Student laptop help

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by dwd3885, Dec 17, 2004.

  1. dwd3885 macrumors 68020

    Dec 10, 2004
    I'm a student looking at either an iBook or PowerBook to be my first laptop and first mac purchase ever. I want to spend around 1100, but am thinking about saving a bit more to get a PowerBook. Though I've heard the 12-inch PB is not that much better than the 12-inch iBook, what about the 15-inch PB? That's probably my ideal laptop, though it costs more. I'm just wondering if it's worth waiting a little while longer to see if the price goes down or something else is added. I want it in time for this coming Winter Semester, which begins end of January, but I might hold out until March as it is my birthday and will be getting more money to add on the christmas money and other cash i have. I know it sounds like another PB vs iBook thread, sorry if it is. I want this laptop for me to take notes, school work, etc, but I'm also taking this Introduction to Digital Media this semester and am going to probably be wanting to get a certificate in Digital Media (which is why I chose Mac over pc to begin with, though I have a gaming pc at home). Thanks for your all's help.
  2. dotnina macrumors 6502a

    Aug 19, 2004
    If you have to get a PB in January, can you wait until January 11? Some products are expected to be announced that day at Macworld San Fransisco, and it’s possible (though not likely) that a Powerbook will be among those products.

    The longer you wait, the more likely you’ll see a PB revision. The PB already seems a little overdue, if you look at the normal revision cycle in the Buyers Guide.

    I recommend the 15", just because I have one. I'd think that graphics work would would require lots of tool palletes all over your screen, so you might appreciate the extra screen space. When you do get a Powerbook (or iBook), remember to use your student discount if you buy directly from Apple. :)
  3. dwd3885 thread starter macrumors 68020

    Dec 10, 2004
    I was planning on waiting until after the MacWorld thing. Do you think that the price will drop a little in the PB? 1799 with educational discount is too much for me. Maybe something like 1499? I know that's just wishful thinking, but I'm hoping.
  4. jadam macrumors 6502a


    Jan 23, 2002
    I find the ibook 12" to be the perfect college laptop. The 15" powerbook is pretty damned good too(guy right across from my room has one), I just find my ibook much more rugged and portable.

    As far as power goes, if you do get the ibook, you should probally get a monitor to go along with it for your dorm(assuming your dorming), apply one of the ibook video hacks too so you can use higher resolutions then 1024x768 on that secondary monitor.
  5. Jsmit macrumors regular

    Sep 10, 2004
    I would not expect a $300 dollar price drop. Remember to buget for extra RAM and software. It sounds like the Powerbooks are out of your price ranch unless you can make that buget grow.
  6. jxyama macrumors 68040


    Apr 3, 2003
    15" PB after edu discount is $1800... unless you go refurb, it won't get much cheaper. maybe a $100 price drop in Jan., but highly doubtful.

    if your budget is not in the range, i'd go with a very well equipped iBook. unless you have a compelling reason to specifically go for a PB, iBook will probably suit you just fine...
  7. brap macrumors 68000

    May 10, 2004
    You will probably (read: I certainly do now) appreciate the compactness of the 12" form factor. Fits on even the smallest lecture hall desks. iBook or Powerbook, smaller is generally better - aside from deskspace, you may want to consider how far you will need to tote it around campus. Weight, books and all, can be a concern, especially if you're cycling to classes.
  8. dwd3885 thread starter macrumors 68020

    Dec 10, 2004
    Well it looks like you guys are right, the 15-inch PB is well out of my price range. So if I go with 12-inch, I should go with the iBook, not the PowerBook? I've played around with both at campus tech shop, both seem great. The iBook they have on display is 1ghz, just 256RAM, but it seems like it flies. Even with many internet windows open and pdf files. I haven't done as much with the PowerBook. Any other differences between the two?
  9. kjr39 macrumors 6502

    Nov 26, 2004


    The 12" 1.2 ibook works great for me. I've had mine a month now and still have the 256 of ram in it. I have to wait here and there, but it has been able to do everything that I've wanted to do with it. (iTunes, Elements 2.0 [Yes, it is slow with such little ram], surfing, etc.)
  10. brap macrumors 68000

    May 10, 2004
    The Powerbook has a 33mhz faster FSB, DVI video out, and the microphone in. Oh, and the 133mhz speed increase. Also, the iBook's inbuilt microphone is in a better positon to record lectures (on the screen, as opposed to right next to the bloody fan).

