Apple introduced the PowerBook 3400 series, code-named Hooper, on February 17, 1997. The PowerBook 3400c uses a 180 MHz, 200 MHz, or 240 MHz PowerPC 603e processor with 256K cache. My 3400c has a 180 MHz processor. Apple offered buyers a choice of four configurations that ranged in price from $4500 to $6500 depending on options. I purchased my PowerBook 3400c for $50 in 2008. I estimate this 3400c cost about $5400 in 1997 because of its extra RAM, 3 GB hard drive, CD-ROM drive, and Argon network card.

The 3400c has 16 MB built-in RAM, expandable up to 144 MB using 60 ns PB 3400 RAM. The 3400c has one RAM slot. All models shipped with the standard 16 MB onboard RAM with additional RAM available as an option. My 3400c has 64 MB RAM, 16 MB onboard RAM and 48 MB in the RAM slot.

The 3400c has the following ports: one ADB port, one serial port (for modem or printer), one HDI-15 video-out port, and one HDI-30 SCSI port. Sound-in and sound-out ports are located on the left side of the machine. The ADB port is hidden behind one the 3400c's design oddities, a small slip down door next to the PC Card slots. The 3400c has a built-in microphone located under the Apple logo at the bottom of the monitor. Apple provided an optional RJ-45/11 network port that is installed on my 3400c. The add-on "Argon" card, built by Focus Enhancements, is a single universal RJ-45/11 jack capable of handling a 10BASE-T Ethernet connection as well as 33.6 kbps data / 14.4 kbps fax modem through a telephone line.

PowerBook 3400c ports (ADB, sound-out, and sound-in ports are on the left side of the case)

The 3400c also has an IR (Infrared) port that supports AppleTalk. The IR networking on the 3400c is significantly improved over the same port found on the PowerBook 5300 and 1400. In addition to supporting the standard 115 kbps IRTalk transmissions speed used by the earlier PowerBook 1400 and 5300, the 3400c can handle 230 kbps IRTalk and 1.2 mbps IrDA (Infrared Data Association) links. Using IR to hook to networks never really took off, although some vendors including Apple, used them for a short period of time in handheld devices. The IR port on the 3400c as well as the slower IR ports on the 1400 and 5300 turned out to be little more than technological curiosities.

All versions of PowerBook 3400c have a 12.1-inch brilliant active-matrix LCD that is capable of a single resolution of 800 x 600 at 16-bit color depth (thousands of colors). Brightness and contrast is controlled by two buttons located at the top of the keyboard. Prior PowerBooks used the "c" designation to reflect the type of monitor they had installed, which usually stood for "color". Because all the versions of PowerBook 3400c have the same 16-bit color, active matrix display, the "c" designation is somewhat superfluous. There is no version that does not have this designation.

The 3400c's video out circuitry uses a standard Chips & Technology (C & T) video controller, which was popular in contemporary high-end Windows laptops. The video-out connector is a VGA type (high-density; 15 pins). Macintosh monitors of the day needed a plug adapter to connect to the 3400c. Video out is supported in the following modes:

  • External display only (built-in LCD screen dark) with 640 x 480 or 800 x 600 in thousands of colors (16-bit), 832 x 624 or 1024 x 768 in 256 colors (8-bit). VGA modes come in a choice of refresh rates up to 75 Hz.

  • Mirror mode, called SimulScan in the control panel, with the LCD and external display showing the same image at 800 x 600 in thousands of colors (16-bit).

The 3400c has Zoom video input, called Zoomed Port Video. Zoomed video works through a modified PC Card interface that sends video directly to the video controller for immediate display with full-screen, full-motion video up to 30 frames per second. Zoom cards at the time cost at least $300 and provided a variety of capture features.

