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Johnnya101

CURRENT most reliable Powerbook?

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I know I have an ungodly amount of threads here... Sorry...

 

I am wondering what the most reliable Powerbooks are as of now? I mean stuff like least screen issues, no to little tunnel vision, cap issues, plastics, easily expandable, etc, EXCLUDING the 3xxx, 5xxx, 14xx. I mean 1xx and 5xx series (68k). I will be looking for a new Powerbook soon and want to get a no nonsense one that wont have many issues.

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It might be I've been lucky, I have 3 black and white PowerBooks - 145, 150 and 540 those 3 have been good so far, but I haven't recapped them yet, they're working very well.

The Duos needs recap - and 99% of the time people attempted to start them up and blows it, if you come across untouched Duo - RECAP IT!!!!!

 

PowerBook 3400 (I know you said excluded but showing/pointing for others) watch out for non-working  3400s is a bad sign of battery leak on the logicboard. PB190/5300/3400 are known to be brittle. 1400 is reasonably solid.

 

Otherwise PowerBook G3 PDQ-Lombard & Pismo are solid too.

 

Cheers

AP

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Are you in the market for a 68k PowerBook or does it matter?  I would second the PDQ/Lombard/Pismo recommendation... and any of the later G3 and G4 PowerBooks too, it just depends on what you need it for.  ANY 68k PowerBook could have issues.  I had a huge stack of 1xx PBs at one point and it seemed like I was using 3 or 4 to make one good one.  Furthermore any early PPC PB could have issues too.

 

As with anything else, condition matters so whatever you decide on, it's worth waiting for a nice one rather than trying to fix up one that has a bunch of issues.

 

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None of the dozen or two 1xx PBs I owned had tunnel vision.  Some had lines or were washed out or just non-functional.

 

My personal favorites for 68k PowerBooks would be the 540c, 150, and 180/180c.  I've never had a Duo.  I did have a bunch of 1400's that I think Trash has now, they were nice machines.  Pretty sure I had at least one 5300 but it was pretty beat up and didn't keep it long.

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7 hours ago, AlpineRaven said:

It might be I've been lucky, I have 3 black and white PowerBooks - 145, 150 and 540 those 3 have been good so far, but I haven't recapped them yet, they're working very well.

The Duos needs recap - and 99% of the time people attempted to start them up and blows it, if you come across untouched Duo - RECAP IT!!!!!

Thanks for that warning! 8-o Is it the Tank Farm under the frame for Power Supply that blows? Never heard of that putting a logic board down dead for good

 

1 hour ago, Brett B. said:

I did have a bunch of 1400's that I think Trash has now, they were nice machines.

Did I get any from you? Mine are from all over the place. Are you only saying that I'm now the un-official "keeper of the stack?" :lol:

 

I think one of my 150 pair has de-laminated UV film, but both are solid as a rock. I grew up on PB100 and Duo 230 passive matrix LCDs so I don't see passive as HORRIBLE like some younger folks of collectors who never used a PowerBook in its prime IRL. Those from the trenches of the Nineties see things with an eye not so overly critical. ;-)

 

PB150 memory ceiling and IDE flexibility far surpass SCSI HDD impaired 100 series PowerBooks.

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27 minutes ago, Trash80toHP_Mini said:

Thanks for that warning! 8-o Is it the Tank Farm under the frame for Power Supply that blows? Never heard of that putting a logic board down dead for good

 

Did I get any from you? Mine are from all over the place. Are you only saying that I'm now the un-official "keeper of the stack?" :lol:

 

I think one of my 150 pair has de-laminated UV film, but both are solid as a rock. I grew up on PB100 and Duo 230 passive matrix LCDs so I don't see passive as HORRIBLE like some younger folks of collectors who never used a PowerBook in its prime IRL. Those from the trenches of the Nineties see things with an eye not so overly critical. ;-)

 

PB150 memory ceiling and IDE flexibility far surpass SCSI HDD impaired 100 series PowerBooks.

