Desktop versus Laptop

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by ozone, Jun 28, 2004.

  1. ozone macrumors 6502

    ozone

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2004
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    #1
    I'm trying to decide on whether I should get a desktop or a laptop for work. I used to use two desktops (PCs): one at home, and one at work, and I used to cart CDs or DVDs full of data around to sync, but that's pretty much a pain. I now use a PC laptop at work and haul that home everynight, but it's too small at work, and it's still a pain to sync the files between the home computer and laptop. We just recently got a PB (older model, but still good!) for home use. I've been thinking about switching at work to Mac as well and assumed I'd just buy two (cheaper) desktops. But I spoke to some colleagues who use PowerBooks and they like the convenience of not having to go through the syncing hassle, as well as knowing that all their files are in one spot.

    It might seem obvious that I should buy a laptop, but keep in mind that Windows sync programs are not great: I've heard Mac syncing is better, hence my hesitation to abandon the desktop scenario completely.

    So, my questions are:
    1) For those that work at the office and home frequently, is it inconvenient and a hassle to cart around a PB all the time, as opposed to something smaller, like an iPod, to sync files between desktops? I'm an "occasional traveller" (out-of-town conferences 2 or 3 times per year). The laptop would therefore mostly go between home and work, and sometimes I walk or bike - don't always drive.
    2) If a laptop is recommended, is a 15" or 17" better? I've read several past threads, and because I like screen space, I'm guessing a 17" for me. However, I've also read that the 1440 X 900 resolution for the 17" is a bit outdated. How do others find the PB17" for portability and screen clarity?

    I thought maybe I could get a cheap desktop and a PB, or a PB and a separate monitor, but I'm worried that the prospect of always having to sync files or hook up the screen would discourage me from working: a big laptop would allow me to just open up the unit and get going.

    Thanks.
     
  2. nels0360 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2004
    Location:
    Colorado
    #2
    I was in the same situation as you. I had a PC Desktop and a Dell Laptop. Syncing was a huge pain. I decided on a PowerBooks with external monitor and docking station at home. I like it and I just bring it to work everyday (it's the 12"). And no more syncing files :)...
     
  3. Vanilla macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2002
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    #3
    Hi

    I had similar requirements when I came to make my buying decision. My working environment is split between office and home, I did not really have the means to dedicate one part of the home to a fully fledged desktop but I did enjoy the screen real estate a desktop brings.

    In the end I went for a 17” 1.5ghz PowerBook with 1GB RAM and couldn’t be happier with my decision.

    The screen is superb, plenty big enough for Photoshop, InDesign, Final Cut, Dreamweaver etc. (my core pgm’s) it’s bright and clear. Of course if you’ve read negative stuff then fine, I cannot really argue except to say that for me I’m incredibly happy with the screen.

    Its incredibly quiet, though when the fan come on, it does make a faint burbling sound, which because the machine is so quiet normally does initially stand out.

    The underside of the machine does get pretty hot, but the top part, where you place your hands to type, only ever gets warm. So bottom line is I would not recommend placing it directly on your lap, place it on a beanbag TV dinner tray or something! Of course the sheer size of it doesn’t really lend itself to a “laptop on lap, slouched in front of TV” setup, this is really a desktop replacement.

    It’s fast. I cannot of course provide empirical comparison evidence to back this up but I can say that I have not found myself frustrated by the lack of speed when working; quite the opposite in fact.

    It’s very easy to configure it to access my folders on the office windows network and I am constantly shifting files to and fro between laptop and office network, with ease. Of course I also have Microsoft Office 2004 on my Pbook. When I get into the office each morning it automatically detects the office wireless network, I then open Finder, go the GO/Connect to server option and open up my network folders, I fire up Entourage and away I go.

    The ability to work in the office, transfer files to and from the laptop, close it at the end of the day and carry it home to continue where I left off is excellent. Also of course during lunch breaks I can work on my home movies ;-)

    As I said before, it is a real desktop replacement. It’s not a “road warrior” portable. 6.9lbs is not light, though it is manageable. I have mine in a Tucano second skin placed in my briefcase (I avoid computer bags because to me they have “please mug me” written all over them) and I happily carry it to my office and back. But, if you intend to carry this beast everywhere frequently it will probably be best to consider the 15” or even the 12”.

    However if its simply a matter of moving it from one desk to another this is an ideal machine and the screen real estate is magnificent. BTW this was typed on my 17" in the office during my lunchbreak ;-)

    Vanilla
     
  4. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2003
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    #4
    I work on a 12" PB rev. B at home and work. I go into the office about two times a week. Having all my files and emails in one place has been so sweet.

    I am now going to experiment with different users for each of my work tasks (I wear a few different hats at my job). And I just put in the request to my boss for formal access to the work network (Little does he know I already configured my PB to access e-mail and the web. Now all I need in to configure it for access to the network printer - an HP direct laser printer - so I hope it can be done).

    I am in a different place though. I am looking to add a desktop G5 (after Steve's disappointing keynote it won't be a iMac G5 :( ). There are times that I could really enjoy more power. Not too mention I would have a system that I could leave on to do folding. I have a 20gb iPod, so I was thinking that the 9gb of files that I need could replace some of my music.

    To answer your question more directly:

    #1 - With the 12" it is not a problem to port around. I also have a restaurant a mile from work that has free wi-fi. So if I get to work early and no one is there to let me in I can go and sit in the restaurant's parking lot and do my e-mail and web browsing. Like I said above about my situation, the desktop can give you more power. In my case I do ad layouts and Photoshop work, so added power can be nice. Though I am not sure that more power would make me more productive. My PB really does well.

    #2 - I looked at the 15" when i was buying last year. And I could not be happier that I went with the 12". I have a second monitor that I use when I am at home. Spanning is so great IMO. I currently span a Viewsonic VA520 and sometimes a Mistu SB70 at home. When I am at work the 12" is more than enough. One of my vendors gave me a Leeds organizer that has space for files. a legal pad, and my PB 12". It so much nicer than carrying a notebook bag around.

    Hooking up the screen is no problem with the Mac. When I connect my second monitor the PB sees it and makes all the adjustments automatically. I also connect my phoneline, usb hub cord, and FW drive (I did not do a BTO, so I only have 40GB - fine for the road, not at home). It would be nice to have a docking station, but not a real pain IMO.
     
  5. Vanilla macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2002
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    #5
    Well it worked for me. As you have already configured it to access mail etc. I assume you have the domain setup. I just went to Printer setup utility, selected ADD and it brought up the main folders attached to the office domain. I then drilled into the relevant folder with the printers in it - accessing with my office user id and password - and it listed all the available printers. I then selected the one I wanted and it worked fine.

    If that sounds too simplistic and/or obvious note I am a recent switcher and I wasnt particularly techie when I was in the PC world. Suffice to say it just worked!

    Vanilla
     
  6. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2003
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    #6
    thanks. I tried, but could not find it readily. And since I was doing a "proof of concept", I decided not to try anything further than the basics OSX allowed.

    If they approve my request I will need to find out how to delete the setting I created so as to not anger the IT manager (one of the owners). They are very protective over the IT system. People like me drive them nuts since they do it only because it has to be done, and people like myself have a love of the tech.
     

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