Switcher: 12" versus 15" PowerBook -- couple of questions

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by Argelius, Jun 16, 2005.

  1. Argelius macrumors 6502


    Jun 16, 2005
    After getting a MacMini and playing with it for a few months, I've decided to take the plunge and and fully embrace the glory of Apple computers, bagging my 17" HP notebook in the process.

    I am torn between the 12" and 15" PowerBooks. I believe I understand the primary differences between the two other than the size: The 15" has more ports, a faster processer (1.67 v 1.5), faster ethernet, and a lighted keyboard, slightly better video card.

    Regardless of which I get, I plan to upgrade the RAM to 1GB. If I get the 12", I'll also get an external monitor. I'm struggling with the issue of portability (which ultimately only I can sort out). Having said all of that, here are my remaining questions:

    [1] What is the real-world battery life of the 12" PowerBook?
    [2] What is the real-world battery life of the 15" PowerBook?
    [3] Will any LCD monitor work with the PowerBook (as long as I have the necessary adatper)?
    [4] Do all PowerBooks sold at the Apple store come with Tiger preloaded?
    [5] Is the AppleCare extended warranty a "must"? It adds a considerable cost to an already expensive machine. (I've never had to have any previous notebook repaired)...

    Thanks for your help! I may just go out and get one this afternoon.
  2. Argelius thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jun 16, 2005
    Sniffle, sniffle...no one's responding to my post...what it something I said?

  3. HomerJSimpson macrumors newbie


    May 29, 2005
    Get the 15'. i am in the same boat as you and the 15 is a lot nicer than the 12. its just to small... Tiger is the OS so it sould be pre loaded i guess or load it yourself. Im waiting for my 15 powerbook, there unreal. cheers
  4. Argelius thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jun 16, 2005
    That's the way I'm leaning....counting the hours until I visit the Apple Store downtown (Chicago) :cool:
  5. amac4me macrumors 65816


    Apr 26, 2005
    Get the 15"

    I suggest the 15" ... a friend of mine bought a 12" and he had regrets after the fact. He started to feel that the screen was too small and he wished he would have spent the extra money to get the 15".
  6. besler3035 macrumors 6502

    Oct 29, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI
    Okay, I'm not a PowerBook owner, but I do have a 12" iBook and I love the fact that my screen is small. For portability, definitely get the 12" machine. But if you need more power, go for the 15" (that's what I'll be getting down the road).
  7. ShadowHunter macrumors regular

    Sep 27, 2003
    [1] I really don't know. I know the early 12" PowerBooks struggled to get over 2 hours (friend had one), maybe they've done something about that.

    [2] I have a 1.5Ghz 15" PowerBook, and I get about 2-3 hours, depending on useage. I've NEVER gotten over 3. I've heard Apple upgraded the battery though since last year when I got mine, so maybe there is better battery now? Can someone attest to this?

    [3] Yes, any DVI monitor will work, no adapter needed. The PowerBook comes with a DVI-VGA adapter, and also an s-video to composite video adapter. The only way you will encounter a situation where you can't use external video of any kind if with the older Apple LCDs, where you will need an ADC adapter (expensive).

    [4] Yes, every new Apple now comes with Tiger. Actually, soon every new Apple will come with Tiger 10.4.2.

    [5] This I am quite unsure of. It is very expensive, fo sho. Given my technology fetish for upgrading, I can't ever see owning a laptop for 3 years, so I will probably not get Applecare for 3 years again. Most components, if prone to failure, will fail within the first couple of months....most of me says go ahead and skip the Applecare, but I don't want you to come back 13 months from now and say "Chris, you suck cuz my PowerBook broke and you said not to get Applecare..." It is extremely expensive to fix notebooks....

    All in all, I went through the same debate you are in. I really wanted the 12" for the portability and the 17" for the screen space. The 15" is the best 15" laptop I've used, its very light and mobile. Most of the time its a good compromise, but there are a few times I would enjoy more screen space when I can't hook up an external monitor or need a smaller machine. I enjoy/utilize the lighted keyboard too much to get the 12" in retrospec.
  8. emotion macrumors 68040


    Mar 29, 2004
    Manchester, UK
    i have a 12" pb....i love the size....in fact with expose you don't really need a bigger screen....i'm stuggling to justify buying an external monitor...
  9. Piarco macrumors 68030


    Jun 24, 2004
    If it is portablilty the 12" has got it in spades..... but after owning a series of 12"-ers before getting my current 15" its the only thing I miss, and in the grand scheme of things its not as important as the gains in having a 15". I use the PCMICA card slot (card reader - nicely flush with the chassy) the illuminated keyboard never fails to extract an "oooooh" from folks, and the whole sensing light levels and auto-adjusting is nice, but its not a deal-maker. For me it came down to 3 things:

