Yet again.. iBook G4 vs PowerBook G4 12" models buying tomorrow!

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by fillz, Dec 2, 2003.

  1. fillz macrumors newbie

    Dec 2, 2003
    Hi all,

    I've been a long, long time lurker, but decided to post since this is going to be my first mac and I really want to make the best choice. The first computer I ever owned was an Apple IIc. The last time I used macs was in high school. Long story short, I becamed seriously interested in Apple as a PC alternative after the original REV A 12" Powerbook came out. The machine was slick, a tad expensive and had some really bad problems (heat). Anyways, with the REV B Powerbook out I thought my choice was clear until the iBook G4 showed up. Being a Systems Admin at a large Canadian university, I know Windows and all its idiocy like the back of my hand. Hands down, OS X is THE Linux for desktops. In other words, IT OWNS!

    I'm ordering the system most likely tomorrow, so here's what I came up with so far:

    I live in Toronto, so all prices are in CAD with edu discount.

    Fixed cost 1 will be the 512mb memory module I will be purchasing: $134. This money I will spend regardless of which 'Book I will go for.

    Fixed cost 2 is the Airport Extreme card which is another $130.

    The other thing that I need is bluetooth, but because the iBook is cheaper, I won't cost that seperately.

    So, here are my options:

    12" 800mhz G4 iBook
    • 256MB DDR266 SDRAM (128MB built-in & 128MB SO-DIMM)
    • 60GB Ultra ATA drive
    • Combo Drive (DVD-ROM/CD-RW)
    • Bluetooth Module
    • Keyboard/Mac OS X - U.S. English
    • APP for iBook - Enrollment Kit
    • 12-inch TFT XGA display
    • 800MHz PowerPC G4
    • ATI Mobility Radeon 9200 w/ 32MB DDR video memory

    Subtotal $1,804.00

    12" 1Ghz G4 PowerBook
    • 1GHz PowerPC G4
    • 256MB DDR266 (256MB built-in)
    • 80GB Ultra ATA drive @ 4200rpm
    • Combo Drive (DVD-ROM/CD-RW)
    • Keyboard/Mac OS - U.S. English
    • APP for PowerBook (w/ or w/o display) - Enrollment Kit
    • 12.1-inch TFT Display

    Subtotal $2,558.00

    So, for an extra $754 I will be getting:

    + 200mhz more processing power
    + 256k more L2 Cache
    + 20gb more storage
    + Line In port
    + 128mb more built in memory so total will be 768 vs 640 on the iBook.
    + Better build quality
    - Less battery life

    +- The casing. This part I'm undecided on. The casing on the iBook is fairly cheap. Yes, it is polycarbonate plastic which is impact resistant to an extent, without an PowerSleeve it will be covered in gunk and scratches in no time. The Powerbook on the other hand is a beautiful brushed aluminum and will stand the test of time when it comes to resistance to scratches and such, but at the slightest drop, the metal will permanently bend out of shape.

    +- Another tossup is heat. I heard the REV B. PowerBooks arent FireBooks anymore and the G4 iBook that I used didn't get all THAT hot.

    So, please, please help me decide which to get. Is the extra money really worth it?

    I will be primarily web surfing, iPhoto, iTunes + iPoding etc. Nothing too advanced. For games I have my PC desktop. I want this thing to be with me pretty much all the time and I'm not going to be doing anything that intensive on it. However I do plan on keeping it for at least three years before replacement and want it to last that long.

    Thanks for reading this and for any advice you can shoot my way.

    p.s. I think AppleCare is a good investment, what do you guys and gals think?
  2. plasticparadox macrumors 6502

    May 24, 2003
    I say iBook, especially if you're just doing some basic stuff. Save some cash.

    I went through the same choice dilemna. I've had my heart set on the 12" PowerBook ever since Rev. A, and even convinced my girlfriend to buy one so I could check it out :D But in the end, with the iBook now sporting a G4 processor and a slot-loading Combo drive, there's no reason to choose the more expensive PB unless you really need the marginally faster processor.

    Good Luck!
  3. telecomm macrumors 65816


    Nov 30, 2003
    Hmm.... tough call.

