Design Students: Which Powerbook?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by Sinequanon, Sep 7, 2004.

  1. Sinequanon macrumors newbie

    Sep 7, 2004
    Been searching around lately, but haven't found any input from students in graphic design as to which powerbook suits them best.

    I'm a second year Visual Communications major, and am finally looking to make the switch to a mac laptop after clinging to the hopes that my PC will get me through the program without a hitch - it wont.

    I'm currently looking at both the 15 inch and 17 inch powerbooks, and I'm really not sure which one to get. So for those of you in design, I'm curious - which powerbook do you use? Why did you choose it?

    The 17 is mightily appealing for it's extra screen real-estate which would be invaluable for Illustrator and Photoshop, but I dont know if the extra bulk of the 17 is going to inhibit my mobility at all. I need to take it to and from class everyday (I'll be getting a dedicated bag for it and a sketchbook or two, so fitting in my regular school backpack isn't a problem).

    So which do you use? And why?

  2. JLS macrumors 6502

    Aug 8, 2004
    Kent, England
    15" Laptop is what I used for alot of the time (doing Graphic Design at college for 2 years), occasionally hooking it up to a CRT monitor when using programs like Flash, where another screen is really handy.

    Ive found it to be too heavy to carry around, so will be buying a 12" PB (hopefully soon.. as im waiting for the 'pre xmas' update before buying) and will just squint.. and use dual monitors again if needed.
  3. dswoodley macrumors 6502a

    Jul 18, 2002
    Both the 15" and the 17" do not travel especially well (more so for the 17") - -let's put this way, it's real tough to use them on a classroom desk. the 12" is great for that, but you lose a lot of real estate for palletts.

    I would go for the 15" unless you really need a mobile desktop which is what the 17" is.
  4. shecky Guest


    May 24, 2003
    Obviously you're not a golfer.
    I am a Junior in GD - you don't gain much from the 15 to 17 other than expense, a bit of bulk, a little more screen real-estate; so i think the 15 is a great middle ground especially since you can always put it onto an external monitor at home, but i just use the TiBook's screen and i am fine - even having InDesign + Photoshop + Illustrator all open at once - ya just gotta love Expose for that stuff. i also end up hooking my 15" TiBook to a digital projector at school constantly, so be sure you keep your little dongle with you :) I would recommend maxing your RAM out - i am ususally fine with my 1GB but i wish i could have 2GB sometimes. I would also VERY VERY strongly recommend an external hard-drive (i have a 120GB LaCie d2) because professors quite simply do not care about " HD melted and i forgot to back up!" Also our school makes you purchase thru the department (at a very, very good price) and i was part of the committee that chose the laptop + software packages for the incoming students to the program this fall - we chose a maxed out 15" AlBook.

    as an aside, i chose a bag based on where i goto school in New England - so i ended up with a Waterfield Cargo + Sleevecase since i have to lug this thing thru rain or snow or hail or anything else the northeast gets, and their stuff is quite simply indestructible in my experience.
  5. pianojoe macrumors 6502


    Jul 5, 2001
    N 49.50121 E008.54558
    Since you need a portable device, make it as portable as possible and get the 12". Put a decent LCD on your desk (or, if your desk is larger than your purse, find a big CRT).

    The main disadvantage of all notebooks is this: The screen is to close to the keyboard which means you'll be looking down all the time. The extra monitor will take care of that and solves your screen real estate problem.
  6. Sinequanon thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 7, 2004
    The 17 inchers are just so sexy...But I dont think sexy is a worthy enough reason for the extra bulk that equates to only an extra 200 horizontal pixels...

    Thanks for all the advice. I think the biggest turn-off for me with the 17 thus far is the fact that I can't get it with just the combo drive (I've no need for a DVD writer, if I do end up needing one, I'll get an external and save myself some money), and that there seem to be no really nice bags for the 17. However the 15's do have a number of nice solutions including the waterfield outfit that you're talking about (it's also the one I've been drooling over...). I have an 18.1" LCD back at home base for spanning onto, and I likely will do that quite a bit. As for a hard drive to back stuff up to, I have a glorified external HD in my PC, and I'm sure I will use it quite a bit for that purpose and may eventually end up with an external at a later date.

    I'd love to have 2 gigs in my machine, however that would require me purchasing at least 1 GB of ram from apple, and that would cost a TON of money. I dont want to be ripping out the stock stick and waste however much I paid for it in replacing both DIMMs. It looks like I'll end up with 1.5 gigs, unless anyone knows how to get apple to put 1 256 meg DIMM in a 15 inch powerbook from the factory :)

    Are there any other accessories I should look into to purchasing with the powerbook?

