12" Powerbook vs. Macbook Air, Discuss...

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by question.boy, May 1, 2008.

  1. macrumors newbie

    May 1, 2008
    12" Powerbook vs. Macbook Air, Discuss...

    Up until this point in time I have favoured desktops, not having any real need for a portable computer. I plan to spend a large part of this summer working abroad and will therefore be needing something a bit more portable.

    This brings me to the question of what to buy?

    My main requirement in whatever machine I end up getting is portability, with processing power not being too high up the priority list. I know I can pick up a decent 2nd hand 12" Powerbook for almost a third of the price of a Macbook Air.

    I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts and / or comments on what the best option is, considering both machines are sufficent for my needs.


  2. macrumors 603

    NC MacGuy

    Feb 9, 2005
    The good side of the grass.
    If you're going to spend 1/3 the price of a MBA, you should probably look at a used MB instead of a PB.
  3. macrumors 68020


    Nov 27, 2007
    12" Powerbook, 1024x768 - 4.6 lbs
    13" Macbook, 1280x800 - 5.0 lbs
    13" Macbook, 1280x800 - 3.0 lbs

    1. Powerbook is not that much lighter than the MB.
    2. You'll probably need to invest in a new battery for PB, which being much older.
  4. macrumors 68040


    Dec 27, 2003
    Portland, OR

    Unless you can get a screaming deal on a slightly used 12" powerbook, I'd recommend a Macbook.

    I have a powerbook and initially resisted upgrading to a Macbook and am only doing so because my laptop is nearly three years old and really showing its age.

    But I might be different than others, as I own and use ONE computer, not multiple. I love the macbook air/iMac combo, but if I had to pick one, Macbook would be my choice.

    That being said, anyone want to buy my powerbook in June?
  5. macrumors newbie

    Mar 28, 2008
    Austin, TX
    I replaced my 12" Powerbook w/ an Air...

    The Air is superior in all respects and worth the extra money in my opinion. If you can't afford it, I would say the 13" Macbook would be better than the old 12" PB.
  6. macrumors 68040


    Dec 27, 2003
    Portland, OR

    Except for the lack of ports, which for some of us is a deal breaker.

    For the heavy traveler, hell yeah.
  7. macrumors 65816


    Sep 15, 2007
    in a great place
    go with a used or refurb macbook. The air is going to cost you more. Although if you are looking to splurge go for the air. Either way scratch the PB12.
  8. macrumors 68040

    Feb 17, 2008
    The 12" PB is great, but you won't be laughing too much if it fails on you. I'd get a baseline macbook (or a mid range one if you need DVD burning capabilities, Apple being the gimps they are have yet to realise that a £399 laptop from 2005 had a DVDRW).
  9. macrumors 68020


    Aug 5, 2004
    Catskill Mountains
    Yeah and if it will be your only machine, then I'd go for the powerbook as long as you know it "runs good" as they say in the used car biz...

    Me, I skipped MacBook, MacBook Pro waiting for what I thought would be the 12" Pro... but when that didn't materialize, I went for the portability of the Air since it was past time my household acquired an intel-based Mac.

    Since getting the Air, I have only used its external optical drive once and the ethernet to USB dongle once. Still, I don't use the MacBook Air in the same ways I use the other machines, so it's not right to leave the impression that I wouldn't miss my Firewire ports if I only had the Air. Only a couple of my external drives are USB-and-FW, most are firewire only. Also I like having dual USB ports on the powerbook, I am used to being able to manage a sync of an iPod at the same time I print out some document and without having to bother with a USB hub.

    I still love my 12" powerbooks for having such full features in such a compact footprint. And, they can run Leopard OK although I left one of them running Tiger. I will probably cave in and get the next MacBook Pro revision but I will always crave a 12" book. My G4s will get run into the ground right here, not sold off.
  10. macrumors 6502a


    Jun 2, 2007
    Boston, MA
    I ended up buying a used 12" PB and it has so far served me very well.

