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Old Feb 5, 2008, 02:06 PM   #1
nhcowboy1
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UPDATE: Ease of use: powerbook vs. ibook?

It's time to get a laptop. The conflict between being family chauffeur and family breadwinner has left me no choice. I'm spending too much time waiting in my car instead of working in my car . . .

Here's what I need:

- The best wireless connection I can get - both for speed and to be able to access remote signals.

- As much screen acreage as I can get - I generally work with two documents side-by-side at the same time. The bigger they are, the better.

- Enough functionality to run Microsoft Word, Safari, and Adobe Reader at the same time without any of them crashing.

- A browser that refreshes quickly enough that I can keep an eye on an eBay auction if I need to.

So, in a nutshell, nothing fancy. I'll be using it in the relative discomfort of my car, often in subfreezing temperatures. If I want to do something exciting - I'll be doing it at home, not in my car!

But I don't have any easy way of doing a hands-on camparison of different laptops. So I'm wondering what difference there is between the displays on the different models (other than size) - are some better than others? What about the angle between keyboard and screen - is that ever adjustable? Is any of them just more user-friendly in layout and design?

I'd welcome any thoughts you have . . .

Last edited by nhcowboy1; Feb 28, 2008 at 07:36 PM.
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Old Feb 5, 2008, 02:12 PM   #2
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While I assume you will be buying second hand because powerbooks and ibooks haven't been made for a good two years, I would suggest looking at getting a widescreen. It makes working with two documents much easier due to their respective sizes. Don't be fooled into thinking the 14" iBook can offer you a better screen, it's larger but has the same resolution as the 12".

Plastic cases offer the best wireless reception. That means the iBook/macbook

For the rest of the functions the two computers are on par.

Obviously, you open the screen, so the angle between screen and keyboard are adjustable.
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Old Feb 5, 2008, 02:30 PM   #3
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I would look for a 1st generation Macbook.

# Operating temperature: 50 to 95 F (10 to 35 C)
# Storage temperature: -13 to 113 F (-24 to 45 C)

http://www.apple.com/macbook/specs.html

I don't know if those have changed since the first and latest Macbooks but you said you were going to do some computing in "sub freezing" temperatures...
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Old Feb 5, 2008, 02:47 PM   #4
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Well, I will be working in a heated car . . . but it still won't be the most pleasant of circumstances when it's mid-winter! So the computer will be used on an as-needed basis - and not just for fun.

To recap what's been said already - the screen on the powerbook will be both larger and better resolution than anything I can get in an ibook? But wireless reception will be better with an ibook? Hmmm . . . is there anything I can do to improve the wireless reception in the powerbook?

Is there any significant difference in keyboard layout/accessibility in the two different machines? Or anything that's just a royal pain-in-the-a$$ in either one or the other?

Thanks for your responses!
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Old Feb 5, 2008, 02:58 PM   #5
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Yeah, I'd get a Macbook. Faster performance than any Powerbook, good resolution for the size, and as good as you can get w.r.t. wireless, being plastic.
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Old Feb 5, 2008, 03:01 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by nhcowboy1 View Post
To recap what's been said already - the screen on the powerbook will be both larger and better resolution than anything I can get in an ibook? But wireless reception will be better with an ibook? Hmmm . . . is there anything I can do to improve the wireless reception in the powerbook?
The iBook came in two screen sizes -- 12" and 14", but as mentioned above, they had the SAME resolution (1024x768). Powerbooks came in 12", 15", and 17". It sounds like you really would benefit from a 15" or 17"... they both came in different resolutions over the course of the Powerbook model life. You can look at http://www.apple-history.com for more information.

Wireless reception... there are things you can do, but if you have to ask what they are, then honestly they're probably out of your league (things like modding the Powerbook with an external antenna or more/better internal antennas to compensate for the metal enclosure's issues). The PB wireless reception isn't awful -- rather the iBook is one of the best notebooks of that era in terms of reception. I guess in principle you could get a PC-card slot 802.11n card for the 15" or 17" powerbooks....

