I want a cheap laptop, help me please macforums...

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Smileyguy, Nov 5, 2006.

  1. Smileyguy macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2004
    #1
    Hi everbody,

    I'm going to buy a laptop, with a little help from my parents, for Christmas. I'm a college student, and my parents aren't exactly wealthy either, so I'm probably going to have to either buy a) a used mac laptop or b) a new PC one.

    My budget is €700, though I'd like to keep it to €600, which by direct conversion is $890 and $760. So I ideally want to keep it under $760.

    Here's what I want the machine to do:

    1) My main use for this will be writing / journalism, so that means: word processing and internet (wireless). Reasonable download speeds are important, I download a lot of files, mainly PDFs.
    2) Maybe some basic photo/movie stuff: iMovie, iPhoto, and maybe some light Photoshop
    3) I'd like it to be able to work well with various media: Youtube, online
    radio, the occasional DVD
    4) Maybe a little use of Quark from time to time

    Having done some browsing of eBay and some other used/secondhand sites, I've come to the conclusion that I can probably pick up a G4 iBook/Powerbook in the 900Mhz-1.4Ghz speed range for this kind of price. However, for a similar price I could probably also pick up a brand new, more powerful PC with a DVD burner.

    So my big question, really, is what is more important to me - having OSX or having the power. If I will be able to do all of these tasks quickly and hassle free for the next 3years+ (I know I may be pushing it, but I'd love if this machine could work for up to 5 years, if I max out the ram) and be capable of upgrading to the latest software along the way, I'll go for the mac, because I'm finding the thought of giving up OSX very difficult. If I won't be able to manage this, I'll go for a PC and pretend to myself that Vista or Linux is just as good.

    So, I have the following questions:

    1) What minimum specs should I be looking for to be able to manage the above listed tasks well for the next 3 years at least?
    2) Will this machine be capable of upgrading to the latests OSs and other software packages over the years?

    Thanks for any help in advance. That's what I love about this forum - the reliability of great advice. It is ALWAYS forthcoming. I love you people. :D
     
  2. psychofreak Retired

    psychofreak

    Joined:
    May 16, 2006
    Location:
    London
    #2
    Are you in education, or do you have any friends/family who are. If so, they can buy things for you from the apple store for education.

    Don't forget - If you buy a used laptop, five extra years will leave you with a pretty terrible battery life
     
  3. mad jew Moderator emeritus

    mad jew

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2004
    Location:
    Adelaide, Australia
    #3
    I have an 800MHz G4 iBook with 640MB of RAM and it just seems to keep going and going. They're brilliant machines and it should serve you well. Have you used OSX as a primary machine before?
     
  4. Smileyguy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2004
    #4
    psychofreak - yes, I can get an education discount, but I don't think it would be anywhere near enough to drive a new machine down into my price range. Plus I live in Ireland, we have no apple refurb store here.

    madjew - thanks for the advice, glad to hear it. I've been running OSX 10.3 on a 1.8GHZ G5 powermac for the last three or four years. But it's not actually my machine, so I can't sell it.
     
  5. Mac-Addict macrumors 65816

    Mac-Addict

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2006
    Location:
    London
    #5
    Maybe a refurb macbook after apple bring out Macbook with core 2 duo (If that ever happends..)
    Edit: I saw the no refurb page in ireland.. Shame.
     
  6. mad jew Moderator emeritus

    mad jew

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2004
    Location:
    Adelaide, Australia
    #6

    Crazy, I've got a 1.8GHz iMac G5. If you go for an iBook (or even a PowerBook), be prepared for a bit of a speed drop, but it should still be fine for most of your uses IMO. :)
     
  7. Smileyguy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2004
    #7
    Yeah, the G5 has been sooo reliable and sturdy, it's been fantastic really. I'm prepared for a speed drop, but I think I should be able to compensate a bit if I max out the RAM on my laptop, as my G5 only has 512, so 1GB or more in the laptop might make the differnce less noticeable.
     
  8. mad jew Moderator emeritus

    mad jew

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2004
    Location:
    Adelaide, Australia
    #8
    yeah, it might help. The CPU and RAM work in different ways though. With more RAM you'll be able to keep more apps running simultaneously but you'll notice the drop in CPU power when it comes to converting files for iMovie and such. Of course, that's oversimplified.

