Powerbook buying advice

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by ZildjianKX, Apr 25, 2005.

  1. ZildjianKX macrumors 68000

    ZildjianKX

    Joined:
    May 18, 2003
    #1
    Well, I'm about to start professional school this August (law) and all compatibility issues asside I want to buy a mac portable.

    I pretty much have the following options:

    A. 15" Powerbook maxed out

    B. 12" Powerbook with possibly a nice external display (like the 24" Dell LCD)

    C. 12" iBook with the external Dell 24" LCD

    I noticed that in the last revision of the 12" powerbook they downgraded the screens to the lesser quality (not as bright) ones used in the 12" iBooks. Now that the screens are the same, the only features that would actually make me consider the 12" powerbook are the DVI out and the better feeling keyboard (since I can get bluetooth in the iBook).

    At the same time, I know the powerbooks are bound for a large upgrade soon after the last few dismal ones, and the last time I bought a mac it got replaced 2-3 months after it was introduced (single processor 1.8 G5) and I really don't want to regret purchasing another mac that is going to be killed off. That's why I was thinking of maybe getting the 12" iBook since it's inexpensive and I know it will be a G4 for awhile.

    Any mac portable I purchase will be the next revision to come out, so I may have to wait a long while for the powerbooks...

    The other issue is a 12" + huge ass display vs the 15"...

    Anyone have any advice?
     
  2. mcgarry macrumors 6502a

    mcgarry

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2004
    #2
    Your information on the screens is curious. Hereabouts people either think the screens were always the same, or some variation of the idea that the PBs' look better due to a better GPU. But there is no evidence that the screens have been downgraded, at least that I've seen/heard.

    Also, the 12"-to-12" has a few more differences than you mention, of which you may or may not be aware, but I thought I'd recap. The iB offers better battery life and price, the PB offers faster CPU, FSB, GPU, HDD, plus many smaller features like BT2, DVI-out, optional SuperDrive, HDD drop protection, true clamshell mode, built-in audio-in, 2x VRAM, and as you noted, a subjectively better feeling keyboard, all for about a 20% price difference when comparably configured (RAM, HDD, BT).

    As for your general comparison, It comes down to paying more to get more computer. The 15" PB is simply more computer than the other choices, and costs accordingly. Determine your needs and budget and buy accordingly.

    The next round of updates to whatever could make any or all of this moot, but that's how it always goes ...
     
  3. jayb2000 macrumors 6502a

    jayb2000

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2003
    Location:
    RI -> CA -> ME
    #3
    I have been looking at the PBs as well.
    It seems the 12" PB vs. iBook has been discussed alot, so I won't get into that.
    But I would say the 15" just for screen size, when you are not around your big display. AND since you can do split screen with the PB, you could get a 20" display and have a combined 35" as apposed to 36" with the 12" pb, but a better laptop, and way more than just the iBooks screen.

    I would look at the specs for each, really try to think about what you need it for most and go to a store and play around.

    Seems the iBooks are a bit more rugged, but do you need that? a padded case walking to class will work for any laptop, but if you were going to be flying, riding a motorcycle with this in a luggage compartment, etc, then maybe it would be an issue.
     
  4. ZildjianKX thread starter macrumors 68000

    ZildjianKX

    Joined:
    May 18, 2003
    #4
    Thanks for the great responses. Also, I forgot the iBook had better battery life and lacked a line in.

    Regarding the screen, I've been trying to find the website that took apart the new revision 12" powerbook and matched the LCD part number to the iBook 12" and claimed the previous powerbook had a different model LCD.

    This is such a touch decision... that 24" LCD that I could afford with a cheaper laptop sure sounds nice though :)
     
  5. indigoblu macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2005
    #5
    I just orderd a 15" PB today. I was stuck for about a month debating between iBooks vs. powerbooks. I have a 12" ibook now, for 4.5 years. I don't know if this will help, but I'll tell you what made me pick powerbook over iBook:
    1. you can replace the battery of the PB WITHOUT powering down (not sure about 12" model, but for sure in 15"). While iBooks have longer battery life, you have to powerdown to replace the battery. I am in long lectures in grad school and don't always have a plug around me. So even with an iBook, the battery wouldn't last me long enough.
    2. Powerbooks have dual screen option, ibooks only mirror. I have an external screen already (Dell-yuck but it works). When I am doing research, I need two screens with double the desktop space. iBook can only have one screen - either the one attached or the external one - not both. I've tried hooking my 12" iBook to an external screen and it's ackward to use that way - not a good option unless your desk is perfect for that.
    3. Video RAM - iBook lacks any power. I've had the recall done and it's still not good, and this doesn't just affect "video" clips. If you are dragging something across the screen - there's a slight drag time. If you are switching between applications or screens, you will notice this difference (also affected by RAM). iBook is not meant for heavy use - so a lot of this depends on your planned use for the next 5 years. As a hobby I've started tinkering with graphics and web design - also for presentations in school. So I want something that will last me a little past grad school.
    4. Widescreen. The 15" is wider than either iBook - not as tall as the 14" iB. But wider is better in my book (haha funny pun).
    I would think about when you will be using it most. If you are using it at a desktop mostly, maybe iMac or another system is better. But if you are going for portibility - which most of the "book" users are - you won't want a 12" attached to an external monitor - you'll want a 15" or more.

