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Pismo (Powerbook Firewire) Owner Feedback/Comments
Published: 3/2/2000 (Updated 4/14/2000)


To offload the main news, this page will list reader comments on the new firewire Powerbook models (code name Pismo).

PowerBook Firewire G3/500 Review: Detailed review of the new Pismo model including pages with application and game performance comparisons as well as compatibility notes and more.


[from the 4/14/2000 news page:]
More Disklock & PowerBook Firewire Info: My friend John Garde contacted PowerOn via phone and the person he spoke to reported info that conflicts with the reader report in yesterday's news:

"Mike,
Just got off the phone with a technical specialist at PowerOn Software concerning Disklock 4.6.2. He stated with total certainty that this version works perfectly with the Pismo. He said it had been tested.

What he said would not work is any USB or FireWire external hard drives that might be connected. He had no knowledge of the story about some technician telling one of your readers not to use the new version but to use 4.6.1 and further he stated that 4.6.3 is not going to be in the immediate future. With all these stories floating around, I have to tell you I am not feeling good about Disklock at this time.

I guess it takes one brave sole to try it and report, I'll be waiting.........
John "

When this question first came up, I check Poweron's FAQ - there was no info on Pismo compatibility there at that time. If the software is compatible, I urge them to say so on their product page to eliminate this confusion.


[From the 4/12/2000 news page:]
IBM 32GB Notebook Drive Only 12.5mm High: [Update - see the IDE Articles page or Systems page (PB section) for my illustrated guide to a PB Firewire Hard Drive Upgrade which used the IBM 32GB drive. The article includes performance tests also.] IBM, makers of the 25GB Travelstar 2.5" notebook drive has broken their own record on density with a new 32GB Travelstar 32GH model (17 Billion Bits/sq. in) according to this C/Net article. The new drive spins at 5400 RPM as well, vs 4200 RPM for most notebook drives and has a 2MB cache (32GB model, 173KB of the cache used for firmware). The IBM 25GB Travelstar is too tall to fit in the Pismo/Lombard series (17mm High), but according to the specs at IBM's Travelstar notebook drives page, the new 32GB model is only 12.5mm High and should fit fine!

I'm working on a how-to article for a Pismo/Lombard Expansion Bay HD Kit (make your own 18GB portable drive).


[From the 3/27/2000 news page:]
IBM MicroDrive/Pismo Report: In reply to my post in Monday's news regarding the new Casio QV-3000EX 3 megapixel camera with IBM 340MB microdrive, Serge Smirnoff replied the drive works with IBM's PCcard adapter in his Pismo. The QV-3000EX lists for $999 with the IBM Microdrive ($799 without) and also features a USB port. [Note: according to this QV-3000EX review, Casio does not include the Microdrive PCCard adapter and I don't know if a standard CompactFlash adapter would work.] According to Casio, Macintosh software is included (the Windows bundle includes panarama software that's PC only). The 340MB Microdrive with PCcard adapter lists for $455 according to IBM's site.

For more info see IBM's Microdrive product page. Checking their Microdrive compatibility page currently lists the following Apple notebooks:

  • G3-400, Mac OS 8.6 (Lombard)
  • PowerBook 3400c, Mac OS 8
  • PowerBook G3 Mac, OS 8.5.1

Based on Serge's report, you can add the Pismo (Powerbook Firewire) to the list.


[From the 3/27/2000 news page:]
More Comments on PowerBook Ext. HD/Exp. Bay Kits: [Update - see the IDE Articles page for my Expansion bay kit build guide and performance tests with a MCE Xcaret Kit.] I've still not read all the reports sent over the weekend yet, but here are three of interest (See the 3/25/2000 weekend news for more reports):

"Hi Mike,
I've had one of MCE's DataShuttles for about 2 years, and it's worked great for us (we've got about 30 PowerBooks of various flavors of Wall Street, PDQ, Lombard, and now Pismo).

I was surprised to see that a drive in the DataShuttle won't boot in a Lombard, as I'll swear I've done that. Then again, my DataShuttle looks somewhat different (since it's an older model), so maybe it's not the same. In any case, I'll try it on our Pismo later this week when it and its user come back from DC :-)

As to your second request for an expansion bay housing w/o drive, MCE sells these, too, called the XCaret (see http://store.powerbook1.com/xcarpro99med.html for more info - $149). They have versions for both Lombard/Pismo and Wall Street/PDQ.

