15-inch v. 12-inch (Powerbook)?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by wowoah, Jul 31, 2003.

  1. wowoah macrumors regular

    Jul 16, 2003
    Berkeley, CA
    Hi all, I'm sure you can tell from the subject line what this post is about, and I'm equally sure that there've been about five billion threads about this exact same topic, so if someone could direct me to one of those threads (cuz for the life of me, I can't find one) that will be perfect. Otherwise, here's my question: (I've posted similar questions before, but I'm a paranoid buyer, so no flames please :p)

    I'm looking to buy a new laptop to replace my Dell Inspiron 4000. I've been looking at the Titanium 15-inch for the longest time, but now I'm getting a bit concerned that it might be too large or outdated (no DDR RAM, Bluetooth, inferior construction and keyboard etc.) Yet, the fact that the Titanium is ~150mhz faster and has a superior screen (both in quality and size) is a big selling point for me personally -- my Dad has an 867mhz iMac and, frankly, I find Word to be a little sluggish on it. Price isn't a big factor, since my school is offering the TiBook for 2100 with applecare, rendering both computers ultimately about the same price.

    Does anyone have any recommendations either way? Is the 12 fast enough or should I get a Titanium?

    Just so you know, I'm a student at UC Berkeley (GO BEARS) and I'm studying History and CS, so my laptop will be getting very heavy usage in class taking notes. I'll also be using it for music, downloading, uploading photos, and doing some light Flash work, on top of my usual classwork. I also play a lot of WC3, which makes me concerned that the 12's video card may not be up to snuff. Any suggestions?

    Thanks so much for your help in advance.
  2. edesignuk Moderator emeritus


    Mar 25, 2002
    London, England
    For me the 15" PowerBook still remains the best of the bunch, not to small (that 12" screen would drive me mad after a while), and not to big (I still think the 17" is WAY to big for a laptop), however, if I was in the market right now for a laptop I'd wait for the 15" to be updated, it must be due very soon.
  3. idea_hamster macrumors 65816


    Jul 11, 2003
    NYC, or thereabouts
    Re: 15-inch v. 12-inch?

    Not a gamer much myself, but I do know that a number of others on other threads have said that the 12" PB's lack of L3 cache makes it difficult to get a smooth image. (This may be less of an issue in WC3 than UT, but I think it's still a concern.)

    Right now, the 12" and 15" present some problems -- the 12" is basically a glorified iBook (all spec the same except for S'Drive and G4) and the 15" could really use an overhaul (e.g., DDR, as you mention).

    For all your other uses (tunes, photos, flash, school) I'm thinking that either system has enough power for your uses, although if you want to do them all at once, you may benefit from the 1GB RAM ceiling that the 15" offers (12" only takes 640MB) -- and remember that OS X always runs better with more high-quality RAM.
  4. Schiffi macrumors 6502a


    May 22, 2003
    My TiBook plays WC3 perfectly. And if you get pretty high specs, it should last you for a long time. Panther should make the Ti run a tad faster as well (acrording to reports about slower Macs running faster with the Dev). However, my opinion is that new updates would be around Nov-Dec in time for Christmas or around Feb when this years were updated. If you can wait, wait. However the current 15 will run everything out now pretty good at full specs. (Future games may need to be tweaked down though).
  5. jxyama macrumors 68040


    Apr 3, 2003
    if word was sluggish on the 867 iMac, it has probably more to do with the RAM than the processor. word is hardly a processor intensive app. 1 ghz or 867, it will be just about equally "sluggish."

    word works fine with me on my 12", but of course, snappiness is very subjective.
  6. beefcake macrumors 6502

    Jun 22, 2003
    I'm on my new 15" right now and I love it. I haven't been moving it around a lot but so far size does not seem to be a problem at all. The keyboard is very sturdy (if that's what you're worried about) and with only 512mb ram it feels very fast. My sister will be getting a 12" soon, so I'll have the opportunity to play around with that. I'll let you know if there are any major problems with either.
  7. appleupnorth macrumors newbie

    May 1, 2003
    I too have $5000 burning a hole in my pocket!!!

    I just got a $5000 check from work and I have to choose to WAIT or BUY the 15" PowerBook! So- I like the new technology of the 12" PB but hate its size- and I like the different Cache design of the 15" PB (not to mention the speed).

    So I am between a rock and a hard place- buy now or suffer later. I don't like the 17" for its size but Like the keyboard.

    Why, Why, and Why. . does Apple got to make it so hard. :confused:

    Does anyone have any recommendations? I have been out of the country for few weeks - and because there are a bizallion posts on this subject- is there anything yet set? What is everyone's best guess?