    Really not worth it, especially if you thought the 1ghz/256 was adequate. Do yourself a favour and buy the 12" 1.2, and a 1gb stick of third party memory. You shouldn't go wrong. My Powerbook is scratched to hell, well relatively. My iBooks were all pristine to the end.
  11. panda macrumors regular

    Mar 15, 2004

    hard for the moment to justify the pb 12 over the ibook 12, i feel.

    ibook is such a good computer and a great deal. :)
  12. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    The iBook is a bit more durable than the PowerBook12, there's lots of threads about I dropped my PB, it broke, and Apple wants me to pay to fix it.

    While the same threads for the iBook are nearly non-existant.

    If you are a student, the iBook makes a little more sense and won't generally suffer the damages a PB will in a students hands.

    It wears like iron, but it may also force you to use the computer lab for some of the more serious projects -- but that's not always all bad.


    The iBook14 is basically the same computer, except the slightly larger screen at the same resolution might be easier to read -- ie, bigger dots.
  13. Leareth macrumors 68000


    Nov 11, 2004
    For most student work the iBook is more than adequate.
    I would get the 14" because the the screen size but I have the 12" versions and they are just fine.
    They can take a beating being lugged around my backpack all day long
    and still look almost new, the keyboards need a cover thought, like iskin
    or soon they will be nasty with gunk even if you dont eat around them...
    and just a personal observation, there are fewer ibooks with dead pixels than PB
  14. carlos700 macrumors regular

    Dec 17, 2004
    Omaha NE
    Get the iBook

    I would not purchase the PowerBook G4. It just cannot match up there with PC Notebooks in its class. The iBook is a great deal for the price. Wait for a faster PowerBook -the current one just is not worth the money.
  15. spaceballl macrumors 68030


    Nov 2, 2003
    San Francisco, CA
    If you want a 15 inch powerbook but are low on cash, it would be best to check out previous models. They usually maintain the same/similar price for current models. If an update comes out, it'll only drop the price $100 or so, if it all.
  16. puckhead193 macrumors G3


    May 25, 2004
    I have a 15" for college and love it. If can save up more i would, but either the 12 ibook or 15"pb is great.
  17. mduser63 macrumors 68040


    Nov 9, 2004
    Salt Lake City, UT
    I have a new 12" Powerbook (purchased about 3 weeks ago), and I love it. That said, for your uses, I'd recommend the iBook. I bought the Powerbook because of the built-in audio port (I do a lot of audio work), along with the extra power, but that's because I use it for stuff that is quite processor intensive, and I really felt like the extra power was necessary. One thing you might want to consider is that the 12" iBook is not available with a superdrive, you have to go to the 14" model for that. The 12" Powerbook is available with a Superdrive. By the time you go up to the 14" iBook, the price difference between it and a superdrive PB is not that great, and in that case the iBook is not such a great value IMO. Unless you need to be able to burn DVDs, go with the iBook.
  18. betsbillabong macrumors regular

    Nov 13, 2004
    It sounds as if the iBook would be fine for your needs. I probably wouldn't get a powerbook unless you're getting the 15" - the screen is awesome and it's fast as heck. I love mine. But if it's out of your price range, it's out of your price range.

    If you really want the big screen you could look for used or refurbished powerbooks, but I'd definitely get one with AppleCare (refurbished ones are eligible, I believe).

    There's a possibility that G5 or dualcore powerbooks will be coming out before March, and if that's the case then lots and lots of people will be selling their G4 powerbooks... you might be able to get a bargain then.

    But I'd start with an iBook and save your pennies for later. One thing that's nice about being a student is that you often have access to really nice systems (in computer clusters or digital media studios, etc) so you don't necessarily need to have the killer laptop. As someone mentioned, there are upsides to working at computer labs - you can sometimes learn a lot from other people. I wouldn't upgrade unless you hit a wall - where your current computer is not big or fast enough for you to work comfortably and efficiently. If you're serious about digital media, you will likely want a powerbook eventually. I'm a PhD student doing electronic music and video art, and I only just upgraded from a G3 iBook.

    Oh yeah - you could always buy an external superdrive. I think they're faster anyhow, and can burn dual-layer DVDs.

