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View Full Version : powerbooks really unreliable?


student_trap
Mar 14, 2005, 06:00 AM
Ok, here we go,

i have been a windows user for about 7 years and after spyware and viruses making my life hell, i am anxiously waiting to take the plunge into the world of macintosh. i will be going to uni in september and have finally saved enough to buy a laptop to use there.

i have been looking at the 12in powerbook for a while now, and up untill recently, have been 100% for it. i want to use it for basic tasks such as word processing, email etc, but will also use it for recording music via garageband, as well as for basic photo editing and maybe basic movie work in the future.

My problem is that i keep reading so many times that powerbooks are notorious in terms of reliability - trackpad problems, heat problems, screen problems etc etc. i really dont wanna part with my hard earned cash for a machine that will need to be sent back to the shop shortly after i buy it, because it seems that everyone has one or a combination of all of these problems. the result of this is that i am re-considering switching as the ease of use and "it works out of the box" factors were what attracted me to macintosh in the first place.

Is reliability really an issue with powerbooks, would i be better off with an ibook, or should i stay with windows (something that i dont really want to do AT ALL)

Any help would be greatly appreciated

Applespider
Mar 14, 2005, 06:43 AM
Bear in mind that most people only post when they have problems so it's not really an accurate reflection of reliability.

I've got a 15" Al PB which I got in Feb 2004. I did have one in Jan 2004 which was replaced by the retailer since it panicked regularly (retrospectively I realise this likely had more to do with the dodgy USB modem drivers when it woke from sleep than the PB itself) but in the interests of full disclosure, I'll list it!

The 'replacement' has been absolutely fine. I use it as my main computer at home - and it's travelled around a fair bit too. The screen is fine, the trackpad is fine, the optical drive is fine, the ports are fine, the battery is fine. It does get a little warm but it is a rev A and it's not like I can fry eggs on it. It stays on all the time (just sleeps when not in use) and I love it. No reliability issues and no regrets.

It doesn't feel as sturdy as my mother's iBook but it's smaller and sleeker and more powerful. She's had no problems at all with it (6 months in).

Just a thought for you though - having talked this through with a student heading for Uni and wanting a Mac at Christmas. She originally was heart-set on a Powerbook but then realised that she'd probably use it in her room 99% of the time and would likely only take it home a few times a year. She ended up getting an iMac G5 since it had slightly more oomph for a smaller pricetag and offered her more screen-real estate for her work.

mad jew
Mar 14, 2005, 06:44 AM
I've got one of the first G4 iBooks so I had a few issues with it to start with but nothing major and nothing that couldn't be very promptly replaced.

All the gremlins seem to be ironed out of the iBook range (can't speak for the PowerBook range myself) so I'd definitely recommend one although not necessarily over a PowerBook. The latter obviously has a bit more grunt and expandability but I would never say my 800MHz machine doesn't keep up with my needs - which seem quite similar to yours.

On the other hand, a PowerBook would be a much better option for movie work; something I don't really do all that much.

Either way, get one of the 'Books because OSX is seriously amazing! :D

Enjoy.

johnnyjibbs
Mar 14, 2005, 06:48 AM
Don't worry. My 12" PB (rev B from September 2003) is still going strong. I haven't had any problems whatsoever - no excessive heat, no warping of the case, no wobble or rattling, latch fits perfectly, and it seems faster than it's ever been. I've never had any problems software-wise either (a kernel panic when I updated to Panther, but nothing since).

Bottom line: occasionally there will be a dud machine. That's what the warranty is for. You hear about the horror stories. You hear less about the good stories (which is most people). Just like on the news.

JRM PowerPod
Mar 14, 2005, 06:49 AM
Ok, here we go,

i have been a windows user for about 7 years and after spyware and viruses making my life hell, i am anxiously waiting to take the plunge into the world of macintosh. i will be going to uni in september and have finally saved enough to buy a laptop to use there.

i have been looking at the 12in powerbook for a while now, and up untill recently, have been 100% for it. i want to use it for basic tasks such as word processing, email etc, but will also use it for recording music via garageband, as well as for basic photo editing and maybe basic movie work in the future.

My problem is that i keep reading so many times that powerbooks are notorious in terms of reliability - trackpad problems, heat problems, screen problems etc etc. i really dont wanna part with my hard earned cash for a machine that will need to be sent back to the shop shortly after i buy it, because it seems that everyone has one or a combination of all of these problems. the result of this is that i am re-considering switching as the ease of use and "it works out of the box" factors were what attracted me to macintosh in the first place.

