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View Full Version : Looking to get a Mac - and I need some help!!


I_Harf
Nov 10, 2003, 12:12 PM
After going into the Apple Store a few times I have decided that they must be doing something right. My house is filled with Dell PC's, but I am looking to be the rebel in the family. I'm pretty good with the PC and seem to have picked up the basics for working with the mac's just by playing with them in the apple store...I think I am hooked but I am sure many people out there could give me some helpful advice. After doing research I am sure all I really need is a G4 iBook 14". But I guess I just can't bring myself to buying something that looks like that....maybe for my girlfriend (plus i want the blacklit keyboard baby!!). Anyway I want one of those Powerbook 15". I have been pricing them out online at the applestore.com but I guess I am not sure what is more necessary to upgrade, and what I really need. I will be using it mainly for surfing the web in my dormroom (wirelessly of course), typing papers, etc. I am also thinking that with everything a Mac can do I will probably take advantage of it and get into digital photography and maybe making some short films....who knows....So someone out there, lend me some help and tell me what I should get......(basically I am looking for someone to answer questions like, "should i get the 5400rpm hard drive?" on a PC it would be the first thing I do, yet on a Mac I am not sure)....how much ram should i get? etc....Also, I am into backpack carrying cases...I have been told that Spire makes the best stuff for Apple's, but I have seen stuff for Brenthaven, Booqbag, and willow design....what do you recommend.

Thanks in advance to whoever provides me some much needed help..

Isaiah

Ryan1524
Nov 10, 2003, 02:11 PM
the general rule is do not get RAM from apple. they're way overpriced. and for your use, i would reccommend the 12" PowerBook, but since you want the backlit keyboard, then the 15" it is. but if you wanna cut down the cost, get the lower end 15" and add the keyboard as option. :)

as for the 5400 HDD, it gives a slight speed boost, but not that much, for what you're doing, i don't think it'll matter that much. the PBs have bigger L2 chache than ibooks thou, so they're naturally faster. and the 14" is pretty pointless, althou the screen is bigger, the resolution is the same, meaning you don't get more space, you just see things bigger. if you want the 1Ghz model of the 12" ibook, check out the 12" PB. and it's got tons more features too. and with a spanning DVI out, you can make up for that smaller screen at home with a 17" LCD or bigger.


as for bags, yes, get a Timbuk2, Spire, or Crumpler, etc..all thsoe names that have been said more than a hundred times. but i suggest getting anything that looks like anything BUT a laptop bag. or anythign that might suggest there's a 2000$ machine inside. i just don't get how people can go around carrying a gadget specific bag without getting worried of theft. low profile is the key. althou it's kinda hard to keep a low profile when you have a powerbook. :p

7on
Nov 10, 2003, 02:43 PM
I would compare the G4 in the iBook vs. the Powerbook like Celeron vs P4

I haven't noticed any slowdowns with my 4200RPM vs 5400RPM, but I also have an external 7200RPM for digital video (I don't recommend ever recording video to the same drive the OS is on anyway).

Always go high end. I did with my Tibook and it can still pull it's own. If I had gotten the 867Mhz Powerbook, it'd of course need to be upgraded sooner. But, yeah go for Max RAM (2GB :) But go somewhere else than Apple.

And the Apple DVD player can play on a second monitor with Panther too. I'm thrilled :)

I'd go 12", but you might need PCMCIA, 2GB or RAM, Backlight?, .25 more Ghz, then get the 15.2"

I_Harf
Nov 10, 2003, 03:20 PM
Seems like I will be definitely going for the 15". I mean if I didn't need something so portable I'd go for the 17"...but that's just out of my league...plus Its my first Mac. Also I don't think I need 2G's of RAM, I think that I will probably get 512 in one Dimm and then go from there...now more times than not I am going to be typing papers and surfing the web, maybe some powerpoint occasionally. That will be it from the start..Something tells me I can get away with the G4 1Ghz. I want the 1.25, but to cut costs it seems like it is better to shave off on the processor. What do you think, get a G4 1ghz with 512mb 1dimm or G41.25 ghz with 512mb 2 dimm?? see i think if i want to upgrade the memory soemtime down the road it is better to go with the 1 dimm and not waste the 256 if i had 512 in 2 dimm's, but something tells me I can't afford both (1.25 and 512mb in 1 Dimm)...where do I cut costs? For what I am doing I might not be able to see the difference between 1.0 and 1.25....or will I?