    Honestly, I wouldn't want to have an Air if I was travelling a lot because I would always fear damaging it or having it stolen. Maybe it's just where I would travel, and the fact that I'm not rich... yet;)... But anyway, I think I got a decent deal on my PB. It cost me $470 US and was the most recent model with only light wear. It also had a brand new hard drive, logic board, and battery. The girl I bought it from threw a fit with Apple when they repaired it because they erased all her data when they were supposed to back it up; all her school work, photos, etc. gone. Apple appeased her by giving her a brand new MBP. She then sold me the virtually new PB. The thing is, I didn't want to pay over $500 for a used computer. People are asking WAY too much money for used Apple computers and I sure wasn't going to spend $700 or more. I talked my seller down from $750. At that price I might as well buy a refurb or student discounted macbook. I wouldn't buy a used macbook on eBay because they sell for like $800 to $1000, usually for the Gen A Core Duo models. At that price just buy from Apple, but I didn't want to spend that, and I don't want a macbook. I wanted something cheap to hold me over until the Montevina MBP comes, and I also wanted something portable so that I feel good about buying a 17" and still having a computer to take on a flight. For around the same price as the new eeePCs and lookalikes, and only slighly more than my iPod touch, I have a fully functional computer that meets all of my needs and it has a keyboard that I love, with a usable screen. The Air is awesome, I've played with one. If you have the money, and don't have the scruples, then go for it. Few seem to regret the purchase. If I had the money, I would have an Air. But, if you're on a budget, and can get a deal on a 12" PB, then go for it. I don't regret my purchase at all.

  11. macrumors regular

    Jun 6, 2005
    I've had and traveled with all three - PB12, MB13, and MBA.

    All were excellent computers, though I liked the PB12 and MBA the best - the MB is super-solid, but I was always a little sad about the extra weight over the PB12.

    By far, the MBA is the winner - the screen is gorgeous, and I really appreciate the full-size backlit keyboard. I'm also surprised how much I like the multi-touch touchpad - 'Back' has always been annoying on laptops for me - I really like having a dedicated mouse button for that, and the 'swipe' on the MBA works perfectly.

    Don't miss the ports at all so far, though I'm sure I'll eventually wish I had Firewire target mode available.

    The PB12 had a great footprint, but was still a bit of a 'brick' in terms of size and feel. The screen was also pretty minimalist. Positives were a good keyboard, and excellent relationship of screen size to total footprint (small bezel around the screen). The biggest negative was the low max RAM - with only 867MB possible on my Rev. A 867mhz PB12, and the 40gig HD, there's a pretty strong limit on what the machine could do. Even with a bigger HD and a larger RAM chip (not sure what the limit on later versions was), those G4 single-core CPU's really run out of gas in a hurry when you try to do anything complex.

    Much as I loved my PB12, I wouldn't go back to it. Dual core is so much snappier when I try to do two things at once that I could never go back. I'm also a giant fan of the flexibility of the Intel chips - the ability to run Windows when/if needed adds a major dimension to the functionality of my Macs.

    I'd say that the MB13 is by far the 'price/performance' leader of the three- it's not too big, full-size screen, full-size keyboard, good procs, good ports, and all at a very reasonable price. Even at twice the price of a used PB12, you'll end up way ahead with more RAM, MUCH more CPU, bigger HD, etc.

    The MBA is a slightly unreasonable option for people for whom 2lbs is a great big deal. I love mine, and wouldn't give it up, but it's also my third computer, so its only role in life is to be portable.
  12. macrumors Core


    Jan 18, 2005
    Darkplace Hospital
    I'd go for the 12" Powerbook purely based on size and weight. But I don't need portable power, I just use it for essay writing, portable email/internet etc.

    But if they made a 12" metal MacBook Pro I would buy that in a flash. It's the perfect size for me.

    And for my Crumpler Wee Bee bag :D
  13. macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2004
    "Weight," eh? I guess carrying around 50% more weight is a positive because it's good exercise, right? ... ;)
  14. macrumors 68020

    Nov 15, 2007
  15. macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Dec 23, 2006
    In my imagination
    MBA = Backlit keyboard and up to 2GB of RAM.


