Need a Laptop, What To Do...

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by tjwett, Nov 4, 2005.

  1. tjwett macrumors 68000

    tjwett

    Joined:
    May 6, 2002
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NYC
    #1
    OK, so I have some decisions to make and would like to hear some input...

    Right now I have a Dual G5 1.8 that I bought last May with a 20" Cinema Display I bought just a few weeks ago. I am a Mac consultant for a living, my main services are AppleScript, FileMaker, Web Design, Training and Help Desk stuff. Apps I use daily consist of Apple Remote Desktop, Script Editor, FileMaker Pro, Photoshop/Illustrator, BBEdit, along with Quickbooks, DayLite and Billings for running my business. I also do a fair amount of audio editing with SoundTrack Pro and some other apps.

    The power of the G5 is awesome and for certain tasks I feel it definitely helps me out. However, I am heading out into the field to see clients more and more and it's getting to the point where I NEED to have a laptop on me when I'm out of the office. I've also got some significant back/nerve problems going on and being at the desk all day is making it rapidly worse. Basically I have nerve compression happening and am losing the use of my right arm, hopefully not permanently. Using the mouse and keyboard at the desk really puts pressure on me in the wrong spots.

    So anyway, it's clear I need a portable. I had a 15" TiBook a few years back, which I liked but it was very slow and a little big and flimsy for my taste. I had the Rev A 12" PowerBook after that, I loved its size but it was underpowered at the time and rather hot and the AirPort reception was weak. I bought an iBook last year which I only kept for a month before selling it. I liked the size but not the looks or the keyboard and it felt bulky after owning the 12" PowerBook. I had been waiting for the past PowerBook update and was seriously disappointed to see the 12" PowerBook get basically ignored. Pretty lame.

    I'm impressed with the 15" but I feel it is more valuable as a desktop replacement than a portable compliment to an existing desktop. If I had both the 15" and my Power Mac I would feel like it was overkill. Plus lugging the 15" might be kind of annoying for me when on the train and walking around the city. The 17" is out of the question, it's nice but I'm just not interested in it. Here are the options I've come up with...

    -Buy a current 12" iBook to hold me over till the Intels and give the iBook to my girlfriend at that point

    -Sell my Power Mac and Cinema display for $2200 (I got an offer already) and buy a 15" PowerBook for my main work machine and a mini w/cheap LCD for the home and so my girlfriend has a computer to use

    -Sell my Power Mac for $1500 (I got an offer alreay) but keep the display and buy a 12" iBook and a mini

    -Just bite the bullet and keep my Power Mac and Cinema and buy a portable to go with it and hope for the best

    While I don't exactly have money to burn and would like to do the economically right thing, the upside to this is that no matter what I do this will be written off as a legitimate business expense and tax deduction, which can ease the pain on big purchases.

    In light of this last update and the fact that the 12" PowerBook as we know it now has basically been abandoned by Apple, I am finding it REALLY hard to justify that extra $500 price over the 12" iBook. They are so similar at this point that I think I would feel suckered. I'm not planning to do any clamshell work or hook up to an external display so that feature is moot. The extra VRAM and HD speed in the 12" PowerBook are tempting and that is likely where most of the performance benefit would come from. The 15" is beautiful and very comfortable to work on but I know those Intels are just around the corner and I will be wanting one real bad when they are released, and would hate to frown upon my recently purchased $2000 laptop.

    As I said I am a Mac consultant so I am already very familiar with the pros and cons of all the machines. Really just looking to hear some outside opinions and thoughts. And if any of you are doing similar work and using similar apps etc it would be especially helpful to hear your input.

    Thanks for any help and sorry for the long post. :)
     
  2. Eluon macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2005
    Location:
    Spring, Texas
    #2
    Thanks for being thorough in your post though. I owned an iBook G4 12 inch and loved it. Were you using a 14 inch iBook G4?

