Graphics Professionals and Power Users: READ (advice)

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by michaelrjohnson, Feb 18, 2004.

  1. michaelrjohnson macrumors 68020

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    #1
    Hello all, I would like your advice. First, I am a 20 yr old College student (read: low cash reserves), I am a Graphic Design Major, with a Computer Information Systems Minor. (read: lots of computer use). I am an avid internet user, I design webpages, graphics, brochures, multimedia (I use Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign on a daily basis). I do not do any hardcore video editing, and do not plan to in the remotely near future.

    Although, I have a problem. I really need to replace my iMac DV 400 MHz G3 (740MB RAM). All of the programs mentioned above work JUST FINE on this machine, but I just need it a bit faster. I wanted a 15 inch PowerBook, but I cannot afford it at this time, and I forsee PBG5's on the 1 year horizon. For that reason, I do not want to invest in a machine that will be easily replaced by something MUCH better in that short of time (I understand the computing world moves fast, but we all know that would suck). And besides, I can't really afford it (even with the student discount). So here is what I am thinking, and I want some input.

    I am considering purchasing an "interim" laptop, other wise known as the iBook. I am looking at the iBook G4 800, w/640MB RAM, etc. This computer would cost me 45% less than my desired 15' PB, but would still double my current clockspeed, and upgrade me to a G4. (Plus porability is a big issue with me... I NEED IT) I would then plan on selling this laptop within a couple years and then upgrade to my desired laptop.

    Yes, I COULD wait, but it's very hard because this computer is so darn slow. I COULD break the bank and get the PB, but I need my investment to last as long as possible, so that seems to be a waste.

    Opinions? Comments? Questions? THANK YOU ALL!

    (serious replies only, please)
     
  2. Mr. Anderson Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

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    VA
    #2
    If you're doing a lot of graphics all you'd need was an external monitor and it would be a great little set up. I think its wise at this point to go with the iBook - and even if you wanted to do some video, you wouldn't have a problem.

    Good luck,

    D
     
  3. michaelrjohnson thread starter macrumors 68020

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    #3
    thanks, mr anderson. i was planning on using an external monitor.

    the problem being, the video card in the iBook only supports video mirroring. it requires a hack (http://macparts.de/ibook/ ) to do dual monitors, and/or operate the computer in clamshell mode. BUT, the problem with that is then the external monitor is then restricted to native 1024x768 resolution, which MAY be possible to change using SwitchRes X, but that's another "hackish" solution.
     
  4. mklos macrumors 68000

    mklos

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    #4
    You might want to look at something like a 12" PowerBook even though you said you wanted to wait on it. That will have a Mini-DVI port and will still give you a G4. That will run you $1399 with the edu discount. I believe this will allow you to expand your desktop on an external display.

    A 12" PowerBook is really, really tiny and is extremely light. Also, they are beautiful with the anodized aluminum.

    Macs have an awesome resale value...so you could always sell the 12" PowerBook when you want to get a different one and still get more than half of what you paid for it.
     
  5. Mr. Anderson Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

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    Location:
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    #5
    Mirroring isn't all that great an option, that does suck.

    Its a tough call there, then. Real estate on the screen is quite important and really makes a huge difference in productivity.

    D
     
  6. michaelrjohnson thread starter macrumors 68020

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    #6
    Oooh, I just realized that I didn't post prices or anything.

    --------------------------------
    12' PB:
    • 1GHz PowerPC G4
    • 256MB DDR266 (256MB built-in)
    • 40GB Ultra ATA drive @ 4200rpm
    • Combo Drive (DVD-ROM/CD-RW)
    • AirPort Extreme Card
    • Keyboard/Mac OS - U.S. English
    • 12.1-inch TFT Display

    Subtotal $1,488.00

    (add $89 for Airport card, and about $100 for RAM)

    Total about $1700

    12' iBook:
    • 256MB DDR266 SDRAM (128MB built-in & 128MB SO-DIMM)
    • 40GB Ultra ATA drive
    • Combo Drive (DVD-ROM/CD-RW)
    • AirPort Extreme Card
    • Keyboard/Mac OS X - U.S. English
    • 12-inch TFT XGA display
    • 800MHz PowerPC G4
    • ATI Mobility Radeon 9200 w/ 32MB DDR video memory

    Subtotal $1,110.00

    (add $80 for max out ram)

    Total about $1200
    --------------------------------

    The PowerBook is just too expensive. What is your opinion of the iBook setup?
     
