Need help building and ibook or PB for $2,000?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by 5r'driver, Jun 11, 2004.

  1. 5r'driver macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2004
    #1
    In search of a new Apple I found my way to the forums. I have read and read until my head is spinning. I went to the Apple store and tried to customize my order. Clicking on to what I thought was important. But to be honest I'm not sure.

    History: Devoted apple user. Started with the 2C, IIE, MacPlus, Performa, and now it's time to retire my iMac. Unfortunately I have never used any of my apples to their full capability and that is probably why I'm a little dense when it comes to all the extra's one can add to increase performance and get the most bang for my buck.

    I have a more mobile lifestyle now and need to go with a portable. I also want to learn to do more with my computer. Nothing professional but the new technology is so great with respect to music and photos and wireless I want to get on board.

    From reading the forums and all things "apple" it seems to me I could get a good portable for $2000, but I'm not sure where my money will be best spent. I plan on keeping this portable for some time so don't want to be wishing I had of made a better choice. (I know, I know)

    Anyway, I thought I'd post here since there seems to be some real experts on the subject.

    If I go with the 15"PB it I will not be able to do many upgrades. Maybe I won't need them. If I go with the 12 or 14" ibook, I can do more upgrades but which ones?

    I live in an RV so wireless is very important. I have already purchased a bluetooth phone. I'm not sure if I need Airport extreme, as my guess is, that it is mainly for networking with other computers.

    OK, I'll stop now and let anyone who has the time or inclination to jump in here and build me a portable for $2000. :rolleyes:
     
  2. yoda13 macrumors 65816

    yoda13

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2003
    Location:
    Texas
    #2
    you might want to go with the 12" pb. It has more power and available storage than the ibook and will last a little longer. It also has the same processor as the 15" pb and a decent, though somewhat outdated graphics card, but at least it has 64mb of vram. Bluetooth and AE are standard. And you can max out the memory on the thing, or at least upgrade the memory, depending on if you want a dvd burning superdrive or not, for about the same price as the 15" If you are looking to maximize your digital capabilities, then I would get the superdrive, because I assume that this will be your only computer and that you don't have much space for external peripherals if you live in a RV. I know I don't take much when I take my parents RV out. Add at least 512 mb of ram, and upgrade the hard drive to 80gig. Also, think about Applecare, but you have year from purchase date to decide on this. Go with the 12", you will get the power of the entry level 15", but with more bang for your buck (read upgrades) with the 12" Plus if you were considering the 12" ibook, then the screen size shouldn't bother you. I thought it would bother me, but there isn't anything I can't do with it, especially with Expose built into the OS. Good luck with whatever you decide.
     
  3. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #3
    Adding to what Yoda said, you can upgrade an iBook more, but keep in mind most of the upgrades are already in the PB 12" price -- things like BT and AE being standard vs. optional.

    I'd say, by priorities:

    1) Getting AE and BT was my TOP priority. Esp BT on the iBook is not retrofittable. AE can be done after the fact, but once you try wireless you won't want to go back. :) Even though your RV is small compared to a house, I think if you spring for AE and either an AEBS, an Airport Express or a 3P wireless router (since you're on a budget, I'd suggest the last option, since it'll save you ~$100), you will really like it. One of the main niceties, that applies even in a small home, is being able to use the computer on "different surfaces" -- if you get sick of sitting at a desk, sprawl on your bed or your couch! (or in my case, if you get sick of laying in bed.... :D)

    2) As much memory as you can, up to prolly around 640MB-1GB. 640 works well for most things but there are occasional slowdowns when you have a lot of hogs runnin' at the same time, ditto if you use really intensive programs.

    3) After that, I guess a superdrive would be nice, but honestly I don't miss one much. The only thing I'd really do if I had one would be more backing up since it'd be easier. I don't know how often I'd burn video DVDs personally. If you think you would tho, again, its different.

    But really, most of this stuff except the superdrive is pretty retrofittable. So even though I have an iBook 12" myself, I'd recommend a PB 12", with the superdrive if you think you want it, and get the rest of the stuff over time. Ram and AE are very easy to add.

    Oh, if it comes down to iBook 12" vs. PB 12" there are about 10,000 threads on the topic, so I'll just say my major reason for iBook over PB involved being a slave to fashion, so my advice here is prolly questionable at best. ;)

    The one happy thing: I think really based on what you describe, unlike the PC world you don't have to worry too much about processor speed (which would usually be #s 1-2 on the list of three above!)...all the current iBooks and PBs should feel fairly zippy, and should have good longevity.
     
