Tips from a switcher - if you need a laptop consider the new 12" PowerBook

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by johnnyjibbs, Oct 13, 2003.

  1. johnnyjibbs macrumors 68030

    johnnyjibbs

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2003
    Location:
    London, UK
    #1
    Hi all!

    My new 12" PowerBook arrived the other day and I just thought I'd write a sort-of review of it to aid other potential buyers.

    I'm a Windows user who liked the idea of a computer that just works, without any unncessary messing about. This coincided with really starting to need a laptop for uni.

    First thing, that marketing gumpf about it "just works" is true - certainly for me. After three days I have had no programs freeze on me, no system crashes or anything. Zilch. Everything has so far (I hope I'm not now cursing myself!) just worked how it should have. Okay, so I've only really used bog standard stuff so far, but it's such a pleasant change not to have the computer crash just because you're checking your email or loading a webpage! I connected my printer then printed straight away, digital camera - ditto. No setup wizzards! Internet? In just a couple of minutes! Can't wait until I get to use my uni broadband ethernet network!

    Anyway, onto the PB itself. First impression - nice! Better than it looks in pictures. Next I tested to see if it wobbled like some others had mentioned - nothing. The display is wonderful and bright and the screen size is more than adequate - no problems with Final Cut Express or Photoshop Elements.

    My next worry was heat. It does get warm, but never hot, even when charging the battery. Battery life is about 3-3.5 hours when ripping music iTunes, screen brightness about half.

    I have the Superdrive version but haven't burnt anything yet. I like the slot-load but it is quite noisey and 'clunky' when loading - not as smooth as my car CD player... Just hope no CD gets stuck in it! Oh, and the keyboard is fantastic - doesn't flex but with a lot of movement - the best keyboard I have ever seen on a laptop. This was one of the main reasons I got it over the iBook.

    Overall, very impressed. Any worries of it not being fast enough can be squashed - games are okay, but I use my GameCube for gaming anyway. The interface for me is always fast and snappy - not quite as much as Windows, but not as bad as a lot of people make out. I could do with more RAM for Final Cut Express (I only have the stock 256 MB) but that will be a future purchase when my credit card has recovered. Panther is sure to make it faster too.

    After reading MacRumors for a few months (and luckily knowing about the updates), I was both excited and a little nervous about getting a Mac, but I'm pleased to bits with it so far!

    Sorry for the long post, but I'm very proud of my new PB and will hopefully persuade someone else to get one!
     
  2. noel4r macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #2
    Congratulations on your new Mac. BTW, I'm thinking of getting one, did you have problems with the latch or did you find any dead pixel?
     
  3. mj_1903 macrumors 6502a

    mj_1903

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2003
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    #3
    Can't agree more with your assessment. My former PowerBook 12" (my friend was so impressed with it, he bought it off me) was a stellar performer. I can't wait to get around to buying a 15" or another 12". Absolutely wonderful machines.
     
  4. baby duck monge macrumors 68000

    baby duck monge

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2003
    Location:
    Memphis, TN
    #4
    congrats on your purchase! i hope you continue enjoying it as much as you have for these first few days.

    one word about RAM, though. max it out. you will see huge improvements. just don't buy it from apple. look to other sites like crucial.com or dealram.com for much better prices.

    that said, go have fun with your 'book.
     
  5. NeXTCube macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 14, 2002
    Location:
    Upstate NY
    #5
    Decisions, decisions...

    I'm actually soon to be in the market for a machine to replace my venerable B&W G3, and have been thinking in a 'book - be it i or Power - sort of way.

    Aside from the keyboard, what other factors led you to decide on the AlBook over the iBook? The extra $300 US for the AlBook could buy some extra RAM and a second battery (or be put toward some other household expenditure), and while the G4 has definite advantages over the G3, spousal acceptance factor is obviously higher on a less expensive unit... :)

    BTW - nice to hear from a fellow Gamecube player! :cool:
     
  6. superkosto macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2003
    Location:
    Darmstadt, Germany
    #6
    powerbook 12 vs. iBook

    nextCube-

    I had to make this decision too and
    opted for the powerbook, here are my
    reason that IMO justify the price difference.

