12'' or 15'' powerbook, the battle rages on

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by hhlee, May 27, 2005.

  1. hhlee macrumors 6502

    May 19, 2005
    Hi guys,
    I'm looking at getting either a 12 inch or 15 inch powerbook. I'm currently looking at 2 options:

    Used 1.33ghz 15 inch powerbook, 512 ram, 60gb HD for 1450+shipping
    Used 1.33ghz 12 inch powerbook, 768 ram, 60gb HD + extras like BT keyboard, stand, etc for 1450+shipping
    Refurb 12 inch models for around 1300+tax

    Basically, I'm hoping to spend under 1500 (as always, the more economical, the better). I'm a bioengineering graduate student in and do/will be doing a fair amount of raw data processing. I'm not terribly concerned with the processing power of the powerbook since it doesn't compare to my dual 2.0ghz at home or the supercomputer time I have available. I'd just like to use it for paper writing, quick prototyping and especially to carry between my lab and the medical campus.

    So I'd like to ask you guys, is the 15 inch worth its weight, excluding the niceties of hot swappable battery, etc. I've been to the store and spent significant amounts of time trying both models out but I can't really get a feel for whether or not the 12 inch screen is too constricting. Also, is it really worth getting the 15 inch if I'm just going to sync up my files at home and use my dual 2.0?

    Thanks for your input.
  2. buryyourbrideau macrumors 65816


    Mar 1, 2005
    honestly i dont think you should get the 15

    if you are using it for those simple tasks then the 12 should suit you just fine.

    you can still view full pages in word and what not and safari so i dont see why it couldnt work for you.

    but hey, like you said, its up to you and how you feel with the PB, so go back to the store and spend a little more time with each size. you know you can handle the 15 but can you handle the size of the 12?

    well go find out and if you can handle the 12... then hey buy one

    and if not......then well you know ;)
  3. Mord macrumors G4


    Aug 24, 2003
    i'd get a 1.5GHz 12" refurb, theres is one available now for $1299
  4. pna macrumors 6502

    May 27, 2005
    I actually was making this exact same decision not long ago, and wrestled with it just like you are. What I really wanted was a 12" laptop that had a higher resolution screen (I don't mind if things are small as long as you can fit a lot of stuff on the screen), but they don't make it.

    I did have the luxury of being able to check out (as in, borrow) a 15" powerbook from my university for about a week at a time, and what I realized was that I was way, way, WAY more productive with the bigger screen. If you ditch most of the toolbars and extraneous stuff in Word, you can easily get a pair of pages side by side on the monitor, and have most of a page visible in each window at a totally readable resolution. You can't do that practically on a 1024x768 screen without having one of them fairly obscured. This turned out to be a big deal for me in terms of actually getting more writing done more quickly. You may be different. It's easy enough to check out with machines you have around -- just set the resolution to that and work for a while. With an LCD it'll be kind of chunky, but at least you can get the idea for whether or not you find it really restrictive.

    So for me, that simple fact cemented it for me to get the 15", even though I really do consider it to be way too heavy. Buying the 12" would mean that it probably wouldn't good for what I wanted it to do most -- make me portable for writing my dissertation. That trumped all, unfortunately.

    If what you're mainly doing is writing, though, I'd really recommend that you also think about picking up an older powerbook. I ended up picking up an 800 mhz titanium powerbook with a half gig of ram and superdrive for $800. It looks like crap, because the guy dropped it at some point, but I'm stunned at how well it performs. It's got the same size screen as the newer AlBooks, which is what I was most concerned about, but runs Tiger, ms office, firefox, thunderbird, and on and on, flawlessly. I actually hardly notice a difference when I use my faster 15" AlBook. For $800, this was a total bargain, and would do everything you want it to do, plus have the screen real estate. I'm guessing that you can find a similar deal in your area. The older powerbooks were noticeably lighter than the new ones as well. Definitely worth checking out -- it's not like the windows world, where you have to have the latest and greatest to run the OS well.

    Good luck, whatever you decide.
  5. xyian macrumors 6502


    May 24, 2004
    Well, since you already have a number cruncher at home and the likes then I would say that you don't really need a super powerful laptop. That said, it sounds like you need something that's good and portable. All wussiness aside, the weight doesn't matter when it comes to a laptop. C'mon, is an extra pound in your bag going to kill you? No. The difference however is size. I believe the 12" is a lot easier to lug around because of the size difference. Lugging around the 15" is a little bit tougher and less portable. I'd say go with the 12".
    Good luck!

  6. djkny macrumors 6502

    Sep 30, 2003
    neither the 12" nor the 15" PB.
    Wait about 10 days when the 13.3" WS PB will be released via wwdc. you won't regret it.
  7. ChrisBrightwell macrumors 68020


    Apr 5, 2004
    Huntsville, AL
    This this is an auxillary "traveller" sort of machine, used for writing papers and things, I'd actually look at the iBook. You've got plenty of power in your other machines, so the Powerbook stops becoming a necessity.