    Having said that, the G4 iBooks are amazing machines. Get 1GB+ of RAM in one an you'll be set. :cool:
     
  9. Smileyguy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2004
    #9
    They can hold 1.5 overall, right? How many can the Powerbooks hold, 2gb? I may opt for a PowerBook if I can find one as I'd like the option of hooking up an external monitor is this is going to be my main machine for the next few years...
     
  10. mad jew Moderator emeritus

    mad jew

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2004
    Location:
    Adelaide, Australia
    #10
    It depends which one you get. Mine (original G4) could only hold about 640MB when it first came out but can now apparently hold 1.13GB. Later iBooks could hold up to 1.5GB though. PowerBooks were all over the place depending on the vintage and the size. Maybe check out MacTracker for more info on the specifics. :)
     
  11. Smileyguy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2004
    #11
    Thanks.

    One other question, as I haven't been paying too much attention to the Intel switchover due to having such a reliable machine - if I bought a G4 machine, would I be likely to have any issues with compatability in the next 3-5 years?
     
  12. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2006
    Location:
    One Nation Under Gordon
    #12
    As far as your main uses are concerned, an older Mac should be OK as long as you also stick to older software.

    Because of the higher resale value of a used Mac, you're getting much less computing power for the buck. I suppose it depends on whether that's what you really want.

    For your budget you should be able to pick up a Core duo machine for private sale. I was recently looking for a beater machine to run as a Hackintosh, and I managed to ebay a Core Duo Dell laptop with a DVD burner and a near 3-year on-site warranty (everything transferred fine) for less than your budget. Such a machine will be more future-resistant than a G4.
     
  13. feelthefire macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2006
    #13
    at least in the US, windows laptops are taking a huge cut in prices for the holiday season because Vista is late. I just saw an AMD dual core/1gb RAM/CD-DVD-LightScribe/remote/120GB hard drive/webcam 14.1" HP laptop for $599. I dunno if the same is true overseas but you might just have to bite the bullet and not get a mac because you'll be getting WAY more for your money.

    And the new HP Imprint laptops are good looking in their own, different way. I don't think what you'd get for $800 in a mac is worth the money.
     
  14. ero87 macrumors 65816

    ero87

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2006
    Location:
    New York City
    #14
    OP: Are you sure you need a laptop? You could get a sweet new Mac Mini with nice specs in that price range.

    I'm also a college student, and my iMac G5 is perfect for me. Most of my friends have laptops, but the laptops never leave their rooms!.

    You may really want a laptop, of course; then just ignore my post :) .

    P.S. I think it's worth it to get a less-powerful, old Mac then a brand-new, more powerful PC. This is mainly because your focus is on word processing and the internet, which an iBook can handle beautifully. The headaches and difficulty of use that accompany PCs make it difficult to get the most out of your purchase, knamean?
     
  15. j26 macrumors 65832

    j26

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2005
    Location:
    Paddyland
    #15
    SmileyGuy,

    It just so happens that I have a 12" 1.33 PowerBook that I'm going to be selling.
    It's a combo drive and has 768mb ram, and I'm thinking the 6-700 mark for it, and I'm based in Ireland (Dublin during the week, Waterford at weekends). Its in very good condition. I loved it, but just needed the extra processing for certain things.
    It's just had a fresh reinstall and is ready to go.

    If you're interested give me a shout. I might be sticking up a thread in Marketplace anyway this evening with the full specs.


    My unbiased(!) advice is get a decent 1.33 PowerBook.:D :D
     
  16. NJuul macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2006
    Location:
    Boston
    #16

    This sounds like a sweet deal. The 12" PBs are really nice, significantly smaller than the MacBooks, and still quite powerfull. I work with two people who have these, and they are very fond of them. Especially because of the size. You can always hook it up to an external monitor if you want more screen real-estate at home.
    I too would recommend a late generation PB/iBook, especially if you like me wouldn't ever consider windows machine.
     
  17. Smileyguy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2004
    #17
    One option which I've considered in my head is to buy a PC to get the power out of it and do a hack install of OSX. But I'm worried about a whole load of things if I do this, such as support, compatability (of everything with everything), and my complete lack of hacking skills.

    j26 - I'm very interested and will be in touch by PM shortly. You being in Ireland is a big plus. I'm in Galway BTW.
     
  18. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2006
    Location:
    One Nation Under Gordon
    #18
    It's not really what I would consider a 'production' machine, but the Hackintosh is quite usable. However there is quite a bit of nerding involved (which is why I got a Linuxhead to install it on the Dell instead), although according to my mate the only difficult bit is finding the files. Insanelymac can sort you out though, enough hints are given.

