Need Expertise. Have sneaking suspicion I can get that here.

Discussion in 'General Mac Discussion' started by KaitlynT, Aug 19, 2002.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2002
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI
    #1
    Sorry to anyone who finds this question redundant and/or tiresome. This is my first post, and my first foray into the world of Mac Rumors and Discussions.

    Here are the essentials:

    I am a graphic design student in my last year, am already working in the field, and freelance as well. My main focus is print, although I have a strange inclination to Director and Flash.

    I need to purchase a new computer. For two years, I have used a G4 400, with 128MB of RAM, 20 GB Hard Drive. Until it went kaput on me. Along with a vast portion of my portfolio. (But that's a sad, sad story, best left untold).

    My question is:

    Laptop or Tower?

    The variables are:

    I am seduced by the idea of portability, as I have hated (for two years now) the feeling of being bound and gagged to the location of my desktop (aka my apartment). I am a bit anal about my homework/projects/GPA and all that, and get very anxious when exiting a ten mile radius of my computer during the school year.

    I need a computer ASAP. With graduation approaching, I have much to do, and very little time to complete these tasks.

    Taking a laptop to school has proven (by my peers) to be much easier than juggling x number of zip disks for the computer labs.

    If I bought a tower, I would not buy a new monitor. If I bought a laptop, I could hook it up to my monitor for extra screen space (Mmmm .... love that idea).

    Is a laptop a mistake for a Graphic Designer? Is the current version good enough? Do I need the mysterious forthcoming updates?

    Rawr. The more questions I ask, the more circular it becomes.
    If anyone would like to offer pearls of wisdom, I would be ever so oblidged.

    Thanks in advance ... Kate
     
  2. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2002
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI
    #2
    Amendment to my post.

    P.S.

    If I were to purchase a laptop, I would go all out. 800 MHz, as much RAM as possible, 60Gig, 5200 RPM HardDrive .... etc.
    I don't know why I keep repeating figures, y'all know this stuff like your times tables.
     
  3. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2002
    Location:
    Central New York
    #3
    Any powerbook, especially if you go all out with ram and such, should suit your needs quite nicely. I know several graphic designers who use them, one does video on theirs as well, turns out quite nicely. As long as the screen size doesn't bother you, and you want to be portable, go with the powerbook. Kinda pricey, but well worth it.
     
  4. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2002
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    #4
    if you do get a tower, instead of X number of zip disks, you can always invest the money into a cd-rw or even dvd-rw... its really a question of do you want portability...

    (although i love the powerbook, i'd prolly say go with a tower... they're much harder to steal)
     
  5. macrumors 68020

    Moxiemike

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2002
    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    #5
    Kate.

    My recommendation to you is this. A laptop is a great benefit to a designer, and with wireless clouds popping up all over (there's some nice ones in pgh), it's possible to do freelance from a coffeeshop with wireless and still be in contact with clients.

    It's very very very nice.

    However, even the best ti or ibook screen doesn't match up to the color of the Apple LCD's or betteryet, a CRT. (I can't use CRT's--headaches. But thats another story!)

    So, i'd suggest grabbing a tibook, whatever you can afford, max the ram, get airport and buy a decent 17" or 19" monitor. This really will be indispensible if you do any color critical work. You'll have that benefit of "closer" to real color, and be one step ahead. You'll be able to do some hardcore color correcting, pick your palette and then roll to the coffeehouse (or the park!) and get to work on your layouts. It's an amazing life, especially if you are conisdering going fulltime freelance.

    The cabin fever you can get is overwhelming at times.

    Plus, you can take the laptop to client's and interview's and elmininate the need for a bulky portfolio (sometimes) with a flash based presentation of your work.

    Also, if you'd like any feedback on your portfolio, i'm more than welcome to give ya my .02. Been in the biz for almost 5 years, and have seen quite a bit of intriguing stuff happen. :)

    Lemme know what you decide!
     
  6. macrumors 65816

    Taft

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2002
    Location:
    Chicago
    #6
    I have two Macs at home. A 400MHz tower and a 400MHz Powerbook, both G4s. They have similar amounts of RAM.

    From my experience, they run at nearly the same speed. The TiBook runs a bit slower than the tower in most tasks, but very close. The only real difference I see is in the area of graphics capabilities. The tower was quite a bit faster with the original graphics card installed and it flies with the Radeon I later put in. My TiBook has languished at 8 MB VRAM and a slow card in general as Tibooks are, for all practical purposes, not upgradable in the graphics area.

    And I think that is where the idea of getting a notebook can break down for some people: they just aren't as upgradable. Now chances are you won't need a top of the line graphics card (you didn't mention being a gamer), though having a good card is probably important to you (as you do work in graphics). And chances are that you can find every peripheral you need via Firewire and USB (these two things make it much easier to add on to your laptop--thank the gods for them!). But you can pretty much forget about upgrading anything inside your system but the RAM.