  7. michaelrjohnson thread starter macrumors 68020

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    #7
    I feel exactly the same way. And while I hate to DECREASE the screen size, cost is a big factor. Would you reccomend the hacks? They are fairly safe hacks (have researched) in comparison to some.
     
  8. superbovine macrumors 68030

    superbovine

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    Nov 7, 2003
    #8
    hmm i have a 12" PB with a 19" trinitron crt that works fine.

    technically in the computer world its good to upgrade every 3 years. the waiting game is a hard game to play with computer hardware, because there is always something better coming out. in the business world i know ppl who buy cheaper upgrades to their system but upgrade more often. also there are ppl who buy the biggest and best and upgrade less. then there is the ppl with bags of cash who upgrade alot.

    upgrading from to powerbook or the ibook you gonna see mucho difference in performance. in the ibook case you are doubling the speed. it is a hard call, but once processors are more than double your speed it is time to upgrade.
     
  9. michaelrjohnson thread starter macrumors 68020

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  10. ethernet76 macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 15, 2003
    #10
    I was pretty much in the same boat as you. Design director, webmaster for the Daily Kent Stater. I'm also a computer science major, doing a large amount of C, C++, Java, .asp(god i hate asp).

    No matter how much you think you want the new computer, you should wait as long as possible. Price drops would even help your case. You might even want to look at the older iBooks. They're cheap, and plenty powerful. The display hacks work fine. Also, Indesign CS runs on a G3, so do all other the design programs you want to use, and seeing as how your a graphic designer, you probably don't use the lame photoshop filters that often.

    This would also save you about 500 or so dollars. By no means pocket change, which would allow for an earlier upgrade date. Seeing as how I'm pegging g5 powerbooks in late August, you'll want one then, not 3 years from now when you're about to graduate.

    Also options you've might not have considered. Depending on how you do your college payment stuff. Federal loans allow for taking out extra money for school related expenses (ie your computer).

    i ended up getting a 15" pb in november because i fried my PCs motherboard.
     
  11. michaelrjohnson thread starter macrumors 68020

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    #11
    you make some good points, (i already have a g3 and I want to upgrade from that) but to me, the selling date of this laptop is irrelevant. i could sell it in 6 months, but it has been 4.5 years already, so i want to upgrade processors.

    how did you get more loan money than was quoted to you?
     
  12. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

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    #12
    As I do both programming and graphics work, I understand your desire to have extra work space. I've used dual monitors in the past but I'm using just one 15 inch LCD right now at 1024x768. It's sufficient but not luxurious. It certainly beats the 12 inch CRT monitors I used to use.

    I wouldn't bother with an interim machine. Find the best combination of hardware that you can afford. It's nice to have a portable machine, but do you really need it?

    Of course, for programming, practically anything will do.
     
  13. New Guy macrumors member

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    Connecticut
    #13
    Have you thought about a used or refurbished PB? I just checked the pricing at the Apple store online and the 12" 867 MHz PB is only $1199.
     
  14. Makosuke macrumors 603

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    Location:
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    #14
    I second New Guy's suggestion; a refurb 12" PB will put you very close to the price range of a new iBook (though refurbs usualy aren't helped by educational discount), with the added advantage of it being a PB (somewhat better resale value), and the dual-screen video without a hack.

    That's what I'd probably do in your situation, although the iBook really isn't a bad choice, either--those are fine computers, and now with a G4 one is probably good to hold you for a while.
     
  15. Col127 macrumors 6502

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    Sep 13, 2003
    #15
    seeing as you do a lot of design, screen real estate is really important. i've been using 1280 x 1024 for a good two years now and have realized it's not enough, so i moved to 1600 x 1200 by getting another monitor.

    the great thing about a 12" pb is that it supports that kind of resolution, whereas the 12" ibook does not. but i have a question for you, why are you looking into a laptop? why not a desktop?

    you can get a 1.25 g4 for $1299, which is much faster than either the pb or ibook, it'll give you more screen real estate, and is well priced.

    just my 2 cents
     
  16. razorme macrumors regular

    razorme

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    Jul 16, 2002
    Location:
    Calgary, AB
    #16
    Re: iBook Purchase?: READ (advice)


    Congrats on sticking it out with the iMac 400 for so long. I couldn't stand mine with the slightly blurry screen and sluggish performance (especially with 10.1) and upgraded to an iBook 800 Mhz G3 (12") in Nov 2002. I feel it was an excellent purchase.

