12" vs. 15" Powerbook, please help me decide...

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by munckee, Oct 27, 2005.

  1. munckee macrumors 65816

    Oct 27, 2005
    Here's my deal. I'm an advertising creative who uses a computer daily for graphics intensive work. I have a good mac at (usually a high end powermac) at work that I can do my "tough" work on, so I'm looking to get a powerbook at home. I have an ibook G3 that does what I need it to, just not well (I can run PS, etc on it occassoinally).

    I LOVE the size and carry-ability of my 12" ibook, so my first inclination is to jump up to a 12" powerbook. But I'm afraid that I'll feel it wasn't worth the money and that maybe a 15" would be more worthwhile. Either way, I'll probably max it out on memory. I intend to get either a 20" or 24" Dell monitor to match to it eventually.

    Can anyone shed some light? Just how much faster is the 15" vs. the 12"? My friend has a 15" and it always looks huge to me. Given that I'll have access to a powerful desktop at work, can anyone help with my decision?
  2. sushi Moderator emeritus


    Jul 19, 2002
    Some questions to ask yourself:

    - Are you looking for a desktop replacement? You mention that you have a G3 that runs things slowly, but if you have a laptop with an external monitor you are replacing this no?

    - How often do you carry your laptop? The 12 is great to carry. The 17 is great to use (large screen). The 15 is a good compromise. BTW, I have a 15 inch for the very same reason.

    - How do you type? The 15 and 17 have larger palm rests. So if you rest your plams while typing this may be a factor to you.

    - Do you ever use PC cards? Only the 15 and 17 have a PC card slot.

    - Do you need FW 800? Only the 15 and 17 have FW 800 ports.

    IHMO, the PB15 is the workhorse of the lineup. You can use it as a laptop or desktop replacement. While not the smallest to carry, it isn't bad. Basically the PB15 is an all around solution.

    If on the other hand you are looking strickly at portability, then the PB12 would probably better fill your needs.

    Likewise, if you are really looking for a desktop replacement the PB17 is perfect.

    So again, while the PB15 is a compromise in many ways, it also fills many needs.

    Hope this helps from someone who went through the same situation about 2 years ago. Never regretted my PB15 purchase. And now with the higher resolution screen I would buy one again.

  3. pionata macrumors 6502

    Oct 12, 2005
    I would get a 12 and get a cinema 20 or 23 for home... But if you plan on doing photoshop on the go, then get the 15 inch. I hate doing photoshop on my 12 inch ibook...
  4. wdlove macrumors P6


    Oct 20, 2002
    I would recommend the 15". Will get better specifications. My wife has the 15", uses Photoshop and loves her Mac.
  5. Dafke macrumors 6502


    Mar 24, 2005
    i have the 12" and i'm very happy with it and would recommend it to everyone, but with the latest updates i think i would get a 15" because of the better screen.
  6. iPhil macrumors 68040




    I would 2nd with wd on the 15" PB because its a better deal and more powerful machine. the 15" PB can push any of apple lcds,not all @ the same time:rolleyes: .. The 15" PB is the size i'm looking @ for my next Mac..

    The 12" is underpowered and less features than 15" PB..

    The 12" PB can only push the 20" lcd or 23" lcd from Apple..

  7. sparky76 macrumors regular

    Jul 2, 2003
    I have the 12" and, whilst I have never regretted buying it, if I were buying now, I'd go for the 15. The new screen makes it compelling to me. The 12 is really only better for portability. The 15 is likely to last you longer, due to the hight specs. Good luck with whatever you choose.
  8. jpeeters macrumors newbie

    Oct 18, 2005
    I've bought myself a 15" a couple of months ago. I have some friends with a 12" and I do love the 15" more. But I have to admit that I've been working with a heavy 14" Dell laptop before I bought the Powerbook, so I already felt a huge change in weight of my backpack.

    The reason why I went for the 15" was that I use it as a desktop replacement. If you plan to use the system for mail, browsing, ... a 12" would be more than enough. For Photoshop, writing essays, ... I recommend the 15"
  9. munckee thread starter macrumors 65816

    Oct 27, 2005
    Thanks for all the responses. It will and won't be a desktop replacement. It will be the only computer I own. However, I only have a 12" ibook right now (so its not like I'm used to working on a desktop). Plus I will have access to a desktop pretty much whenever I need it.
  10. stonyc macrumors 65816


    Feb 15, 2005
    I'd go for the 15"... if portability isn't a huge issue, the updated 15" for that price is just too much to pass up for a 12" that got practically -zero- updates. If all you'd use it for is e-mail, word processing, etc. then I'd save my money even more and get a 12" iBook. But since it sounds like you'd want to do -some- work on this prospective laptop, the 12" PB just isn't a good buy, especially if portability isn't a primary concern... The 15" isn't an ultra-portable, but it's still a nicely sized/balanced laptop that you can still take on the go fairly easily.
  11. CalfCanuck macrumors 6502a

    Nov 17, 2003
    This is a key quote - since you always have access to a desktop, and seem "scared" by the size of the 15", it seems that you really want the 12" but want to be reassured that this isn't a bad choice.