    I don't find the lack of upgradability to be a setback in my laptop. But you should ask yourself if you would find it to be so.

    Another thing is cost. You get more bang for your buck in a desktop. Its pretty much a given when buying a laptop. Do you mind paying more for portability?

    There are other issues, but I think in most other ways you were pretty much set on wanting a laptop. So if you can get over the "limitations" of owning a laptop, then I say go for it.

    Hope this help.

    Taft (Happily typing this on his TiBook from bed instead of his desktop from...well...the desk. :))
     
  7. macrumors 68030

    mnkeybsness

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2001
    Location:
    Moneyapolis, Minnesota
    #7
    i have known people that have shelled out the extra money on laptops and use them out and about for about 2-3 weeks and then they end up sitting on a desk never traveling anywhere...seriously think about if you are REALLY going to use it away from your apartment...but for graphic design then you may want to buy and extra screen to hook up to a powerbook mainly because of height limitations...it's really nice to be able to move the screen around and adjust according to the lighting in the room you may be using it in at home.
     
  8. macrumors 68020

    Moxiemike

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2002
    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    #8
    You know some idiotic people then. I know about ten people who have bought laptops. Myself and Dug, my partner in the photo venture have laptops and download photos to our books while driving to the next location.

    We've been know to take up two or three tables at this one coffeehouse, myself, dug, my friends ryan, bethany, glenn and mike, all with laptops and various goodies.

    I don't know of one person who doesn't take their laptop out of the house.

    Unless their just all about having "a cool gadget" to impress their friends with when they come over.

    Kate doesn't sound like that. She sounds like a serious designer who wants to make a go of the industry. My bets are she'll become very close friends with her laptop, buckling it under the seatbelt from time to time. :D

    Also, it's a HUGE benefit when you can take a machine to school. When I was in Art School, most of our machines were 85 & 9500's (1997-1999) and were so abused and beaten that their instability made working difficult.

    I got a lombard, would bring it to class, plug it into the ethernet, and get to work.

    It was 100 x faster, more efficient, i didn';t have to worry about lugging fragile zip disks back and forth and NEVER forgot an assignment.

    It really improves the workflow. These schools should just eliminate the "labs" and make the student buy portables (albeit at deep discounts, for a bulk buy)

    M
     
  9. macrumors 65816

    Taft

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2002
    Location:
    Chicago
    #9
    I agree that everyone I know with a laptop makes very good use of it, myself included.

    But I strongly disagree that schools should either get rid of labs or force students into buying a laptop. Labs provide something far greater than the combined sum of their computers' power. They are a meeting place for people in a curriculum. They provide a place for shared learning and instructional venues outside of the classroom and seperate from an instructor's methods. They allow for a separation of lifestyles: work in the lab, have fun/relax at home.

    I was a learning center coach for three years in my University's CS labs and I saw the good things labs can accomplish. With average computing equipment and an average support system, almost any lab can succeed. Everyone having computers at home or a laptop is not at all necessary, and I would argue that it takes something away from a school environment and the learning experience.

    Forcing everyone to buy a laptop is just lunacy. First, not everyone works in the laptop paradigm and receives a benefit from using one worth the cost of the laptop. Second, it promotes isolated learning. Whats the first thing most students think about when they get out of class? Going home or away from school. Having every student able to work from home will erode the spirit of community learning most Universities promote. Third, these laptop policies generally take away personal computing choices from students. Want a Mac? Forget it. You'll be getting an IBM Thinkpad or a *compatible* computer.

    You want to see laptops fall into disuse? Go to a school where laptops are required. Look at that policy in action. Look at the benefits the laptops provide and the costs associated with them. Check out all of the people playing solitaire or minesweeper during lecture. These are undergrads we are talking about.

    In hindsight, I actually wish I hadn't blown all of that money on a computer during college. I probably would've learned more without it.

    Taft
     
  10. Moderator emeritus

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2002
    Location:
    Gone but not forgotten.
    #10
    I would agree to having a PowerBook as long as the money is there. The towers are great but inconvenient when u'd like to show a customer examples of what can be done.

    For school, I've been carting a heavy FireWire drive instead of Zip disks or the laptop machine I don't have.

    The current PowerBooks as fast and efficient. However, remember all the extra little bits you'll probably want to carry such as a small graphics tablet and an extra battery.

    Inspiration can knock me over anytime, anywhere so having a mobile computer would help a lot. I've actually had two but they're too old to help anyone now. I like to have two things available to me at all times: a camera and a computer. There have been a few times I've shot so much that I needed another card and a computer would have been wonderful so that I could have offloaded the shots and kept going.
     
