Time to celebrate. Celebrate a new PowerBook in an old case. Today the order I placed at Fastmac did arrive. I ordered two things: a 2x SuperDrive (in non-Apple lingo: a DVD burner) and a processor upgrade for my Pismo PowerBook.

2x SuperDrive: This drive is advertized as an upgrade for PowerBook G3 laptops like mine. This is correct in so far as the drive works flawlessly in my Pismo, and that FastMac is providing a detailed installation manual for putting this into a Pismo. However, the front bezel does not match the port into which the drive is fitted – it is too small. That means that there is a small gap of about 1 to 3 milimeters around the front of the drive. Through this gap dust and whatnot can enter the case of my PowerBook. Booo, FastMac, booo! I will see if I can find a fix for this. This doesn’t really hamper the functionality, but it doesn’t look good and facilitates the entry of unwanted substances into my dear PowerBook.

Processor Upgrade: I chose the best they have: the Motorola G4 7410 running at 550 MHz, with 1 Megabyte of L2 Cache (2.5:1). Installation was easy, at least if you have opened a Pismo before. ;) They offer three modes of delivery, two of which include sending your old processor board to them, which they will replace with a new one, and then send back to you. I chose the other mode; they send a new processor board to my address and I send back the old one. Since I had to place the order in the US I chose this option, because sending stuff back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean is risky and takes a lot of time.

I am really happy with the result of this upgrade. The PowerBook is a lot faster now. I timed the ripping of an MP3 from an audio CD file before and after the processor upgrade (both with the new drive). Before it took 2:06 minutes, after the upgrade it took … 57 seconds!! That is a speed increase of more than 120% in a real world app! I am still impressed. But there is even more good news.
Two things bothered me before I decided to purchase this upgrade:

  1. I was not able to play DV files in iMovie fluently. To be able to do this is definitely important when I am presenting video clips that I recorded for my research project. The last time I made a presentation containing video clips, for example, there was too much stutter to show the small movements of people that are most important to my analysis.
  2. I was not able to play Divx or Xvid encoded movies of a good quality on my Pismo, especially if the video file is on an optical disc. Too much stutter. Now, I can use my PowerBook as a Divx, Xvid etc. player, connect it to a TV or projector and watch movies without any stutter.

This is soo good. Working in the Finder, starting applications and everything else is faster too. A great upgrade. For me, it was worth the cost: US$ 550.89 for drive and processor including shipping. (I got a rebate of US$ 20 for pointing out a problem with their online store.) That is € 411.60. The only bad thing is the not-exactly-fitting case of the disc drive and that the German customs got their hands on the delivery. It took them one week to process it and I had to pay a € 65.86 customs fee (16% of the price). All in all a reasonable price to enable my Pismo to do the things that I really need it to do and nicely accelerate everything else. Being able to burn CDs and DVDs is great too. (My old DVD drive was almost completely broken.) Another great side effect: saving resources, and prolonging the use of electronic equipment is better for the environment than always buying the latest and greatest. My trusty Pismo rocks and the trees are happy too!

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