  7. ocellnuri macrumors regular

    Aug 20, 2004
    Raleigh, NC, USA
    I carry my 12" PB in my Booq Powersleeve to class with me every day. Hook it up to one of my 17" Samsung LCDs and I have all the screen space I can use. at my desk. I'm applying to design school this semester (currently engineering) so I may not be best qualitified to answer this question, but I just had to pop in and say how amazingly portable my 12" PB has been. After using it for a couple months, I'm not sure I'd want a 15" anymore (my first choice). The 12" is just so easy to carry around.
  8. shecky Guest


    May 24, 2003
    Obviously you're not a golfer.
    yah the waterfield stuff is just exceptional - i just ordered an iPod case from them yesterday.

    i would suggest a mouse, as trying to do design work with a trackpad is not a good idea, i also keep a travel ethernet cable with me for when the school's wifi goes down. i keep a spare battery as i prefer that over my power adapter. i always keep some blank CD's and a blank DVD with me in the bag just in case.
  9. FlamDrag macrumors 6502

    Jan 8, 2003
    Western Hemisphere
    Get a WACOM Tablet. It will make your life much less sucky as a design student.
  10. Bhennies macrumors 6502

    Mar 20, 2004
    NYC & Baltimore
    in all honesty, the screens kind of suck on the powerbooks...for graphics that is. Save the money you would spend on getting the 17" and buy the 15" and a CRT, or if you have the dough, get the 20" or 23" Apple display and use it in clamshell or expanded desktop mode. Trust me, you won't want to have the powerbook screen as your be-all end-all monitor if you're planning to use it for color critical applications.

    I second the wacom tablet (the 6x8 is perfect, basically same size as the 15" PB, and also I second the waterfield sleeves. And the 23" cinema display is unbelievable. THe best all around LCD i've ever used (much less owned :))
  11. Lau Guest

    I'm a graphic design student in the UK and I'm waiting for a 12" PowerBook to arrive - due to ship on Friday, come on! I've got a 17" LCD at home, so that's why I made that choice.

    I'm also a lady (allegedly), so the weight and size was an issue cause I'm quite little.

    I'll let you know how it seems when it arrives....
  12. Whotheheck macrumors member

    Mar 31, 2004
    I have a 12" powerbook and it is great! It is the only laptop I have ever owned that I consider a true portable. While I originally got it as a secondary computer, it has now become my primary computer. I have an LCD monitor at home which I use when I'm doing work here. I usually don't do extensive graphic work outside of my home so I don't have to worry about that too much.

    The cost of a 12" with student discount is a lot cheaper than the 15". You could use the extra $$$ for the LCD.

    BTW, I'm a web design and multimedia student.
  13. kasei macrumors 6502a


    Dec 30, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    The 17" travels just fine. I fly every other week and I take my 17" PowerBook with me. The key is having a really good bag to carry it in. It is not mich bigger than the 15" I would say buy as much as you can for the money you have.
  14. tech4all macrumors 68040


    Jun 13, 2004
    I'm a graphic design student myself. I don't have a Mac laptop (Compaq Presario ;)), but instead I use my G5 (in my sig). There's a good sum of students at my school that do have Mac laptops. I don't think I ever seen a 17" Powerbook before, but the 15" and 12" Powerbooks are quite popular. Some students even have iBooks. Which does get the job done, but probably not as fast as a 'Power' product. The 12" PB is nice and portable, but the 15" packs more screen area and is still quite portable. If you have a larger screen you can hook up the 12" to, maybe go for that. If not, the 15" could be better for screen size.

    Good luck :)
  15. dswoodley macrumors 6502a

    Jul 18, 2002
    personally, i feel the 17" is practically useless traveling, especially on a plane. It completely covers the tray and if someone in front leans the seat back you are screwed. The best you do is about 90 degrees and this is with my 15inch! The 17 was worse. it also dwarfs a those little "desks" in class rooms.
  16. Vanilla macrumors 6502a

    Mar 19, 2002
    Atlanta, GA
    Well, assuming you don't commute to and from work by plane, I must respectfully disagree with you.

    I travel to and from my place of work every day by tube (5 minute walk, 40 minute tube ride, 10 minute walk to work) with my 17" in a tucan 2nd skin placed inside a Kenneth Cole briefcase, together with my Apple BT, mains lead & sundry paperwork with absolutely no problems.

    I do not have a disconcerting limp on one side of my body, neither do I have asymmetrical biceps. Having lugged around a Thinkpad T20 in my Windows past I can confidently assert that carrying a 17" is certainly no worse and the end result when you get to work and open it up infinitely more enjoyable.

  17. JFreak macrumors 68040


    Jul 11, 2003
    Tampere, Finland
    get the 15" one - and as someone suggested, get a wacom tablet too.
  18. brett33 macrumors member

    Jul 15, 2004
    Waco, TX

    While I am no longer a design student, I was but have since graduated.