    Having said that, the LCD on the 12" Powerbook always looked much nicer than the iBook to me. It's also much easier on the eyes.

    Either way, I'd advise against the 15" Powerbook, since you already have power on your desk and you mention portability and "easy of carry" as high priorities.
  8. jsw Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    I've been waiting for, oh, almost two years to get the next "killer rev" of the PowerBook line. Each day - often many times a day - for the past three months, I've been looking for an announcement - high def screen, dual-core, whatever. I've wanted to replace my old Lombard (G3 PB) for a long time, and the urge has been very high for months.

    Finally, two days ago, I broke down and bought a 12" PB to last me until the dream PB is announced. My intention was to use it and then sell it ASAP. I figured that the 12" couldn't possibly be good enough to consider keeping.

    Now, less than 48 hours later, I'm thinking that this one could be all I need for the next couple of years. Why? (1) like you, I have access to good home and work desktops, so power isn't a concern; and (2) like you, I favor portability - if I need a big screen or power, I won't be doing the work on the laptop.

    The 15" is, by almost any measure, a better laptop than the 12" - except when it comes to size (and, to an extent, price). The 12" is the size of a piece of paper (well, a really thick piece of paper), whereas the 15" is noticeably bigger. Obviously, if you can carry the 12", you can carry the 15". There are few places you can use the 12" that you absolutely cannot use the 15". But... the 12" is always going to fit more easily into something, take up less room on a lap, a table, etc. It is profoundly portable, whereas the 15" is, like the Dell Inspiron I have through work, not too big but not quite comfortably small.

    If you needed the screen or power of the 15", I'd suggest you buy one. However, I think the size of the 12" makes it a compelling purchase for someone with your constraints.

    Either way, though, you can't go wrong. Best of luck making a decision!
  9. nagromme macrumors G5


    May 2, 2002
    The 15" is a much better screen. Check the two out in a store.

    If that's not important--such as if you mainly use an external display anyway--then go for the 12" portability.

    I love my 15", but I'd like a 12" + external display even better.

    Good luck!
  10. JzzTrump22 macrumors 65816

    Apr 13, 2004
    New York
    Get whichever one you feel most comfortable using, go to an apple store or apple reseller and try them out.
  11. sbb155 macrumors 6502

    Jan 15, 2005
    I own the 15 inch. Tried the 12.
    If you want to be productive, you need the 15. 12 is too small.
    One extra pound
    A no brainer
  12. r6girl Administrator/Editor


    Staff Member

    Sep 6, 2003
    i love my 12" pb. but i'm going to have to vote for the 15". i have a 15" for work and i LOVE it. i never realized how cramped the 12" screen really is until i started using the 15" and saw how much i can get on the screen at once and read things much more easily. i am thinking of upgrading my 12" to a 15", to be honest, though i'm not quite sure i need that now that i have a 15" for work that i usually take home with me each night anyway. i might just end up selling my 12" to make way for a mini + display.

    i have loved my 12" because it is so easy to just chuck it into a small laptop bag and tote it around. it's very easy to travel with and totally do-able for web surfing, email, light word processing, and watching a dvd on a plane. but i'm spoiled now with the 15". everything is relative! :p

    if you think you'll just use your 12" for just basic stuff when away from your desktop, that would be a good bet. however, if you think that your need for productivity away from your desktop could increase at any time in the future, the 15" would fit the bill better...

  13. Ringu macrumors member

    Mar 20, 2005
    I have both PBs. Carried a 15PB for years and now use the 12PB almost exclusively because I travel a lot more. I'm happier for it.

    If you have access to a supercomputer and a home PowerMac then go for th smaller PB for making notes whilst travelling.
  14. deebster macrumors 6502

    Oct 21, 2004
    Olde Englande
    I'd consider the 12" iBook if I were you.

    Yes it can be a bit cramped, but if all you need it for is its portability and you have access to a faster Mac with bigger display elsewhere, then the 12" PowerBook sounds like overkill.

    If the screen real estate on a 12" does put you off then maybe you have got to go 15" PB (since the 14" iB is the same resolution as the 12", just bigger pixels), but for $ 500 extra seems a lot of cash to shell out.
  15. hhlee thread starter macrumors 6502

    May 19, 2005
    Just to let you guys know, I picked up a sweet deal (or at least I thought it was sweet) on a 15 inch 1.25ghz, Superdrive powerbook. I paid 1275 for it.

    Overall, I decided to get the 15 inch because I was used to carrying my older 14 inch ibook with me. Since they both weight approximately the same, I figured that carrying it around should be fine. Also, productivity is definitely important for me. I'd rather have the extra screen real estate to be productive.

    Thanks for all your inputs!

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