    I got my 12" Rev. B combo Powerbook about a week ago now, and wow, what a great machine. I moved up from a 500Mhz ibook, so of course the speed difference was phenomenal. Got mine with the canadian edu discout, 512 MB, and a 60 GB hd. Noticable heat (bottom left near the hd) isn't much different from that of my old ibook - maybe a bit warmer, but certainly not uncomfortable. That said, the fans run much more often, especially with intensive use (i.e. UT2003). Didn't even know my old ibook had fans...;)

    Anyway, my girlfriend just got a new 800Mhz G4 ibook, and it's a great machine too. The design has been noticably improved since my old ibook. But there are a couple of differences you didn't mention - pb supports video spanning, while the ibook will only mirror video. There's apparently a firmware hack for the ibook, but I've heard that it'll void your applecare warranty. Pb also has mini-DVI output, ibook doesn't.

    The speed difference is notable when gaming, but that may not be a factor for you.

    Anyway, hope that helps.
  4. fillz thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 2, 2003
    Thanks for your responses everyone.

    telecomm, the new iBooks have a different keyboard from the old ones. How different is it from the PowerBook keyboard?
    I also heard about the firmware hack for display spanning, and that was what I was going to use if I get the iBook. I really doubt Apple would even know its there though (i.e. you'd have to actually look for it) if it came to a warranty issue. As well, can you see an apreciable difference in battery life between your GF's iBook and your PowerBook?

    Also, can you compare the build quality of the two computers? I.e. the iBook's battery sticking out, gap between the lid and bottom half etc.. do you see those things on the PB?
  5. QCassidy352 macrumors G3


    Mar 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    I'd have to say ibook. I have a rev. B 12" powerbook and love it, but I don't think you'll need it for what you're doing. Save the money. Yes the PB is theoretically faster, but for itunes, iphoto, and web, I don't think you'll really tax either machine.

    Btw, I do think APP is a good idea. And also, if you do decide to go with the PB, you should know that mine (and all others that I've heard/ read about) no longer have the heat problem of the Rev. A product.

    edit: oh, and I get ~2.5 hours battery with DVD, ~3 with full brightness and several tasks, and ~3.5 or more with half brightness and just word processing.
  6. stetsows macrumors newbie

    Oct 21, 2003
    Birmingham, AL
    I picked the powerbook

    I was faced with a similar decision a month ago and almost bought the iBook, but later decided to splurge on the 12" PB for several reasons. First it weighs approx. a 1llb less than the iBook and approx. half what my WallStreet PB weighed. Second it is more expandable (higher ram capacity). Bluetooth standard. The larger cache was also a plus. Finally remeber laptops are generally not as expandable as desktop machines so buying more than you think you need may extend the useful life of the machine for you.

    edit: I also bought the APP. With a portable I wouldn't want risk being out of pocket on an LCD repair...
  7. Nermal Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 7, 2002
    New Zealand
    My first Mac was an 800 MHz G3 iBook, and it's fine for the same sort of things you're doing. It cost $2190 (Canadian). So with the G4 iBook for $1804, you're getting a good deal IMO.

    I've actually just taken a step up and got a 1.25 GHz Power Mac G4 ($2010). It hasn't arrived yet. But that's not really related to your question.
  8. telecomm macrumors 65816


    Nov 30, 2003
    Hi fillz.

    Haven't really had a chance to compare battery life of my PB with the girlfriend's ibook. She says it's noticibly improved over her last ibook (a 700 Mhz G3, she had recently gotten a new battery before she fried the logic board...), and my PB is about on par with my old ibook (I got a new ibook battery a couple of months before parting with it). After watching a 2 hr DVD, I've still got power to spare, but not that much.

    As far as the keyboard goes, I think that's one of the most noticeable improvements on the ibook. Much higher quality, it's a lot sturdier. I think the keyboards on both notebooks are about on par.