    Sorry for the lenghty message:

  8. hacurio1 macrumors regular

    Dec 13, 2002
    Re: I too have $5000 burning a hole in my pocket!!!

    Matt, many people are is the same boat. I also have $4,000 burning a whole in my pocket, but I really don’t need a new PowerBook NOW, so I’ve decided to wait until Aug-Sep (I’m sure they’ll release new Al 15” by then). As many people said before, if you need a PB now and can’t afford to wait, then get one, you will love the 15” Ti; on the other hand, if you can wait, wait. For me, the new PB will have many features that will be worth waiting, and I simply can’t justify the current 15” Ti. It’s a great machine, don’t get me wrong, but I’m really hoping/expect the new PB to have better GPUs, battery life, processors, new illuminated keyboard (The Alu key board is sooo comfortable and beautiful), Alu Case, FW 800, USB 2.0, Airport Extreme (I already bought the station), New Airport antennas and better Range, Bigger HD, perhaps faster Super Drives, faster Bus (200 MHz DDR), and OS 10.3. Probably I wont get all of what I’m expecting, But as far as me, I’ll wait. I start school on August 28, and I will wait until Sep 15 (that’s only two weeks in the semester + 2-3 for shipping). I already have a G4 tower that does everything for me and I can very well hang to it until I get my new PB. I believe your decision should be made on your own expectations and needs. If you need a PB now because you don’t have another computer for school, then you should get one. The current PB is really fast and well built. Has great features and it will allow you to do everything you need to do for school and more. Good luck making a decision, and remember to assess your circumstances before you make any decision.
  9. vrapan macrumors regular

    Jul 16, 2003
    A proud owner of .... both

    I bought a 12" PB on the standard configuration and lately have been playing with a 1GHz Ti and here are my comments.

    12" 640MB (lately upgraded), 40GB, Airport Extreme, CDRW/DVD.

    The 12" has a superior finish, an excellent keyboard, much better AirPort signal. If you care about Bluetooth and Airport Extreme on the 15" you can get the first with an extra PCMCIA card and you cannot get the latter. It is not very fast but it is not slow either. What seems to slowing it down a lot is the 256MB of RAM. The L3 and the 133 extra MHz are much less significant especially in note taking word processing and light photo and music work in which does just fine (With Panther 7B21 is very snappy). As far as WC3 goes with 640MB it is good but in very busy scenes there are slowdowns(limits of Graphics card I guess) with 256MB it is slowish.

    Ti 15.2" 512MB, 60GB, Airport, DVDR
    1MB L3

    I cant stand the keyboard and I don't like the finish, the AirPort signal is so so. The fact that the memory is not DDR is a non issue simply because there is NO true DDR on any of the laptops. As far as I understand it the G4s cannot take advantage of it. Bluetooth I dont care about and you can get a PCMCIA or a USB dongle if you need it. Other than that it is snappier than the 12" but not much snappier i would say a 15% mainly due to better graphics and the presence of L3. I love the form of the screen but due to a relatively low resolution you dont get much more screen estate - I dont have a prob with the quality of the 12" screen it is bright and viewable at every angle I love it. WC3 plays quite a bit better, didnt notice any slowdowns.

    I am a relatively small guy so the 12" fits more naturally but here is what I would recommend:

    If you dont NEED a PB now wait for the revisions in which case if you dont care about something very portable DO GO with the 15". If you want one NOW and you can deal with a smaller screen buy the 12" and max out the memory.

    The real issues for me on the 15" is bad Airport reception and bad keyboard. Especially the second one is really important. This is why I would not buy it and wait till the revisions. If you dont care about these and you dont care about gimmicks like Bluetooth and Airport Extreme the 15" is the way to go (unless of course you are seeking the absolute portability). It does not feel much heavier but it feels quite a bit bigger. Whatever you do 512MB RAM is an absolute minimum for a decent OSX experience.

    I am open to questions feel free to ask anything and I will try to answer as soon as I can - I will have the Ti for another couple of weeks so I can check other things for you between them.
  10. wowoah thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 16, 2003
    Berkeley, CA
    Thanks so much for all your help. Right now I'm probably leaning toward the TiBook, mostly because my school is offering a great deal ($2100 for 1Ghz + superdrive + AppleCare), and although I'd like to wait it out and see if Apple blesses me with a new 15" AlBook, I highly doubt I'd get it at that price -- probably at least $400 more for the same configuration. I also don't believe that Apple will release the new books until late September, based on the fact that their iPod/PB bundle expires on Sept 26 (which seems a lot like an attempt to liquidate old stock.)

    It sounds dumb, but the only reason I'm even considering the 12" at all is because of the keyboard. I use my laptop for almost all of my notetaking in class, so the keyboard makes a big difference. The 15's keyboard is not bad, but the 12's is just awesome.