As far as MCE as a company goes, they're the greatest. I accidentally closed the end of the AC Adapter for the DataShuttle in a drawer, totally crushing it. I emailed them about the cost for a replacement, and they just swapped it and charged me a few bucks for the return shipping. I thought that was above and beyond the call of duty...

Hope this helps. Your site has proved invaluable in many ways in purchasing, upgrading, and maintaining our 150+ Macs...
--Robert "

Another reader mentioned a similar but lower cost external drive kit called EZ-Gig drive:

"Hi Mike:
This little gem is what I found.
Apricorn also sells a 'Mac version' called "EZ MAC"-it costs $99, still a better deal by 50% versus MCE's product. [the special offer page he sent shows a $59 price, but notes it's for 'IBM customers'-Mike]

The difference between the EZ GIG and EZ MAC is a lack of software bundle and hardware (PCs get a floppy drive installer and 3 types of HD 40-pin adapters for various 2.5" drives/notebooks).

My advice is to buy EZ GIG and save money. This promo has been running since September, 1999.

For my Wall Street II/266, the GF's 300, and many many members of Powerlist, this is the ticket.

I found EZ GIG when buying IBM 10GB hard drives for our PB's last winter. The nice people at MCE might be Mac specialists but spending the extra $ does not cut it.

EZ GIG does not come with an A/C adapter; MCE's product does. However, I don't know of anyone using PC card external drives that uses A/C power for the drive.

The ergonomics of EZ GIG are better than MCE's unit also. It's lighter, the design is more compact for travel, the color is a better match. IMHO it looks better also.

It's 100% made-in-the-USA/the company is based in Southern Calif.

I had both products in my hands for a week and returned the MCE product. I posted my findings in Powerlist and many Listas thanked me for finding a better product, and deal.

The EZ GIG PC card hard drive setup will boot Wall Street and earlier Powerbooks. I don't see why it would not work on Lombards and Pismos, but I don't own either one to give a report.

Including the Powerbook Enabler file on Wall Street external and internal drive system folders always worked well to enable booting.

There were Powerlist members who had many issues with booting internal ZIPs/HDs, external drives of various kinds, and the same issue making custom made CDs.

Including the enabler file from the Powerbook in question always enabled booting.
later,
David"

For owners of Powerbooks with SCSI drives or interfaces, here's another reader tip:

"I bought an external drive case for 2.5 PB SCSI drives a few years ago. MC Price Breakers. Have provided link to their products: http://www.mcpb.com/html/pbscs1.html
Rich Errington "


More info on Pismo/GaugePro Performance Variations: A reader replied to the Pismo/GaugePro memory performance variations I noted in Friday's news:

"Mike,
I also have seen some oddities with Pismo and GaugePro, with just a little different circumstances that you.

I have a Pismo 500 (1 week old) with 256 meg of ram. While running a long database job last week I used GaugePro (v 1.01 with 547 KB memory allocation) to check the temperature (the run took 81 hours and I was a little concerned - highest temp was around 145F) and noticed the move memory speed had jumped from its normal 89.8 MB/sec to 117.6 MB a pretty fair increase. However, I never use VM - always leave it off, and haven't touched the memory allocation of GaugePro.

My theory is this, Knowing I have the stock 128 MB Apple ram (3-2-2 marked slow in profiler) and the added Crucial 128 MB (2-2-2) which is supposed to be faster; and having allocated 100 MB ram to the 4th Dimension application, and then launching Gauge Pro, pushed GaugePro into the faster 2-2-2 ram, or there is some type of memory interleaving going on, or there's simply some bug in Gauge Pro.

I can duplicate this at will by launching 4D and then GaugePro - results 117.6 MB/sec, launching GaugePro first and then 4D (after restarting) yields 89.8 MB/sec.

I verified the location in multiple tests - when GaugePro is loaded into Himem (3-2-2) speeds are 89.8 and when in Lomem speeds increase to 117.6. Also, when I force GaugePro to straddle Himem and Lomem boundaries I get a speed of 106.6 MB/sec, the number you saw.

The problem is, I can't duplicate this GaugePro behavior on any other G3 system I have, they all remain stable relating to memory speed - but, they all are running OS 8.6 instead of 9.02, and they all have the same speed ram chips.