Yep theres a couple on the left side under the LCD. I do have an Duo 270 that the person "lost" the power supply which was saved - recapped and its working. I also obtained other 3 Duo 270s and they're blown up because people have attempted to start it up - the mosfat, resisters etc are all damaged and tried to swap parts between others and wasnt working.

Cheers

AP

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Crap, gotta get over my aversion to ordering caps and get started on the collection. It's too daunting a task for me to handle ATM. Just tearing everything down to pull out any bad caps and wash off the leakage will be a considerable undertaking. :blink:

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2 hours ago, Trash80toHP_Mini said:

Did I get any from you? Mine are from all over the place. Are you only saying that I'm now the un-official "keeper of the stack?" :lol:

 

PB150 memory ceiling and IDE flexibility far surpass SCSI HDD impaired 100 series PowerBooks.

ISTR sending you one or more, haha, it's been a few years since I touched a 1400 so maybe I'm wrong about that.  But yes, you are the keeper of the stack!

 

Memory ceiling and IDE on the PB150 blows all the other 1xx 'books out of the water.  And it's fast.  And light.  I don't give a crap about the passive matrix screen or the other missing features they should have had - SCSI port was all I ever used anyway.

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Wow, a 150 will accept IDE drives, large RAM ceiling, passive (No tunneling), classic design... Only thing to worry about is caps, which I think I could handle (not sending out any more LCDs after what happened). I will keep my eyes open for one. Only drawback is no ethernet like the 5xx.

Edited by Johnnya101

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Meh, ethernet is not a dealbreaker especially on a 1xx PB.  NONE of them had it but you can do SCSI -> ethernet, phonenet, localtalk bridge, etc.  Many options.  

 

There is no ADB port and no video out port on the 150 but I never used those anyway.  Also not a dealbreaker.

 

The IDE drive is nice because 2.5" IDE drives are slightly easier to find and/or replace with CF or SD cards.

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Make sure you get one with the Jedi adapter for using Duo RAM Modules. ;-) The other thing to watch for is a de-laminating UV filter and that you get and use only the proper AC adapter. Low power version?

 

The only thing missing from the 150 was an easy enough hack. An ADB PTO for a fast, external Modem would have been added to mine in a heartbeat had I been using one back in the day. Don't forget it has the extra 80 lines of pixels missing from all the 100 series short of the 180. 640x480 is only available on the tail end of the low cost PB line.

 

The other suggestion I have is the much maligned, but lovely PowerBook 190 for those of us who don't particularly card for 100 series styling (PB100 is the bombe, but in a class all its own) or for the Blackbirds. Snag a 9.5" active matrix grayscale LCD from a 5300 and that would be another of my hybrid dreams  .  .  .  with WiFi! I've wondered if the 9.5" grayscale 190/5300 LCDs are compatible with the 150?

____________________________________________________________________________

 

I bought a used Duo 230/Micro/Mini/Fuil Dock/FDD kit with far more memory than any 1xx PowerBook sported at the time and used that until app upgrades required PPC. So I bought a refurb 2300c which was released the year after the PB150. My dream machine was the Duo 250 from the year before the 150 release with its active matrix LCD if only to us it outdoors for billing  etc. while at the pool club with the family. The Duo 230's passive matrix worked, but not well for combining work and play.

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The next big project for 68kmla should be making new LCDs. Maybe universal ones (Grayscale, BW, color all in one). That would be wicked.

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Finding current LVDS panels that fit classic PB form factors would be the only way to go. Noodling out adapting stone age panel interfaces to the LVDS interface is the only thing practical, but only in the sense that it wouldn't be impossible. As @Gorgonops would say it would be non-trivial  .  .  .  to the max from my limited point of view. Collecting info on which panels were used in what books and compiling all available data sheets and user manuals for PowerBook panels would be a good start, if not gone already poof, they'll soon be missing from the transitory web.

 

I'd be happy to find the 150 panel compatible with 190 passive matrix and 5300 active matrix grayscale panels. They're all 9.5" and that's a good start. 540 is in the 9.5" active matrix grayscale class as well. [}:)]

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6 hours ago, ClassicMac said:

All 68k era Macs have problems with caps. Although for non 68k the 3400 line is pretty strong...

