Only Steve Jobs could announce a smallish 300 MHz notebook computer with only 32 MB of RAM and declare it "the second fastest portable in the world" (after Apple's own PowerBook, naturally). This little hunk of plastic, like the iMac it emulates, is colorful (though it's available in only two colors, blue or orange), underpowered, and smaller than it needs to be, but it features a handle, a standard PowerBook keyboard (which Apple optimistically describes as "full size"), a small 12" screen, a tiny 3.2 GB hard drive, and no latch, meaning there's no way to ensure the thing doesn't pop open suddenly if you pick it up the wrong way. And despite its small size, it weighs a whopping 6.7 pounds, easily doubling previous weight estimates. It has no PC card slots and no microphone and it's going to cost $1599 when it becomes available in September.

And yet.

One has to wonder. There is something elegant about the little toilet seat-shaped device. Despite its flaws, Macintosh users will love it. Whether the PC world embraces the colorful little anomaly is hard to say. It's easy to dismiss Apple's performance claims (which are completely bogus), but not so easy to dismiss the engineering reality of the iBook. The little portable is actually kind of cute, but then I was pretty excited about the iMac until I actually saw one. I'll reserve my final verdict until I can actually play with one.

Aside from the little iBook, Jobs made some other announcements and pronouncements during his keynote love fest. Chief among them is that Apple sold 1.9 million iMacs during its first year of availability. The next revision of the Mac OS, code-named "Sonata," will be marketed as Mac OS 9, not 8.7 as previously expected. This will allow Apple to charge $99 for the upgrade, rather than give it away for free as they did with 8.6. People clamoring for the iBook can also spend an additional $400 on a wireless LAN adapter called AirPort that lets you dial out onto the Net from up to 150 feet away