How portable is the 17"?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by jonsharp, Mar 15, 2004.

  1. jonsharp macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2002
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    #1
    I have recently found myself in the very wonderful dilemma of deciding between the 15" Powerbook and the 17" Powerbook. I am hoping that other Powerbook owners can help me out with this decision. :) Currently my main machine is an iBook G3 800 12.1", but I am preparing to purchase a new powerbook, so my wife can have the iBook. I initially had my eyes on the 15" AlBook, but after taking both the 15 and 17 for a test drive at my local Mac store, I quickly fell in love with the 17". I really liked the way the hinge and latch felt on the 17" compared to the 15". I found it surprising how light it actually felt! But I'm still concerned with portability. Basically, I want to know just how well the 17" will fit into the routine I am used to with my iBook. I really enjoy the portability of my iBook right now and as such and spend a lot of time on the couch or in bed using it via airport. I don't have any trouble coding for 30-45 minutes (or longer occasionally) at a time with it in my lap. I do your typical web-browsing/email/chat while roaming around the house. I also cart it to school twice a week for note-taking and web-browsing. Will I have trouble doing this with the 17"? Does it get too hot for lap use? Is it too wide/heavy to be able to steady it on your legs while reclined and typing? If it ends up being that the 17" is really too big to make it do all those things well, I will be happy with the 15". I just liked the 17" better than the 15" overall after about 5-10 minutes with them in the store.

    Also, should I get favorable responses regarding the 17", I would like to make a purchase very soon, but I would like some advice on timing. Currently, the Apple store has 17" 1.33Ghz Refurbs available for $2499, which is really the limit of my budget for a new 'book. I would like to wait for the inevitably soon powerbook updates before buying, but I'm afraid I won't get the same deal. I want a new 17" laptop bag, too. I figure that when Apple releases updates to the Powerbook, the 1.33Ghz will be available from resellers at a discount, but I don't know if it will be as low as $2499. What do y'all think? Basically, I know I can't really afford a brand-new 17" powerbook even with the student discount, but I could afford a previous revision or refurb. Anyway, I suppose this is moot if the 17" really isn't portable enough for me.

    Thank you all for your help with this painful, wonderful decision.
     
  2. adamjay macrumors 6502a

    adamjay

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2004
    Location:
    Indianapolis
    #2
    i own both a 12" and 15" powerbook and would have to say that the 15" is the optimum power/portability cost/performance ratio'd machine. i think the 15" widescreen is the best laptop display for graphics, video. i just can't see myself sitting on the couch with a giant 17" widescreen on my lap.

    Also, for how big and un-portable i think the 17" is (as i type to you on a 12"), you also have to look at the price and think just how much you will be transporting a 17" powerbook being as big as it is. If you are just going to keep it at home for work, then for the same price you could get G5 and a 17" Apple LCD. which is a whole lotta power, and has the same visual appeal and bragging rights.

    i think the 15" is the way to go, its widescreen makes it bigger than most people think.
     
  3. FlamDrag macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2003
    Location:
    Western Hemisphere
    #3
    As a 17" owner, I have never thought "Geez, if this were only a little shorter..."

    Never. If you're talking about a 12 vs a 17, I can see the dilemma. But not b/w a 15 and 17. There are no problems toting the 17 around with me all over the country in my Timbuk2 Bag and Sleeve.

    So if your only concern is portability, pull the trigger. The screen size is great.
     
  4. joshuajestelle macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2003
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    #4
    As another 17" owner I can agree wholeheartedly with FlameDrag.

    Another thing to keep in mind when considering the portability of a machine is how usable that machine is for the various tasks you perform on it.

    I used to use a small laptop that had a 12" screen on it and I found I would rarely use it for any serious work because the screen realestate was just too small. I would use it for email, and web browsing, things I could do with one big window takign up the whole screen.

    But now with the 17", I can sit in a coffee shop for hours and do all the serious work I would do if I were home using a desktop machine.

    So in that respect, the 17" is more portable than the smaller machines.

    Josh
     
  5. idkew macrumors 68020

    idkew

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2001
    Location:
    where the concrete to dirt ratio is better
    #5
    i third flamdrag


    the 17" is not too big if a 15" is ok for you. i just went from a 15" tibook to my 17", and i do not think the 17 is too large. i would go for the larger screen and faster proc. if you can afford it. you will love the improvements.
     
  6. aricher macrumors 68020

    aricher

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2004
    Location:
    Chi-il
    #6
    I bought my 17" PB around the same time a friend of mine bought the 15" PB AL. I have to say, I'm glad I bought the 17". I do design work - he's an English prof. so he is mainly in Word or a few web apps while I'm the guy with 1/2 dozen palettes or more floating around my screen at any given time. After using his 15" a few times I did not like it one bit - the screen felt small to me. I know, it's not much smaller but believe me, it feels like it is quite a bit. I second what joshuajestelle said in that I can use my 17" as a primary computer anywhere without feeling the need to hook up an external monitor.