    I would recommend going to an Apple store - or Apple dealer (I hate to recomment CompUSA, but they're everywhere) and try them out. Spend some time on each screen and see how your eyes feel. I spent an hour at a time on each. When I was done with the 12" - I knew I needed the 15". Also the 12" powerbook screen is better than the iBook screen - in my opinion. It's subtle - so try it for yourself - if you don't notice a difference, go cheaper. But try them as you would be using it in real life.

    One more thing to consider. If you use an external moniter on the 12" iBook, it will only make the screen bigger - not better. Same with 14", it just gets bigger and more pixelated.

    I hope this helps, I got a lot of wonderful advice from this board! ANd it helped me.
    B
     
  6. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #6
    Indigoblu, your post was very informative! I think I misread this part, but I'm going to ask anyway. When you said using an external screen on your iBook was awkward, did you mean with the iBook hacked to span screens, or without? With the hack in place, aside from the fact that you are spreading a weaker graphics card more thinly, the spanning works pretty much the same in the iBook and the PB, right?

    On the 12" thing, it's been beaten to death, but again super-briefly, it's a user pref thing. I personally don't think anyone who doesn't specifically want a 12" laptop should get one. I personally wouldn't buy anything bigger.
     
  7. Chrispy macrumors 68020

    Chrispy

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2004
    Location:
    Avon, IN
    #7
    I had an iBook for awhile and the screen hack does work but not exaclty well. If you are talking about using a 24" or even 20" Dell display I would not suggest buying an iBook. The problem with the hack is you cannot use clamshell mode (well, you can but it will burn up the iBook) so the graphics memory is split for each display. You end up with 16MB for the built in display and 16MB for the external. 16MB is not enough for expose and other effects on such a large display. You will experience slowdows (and you may not even be able to run the 24" at its native resolution at all).

    I am making the same decision myself for use with a small business. I need as much power as I can get so I am between a PM and 15" fully loaded powerbook with 128MB graphics. If you are set on a 12" laptop then, for external monitor use, get the powerbook. You will regret it if you don't.
     
  8. indigoblu macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2005
    #8
    I've personally never tried the hack. But I've heard it splits the RAM too much. I'm annoyed with my old machine as it is.

    What I find awkward is using an external screen as the main screen with an iBook because my neck is turned weird, that's all.

    True about the 12" size being a personal preference. I used to love my 12" for the first 3 years. But that was before grad school and long nights of research and class work. So it really depends on your usage. The 12" fits nicely in a backpack, on a plane, on your lap, etc.
     
  9. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #9
    I had a friend, when I was in grad school the last time around, who, according to his ophthalmologist, had almost purely stress-induced myopia, which had started after he started grad school. Grad school was the *only* reason he needed to wear glasses! :eek: :(

    I hope it gets better for you soon! :(
     
  10. matticus008 macrumors 68040

    matticus008

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2005
    Location:
    Bay Area, CA
    #10
    Since you're going to law school, you should triple-check with your university or college and make sure that they support Apple computers. You will likely have to take computerized assessments and many of them are available ONLY for Windows computers. As great as an Apple may be, if it cannot run the software you need to do your job, it's not an option. You might then have to get a less expensive Mac and buy a cheap (~$300) used PC laptop for taking tests.
     
  11. rmhop81 macrumors 68020

    rmhop81

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2005
    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    #11
    it really depends on if you can handle looking @ a 12inch screen all the time. i know alot of people that can handle small laptops so you would just have to play around with it yourself. i personally don't see why anyone would buy such huge laptops then the purpose really doesn't make sense if your lugging around something like a 17inch powerbook. (eventhough i've owned a 17inch lappy)

    i've got a 12inch pb myself. i originally came from owning a 17inch toshiba laptop and a 15.4 inch dell. to then moving to a 12.1 widescreen 700m dell. i will never go back to anything bigger than a 12inch screen. it's so portable and light, it's perfect for carrying around campus or throwing it in a bag and taking it on a trip. it's not a big hassle to deal with like it was with my other laptops i had b4. i remember having HUGE cases will alot of stuff in them that took up so much space all the time. I have my pb hooked up to my dell flat panel while @ home and when i go places i just unplug it from that and go. I would suggest maybe getting the powerbook as shown here @ microcenter....only $1299 then has a $100 mail in rebate, then go order that 24inch screen from dell. would be an awesome combo. here's the link..

    http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml?product_id=0173861
     
  12. ZildjianKX thread starter macrumors 68000

    ZildjianKX

    Joined:
    May 18, 2003
    #12
    Thanks, I actually worked out all the main compatibilities with my campus (wifi, printing to labs etc), and I've already bought a used PC laptop to use examsoft with (secure exam just came out w/ a mac version, too bad examsoft doesn't catch on).