  4. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030

    Macky-Mac

    Joined:
    May 18, 2004
    #4
    I think you should decide whether a 12" screen is something you will be happy with or do you really want something larger?

    you'll need more ram for either the ibook or the powerbook, let's say 512MB more, so figure that in your pricing too

    if the price of extra ram for a 15" PB means it's too expensive for you, then I think you should definitely be looking at the ibook

    Do you really want to burn DVDs?? don't spend the extra money for a superdrive if that doesn't seem to be a definite thing you want to do - if later on you find that you start doing video on your new machine, you can always buy an external drive (or maybe have the internal CD drive replaced)

    if you get the ibook then it seems like you should spend the money for bluetooth - it isn't very expensive anyway - and if you're moving around with that RV it might worth having

    and if you get the ibook, it's pretty cheap to upgrade the hard drive too so I would say get the biggest one they offer
     
  5. 5r'driver thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2004
    #5
    Thanks for your replys. Very helpful. You have cofirmed my feeling on the Ram upgrade being very important. I don't plan (at this point) to do any DVD burning. I think I need to head over to the apple store and take another look at the machines and screens.

    A couple more questions:

    What exactly is the difference between airport express and airport extreme?

    Can the ibook be setup with a larger external monitor like the powerbook?

    Stupid question of the day: What does Rev A, B, and C mean? :rolleyes:
     
  6. windowsblowsass macrumors 6502a

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    Jan 25, 2004
    Location:
    pa
    #6
    you can set up an external monitor

    the rev letter means which version
    for example the g5s from last june until earlyer this week were rev a the new models are rev b
     
  7. Mord macrumors G4

    Mord

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    UK
  8. jxyama macrumors 68040

    jxyama

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2003
    #8
    you will need to hack iBooks to get it to work dual monitors. otherwise, it will just mirror.

    airport extreme is 802.11g, or wireless-g. airport is 802.11b, or wi-fi. (as they are commonly called.) with new iBook/PBs, you don't have a choice, you have to get airport extreme - but g is backwards compatible with b, so no worries there.

    g is faster than b, but for wireless internet, they make no difference as the speed of the internet (cable, DSL or dial up, usually) is usually the bottleneck and not the wireless speed. for computer to computer networking, g will make a big difference over b... FYI...

    i'd definitely get the airport extreme. these days, it's not very useful to have a laptop without wireless capability.
     
  9. flyfish29 macrumors 68020

    flyfish29

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2003
    Location:
    New HAMpshire
    #9
    What do you want to do with the computer exactly. (ie dvd watching, email, browsing, word processing, etc.)

    What do you think you might want to do with the computer (ie digital photos, movies, create music, etc.)

    Answer these two questions and we can help you better.

    also, remember iBooks come with more software than powerbooks. (ie word processor- Appleworks, quicken, games, etc.) Powerbooks I think come with quickbooks for business use?!?!

    Again, more specifics about what you want to do with it.
     
  10. Capt Underpants macrumors 68030

    Capt Underpants

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2003
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    #10
    Okay. You want a sub 2,00 notebook. That means iBook or Powerbook. You probably want portability, right? If so, the 12 inchers are the best. You don't want a superdrive. The 14" iBook has a larger screen, but no more pixels. This means that everything on the screen will look larger. If you have bad eyesight, the 14" iBook will be a good choice. If you don't, though, then the choice is between the 12" iBook or Powerbook. I have a Powerbook, and I love it. That being said, if you're not planning on playing any games or monitor spanning, I'd say go with the iBook. I am using my Powerbook out back right now, with a d-link wireless router that is probably 75 feet away. I am getting 6 out of 15 bars on my wireless connection. If you want a larger wireless range, I'd say go iBook. Battery life is also better on the iBook.

    IMO, I'd go with one of these configurations:

    12" iBook 1 GHz, 60 GB HDD, Airport extreme, Bluetooth, 768 MB RAM. For $1,523

    or

    12" Powerbook 1.33 GHZ, 768 MB RAM. For $1,899

    In youir situation, I'd go iBook. It has better battery life, and longer WiFi range. You say that you travel alot, so this will come in handy. Though, if you are into gaming, the extra processor andvideo card in the powerbook will help. With what I know about your situation, though, I say go ibook.
     