    What would you need the laptop for on the road? Would you need it to do what the G5 is doing? Do you have to loook classy and professional when your going on the road (PB over iBook)? Would you be willing to use a PC laptop? IBM Think Pad's are great.

    I wouldn't suggest going with the 12inch Powerbook. I really like the 15 inch. It might be more comfortable with your physical problems as well. It is a work horse from what I hear.

    If you could answer my questions, I might be able to give you much more advice. But, until then, this is all I have.

    I wish I worked as a Mac consultant and was able to write off buying a new machine as a business expense!
     
  3. wordmunger macrumors 603

    wordmunger

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2003
    Location:
    North Carolina
    #3
    If you NEED a laptop for your work, I think you should just get the 12-inch iBook to tide you over until newer, better things arrive. Even if you have to take a $300 loss on selling it and upgrading to the new Intel machines, it will probably have earned you that much in the meantime. Buying a new Powerbook right now, when what you really want is an Intel, doesn't make much sense. Their value will decrease by much more than $300 when the replacements arrive.
     
  4. plinkoman macrumors 65816

    plinkoman

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2003
    Location:
    New York
    #4
    i'm going to have to agree with above posts, go for the 12" iBook, you have a nice powerful dualie do come home to, so the iBook will work fine for you untill intel books come out.
     
  5. tjwett thread starter macrumors 68000

    tjwett

    Joined:
    May 6, 2002
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NYC
    #5
    It was a 12" iBook 1Ghz

    Remote Desktop, AppleScript, DayLite, Mail, etc. No heavy media editing or anything.

    Nope.

    This may seem silly but yeah, I actually kind of do. It sounds lame but meetings and presentation are a big part of securing commercial clients.

    I would but I just don't know a single thing about Windows or really have time to learn.
     
  6. tuartboy macrumors 6502a

    tuartboy

    Joined:
    May 10, 2005
    #6
    You don't want to anyway. My business does all windows work and I don't think any of my staff use windows personally. A few mac and mostly linux.

    Go for the 12" powerbook. It will appear much more professional to your mac-savy clientele and will provide you with the portability to travel often and light. And I seriously doubt, wordmunger, that there will be much, if any, depreciation difference between the iBook and Powerbook lines.

    This is something you don't get in your business, though. I have the privilege of showing up to pick up someone's totally wasted PC and ringing them up on my mac while they pester me with questions. "So people use macs?" "What do you do with this thing?" How many viruses do you get on this thing?" Too good! Oh, and the best is: "I have an iPod!" Wow, thanks for telling me! I do too!

    Best of luck to you.
     
  7. ethernet76 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2003
    #7
    I understand your hesitancy in the portable market.

    A few questions if you will.

    1) Do you really need the G5? It doesn't sound like you are doing anything that would necessarily benefit from using a G5. I use both Photoshop and Illustrator on a daily basis. I don't believe I've ever run into a speed problem just using a 1.25 ghz Powerbook. Soundtrack Pro is where it gets tricky. I don't use it much in favour other things. Unless you're doing over 16 or so track compiling for films you'll be fine with a powerbook I feel.

    Your photoshop needs might increase greatly on how often you use filters. I work mostly with 5 megapixel images, making them ready for print.

    2) Would you really need an Intel mac?

    Other than it being the latest and greatest is there any reason you would be buying an Intel mac? I thought seriously about upgrading once they came around next year. Being that my Powerbook is over two year old, I feel it has a certain age that is undesirable. This is the longest I've ever had one computer. Right now I have no need to upgrade. I think you may just be desiring a new intel mac just for the idea of having it.

    With companies not really announcing their software yet I'd deem it risky at best. Apple's stuff will all be converted. Adobe's is likely. But I don't think rosetta is to a point where I'd be happy with a crippled laptop.

    Knowing what I know. Guessing at what I don't, I'd sell the G5 and get a good price for it before Intel macs start showing up. Keep the cinema display. It'll be useful for photoshop and Illustrator. My companies 21" CRTs allowed me to do a lot of my work more quickly because the color was truer and the 2048xwhatever gave me tons of space.