So I can only conclude the speed differences are real, and the 2-2-2 dimms are around 30% faster than 3-2-2 dimms in memory moves. If anyone else can independently verify this, that's enough difference for me to spend another $98 on more Crucial memory to replace the stock Apple dimm.

If you have a mixture of 2-2-2 and 3-2-2 dimms, you should be able to duplicate my tests with similar results.
Regards,
Fred Kinder "

The review Pismo that I saw the odd rate changes with also had a 222 (OWC) PC100 dimm added along with the OEM 322 dimm, however I wouldn't think 322 vs 222 would make anywhere near this difference in memory bandwidth performance. The previous memory controllers used in the B&W G3 ran all dimms at the speed of the slowest dimm installed (see this TIL) but I'm not sure about the UMA motherboards. The G4 systems and new iMacs also use a UMA motherboard but I have not tested for this oddity in those models.


Ratoc Ultra-Wide PCMCIA SCSI Cards: [See the update below from a reader on booting and sleep issues with the Ratoc cards-Mike.] Mic Berends of Mindesign writes with another SCSI option for Pismo Powerbooks:

"... the RATOC UltraWideSCSI works absolutely flawlessly! it's $259 from MCE, and you can get the Ultra (non-Wide, like the Adaptec) SCSI version for $149, but it doesn't have the RISC proc to reduce the CPU load. check it out - http://www.rexpccard.co.jp/ haven't done any tests yet, but it just screams and doesn't bog the machine on transfers...
Cheers,
Mic.
P.S. avoid the MicroTech USB XpressSCSI USB->SCSI adapter at all costs. to use Iomega drives with it you have to reformat you carts with FWB or other 3rd party drivers, which sort of defeats the whole purpose for most people with existing libraries. it's not mentioned anywhere on their site... :( "

Ratoc's product page on the Ultra-Wide SCSI PCcard is here. Adaptec updated their PowerDomain 1480 PCcard last week for Pismo compatibility, but the update requires OS 9.03 or later according to Adaptec. A reader sent an update on sleep, booting and other issues with the Ratoc SCSI PCcards:

"Just FYI for those interested in this product for their Pismo.

According to their Software Driver web pages, they say their current drivers don't support sleep (crash on wake) and cannot boot from drives connected to their cards (both UW and Ultra), along with other limitations such as the non-support of a certain UMAX scanner.

http://www.rexpccard.co.jp/english/support/driver/cb32pb.html
http://www.rexpccard.co.jp/english/support/driver/cb31pb.html

Please ask Mic Berends to confirm.
I wonder how Adaptec's 1480 stacks up against Ratoc's CB32.
Ken "


[From the 3/24/2000 news page:]
Adaptec SlimSCSI 1480 Driver Update: Patrick Gallagher of Micro/Mac Warehouse wrote to say that Adaptec's PowerDomain Slimscsi requirements page has been updated with a link to a driver update that resolves the Pismo (PowerBook Firewire) compatibility issue. However they say the driver requires "Mac OS 9.03 or a later revision of OS 9". (All Pismo's I've seen have OS 9.02 installed.) Patrick also said the new driver is in all current shipments and that only a small number of cards shipped with the previous driver version.


[From the 3/22/2000 news page:]
Tips/Info/Profiles for PB/iBook LCD Display Color Matching: [NOTE: these profiles were not made for OS X. Although I had never thought to copy them to OS X's profiles folder, a reader did and noted they caused problems at startup.] The latest reader comments on the issue noted in yesterday's news. He also sent downloadable colorsync profiles that readers say were quite an improvement.

"Hello.
With as much reader activity as I've seen concerning poor LCD color, I thought it a good time to contribute a solution to the issue.

Because LCDs are constructed with and operate on a very different principle than CRTs, they have a very different behavior than do CRTs. For this reason, a visual CRT calibrator like the Apple Default Calibrator will not work properly on an LCD.

A CRT has a response curve that is a power function. That is, the light output from the front of the monitor is approximately proportional to the input voltage raised to a given power. The general shape of this response curve is a shallow curve, which you can visualize by typing "y=x^1.8" into Graphing Calculator, hitting "Graph" and watching what happens between x=0 and x=1. Try different powers such as 2.5 instead of 1.8 and you will see how a different power, or "gamma", affects the relationship between y (output) and x (input). In the real world, the adjustment of the monitor and the behavior of the electronics and tube will alter the behavior slightly, but all CRTs follow this basic response behavior.