I have came across a few 3400s need recap in the PSU section - they were still working but I found dry leak under it.

Cheers

AP

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In terms of 68K laptops, for collecting you might have to buy on multiple units and merge into one to get a rock solid machine.  It's not only capacitor plague but varying casing condition across the line.  Whatever you get might have broken hinges, cracks or a marginal display.

 

My best bet would be a PowerBook 190 (the last 68K laptop made), or a Powerbook 5x0 (crappy thin casing but most have good electronics, and screens).

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Yeah, I've already experienced having to merge. Think what my current plan is is to sell of my parts 160s (both have bad LCDs). I just bought a 145 (not b), and I plan to "upgrade" my 140 to one. My 140 randomly clicks, so needs a new logic board most likely, and 140s are the same as a 145 logic board wise. Either way I'll end up with a working 140 or 145.

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Pretty much any PowerBook will need its capacitors replaced and/or battery repair/replacement. On that note, my thoughts:

 

The PowerBook 150 is probably the most reliable 68k model because it was the cheapest and simplest model available. It was based mostly on the Duo 250 and in fact requires Duo RAM. Unfortunately you would need a special right-angle adapter in order to install a RAM module (these adapters were sold separately, of course). The use of IDE hard drives is definitely a plus and allows inexpensive installation of an IDE-to-flash adapter. The Casio PSTN display is 640x480 instead of the odd 640x400 resolution of most of the other 1xx series machines. It's usually a pretty consistent display, but it can fall victim to the surface bubbling that contemporary LCDs have exhibited. The battery is a standard 1xx series battery so they're easy to find and to re-cell if required. These models will also run with the Apple Low-Power AC Adapter that most other PowerBooks may refuse.

On the downside they don't have an FPU and require a special formatting program for the HD (not really a problem with later OSes but can be if you're running 7.1).

 

It's usually the active matrix 1xx displays that develop tunnel vision, whether grayscale or color, though the 170 gets it worst. I'd avoid those, though apparently some people have had luck running the machines for a few hours in a warm, dry place. It's theorized that moisture is causing the problem and the extended period of heat and dryness helps drive it out.

 

If you want color I'd suggest a 165c. 

 

Duos are cool but as mentioned they have the worst problems with leaking capacitors. Plus the keyboards are total crap, especially in the early models, and the hinges can become weak over time.

 

5x0 series machines are very complex and have become very fragile. I'm fond of them but unless you find a gently-used model you'll likely have problems with broken plastics if you move it around too much.

 

The 1400 is probably the best non-G3 PPC model in terms of robustness, but the display housing is prone to cracking at the hinge mounts.  Again, I'd probably avoid one for heavy portable use because these things are only becoming more fragile as they age. The 5300 is far too troublesome to be worth it. The 3400 and original PB G3 are cool but they are fickle in their old age. Leaking batteries (especially the PRAM batteries under the left speaker grille) kill them dead pretty quick. Plus they're really thick and heavy.

 

For G3s I'd recommend the PDQ. Once they got the problems sorted out, they were very quick and reliable machines. Plus they have CardBus support for using USB or FW cards and they have a full complement of legacy Mac ports, unlike the later models which first dropped ADB and then SCSI for on-board USB and then FW. Plus the Lombards and Pismos often had their own problems: keyboard failure, trackpad failure, hinge failure, broken plastics, LCD backlight failure, etc.

 

Honestly if you want a G3 portable, the clamshell iBooks are more robust and more reliable in the same way the PB 150 was: they were feature- and cost-reduced consumer models that used proven parts that were run well within their margins. Plus they don't have the internal PRAM battery to leak and/or prevent the machine from booting if it goes bad. The first of the white iBooks are also pretty good but of course the later 700+MHz models are prone to video system failure so I would avoid those unless you want to try to fix it.