    Build quality of both notebooks is quite good. My girlfriends got one dead pixel, sort of near the centre of her screen, none for me. While it sort of annoys her, I doubt that it's anything other than bad luck.
  9. CalfCanuck macrumors 6502a

    Nov 17, 2003
    Stash the $800 for your next Mac

    iBook, definitely. If you were thinking about the PB 15", with a FW800 and 64MB versuys 32 MB video, i might say go for it. But the iBook has ALMOST the same video memory specs, processor specs, USB 2, etc.

    I myself am temporarily using a iBook G4 933, because of the problems with the new 15" PB 1.25 GHz. I even have a FW 800 drive hooked up to the iBook. But the reality is that the iBook still screams compared to my old PB Ti400, which I had already tricked out with 1GB RAM, a fast 40 GB HD, and a replacement CD-R.

    Also, the screen spanning hack works quite well. The support for 2 monitors is built into the system, and the video card has the horesepower to run it. It in fact was Apple that did a software hack to disable the built in capabilities. It's not like they are going to rewrite their entire operating system to artifically cripple one computer in their line - so they disabled it via software in system's initiation routines. So what the hack does is remove Apple's hack.

    So buy the iBook, stash the $800, and then in a couple of years sell the iBook for C$800, take the saved cash, and buy a 2005 laptop faster than either the iBook or PB.
  10. Dont Hurt Me macrumors 603

    Dont Hurt Me

    Dec 21, 2002
    Yahooville S.C.
    a 800 G4 is a lil slow and ibook is apples lowest product, can the portable and get G5! anyways if you have to have a G4 get as much as you can,wether ibook or powerbook and a g4 under a gig isnt that great so i would start with cpu speed and go from there.
  11. uv23 macrumors 6502

    Nov 16, 2003
    Calgary, AB
    I went through the same dilemma recently. Picked up my 12" PB last Friday and love it, switched from a PC. For me though, it's going to be my primary machine and my needs are much higher than yours, so the more power the better. A dvi output was also key to me since I have a nice big LCD at home that I connect to. And as dumb as it is, I have a severe aluminum fetish, so there was no way I was going to pick something white and plastic over something metal and nummy. ;) By the way, where the hell are you getting a 512mb SODIMM for $134?? I'm waiting on mine and it's going to cost me $269CDN.
  12. fillz thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 2, 2003
    Right here:

    It's actually $138 :D I was mistaken.

    Well this notebook will be my primary pc because I will simply be using it a hell of a lot more than my PC. I wonder if the ~20% extra power will be worth it long term. I am planning on keeping the Book till the 3 year APP runs out.
  13. uv23 macrumors 6502

    Nov 16, 2003
    Calgary, AB
    Wow, that's really cheap! I wonder if it's 100% compatible. Apparently Panther is really picky about 3rd party ram, which is why I decided to go local so that I don't have any issues with sending stuff back in the mail if it doesn't work.
  14. JulesK macrumors 6502

    Dec 17, 2002
    I vote iBook

    And that's despite owning the Rev.B 12" PB (which I bought only 3 days before the new iBooks were announced...grrrr). To be clear, I think my PB is great and I really love the keyboard. However, I agree with CalfCanuck that the right thing to do is get the machine that will serve your purposes well (even if there isn't as much "overhead" as the PB), and save the money to get a similarly positioned machine 2-3 years down that road that will blow away whatever is available today. The keyboard on the new iBook is much better than the G3 version. I wouldn't say it is on par with the one on the PB, but it is close enough that it should no longer be a factor.
  15. fraeone macrumors regular


    Sep 26, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    I'm a proud new owner of a 12" PB (my first mac). I was in the same situation as you, but one thing really helped me make my decision - the PB keyboard. The perfection that is the 12" PBs keyboard is eons better than the g4 ibook's keyboard. I'm a touch typist, so that was enough to sway me towards the PB, and I don't regret it at all. The G4 ibook keyboard may be improved, but it still sucks. I really wanted to like it, but I couldn't.

    The extra speed/video-spanning/memory/lighter-weight/smaller-size of the Powerbook is all very nice too.
  16. fillz thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 2, 2003
    Congrats on your P'Book, but just wanted to point out that the iBook G4 and P'Book keyboards are actually completely identical. The only difference is that the paint coating the PowerBook just feels a bit nicer. I had a store tech take both apart and show me the keyboards disconnected from the books. Same exact assembly.