Is reliability really an issue with powerbooks, would i be better off with an ibook, or should i stay with windows (something that i dont really want to do AT ALL)

Any help would be greatly appreciated

Man, i wouldn't worry. I've had a 1GHZ Titanium (3 years old i guess) and i have recently bought a new 12" and i can say that i haven't had any problems of major note. I've only ever had a irreversable freeze once, on the Titanium while rendering in Final Cut and DVD Studio Pro whilst having music going, two external hard drives and an external burner going amongst other things. Other than that i have had no issues of major significance. They are a great little computer and although they will occasionally make a fair amount of noise or create alot of heat they work first time, everytime, which i can't say about my brothers 3 month year old Dell Inspiron 8600.

It's your choice ultimately, but my laptops have been fine and used for probably 5-6 hrs a day. I would say that they are quite a stable unit.

Cheers from Down Under!!

WinterMute
Mar 14, 2005, 06:58 AM
I got a 17" when they first arrived, and broke my own rule about 1st gen hardware (DON'T BUY IT!!!), the machine was a lemon, totally useless.

Apple replaced it free of charge, picked it up, and shipped the new one back in 3 days.

This one is bomb-proof, sure, the feet fell off (well, got pulled off actually), and it's only 1Ghz, but it's still a great machine, I run audio (Protools, Logic etc), video (FCP HD), DVD strudio Pro, all the usual stuff, and it eats it up.

I've had PowerBooks since the 165, and they are as goos now as they've ever been, that is to say they are the best laptops in the world.

Sure you might get a lemon, but if you do send it back, Apple'll fix it or replace it.

Can't see the G5 being here before next year, and it'll take 6 months to iron the bugs out, so buying one now gets you a well tested, powerful and iconic machine.

zelmo
Mar 14, 2005, 06:58 AM
I have a 15" rev c PowerBook G4, which I purchased in July '04. I have had no issues with it at all. My neice got a 17" rev c last May (for high school graduation - way to go, sis!), and the only issue she has had is that she maxed out her hdd with jpegs and mp3s. I use my PB every day, transporting it back and forth to work. I think the build quality is the best I've ever seen on a laptop. My only regret is not saving up a little longer and buying the fully loaded 17.
Yes, there are going to be defects on some machines - it is a manufactured piece of hardware, after all. Don't let the volume of people who post here with issues scare you. You always hear (and remember) the bad stories. PowerBooks are great tools.

wide
Mar 14, 2005, 07:22 AM
My Pismo still works fine. Except the battery and the DVD player modules, but that's probably my fault...

If you're really concerned about reliability, you should consider buying a stock model, so that you can just drive to the Apple store near you (you may have one on your campus) and get it replaced there, instead of having to send it back to Apple, wait for them to diagnose the problem, wait for them to build you a new machine, and wait for Fedex to ship it back to you.

Dalriada
Mar 14, 2005, 08:07 AM
Just my 2 cents but my new PowerBook albeit only a few weeks old is without any bugs or issues which have been recently reported. Really great machine and beautiful build. The only problem is trying to put it down for a few hours :D
Check out a local Apple Store and once you pick up one and try it out, you'll never be the same again. Good luck !

Bern
Mar 14, 2005, 08:18 AM
Well I've recently upgraded from an iBook to a PowerBook and it's doing fine. The only real issue I had was with an HP All-In-One 1210 driver, but that will soon be taken care of (I'm getting a new printer next month :) ).

chaosbunny
Mar 14, 2005, 10:10 AM
Another pleasant user story...

I've got a revA 12 incher and I'm still happy with it after almost 2 years. I'm working as a graphic designer and use it as my main computer (at home with a cinema display). I can't even remember whet it hang up the last time. Occasionally it gets a little hot, when I'm burning a DVD, listening to music and having Illustrator and Photoshop open at the same time, but it's a revA, so I guess the new machines will be perfect. They had 4 generations to be perfectioned.

The decision is up to you, Hope you will be happy with it!

Southbridge
Mar 14, 2005, 10:52 AM
the only thing with the powerbooks is OS X crashes a lot...

Jschultz
Mar 14, 2005, 04:56 PM
the only thing with the powerbooks is OS X crashes a lot...

And tell me sir, what are you doing to make it crash?

Candyfingered
Mar 14, 2005, 05:25 PM
Ok, here we go,

i have been a windows user for about 7 years and after spyware and viruses making my life hell, i am anxiously waiting to take the plunge into the world of macintosh. i will be going to uni in september and have finally saved enough to buy a laptop to use there.

i have been looking at the 12in powerbook for a while now, and up untill recently, have been 100% for it. i want to use it for basic tasks such as word processing, email etc, but will also use it for recording music via garageband, as well as for basic photo editing and maybe basic movie work in the future.

