Info overload: Need buying advice-ibook, etc.

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by brobson, Aug 13, 2004.

  1. brobson macrumors 6502

    brobson

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2004
    Location:
    Dallas
    #1
    I am an art teacher who has all her valuable surfing lessons at home on a OS X 333 G3 Blueberry mac upgraded to 256-60 hard drive. A friend upgraded and now we can't play games (warcraft etc.) We used to have to restart it in 0s 9 then play. Now for some reason we can't do that anymore.

    I have a windows at 2 work locations as slow as molasses and for the life of me I can't get my files on them. I have dreams of pulling up images on the spur of the moment to show my class. I would love to project them to a tv but I don't think I am enough of a saavy geek.
    So I have decided to either, get an ibook used/new (what should I get?
    I have an old photoshop and illustrator but not too many other big programs in 4 years.)
    Or get a new iMac and take my old one to work.
    My thinking on an ibook: I can take it to different locations if I expand my private art classes at other schools. (I teach after school also) But I am insecure about losing it, dropping it, having my son convescate it into his room forever.

    I also need a scanner and the $99 off of a hewlett packard scanner/printer offer is tempting. So it the ipod special but will I really use it? I will probably lose it. ADD art teacher. Why wouldn't a person just burn disks and listen to them in the car and at home?

    So, lots of food for thought.
    All of this is adding up and I don't want to spend over $1600. Actually I want to spend about 1/2 that but ebay deals are scary. Can you buy appleworks protection if any machine is less than one year? Or can you pick it up?
    Are those deals foolproof or do people get burned? Is the refurbished small dog a good deal? Or is educational discount the best? I still have to pay tax.
    What about thieft? I had another teacher have her laptop stolen.

    Sorry it's a novel, thanks in advance for any advice.
    B ;)
     
  2. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2004
    Location:
    Andover, MA
    #2
    Wow. Well, it's nice to see all the questions in one place. I'll do my very best to answer as many of them as possible....

    (1) In general, since you qualify for the educational discount, you're usually better off using that than you are buying refurb. However, always check the refurb prices (store.apple.com, then click on the big SALE icon) as there are sometimes really good deals there.

    (2) In your case, an iBook is probably a better deal than an iMac, only because you can carry it wherever you need it. That said, wait for the iMac announcement. If it looks sexy enough to you, screw the ability to carry it anywhere - buy the iMac and drag your old one to work. No one will steal it.

    (3) A nicely outfitted 12" iBook will be well under $1600, even with AppleCare (which, yes, you can buy anytime within the first year after purchase). A 14" - which is the same computer with a bigger screen but same resolution - will also squeak under $1600.

    (4) The scanner deal is nice - not an overwhelmingly excellent product, but a good value.

    (5) The iPod is amazing. Amazing. Especially for you if you listen to audiobooks (www.audible.com or iTunes Music Store). No more burning. All in the palm of your hand. You won't regret it, and it's unlikely you'll lose track of it.

    If I were you, I'd buy a nicely equipped 12" iBook, the scanner, and an iPod (quite the deal at $200 off - you could even sell it afterward for a profit). Check the refurb section to make sure there isn't a great deal going there, then just go for the edu discount. I'd up the 30GB drive to a larger size, and I'd get Bluetooth. You'll need more RAM, which is easier to buy form Apple but much cheaper to buy elsewhere if you're not afraid to install it (it's easy).

    Hope this helps some. Best of luck!
     
  3. brobson thread starter macrumors 6502

    brobson

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2004
    Location:
    Dallas
    #3
    Thanks for such a quick response!

    A previous post a couple of pages later states that the laptops are not good long term.
    He seemed to indicate the parts are hard to find, etc. Batteries wear out, etc.
    How long is the expected life of a laptop?

    ALso,
    What do I need to project to a tv screen?
    And I have digital wiring, what can I do to protect it from being fried if I want to get on my AOL while at school?
    Do you recommend adding the airport, etc.
    Will I need something in addition?

    I appreciate all the opinions I can get!
    B
     
  4. SolidGun macrumors 6502

    SolidGun

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2004
    Location:
    Twin Cities
    #4
    I know jsw will answer this gladly telling you that he is still using his G3 from 1999, and still kicking (you know what) of PC users at his local playground.
    I have not seen too many people retain PC laptops for more than 3 years, but I have seen a few with old Mac notebooks and not mind using them for what they do.
     