    Buy a refurbished Mac Mini from Apple. Buy a refurbished or new Powerbook. I think the total for the gear I suggested is 2050 or so. Not including taxes. That is 250 over what you'll be selling the Powermac for.
     
  8. tjwett thread starter macrumors 68000

    tjwett

    Joined:
    May 6, 2002
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NYC
    #8
    Yeah the G5 is kind of overkill for my currrent needs. When I bought it I was doing a lot of audio work with Logic and Ableton Live but my profession is sort of going in a different direction and it's true that I don't put it to proper use very often. It is nice however to know that I should be covered for a while and that I can expand it if needed. I bought it with cash so I'm not paying any interest on it or anything, which feels nice. Soundtrack Pro seems to really like the dual G5. But really everything I'm doing is just editing and scripting single stereo tracks, I don't see why a new G4 laptop couldn't handle that just fine. My Photoshop usage is not very processor intensive at all. EVERYTHING I do in Photoshop is for the web, so we're talking small 72ppi resolution web graphics. I'll use some KPT effects here and there but it's not like my work day revolves around render times or anything.

    Not really. I think it's an underlying fear of being abandoned by Apple. I know they say they will support the PPC platform for "years to come" but I can see that being much shorter. Which is why I'm even entertaining the thought of selling my dual to begin with. If I buy a $500 mini and Apple decides to abandoned the PPC in a year, big deal. I'll put it in the living room and it will make a great stereo. But knowing my $2000 G5 is "a thing of the past" would probably get under my skin a bit more.

    This is a great point. I'm not so sure I want to deal with being one of the first Macintel guinea pigs. At the same time, I think we can all agree that the new lappys are going to be impressive compared to the current stock. But yeah, I'd rather have something I know works. And I do love the Cinema Display.

    This is a good plan that sort of eliminates most of the getting screwed over feelings. My main concern at this point is that I've been spoiled by having a dual G5 and having a PowerBook as my fastest machine would feel slow and frustrating. I'm sure some of this might sound kind of silly. If it wasn't such a mysterious time for Apple this decision would be a whole lot easier.
     
  9. shane-o-mac macrumors regular

    shane-o-mac

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2005
    #9
    I am on the 12"ibook bang wagon. I have 15inch powerbook and it does rock but the battery life is way dissapointing and with intel machines in the works....youd def be better of waiting.
     
  10. tjwett thread starter macrumors 68000

    tjwett

    Joined:
    May 6, 2002
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NYC
    #10
    To add even more confusion to this; I just got word that my main commercial client has a dual 1Ghz Quicksilver Power Mac which was their old server that they replaced with a G5 XServe RAID setup. Anyway, they are cleaning house and said I could take it for a ridiculous price of $200, maybe even less. This would make a great machine for the home and the girlfriend and will certainly tide me over until bigger and badder stuff comes along. At $200 I wouldn't have any bad feelings about letting it go down the road.
     
  11. tjwett thread starter macrumors 68000

    tjwett

    Joined:
    May 6, 2002
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NYC
  12. FFTT macrumors 68030

    FFTT

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2004
    Location:
    A Stoned Throw From Ground Zero
    #12
    This is one of those tough calls.

    You still need a workstation and something with enough guts to hold you over in a portable.

    It looks like your best option might be the 12" PB since you have a great display and you really do need something to get you through presentations.

    If it were not for your A/V requirements, a refurb iBook would hold you.
    for $799.00

    Unfortunately it seems you really do need the audio in and AVI Out that
    the powerbook provides.

    The kicker here is knowing that you need to unload your 1.8 Tower
    while it still has some value.

    In a very short time, the newest mini upgrade to 1.5 GHz and 64 MB VRAM is going to put even more pressure on Apple to replace the 12" PowerBook.

    We're talking a matter of months before we may see those 13" WS
    PowerBooks and lab rat or not, a dual core 15" & 17 " model.

