12" buyer's remorse?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by betsbillabong, Nov 13, 2004.

  1. betsbillabong macrumors regular

    Nov 13, 2004
    After deliberating between 12" and 15" for a week, I recently ordered a 12" powerbook with the 5400rpm drive option. I decided on the 12" for a variety of reasons: (a) I will be taking it out with me every day, often while biking; (b) I like things light; (c) I've been using my trusty G3 600 for three years, and it's my favorite mac yet, since 1989); (d) It seemed less fragile than the 15" due to its shorter size and extra width; (e) sounds like battery life is dramatically better, and (e) With the money I saved, I would be able to buy the Production Suite - Final Cut Pro, DVD Studio Pro, etc.

    I work as a composer and video artist, so I do a lot of work in Max/MSP/Jitter, Final Cut Pro and Digital Performer. I wanted to get this laptop now because I have an upcoming production for which I simply can't use my ibook (not enough horsepower).

    In the three days since I've ordered it, I've begun to feel that I may have made the wrong decision. I will still be carrying it around everywhere and want something tough (I don't think either will be as rugged as my ibook), but I've discovered that I can get the software for free through work; and my parents, who know I'm low on money, gave me a dramatic gift and told me to buy whichever computer I needed and not to cut corners... to really get what I need. I've also been borrowing a TiBook for the last week and have gotten used to its screen.

    Part of my equation in buying it was that I know that some dramatic chip change is probably in store next year - G5 or dual G4 or something! Unfortunately, I really need this computer now. I figured it was better to buy slightly low end and then if I really wanted the 15" to get it in the new chipset in a year's time.

    The 12" shipped yesterday. It seems as if it is not returnable as I got the 5400 drive; is that correct? Is anyone successfully using the 12" for audio/video production? I'm more worried about the real estate for FCP and DP4 than Max. I don't want to be disappointed in this computer - I want to be really into it. Maybe you just get used to whatever screen you're using a lot. Probably if I'd gotten the 15" I'd be worrying that it was too big, bulky and fragile!

    As a side note, although OS X rocks, I feel a bit nostalgic and sad selling off my last OS9 computer! I've been using this OS for almost twenty years!
  2. wPod macrumors 68000


    Aug 19, 2003
    Denver, CO
    if screen real estate is the problem, get a cheap CRT monitor (i use a 19" CRT on my PB.) it works well when your working for a long time in one spot. but with the 12" PB you can still take it places easily. try it out. if you dont like the 12" then you should upgrade when a new chipset comes out.
  3. bigsteve3 macrumors member

    Jul 16, 2002

    I congratulate you on your purchase!

    I have a revision B powerbook 12" (1 GHz), and I wish I had been wise enough to get the 5400 rpm drive. My experiences have been great in the past year using the pbook. I am a musician, and I not only compose and perform music, but also record a little bit as well (amateur). I used to have a 500 MHz g3 ibook, and the pbook beats it hands down. I too was very worried about the construction of the pbook (it looks nicer, but feels flimsier/delicate). However, I've actually been perfectly fine toting it around in my backpack for the past year. Although the iBook looks more durable, I had my latch break, my screen stick, and the locking mechanism on the tray on my DVD drive all break on the iBook from exactly the same treatment. Amazing how looks can be deceiving!

    Although I do feel cramped with screen real estate at times, I have hooked it up to an external monitor often. The pbook definitely works better with external monitors than the iBook does.

    Battery life is great on the pbook. If I'm not doing any graphics/sound intensive stuff, I easily get 4 hrs with the screen brightness turned halfway down. With processor-intensive stuff, I usually get 2.5 hrs.

    And a final note...I assume that since you're an A/V person that you know to install lots more RAM for OS X. I have 512 MB in my pbook, and while it works, you may want 1 GB for optimal performance.

    Keep in mind that your Powerbook will probably be a little better than mine, because it is the newest model - will have a faster processor, video card, etc. :)

  4. Zaty macrumors 65816

    Mar 14, 2004
    The 1024 by 768 resolution has its limitations when it comes to video editing. Like previous posters have already said, you can your PB hook up to an external monitor. I use a 17" LCD as the main screen at home. Other than the resolution, the 12" PB is a great machine, you won't be disappointed.
  5. betsbillabong thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 13, 2004
    re: 12" buyer's remorse

    thanks for your replies...

    i've aready been thinking of getting a separate monitor; the only problem is that my desk is only 20" wide and 16" deep so i don't hav a lot of space. i suppose i could get new furniture but... i'm pretty busy right now. maybe i'll take a look at the size of the keyboard and monitors. my main issue is that when not connecting the pbook to the monitor i'd like to be able to work at the desk.

    and steve, great advice -- i've already ordered 1G of ram separately, which should arrive on the same day as my powerbook.
  6. betsbillabong thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 13, 2004

    zaty, i took a long time to reply and hadn't seen your post!

