12" PowerBook good enough for a programmer?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by Lobos, Jun 17, 2005.

  1. Lobos macrumors member

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    #1
    I'm studying Computer Science and buying my first laptop. I see the benefit of a 12" PowerBook (so small and portable) and how great the 15" screen is. If I were to purchase a 12" PowerBook I would have a monitor to come home to and use in the apartment, but is the 12" big enough while I'm off on campus? Anyone have any experience with this? What have been your negative points? What have been the positive?
     
  2. ChrisBrightwell macrumors 68020

    ChrisBrightwell

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    #2
    I did CS for a year with the 12" and, having a larger display at home, did just fine.

    The only problem is when you need documentation and code open at the same time, or two pieces of code open side-by-side. The room just isn't there on the 12" for most of those tasks.

    It worked, but I'm glad to have the 15" now. :)
     
  3. Lobos thread starter macrumors member

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    #3
    What would you recommend?

    If you did it again would you start with a 15"? I'm sure most of my work will be done at home and th 12" would be really nice to carry around. What was more important, portability or screen?
     
  4. superbovine macrumors 68030

    superbovine

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    #4
    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=122234&highlight=computer+science+powerbook

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=132740&highlight=powerbook+screen+size

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=128941&highlight=powerbook+screen+size
     
  5. gamestriker macrumors regular

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    Dec 18, 2004
    #5
    I was in the same boat, and I went with the PowerBook 12" for the sake of portability and battery, because I tend to be on the move quite a bit. I've been programming on it fine with no real hinderence, especially with Expose for window management. The 15" is nice to have, if you can afford it (I couldn't come close to affording it :p ), but you should be able to work fine without it.
     
  6. ChrisBrightwell macrumors 68020

    ChrisBrightwell

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    #6
    See ... I'm not sure. Heh. I carried the 12" for three weeks in Greece and Turkey and barely noticed it. A 15" probably would've been too big for that trip.

    For me, since being home from Greece, it's all about screen real estate. The 15" is still very portable (but not as "ultra portable" as the 12", obviously) and I've never had any trouble carrying it around in my backpack.

    Then again -- I got acclimated to carrying a 9lbs Dell Inspiron 8000 for three years.
     
  7. tuartboy macrumors 6502a

    tuartboy

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    May 10, 2005
    #7
    I'm pretty old school in that I am a strictly vim user and all I really want lying around is a few terminal windows. Mostly c++, perl and some php work, but it's great having vim and gcc there without any fuss. I have installed ubuntu and mandrake on my x86 laptop and had no real luck with my wireless (damn you Texas Instruments!), so that kinda was pointless.

    If you get into programming, unix is the way to go and there is no better looking and more user friendly OS than OS X. It really is the only unix distro that "just works" :)

    PS Apple, I am free to do any commercials for you if you want, just give me a buzz... ;)
     
  8. FFTT macrumors 68030

    FFTT

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    #8
  9. thecombatwombat macrumors member

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    #9
    You won't just want a bigger monitor at home, but a PC for testing too. Apple's Java can sometimes do funky things with Swing, and you'll almost definitely do Java and Swing. I nearly failed one project because the swing ui that worked fine on my mac did basically nothing on windows/linux. It was the end of the semester and I didn't bother to test, my professor was merciful enough to give me a better grade than the grader had originally. You could use Virtual PC, just a warning that macs in Computer Science can be a big pain. Though it's worth it when everyone around you totally covets your laptop.

    Anyways, I have a 15 inch, for Java at least, my favorite IDE, eclipse does really well on the widescreen. I'd recommend the 15 inch, I wrote lots of code in labs on my laptop's screen. For carting it all around campus, I love my Timbik2 Detour.
     
  10. weg macrumors 6502a

    weg

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    nj
    #10
    I recommend using Desktop Manager. I used to work with WindowMaker on Linux, and I don't want to miss desktop switching. Can't imagine anything better for programming.

    Go get yourself an external keyboard (I recommend Microsoft Natural Elite) and an external display, though.
     
  11. Lobos thread starter macrumors member

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    #11
    Thanks for all your comments. I ended up ordering a 15" PB the other day.
     
  12. Hattig macrumors 65816

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    #12
    Fer f*cks sake I did my first year of Computer Science with a bloody Amiga 1200 with a 14" display that could barely do 640x480. I finished it with a PII 233 at 1024x768 in 1999. That did Java just fine, and that was before things like Hotspot JIT compilation.

    I'm sure you can make do with a 12" 1024x768 >1GHz processor system!
     
  13. superbovine macrumors 68030

    superbovine

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    #13
    there always ppl that couldn't afford a computer and did everything from lab. even worse people that had to program using punch cards and stand in the line for the program to be executed.
     
  14. Hattig macrumors 65816

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    #14
    Indeed, I'm sure anyone that had started 5-10 years before me would have given ... a lot ... to have the power of an A1200 in their hands.

    OTOH given that my first year was functional programming and then Modula 3, the former done via telnet to a Unix box and the latter, well, the same reallly, I didn't need a powerful local machine.

    And it had HAM8 mode (pseudo 18-bit colour) which was good for picture viewing when you are 18 years old :eek: :p :(
     
  15. savar macrumors 68000

    savar

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    #15
    The truth is a little more complicated. Having Unix capabilities just under the hood makes certain types of assignments real convenient. Especially when your peers have to telnet in and edit their assignments in pico or vi.

    But some professors do require Windows only or Windows centric software -- especially the less theoretical ones. I took a class in machine vision and I had to spend night after night shlocking to the engineering lab to do my homework.

    12" sounds good with an external monitor. Being able to see things side by side is really key.
     
  16. Hattig macrumors 65816

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    #16
    I agree. and I'd go for the cheapest 1280x1024 monitor that had DVI and >average reviews if I was him.
     
  17. Lobos thread starter macrumors member

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    #17
    I've already done one year at the school, just not with a laptop. The program is pretty much MicroSoft free.

    I was intrigued by the small size of the 12" PB but also love the screen on the 15" and was more interested in how others have faired with the 12" these days considering the possibility of having one or the other. Ultimately I found it just a bit too small for me, considering I had the option of getting something bigger.
     
  18. FFTT macrumors 68030

    FFTT

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    #18
    You got a great machine and it should serve you well for many years.

    Enjoy!
     
  19. ChrisBrightwell macrumors 68020

    ChrisBrightwell

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    #19
    Why? If he watches the coupon sites, he can pick up a 2005FPW for the same price.
     

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