    - DVI output: I use a external lcd when
    I am on my desk
    - much better keyboard
    - more RAM (640MB vs. 1,25GB max.)
    - just recently updated (the iBook might
    get a update soon)
    - a little tiny bit smaller/lighter (i want maximum portability)

    As for the processor speed it depends
    on what you do. If you use apps that benefit from AltiVec (e.G. PhotoShop) then the powerbook will be much faster then the iBook. For office tasks like
    web-browsing/email/word the iBook will
    be fine.

    So if your buget is very tight and you
    don't do a lot of image/video/sound
    processing, get the iBook. If you can
    affoard the price difference the powerbook
    12 is the better deal.

    Hope that helps...

    Stefan
     
  7. Marc the Mac macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2002
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    #7
    Re: powerbook 12 vs. iBook



    Just the person.. Can you tell me what the performance is like running and external LCD and also in dual mode. I'm looking to get a Powerbook and will be running my 15" LCD (maybe 20" in the future) off its DVI out. Is the graphics card up to it?

    thanks,
     
  8. superkosto macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2003
    Location:
    Darmstadt, Germany
    #8
    Re: Re: powerbook 12 vs. iBook

    I got a 20" formac display on the
    DVI @ 1600x1200 and this setup
    works fine for me, but I have not tried
    any games or other stuff that puts stress on the graphic card yet.

     
  9. Marc the Mac macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2002
    Location:
    United Kingdom
  10. NeXTCube macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 14, 2002
    Location:
    Upstate NY
    #10
    Re: powerbook 12 vs. iBook

    Thanks for your opinions about the two computers. A good keyboard is pretty much essential, as far as I'm concerned, so it sounds like the PBG4 is the way to go...
     
  11. switchingGeek macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2003
    Location:
    Dallas, Texas
    #11
    I switched just now too!!

    Seems like a lot of students are switching..

    NextCube - The primary reason i went with the PBook as opposed to the iBook -> PRICE!! With the student discount, The powerbook costs only $200 more!! I got 128MB more RAM, an Airport Extreme as opposed to plain Airport, Bluetooth and DDR insterad of plain SDRAM.

    I did get a dead red pixel though :-( just an inch from the center of the screen. But to be honest, I haven't noticed it at all. I mainly use the laptop for coding, browsing, documentation - not graphics intensive stuff. BTW do try out SideTrack - it adds a scroll area to the trackpad, and right click too!!

    Hmm just found a bug in Safari, the textbox was half in the screen, and some of the text is on the Safari status bar :)...
    Does anyone know where I can file this bug?
     
  12. QCassidy352 macrumors G3

    QCassidy352

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2003
    Location:
    Bay Area
    #12
    hey, congrats to all you switchers! I have a new 12" PB too; it replaced an ibook 900 for me.

    It's worth noting that with 768 RAM, the 12" PB is snappier than johnny describes it ("The interface for me is always fast and snappy - not quite as much as Windows, but not as bad as a lot of people make out."). In fact, coming from an ibook, I'd say the PB flies. So definitely, upgrade the RAM. (and get Panther! ;) )

    switchingGeek,
    the ibook that this replaced had a rather prominent stuck pixel. Yours sounds like it is stuck, that is, always on, not dead, which would be black. It's not just an academic difference; stuck pixels can often be fixed, where as dead ones are gone forever.

    Here's what you do:
    with one hand, gently but firmly hold the back of the lcd behind where the stuck pixel is.
    with the other hand, use a clean, soft cloth to "massage" the stuck pixel. By this I don't just mean rub it back and forth, but actually try to get some gentle massaging action going, as well as circular rubbing.
    after a minute, it's quite possible that the stuck pixel will disappear, and go back to firing as normal.

    This worked on my ibook, and I've seen it work many other times as well, but it's not guaranteed. On my ibook, the stuck pixel came back every few days for maybe a week or two, and then one day, I massaged it away and it never came back. So I'd say there is hope that you don't have to live with this pixel... good luck.
     
  13. notjustjay macrumors 603

    notjustjay

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2003
    Location:
    Canada, eh?
    #13
    My switching (well, adding) experience has been similar.