Also, I am still looking at backpacks...man oh man, Tom Bihn-Transcontinental, Spire-VoltXL, or Brenthaven Professional 15? For a student in the States the Spire seems to be the way to go, but I have read good stuff on all three....any other suggestions?? I would also consider the Timbuk2-Detour, but it is hideous.

Isaiah

Makosuke
Nov 10, 2003, 03:29 PM
Assuming you've already made up your mind on a 15" PB with backlit keyboard, the basic rules of thumb for selecting upgrades are about the same as with a PC.

For what it sounds like you'll be doing, the faster hard drive doesn't sound like it'll be wildly useful (although you might notice the speed) if you're on a tight budget, and of course you can always upgrade the HD some time later if it becomes really necessary. If you end up working with video and need more/faster storage, external FireWire hard drives are of course an option as well--much cheaper, bigger, and faster than laptop drives.

RAM is an absolute must. Although the computer will certainly work with 256MB, you're going to want at least 512MB, and at current prices a gig or more isn't at all a bad idea. But like Ryan1524 said, don't buy it from Apple--get the lowest RAM model you can and add some from Crucial or OWC (macsales.com), or whatever your favorite RAM vendor is. If you know your way around a PC upgrading probably won't be a big deal at all.

The only other internal option from Apple is the Superdrive (DVD-R) versus Combo Drive (CD-RW/DVD-ROM). Were it me, I'd get the Superdrive, since it's not easy to upgrade later and having an internal DVD burner has advantages over buying an external one later, but if you're on a budget, the Combo drive isn't bad, and although you probably won't be able to use iDVD with it, you can buy a firewire DVD burner easily enough for under $200.

Accessories like Airport or an iSight will depend on wether you need them or not, and the same goes for things like external monitors.

Good luck with joining the crowd!

manitoubalck
Nov 10, 2003, 04:10 PM
The iBook G4's are on 180nm core and the PB's are on 130nm ones, this mans that the PB's should produce lessheat and use less power. Just food for thought.

mactastic
Nov 10, 2003, 04:51 PM
Something to consider when you purchase a laptop. You will probably spend quite a bit of money on toys for it. Some of it is essential, some is just for fun, but it all adds up. You'll definetly want a mouse and keyboard for those times you want to use it at home for writing papers. Laptop keyboards get uncomfortable fast, and the need for a 2+ button mouse is apparent. You'll need a carrying case, probably an extra power adapter, a cleaning kit, a podium pad or something similar to elevate your laptop, and if you don't already have one, a nice big external monitor for working on Flash or other pallette-intensive program. Once you move out of the dorms you will need your own wireless base station so you don't have an ethernet cord trailing behind you (begging to be kicked, thereby trashing your mobo). You will probably also want a USB hub and probably a cable lock of some kind if you are in a school environment. Plus you should get some form of insurance that will cover you if your laptop walks off without you someday. Factor all this (or as much of it as you feel you need) into the cost of the system. I was pretty shocked once I added up all the money I spent just on laptop accessories. Plus there are things like digital cameras, iPods, video cameras, speakers etc. that will set you back as well. Enjoy.

Maclarny
Nov 10, 2003, 08:13 PM
If you are a student and are going to purchase through the Apple Online Store make sure you are purchasing through apple education if your school is on an apple plan. The low end 15" PBook is discounted 200 bucks and the high is discounted 300.

madamimadam
Nov 10, 2003, 11:12 PM
Originally posted by Ryan1524
the general rule is do not get RAM from apple. they're way overpriced.