  11. flyfish29 macrumors 68020

    flyfish29

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2003
    Location:
    New HAMpshire
    #11
    5'R Driver might decide to use a dvd to backup of lots of documents, use it to save digital pics because 'driver' wants to get into photography, etc. there are so many uses for a dvd burner that who knows. again, more info (specific) would help 'driver' because you never know what you might use a dvd burner for...and we might find out you don't need one, but they are not only useful for burning movies like many think. I in fact use mine more for pictures and backup than for burning movies right now...in the future I will try more movies when I get time.

    also, portablility is important, but 'driver doesn't say how portable. All laptops are portable. My mother who drives an RV wants portability but only wants it to be portable to take inside to her daughters house to check her email, or close up and stow away while driving the RV, etc. that would not require a 12' by any means, expecially since she is retired and has poor eyesight, etc.

    Please...more info...more info...more info :)
     
  12. Capt Underpants macrumors 68030

    Capt Underpants

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2003
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    #12
    He says he wans a sub 2,000 notebook. This automatically eliminates the 15" and 17" powerbooks. even the cheap 15 incher with tax is over 2,000. He said earlier that he doesn't think he'll need a superdrive. So that eliminates the 12" superdrive. So we are left with 12" iBook, 14" iBook, 12" Powerbook. I assumed he didn't have bad eyesight, when I eliminated the 14" iBook. that is the ONLY reason anyone would get the 14 incher. It is wasted space. That leaves the 12" Powerbook or 12" iBook. I suggested which upgrades to purchase, etc.
     
  13. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #13
    Someone answered this already but.... There are actually three major versions of Apple wireless:

    Airport -- this is 802.11b -- long range but relatively slow. You can still get the base station used, and the iBook and PB are backwards-compatible with it, but it is not sold as the primary product anymore.

    Airport Extreme & Airport Express -- these are BOTH essentially 802.11g -- the difference between B and G is that G is much faster at least when you're relatively close to the base station.

    The difference between Extreme and Express -- there are other threads on this, but in short: First, the card in the laptop is Airport Extreme in any event; the difference is only in the base station features.

    - The big difference is Express is smaller, cheaper, just came out, and allows you to wirelessly transmit music between the computer and the Express station. If your internet connection to the outside world is near your stereo, you can run a cable from the Express to the stereo and stream music from the iBook/PB wirelessly.

    - Otherwise, both have wireless printing, but the Extreme base station is available wiith a plug for an external antenna, and a plug for a dialup modem so that if you leave a mac on at home, you can dial into it from somewhere else. Also the Extreme has a LAN port, which lets you hook another computer, ethernet printer, etc, directly into it without having to get another router.

    For your use, I would kinda recommend the Express...as in *cough* if it had come out 6 mos ago I would have one instead of an Extreme. :p
     
  14. 5r'driver thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2004
    #14
    Good information. My research today "almost" led me to the conclusion to just cough up the money and buy the 15"PB or an upgraded 12" PB. I know I don't need all the features now but I may be very happy I have them down the road. (Literally ;) )

    Right now my current needs are word processing, email, the net, and wireless. Those are needs. I don't game and I'm not sure what "monitor spamming" is. My wants are to get into the music features and photos. Movies I'm not so sure. The 12" screen is not really an issue as I want the portable to be very portable. I would like the option of connecting to a larger monitor in my RV if I want a larger screen. I think that is best accomplished with the PB. I also what my portable to ride in the cab of LadyRam ("driver" is a she) not strapped down to a recliner in the RV.

    You have all collectively answered my questions. I am sure that the ibook would meet any computing needs I have at this time, especially with upgrades suggested here. I guess the bigger question is do I want to cough up more money right now and have the PB that can basically take on anything I may want do with it in the future. Or Save my money and don't spend more than I really need too. I know I'm the only one who can answer that. :rolleyes:

    My biggest concerns about the PB, beyond cost, is the lack of Appleworks, Wireless issues and battery life. Many RV parks are going Wi-Fi right now. I am also on T-Mobile and have a bluetooth phone.

    My biggest concern about an Apple portable, is all the problems I read on the forums that people have with them. I have used Apple's forever and have never once had a breakdown or problem. Except for the "low memory" message I ocassionally get on my old iMac when surfing.

    I called CompUSA today and they have a store about 50 miles north that is open tomorrow. They say they have the Apples in stock. So I think I'll just head up there and get up close and personal with these little Apples.

    Thanks for helping me sort this out. I now know that I can get the apple I need for $2,000, but it will it be the apple I want? :confused:
     
  15. flyfish29 macrumors 68020

    flyfish29

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2003
    Location:
    New HAMpshire
    #15
    For what you say you want to do I think the iBook would be perfect...12". Monitor Spanning is simply having a second monitor set up to make your desktop twice as long. There is no menu bar on the external monitor, just desktop space to place open windows, icons on the desktop, etc. Basically you could have a browser window open on your laptop and the email window open on your external monitor. With the new feature called Expose (see apple's site about OSX software for an explanation) it makes this a little less important- depending on your wants and needs.