    I considered the PowerBook because I needed a small, portable machine to keep with me at school/home while I do thesis work on my Master's degree. Prior to this I had two laptops: a Dell Latitude D800 widescreen super-powerful-book, with a spectacular WUXGA 1920x1200 LCD display, great for video editing, and a small Latitude CSx. It was a choice between power or portability.

    I can now say I have both in the Powerbook 12". I still use the D800 for heavy-duty work and video editing (I have not had time to sit down and master Final Cut Express, but I plan to). The CSx is up for sale.

    I'm not ready to abandon Windows, as my D800 can still do a number of things better than the Powerbook can, but I'm having a happy coexistence between the two. My workflow for some things (like video editing) has been a bit convoluted, but that will hopefully change when I learn and get the right utilities installed on my PB. For example, right now I'm generating DV video on the Mac, bringing it into the PC, converting QuickTime-DV to AVI-DV, final editing in Windows, converting to QuickTime and WMV for the web in Windows, and putting the final clips online. Ironically, QuickTime for Windows seems to do a better job of encoding than my Mac, but I suspect it's because I bought QuickTime Pro on Windows and not yet on the Mac.

    Anyway, I like OS X. I like how it's Unix underneath. I don't really like the quirkiness of the particular tools included -- just do a search for "configure sed unterminated OS X" and you will find numerous complaints about some of the broken tools in OS X. I'm still getting build errors and things to sort through, but hey, it's Unix. I hope to do more development on it.

    Unfortunately unlike the original poster, I do not buy the "everything is just easier, everything just works" story. Yes, for the most part, it is true. But for some reason, whether bad luck or otherwise, I have not had that experience. I've written down every major problem I have had with the machine specifically to counter the "everything just works" claim. You'll see that the problems I had were mostly one-time things, once I overcame them, there has never been a problem since. This is a Very Good Thing. The consistency in this OS is excellent.

    Anyway, here are the problems I had when setting up the machine. Some are "user didn't know any better, how come nobody told me", some are "no idea why but it's gone now" type of things.

    * iTunes deleted everything off my iPod when I connected it for the first time. I resolved this by turning off the "auto sync" feature, but I never expected it would just go ahead and do it without warning me. Oops.
    * Couldn't configure for LAN. It's supposed to just work as soon as you plug in the cable. The first time, it didn't. Turned out the problem was at the switch, it disconnected the port for some reason, maybe excessive corrupt activity? I dunno), but since the PowerBook has no LAN indicator lights, I had no idea until I actually walked over to the switch looking for blinking lights. I've plugged the PB into a different switch now and it works fine, every time.
    * My Sony CLIE was not compatible out of the box. I had to buy Missing Sync for $30 USD. But now that it's installed, it works great... iSync rocks. Works even better than on my Windows box.
    * Not a problem per se, but I don't like the noisy CD drive. It whirrs every time I wake from sleep. And putting CD's into the drive sounds like it is stapling them!
    * I have had, on several occasions, system hangs with the spinning beach ball, making applications unresponsive for long periods of time. I suspect this is a network-related thing, perhaps something to do with SMB mounts off Windows servers. Haven't done enough testing to confirm.
    * Wireless network configuration was a pain. It wouldn't work, at first, I had to bring my wireless router to its most basic, no WEP, in order for the Mac to finally (and mysteriously) start working with it again. Now that I have it working though, it works well, and I'm switching between several different networks at home and school. The biggest quirk I had was having to keep typing in my WEP string, which is really annoying. If I don't mess around with the settings too much, it remembers them and I'm happy.
    * One feature I miss from my Dells is the ability to have two sets of screen brightness settings, one for battery power and one for AC. I.e. I want to have maximum brightness when plugged in, but have it automatically dim to 1/4 brightness when on battery. It's a BIOS function on my Dell.
    * My menu bar icons and clock crashed on me one night, which totally threw me off and I was late for something because I kept looking at the (frozen) clock and thinking it was still early.
    * I set iTunes to "import and eject" upon insertion of a music CD, yet it only ever does so AFTER I manually click import on the first CD I put in. All subsequent CDs are fine. I suspect this is normal behaviour, as it is consistent, but it's not quite what I was led to believe.
    * I updated iCal from Software Update and it promptly stopped working. I had to mess around with recreating the dock alias before it worked again.
    * When I put my PowerBook to sleep and take out the battery, the whole unit goes dead. I was led to believe that there would be enough reserve power to keep the laptop sleeping for a few minutes so I could take out the battery (i.e. to swap it with another). Well, my PB repeatedly dies when I do so.
    * Microsoft Office (at least the trial included with my PB) is slow as a pig.
    * I burned a DVD full of data to bring over to my PC, but discovered that the Finder burns HFS+ discs by default. Very helpful. Haven't tried burning CDs, I hear that they are ISO9660, I hope so. I tried to duplicate an iDVD-made movie disc using the Disc Utility, I got a coaster. I think my problem was not setting the image type to "CD/DVD master", but nobody tells you this stuff...