    Personally I'd say if you get a Windows laptop, use it with Windows unless you're playing around with OSX86.
     
  19. Smileyguy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2004
    #19
    Thanks for the advice folks. I think I'm going to go for a mac. I may be blinded by love for Mac OS X, but I think a secondhand iBook / PowerBook will be perfectly well able to handle the tasks I need them for.

    I just have a couple of more questions and would be soooo thankful if anyone could take a couple of seconds to help me out.

    I'm considering buying a 12' machine, but am a little concerned that this may make 1) extensive word processing and 2) basic photo editing a little uncomfortable. Could anyone put these small fears to rest? Keep in mind that I'd like this to be my only machine for at least the next three years. I've considered the idea of an external monitor but have now pretty much ruled it out, as part of the reason I'm switching to a laptop is for their improved energy efficieny and an external monitor would undo a lot of that.

    Also, one of myearlier questions still sort of stand if anyone has any advice:

    2) Will this machine (a secondhand g4 laptop) be capable of upgrading to the latests OSs and other software packages over the next 3-5 years?

    Thanks for taking the time to help me guys,

    SG
     
  20. Scarlet Fever macrumors 68040

    Scarlet Fever

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2005
    Location:
    Bookshop!
    #20
    well my 2001 TiBook is running Tiger now, albeit fairly slowly. My old 266MHz G3 iMac was running Panther before the power unit died. I think if you set yourself up with a later model PowerBook you should be fine for the next few years :)
     
  21. marioman38 macrumors 6502a

    marioman38

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2006
    Location:
    Elk Grove, CA
    #21
    1) Word Processing and Basic Photo editing should be fine on a 12'', my friend has a 700mhz g3 12" iBook, and he uses it for that stuff every day...

    2) Well, the only one who could possibly tell you that, is Steve Jobs...
    My 14" iBook G4 1.33ghz W/768 Ram has been my only computer for the past 2 years, and i expect it to be for around 3 more... A PB of the same specs should be able to run ~3-4 years of new OS's... The current OS (Tiger) is being run on my parents iMac G3 450mhz W/ 192MB Ram!!!

    We Know Leopard will be able to run on it...
    10.6 most likely
    10.7 probably
    10.8 pusing it, but still possable, assuming its no intel only......

    Remember, The majority of Macs are still PPC, so apple will be supporting them for quite a while....
     
  22. SkyBell macrumors 604

    SkyBell

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2006
    Location:
    Texas, unfortunately.
    #22
    I use a 133 MHz, 80 mb, 500 mb hard drive, 10 inch Compaq as my main computer (For now) I do Word processing and internet (Which is surprisingly fast for just over 100 MHz) on it. Believe me, you get used to the small screen size real quick. Even if you hate it, it won't be long before you're calling it "cute" Instead of "Little peice of crap" :D
     
  23. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    #23
    I'll chime in here with some comments about Quark since it's (always) the thing that catches my eye.

    I wouldn't advise anyone to use QuarkXpress on a 12", regardless of spec. The clutter of undockable palettes and huge option panes would make using it a nightmare.

    Personally, I wouldn't go for an iBook. Having used a few, I think they're pretty lightweight and wouldn't offer the longevity you are looking for.
     
  24. Smileyguy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2004
    #24
    Thanks for all the help guys. Having browsed various websites and eBay this morning, I seem to be facing a certain dilemma.

    - Get a 12' screen with a faster CPU
    - Get a 14' screen with a slower CPU

    I think I'm leaning towards getting a 14' iBook - I reckon 12' could be a little small to be my main machine. Plus the 14' should allow me to add more RAM in future. The only trouble is, the only 14s I can find in my immediate price range arre around the 900Mhz mark, whereas I could potentially afford a 1.2Ghz/1.3Ghz 12'.

    I'd hugely appreciate any input or advice on this dilemma. If a 900Mhz machine will be enough to enable me to do word processing, presentations, internet, music, some basic photo editing and layout comfortably, and upgrade to the latest versions of OSX for the next 3-4 years, I'll happily make that purchase. But if not, I'll have to reconsider.

    Would anyone be kind enough to share their thoughts?
     
  25. chaosbunny macrumors 68000

    chaosbunny

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2005
    Location:
    down to earth, far away from any clouds
    #25
    Since the 12" and 14" ibooks have the same resolution, 1024x768, I'd get the 12" model with the faster processor. At home you can always connect to a bigger monitor, if you budget is tight even an old 19" crt will do the job.
     

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