My problem is that i keep reading so many times that powerbooks are notorious in terms of reliability - trackpad problems, heat problems, screen problems etc etc. i really dont wanna part with my hard earned cash for a machine that will need to be sent back to the shop shortly after i buy it, because it seems that everyone has one or a combination of all of these problems. the result of this is that i am re-considering switching as the ease of use and "it works out of the box" factors were what attracted me to macintosh in the first place.

Is reliability really an issue with powerbooks, would i be better off with an ibook, or should i stay with windows (something that i dont really want to do AT ALL)

Any help would be greatly appreciated

As far as reliablility goes my 12" PB is second to none. It is quite literally the best computer (Mac or PC) that I have ever owned. The screen, trackpad, hdd, etc... are all flawless and have been so for 10 months now. I wouldn't trade this computer for anything else. Overall Mac reliablity supasses any PC maker so despite what you may read here they are VERY reliable. Remember, most people come here to complain. If it's working right they're probably using it and not bothering to post.

daveL
Mar 14, 2005, 05:32 PM
the only thing with the powerbooks is OS X crashes a lot...
I have a TiBook 1 GHz, 1 GB, Superdrive. I've had it almost 2.5 years, it has traveled the world, including the gritty parts, and for a large majority of that time I Folded with it 24x7. It (OS X) has never crashed. I've had zero hardware problems.

How on earth can you make the blanket statement above? Have you canvassed all the PB owners and compiled MTBF figures? Yet another person talking out their arse.

Candyfingered
Mar 14, 2005, 05:43 PM
the only thing with the powerbooks is OS X crashes a lot...
Only if you purposely try to crash it... and even then you may not be able to do so.

Mechcozmo
Mar 14, 2005, 06:09 PM
the only thing with the powerbooks is OS X crashes a lot...

Uh, your sarcasm sucks.

My iMac has been running for 19 days, 14 minutes with no issues. My PowerBook usually does the same but since that iScroll 2 has been coming out I've been installing that and it requires a restart. Anyways.

I have had no OS X crashes except for one on the PowerBook which was right after I installed RAM. Never had another one. Word crashes on occasion but then again, its an old version and it is (ironically) after you save your file that it crashes.

I drain the battery down from ~5 hours to ~1 hour every day.

I had to ship it in once due to a hardware problem. The metal on the case was separating. It was sent in on Monday and I got it back Thursday. AppleCare treats you like no other service once it is authorized.

Get your PowerBook. You will like it. Trust us. 5% of the market... we aren't the smallest segment, but rather, the smartest 5% of the market. ;) Got that from somewhere, don't remember, but its kinda funny.

mad jew
Mar 14, 2005, 06:41 PM
Uh, your sarcasm sucks.

My iMac has been running for 19 days, 14 minutes with no issues. My PowerBook usually does the same but since that iScroll 2 has been coming out I've been installing that and it requires a restart. Anyways.

I have had no OS X crashes except for one on the PowerBook which was right after I installed RAM. Never had another one. Word crashes on occasion but then again, its an old version and it is (ironically) after you save your file that it crashes.

I drain the battery down from ~5 hours to ~1 hour every day.

I had to ship it in once due to a hardware problem. The metal on the case was separating. It was sent in on Monday and I got it back Thursday. AppleCare treats you like no other service once it is authorized.

Get your PowerBook. You will like it. Trust us. 5% of the market... we aren't the smallest segment, but rather, the smartest 5% of the market. ;) Got that from somewhere, don't remember, but its kinda funny.

Umm... Don't feed the troll? ;)

duja_snooze
Mar 14, 2005, 06:52 PM
well, i got a 1.33 powerbook with 768 ram last october (rev C??). haven't had a single problem. not one.

use safari, mail, itunes, ms office + messenger, and ical daily. iphoto gets used a lot too, and i did an awesome movie in imovie with the footage i took skiing in january. haven't had os x crash once.

it was my first mac too.....buy it, buy it, buy it...

Chrispy
Mar 14, 2005, 07:08 PM
As many of you know, I had my fair share of problems with getting a working powerbook. However, I now have one and I could not be happier. There seemed to be an issue with the optical drive being reallllly loud but it was only with the restore cds so I'm not worried. So far I'm happy with mine :)

Inspector Lee
Mar 14, 2005, 07:46 PM
I have a TiBook 1 GHz, 1 GB, Superdrive. I've had it almost 2.5 years, it has traveled the world, including the gritty parts, and for a large majority of that time I Folded with it 24x7. It (OS X) has never crashed. I've had zero hardware problems.

