15" or 17" Powerbook for music use?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by baravelli, Mar 27, 2004.

  1. baravelli macrumors newbie

    Mar 27, 2004
    I'm a composer, and up until now I've been running my whole setup off one (admittedly powerful) PC: Gigastudio, Cakewalk Sonar 3, and the Tascam FW-1884 Firewire audio board. All these things are great products, I think, but all together, I think they just asked too much of my PC, and it's been incredibly unstable of late, with the audio board crashing all the time and requiring restarts. So, I need another computer, and I've decided to take the plunge and enter the Mac world.
    As long as I'm getting a second computer, I wanted to take advantage of the portability of a Powerbook - I regularly travel from LA to San Francisco and New York, and it would be great to basically have a portable studio. Given that, though, is the 17" too big for this to be really practical? Assuming I get the same RAM in either (is 1 GB enough?), would I really miss that extra .08Ghz if I got the 15" 1.25Ghz model? Also, does anybody out there have experience doing sequencing work on one or both of the 15 and 17? - is the extra screen space really helpful/necessary, or is the 15 enough?
    (If anyone's got a recommendation between Digital Performer and Logic, I'd love to hear that too.)
    Thanks very much.
  2. jsw Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    You gain minimal screen real estate in terms of pixels with the 17", but it is a much bigger hassle to tote around (my brother had the 15" for work, was upgraded to the 17", and wants the 15" back).

    The 17" is very, very nice, but the 15" is a lot cheaper, nearly as nice, and a heck of a lot easier to carry around and use. I'm not a musician, but, unless there are good reasons for you to go with the 17", get a loaded 15". I think you'll be very happy.
  3. deriviative macrumors newbie

    Mar 20, 2004
    visual real estate

    for what it's worth, i had a protools tutorial last week on a desk model w/21in monitor, and very much appreciated the bigger visual real estate. frack, but the fonts and controls are tiny, and this from someone who doesn't need reading glasses! :mad: it was nice to have the extra space for multiple files, toolbars, etc etc, but probably pretty easy to work around on a 15in pb.

    that said, as someone who's eyeing a 15in to lug around to studios around town for voicework and other sound projects, this is how i see the luggability issue for travel -- if you like to travel very light (your pb briefcase/bag as primary luggage, say), and think of the 17in as no more bothersome than say, a legal-sized file folder, then go for it. it's your juggle -- it can be done. surely it's nicer in business class, but what the hey -- get a window seat, and bob's your uncle.

    play with both, and imagine yourself alternately cramped, with your elbows tucked in, and splayed out, totally relaxed.

    ps if it's a money issue, go for a 15in with fully loaded ram -- as much as you can cram in. visual real estate is swank, but poky mixdowns make for cranky composers.

    imvho ;)
  4. kanker macrumors 6502

    Nov 13, 2003
    I run Logic Pro on a 12" PB, 768MB. The one thing that makes it possible for me to get away with minimal screen real estate when I have Logic and Reason open is Expose. It really make shuffling through windows a lot easier. If you are thinking that you're really going to be pushing the processor, get the 17". If you're mostly working with samples, get the 15" and get all the RAM you can from Crucial. I chose Logic (Gold 5.5) initially for the softsynths. Now with Pro, you're getting a pretty decent set of synths, plugs, and TDM extensions for a song. The AU implementation seems to be the best right now, the Environment layer is simply amazing and amazingly powerful, allowing you to customize Logic to the extreme, and the Freeze function is a godsend. The one knock at this point, if you're working with a lot of sampling, is that the EXS24 is not as strong a sampler as other things on the market, but the trade off is that you're not having to pay extra for it, so getting another sampler isn't gonna hurt that much. If you are using cross platform VST's that you can easily transfer to your Mac, there is an excellent VST to AU wrapper that will run you about $80.
    One thing to consider, if you go for the 15" is that if you don't think you need DVD burning, getting a 1.25 built to order with a Combo drive saves you $200.
    If you really have a lot of questions, or want to get more specific advice, go to OSXAudio.com. A wealth of knowledge resides there, and the forums are extremely active, with a lot of serious professionals contributing.
  5. Zero21xx macrumors newbie

    Jul 25, 2003
    Memphis, TN, USA
    If you don't mind the weight, the 17" PowerBook is a good buy if you need a little extra screen real-estate, though the increase is minimal.

    However, the 15" is still an excellent buy. I just got a 1.25 GHz 15" myself, I've had it for only 3 days and I love it. The only real difference in the two is the screen size and the processor, AFAIK. And they seem to have fixed the white spot problem that occurred in the 15" models as well. At least, mine hasn't developed any spots yet. But whatever the case, it is so much better than my old TiBook 667, and I really am glad I didn't spring for a 12" or 17".

  6. Grimace macrumors 68040


    Feb 17, 2003
    with Hamburglar.
    I was in a very similar position over a year ago. I use Sibelius Music Notation Software and Pro Tools. I decided to get a new computer, custom built an awesome PC, but then sold it because the fan was like a lawnmower. I got the 17" and have been the happiest guy alive since.

    The extra space is great for pro audio use. It's not that much heavier - certainly it's the same weight as a 15" by any other maker. The speed difference means nothing. You may still be able to find a 1GHz 17" (new) - save some money, there is no noticeable difference. Firewire ports, USB, Bluetooth, AE - it's awesome!!!!
  7. adamjay macrumors 6502a


    Feb 3, 2004
    i run ableton live, reason, some VST fx, and audio hijack all at the same time on my 12" PB and thanks to panther's Expose, its all pretty easy to navigate. My old 15" Titanium wasn't that much more effecient.

    I would get the 17" 1.33ghz for the extra CPU. who knows, that may be the difference between having that one last reverb on a snare or not.

    all the 17" users/owners i've spoken with dont seem to think that their PB is any less portable than a 15".

    are you asking about Logic / DP because you will be switching from Cakewalk Sonar? if so, i would suggest Digital Performer. Logic took me months to get my head around. and also, Logic requires a USB dongle these days, and if you ever get hard up for ports, that is something to consider.
  8. adamjay macrumors 6502a


    Feb 3, 2004
  9. FuzzyBallz macrumors 6502a


    May 2, 2003
    Home of Al-Qaida
    $2699 is education price. And US1Camera has become what looks like a scam site from the customer feedback from resellerratings.

    Topic: If you've never used a PB before you'd think the 15" is a 17". At least that's what I thought when I got the Ti 15". The 15" is pretty heavy as it, the 17" is just freaking huge. For travel purposes, I suggest the 15". Slow as Macs are, the .8GHz will not give you a wow factor in the speed improvement dept.
  10. adamjay macrumors 6502a


    Feb 3, 2004
    youch , i did not know that.
    coincidentally i found that price via this macrumors.com's "Shop" tab.

    i guess the $2499 apple.com refurbished is the best deal then.
  11. kmarketing macrumors 6502

    Mar 26, 2004

    Well if your willing to go to ebay, you may be able to find a decent deal. Of course be aware of scammers, and check the feedback of the sellers.

    I think I got a good deal with my MINT 17" 1ghz for $1700.
    It came with 1gb Memory and over 2 yrs of applecare left.

    I think if you really look around, you'll find something good!!
  12. mnstr_trd_sd macrumors regular


    Feb 24, 2004
    san diego, ca.
    It seems as though real estate is what is important. Especially when working with music.

    I would definitely go with the 17. Its not that much larger and you get a bigger screen.

    And a bigger ego. :p

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