    - Far superior graphics card. The 9700 (esp. with 128mb) roundly destroys the FX5200. Never thought I could play UT2004 and CoD on max res with high effects settings so smoothly on a Powerbook. (Mind you the Dell XPS2 with its 6800Go gfx is a true gaming laptop. Just ugly as hell and runs windows. A 6800 Go in a Powerbook would have me throwing my cash at Apple)

    - Memory. The extra slot is a huge boon, giving massive performance leaps at less outlay. I may plump for 2GB at the end of month unless someone talks me out of it!

    - The Screen. After a while the 12" does feel small. If you are using it as an on-the-go computer and pluggin it into a bigger monitor at home, then its fine. If its a second computer (if you're keeping the mini?) then it also fits the bill.

    The portability of the 15" is good as well though. I've got a decent bag and do take it to and from work every day, but for wandering around the house or just surfing on the sofa the 12" is better.

    The battery life of the 12" is around 3.5 - 4 hours, wereas the 15" is around 2.5 - 3 hours - both with max backlight and constant use.But knock down the backlight and have less programs up and running and 4.5 for the 12" and 3.5 for the 15" is possible....
  10. Argelius thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jun 16, 2005

    LOL. You must be my lost twin brother. That describes me completely... :D

    And thanks all for your thoughts. At this point I am heavily leaning toward the 15"er. Planning a trek to the Apple Store this afternoon.
  11. acedickson macrumors 6502a


    Dec 6, 2004
    I agree about getting the 15". I wanted a Mac notebook really bad. I saved up the money needed to buy a 12" thinking it would be what I wanted. When I went to buy, and I used it, the screen size was just too small for me. I decided I'd wait and get what I really wanted, the 15".

    It's not too big, not too small, and has more of what I need. I can't wait until I can buy one before the end of summer.

    Plus, you're used to a 17" notebook. Dropping down to a 12" might be more than you want to sacrifice.
  12. Ugg macrumors 68000


    Apr 7, 2003
    If portability is the issue get the 12". Mine is 3 months old and I love it. I can watch 2 DVDs on one charge, however I keep the brightness indicator at about 4 or 5 bars at all times and that makes a huge difference. I also make sure that the bottom is elevated to reduce fan usage. If I'm just surfing, etc, 4 hours is a reasonable time for the battery to last.

    If I was a huge multi-tasker, the 12" screen would be too small but it's fine for my purposes. Another option is to get an LCD if the majority of your use is at home.
  13. Xeem macrumors 6502a


    Feb 2, 2005
    I heartily agree with Piarco; I need a PC cardslot in my laptop, and the advantage the Radeon 9700 has over the FX 5200 is huge. I recommend the 12" iBook if you really need portability, but the 12" Powerbook just isn't worth the cost.
  14. Chrispy macrumors 68020


    Dec 27, 2004
    Avon, IN
    I have owned both 12" and 15" powerbooks and I have to say that I enjoy my 15" much more than the 12". I just like having the extra screen space and the screen on the 15" is brighter, sharper and overall more pleasing. I vote 15"!
  15. itsbetteronamac macrumors regular

    Apr 27, 2003
    ok.... I was in the same delemia as you. In the end I chose the 15". And, I would recomend the same thing to anybody. I really enjoy the better graphics card, and I love the wide screen. But, I am using the 15" as my only computer. If I had had kept my desktop I would have gone witht the 12". As for real world battery life. Regular use = 3-3.75 hours DVD = 2 hours

    I change that basically 3 hours regular use.. maybe a little more if you're lucky
  16. peterparker macrumors regular


    Mar 12, 2005
    What tough decisions we have to make :)

    I have both 15" and 12". I bought the 12" only after buying one for my wife and seeing the better battery life and ease of moving it around. Even just around the house.

    I do programming, so the more screen real estate the better. Especially for eclipse. But the other 2 factors became more important to ME, so I am using and loving the 12". I would have never believed it but I actually don't miss the extra pixels that often. I discovered that a lot of the time I sized windows much bigger than they needed to be.

    So for me the battery and portability are more important than screen size. Only experience with both would truely answer that question for you.

  17. yippy macrumors 68020


    Mar 14, 2004
    Chicago, IL
    I find the 15" very portable and would not want any smaller of a screen.