In contrast, an LCD has a response curve that is typically "S" shaped. Try typing y=x^(.4/x) into Graphing Calculator, hitting "Graph" and watching what happens between x=0 and x=1. Between x=0 and x=.5, you will notice that the graph curves increasingly upward, then after x=.5 it begins to curve the other way and flatten out. While you can try and calibrate an LCD with a CRT calibrator, you will either improve the shadows and make the highlights worse, or improve the highlights and make the shadows worse. You simply can't correct the behavior of an LCD with something designed for CRTs.

We've created a number of tools over the years to help us with certain jobs, and among these is a plug-in calibrator for ColorSync 2.6+ for LCD displays. We've used it very successfully in-house, but have never had the time put the finishing touches on for public consumption. We've planned on releasing it as shareware at some point, but we really need to finish it first.

However, I'm attaching a ColorSync profile that I have for a Pismo display and one for an iBook display. Just drop the profile(s) into the ColorSync Profiles folder in your System Folder, then go to the Monitors control panel, choose the Color button and choose the proper profile from the list. The display should change significantly. If the profile does not show up in the list, make sure that it has the correct type (prof) and creator (sync). Sometimes these can get screwed up by Stuffit Expander, turning the profile into a generic file which the Monitors control panel will not recognize even though the file is actually fine.

The profiles have color look-up tables in them, but do not have the appropriate phosphor colors or white point set in them (this is the part of the calibrator that's not yet finished). The Monitors Control Panel loads the color look-up table from a profile into the video driver to correct the LCD to a 1.8 gamma curve, then the gamma value in the profile tells ColorSync that the display is now a 1.8 display. I could get into the characterization vs. correction argument here, but I won't. Suffice it to say that we wanted our displays to be partially corrected and characterized, not just characterized.

All displays are different so it may not work properly for everyone, but it should be an improvement over not having one at all. Because all displays are different, you should calibrate each one uniquely, but until we get time to finish ours or one like it is publicly available, it's kind of difficult to do.
Brock Brandenberg
bergdesign "

I've made Brock's Pismo/iBook profiles available for download here. (*NOT for OS X*)


[From the 3/18/2000 news page:]
Another $69.95 Pismo/Lombard Battery Sale: Drew sent a note that MicroWarehouse has a sale PB G3 1999 (Lombard, but Pismo uses same type) batteries at a this Promo Sale page. Get them while they last (readers sold out outpost quickly a few weeks back when I posted the last sale). [Two readers verified these are Lomboard/Pismo batteries. Apparently the battery marking is not the product number.]


Nikon CoolPix 100 PCMCIA Camera Not Compatible: After a reader's report that the CoolPix camera didn't work with the Pismo, I verified it here with mine. No hard drive icon shows up in the Pismo, but it does work with the Wallstreet and PB1400 (and other models I assume). Many readers bought this camera after I noted a under $100 sale price back in 1998 but it's been discontinued for some time.


Pismo Battery Life during DVD Playback: A reader responded to my comments on battery life in Friday's news (3/17/2000) where I saw about 4 hours of use without using the CD/DVD drive:

"I've got a bit of info which may be of interest to your readers- The Pismo 400 and software DVD decoding really drains the battery. I get about 2.5 hrs tops when watching a DVD movie off battery (and that's with mid-range screen brightness and headphones instead of internal speakers). That's not too good. I'm sure the DVD decoding really taxes the processor. For a desktop, that's fine, but maybe Apple should have stuck with hardware decoding for the laptops.

But, FYI, works fine without skips, sync issues or audio pops.
Michael B. Sneider, M.D.
Lecturer
Department of Radiology
University of Michigan"

I suspect the combination of the decoding and the DVD drive use is responsible. 2.5 hours is still longer than the Wallstreet battery life with DVD playback (even with a lower CPU speed, often the Wallstreet's single battery may not last through a 2 hour movie in my experience).