    After working on my 17" literally every day since the beginning of December I can honestly say that portability IS NOT a factor at all. The 17" has become almost an extention of me - I take the 17" to and from work every day and have it working alongside my dual tower. I have also brought the 17" on 3 overseas plane trips - (extra batt. is good for this) - had it on the tray - no problem. It's not too heavy - if you do much hiking or traveling I'd suggest a backpack - I bought a Brenthaven - instead of a messenger bag - I had a Waterfield - loved it - just hurt my shoulders after long trips.

    Bed or couch usage is no problem and once again, I prefer the 17" to the 15" - with headphones on and a DVD playing you feel immersed in the movie - excellent. Not too heavy at all here either - I prop mine up using my Podium Coolpad or a pillow so the fans can vent after long CPU or DVD activity. Oh yeah, the Airport wireless works great - I bought a Netgear wirless router (cheaper than Airport) and it kicks.

    Enough babble from me - simply said, I have never loved a laptop more than my 17" PB - buy one when you can and plan on maxing the RAM out in the future.
     
  7. g808 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2003
    Location:
    Bay Area, CA
    #7
    I had a similar dilema when I was in the market for a new PowerBook. I went with the 17" because of the numerous complaints about the defects in the 15".

    Anyway, I'm very happy I went with the 17". I love the extra screen real estate. I don't feel I need a separate monitor at work. I just prop it up on an iCurve and use it with an Apple wireless keyboard and Kensington wireless mouse. It's a great setup, and I get at least one comment a day from people passing by my cube.

    At home I often use it to browse the Internet on my couch while watching TV with no heat problems. As pointed out I believe all the PowerBooks tend to get warm/hot when doing more intense things with it like watching DVDs or working with several processor-intense apps. I guess it's the price you pay for something so slim and made of this fine material. I never do those things while it sits on my lap, so it hasn't been an issue. I use a Coolpad at home to ensure proper airflow while sitting at my desk.

    As for portability, it fits my needs just fine. I take it to and from work everyday in my trusty Brenthaven backpack (definitely worth the price, especially for something so expensive). I've taken it on airplanes just fine. I use it to watch movies on long flights and it's big screen is great for watching movies with my girlfriend. I often see people on planes trying to share those portable DVD players with tiny screens, which doesn't look all that enjoyable.

    I guess it all comes down to what "portable" means to you and how big a person you are. To shorter people I'm sure the 17" looks/feels like a huge beast, but to me (6' tall) it fits me just right.
     
  8. djkny macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2003
    #8
    17" rocks

    The 17" is the obvious choice. Call me bitter. I had to endure the 15" LCD white spots disease and got sick of the REV A quirks -- noisy HD's, broken latches, etc. Perhaps those have been finally taken care of.

    Even so --- and despite my obvious bias (I got the 17" as a FREE upgrade) -- the 17" is the creme de la creme, very thin, amazing for DVD's and FCP cutting, and easily portable.

    If you can shell out the extra $$ for the 17" refurb DO IT. Don't think .. Do. You won't regret it.
     
  9. g808 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2003
    Location:
    Bay Area, CA
    #9
    Oh yes, the 17" is 0.5" thinner. Doesn't sound like much, but when physically see them, not necessarily side-by-side, you can definitely see a noticable difference. The 17" seems more elegant to me because of this. However, that's just me.
     
  10. jonsharp thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2002
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    #10
    That's exactly what threw me into this quandry. I had already more or less decided on the 15" based on features/price/etc., but once I saw the two side by side, the elegance of the 17" was obvious.

    Thank you to all of you for your input. I feel much better about this. I will try to find a way to afford the 17".
     
  11. Julianne macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2002
    Location:
    NL / USA
    #11
    I too have the 17" Powerbook. I had switched from a 15" Dell that did 1600x1200 so I was use to the larger resolution and need it. I do lots of surfing and making web pages so it's nice to see them side by side. I can say I like having widescreen over 4:3. I take my 17" with me when we go places and find it very portable. If you can get the 17" I would definatly recommeded it over the 15"
     
  12. MacRumorSkeptic macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2002
    Location:
    Southern California
    #12
    I'd have to say the 17inch PB is the best computer ever made. For me the choice was simple.
     
  13. krisjon macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 29, 2004
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    #13
    Get yourself a good bag to carry it in (I just got a new Timbuk2) and trust me, you won't give the extra 2 inches a second thought. You'll just be glad you have it.
     
  14. Naimfan macrumors 68040

    Naimfan

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2003
    #14
    I've got to dissent from the 17" lovefest here and agree with Adamjay. The 17 is a killer laptop, make no mistake, but the sucker is HUGE! And if you're used to the portability of a 12" iBook, the 17 is in a whole other league. And so based on what you've said you're going to do with it, I'd say get the 15" and never look back.

    Timing wise, it seems unlikely that any new PB would be a radical step forward--Motorola doesn't seem to have a new G4 chip available and the G5 still seems to be some time away, and probably won't offer that large a performance jump anyway. So if you can swing one of the refurbs, whether it be 15" or 17", go for it.