    If you simply MUST have a new portable before the 12" PB is replaced,
    then you might as well consider it a short term business expense to hold you for 12-18 months, then give it to your girlfriend who will more than appreciate it hopefully.

    Your physical problems concern me in that you may not be able to work
    for more than a few hours in comfort without an external display.

    For any extended use, you'll probably want to get an iCurve to position your portable at a better viewing angle along with a keyboard and mouse.

    If the 12" PB doesn't cut it after a few days, then hopefully if you discuss this with the store manager in advance, they might let you upgrade to a 15"
    without paying the restocking fee.
    In fact you might see if he has a NEW open box unit that he can give you at a better price.

    I wish I could be of more help, but this is simply a matter of difficult timing.

    I wouldn't worry about your Apple savvy associates too much because they're all in the same boat.
     
  13. tjwett thread starter macrumors 68000

    tjwett

    Joined:
    May 6, 2002
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NYC
    #13
    well, problem solved. i went with the 12" PowerBook. i was able to use an edu discount that made it even more worth my while. after weighing the pros and cons and what i really intend to do with this machine, the 12" PB is really what i need and what i prefer. i must admit i was very impressed with the new 15" screen and the little details but what i'm after at the end of the day is portability and the few things that the 12" PB has over the 12" iBook. my plan is to keep my dual G5, no reason it won't be enough power for plenty of time to come. and then based on what comes out next year combined with how much i find myself using the laptop i may decide to switch to a completely portable setup with a shiny new Intel PB as my main machine down the road. for now i've got my ultra portable for when i'm on the road and a nice powerful desktop system to come home to. and so far i'm VERY pleased with the performance, build quality and overall feel of this 12". it's miles ahead of the Rev A i had a few years ago.
     
  14. FFTT macrumors 68030

    FFTT

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2004
    Location:
    A Stoned Throw From Ground Zero
    #14
    All things considered. I think you made a good choice.

    It's a great lil machine at a reasonable price.

    I'd be interested to hear how it does in multitrack recording and editing.
     
  15. tjwett thread starter macrumors 68000

    tjwett

    Joined:
    May 6, 2002
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NYC
    #15
    so far i've only tried out Ableton Live and Reason on it. Reason did great. Live did not, which is sort of expected. Haven't installed Soundtrack Pro on it yet, not sure if i'll even bother. still installing the basics and pushing all my documents around so haven't had much play time. it does an awesome job with Keynote and Pages though. by "awesome" i mean that the UI performance and responsiveness feels about as good as my dual G5. i can grab objects and sping them around smoothly and whatnot in the inspector which is something i was not able to do with the iBooks in the Apple Store. not a scientific benchmark by any means but just one thing i noticed.
     
  16. generik macrumors 601

    generik

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2005
    Location:
    Minitrue
    #16
    An Intel PB would be very nice, no doubts about that. In fact if you dig up some of my earlier posts you'd probably find that I had the same doubts as you, but come the previous update... and I just gave in and bite the bullet, and here I am :)

    Frankly, I think the PB is a bit sluggish at times, especially with Firefox running, but it does seems like Firefox easily consumes 300-400mb of memory (this machine has only 512), I do suspect if you get a PB of the size you prefer, and totally deck out its memory.. it should be sufficient to last you for a considerable period of time.

    1.6Ghz is not slow in the least.. not at all. I really don't see where the current Mhz race is going, as of now software demands (excepting games of course) are still not catching up to the level of hardware yet.

    Maybe when Windows "Bloat" Vista arrives, and raises the general level of computing power all round will we non-bloat users really start to benefit, but for now I'm pretty pleased with the current PB.

    I foresee you should be quite pleased with your dual 1.8 PM too, SMP will probably give you ~ 50-80% increase with that first processor, and that's provided you deal a lot in threaded applications, for the most part I think you will be VERY happy with a PB.

    Good luck!
     

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