    Other than those specific problems, which you might rightly dismiss as one-time glitches, user errors, or trivial little things, this machine has been really great... I love it! I do NOT think it is the be-all-and-end-all of Windows, and I will continue to keep both Mac and Windows in my office, but hey, this thing is great.

    All my Windows friends who have seen this machine, ALL of them, say "Wow! I wish they weren't so expensive so I could get one too!"
     
  14. renikm macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2002
    #14
    Remember to increase the RAM to 640 MB if you can... After I increased the RAM to 640 my laptop felt at least twice as responsive!
     
  15. rueyeet macrumors 65816

    rueyeet

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2003
    Location:
    MD
    #15
    Re: I switched just now too!!

    There's supposed to be a "report bug" button somewhere along the top of Safari....if it's not there, maybe it can be enabled in Preferences? Sorry to be vague, I'm not in front of my Mac at the moment. :) I do know this is supposed to be as easy as clicking on a little button with a bug on it though....
     
  16. coolsoldier macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2003
    Location:
    The 909
    #16
    Report Bug...

    The report bug button is on the apple menu unless you specifically turn it on in the address bar.
     
  17. switchingGeek macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2003
    Location:
    Dallas, Texas
    #17
    Stuck pixel begone!!

    Awesome!! I thought I'd try that out, and the stuck pixel was gone!!! :)) Now I'm even happier :-D...

    I've ordered 512MB of RAM, hopefully it will be worth the 100$...

    Thank you guys!!
     
  18. johnnyjibbs thread starter macrumors 68030

    johnnyjibbs

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2003
    Location:
    London, UK
    #18
    Hey guys, thanks for the response!

    No problems with the latch! I have one dead pixel that I may try to 'massage away' but it's near the edge of the screen and I don't worry about it much.

    As already mentioned, the general looks, speed (+altivec), bluetooth/airport extreme/DVI - also the fact that the iBook will probably be updated soon (although still to less than the PowerBook I assume).

    Actually, one of the biggest reasons is the student discount. I got about £150 off the PowerBook 12", while I would have only got £20 off the CD iBook or £50 off the Combo 12" iBook. So the PB is nearly the same price as the iBook!

    Bugs
    If found a bug in Preview whereby at certain levels of zoom some pages 'smear' when you scroll up them using the scrollbar at the side. Can easily be worked around though. Also, once I put a CD-R in with loads of photos on and Preview wouldn't open them after a while. Even Photoshop Elements didn't accept them. Easily fixed by ejecting and reinserting the CD. Must have been a bit of dust or something.

    You bet I'm not going to Apple for RAM. Crucial is the way to go!

    Nintendo all the way!
     
  19. switchingGeek macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2003
    Location:
    Dallas, Texas
    #19
    I just purchased 512MB at memorysuppliers.com and it was $20 cheaper!! check them out too...
     
  20. johnnyjibbs thread starter macrumors 68030

    johnnyjibbs

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2003
    Location:
    London, UK
    #20
    Thanks, I will!
     