The 3400c has one expansion bay that can accept a variety of add-ons including Apple's floppy disk and CD-ROM drives, and third-party devices like the Zip drive from VST Technologies. Devices in the expansion bay connect to a secondary EIDE interface; the internal hard drive connects to the primary EIDE interface. The 3400c's two EIDE interfaces support only one device each. Either an EIDE or an external SCSI drive can start up the computer. Expansion bay modules are hot swappable. All you need to do is unmount a disk and swap the module with another, without shutting down or putting the PowerBook to sleep.

The 3400c has the same type of twin-slot PC Card cage as the PowerBook 1400 and 5300. The cage can accommodate either two Type II PC Cards or one Type III PC Card. Even though the PowerBook engineers did include a 32-bit CardBus bridge chip on the logic board, the slots still support only 16-bit PCMCIA Card Standard Release 5.1. As stated earlier, the PC Card interface supports zoomed video, which lets specially designed PC Cards pass video-in signal directly to the C & T graphics controller.

The 3400c originally shipped with Mac OS 7.6 and supports up to Mac OS 9. My 3400c uses Mac OS 8.6, but it has enough RAM to handle Mac OS 9.

"About This Computer" showing Mac OS and RAM

Click to view screen capture 1

Click to view screen capture 2

Click to view screen capture 3 (Calculator)

Click to view screen capture 4

Click to view screen capture 5 (Appearance Control Panel)

Click to view screen capture 6 (Monitor Control Panel)

Click to view screen capture 7 (Memory Control Panel)

The PowerBook 3400c uses a lithium-ion battery with a battery life of 2 to 4 hours. The high-power battery can handle the 3400c's bigger power load while delivering the same battery life per charge as the PowerBook 1400. The 3400c inherited the same battery design as the 5300 and it can also use the 5300's nickel-metal-hydride packs. The 3400c uses a 45W AC adapter that is also compatible with the PowerBook G3.

PowerBook 3400c battery

The 3400c has a collage of features borrowed and improved from the earlier PowerBook 5300 including a tap-and-drag trackpad and a full-sized keyboard. Like the 5300, the 3400c has a set of drop down legs activated by pressing two buttons located on either side of the case that can be used to angle the laptop. The 3400c is very similar in design to the 5300 with some noted differences. The 3400c has a larger LCD screen; a wider removable drive bay allowing the use of CD-ROM drives as well as smaller modules used by the 5300; and a curved display housing that allows for the inclusion of a set of subwoofers. The 3400c is the first PowerBook since the 500 series PowerBooks to have stereo speakers on the front. Apple attempted to give the 3400c robust sound by embedding two subwoofers in the display housing, but the results fall somewhat short of ideal. The sound is tinny, lacking the full robust quality associated with subwoofers. The 3400c can produce better sound than previous PowerBooks, but it is still poor compared to what can be had with a cheap pair of powered external speakers and a real subwoofer or even a good pair of earphones. The inclusion of the subwoofer makes the top half of the clamshell thick. The overall chassis is big and it weighs a hefty 7.4 pounds with a CD-ROM drive installed. All this combines to make the 3400c the biggest and heaviest PowerBook ever shipped at the time of its release.

Apple offered buyers a choice of four configurations. For $4500, you got a 180 MHz processor with a 1.3 GB hard drive, and 16 MB RAM; for an additional $500, you could add a 6x CD-ROM drive module and an Argon card. For $5500, you got a 240 MHz processor with a faster 2 GB hard drive, a 6x CD-ROM drive, an Argon card, and 16 MB RAM. For $6500, you got the top-of-the-line 3400c with a 240 MHz processor, a 3 GB hard drive, a 12x CD-ROM drive, an Argon card, and 16 MB RAM.

The 3400c was very popular among Mac users and helped Apple recover a lot of the bad feelings generated by its clear predecessor, the PowerBook 5300, which had problems with cracked cases, overheating leading to battery recalls, and the general impression of users that felt the PowerBook's performance was lackluster. The 3400c's appearance is pleasing and Apple would go on to use the same basic chassis in the first generation G3 PowerBooks (Kanga G3).

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