    Best,

    Bob
     
  15. idkew macrumors 68020

    idkew

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2001
    Location:
    where the concrete to dirt ratio is better
    #15
    i just got a powersleeve17 from Booq

    it is great, room for a notebook, your ipod, some cds/dvds and your power adaptor. you have a complete mobile office almost, and it is only a bit thicker (well, it is nicely padded...).
     
  16. javabear90 macrumors 6502a

    javabear90

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2003
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    #16
    I love my 17". However, I have occasionally wished it were smaller, it dosn't really fit in my backpack and there are a few other times. other wise it's awesome!






    iI
     
  17. Calvinatir macrumors 6502

    Calvinatir

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2003
    Location:
    LA
    #17
    17 WOOHOO!! GET THE 17!!! ITS NOT TOO BIG AT ALL! I'd advise exit row seating in an airplane though..lol..but ITS AWESOME, I WONT TURN BACK! hahaha... Its just an awesome machine i'd have to say..plus, you can say you have the top of the line laptop apple makes..muwhahah...its not too big...hehe..i'd have bought it if it were an 18! Its beautiful on the couch..wirelessly!
     
  18. Invizzible macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2003
    #18
    Those of you who say you've enjoyed using the 17" on a plane, were you flying coach? I'm just wondering because I currently have the opportunity to either borrow a 17" Powerbook for a transcontinental flight, or use a 12" ibook. Having used laptops in coach before, I was under the impression that a 17" would be very uncomfortable (top of the screen hitting the seat in front of me and preventing it from opening to a good viewing angle, and the front edge of the bottom being jammed into me).
     
  19. g808 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2003
    Location:
    Bay Area, CA
    #19
    Again, I think it depends on a few factors like what airline (some have more room in coach than others), how big you are, what your opinion is of uncomfortable or unusable, etc. I'm about 6' and flew American airlines to Hawaii while using my 17" PB to watch a movie. Even with the seat infront of me reclined a bit I was still able to fit it on my dinner tray. The top of the screen was touching the seat, but I could still open my screen all the way. Would the 12" iBook be more comfortable? Most certainly, obviously since it's smaller, but I like the viewing screen of the 17". If you value real estate more, then the 17" shouldn't inconvenience you too much. However, if you really want to be sure you'll be totally comfortable and don't care for a larger viewing area, then go with the 12".
     
  20. briankonar macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2004
    #20
    a girl in my 3D animation class has a 17" powerbook, and when i first saw it i wasn't sure whether it was a 15" or 17" (until i saw the cool glowing keyboard). that being said, the 17" is definitely not "too" large, i actually don't think it's that big at all really. when powerbooks get a G5 i will definitely be getting the 17". the only place i see portability being an issue is when flying coach on a really cramped plane, and the woman next to you is 350+ and two rows back that stupid baby won't stop crying. :eek:

    go 17". :D
     
  21. aswitcher macrumors 603

    aswitcher

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2003
    Location:
    Canberra OZ
    #21
    Its a little heavier. You will be more limited with carry bag choice. Battery life is a little less as well. But the screen if very nice and performance isn't bad. Go the 17" :)
     
  22. virividox macrumors 601

    virividox

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2003
    Location:
    Manila - Nottingham - Philadelphia - Santa Barbar
    #22
    i use my 17 daily taking it around to class, working in cafes or ont eh grass
    portability has never been an issue its heavier than some notebooks, but not unweidly
     
  23. Invizzible macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2003
    #23
    That brings up another issue for flying with one - battery life. The ibook goes pretty long on one battery (I've gotten 4 hours on a charge with a G3 900Mhz machine before). How long can I expect a 17" Powerbook to last? And has anyone used one of those airplane adapters to power one? If so, which brand did you get?
     
  24. joshuajestelle macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2003
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    #24
    I you ramp down the power settings, such as running the processor slower, dimming the screen some, turn off wireless & bluetooth, you can get the battery to last quite a while. At least 3 hours I'd say, and maybe 4. although I rarely push my battery to the limit.

    Josh
     
  25. FlamDrag macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2003
    Location:
    Western Hemisphere
    #25
    Re: Flying

    I always fly coach and I do remember one instance in which the 17" powerbook seemed a bit clunky for the space I had. Outside of that one time (on a Delta flight...one of those jets that has 2 seats on one side and 3 on the other and a regular sized person can hardly stand up) I've experienced no problems that I didn't experience with my Pismo (14" screen).

    However, I usually play simple games (hearts, sim city) - as opposed to any serious work - when I fly. Your milage may vary. Additionally, I don't know that I ever have the screen brightness more than halfway up. So, I rarely have any battery life issues. If you're a DVD watcher, get the extra battery. SimCity with it's occasional CD spinning does start to drain after awhile.

    I can see how a 12" would be much easier to tote around than the 17, but since we're talking 15 v 17, I don't see the difference when dealing with portability alone.
     

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