    you're right about the screen resolution... though i look back and just ten years ago or even less, everyone was editing on avids with 800x600 resolution. and great stuff was still being made.

    that said, i could definitely use the extra real estate. i guess i'll just have to get really good about tricks.
  7. panda macrumors regular

    Mar 15, 2004
    the dilema

    i truly understand your dilema...

    i have been there too. i have been working on white g3 12" ibooks for 3 years and love them, even with the motherboard (replaced etc) problems. it is my only computer.

    the screen is fine for email, myob and office, but a little difficult to work with for 3d design projects in formz, and cad is... well workable, but not enjoyable or practical.

    so i bought thru the internet apple store a 12"pb this spring, after going back and forth between the 12" and 15" story. i love all things small, but decided within 10days from delivery to give it back. why? because though i loved the size, it seemed too much like my 'old' ibook and it seemed a bit of a waste to have such a powerful machine and such a small screen.

    so now i am waiting for the upcoming pb upgrade, which i hope will be in jan. and then i will get the 15", which i hope will prove a happy choice. i hope... cause 12" still temps me!

    ay, what is a guy to do. i'm not too keen on external monitors...

    just so you know- if you bought yours online (or by phone) from the apple store, you should be allowed to return it during the first 10 working days, even if it is BTO. but be smart and call them to be sure. this will give you some time to play with it for a bit and help you decide. (this is the case in europe)

    as for the solidity issue, the ibook is great, but even so, i do put it into a little neoprene sleeve and i am sure that that solution will also be great with the pb.

    hope you can get some hints from this rambling story.

  8. panda macrumors regular

    Mar 15, 2004

    forgot to mention.

    you will love osx and will be so happy to say goodbye to os9.

  9. Applespider macrumors G4


    Jan 20, 2004
    looking through rose-tinted spectacles...
    If you really want real estate, I'd get the separate monitor. The 15" is great but there are still times if I was doing serious editing that I'd want more!

    Since you'd already ordered the 12" when your parents made their very generous offer, would they spring for a good flat screen display to complement your Pbook? Since it will have a longer shelf life than the PB (since will be usable with future purchases too), you might be able to persuade them.

    Then you should have room on your desk too
  10. Will Curran macrumors regular

    Will Curran

    Oct 23, 2004
    Phoenix AZ
    Yep I second/third/fourth the secondary monitor, LCD's are always really fun, but if you can't afford one, CRT's are good. Also maybe look into another desk.
  11. jefhatfield Retired


    Jul 9, 2000
    just think of the alternatives

    you could have bought a 17" inch powerbook...lots of power but in no way congruent with your specific mobile needs

    you could have bought a pc laptop...with windows xp...yuck

    you could have bought a desktop computer...totally non portable

    i think you did great with a 12" inch powerbook...it fits most, if not all, of your major needs...tremendous computing power in just over 4.5 lbs
  12. betsbillabong thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 13, 2004
    re: 12" buyers remorse

    thanks for all of your replies. i think that the external monitor idea is a good one, and i went to compusa today just to take a look at what is out there. it sounds as if prices will come down just after thanksgiving, so i'm thinking of waiting till then.

    i guess i should probably start a different thread about lcd monitors so that more people can participate (without having to guess that 12" buyer's remorse is about displays!)

    panda, i'm glad someone can relate to my quandry.

    and jefhatfield, as i said before, i think if i'd ordered the 15" i'd still be worried i'd made the wrong choice! so i think you're right, this is probably my best option.
  13. yamabushi macrumors 65816


    Oct 6, 2003
    No current laptop will be as good as a dual 2.5 Powermac with a RAID and lots of RAM for video editing. I suggest you keep your Powerbook and accept that it will always be less than ideal. Upgrade with an external display as others have suggested and your productivity will improve. You could then get a Powermac sometime in the future to use with your display.

    Do whatever work you can on the Powerbook whenever you like and do whatever work you like whenever you happen to be at your desk. Use the strengths of each and you can't go wrong. You just have to make do with what you have in the meantime.
  14. betsbillabong thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 13, 2004
    video editing

    thanks, yamabushi. i already know that, AND already have daytime to access to dual-G5 editing setups with cinema displays, etc. which is great. but i find myself often wanting to get work done at home, or on the road. i live in a tiny room (about 9x9) and with all of my music equipment, books, files for the dissertation, etc it's already pretty cramped.

    i expect that i will have editing studio access for the near future (and feel lucky in that regard) but wanted something more portable.

    i think the external monitor idea will work well, at least i hope so.
  15. FelixDerKater Contributor


    Apr 12, 2002
    Nirgendwo in Amerika
    A 12" screen is just too small for reasonable computer use. Unless you absolutely need your computer to be that compact for some reason, a 15" model is definitely the way to go.
  16. Music_Producer macrumors 68000

    Sep 25, 2004
    I am fairly amazed at how people always seem to equate any audio/video production performance directly to processor speed. Of course, there is a an advantage in owning a dual G5 in that it will fairly boost the performance, but you forget a very important aspect here. Its the Drive!