Not true, the rule is don't CTO RAM from Apple... Apple upgrade RAM is not only well priced but the turn around on failures is the best I've ever dealt with. I usually get replacement parts in 24hr where as third party suppliers can take weeks.

I always advise buying things like RAM and HDs from Apple but buying as upgrade parts not CTO.

Always keep in mind that more RPMs on the HD = less time on your battery and if your machine doesn't come with bluetooth, for god's sake, get it CTOed. If you don't get it put in by Apple you either have to go USB Bluetooth down the track or spend hundreds in hardware and service costs getting an Apple part put in.

I_Harf
Nov 11, 2003, 01:24 PM
Thank you to all of those who have responded...I definitely see how this in the end is going to be an expensive purchase. But it seems like it will be well worth it. Can somebody with Apple extended Care coverage tell me about there experiences with phone support, replacing parts etc. Thanks.

Isaiah

madamimadam
Nov 11, 2003, 06:09 PM
Originally posted by I_Harf
Thank you to all of those who have responded...I definitely see how this in the end is going to be an expensive purchase. But it seems like it will be well worth it. Can somebody with Apple extended Care coverage tell me about there experiences with phone support, replacing parts etc. Thanks.

Isaiah

Always depends on your service centre but I've never waited more than 24hr for a replacement part.

Toppa G's
Nov 11, 2003, 07:14 PM
I've had good experiences with AppleCare issues - had 7 different issues so far with my 2 year old iBook - had to send it in one for a new mobo...returned in 2 days from WI to TX and back. They always seem willing to help, and all of the other edu customers I've talked to have had good experiences.

I have a Targus backpack...it's roomy and has good padding for the laptop and plenty of space for everything else, including 5 classes worth of books and a few miscellaneous peripherals and snacks :)

edit: Here's the web link for the backpack I have: http://www.targus.com/us/product_details.asp?sku=TSB215

7on
Nov 11, 2003, 07:26 PM
When you use AppleCare, make sure you always bring it to an AppleStore to an AppleGenius. The phone tech people are sub-par and try to fix your problem over the phone. I had to travel 3 hrs to the closest AppleStore to get my TiBook serviced and it was worth it. I just brought it in, sat it on an table, answered a few questions, and the guy packaged it to be sent in for service. Done and done. He also proved to be a valuable ally when AppleCare didn't think the screen should be replaced w/in warranty. They called up the Applestore and the AppleGenius told them that there was no way foul play was involved and it had to be a factory problem. This also explains why jobs at an Applestore are hard to get, since they took an AppleGenius's word over the person inspecting it for repair.

Makosuke
Nov 11, 2003, 07:47 PM
Originally posted by madamimadam
Not true, the rule is don't CTO RAM from Apple... Apple upgrade RAM is not only well priced but the turn around on failures is the best I've ever dealt with. I usually get replacement parts in 24hr where as third party suppliers can take weeks.Huh? Apple's upgrade RAM costs exactly the same ammount as their CTO RAM, so why would it make a difference?

And although I quite agree with you that Apple sells very good RAM, I wouldn't call it well priced necessarily. Crucial, a large manufacturer who is solid enough and I've never had problems with, sells RAM for about 1/2 to 1/3 what Apple does. If Crucial isn't high-enough end for you, you can get quality RAM from Kingston for about 65% of what Apple charges, and gamer RAM like Kingston's HyperX or fancy Corsair stuff is quite a bit cheaper.

madamimadam
Nov 11, 2003, 08:06 PM
Originally posted by Makosuke
Huh? Apple's upgrade RAM costs exactly the same ammount as their CTO RAM, so why would it make a difference?

And although I quite agree with you that Apple sells very good RAM, I wouldn't call it well priced necessarily. Crucial, a large manufacturer who is solid enough and I've never had problems with, sells RAM for about 1/2 to 1/3 what Apple does. If Crucial isn't high-enough end for you, you can get quality RAM from Kingston for about 65% of what Apple charges, and gamer RAM like Kingston's HyperX or fancy Corsair stuff is quite a bit cheaper.