    I would probably wait until after Mac World SF to buy your laptop, just to see what happens.
  19. dwd3885 thread starter macrumors 68020

    Dec 10, 2004
    I appreciate all of your quick advice. By MacWorld, do you think there could be an update to make the PowerBooks better? I've heard rumors that it's so. Also, how's the PB's battery life compared to the iBook? And if money wasn't really a concern, and you were in my position, would it be the 15-inch PB you would choose? Thanks again for your responses.
  20. brap macrumors 68000

    May 10, 2004
    The difference in battery life between the two, 12" iBook and Powerbook is negligible. I've not noticed any, 4-5 hours very light usage, 3-4 reasonably intensive. 2.5 for 3d games.

    The 15" is a lovely machine. You'd definitely need the 9700 video card and the 5400rpm drive, unless you part the 4200 stock out with a hitachi 7200 model, thus voiding your warranty. The rest is here nor there, really... SuperDrives are IMHO a waste of time and money because you can get faster externals for the cash, and memory should be left at minimum so you can install your own.
  21. dwd3885 thread starter macrumors 68020

    Dec 10, 2004
    I don't really plan on getting a superdrive, i'd rather get external or burn with my home pc. I do want the 5400rpm hd, is it that much of an improvement over 4200?
  22. brap macrumors 68000

    May 10, 2004
  23. Calihafan macrumors member

    Nov 22, 2004

    First of all, Carlos700, the discussion here is not the comparison between PowerBook and PC Notebooks but between the PowerBook and iBook.

    I do not own a PowerBook myself but I have had the opportunity to use one many times. I also used an iBook on a trip up to Michigan with my friend (Mac user). The PowerBook is definitely a higher-quality machine. However, between 12-inch PB and IB, the cost difference's magnitude really depends on who's using the laptop.

    For example, I type about 90 words a minute. The iBook's keyboard is very bad, whereas the Powerbook's keyboard is an absolute dream. Graphics important? The PowerBook has twice as much graphics memory. And although you can download a hack for this, the PowerBook can span two screens.

    Ultimately, it depends how much you want this keyboard. When you're in your dorm, you can use an external keyboard, but on the go, taking notes on the iBook is a painful and laborious process.

    The PowerBook is also fractionally lighter than the iBook.

    In either case, wait till January to buy either one.

  24. brap macrumors 68000

    May 10, 2004
    Not necessarily. I found with my old iBook the keyboard was just as nice, though I had to place thin pieces of card underneath to stop it from being quite so springy. Maybe you should give it a go...
  25. betsbillabong macrumors regular

    Nov 13, 2004
    The powerbooks will almost certainly be updated in the next couple of months. They haven't been updated since April.

    I'm not sure about the battery life on the 12" powerbook, but the 15" battery life is not as good as the iBook's. Maybe 3 hours vs. 4 or so. Less if you're watching a DVD or running CPU-intensive apps like Final Cut, Photoshop, etc. People say that the wireless is better on the iBook too but I'm not sure about that - it seems strong on my machine (1.5 15").

    The 15" powerbook is a nicer machine hands down, if money's not an issue. It's beautiful, it's lean, it's powerful, it's speedy. No doubt about it. And it will bear the weight of the future better due to its Firewire 800, gigabit ethernet, and better video card. While I wouldn't call typing on the iBook painful and laborious, I seem to be addicted to my 15" keyboard. It's so smooth and fast. But I certainly never had trouble with my iBook's keyboard, though it might be rough going back.

    The iBook's not a bad computer, and it's much cheaper, a better value right now if you don't actually need the extra speed and screen. It's also more rugged, in my opinion. I once dropped mine on the driveway by accident, while standing, and it didn't miss a beat. I'm not sure that's what the outcome would have been with my powerbook.

    The iBook is a Honda; the Powerbook is a Saab. More expensive, better designed, faster. For some people it's worth the upgrade, for others it's not. I use this analogy not so much for what it means in terms of branding or snob appeal, so much as actually driving the cars. Actually driving the powerbook is a different experience than driving the iBook. For me. It's not the main reason I upgraded but I notice it.

    Oh, and definitely BTO the faster hard drive is definitely worth it. You won't lose your warranty if you have an Apple Certified Tech install a new drive, but it might make things more difficult.

    So: if money were truly not an issue, I'd get a powerbook right away. But if it is an issue, I'd think about what you really require from the laptop, and think about how often you want to replace it.

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