    The iBook will connect to an external monitor, but Apple only supports the ibook to show exactly what is on the ibook, on a second monitor *(monitor mirroring) and NOT an extended desktop like on a powerbook. Basically if someone wants a 12" for portability but when they are "home" they want a 15", 17" or larger screen to use they chose this option.

    that being said, I believe there is some sort of hack one can do to the software to make the iBook similar to a powerbook and have an extended desktop as described above but I don't know how and what it does to the warranty with Apple if the hack is done.

    It definately sounds like the ibook is plenty fast for what you want to do now as well as give you the speed you need to do digital photos, music, and movies. Obviously if you were doing major amounts of movies, major photo manipulation with Photoshop, etc you might consider the PBook.

    The iBook is awesome and many people even run photoshop and other intensive programs on it no problem. since we don't know exactly where technology is going and what we want and will be doing with it in two, four or more years I think it is safe to buy a computer that not only does what you want it to do now, but has growing room...I think the ibook does that for you, but my own opinion obviously.

    good luck and let us know if you have more questions.
     
  16. Belly-laughs macrumors 6502a

    Belly-laughs

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2003
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    you wish
    #16
    Reading through you posts I also think you´re after a 12". But, I would definately throw in an extra $400 for the BowerBook with 768MB ram. As mentioned above it gives you the flexibility to hook up an external monitor with added desktop real estate when at home or in an office. Also, the extra 0.33GHz may not mean a lot now, but it will make your computer serve you better for longer, maybe a year +. And that is $400 well spent.
     
  17. Capt Underpants macrumors 68030

    Capt Underpants

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2003
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    #17
    Great! We have it down to a 12" iBook or 12" Powerbook.

    Pros and cons time.

    With the powerbook, you will have more power, but other than that, i see no real advantages of that power.

    With the iBook, you will have longer battery life and extended wireless range. While it has less power, it will still do what yo want it to do (email, web surfin...). Plus, with the iBook, you save money. I say go for the iBook.

    If you needed any kidf of processor intensive tasks, or tasks that required more graphics memory, the powerbook would be it. However, you don't use any of these processor or GPU intensive tasks. The iBook seems like the one. Load it up on hard drive space, airport extreme, bluetooth, and RAM. With the money you saved, you could buy applecare and an iSight for video chatting with family members. Either that, or keep the money for good measure.

    edit: I do pretty much what you do (web surf, email, chatting) with my Powerbook. You wonder why I have a Powerbook? Well, I was able to get the educational discount saving me a few hundred dollars. Plus, I wanted to make it a little more future proof. Without the educational discount, I would've bought the iBook. Let us know how you decide.
     
  18. 5r'driver thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2004
    #18
    Well I guess it is down to the 12" vs the 12". I do like getting Appleworks with the ibook, the better wireless, and battery life. I also like saving some money so I can buy a case and a wireless mouse. I'm not sure how I'm going to do with the "mouseless" keyboard. I tried using my friends Toshiba once and I was like, "what is this about?" I guess you get used to the keyboards for navigating, but a wireless mouse sounds nice.

    If I go with the ibook. I'll add 768 Ram, the 60 gb, airport extreme and bluetooth. Am I missing anything? Maybe the bluetooth mouse 500.

    I'm going to CompUSA to play with them tomorrow and not let the sales person blow me off answering my questions. Poor person! :p

    Thanks for all your help and input. You have been great. I just hope I can order what I want from Apple and get it before I pull out of here July 1.

    I'll let you know. This is my first venture into the portable world, and like I said, I'm a bit nervous after reading so many posts about problems. But then again they keep selling them and people seem to be happy overall. I just worry that I'm not up to speed for troubleshooting. I guess we'll see. :rolleyes:
     
  19. Capt Underpants macrumors 68030

    Capt Underpants

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2003
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    #19
    I'm not really sure what you mean by mouseless keyboard. You do know there is a trackpad and click button below the keyboard for navigation, right?? You kind of lost me there. Also remember that when using the models on display, they won't have the extra RAM, so they will be slower than yours would be. A bluetooth mouse is cool. I will be getting a bluetooth printer pretty soon :). As you said, with the extra money, you can buy a case, which is a must. I use my case ALOT. Anyways... enjoy your laptop. I do wish that my powerbook came with some type of word processing program. That is one thing the iBook has that I wish my powerbook came with.
     

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