    While I'd opt for the 15" myself (I currently have an older Ti G4 15" PB and a 14" G4 iBook for my portables), I understand the appeal of the 12".

    One other thought - have your considered the 12" iBook? It's $1000 vs $1500 for the 12" PB, and the specs are quite similar...
  12. JDOG_ macrumors 6502a


    Nov 19, 2003
    15", you'll appreciate the higher resolution for desktop use and the recent upgrades :)

    Enjoy your new mac!
  13. munckee thread starter macrumors 65816

    Oct 27, 2005
    I definitely prefer the size of the 12". But I think that the reality is I won't have to carry it ton. I don't need to take it back and forth to work, so its really a question of my being comfortable enough with the 15" to walk out to a coffee shop or something with it. I'm leaning in that direction simply beacuse I'm having trouble dealing with the price given that the 12" didn't get upgraded AT ALL.
  14. stonyc macrumors 65816


    Feb 15, 2005
    I too can see the appeal of the 12" powerbook... my wife has a 12" PB and I (had) a 15" PB and I would often marvel at the lightness and ultra-portability of her laptop.

    That said, I took the 15" to and from work everyday for awhile and never found it to be cumbersome or awkward to carry. With a good shoulder bag, I never realy felt the weight of the PB as I was walking around with it. And with a good sleeve, it was never a big deal to throw it in there and run off to the local Panera on the weekend.

    Obviously, the 15" is not going to "feel" or "look" as portable as the 12"... but I don't think you'll find that the 15" PB is a burden to carry around (when you do). You kind of said it yourself that you wouldn't be carrying it around too much... definitely sounds like a 15" PB to me. :)
  15. maxterpiece macrumors 6502a


    Mar 5, 2003
    Ask yourself if you were comfortable using the iBook's screen for your photo-editting work. If the answer is yes, then go for the 12", because it will suit your work needs better and be more portable.

    Also you could consider the iBook 14" as a nice money saving compromise between these two. You get a bigger screen and faster processor than the iBook 12", but you don't play of features like firewire 800, audio in, fancy keyboard, beautiful case.

    Also keep in mind that iBooks are much more durable. Typically people who are on the go a lot put a lot more wear on their laptops - the iBook will stand up to this better. iBooks also get better battery life, better wifi reception and don't get nearly as hot as the powerbooks (a big issue that i didn't consider when I bought a powerbook).

    I had the 15" 1.5ghz powerbook and i sold it because the battery life was weak, I kept scratching it, my bro's iBook had 2x the battery life, and it just seemed unnecessary. Now I have a 12" 1.33ghz iBook and there is almost no speed difference. I must admit taht the screen on the 15" powerbook was very nice.
  16. PaRaGoNViCtiM macrumors 6502a

    Mar 18, 2005
    I originally had the 12" PB. I just couldn't get used to the screen, and I thought typing on it was very uncomfortable. I opted for the 15" PB, after having the 12" for only like 1 month. I find the 15" to be very portable. The only reason, I can see buying the 12" would be to save money. Otherwise the 15" seems to be the best option!! Go with the 15", you'll freakin' love it!! :)
  17. munckee thread starter macrumors 65816

    Oct 27, 2005
    I've done some work on my 12" ibook and the screen size doesn't bother me much. Its obviously less than ideal, but as I mentioned, I'll be mating it to an external monitor at some point (hopefully sooner than later) and I'll have access to a desktop for intensive work purposes (I should also have access to my work computer for personal use whenever I want it). That's why I was leaning toward a 12" to begin with because it would sort of give me the best of both worlds. Usable space while at home (on an external monitor), excellent portability when needed, and a powerful desktop at work if push comes to shove.
  18. crazydreaming macrumors 6502a


    Apr 17, 2005
    Salt Lake City, UT -Westminster College
    I recently moved to a 15" Powerbook (see spec) from a 12" iBook.

    I went through many months of contemplating the same decision you are trying to make. I'm so glad I went with the 15" now. My dad bought my iBook, when I use it, I can't believe I ever got by on that small little thing.

    The way I see the carrying part; you're looking at a pound more. I carry my laptop in a seperate compartment in my backpack (for laptops). So really, what is the difference if there's a 12" or a 15" in there, it's not like the 12" is going to give me more room in the rest of the bag... When my bag is loaded, there is no difference between it loaded with my 15" and my books in there or a 12" in there. Think about how you are going to be carrying it. It's a pound!

    The added features of the 15" such as keyboard lighting (awesome), DVI and S-Video with no adapter, FW 800, and PCI port make it possibly slightly more exapandable in the future.

    I plan on keeping this laptop for at least 4 years, so I went for something with a little more mass and less toy like. Something I'm not going to get tired of using...
  19. panda macrumors regular

    Mar 15, 2004
    i know i know... (its all about the screen)

    i know just where you're at. i'm right there too.

    my ibook 12" has been my main computer for years and i am used to it and i love it.

    i really love small.

    to me it would be another ibook 12" or a pbook 15", because the pb12" is just behind the times and in a way it seems silly to have so 'much?' computer with such a small screen.

    that said, the NEW pb15" hits the sweet spot.

    thanks in part to the better battery life (yes!) and the lower price...