    Keep in mind, a 15" PowerBook is going to seem tiny compared to a 17" Dell. There is almost no border around the screen and it is very thin for a laptop. This makes it about half the size of all of my friends 15" laptops (assorted brands).

    I would say 15" all the way.

    Of note, the backlit keyboard isn't a big deal, I find I practically don't use it because the glow from the screen is often enough.
  18. StarbucksSam macrumors 65816


    Nov 21, 2004
    Washington, D.C.
    Take it from someone who has both in the family.

    1.5 vs. 1.67 will have NO noticeable difference. It's all about the RAM. (for the record both books are 1.5 but I know for a fact that the speed difference is minute)

    12" is PLENTY big. I thought the same thing about it - that it would be too small - but I am really loving mine.

    You don't need FireWire 800 for ANYTHING. I have never EVER found a peripheral that required that. And trust me, FW400 is PLENTY fast.

    The 12" PowerBook is ULTRA portable and the 15" is WAY bigger and to me feels like a portable desktop. I still think my Dad was crazy to get that over the 12". Yes, if you're doing graphic editing or pro work, you might be better off with the 15", but in that case you're better with a desktop.

    Go for the 12". Ask any girl, it's big enough.
  19. michaelrjohnson macrumors 68020

    Aug 9, 2000
    Everything you said is true.

    I own(ed) a Rev. C 12in PowerBook (purchased last July).
    I am a Graphic Designer.
    I just sold the 12 to get a 15.

    I *loved* my PowerBook. But 12in @ 1024x768 is just not big enough to do any serious design work without an external monitor... and there goes your portability. I'm anxiously awaiting the coming weeks, as I'll be getting a 15in very soon!
  20. ExAppleJonathan macrumors newbie

    Jun 16, 2005
    Get the AppleCare... when you want it.

    I didn't see many responses covering the Applecare Protection Plan (APP) so I thought I'd chime in. APP is very expensive compared to what's offered by some of the PC manufacturers but if you end up needing it then it's a bargain, as is usual for extended warranties. Two things to remember before deciding:

    1) You don't have to buy it now. Apple allows you to add it later as long as your machine is still within the original one year warranty. The two advantages to buying it now are 1) if you buy certain other Apple stuff for your PowerBook now as well and everything's on one receipt, everything's covered under APP, and 2) the telephone support falls off after 90 days and doesn't resume until you've bought APP.

    2) APP goes with the machine if you sell it, so the guy who has APP and sells his 18 month old PowerBook can advertise that it has 18 more months of coverage. The guy who has a 12 month old PowerBook without APP for sale has, well, last year's PowerBook with no warranty for sale. If you were in the market for a used PowerBook, which would you rather buy?

    Before I sound too much like an APP salesman, I should add that I've owned 3 Macs, 1 PowerBook, 1 iBook and 3 iPods in the last 10 years and of these only 1 of the iPods has ever been back to Apple for service. It was still under it's original warranty. I feel more and more like I should buy APP with each new purchase, but I haven't yet.
  21. kerpow macrumors 6502

    Jan 16, 2004
    Put simply, if you can afford the 15", get it. It has many nice extra features.

    I'm happy with my 12" but am a little envious of the extra screen size, 128mb graphics card, backlit keyboard and extra RAM slot. Maybe next time......
  22. katie ta achoo macrumors G3

    May 2, 2005
    1: I don't know, but my 12" G3 iBook (that I got from a paw shop, unkown battery lifetime length) was 4 hours, easy. :)
    2: My powerbook when on battery save mode (low LCD, turn off bluetooth, bla bla blah), I get a good 5 hours. Oh yes. :D :D
    3: any monitor should work. I'd be surprized if it didn't.
    4: I think it is preloaded now, but I got mine with a drop-in disc to upgrade with.
    5: I'd say so. I plan on buying AppleCare on April 28, 2006. (I got my powerbook on april 29)

    I hope you get your PB! :) :) The fifteen inch is soooo nice... a big screen with still some sense of portability. it is LOVE!!
  23. tuartboy macrumors 6502a


    May 10, 2005
    As for 12" PB battery life:

    On my 1 week old system I get crazy battery. It's been on since 5 (3.5 hours) and it still says I have 2:13 to go!!!!!

    5+ hours if you sip the juice!
  24. michaelrjohnson macrumors 68020

    Aug 9, 2000
    I hope you can keep that up! That's some great battery life!
  25. Gordy macrumors 6502a

    May 22, 2005
    Bristol, UK
    My 12in powerbook gets about 3 and 1/2 hours battery life, its only a month or so old.

    tuartboy I'd keep good care of that battery its a good one :D

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