  5. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2004
    Location:
    Andover, MA
    #5
    Damn straight! ;) 1999 400Mhz G3 Lombard PowerBook. Still going strong! Original battery - still works. No problems with it except for damaged left speaker from when it was dropped, crunching left corner of laptop but, other than speaker, doing no harm.

    TV should be a no brainer - the optional Apple Video Adapter is pretty cheap. Edit: It's the "Apple Video Adapter" for iBooks, etc, and it's $19 (less with edu discount, I'm sure)

    If you have digital phones at work, do not connect the modem! Get an AirPort if there's a wireless signal at school or home - it's cheap and works well.

    Other than the AirPort and the Video Adapter, I recommend (as above) a bigger HD and Bluetooth as well as a total of 512MB or better.

    Have fun shopping!
     
  6. brobson thread starter macrumors 6502

    brobson

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2004
    Location:
    Dallas
    #6
    Thanks so much!
    One last question?
    How do I know if they have a wireless signal. If they have internet.
    How do I get a wireless signal at home?
    THanks again
    Brenda
     
  7. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2004
    Location:
    Andover, MA
    #7
    if you get an AirPort card, then you'll know if there's a wireless internet connection available for you to use - the AirPort card will show something to which you can connect. Alternately, if they use some level of security, it won't be obvious that there's a signal - but surely someone in the school would know.

    As far as getting a wireless signal at home: there are many, many ways. If you use dial-up, you'll need something like Apple's AirPort Extreme Base Station, which will dial out for you. If you're on broadband, there are many, many options, including the Base Station previously mentioned. My favorite is the Linksys WRT54G router, which you can get for $60 after rebates at Circuit City - plug it into your broadband router, and connect to it either directly via ethernet cable or wirelessly.
     
  8. brobson thread starter macrumors 6502

    brobson

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2004
    Location:
    Dallas
    #8
    Boy you are attentive and helpful! thanks!
    What is a VGA Display adapter? Do I need one?
    My total is hovering over $2k
    • 512MB
    • 60GB
    • Combo (DVD-ROM/CD-RW)
    • AirPort Extreme Card
    • Bluetooth Module
    • iPod w/Click Wheel (20GB)-$200=($70)
    • .Mac Promotional Bundle
    • APP for iBook - Enrollment Kit
    • 12-inch TFT XGA display
    • 1GHz PowerPC G4
    mouse
    air base
    video adapter
    (Do I need a super drive? Burn DVD's for lesson presentation?)
    HP all in one printer($80) =$99
    and this is all before tax

    I am feeling pre buyer's remorse (guilt) like I should just plod along without and put my $$$ in the bank, but I would really love all this.
    Any place I should tweek or bite the bullet?
    :eek:
     
  9. brobson thread starter macrumors 6502

    brobson

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2004
    Location:
    Dallas
    #9
    Also, what does it mean: Hotspot fees for wireless?
    Will I get some surprises on my AOL bill?
    Brenda :confused:
     
  10. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2004
    Location:
    Andover, MA
    #10
    The VGA Display Adapter is necessary only if you want to connect your iBook to a TV, VCR, etc., and can be found by going to the Apple Store and searching for "VGA Display Adapter". They make a couple that fall under that category, but only one says it works with iBooks - I'd post a direct link, but the Apple Store is tricky to do that with. If you look at the attached image, you'll see that, with some iBooks, you need an Apple A/V connector. Presumably, Apple can tell you which you need with which iBook. In any event, it'll probably cost ~$20.

    As far as a SuperDrive is concerned, it's only an option in the 14" iBook, and, no, you don't need it. You can get an external one, and there are simple hacks to get iDVD to work with it, should you want to do so. A DVD burner is nice, but, since you'd need to upgrade to a 14", it'd add a lot to the bottom line - more that it would cost to get an external one later.

    As far as saving money, you could always postpone buying AppleCare until later (which is only a temporary savings). You could put off buying an AirPort card and use ethernet cables - ugly but faster and cheaper. You could avoid .Mac, but, for the $70, it's worth it, at least to see if you like it and use it enough to renew it next year. Bluetooth is a no-brainer to keep. It's well worth it, if not now, definitely down the line (I use it everyday).

    Are you getting the AirPort base station because you have dial-up? If not, there are much cheaper options (see above). If so, you could save ~$300 by skipping the AirPort card and base station and using a $3 phone cord at home. Not as cool, though. But the AirPort things could be bought afterward. Bluetooth, the bigger drive, etc. cannot be.

    You could save $50 by getting 256MB RAM and buying another 256 from Crucial, Kingston, etc - but it's probably worth it for you to not have to install it.