    ...but in reality, its all about the screen!!!!!

    brighter, smaller pixels and more of them.

    i did the maths:

    ib / pb12" 786432pixels 46128mm2 screen 17pixels/mm2
    pbook15" 1382400pixels ~61566mm2 screen 22pixels/mm2

    this means the pb15" screen is only 33% larger, but has 75% more pixels!!!
    giving it a considerably 'bigger' viewable area, which is also sharper.

    so when considering portability, it makes nice(r) sense to go for the 15" now. much more screen space, in a package that is only somewhat bigger.:)
  20. broncoball macrumors regular

    Jul 13, 2005
    i am in this same position and im leaning toward the 12 mainly because of price and portability would i be disappointed with the 12 and always wish i bought the 15.
  21. thairs macrumors member

    Jan 30, 2005

    I was in the same situation, whether to go with the 12" or 15"............In the end, I went with the 15" pb due to the minimal price difference and all the extra goodies the 15" has (dual-layer drive, bit faster, bettter screen, 2gb ram max, and 128mb gpu stock). I say go with the 15", you won't regret it.
  22. sushi Moderator emeritus


    Jul 19, 2002
    This makes me wonder, will Apple introduce a new PB12 in the near future?

    If memory serves, when the original PB Al came out, they were only in 12 and 17 inch sizes. The PB Ti 15 was kept for quite a while.

    With all the emphasis on a widescreen PB12, that may just very well be in the making so that the whole PB lineup is the same screen wise.

    Note, I do not have any inside knowledge -- just a gut feeling.

    Anyhow, it might be worth waiting a month or two just in case.

    If you cannot wait, then go with the PB15. It is really sweet. As I mentioned in my original post, I was in the same situation. I've never regretted my PB15 purchase.

  23. other macrumors 6502

    Aug 18, 2005
    I'm also choosing between a 12" and a 15" Powerbook. I have just enough money to buy the standard 15", but nothing more. I think I'd rather buy a maxed out 12", but not now when they weren't updated. If Apple only could give the 12" a dual layer superdrive and 512MB RAM soldered onto the motherboard, I would buy it. Preferably a faster GPU though, since it seems that iBooks GPU is faster. Why not use the same but with more VRAM?

    So what are the pros of a 15"?
    • Better screen (brightness, size and resolution)
    • Dual layer superdrive
    • Backlit keyboard
    • Gigabit ethernet
    • A faster GPU with more VRAM
    • The ability to use a PC Card
    • FireWire 800
    • Digital audio input
    • Digital audio output
    • No adapter needed for DVI and S-video
    • Better battery life (?)

    You also get a slightly faster CPU (I'm pretty sure no one notices the difference), and if you can afford it you can also get a faster harddrive (7200 rpm). It also holds up to 2GB of RAM.

    And the pros of a 12"?
    • Cheaper
    • More portable (lighter, smaller form factor)

    First of all, I wouldn't need all the extra features the 15" have. I might be interested in the better screen and the dual layer superdrive, and maybe the backlit keyboard (I've never seen it or used it). The abilitiy to use DVI and S-video without an adapter is kind of comfortable though, but nothing I really care about. I've never needed gigabit ethernet, although I would like to see this on the 12" model, in case I might want it in the future.

    I have no use for the faster GPU with more VRAM, neither do I ever use a PC Card, or FW800, or digital audio input/output.

    As I said, I could afford the standard 15" right now. But I'd like to get a fully loaded 12" instead. By this I mean I hope they'll upgrade the 12" so I can get one fully loaded (hopefully with 1.5 GB RAM and perhaps a 120 GB harddrive). And I wouldn't complain if they could improve the battery life. ;)
  24. kretzy macrumors 604


    Sep 11, 2004
    Canberra, Australia
    I'm with the majority on this one....get the 15'', you will not regret it. I too had the dilemma of choosing between the 12'' and the 15'' (before the recent updates btw). I borrowed a friend's 12'' for a while and just found the screen far too small. On my 15'' I can use PS without any problems and it's portability is great - I take it with me to school most days.

    Whatever you get you will love, but I honestly think the 15'' is the way to go!
  25. munckee thread starter macrumors 65816

    Oct 27, 2005
    Thanks for the input guys. I had the opportunity to work on a 15" PB over the last couple of days, and it sealed my decision.

    I'm sure this has been asked. And I searched, but you know how digging through tons of threads can be to find one piece of info...

    Can anyone give me an idea of how much difference I'll notice between 1.5G and 2G of ram in a 15" PB? The price difference at Crucial is $125 ($275 for 2 one gig sticks vs. $150 for one stick). Given that I'll probably find myself running all of CS2 plus firefox, etc. at the same time on a regular basis, I was kind of figuring it might be worth it.

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