Keyboard -- when people have opinions, most say that the powerbook keyboard is slightly to moderately better than the iBook keyboar/d. The shape and layouts are similar but the keys are physically different (metal vs. plastic). The feel on the PBs is more solid and consistent from key to key.

The other suggestion I have is that you actually look at pricing for 15" or 17" powerbooks... you're not going to be too happy. They hold their value quite well, and they were originally quite expensive -- significantly more than an iBook 12". So you're going to pay a lot of them. Most likely more than for a Macbook.
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Old Feb 5, 2008, 03:19 PM   #7
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Thanks for the input!

Macbook is definitely out of my price range, and so (in all likelihood) is the 17" PB. A 15" PB, particularly a Titanium, is definitely do-able, and I think would be adequate to the limited tasks I'd need to do with it.

A 12" PB is also a possibility. It's obviously smaller than the 15", but if the screen resolution is better than the ibook, it might be worth the extra money.

I hadn't know there was a difference in the keys between the PB and the ibook - that's useful to know.

Still, it looks like a 15" PB is probably the best option. I could take to someone to have the wireless capability upgraded . . . Also, if I'm so far out in the middle of nowhere that I can't get a signal, maybe having the ibook wouldn't make any difference!
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Old Feb 5, 2008, 03:27 PM   #8
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Hmmm, okay, that's older than I thought you were going. Some things to consider if you're considering a Titanium powerbook...

- The last generation of Tibooks was made more than five years ago. They're old, and they're slow -- the very fastest Tibooks are about as fast as the original iBook G4. You almost certainly do not want Leopard on them. Tiger will work as long as you have 1GB of memory -- it may be a bit dicey if you have less than 1GB.

- They have big screens but they do not have very high resolutions... The last gen Tibook has a resolution (1280x854) that is only very slightly higher than the Macbook (1280x800). I think earlier ones were even lower than that.

- The wifi card in them is an 802.11b card -- no 802.11g.

- The hinges on them broke relatively easily (compared particularly to the iBook and Aluminum Powerbook, on which this failure type was basically unheard of), so be careful when you shop to find out about the hinges.

You never really mentioned your country or price range. If you live in the US, it sounds like you're looking to spend $350-500? Does that sound right? That's probably a reasonable expectation range for what you're describing. You're correct in surmising that the MBP, MB, 15" and 17" powerbooks, most 12" powerbooks, and later iteration iBook G4s are all out of this price range.

I personally would probably get the best iBook I could get in that budget, over buying a TiBook. One, it's plastic, and you want to use it in the cold, so it might be slightly more pleasant. It's a much more durable design than the TiBook. And aside from screensize, everything else is generally better about it. Faster, better wifi, etc.
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Old Feb 5, 2008, 04:00 PM   #9
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Okay, wait a sec (wheels turning ever so slowly here . . . .), you mean the PBs are actually METAL and the ibooks are made of PLASTIC. (Yes, I know this was mentioned earlier, but I'm an older model also . . . and not always as quick as I'd like to be.) So, of course, manipulating a PB (in New Hampshire) in January/February might NOT be so much fun! I hadn't thought of that!

Okay, that changes things. (I rather had my heart set on a nice 15" PB . . . . ) So, if I'm looking at ibooks, is there anything to look for or to avoid? Are there any that have a better screen resolution? And if I'm going this route, getting the 14" be a step in the right direction, I assume?

So there's probably minimal advantage to getting a 12" aluminum PB over an ibook - other than maybe the better keyboard? With the ibook, I can get a larger screen and better connectivity for less money - right?

I haven't even looked at specs for ibooks (or priced them on eBay), so I've got some research to do!