You've got on idea... I don't know US pricing, assuming you are in the US, but in Australia you can, to look at the extreme, at one stage, to CTO a PowerMac with 8GB of RAM for an EXTRA $9500 while keeping the 2 x 256 that comes with the machine and buying another 8GB costs only $6500.

Pricing changes all the time so if I look now it costs an extra $9300 to upgrade to 8GB while to buy 8GB of RAM and also keep the 512MB will cost $8500

Also, Apple RAM is well priced because you have to compare similar items. Apple's turn around on replacements is 24hr usually while third parties can take a very long time for replacements. I know a lot of people who buy non-Apple hard drives because they are a little cheaper... they are buying the same drive except they have to wait min. 3 weeks for a replacement instead of 1 day.

Abstract
Nov 11, 2003, 09:11 PM
Apple uses big name RAM in their PB's. Its Crucial/Micron or Kingston or something, except that you can buy it for much cheaper from these companies directly than buying through Apple.
What do you think, get a G4 1ghz with 512mb 1dimm or G41.25 ghz with 512mb 2 dimm?? see i think if i want to upgrade the memory soemtime down the road it is better to go with the 1 dimm and not waste the 256 if i had 512 in 2 dimm's........ For what I am doing I might not be able to see the difference between 1.0 and 1.25....or will I?
Just buy 512MB in 2 DIMM's for now. It may sound like a better longterm plan to buy a single 512MB stick while leaving the other slot open, but by the time you upgrade, the price of 1GB sticks of RAM will be at the price of a 512MB stick is at the moment. Remember, you're not upgrading at today's prices. A 1GB stick of RAM will cost much less in 6 months. So if you get a 1GB stick in 6 months, you'll have 1GB + 256MB instead of 1GB + 512MB......... big deal. Small difference considering what you'll use your computer for.

- I would actually recommend that you get 768MB (256MB + 512MB); but if you don't, then get 2x 256MB sticks, not 1 x 512MB stick. Get it from Crucial. They sell great RAM.

-You DON'T need the external keyboard if you get a PowerBook. The keyboard is actually better than many external keyboards, except that it doesn't have a proper number pad on the right side. Aw well.

-Get an external mouse.

-You DON'T need the 5400rpm HD. You don't; believe me.

-You only need the 1GHz 15" model, not the 1.25GHz model. Actually, you only need the 12 inch PB (like someone else has mentioned), but get whatever you want. I have good eyesight -- maybe you don't. A 14" iBook is a great deal if you want the large screen AND a 1GHz G4. Does it have the same resolution as the 12" iBook? Yes, but some people just want the larger text and image size, thats all. Just a thought.

PS: I'm a student and I do exactly what you do with your computer. I own the 12" 1GHz PB with 512MB of RAM.

I own an OBUSFORME backpack (http://www.obusforme.com/product3.asp?MainID=1&ProdInfoID=72&SubCatID=9) that I bought for around $40 US dollars. Its cheap, the computer is placed against the back of the backpack (the backing is solid but very padded.....its Obusforme!!! ;)), which is better than the bags where you place your laptop near the front of the pack. Even if the pack is arguably not as good as a Brenthaven or something (I'm sure it is, but whatever), my PB would be destroyed if run over by a truck, or dropped from 3 storeys up, regardless of which backpack I was using. Plus it seems as good as the Targus one I examined, and even if Targus is not the best, they wouldn't make horrible packs.

Get a $30 sleeve too if you're worried. I may do the same.

Toppa G's
Nov 11, 2003, 09:29 PM
The Targus I mentioned earlier is the sturdiest backpack I've ever used. It's taken a fair share of abuse, tossed around, dropped, heck, I've even had 20 oz. soda bottles leak out...the backpack did a good job of keeping the soda away from my iBook :) And the padding is great..plus there's the strap to keep the book locked in.