    Unless you want both performance and portability, then grab the MacBook.
  16. macrumors member

    Nov 29, 2003
    Ontario, Canada
    I had a 12" PB that I loved, right up until I broke the connector off the internal wireless antenna. Rumors of an ultraportable were in full swing, so I held off on replacing it with a Macbook. When the MBA came out I was initially disappointed, as what I really wanted was an Intel 12" PB. Now that I've had my MBA for a few months, I have to say it's amazing. So much lighter than the 12", so much more portable. The MBA makes my old 12" (and my friend's MB!) feel like a brick.
    It's pricey, but (for me) entirely worth it.
  17. macrumors G4


    Jul 4, 2005
    I tell ya what, if they made an Intel version of the 12" PowerBook, even using the same chips, graphics etc as the MacBook Air but with a drive and a larger HDD (essentially a lighter, cooler, thinner 12" PowerBook I would be all over it.

    My vote here would be for the MBA, much as it pains me to say it's a better machine than the 12".
  18. macrumors Core


    Jan 18, 2005
    Darkplace Hospital
    It was more a comparison to the MacBook, the MBA doesn't have the ports I need or an optical drive. Since MB was brought into this thread I thought I'd comment on that.
  19. macrumors member


    Mar 31, 2008
    Sunny Singapore
    I was expecting a 12" Macbook Pro too. But when I saw the MBA, I just think my old Thinkpad X31 has got to go....

    Really prefer a 13" LCD and slim form factor..... Rather than a smaller but thicker footprint....

    The old powerbook though is really a looker....But so are all Apple's aluminium constructed notebooks too....
  20. macrumors 68000


    Jul 25, 2007
    New York City
    yes yes yes yes yes
  21. macrumors 6502a

    May 18, 2006
    I still have both. The 12" Powerbook holds a warm place in my heart, but it is a brick with a small screen compared to the Air. That said, I still use my PB 12" occasionally and it is still a champ. Great form factor great footprint. It has been practically indestructible. It is a Rev A. I had bought a 12" iBook when it came out, but then very soon after they announced the 12" powerbook and i could not resist. It is the laptop that made me such an Apple fan. The Air is in a different league, but it does not remotely diminish the PB, not one little bit. The Air is compromised in some ways, but it is "like butter".
  22. macrumors 603


    Feb 6, 2006
    For your needs, the MBA is great. If you can afford it, get it.
  23. macrumors 68030

    Dec 17, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    This is sort of a slippery slope in terms of size and weight.

    I understand the comparison between 12" PB and MBA, and I also understand the comparison between 12" PB and MB- each time you're going up just a bit in size and weight, and gaining other things (money, power.) But then someone else could chime in and go "Well, if you're considering a MB then you may want to consider a MBP..."

    Realistically, I would never pay say the going EBay price for a 12" PB, the MB is not much more and offers a lot more IMO and is much more future-proof (even the original 1.83 GHz CD models.) But if you can find a great deal on a 12" PB (say less than $500), I think it would suit your needs very well and at a fraction of the cost of a MBA.

    I have to say the MBA is one incredible looking machine though, if the hardware is sufficient for your needs.
  24. macrumors 6502a

    May 18, 2006
    just an interesting observation (at least to me): while i do not believe that light weight is always a critical thing, I am amazed at the difference between 5 and 3 pounds in a laptop. It is a huge difference. I posted earlier about having a 12" pb and an air. I also have a MacBook. It is a fantastic machine. In some ways I think it is the best of the three. But it really feels like a gargantuan beast after using the Air exclusively for a few weeks.

    It is also interesting. I have a 12" 3 pound Dell laptop at work. I really like its form factor and weight, but besides the obvious yuck of using a PC instead of OS X, it is such a compromise in keyboard and screen size versus the Air. On the other hand it has the smaller footprint. After carrying both of these around a lot, I can decisively say that the Air approach is far superior for me.

    Yes, I have a lot of laptops. I didn't mention my Samsung Q1 UPMC... now that is a massively flawed device, however useful for the single purpose of an additional home automation screen for the bedroom, but I digress.
  25. macrumors 68020


    Nov 27, 2007
    I absolutely agree. I used to have a Sony X505 (yes, the ultraportable, super thin model), which weights 1.8 lbs and has a smaller footprint (~10 inch screen). It looked awesome, but it was a nightmare to use - cramped keyboard, small screen, worst of all was the nipple mouse (no track pad). I developed a bad wrist because of this computer.

    In comparison, MBA is a little bigger and heavier, but still very light. It feels like a full size laptop. When I use it all day at the office, I never felt that I need an external keyboard.

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