    3 years ago, I had a 500 mhz titanium powerbook with 1 GB of RAM. I was running 64 tracks of audio with 6-8 plug ins on each track using Digital Performer 4. Needless to say, it was pretty intensive yet there were no crashes, glitches whatsoever. Why? I was running the project off a 10,000 rpm SCSI hard drive connected via a Magma PCI bus interface..with a cardbus stuck into the pcmcia slot of my powerbook.

    A 12 " alu pbook's processor speed is 1.33 Ghz and that of the 15" is 1.5 Ghz. That difference is negligible (the RAM will make a difference though) For screen size, everyone has given friendly advice as to hooking up an external monitor and so on, the only thing that would stop me from buying a 12 " pbook G4 is the lack of a pcmcia card slot..whereas the 15" has one.

    Everyone always rushes out to buy the fastest computer to work with their music and video. I have seen and worked with plenty of professionals who still use old G4 desktops and laptops..and churn out fantastic projects, but you should see their drives (RAID systems and SCSIs) Invariable, people spend a great load of their savings on the fastest beast and then run their projects on a little 5400 rpm drive, and wonder why performance lags. Just my little bit.. thanks!
  17. QCassidy352 macrumors G4


    Mar 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    My own experiences with a 12" laptop as my only computer, and the experiences of many others who have done and continue to do the same thing, suggest that your opinion may not be universally true. :rolleyes:
  18. virividox macrumors 601


    Aug 19, 2003
    Manila - Nottingham - Philadelphia - Santa Barbar
    i love my 17 inch

    but i have been able to work comfortably with a 12 inch screen for long periods of time

    its just requires a lot of scrolling and switching windows
  19. andypop macrumors newbie

    Aug 28, 2004

    Exposé will quickly become your best friend on a 12" Powerbook.

    I love mine, but I'm a firm believer that a portable computer should be PORTABLE. I'll never understand why anybody would want to lug around a 17" notebook.
  20. codycartoon macrumors regular

    Sep 13, 2002
    Damn Straight.

  21. morkintosh macrumors regular

    Nov 25, 2003
    I've used a 12" pb (rev a) for 18 months, last week I decided it was time for an upgrade and elected to go wtih the 15" over another 12" ... all I can say is that I loved that 12", but the 15" is just a much better computer, you can't beat the wider screen if you want to do anything more than type some documents or surf the web
  22. betsbillabong thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 13, 2004
    buyer's remorse update!

    okay, so my 12" arrived yesterday, and i'd decided to simply be excited about it (will be my last 'book for several years) - turned it on, checking everything, when i noticed the lcd screen was loose and wobbly in the frame.

    oops! so i called apple, and it's doa. they told me to return it, and now i have the choice of having a replica shipped to me, or simply taking the credit and buying another one on my own.

    ay yi yi, so now i'm back to the decision.

    basically i think i want the 15" except for one important factor: battery life. i often work in cafes without ac, and people say such different things: some people get 3 1/2 hrs of battery life on a 15", and some people get well under 2 hours. under 2 hours is definitely not an option for me, especially if that's what i get out of the gate (my experience has been that batteries get worse over time).

    arggghhhh. what do you all think? i cannot believe i still have not made up my mind, and that the ball is in my court again.
  23. debroglie macrumors 6502a


    Aug 19, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA
    If you are going to be doing the bulk of your more intensive work near your desk, get the 12 inch and an external monitor. If space is an issue keep your 12 inch shut and use it as a desktop.

    You are going to be doing intensive work outside of the home get the 15 inch. I recently upgraded from a 12 inch, and while it was a good computer I will never go back from my 15 inch. The widescreen aspect and larger amount of pixels make all of the difference for me. Also, you get a PCI card slot for future upgrades.
  24. betsbillabong thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 13, 2004
    debroglie, i'm definitely leaning towards the 15" - what kind of battery life are you getting? can you watch an entire dvd on it? can you get 3 hours if you're just using word or something?
  25. JasonL macrumors regular

    Feb 13, 2004
    Ware, MA
    I have watched entire DVDs on mine; but it has been really close at the end. Of course I don't think I've ever tried to watch a 3 hr long DVD or anything.

    I bought a spare battery because I was worried about battery life. I think I've used it twice and one time was because our power went out and I used the PB to play DVDs to entertain the kids.

    It really sounds like you want the 15" PB. Just go for it. I bring mine to school everyday and have no issues with portability. I doubt that the battery life difference is enough to make a difference if the 15 incher is the one you really want.

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