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A little late but I’m going to add my two cents. Whatever 68k PowerBook you do get, open the display only once! Get it to a comfortable viewing angle and never close it again. The opening/closing cycles on the old hinges and brittle plastic is what generally destroys these things. I keep all my PowerBooks and Clamshell iBook open on a couple display shelves I bought from IKEA. If you buy one that looks to be in decent shape it should survive one opening. With any of these, make sure they are in working order before buying and that there aren’t any battery leakage/corrosion issues.

 

As for specific machine to buy, I’d say the 180c, 540c, or 190cs. To my knowledge the tunneling issue doesn’t really happen on color active matrix panels or any of the passive matrix panels.

 

The 180c should be decently reliable and the pinnacle of the original PowerBook design. 68030, FPU, and a RAM ceiling of (I believe) 12mb. In theory this machine should be great on 7.5.5. But I’ve never owned one

 

For a machine I do own, the 540c. Hands down one of the most beautiful displays of the era... I’d argue even more pop in 2019 than the panel of my 5300ce (which is in great shape as well). Plus it has stereo speakers, Ethernet, a high enough RAM ceiling to run OS 8.1 confidently, and the first trackpad. The weakest point (remember, you bought one with good plastics and ONLY opened it once and never closed it again) will probably be the power supply. I hear they are a PITA to open, but are fixable.

 

Finally, the 190cs. Honestly, it’s reliability will be primarily because it was the newest 68k PowerBook available. It has color, but only passive matrix. Will definitely appear washed out and slow to refresh compared to the 540c (and probably even the 180c’s panel). BUT it does have onboard PC Card slots. No nead for expensive cages (looking at you 5xx series). It’s weakest point will probably be the DC jack (shared with the 5300). However, it seems to be an easy fix of just resoldering it down. I had to do it for my 5300cs way back in the day and now I need to do it for a 5300ce I’m restoring.

Edited by just.in.time

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On 3/6/2019 at 8:34 AM, Trash80toHP_Mini said:

Snag a 9.5" active matrix grayscale LCD from a 5300 and that would be another of my hybrid dreams  .  .  .  with WiFi!

The base 5300's grayscale screen is passive, not active, just like the base 190. It did support up to 16 grays though, or you could set the Monitors control panel to "color" and it would switch from using the solid black Apple in the menu bar to a 16-gray version of the rainbow.

The grayscale screen wasn't as thick as the color variants, which resulted in the base 5300/190 models being the thinnest of the series. They also had a unique pattern on the back of the display housing.

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If you want a 5x0 series, keep in mind that the 520 models are both passive matrix screens where the 540 has both active matrix screens (and the 550c of course only offers the larger active color screen).

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5 hours ago, Franklinstein said:

The base 5300's grayscale screen is passive, not active, just like the base 190. It did support up to 16 grays though, or you could set the Monitors control panel to "color" and it would switch from using the solid black Apple in the menu bar to a 16-gray version of the rainbow.

The grayscale screen wasn't as thick as the color variants, which resulted in the base 5300/190 models being the thinnest of the series. They also had a unique pattern on the back of the display housing.

Discrepancy:

LEM  -   640 x 480 9.5″ 85 ppi grayscale active matrix with 16 shade

everymac  -  9.5" grayscale dual-scan (4-bit, 16 grays) LCD.

 

Looks like LEM has another boo-boo and another dream machine bites the dust. :/

   

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9 hours ago, Trash80toHP_Mini said:

Discrepancy:

LEM  -   640 x 480 9.5″ 85 ppi grayscale active matrix with 16 shade

everymac  -  9.5" grayscale dual-scan (4-bit, 16 grays) LCD.

 

Looks like LEM has another boo-boo and another dream machine bites the dust. :/

   

Yeah it wouldn't be the first time. I have some printed reference material (the PowerBook 2400c Perfect Guide, most recently) even that has a spot of bad info. It's hard to keep this stuff straight sometimes. But you could still try to use the 540's active screen in a 5300, assuming they're similar physically and electrically. I don't have a working version of either currently on hand so I can't help on that front.

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