    The new iBooks with the G4 are a much better value. The 800 Mhz G4 is 25% cheaper and is much faster.

    After seeing my friends new 1 Ghz iBook, though, I would recommend getting the 14" screen. I previously would have insisted that the 12" is better, more compact, same resolution, etc, etc. But with the 14", it actually feels like the resolution is more. For the work you will do, it will be easier to see the pixels on the 14".

    The 933 Mhz 14" iBook model is by far the best value iBook looking at Cdn retail prices. (The 14" has a longer battery life too). I wouldn't hesitate at all!

    PS: Get the bluetooth built in! I hate having the Logitech dongle sitting beside my iBook so I can use a wireless optical mouse!
     
  17. michaelrjohnson thread starter macrumors 68020

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    #17
    Thanks for the advice. At this point, I can't afford the PowerBook, but now i'm looking into sources for a used one, since this IS my interim laptop.
     
  18. mrjamin macrumors 65816

    mrjamin

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    #18
    not entirely true. I applied the same hack above (http://macparts.de/ibook/) and now i have my iBook spanning, and running at 1024*768 and my external monitor (17" tft) at 1280*1024
     
  19. michaelrjohnson thread starter macrumors 68020

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    #19
    but can you operate at the higher resolution with the ibook closed?
     
  20. Sparky's macrumors 6502a

    Sparky's

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    Feb 11, 2004
    #20
    OK i'm gonna put my neck in the noose here. I have been a Graphics Professional longer than there have been desk top computers (1969 to be exact) and grew up doing and learning the "OLD school ways" what I really am missing here is that Anyone doing extensive graphics work for a living shouldn't even be considering laptops. And Apple still sells NEW G4s (configured to your specs) starting at $1,299

    http://store.apple.com/1-800-MY-APP...O5biB4FcwGtk4o/0.0.7.1.0.5.21.1.8.1.0.0.0.1.0

    I could see having a bcakup laptop maybe to take to a client to do a demo but I want the ugradeability and power I can get from a Desktop machine and have a 21" (minimum) screen to work with pages at actual size.
     
  21. DVW86 macrumors member

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    Jan 1, 2004
    Location:
    Washington State
    #21
    OK here is just my opinion. I am not a professional graphics designer by any means, but I know what it is like to have a slow computer and not enough cash to get the "ideal" machine. I purchased the 800 MHz G4 iBook because it was the most "bang for the buck" and I needed it to be portable. When I want I larger screen I plug it into my 17" CRT. It works great that way and I didn't instal any hacks. You can get it to operate while the lid is closed without any downloads. All you need is a thin piece of metal under the "end" key. Just be sure to dim the screen all the way down. For my quick review of iBook vs Powerbook go here:

    http://www.dvw86.cjb.net/

    Don't be to critical of the web page. I threw it together pretty quickly. :rolleyes:
     
  22. mangoduck macrumors regular

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    lost at sea
    #22
    Re: Re: iBook Purchase?: READ (advice)

    are you referring to the fact that it's a crt as opposed to an (oversharp, some feel) lcd? if not, there is a focus adjustment on the flyback transformer in the left side that might help. if you still have it.

    -

    i'm in a similar situation - same computer but with about half the ram. runs jag nicely, but i'm still weary of panther's firewire issues, which i've never seen a final verdict on. i rely heavily on my fw400 drive. the system does what i need it to but not all that quickly.

    if a refurbished 12" powerbook is in the same ballpark as the new ibook, i'd say go for it. it's what you were willing to pay to begin with, and refurbished machines are supposedly thoroughly tested and as good as new.

    if portability isn't required, a desktop is definitely the best option for graphics work. and not only is it cheaper, but there's room to expand, giving your initial investment a longer life.

    things aren't looking good for a new mac for me anytime soon, but i am in the process of building a pc (out of necessity, 3dmax) which will take some of the strain off the imac. to avoid a similar purchase please take advantage of student discounts while you can (!).
     
  23. Nik_Doof macrumors regular

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    Location:
    St Helens, UK
    #23
    At the moment i use a 12" PB with a external 17" CRT, hoping to go for a 20" LCD soon.

    I love my PB, the nice mixture of power and portablity :)
     

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