify.
AirBook: Curiously, I didn't see any of this sort of thing on the AirBook - shielding, that is.
Heatshield removed, we see our CPU board or daughter board. Note the groovy heat sink with a heat transfer tube (pointed out by red arrow) leading over to the general vicinity of the case fan.
Closeup of the other end of our heatsink. Underneath, lies the modem.
Eevrything but the sink
Here we have our sink removed to expose the CPU and the modem. It does not appear as though the sink actually touched the modem card, so it didn't do much to cool it.
MacBook Air: Inset, we see the CPU cooler for the Air. We can't really see much in this image, but I'd like to know a little more about the way this one works, as it seems to be very thin, and significantly more efficient than our Pismo - as it should be.
To Modulate or Demodulate
Two small screws holding the modem, as shown.
A little plastic shield that was loosely wrapped around the card. Mostly to prevent any damage should the sink bang into it - OR to keep you from shoving a screwdriver into it.
Conexant, SST, and ISSI chips power the modem card.
Airbook: No modem. No big surprise - who uses a modem?
One of the things that I like about the Pismo insides are the little plastic tabs on removable parts. The red arrow points out the cool little socket that the board fits into.
Interesting that the only thing supporting this, the most critical part of the unit, is two little unsecured tabs.
The RAM and more
This is a bit of a busy picture.
First: The inset image shows the ENTIRE logic board of the MacBook Air. I put it here because it is about the same width as the CPU card shown on the Pismo and maybe twice the length. So the entirety of the logic board of the Air is maybe twice the size of the CPU card alone on the Pismo. Significant hardware changes there in eight years.
Second: The red arrow points to the expansion memory slot of the Pismo. Officially, the Pismo memory maxed out at 512MB, but most found that you could run it up to 1GB with no trouble.
Third: Circled in yellow is the bottom of the chip that I think serves as a support for the card itself. In the next image, you see the tab that it rests on.
Circled is the shelf discussed in the prior frame. I thought it was a sink before, but not with the foam between it and the chip.
Apple seemed to be very weight conscious, as they lightened everything possible, including the hdd carrier.