Pismo & Adaptec SlimSCSI 1480 PCMCIA Card: [Update: Patrick Gallagher of MacWarehouse sent a link to an updated Adaptec Tech note on the Pismo compatibility issue.] The latest report on this combo received 3/17/2000 notes a compatibility problem that is said to be solved by OS 9.0.4:

" I just got a PowerDomain SlimSCSI for a Pismo 400, but have had little luck with it. I have an external chassis with a DVD-RAM, CDR, Jaz and 4GB HD that I have been using with an iBook with an Ariston USB-to-SCSI adapter.

On first attempt with the Pismo after installing the SlimSCSI driver, I rebooted and inserted the card, only to have the external HD mount and the Finder bitch about something being wrong with the drive. Having previously backed up the drive to DVD-RAM, I decided to reinitialize it, but Drive Setup hung while initializing the disk. After rebooting, Drive Setup hung while scanning the chain to find devices. No further troubleshooting has resolved the problem.

Apparently, there are some issues with the Pismos and system pre-9.0.4. Here's a posting from Adaptec about 9.0.4 which is not yet released, but since I'm a developer, I'll try installing 9.0.4f3 this weekend to confirm this:

Adaptec 1480 Incompatibility with Pismo

From our source at MacWarehouse's technical support, we've determined that both Apple and Adaptec are aware that the latter's PowerDomain SlimSCSI 1480. PC Card SCSI product does not work with Pismo. Pismo ships with Mac OS 9.0.2, and while the problem was known by Apple before 9.0.2 was declared final, but Apple was in a rush to declare the software final and get Pismos shipping out to customers. We are assured that the problem will be fixed in Mac OS 9.0.4, which is due to be available for download and preinstalled on systems within two weeks.

Keep in mind Adaptec has a product, the SlimSCSI 1480, which is for PCs. The PowerDomain name on the 1480 distinguishes the Mac version.

The Ariston USB-to-SCSI adapter that I have, however, works flawlessly. It's theoretically much slower, but it works well for access to the devices in order to backup data. The only flaw with this solution is that you cannot reliably read from one SCSI device and write to another SCSI device that is daisy chained off of the same adapter. There must be a timing issue having to pump the data over USB to the CPU then back down USB to the other device. At least the error is not fatal. The Finder simply acknowledges that there was an error copying a file. As long as you don't need to transfer from one SCSI device to another, your're fine.
Brock Brandenberg
bergdesign
"

The following was a more positive report from a news page post several weeks ago:

"I just wanted to email my experiences with the Adaptec PowerDomain SlimSCSI 1480 cardbus card (cardbus to SCSI convertor), and my 500 MHz Pismo. I tried the card with a hard drive, a Yamaha CDR 400, and my Emu ESI-4000 sampler. The hard drive and the CD burner worked fine with the card, although the card did seem a little more tempremental about SCSI termination, and cable lengths than my PowerMac 9600.

After fiddling with cables and termination I was able to get the hard drive, and the burner working when all devices were daisy chained together. I couldn't get the sampler to work with the card, and Recycle. Recycle would find the ESI-4000, and would begin a transfer, but then Recycle would get stuck in the middle of the transfer, and the sampler would display a timeout error. I don't know what the root cause of the problem is, it could be the sampler, the card or Recycle. I'm hoping that some update will fix the problem. I tried having just the sampler attached to the card, but still no luck.
-Shehryar
"

The 1480 is a new version (UltraSCSI) and requires an extension for support.


[From the 3/14/2000 News Page:]
Pismo/GL Quake 0.51 Fix: I was finally able to get GLQuake 0.51 to run properly on the Pismo. Of course you need to delete the files in the "glquake" folder inside the ID1 folder (noted in the readme) before running the game. The problem I saw with the new Powerbook was that all the game video was compressed into a thin line at the top of the screen. I guessed this was due to some default video mode so I edited the config.cfg file to disable the line doubling. While I was in there I set the default mode to 640x480 as well, not 320x240. Bingo - problem solved. At 640x480, the PB G3/500 ran the demo1 at 40.3 FPS.

Here's the mods I made to the config.cfg file (located inside the ID1 folder):

vid_stretch_by_2 "0" (was 1)
vid_config_y " 480 "
vid_config_x " 640 "

If you don't want to edit the file in simpletext, I've stuffed my revised config.cfg file. Just in case, backup your existing config.cfg file (rename it config.bak for instance before copying the new file).