  21. QCassidy352 macrumors G3

    QCassidy352

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2003
    Location:
    Bay Area
    #21
    Re: Stuck pixel begone!!

    totally sweet dude. Glad to hear it worked for you. :D

    Remember, the pixel could possibly come back... if it does, just do the same thing again. As I said, mine came back a few times, and then disappeared forever, so if it does reappear (though it doesn't for many people), don't give up.
     
  22. Marlon_JBT macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2003
    Location:
    Detroit, Michigan
    #22
    Dead Pixels, Keyboard, case

    Wow, this makes me feel really lucky. I HAVE NOT ONE DEAD PIXEL!!!

    My keyboard is nice. Today, I was wishing for a backlighted keyboard like the 17" and the new 15", but just for oooohs, and ahhhs. I didn't need it, since I don't need light to type.

    There is one thing that doesn't "work" with my PB...my digital camera. iPhoto just doesn't see it in PTP mode, and if I try it in another "Normal" mode, it says that Mac OS cannot read from it. For reference, I have a Sony CyberShot DSC-P31. It sucks.

    However, my case just isn't standing up to my backpack. No latch problems though. I've already got a nice bend in the right corner, by the battery. It didn't hurt the inner "frame" though. I'll find some way to get it out. Would anyone at an Apple Store do it for me...for free? :)

    Oh yeah, I forgot... something isn't straight, but I'm not sure whether it is the screen enclosure, or the rest. I've looked at another 12" at school, it's the same way, but mine is worse.

    I don't worry about it, and all I have to say is that "They all do it!"

    Still happy. :)
     
  23. settledown macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2003
    Location:
    pittsburgh
    #23
    Hey notjustjay....consider this.

    notjustjay said, "Unfortunately unlike the original poster, I do not buy the "everything is just easier, everything just works" story."

    How long do you think it would have taken to fix those types of problems on a windows machine??

    "It just works" is a catch all phrase. Computers are by definition a complicated machine with infinite capabilites. The trick is to make all those possibilities easy to use and intuitive to tweak. This is what separates OS X from Windows.

    Anyone can click print and get a sheet of paper to spit out of the printer. but what if you want to scale it by 75%? or adjust the print to whatever paper, or alter any of the gobs of other properties or preferences that are a part of nearly every application.

    It DOES just work, but if it doesn't...it is easy and most importantly intuitive to fix.
     
  24. notjustjay macrumors 603

    notjustjay

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2003
    Location:
    Canada, eh?
    #24
    settledown,

    You make a good point. I was specifically refuting the statement "it just works" in the context of (some) Apple users proclaiming that their platform is like nirvana, a land where things always work, when it's simply not true. I have Mac friends who laugh at me whenever I face a glitch or problem with my Windows box, or if it takes me a little while to get something up and running... all the while they smile and say, "If you had a Mac, it would Just Work."

    Well, sorry Scott (and others who told me that) but it's just not always true. Clearly, some of the problems that plague my Windows setup are also plaguing my Mac setup. In my experience, the Mac does a WONDERFUL job of setting things up for you, if it works. If it doesn't work, well, it's not fun either.

    As for taking longer to fix those types of problems on a Windows machine -- you're probably right, but in some respects the Windows machine provides me with tools that I can use to quickly resolve those types of problems.

    Not to say that I'm bashing the Mac at all. No way. I love this thing. It definitely IS easier to use than Windows. But it's not perfect.
     
  25. Phil Of Mac macrumors 68020

    Phil Of Mac

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2002
    Location:
    Washington State University
    #25
    Re: Decisions, decisions...

    For me, it was the screen size and resolution on the 15. It's the widescreen, it's the DVD watching experience, it's the resolution. It's the Radeon 9600 graphics card. Between the 12" PowerBook and iBook there's less difference, but quite simply, I couldn't deal with a 12" as a desktop replacement.

    There's also the whole aluminum factor.

    I think the industrial design on the Aluminums is much, much better, in terms of the look, the attention to detail, and all the rest. Of course, the next iBook revision might change that. I would personally wait for the next iBook revision to honestly compare the two, but remember, the PowerBooks have more power, hence the name, and even if you don't need the power, it's still nice to have. A Porsche still makes nice smooth vroom vroom noises at 30 miles per hour on the way to work ;)
     

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