iBook Colors Reference

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This guide refers to the original iBook AKA 'iBook Colors', 'iBook Firewire' or 'Clamshell'. 

The original blueberry and tangerine 300MHz G3 iBook was later joined by graphite or indigo and sold between 1999 and 2001. These were nick-named ‘clamshell’ or toilet seat. The 300 received a speed bump to 366 then 466 when the indigo/lime (with CD) and graphite/lime SE (with DVD) were introduced. The 300 had half speed 512k cache unlike the full processor speed 256k cache on the later 366/466. For a short while Apple produced an early 366 lacking firewire with the same cache and 4Mb video RAM as before (it was quietly replaced in 2000). 

Little 'real world' difference exists between the later 366 and 466. Clamshells have a common parts base, so a 466 board can replace a 300. Beware: the later 366 /466 have Firewire and the bottom housing was modified requiring a matching logic board brace/EMI shield and additional logic board heat pad. Also note that the top housing from an early clamshell would have to be modified on the left side to fit a later version with firewire. Gloss white replaced the earlier transparent housing and a clamshell with DVD has a specific bezel that will not fit the CD drive. Gone from the 366/466 is the cute “I was made in Taiwan” logo. 

The 300 or early 366 will appear see-through if the shielding in the top/display housings are removed. The absence of this shielding looks cool but causes interference with electrical equipment. Clamshells will run Mac OS X 10.3 if the RAM is upgraded by fitting a compatible 128/256/512Mb PC100/133 SO-DIMM below the keyboard. Original drives were small and often develop a high-pitched whine. Upgrade the drive for quiet computing (the clamshell has no fan). 

Beware of new or 2nd-hand IDE 2.5" drives that may be too tall to fit and the maximum capacity will never be greater than 128Gb* (*a bigger drive can be fitted and ATA Hi-Cap Driver for MacOS X is a workaround). Fitting a new drive is not for the faint hearted as a lot of dismantling is required. Clamshells are possibly the most reliable portable built by Apple but cracks can appear around the Apple badge below the screen or along the carry handle. 

The LCD may develop a tint, fade or show lines before failing. Trim can peel away from the underside and the fragile yoyo power adapter cable can fail (reinforced on newer models). Batteries last 3+ years and give 6 hours. Airport, RAM upgrades or big drives are desirable but condition is very important. 

Clamshells with DVD, firewire and 8Mb VRAM are highly sought after. The once 'special order' lime clamshell is the rarest of all and mint boxed examples fetch anything up to £400. Confirm the speed of any clamshell without firewire and don't pay more for an early 366 than you would for a 300. Its easy to pay more for a clamshell than a new PC 'NetBook'. Mac OS X 10.4 on a clamshell should only be considered if 576Mb RAM is fitted to a 466 with DVD. A 366 with firewire and RAM upgrade is OK but you may have to install over firewire if it lacks a DVD drive. iMovie for OS 9 performs very well on a clamshell and iMovie 2 for OS X is compatible with 10.4. iMovie 3 requires 1024x768 so is not compatible. iPhoto 5 can be installed and works well. Run OS X 10.3 if you do not need dotMac or MobileME. The 300 is limited to OS X 10.3 because 10.4 requires DVD (unless you have access to the rare CD install disc set). 

Clamshells are faster running OS 9 than OS X. Video-out (firewire versions only) to a TV is possible using the iBook specific A/V cable and looks awful outside of OS 9. Clamshells handle 320x240 movies smoothly in OS 9 but MP4, WMV, Flash or YouTube video will stutter in OS X. OS 8.6 shipped with the 300 but OS 9.22 is better. 

Clamshells with firewire are good for light web browsing (under OS X), iTunes, non RAW photo editing, word-processing and video capture/editing. iPod or iPhone (not iPhone 4 or iPad) can work so long as a compatible iTunes/OS X 10.4 version is installed. Ensure firmware 4.1.7f4 is applied before upgrading OS, RAM or trying to use Target Disk Mode on a firewire equipped clamshell. Negatives include; weight, slow USB 1.0 and 800x600 display. Currently the best web browser(s) for OS 9 is Classzilla, iCab or Opera but as time passes this will not be an option for anyone other than a hobbyist.
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