I_Harf
Nov 12, 2003, 09:48 AM
Thanks to all for your help - Abstract you have helped me a lot. So is it necessary to get an extra battery? I hear the battery life on Powerbooks could be better....Also I think I am going to go with the G4 1.25Ghz because once you upgrade the G4 1Ghz you basically have the same price as the G4 1.25 (the 1Ghz comes stock with only 256mb ram, no airport, no 80GB HD, no Superdrive). I definitely want a superdrive and airport so to upgrade that is $300 already. seems like I should go for the 1.25 which comes stock with most of what I want....but you are the mac men, i am just the child in a candy store.

Isaiah

The Dude Abides.

Felix_the_Mac
Nov 13, 2003, 07:58 AM
I have recently switched.
I got the 15" 1.25 GHz PB.

I LOVE MY POWERBOOK , it is just so beautiful.
The keyboard is fantastic. Panther is great.

My suggestions would be:

1. RAM: the price you pay Apple for getting 1 x 512 MB DIMM is about 80% of the cost of upgrading to 1x512 + 1x256 MB from Crucial etc.
Thats what I decided when I got mine BUT ... I have heard about people having difficulty getting compatible RAM so this has put me of upgrading yet.

2. RAM: Do you need more than 512MB ... not for what you are going to use the machine for in my experience.

3. 5200 RPM: www.barefeats.com says that the drive upgrade will only give you a 7% benefit.

4. I would recommend that if you have an external monitor available you get an external keyboard to use with it (Bluetooth if you wish) then you can close the PB. I am finding that the PB is really hurting my back, maybe it is the very low screen position.

5. Get a bluetooth mouse. Especially if you are going to use virtual PC a two button mouse almost a must.

6. GET SideTrack which allows you to configure the touchpad to accept a tap as a right-click.

7. I am going to get an Dr Botts Airport Range extender to improve coverage throughtout my house and garden.

It all adds up to a fairly expensive package but it's worth it! :-)

crazzyeddie
Nov 13, 2003, 09:16 AM
I got a 1ghz TiBook and got it standard with 2x256MB chips... and wow did i regret that. When i wanted to upgrade to 1GB, had to buy 2 512MB chips and then i was stuck with these 2 256MB chips... and selling those wasn't easy.

I would highly recommend getting 1x512MB chip... then you can easily upgrade to 1GB or 1.5GB with only one chip, and not have anything else to deal with.

I_Harf
Nov 13, 2003, 05:57 PM
I think I am going to get a stock Powerbook G4 15" 1.25 Ghz and add the Applecare Protection and minus the 80 GB hard drive to a 60GB hard drive. It seems to give me everything I want. As far as accessories go I am going to get the Acme Powerbook iCover II as well as the Spire Boot and the Spire Volt. I have fully researched backpacks for almost 2 wks. now and they seem to combine the style I am looking for (north face like) with extremely high quality. I know that willow design, timbuk2, crumpler, tom bihn, brenthaven etc. all make good stuff but I do not want something flashy or colorful and this seems to be the best low-profile backpack. So here is probably the final question.....WHAT HAVE I FORGOTTEN? WHERE AM I MAKING A MISTAKE? I am a newbie and I will be the first to admit it - but it seems like I am getting everything I need....(I do not need software nor a external mouse and keyboard - already have that). So guys, where did I go wrong?

Isaiah

poisonmonkey
Nov 13, 2003, 07:26 PM
Make sure your software is the Mac version...

Otherwise you really aren't forgetting anything or making a mistake... afterall you are getting a mac!

You don't need to upgrade to Apple Care just yet, If you're buying Education from your school you can still get Apple Care cheap in 3 months time. Take that money and up your RAM.

Invest in a lock or something to keep your PB yours...

Relax and Enoy!

I_Harf
Nov 13, 2003, 09:36 PM
Good Idea poison monkey - I own a kensington lock that goes in that little hole thingy...I'm sure that will work. I have the right software...say does anyone have any other suggestions?