  11. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2002
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI
    #11
    You guys are incredible!

    I am amazed at the expediency of the feedback I've received ... thanks to all of you for jumping all over this. Special thanks to MoxieMike and Taft, who really responded above and beyond what I expected.

    I truly am leaning towards a tiBook ... such a pretty, pretty machine. I really think it should be fine for what I do, as I'm not a gamer. And no more "The Shining"-esque escapades of rabid cabin fever, which is always a plus.

    One last question, if you'll indulge me ... do I really need 1 Gig of RAM? Or is 512 MB fine? The practical side of me says do it now and avoid the hassle in the future. But I've already built myself a pricey tool.

    I wonder if Jaguar is shipping with new tiBook orders ... ?

    Kate
     
  12. macrumors 68020

    Moxiemike

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2002
    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    #12
    Supposedly Jaguar is shippingh with the new tibooks. Buddy just bought one and told me it was.

    If you can swing a gig of ram, do it. You'll really feel the comfort of using PS7 AI 10 and whatever else all at the same time.

    Just don't buy from apple, as it's cost prohibitve. Buy from a third party and have them install it. Much much much cheaper. :D

    Good luck with your ti-- i have one and its BEAUTIFUL. Also, like I said, try to get a CRT (or a 15" LCD) if you're doing any color critical stuff.

    M
     
  13. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2002
    Location:
    Hong Kong
    #13
    512 MB should be fine for your needs...

    BTW: According to most benchmark tests, the PBG4 has beaten Powermac towers...

    Good Luck!

    [edit] I believe that Jagaur is shipping with PBG4's cause there have been many cases about a week ago of people buying iBooks with it installed.. This is probably only the case though if you are to buy the computer directly from Apple, which I am assuming you are going to do, as opposed to buying it from your schools computer store... [/edit]

    -f
     
  14. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2002
    #14
    I agree with everyone here that you'll be very well off with a tibook. The 800 is probably faster than your previous machine, and you've got the monitor etc. etc. so get it.......

    but I can't help but be bothered with this question: what happened to your old tower? how did it just go kaput? I have a sneaking suspicion you could fix relatively easily and cheaply--unless you dropped it in tub. you can't use powerbooks there either.

    IT and THE

    geez
     
  15. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2002
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI
    #15
    To Railthinner:

    Oh, how I wish "easily and cheaply" fit into my G4 saga. Here's the reader's digest version:

    On the second day of my finals week last semester (Yes, I said finals week. Note Murphy's Law in action) my computer suddenly would not boot up. It was not recognizing my system disk, and giving me the HappyMac/Question Mark at startup.

    Frantically, I lugged my tower into the computer tech guys and pled for help. They said they'd check it out and get back to me. Upon returning 3 hours later, with grim expressions on their faces, they informed me that it was gone. All of it .. that they'd never seen anything like it. They ran Drive 10, Norton's, etc ... to no avail.

    (At this point, I had to breathe in and out of a paper bag)

    The next day, I took it to professionals, the best guys in town. Here's the real kick in the pants: My disk was initialized while in the possession of the tech guys. Inadvertently, I would assume (I would hope!). They told me that by looking at the last date the hard drive was modified.

    They tinkered with it, and said they could do nothing. My only hope of getting my data was sending my HD to DriveSavers. (Have I sent shivers down anyone's spine yet?) The diagnostics on my tower? A a failing hard disk and microprocessor.

    I never sent my drive to Drive Savers, and just recently, the same computer guys obtained identical technology and offerd to run it on my system. Some stuff came back, not alot. And of course, none of what I desperately wanted came back.

    This all makes me sound like an idiot, I know. I never knew the necessity of backup, because I never thought it would happen to me. Hence the need for a computer PDQ. I have only a few months until graduation, and need to recreate my entire portfolio. I have hard copies of everything, but what a pain in the arse. Timeconsuming and a constant reminder of my ignorance.

    The only good thing from this is that I'll be the most conscientious backer-upper ever for the rest of my days. And as I'm going into design, that's a good neuroses to have.

    Whew ... that felt theraputic. Haven't spoken about my trauma in ages because it's so awful. But this was rather cathartic. Just don't judge me. :)

    Kate
     
  16. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2002
    #16
    Good God that is a horror story. sorry. at least you can leave school with well earned knowledge. backup indeed.
     
  17. Moderator emeritus

    AmbitiousLemon

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2001
    Location:
    down in Fraggle Rock
    #17
    You will definitely need as much RAM as possible. Its not about having the best of the best but about avoiding restarts because of excessive pageouts (computer using hard disk space when it runs out of RAM). I only have 512MB on my computers and its a constant battle. I keep a very close eye on RAM usage via aquamon, and typically have to restart daily because the system slow down when i dive into Virtual Memory begins to impede my work.