1 GHz 1 GB TiBook here too. Purchased December 2002. The only problem I had was the power adapter just went kaput one night. With AppleCare, I took the system in to their store nearby and walked out with a new one for zero coin.

Have a weak battery too (less than 2hrs max) but I believe that is 100% my fault for having it always plugged in for the first 6-7 months (a real dumby move).

Haven't had a hinge problem, no crashes, etc. I take this with me to work every day protected by a sleeve in a backpack.

I believe there were some heat issues with the first release of the 12"-ers back in March/April 2003 but one runs the risk when purchasing a brand new offering. However, some posters state they haven't had problems.

I'd get it. Looking at them in the store, they are slick.

ZaniCWB
Mar 14, 2005, 07:58 PM
Ok, here we go,

i have been a windows user for about 7 years and after spyware and viruses making my life hell, i am anxiously waiting to take the plunge into the world of macintosh. i will be going to uni in september and have finally saved enough to buy a laptop to use there.

i have been looking at the 12in powerbook for a while now, and up untill recently, have been 100% for it. i want to use it for basic tasks such as word processing, email etc, but will also use it for recording music via garageband, as well as for basic photo editing and maybe basic movie work in the future.

My problem is that i keep reading so many times that powerbooks are notorious in terms of reliability - trackpad problems, heat problems, screen problems etc etc. i really dont wanna part with my hard earned cash for a machine that will need to be sent back to the shop shortly after i buy it, because it seems that everyone has one or a combination of all of these problems. the result of this is that i am re-considering switching as the ease of use and "it works out of the box" factors were what attracted me to macintosh in the first place.

Is reliability really an issue with powerbooks, would i be better off with an ibook, or should i stay with windows (something that i dont really want to do AT ALL)

Any help would be greatly appreciated

It's not an issue at all! PowerBooks are very reliable. Mine is up and running since May/2004 and I never shut it down (only sleep mode). With my PowerBook, no problems, only solutions! :p

* BTW, every single PowerBook owner that I know is very happy with it, so do I.

Abstract
Mar 14, 2005, 08:02 PM
No story to share.

All I'll say is that Powerbooks are reliable, and the build quality is ace. I'm not a Dell hater at all (unlike most of MacRumours), but I'll still tell you that while my friends have never had problems with their Dell laptops and desktops, I find them difficult to use because they feel so darned awful. Its like driving a Porsche one day, and a 1987 $3000 P.O.S. the next day. The keys feel awful on a Dell laptop, and on many other laptops out there. Eg: Sony, Acer. The entire frame and shell feels like poo.

I don't know if its the best since I've never used them all, but its probably tied for the best (I can't imagine a more solid feeling machine). My friend's IBM T42 is great, and I've used 2 Fujitsu's and a Samsung laptop that didn't feel like crap.

Mechcozmo
Mar 14, 2005, 08:04 PM
Umm... Don't feed the troll? ;)

I know, I should read my own 'tar.

Do as I say. Not as I do. :rolleyes:

sumo1869
Mar 14, 2005, 08:20 PM
I thought I'd throw my $.02 in. I have been a PC/Windows user since '92 when I got a Packard Bell with Windows 3.0 pre loaded. I've had several other PC's since running every Windows OS version since 3.0.

I bought my 12" PB with combo drive a month ago. I love it. I've not had any problems with it and I'll never buy another PC again. Well, except to install Linux. I have a few friends who have older PB's (a 1 year old and another almost 3). They haven't had any problems. I'm not a power user by any means. I've been messing around with GIMP, burned some cd's, and done the typical email and web browsing. The PB is great. I suggest getting one.

The one thing that impressed me the most so far is on a cross country flight I watched 4 episodes of 24 (1 DVD) each 40 minutes long. I started with a fully charged battery and after watching the dvd I still had 20% of the battery left. It was enough to autofill my new iPod Shuffle with 8 hours of music.

The 12" PB is the best computer I have ever bought or used.

-Sumo

Maclomaniac
Mar 14, 2005, 10:28 PM
I have owned a 12" powerbook, and now have a 15" powerbook, and have had the logic board replaced I think, three times, between the two (though um, one of those sadly involved a spilled glass of water...). Apple is still making hardware that can stop functioning for any number of inconvenient reasons, just like everyone else. Not that it does more often than any other piece of electronic equipment on the market. It's impossible to predict ahead of time - you probably have noticed more powerbook issues than ibook issues since you've been planning all along to buy a powerbook and therefore following the powerbook threads more closely. I'd just decide between the ibook and powerbook based exclusively on what you're going to use it for. Plus, I would guess that this latest round of powerbooks are the end-of-lifers before the G5 powerbooks come out. While some might think of this as a bad thing, the last revision of a computer is usually the very best, since all issues have had so much time to be resolved and features improved and tested.

