Hurting For LCDs (7/28/99)

It's been over a week since we first got to see the iBook, and despite what the naysayers claim about the reality setting in after Steve's patented distortion field wears off, we're still in love. Okay, sure, when sizing it up for our particular needs, it's got a few flaws. It's big, for one-- bigger than a current PowerBook G3, and heavier, to boot. And there's no video-out. Yes, we know about the USB-based presentation solution, but we're skeptical of the quality, and we're darn certain it's not going to allow the use of an external SVGA monitor. And there's no FireWire, so the only option to expand the included 3.2 GB hard disk is to attach a slower USB drive. We could add FireWire, but there's no CardBus slot. Basically, the iBook is a near-perfect system for many people-- just not for us. Yet still, we're in love.

The single iBook factor that really tests the limits of our devotion, though, is the price. $1599 isn't a bad price considering what you get, and considering how much other laptops cost, but it's still a hefty chunk of change. We know we have to blame something for that price, and the most logical component to blame is that bright, beautiful 12.1-inch active matrix screen. If they'd have used a passive-matrix display instead, they could have held the cost down while driving battery life way up-- but have you seen the 12.1-inch passive matrix PowerBook G3? The only word to describe the screen is "yuck." Actually, there are more, such as "dim," "washed-out," "ghosting," "smeary," "blotchy," and a whole slew of them that aren't suitable for a family-oriented show, but we think "yuck" pretty much sums it up. Clearly, Apple had to use a high-quality screen in the iBook, but the effect on the price is a real shame. It's this darn world-wide LCD shortage; everyone's feeling the pinch.

And that's why, as Electronic Buyers' News reports, Apple's taking action. Our favorite fruit-flavored computer company is reportedly investing $100 million in Samsung Electronics, a manufacturer of those TFT active-matrix LCD screens that are so freaking costly. iCEO Steve Jobs said, "With our new iBook and fast-selling PowerBooks, Apple will need more flat displays than ever going forward," and this is one way to help secure those screens. Here's hoping it works-- and that the LCD shortage dies down soon and translates into lower iBook and PowerBook prices. (As usual, we're not holding our breath.)

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The above scene was taken from the 7/28/99 episode:

July 28, 1999: With a potential iBook market of millions of units, Apple moves some cash to try to help guarantee the availability of LCD screens. Meanwhile, Pixar's stock takes a beating due to underwhelming "A Bug's Life" video sales, and attendance at last week's Expo keynote address set a new record...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 1689: What's Bugging Pixar? (7/28/99)   Things are looking pretty rosy for Apple these days, right? There all almost too many positive changes to list-- increased market share, reduced inventory, a consumer desktop that still tops the sales charts nearly a year after its release, a consumer portable poised to do the same, a stock price at a six-year high, etc...

  • 1690: The Steve-Loving Hordes (7/28/99)   It's been about a week since Steve's Expo keynote, but the echoes remain. The memories are still etched sharply in our minds: Steve sharing the stage with Noah Wyle, the ripple through the audience as they noted the addition of Disney content to QuickTime TV, the audible smiles (if that's possible) following the Sherlock 2 comparison shopping demo, the stunned silence during the Halo demo, the cheers of anticipation and the thunderous applause at that first public glimpse of the iBook...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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