    Regarding the iBook, I'll definately be using the dual screen extended desktop hack, but I'm really hoping the next revision will have a 64 meg core video enabled graphics card... that would help a lot.
     
  13. yellowjacket macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2005
    Location:
    Shanghai
    #13
    same dilemma!

    Hey Z, I can sympathize with you. I'm trying to decide between:

    a) 12" PB + external LCD
    b) 15" PB

    I'm thinking I'm leaning towards the a) for these reasons:
    1) I want a laptop that I can carry around without a large footprint. Being here in China has made me appreciate convenience.
    2) The price difference between 12" SD and the 15" SD is about 600 US, far more than what a nice external LCD screen would cost.
    3) The other little options with the 15", such as the gigabit, etc., doesn't really matter too much to me.

    What I'll miss, though:
    i) the widescreen that comes with the 15" PB. It's beautiful for watching movies on.
    ii) the backlit keyboard. I think it looks great.

    my two cents,
     
  14. yellowjacket macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2005
    Location:
    Shanghai
    #14
    same dilemma!

    Hey Z, I can sympathize with you. I'm trying to decide between:

    a) 12" PB + external LCD
    b) 15" PB

    I'm thinking I'm leaning towards the a) for these reasons:
    1) I want a laptop that I can carry around without a large footprint. Being here in China has made me appreciate convenience.
    2) The price difference between 12" SD and the 15" SD is about 600 US, far more than what a nice external LCD screen would cost.
    3) The other little options with the 15", such as the gigabit, etc., doesn't really matter too much to me.

    What I'll miss, though:
    i) the widescreen that comes with the 15" PB. It's beautiful for watching movies on.
    ii) the backlit keyboard. I think it looks great.

    my two cents,
     
  15. indigoblu macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2005
    #15
    Keep in mind that to change the 12" battery, you have to power down.
    To change the 15" battery - you don't, just close the top and change the battery.

    Also I believe the 12" doesn't do dual moniter, just mirroring - but you might want to double check.

    I do enjoy having a 12" iBook because it's so small. I fly a lot and it's handy on planes. But my next is a 15" PB because of the better features and widescreen. Go to an apple store or authorized store if you can - and try using a laptop attached to an external monitor - some don't mind, but some can't stand it. Good luck on your choice.
     
  16. mcgarry macrumors 6502a

    mcgarry

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2004
    #16
    I'm not sure what you meant here ... the 12" PowerBook definitely does do dual displays.
     
  17. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #17
    And the 14" iBook definitely doesn't. So really, size doesn't matter. :D But the iBook/PB distinction does. Although you can hack both iBooks to make them span, with some limitations caused by the small amounts of VRAM.

    I didn't know, however, until I read it yesterday, in one of these threads, that the PB battery can be hot-swapped without a power-charger. I don't think I've noticed that on Apple's site, although I maybe just haven't looked closely enough.
     
  18. ZildjianKX thread starter macrumors 68000

    ZildjianKX

    Joined:
    May 18, 2003
    #18
    That's a cool feature, I don't plan on buying multiple batteries though, maybe multiple chargers.
     
  19. 2Sticky macrumors regular

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    Mar 4, 2005
    Location:
    UK
  20. mad jew Moderator emeritus

    mad jew

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    Apr 3, 2004
    Location:
    Adelaide, Australia
    #20

    Thanks for that, very nice and concise article. Did you write it?
     
  21. 2Sticky macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2005
    Location:
    UK
    #21
    Yea :D

    With the amount of people that want a Apple Laptop but don't know which to go for, I decided to write up a simple article on the main differences and why you would want one over the other.

    Glade you liked it, always good to hear from people who found it interesting and useful.
     
  22. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #22
    I also only have one battery, and plan to keep it that way, so it's academic. I got a charger for a very reasonable price from a fellow MR member -- I wouldn't pay $70 for one, but I found having the second very useful -- I don't have to wrap up the cable on mine and unplug it every time I take my iBook to my office. And I have one waiting for me there, so I don't have to crawl under the desk and stick my butt out while I'm trying to plug the adaptor in! :D
     
  23. Lau Guest

    #23
    Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm sure I read that you can only hot-swap on the 15" and 17". If I am wrong, that would be ace, because I've got a 12" :)
     
  24. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #24
  25. RJP31484 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    #25
    Can someone please promise me that powerbooks will be updated by September, if not June?! I want a new book for september, and I am perfectly willing to wait that long... but I will be dreadfully unhappy if mid september rolls around and I decide it is getting too late, so I purchase a PB, and they are updated a month later. I am accepting of the specs on the current machines, but I do not want to purchase a revision of it at the end of its cycle... and If I can wait till september, Ill take all the freebies/upgrades I can with the new rev.

    Make me feel better!!!
     

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