That all being said, please don't really consider staying with your Windows laptop. There are no amount of hardware issues on any computer that could make me want to give up using the Mac OS. A former Windows user (and still occasionally forced to be at work), I can tell you firsthand that using Mac's operating system on a daily basis is a joy. Once you get over the small initial learning hump, it is so intuitive. It is incredibly easy to use yet unbelievably powerful, and oh-so stable. As a Windows user, you will be amazed at how much your productivity level increases when you don't have to deal with inexpicable crashes, pop-ups, viruses, blue screens, lost data, programs you never actually downloaded, anything. I love the aesthetics of Apple's design, but my complete unwavering loyalty is because of the operating system. There is no way the potential powerbook issues should prevent you from experiencing it.

bousozoku
Mar 14, 2005, 11:31 PM
I was also concerned about the condition of PowerBooks and I bought a refurbished 1.33 GHz 15.2 inch since at least one problem had been handled. I don't find the machine to be a problem at all. The price was extremely satisfying, too.

jonat8
Mar 15, 2005, 09:48 AM
I got my 15" Powerbook in August last year and it has been absolutely fine, everything is still working perfectly and I am extremely happy with it. :) I LOVE the great battery life for when I'm in a WiFi spot, or something like that.

The only problem is with the AC adaptor. For some reason, every so often (infrequently and unpredictably) it just stops supplying the computer with power. The computer flips to battery, the light goes out on the plug that connects to the computer. If I pull that plug and push it back in again it still doesn't work. But if I pull the adaptor out of the wall and plug it back in again it starts working perfectly. I don't know what is wrong, could be something to do with the power around here or it could be a problem with the adaptor. Anyway it happens infrequently enough for it not to be an issue at the moment, but still.

bartelby
Mar 15, 2005, 11:44 AM
My G4 Powerbook I got in November hasn't given me any reliability problems (so far...touch wood...)

The G3 (running Jaguar) has been a bit twitchy recently but only had one serious hiccup in several years.

My little 5300 Powerbook that I acquired recently is a little misbehaved but nothing too servere. It only has one job to do and it does it well.

I agree with Applespider (and anyone else who mentions it), you will always read about more people having problems then you will about people who have none.

mcgarry
Mar 15, 2005, 12:14 PM
My 12" rev. C has been thankfully trouble free since I got it in October.

My previous PowerBook was a 5300 in 1996-- let me tell you, they have come a loooong way.

My father's Lombard from 1999 is still going strong; no problems to report. The power cord was preemptively exchanged once under warranty or recall, that's been the only thing, I think.

I'll pile on with the others and say here you'll hear more about problems; this board can present a skewed sample. I wouldn't let these sorts of worries stop me. Worst-case scenario, that's what a warranty is for.

Mechcozmo
Mar 16, 2005, 02:00 AM
The only problem is with the AC adaptor. For some reason, every so often (infrequently and unpredictably) it just stops supplying the computer with power. The computer flips to battery, the light goes out on the plug that connects to the computer. If I pull that plug and push it back in again it still doesn't work. But if I pull the adaptor out of the wall and plug it back in again it starts working perfectly. I don't know what is wrong, could be something to do with the power around here or it could be a problem with the adaptor. Anyway it happens infrequently enough for it not to be an issue at the moment, but still.

Check to make sure your prongs are folded down all the way. Mine does that too RARELY and its always because the prongs have been folded up a tad bit, causing them to loose their connection with the power brick. That could be your issue...

SPG
Mar 18, 2005, 01:42 PM
I've had over a dozen Macs over the last 15 years, and they've all been solid. Worst problems I've ever had?
Hard drive on a used iBook went bad, and another HD on a G4 tower went bad after 2 weeks. That's it on the hardware side, and you can hardly blame Apple for the reliability of third party hardrives.

Buy the mac. It's way better quality than any PC I've ever seen, and when you compare it to a truly equivalent machine on the PC side, the price isn't out of line at all.

Ugg
Mar 18, 2005, 09:14 PM
I bought a 12" rev D a week after they came out. No dead pixels, the trackpad works flawlessly, ok, well as long as I remember 1 finger for cursor and two for scroll!. I love that feature by the way, I was planning on buying a small wireless mouse but with the new track pad, I don't need it.

There are always bound to be some problems with some machines and especially Rev As, but this Rev seems to be be mostly problem free. Personally, I always shoot for the last of the line as they are most likely to be the best builds and have the fewest problems. Apple is pretty good about taking care of issues, although in all honesty, I've owned four Macs and have never had any issues with them.

Buy it!