    The strange thing about RAM usage in OSX is that you can have a relatively low number of applications open at once and still be using a lot of RAM if you have been up for a few days or if you did one or two RAM intensive tasks. OSX likes to store RAM away as 'inactive' but inactive RAM is not available for use by other applications. This RAM is basically stored away in cache.

    If you max out your RAM then hopefully you will not have to be so concerned about RAM usage.

    So when buying from apple go for the smallest amount of RAM and then upgrade the RAM yourself after the system comes. www.ramseeker.com for a deal or www.crucial.com for the best quality RAM. If yo go for cheap you will notice it won't cost much at all to upgrade to 1GB.
     
  18. macrumors 6502

    #18
    I'm a graphic/web designer working on TiBook 800 with 768MB RAM and OS X.

    I used to use a desktop mac as my main machine, but switched to new TiBook recently. As one of the posters suggested, the screen is not big enough and color is not as acurate as Apple's large LCDs. I still use my desktop machine with a Cinema Display, but not as a main machine.

    I love the portability of TiBook as I move all over my house with AirPort connection.

    Nothing beats a desktop machine with a huge screen, but if you connect a big monitor and mouse/keyboard, it's almost identical to the desktop environment.

    Remember that it's not as fast as desktops. That well-know test result which says "Tibook 800 has beaten desktop counter part" is based on a test against a single processor 800Mhz desktop mac which did not have the current technologies we have now. For the same money you'd spend for TiBook you can get a VERY fast machine

    The only thing is that the heat of TiBook is scaring me. It gets very hot when I connect all sorts of stuff to it and keep it running for hours...

    Anyhow, I'm a very happy designer on TiBook.

    Good luck on your design career!
     
  19. macrumors 601

    Backtothemac

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2002
    Location:
    San Destin Florida
    #19
    Kaitlyn,

    Go with the PowerBook 800. The 1GB of ram makes a huge difference in performance especially with 10.2 coming out. I just sent you an e-mail with additional informaiton :)
    B2TM
     
  20. macrumors 68000

    tjwett

    Joined:
    May 6, 2002
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NYC
    #20
    Welcome to MacRumors! I work in the field and have found my PowerBook to be the most important part of my career. Being able to present clients with your work on an Uber-professional looking machine with a large display, you will find, can make the PowerBook worth it's weight in gold. However, I advise getting a decent CRT monitor for graphics work, ESPECIALLY print. The color representation on LCDs doesn't come close and as you know accuracy is essential. The new PowerBook can handle Photoshop, Flash, and basically everything else you may throw at it, aside from heavy video and 3D work. It's an expensive investment by I've found that it has paid for itself many times over. Good luck and enjoy.
     
  21. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2002
    Location:
    Hong Kong
    #21
    in my experiences 512 has been just great.. photoshop doesnt tend to run much differently.. i guess its just what your used too...

    -f
     
  22. macrumors 601

    Backtothemac

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2002
    Location:
    San Destin Florida
    #22
    Actually, on the PowerBooks, the difference in 512 and 1GB is really spectacular. Maury at railhead recently had an article on his site about it. Makes a big difference.
     
  23. macrumors 6502a

    Rajj

    Joined:
    May 29, 2002
    Location:
    32° 44' N 117° 10' W
    #23
    A 800MHz TiBook with a Gig of Ram is a monstrosity!!!( in a good way);)
    I have a 400 Mhz TiBook and it is still fast!!!

    In other words, you are making a good choice by going with the Tibook;)
    Just one word of advice, if you can ride it out until January, then wait!!;) :D
     
  24. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2002
    #24
    Havent seen any one else raise this, but as a PB 667 owner who works with Director and Flash (which you mentioned), here are a couple of points to bear in mind (one of which is going to be the case whether you get a tower or laptop) -

    - Flash MX on my PB at least is dog slow, and that is the same running Jaguar.

    - Director is still a classis only application, so expect to spend plenty of time in OS9. What's more. Macromedia are still not giving any clue as to when it will be updated.

    As it stands at the moment, if you are going to be doing any amount of work in Director, I'd hesitate to recommend you buying a Mac on the basis of what Jaguar offers.

    I'm off now to don my flameproof suit....
     
  25. macrumors 601

    Backtothemac

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2002
    Location:
    San Destin Florida
    #25
    Stoaty,
    Is your PowerBook a Rev B or Rev C? The L3 cache makes a friggin massive difference in the performace of Flash MX. Also, Director will be coming to X very shortly.

    B2TM
     

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