[From the 3/13/2000 News Page:]
Pismo TV Out Comments: A reader comments on using the new Powerbook with a projection TV:

"Mike,
Thought it would be of interest to tell you (and others),

We won a 51" Pioneer big screen T.V. (yes, we're bragging) a couple months ago from a local furniture store. It has svideo inputs. Well, I couldn't resist hooking up the Pismo 400 to it and running virtual game station! It works, you just go to the monitor's control panel and more the menu bar and happy face over to the external video, and voila! Now I have the world's most expensive play-station... unless someone bought a Pismo 500!

The manual says that if you hook up an external keyboard and mouse, you can close the 'book and use only the external video. This would be great for Parsec and other programs that won't run without all 8 megs of video ram.

I got just about everything to run on the big screen, with only a few exceptions. Some programs would just not work, some ran on the 'book screen no matter what.

Also, the resolutions on the big screen worked up to 1024X768. Sure, it's blurry as hell, but hey, it makes the games look great. I suspect stuff like powerpoint presentations would also kick but on a big screen.
Rich
"

A reader adds to the earlier post on using a new Powerbook Firewire's S-Video out to TV:

"adding to your recent post:
When you have a TV hooked up to the Video out on a pismo, start up the machine and then quickly close the lid after you hear the bong. The Mac starts up on the TV only. Open the lid, and the LCD stays off, but you have use of the keyboard!

DVDs play much too bright on the TV compared to my standard sony DVD player, and the Gamma settings in Colorsync in the Monitors control panel are independent of the DVD player. I just had to lower the brightness on the TV. The Surround Sound works, but its of course no match for Digital!
-Bill
"

FYI: I believe pages 38 & 39 of the owners manual covers video/TV output for those that want more information.


[From the 3/10/2000 News Page:]
Pismo vs Sony Vio: A reader sent a note about a recent review of the Powerbook G3 (firewire) against the high end Sony Vio notebook:

"Hi Mike,
I saw this interesting, and pretty thorough, review today, pitting the Pismo G3/500 against Sony's Vaio PCG-F490. While berating the Powerbooks "small" screen (The Vaio has 15"), it also states that "our Photoshop filter tests ran 25 to 50 percent faster on the PowerBook than the Vaio", and that the Powerbooks hard drive is more than 3 times the speed of the Vaios! (Review link)

Cheers,
Simon
"


My DVD Playback Tests: As part of the review tests for the Pismo Powerbook G3/500, I just finished watching 'The Matrix' from start to finish and saw no audio sync issues and heard no audio pops at all (using headphones). Controls are sluggish as usual, but watching the movie at full screen (controller hidden) start to finish was better than I'd seen in the past with my G4/450 and earlier versions of the software DVD player. I ran the tests with virtual memory disabled, millions color mode and allocated 30MB to the DVD player (defualt was under 8MB).


[From the 3/9/2000 news page:]
Final Cut Pro/Pismo Firewire Capture Issues: In reply to my question in yesterday's news regarding capture and print to video compatibility with the new firewire notebooks, Mike Mihalik of Lacie wrote some owners are reporting problems with this combo (at least with only 128MB of RAM):

"Please see the following threads over on www.2-pop.com
http://www.2-pop.com/cgi/boards/finalcut/index.cgi?read=25178Note: since this is a message board these links may not be valid over time-Mike]

This is the start of a thread regarding some tests done this week. Be sure to read EVERYTHING - the rants, the caveats, the next step.

Simple answer that PB/500 + FW drive + 128MB memory is a no-go at the present time. More tests will be done next week with more memory.
Mike Mihalik
LaCie
"

There's a lot of replies there on the subject, one in particular that noted 256MB RAM (128MB allocated to FCP) seemed ok. There's also a note that using a Ratoc Firewire card in the new PB didn't help (may need a driver update).


[From the 3/4/200 Weekend News:]
Pismo Battery Sale: [Update: A reader just called (Monday, 3/6/2000 4PM eastern time) to say the $69.95 sale is over. Outpost.com told him they have sold out and the new price is $129.95 (their web page reflects the higher price now). Readers that saw the $69.95 (delivered) sale in the weekend news must have sold them out and perhaps tipped them off to the fact these batteries worked in the new Pismo. Goes to show it pays to watch the www.xlr8yourmac.com news everyday.] had batteries that fit the Pismo for $69.95 including free shipping. The Lombard batteries are the same model number as the Pismo ones and work perfectly (verified).