    Anyways, thanks for all the help and advice people. Just ordered myself a shiny new iBook. I will be using a Mac Skinz to protect the front from scratches.

    The config I got was the exact same as above. Also I ordered a Lexmark inkjet printer which is free right now (via mailin) if you get it with the iBook or 12' P'Book.
  17. kuyu macrumors 6502a


    Sep 16, 2003
    like so many others, i am facing the same dilemma. However, for your needs the ibook will do it all and then some. you are far better off to buy a decent ibook now and another *book in 2-3 years. With the money you save now and the resell on the ibook (which is pretty high), you could afford a great system in the future....possibly even a G5 pbook!
  18. niter macrumors 6502

    Sep 9, 2003
    I went through this a lot too. I really wanted the faster processor speed, but I wanted the small size too. The powerbook was out of the price range I wanted to pay for and I was not crazy about the design as compared to the iBook. I was really sick of my 14" PC laptop.

    This is the way I look at it. When it all comes down to it, desktops are and always will be more powerful/easier to upgrade for more power. For what I am doing, there will be no difference if I run it on an iBook or a PowerBook. Laptops are about portability. Thus, I decided to get the size and look I wanted and save a bunch of money. When I get to the point in life where I need to do things that require the extra power, I will get a PowerMac.

    For the cost of a PB 15" (which is the only PB I like), I could get an iBook and a dual G4 PowerMac. A dual G4 is going to be more powerful than the PB.

    You need to decide what is best for you. Do you want a basic laptop and a high performance desktop (if you even need one) or do you want a do all PB? Also, it comes down to your preferences. For instance, a previous poster said they loved the Al look of the PB. I undstand that completely because as a Polymer Chemist, I get a major kick out of the polycarbonate casing for the iBook.
  19. JulesK macrumors 6502

    Dec 17, 2002
    Keyboard Differences

    I'd be interested in what people think about the keyboards. I agree that the action on the new iBook keyboard is great - comparable, if not the same as the Powerbook keyboard. It's just that the Powerbook keyboard seemed more solid. It may be that the difference is due to the set-up for adding new memory, with the iBook (I believe) still having the swing-up keyboard.
  20. QCassidy352 macrumors G3


    Mar 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    but the ibook keyboard is removable (to install RAM and airport) while the PB keyboard is not. I don't even know how you would remove the PB keyboard; it's built in. I really don't think they're the same.

    But congrats on your purchase; you'll love the new ibook.
  21. fillz thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 2, 2003
    The PowerBook keyboard is removed by removing the bottom assembly. The difference is that the P'Book actually sits on the bottom assembly, while the Ibook does not. But the keys themselves inlcluding spacing and travel distance are identical between the two. They may feel a bit better on the P'Book simply because it's all one piece (the keyboard and backplate) but only if you are realy anal about these things. The surface of the keys on the P'Book is different, but hardly so. The bottom line, the keys are identical.
  22. MyPB&Me macrumors newbie

    Oct 30, 2003
    Thats not paint on the PB, thats anodized aluminum. I find that the powerbooks feel much stiffer then ibooks and thus more solid. There no flex at all no matter where you pick up a pb, the ibooks casing has a little give to it. I would always go wit hthe PB if you can afford it. In almost all cases its best to get the best you can afford cause someday when you need that extra speed you be glad you did. I have a 1.25ghz 15" and the thing screams. I was thinking of getting the 12" PB but this thing is so fast I'd hate to sacrefice any of it.
  23. fillz thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 2, 2003
    I meant the paint on the keyboard. The keyboard is plastic.
  24. Toeknee macrumors regular


    Sep 24, 2003
    San Antonio, Texas
    Here I got a solution for ya... flip a coin! :) I can guarantee that whatever you choose you'll be happy with the decision. I used my dad's iBook (Dual USB) when he got it and i thought it was screaming for its time..... that was like 2 years ago and now that i have my powerbook i can't seem to be able to use such a small screen. Good luck on the choice!
  25. fillz thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 2, 2003
    Oh the decision is made. I ordered the iBook yesterday!

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