After searching for a notebook, I've finally began to look at an Apple. Got a few questions, hopefully someone can answer.
I saw where they all have 801.11g built in. Wireless internet, great - but can I network this thing with my desktop Windows XP? Am I likely to be less compatible with networks I might come across, wired or wireless, because I'm Mac?
What are the screens like, and how do they compare to xbrites and the like?
Really concerned with the network bit, because sharing files between my desktop and laptop is an absolute necessity.
Let's see -
Wireless networking at hotspots and hotels - EXCELLENT! Much easier than my old '98se with pcmcia slot wireless card. Even at one hotel I use often that requires configuration for static IP adress, dns server, gateway etc on windows boxes, I got automatic hook-up.
Screen - Go check one out. I use the 12" and it is fine. Not fantastic, but fine. It is NOT a Fujitsu CV or Sony X-Brite by any stretch, but it is fine. The 15 and 17 screens are nicer. I think the 12" pb and ib use the same screen. I haven't used it outside yet, and probably won't. It will suck for outside work.
File sharing with windows networks - I haven't figured this out, but I've only spent 30 minutes on it, and I'm not knowledgable at all in how one sets up for instance a wireless network file sharing system. I can't yet figure out how to get my old 98se laptop to talk to my desktop via the wireless network. Popular opinion is that networking a mac to a windows network is easily done, but I can't (yet) verify.
Other issues - Compatability - so far, no problem with MS office files.
ilife - iphoto - I give it a 3 out of 5 so far. As for the rest of ilife, I haven't messed with it too much yet.
How do I like it? I love the powerbook hardware. I have seen little else that compares in build quality. OSX - Some things are easier and some things are harder than windows. I don't like the one button touchpad that much, though hitting the control key is easy enough, and a bluetooth 2 button plus scroll mouse solves the problem. I really miss the tile all windows capability that windows has. One has to manually drag to size the windows in OSX. I constantly hit tile all windows vertically in ms-windows to compare spreadsheets, etc. I haven't found a mac or OSX alternative yet. Basically, it's a wash. I haven't had an OSX crash yet, but I haven't asked much of it yet.
File sharing between Mac OS X and Win XP is fairly straightforward - I tend to set up a shared directory on the XP machine and mount that on the Mac (from experience the mac seems to find the PC easier than the PC finds the Mac - I'm no network expert so don't ask why). Just make sure you ahve Windows sharing switched on in the Prefs. At home have ibm thinkpad on wirless, OSX notebook a Win 98 and Win xp all happily sharing.
I think if you are running Office on the Mac then Word and Excel will tile windows thru the Windows -> Arrange menu option.
Networking a Mac, like a iBook/Powerbook, either wirelessly or wired, with a WinTel machine is pretty straightforward. All of the traveling I've done with my Powerbook, both WiFi B (Airport), and B/G (Airport Extreme), have worked with pretty much every WiFi service I have come across in the US, Europe, and Latin America. So you shouldn't have any WiFi compatibility problems.
The LCDs on the iBook/Powerbook lines do not have any "brite" technology like I've seen recently at Bestbuy on some of the WinTel laptops. I've certainly gotten used to it, so it seems fine to me, but if you really want that, you should look very closely at the screen at your local Apple store. Other than that the screens are pretty basic laptop LCDs as things go today. The one thing I really like about my Powerbook, is the built in DVI port, so I do connect it to my large LCD screen and external keyboard/mouse setup when at home. That way I only really notice my screen (and keyboard), when I'm on the road.