Warning on Using Password Security Control Panel on Pismo: Although the PB Security Control Panel incompatibilty is mentioned in Apple's recent PowerBook Firewire Late Breaking News (down at the bottom under 'Documentation changes') there's no warning on what the dangers are of using it. A reader sent a warning to anyone attempting to use the Security Control Panel on the new Powerbooks:

"Mike,
There is a serious situation your readers should know about. Previous Powebooks before the Pismo had a Password Security control panel installed but NOT on the Pismos, reason being if used on the Pismos it will hose your hard drive and it will have to be swapped out. As unbelievable as it sounds it is true, came straight from a high level tech guy at Apple.

A Pismo owner dragged this control panel from an older Powerbook and fried his drive...

Please let your readers know.
Thanks
John
"

Hindsight is always 20/20 but considering the risks I think Apple should post a caution or warning instead of the current comment at the bottom of the Late Breaking News TIL:

"Documentation changes

Password Security control panel - The Password Security control panel mentioned in Mac Help was designed to work with older PowerBook computers and is not installed on your PowerBook."

A warning added to the above would likely have prevented anyone from attempting to use the CP If everyone read the TIL or the included link to 'Breaking News' in the root of the Pismo Hard Drive. (Breaking news link requires a Net connection of course.)


Pismo G3/500 Benchmark Performance: Here's a summary of a few benchmarks I ran on a new PB G3/500 (128MB RAM/VM on, 10GB drive):

    MacBench 5.0:
  • CPU: 1320
  • FPU: 1645
  • Disk: 1383
  • Pub Disk: 1007
  • Graphics: 3816
    (1024x768/Thouands Colors)

    ATTO Tools Disk Benchmark:

  • Peak/Sustained Read: 41.97/13.56 MB/sec
  • Peak/Sustained Write: 13.83/13.02 MB/sec


Steve Weisel sent his comments from using a new Pismo (he's selling his Wallstreet 1 to buy one):

"Hi Mike!
I went to Creative Computers in Santa Monica on Tuesday and played with a 500 MHz Pismo for about half an hour. Suffice it to say it's a fast freakin' computer! Light as a feather compared to my Wall Street. Of course, it's not a totally fair comparison, because they had no batteries in it (they would be stolen if they did). Batteries or no, the Pismo is a sleek computer, an adjective you would be unlikely to apply to the Wall Street, however nice it is.

In general, it's impossible not to be impressed with the speed of the CPU, the hard drive, and the speed at which things are drawn to the screen. The fit and finish on this stylish computer is also very tight.

Unfortunately, there were barely any apps or files on it, so I had to make do with trying out the basic stuff installed with OS 9: Acrobat Reader, QuickTime, Internet Explorer (to read some HTML pages without any graphics off the disk), SimpleText, etc. Not very good gauges of speed or much of anything else. But there was a graphics rich Acrobat Reader PDF document that showed off a bunch of Acrobat products with product shots of the boxes and one page with lots of landscape photos that even looked good when enlarged to 800% and which gave a feel for screen redraws. *Very* impressive!!

I had read that the trackpad was black instead of bronze-ish, like on the Lombard. Well, they had a Lombard right next to it, and a side by side test showed me that the new trackpad is a much better texture. My finger glided more smoothly.

I much prefer the (mouse) clicker on the Wall Street to the Lombard's or the Pismo's. That's because the button slides below flush when held down (I prefer it to be a little above the body of the hand rests) and even worse, it "gives" way too easily. [ I don't notice any real difference in use between my Wallstreet 'clicker' and the Pismo in use-Mike] Even after a year and a half of use, the clicker on my Wall Street takes a little more oomph to push down, and I like it that way. It's like a stiff clutch on a car, rather than a mushy one. I like to work a little at pushing it and get some feedback. Actually, when the Wall Street was new, it was a *tiny* bit too stiff. But I soon broke it in. Perhaps Apple got complaints about the stiffness of the clicker on the Wall Street, and went too far in the other direction.

Another issue I was concerned about was the relative stability and sturdiness of the panel behind the screen. Pushing on the back of the Pismo showed me that it is sturdy and did not flex as much as a Lombard or two that I have seen.