You were correct about my price range, although I'd prefer to get something in the $300 to $400 (or $450) range if I can.
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Old Feb 5, 2008, 04:02 PM   #10
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I personally would probably get the best iBook I could get in that budget, over buying a TiBook. One, it's plastic, and you want to use it in the cold, so it might be slightly more pleasant. It's a much more durable design than the TiBook. And aside from screensize, everything else is generally better about it. Faster, better wifi, etc.
I agree. I'd take a 1.2 Ghz or 1.33 GHz 12" iBook. I was using one up until december and it was a fine computer, very capable and is still being most day, every day by my younger brother.

As I said, while the 14" iBook screen is larger. it is the same resolution - so you can't fit anything more on it. The keyboards on the iBook are fine. Really the only reason to look at getting a powerbook over them is a more powerful graphics card and small extras. In terms of functionality, they both do a great job.
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Old Feb 5, 2008, 04:11 PM   #11
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You sure you wouldn't be better off with a windows PC instead of getting outdated tech?
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Old Feb 5, 2008, 04:20 PM   #12
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You sure you wouldn't be better off with a windows PC instead of getting outdated tech?
That is something to consider... I would say...

Pros:
- Windows notebooks generally have lower resale value, so you'll get a newer one.

- Even year for year, around the middle of the iBook G4 era, Windows notebooks were generally faster than Apple ones, particularly considering how old Windows XP already was. Of course, I would probably take a Mac running Panther generally over XP, but....

Cons:
- A lot of Windows notebooks, esp the brands that have less resale value like Dell and HP, don't have great long term durability. The really rock-solid ones like Thinkpads and Toshibas have good resale value, so you're kind of screwed either way.

- Windows, obviously.

I am not 100% sure if it's feasible, but if you can find a Windows notebook that has a Core Solo or Core Duo processor in it (not C2D but the original Core Duo), a lot of those began retailing around $800, you might be able to get one used in your price range. And larger screens are much more common in Windows notebooks.

(And yes, all iBooks are made of plastic -- polycarbonate, I think -- and Powerbooks made in the last eight or so years are metal... Titanium for the ones that are 5-8 years old and Aluminum since 2003 or so.)
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Old Feb 5, 2008, 04:20 PM   #13
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No, I definitely wouldn't want a PC. Part of what I'd be doing every time I use this is transferring files back and forth between my office computer and the laptop. Easier to do if they're the same platform. Switching between Word for Macs and Word for Windows is also a pain if I have to do it on a regular basis.

About screen size . . . can you please explain to me why a 14" ibook wouldn't be larger than a 12"? I don't get it . . .
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Old Feb 5, 2008, 04:25 PM   #14
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About screen size . . . can you please explain to me why a 14" ibook wouldn't be larger than a 12"? I don't get it . . .
It is larger, but it wont display any more than the 12" screen because they are the same resolution.

For example, if an image takes up 80% of the screen on the 12" ibook, it will take up 80% of the screen on the 14" ibook. - it's simply scaled up rather than offering more space to use.

The only reason to go for the larger iBook is if you have poor eye sight. The keyboards are the same size, the batteries have a similar capacity, they have a similar performance and if you want to keep it in your car, a smaller laptop would be better.
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Old Feb 5, 2008, 04:47 PM   #15
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Okay, so if I need the fonts I'm working with to be a particular size on the screen - because that's what I can see - I would get more text on the screen using the 14" than if I used the 12".

Or, alternatively, if I kept the underlying font size the same, it would look bigger on the 14" screen.

If I've got it right, either of those would be a good result. Also going from the 17" screen I've got at home to a 12" screen would probably not be pleasant.

Is the 14" ibook simply wider than the 12", or is it deeper (front to back) also?
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Old Feb 5, 2008, 05:14 PM   #16
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Should I consider a GS ibook also?
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Old Feb 5, 2008, 05:40 PM   #17
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The 14" iBook is deeper and wider than the 12" one. I don't really understand your point about fonts and text... I think you're making it more complicated than it is. Imagine you took a magnifying glass and held it in front of the smaller LCD on the iBook 12". That's what you get. Same thing, bigger pixels.

