The iBook is Apple’s entry-level notebook computer. With its distinctive sleek white case, it is probably one of the most instantly recognizable “laptop” computers on the market. The iBook has always been the lowest priced laptops that Apple offers, geared to computer users with typical, if limited needs: Email, web browsing, word processing, iTunes, and the like. For this reason, most people looking for a music production or performance computer have looked to Apple’s premium Powerbook, and now MacBook Pro lines. But the reality is, that in its latest incarnation, the iBook G4 packs plenty of power to run most popular DJ and music applications quite well.

The current iBook G4 lineup is differentiated by the screen size and processor speed. One model features a 12-inch screen and a 1.33GHz G4 (Power PC) processor and a 40GB hard drive (Check current price). A more expensive 14-inch model is also available with a 1.44GHz G4 processor and a 60GB hard drive (Check current price). You won’t notice much a difference between the two processor speeds, and hard drives on both models are upgradeable, so the real decision you have to make is which size screen is right for you. Both the 12-inch and 14-inch screens have the same maximum resolution, so you’re not getting any more screen real estate with the 14-inch. The real difference between the two is that everything appears a bit bigger on the 14-inch screen. This size difference comes in handy when using the iBook in a live performance setting, when you’re not necessarily sitting right in front of the screen, but are looking at it on a stand on the other side of your turntables.

Both models come with 512MB of RAM which you should plan on upgrading to 1GB minimum. When processing multiple audio streams and audio effects, the extra memory helps to keep the software running smoothly.

The hard drive is probably the weakest component of the iBook, with both models featuring 4200RPM drive speeds. While these drives are fast enough to still be usable with DJ and music production software, you may experience delays of dropouts when performing hard drive intensive tasks, like mixing multiple music files and recording the output to the drive at the same time. Fortunately, the iBook comes standard with USB 2.0 and Firewire ports, so connecting a faster external drive is a breeze.

Speaking of connecting external devices, both iBook models come with two USB 2.0 ports and one FireWire 400 port for connecting your peripherals. This is plenty for connecting an audio interface, midi controller, and external hard drive – everything you should need. The iBook includes a headphone jack, but does not have the audio-in jack that comes standard on the PowerBook and MacBook Pro machines. Don’t worry though, if you want to record your vinyl or other audio to your computer and can’t afford a high-end audio interface right away, Griffin Technology’s iMic is a simple, small USB device that gives you a great quality mic/line input for about $35. Problem solved.

The current iBook G4 exceeds the minimum requirements for most of the popular DJ software available today, including Serato Scratch Live, Stanton FinalScratch, Native Instruments Trakor DJ Studio 3, and Ableton Live 5. In the case of Ableton Live, you’ll end up running into problems if you plan to run a large number of tracks with processor intensive effects and plug-ins at the same time, but for DJing with up to 4 tracks and basic effects you’ll have more than enough power with the iBook.

As of this writing, the iBook G4 is due to be discontinued by Apple in the near future and replaced by a comparable model powered by an Intel processor. When this will happen in anyone’s guess, but as with most computer revisions, the new “Intel iBook” will probably feature more processing power for a similar price. That being said, the iBook G4 is still a solid computer at a reasonable price that should serve any DJ well for several years to come.

iBook Pros:

  • Least expensive Apple notebook computer.
  • Up to 1.42GHz G4 processor capable of running current DJ software comfortably.
  • Durable case.
  • Excellent battery life.
  • Two USB 2.0 ports and one FireWire Port
  • GarageBand Software included.

iBook Cons:

  • G4 processor is being discontinued by Apple in favor of Intel processors.
  • 4200 RPM hard drives.
  • No audio-in.
  • Maiximum 1024 x 768 screen resolution on both models.

Recommended for:

  • Home / hobbyist / “Bedroom DJs” on a budget who still need the portability of a notebook computer.

Not recommended for:

  • DJs interested in using music production software or DAW.
  • DJs who need high-end graphics or video capabilities.
  • DJs interested in playing graphics-intensive games.
  • DJs who must always have the “latest” technology.
Next page: MacBook Pro for DJs –>