I'm starting to feel OK about the fact that the rubber is dark grey instead of black like on the Wall Street and the bronze color of the keyboard is growing on me. I may even learn to like it. I don't mind that it's translucent, but why not black, or dark grey translucent? The keyboard is a lot mushier than the Wall Street, which was mushier than the Duo 2300. But I'm not a touch typist, so I guess I can get acclimated to just about anything.

I tried the three different resolutions, and switching between them is very fast and they all looked good. I use 640 x 480 at home, on my 15" Apple flat panel for reading text, but to my taste, on the PB, 800 x 600 is better than 640 x 480 for text. Even 1024 x 768 is not so small that you can't read it.

The little door on the back panel is not as sturdy as that on the Wall Street, but it flexes quite a bit, and maybe that will prevent breakage. They could not have squeezed one more port back there, but though crowded, things are layed out very neatly.

Didn't get to try the DVD, but with a QuickTime movie on the hard drive, there was no crackling of the speakers.

Although it's not as good a bargain as the low-end iMacs, iBooks, or G4s, the PowerBook is a solid, mature, aesthetically beautiful product that will certainly help Apple's bottom line and reputation for building the best notebook on the planet, if not the one with the best bang for the buck.

I'm going to buy a 400 MHz Pismo very soon. I hope it's not a lot slower than the 500 MHz version I tried.

Take Care,
Steve Weisel
"


Previous comments from Pismo owners taken from past news pages:


"I set up a Pismo 400 Monday. It doesn't have a HD whine. No trouble at startup and it has the nifty graphic setup application. However, it never asked about the time zone...

I also have a Wallstreet 250 ... The Pismo 400 is definitely much faster at running applications. All MS apps after quite definitely faster on the Pismo. My wife, who is not at all a technie, claims to notice a huge difference between them. Also, the Pismo is distinctly faster than my Rev. 1 B&W G3/350.

DVD playing is fair. I tried to play DVD through the S-Video port and that was hopeless. haven't had time to investigate that though. [ I think you have to have the display set to 640x480 perhaps-Mike]
Ronald Guest
Pepsan & Associates, Inc
"


Pismo Hard Drive Noise: [Note: The Pismo 500 here has a Toshiba HD, which based on feedback from owners does seem to have a whine not present in IBM drives that are in some Pismo models. You can see the hard drive brand by removing the keyboard per the instructions in the manual.] My first impressions from the Pismo PB G3/500 on 3/1/2000. The Pismo PB G3/500 arrived today for a review. Beautiful machine with apparently no bad pixels in the display (not yet anyway, sometimes they appear after weeks or months of use). [Update: there's at least one stuck red pixel in the left side of the display.] One thing I noticed right away was the high pitched noise from the hard drive. I'm not really picky over HD noise, but this drive had a noticeable high pitch whine that may be objectionable to some. Perhaps this varies by the brand of the drive (Apple often OEMs several brands) or this particular drive is just noisy. One interesting note is the drive is actually has 10.6GB formatted capacity (11.6GB unformatted).

On first boot immediately after the desktop appeared, the screen flashed, then went black and a few seconds later the cursor locked up (screen still black). A restart ran fine. I also noticed the trash contained a system resource file and an Airport setup icon. MacOS Setup Assistant did not automatically run at startup as I've seen on most new Macs apparently due to the error at first boot.

I'll also be adding an OWC 128MB SODIMM (and disabling VM) to see what effect that has on performance (as responsiveness in the Finder didn't seem much better than my Wallstreet G3/250, which runs OS 8.6 and has 192MB of RAM/VM off). I disabled the OS 9 multi-user control panel and extension which seems to help a bit (esp. on older Macs with OS9). I also normally disable the options to remember recently used applications and Quicktime Autoplay (which can help prevent spread of the autostart worm virus as well).

DVD Audio Pops/Crackles? See the Feb 26/27th weekend news for reports of this issue from a Pismo owner. That news page also includes comments from G4 tower owners noting the same thing, some say reverting to an older Sound Manager version helped. Another tip that often worked is disabling Appearance Sounds (noted in the FAQ at the main site). Others said it started after updating to Quicktime 4.1.

Related Articles:

See the Systems page (Powerbook section), the IDE storage articles page and the Firewire articles page for other Powerbook related reviews, tips and guides.


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