There is no iBook G5. The iBook came with the G3 and G4 processors. You should really only consider the G4. There is also no Powerbook G5. The G5 processor line was only in desktops (specifically the PowerMac and the iMac -- it was also never in the eMac or Mac Mini). The notebooks went from G4 to Core Duo. The Macbook (Core Duo and later Core 2 Duo) replaced the iBook G4; the Macbook Pro and I guess ultimately Macbook Air replaced the Powerbook G4 line (also initially with Core Duos and later with C2D's).
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Old Feb 5, 2008, 05:41 PM   #18
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Sorry, meant to write G3 . . .
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Old Feb 5, 2008, 06:00 PM   #19
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I appreciate your time. I'm going to take a look at eBay and see where prices are. Then I'll check out craigslist also.

I'll stay away from G3's and look for newer G4's.

Thanks for all your help!!!
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Old Feb 5, 2008, 06:05 PM   #20
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Some resources for G4s:

http://stores.channeladvisor.com/Bet...ok/ibook%20G4/

http://www.powerbookguy.com/xcart/ca...p-1-c-123.html
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Old Feb 5, 2008, 09:19 PM   #21
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Uhhh . . . oops!

After everyone's good advice, a deal came up on eBay that I just couldn't pass up . . . so I ignored most (but not all!!!) of the advice and took a chance.

I am now the proud owner of a 12" Aluminum Powerbook with a 1.0 GHz processor, 512 MB ram, a 60 GB HD, newly installed superdrive, and two nearly new batteries. Starting & ending bid = $425. And it's just down the road from here, so I'll be able to pick it up from the seller in person.

You can see it here: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...id=p2759.l1259

Just tell me I didn't make a mistake. It's not the size screen that I wanted, it'll be a bit chilly to use during the winter (I'll wear gloves!), and it won't get the best wireless reception (and doesn't have a PC card slot!) . . . . but it's such a good deal!!! (And I did manage to stay away from the dreaded Titaniums!)

I can see the mistakes in the auction listing, and I'm guessing I know why no one else bid . . . . but I still can't believe I got it!

I've gotta go make dinner for the starving hordes. I did good, though, didn't I?

Thanks!

Judith
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Old Feb 5, 2008, 11:05 PM   #22
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Looks good to me! The price is very good as well (slightly more than I paid for my 867). Mine has the same "imperfections" in the front. Having taken it apart myself, I know it is from trying to pry that part of the case open. The top casing comes apart pretty easily but tends to 'stick' in that spot.

I love my little PB..I think you'll enjoy yours as well...

Edit: I just noticed you live near Boston as well. I have been using mine in my car a lot this winter and it has been fine. I even leave it in the cold car for short stretches of time- no more than a couple of hours though.
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Old Feb 5, 2008, 11:14 PM   #23
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Thanks, designer . . .

Now that things have quieted down a bit, I'm starting to second guess myself - but I think the two fresh batteries pretty much guaranty I didn't do too badly. The seller is disappointed he didn't do better . . . but he was expecting to make TWICE that much! That wasn't likely to happen . . .

I get to pick it up tomorrow!
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Old Feb 5, 2008, 11:20 PM   #24
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Thanks, designer . . .

Now that things have quieted down a bit, I'm starting to second guess myself - but I think the two fresh batteries pretty much guaranty I didn't do too badly. The seller is disappointed he didn't do better . . . but he was expecting to make TWICE that much! That wasn't likely to happen . . .

I get to pick it up tomorrow!
Nice buy there. A little old, but hey, you will be happy with it. 12" PB are great machines, quite light too! Buy some RAM for that you are set.
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Old Feb 5, 2008, 11:26 PM   #25
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Hey, noodle, I'm a little old, too . . . so it works!
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