applepowerbook.jpg Here's the truth: I'm on the road at least six months of the year. That means for half of each year my 'office' is a 15" Apple G4 Powerbook. Why Apple? It's secure. It's lightweight. It's durable. It finds wireless networks before I can even ask the question. It's a DVD player on long flights. My music and photo libraries are just a click away in user-friendly programs that come with the machine. Its keyboard is backlit and easy to use in low light. Its a built in tape recorder for interviews. It's plug & play. A no brainer. You get the idea. Is the ease and covenience of its operating system worth paying the extra money. You bet.

A year ago, my sister (also a freelance writer) decided it was time to upgrade her computer system. Perhaps it was my visits over the years when I'd arrive with my Apple laptop and effortlessly pick up her home wireless network, share my iTunes favorites with my niece's iPod and whip up professional-quality slideshows in an instant, that led her to the local Apple store. Who knows.

What I do know however, is that after 20 years as a frustrated PC user, she went home with a brand new 23-inch flat screen display and two 15" Apple powerbook G4s - one for my 15-year-old niece and one for her. Here's her e-mail to me the next day: "I love my MAC. It truly is intuitive. Why didn't I switch sooner? Not because you didn't tell me. (And all the other Mac lovers out there)." Never even used a MAC before, and she's off an running like, well, it was easy. Imagine that.

The only drawback? Apples last too long. No need to upgrade for at least 5 years. For a gadget geek, that's killing me. But my budget is loving it.


Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".