    Generally, I think you've got a nice setup there. The money would be nice in the bank, but this new computer will not only help your students, but you'll love it - and sometimes you need to spend money on yourself because you deserve it.

    BTW: "Hotspot fees for wireless" means that you need to pay to access certain wireless zones - like in most Starbucks. You'll never be billed without knowing it beforehand - because you need to "enroll" for a day's worth of access (in can be parceled out many ways, but it's often per-day).

    It won't increase your AOL bill - but, please, surely there's something better or cheaper out there for you than AOL? ;)

    Anyway, best of luck!
     

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  11. brobson thread starter macrumors 6502

    brobson

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2004
    Location:
    Dallas
    #11
    My goodness you are up late.

    I appreciate your knowledge very much.

    I found this on the VGA (http://support.clubmac.com/display.asp?r=596)
    and it indicates that I only need it if I lose mine? that the new ibooks come with. Unless I am just too sleepy to understand it.
    I would just ask the Apple guy when I go, which I think I will go that route,
    but he told me I could buy a refurb. ipod with the cram and jam and it would be free.
    All I had to do was read the fine print on the way home to know that wasn't true.
    I am sure he didn't know that or else he was sleezy. :mad:

    I do have dial up and the same apple guy said I could just get a little device from Fry's or somewhere to be able to plug my laptop in at work with digital lines and it wouldn't fry.
    (no pun intended) ;)

    That would free me from an airport base and card, right?

    And AOL has been the only provider that doesn't crash a lot but maybe with a better machine I can get something cheaper. SBC global is pretty cheap, any other recommendations? I have heard that the reason I cannot send my attachments to work (which began this whole mess) is AOL. Could that be true?
    :confused:

    Thanks in advance,
    Brenda
     
  12. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2004
    Location:
    Andover, MA
    #12
    Glad I could be of help!

    As far as the Video adapter is concerned. The URL you included also suggests that newer iBooks use the A/V cable (see picture below). However, the Tech Specs section on the Apple iBook site suggests a different cable (see other attached picture). So I don't know. I'm guessing you can get the iBook and then read the manual that comes with it. Also, just call Apple - they should know.

    From the Cram And Jam coupon:
    So, yes, the refurb won't count. However, many Apple Stores have the older 15GB models on sale, and the coupon does have a checkbox for the 15GB, so it would be allowable, if purchased new at the store.

    As far as dialing in at work: if they use digital lines, I think you're out of luck. I could easily be wrong - and hopefully, someone else can correct me - but all I've seen are devices that stop your modem from being fried if you accidentally plug into the wrong jack. They don't let you connect. I think that you just can't get an analog signal through a digital line. However, it's been years since I've looked into it, and maybe there are devices which will dial for you over a digital line. I'm just basically ignorant of the whole area with the exception of knowing not to plug an analog line into a digital jack.

    In any event, you never need the AirPort base and card - they're just a convenience. The AirPort needs a standard phone line (or, obviously, broadband modem's ethernet uplink), so, anywhere you could plug it in, you could plug in a phone cord. Wireless is a very nice thing (I use it all the time), but it's rarely needed.

    For service providers, I've always been a big fan of Earthlink. I've been with them for 6 years (back when the ISP I joined was MindSpring, and they merged into Earthlink later on). I think they have great service - I've used them while traveling in NY, IL, and AZ, as well as points in between, and I've never had a problem.

    AOL isn't bad or evil or anything - it just seems like they mess a lot of stuff up (yes, like images and file formats). There are workarounds (typically involving Zipping everything up before sending it to/from an AOL account), but other ISPs are just as cheap and provide - IMHO - better service. Or ISPs that might cost a few dollars more but which provide much better service. What area of the country do you live it?
     

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  13. Mem macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2004
    #13
    I tried the free trial of Earthlink that came with my Powerbook and I was very happy with it. One month of dial-up came free with it and I just called the other day to cancel (Not because I wasn't happy, only because I'm getting free internet at school). Customer service was extremely speedy and helpful. I would recommend you try the free trial and see what you think.

    And even though I'm not a fan of AOL, I don't think it would prevent you from successfully sending attachments.
     
  14. Brother Michael macrumors 6502a

    Brother Michael

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2004
    #14
    JSW: You are my hero! You said everything I was thinking about posting to this person.

    Mike
     
  15. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2004
    Location:
    Andover, MA
    #15
    Well, thank you. I had my cape on for these posts. ;)
     

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