    I truthfully can't believe that so many people are saying that the 12" is good for using as a design student. If the only thing that you wanted to do was to use the laptop to take notes in class and then hook up to an external monitor at home to do the design work, then it might work, but I just don't see it as a viable choice if you plan on doing any design work in class. All the design programs that I am familiar with (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and unfortunately Quark) have pallets of some sort or tool bars, and these just take up too much room for me to use a 12" for any of those programs. I agree that the 17" is too large to tote around too much, but the 15" seems to hit the sweet spot, enough room to store some of the palettes off to the side and still have useable space for the project.

    I do have experience using all three sizes of the books, as I have friends that have the other two sizes, and it just seems to me that the 15" is the best compromise between size and useablity.

    To each his/her own...
  19. Vanilla macrumors 6502a

    Mar 19, 2002
    Atlanta, GA
    Hi Jfreak.
    Off topic but I feel I must confess to you. A little while ago I had some discussion with yourself concerning the merits or otherwise of Apple's reluctance to offer a multi-button, scroll-wheel mouse as an option.

    Well I still have that view, but I must admit after reading your counter arguments I eventually succumbed and bought the Apple BT mouse.

    Anyway, the reason I am writing to you is that after an initial destabilising period of unlearning the way I interacted with a mouse, I am now very comfortable with the one-button paradigm and don't really miss the 2-button scroll-wheel at all. In addition my 3-year old daughter has progressed in leaps and bounds playing games on the PowerBook using the mouse which she took to almost immediately.

    So, I admit it, the Apple mouse DOES work! I still miss the scroll-wheel I have to say but the pain is diminishing day by day. My guilt at using the Apple mouse after insisting it was a ridiculous choice forced me to contact you!

    PS: Apologies for hijacking the thread.

    ON TOPIC: I still say the 17" rocks and its size is really exaggerated. Of course I am bound to self-justify as I own one I guess, but I AM trying to be objective when I say that initially yes, it does feel like opening up a desktop, but working with PhotoShop and In-Design as I do, the screen real estate is awesome and after a very short while I have become totally adjusted to the dimensions of the machine.

    If you needed to commute all over the place on a regular basis I would probably downsize, but if you're simply talking about going from home to work/college etc. and back then really 2" is neither here nor there (although my wife may disagree).

  20. bluemonkey macrumors regular

    For what it's worth, I have a 12" G4 ibook, and I drew soemthing the other day that is 14 feet wide and 14 feet high, and had absolutely no problems!
    If you want a portable computer, buy the 12" pb, but don't go above the 15" because the 17" model, in my opinion, should be used as a more versatile desktop machine.

  21. decksnap macrumors 68040


    Apr 11, 2003
    Another vote against the 12-

    I barely get by using 2 monitors to work in some of these design programs. A 12" screen will either mean everything will be extremely tiny, or you'll be spending all day moving, opening and closing palettes. Definitely get the 15. It is a very portable machine.
  22. decksnap macrumors 68040


    Apr 11, 2003
    This argument doesn't really make sense. It's about actual screen real estate, not relative size based on how you zoom. 14 ft by 14 ft might as well be 14 inches by 14 inches when you have the ability to zoom to any percentage. I could draw a picture of an 800 foot airplane in a 3 inch box. :rolleyes:
  23. mcadam macrumors 6502a


    Apr 3, 2004
    I study architecture - and i absolutely looove my 17" :D - However it is certainly true that it is not the most handy thing... luckily it's very rare I have to work in an aeroplane... I didn't bring it with me for holiday and some architectural workshop this summer though because of it's size...

    Before this one i had a 12" ibook which was hell to draw on due to the little screen (and lack of speed).

    External monitor is not really an option for me - I would need 2... and I don't think they'd let you onto the plane with one anyway :rolleyes:

    My conclusion is: 15" pb would have been perfect for me. It was what i wanted originally but when i finally had the money it was sold out in the entire country (Denmark) :eek: so it was either a 17" with a fat discount or wait a month for the new model to come out... and I got to tempted hehe...and i do love it...

    The 17" screen is a big luxury but i think it is outweighed by the clumsyness and difference in prize.
  24. stevehaslip macrumors 6502a


    Apr 30, 2004
    The Ocean Floor
    i have a g5 and a 12" powerbook, i got the powerbook from the refurb store because although i needed portability i didn't want a massive expense. So i got the last revision and its been exactly what i needed. I see alot of people around with powerbooks and i have to say that if its your only computer then get the 15". Its the best of both worlds, bigger screen than the 12" with the faster processor of the 17". If you ask me (and you've got the money) its a no brainer the 15" is big but still portable. That and i find it pretty hard to do any kind of serious work on my 12" powerbook, its great for showing people stuff, work in progress and outcomes. The 15" sounds perfect for your needs if you ask me. Did i mention the 15" powerbook yet? :p
  25. jaw04005 macrumors 601


    Aug 19, 2003
    Get the 15". It has a brighter and higher quality screen than the 12".

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