    Sigh, in the end, the decision sucks. Curse on Apple for making a great OS and substandard notebooks to go with it!!

    Anyway thanks again for the help :)
  11. appleupnorth macrumors newbie

    May 1, 2003
    I think I am going to give Apple until the mid of August- if there is no PB I'm going to a Dell.

  12. Fender2112 macrumors 65816


    Aug 11, 2002
    Charlotte, NC
    That's only two weeks. I'd give them at least until Sept. With the rumors floating around, it really is quite frustrating. But as has been said before, unless you have an urgent need, WAIT.

    Something else I learned from reading another thread: the 12" PB's do NOT have DVI output port as do the 15" and 17". Something to think about if you want to connect a digital monitor.
  13. solvs macrumors 603


    Jun 25, 2002
    LaLaLand, CA
    Late Sept. That's when they're coming. If you must go PC, buy an IBM. Unless you want a hot, heavy, POS with 1 hour of battery life. Then by all means, enjoy your Dell.
  14. renikm macrumors newbie

    Dec 28, 2002
    You guys say that the 12" powerbook is a glorified iBook, but you forget one key feature. The monitor spanning capability makes the 12" way more versatile. On the road I now have a powerbook with an very small form factor which is very useful and when i get home I have it hooked up to my 19" CRT alongside the LCD. Basically on the road I don't mind having the small screen, it is only a problem if i need to do serious work(graphic or programming work).

    So basically, don't completely discount the size of the 12" if you could see yourself having large CRT for serious work at home. I'm happy with mine except for those damn rubber feet!
  15. mim macrumors 6502

    Apr 24, 2003
    flesh, melbourne.... heart, london
    Hmm, well, I HAD a Dell (Inspiron 8000) - it was ok, but if you're used to Apple quality you'll be very disapointed. It is HEAVY. It is HUGE. It is NOISY. The case is plastic and CLUNKY. The keyboard is ok, but not nearly as good as the 12"PB.

    The big screen is nice, but if I needed serious resolutions I always used an external screen anyway.

    Offtopic, sorry. But I can't let you think that you're going to enjoy your Dell experience. The current 15"Ti is better in every way.

    Wowoah: I'm in the same boat (now my dell has died almost completely). I need a laptop very very soon - but I'm going to wait for the new PB revisions. If the spec of the 12" goes up to near that of the 15" and 17" (L3, good graphics, more ram, DVI out) I'll be getting that. The size and weight are great. if you're carrying it around all day it will be a big factor.

    In the meantime I have the luck of being able to use an old Pismo (what a great machine that was!).
  16. bastardx macrumors member

    May 16, 2003
    Eugene, OR
    Well, I personally had both sizes of machines, and basically, I think that if you want the fastest possible Mac, with the best screen, by all means go for the 15", I personally thought that the 15 wasn't exactly too portable, so I opted to get a 12, and it works very well for me. If desk size at your school is of any concern, then a 12" notebook would probably be the best size. The rest of the feature difference between the two are up to what you do. As for PC notebooks, I would say voodoopc may also make a decent computer, if you are a hardcore gamer with a large disposable income.
  17. beefcake macrumors 6502

    Jun 22, 2003
    I am currently on a TiBook but was using my sister's 12" PB earlier today. Things I've noticed:

    -Speed: haven't been running anything too demanding so I haven't noticed anything major yet.

    -Keyboard: The 12" keyboard is a little better, but not enough so that I'd base a purchase on that. The keys on the 12" are a little stronger, but I haven't found layout to be a problem at all on the TiBook. I can type faster on this than on my desktop keyboard.

    -Screen: The screen on the TiBook is amazing. I was watching a DVD on it yesterday and was very impressed. The 12" screen does its job, but can be a little cramped.

    -Finish: They both look nice; I'm a little partial to the aluminum because I'm scared to death that I'll scratch my TiBook (hasn't happened yet).

    Bottom line, the 12" is an overall better made notebook. The finish, weight, airport reception, and keyboard all make it a great laptop. However, if you want that extra speed edge and gorgeous widescreen you can't go wrong with the 15". As far as portability, I carry it between a lot of places without issue, and I don't even have a case for it yet.
  18. ima_pseudonym macrumors member

    Apr 18, 2002
    Didn't have time to read the whole thread so sorry if I am just repeating things, but I have both a 15" tibook and a 12" albook. (Got the tibook at the last revision, and my work ordered me the 12" a couple weeks ago - too bad they couldn't wait a bit longer on the order)

    If you need to use os 9 (for any older software, or for speed - it may be less stable but it is noticeably faster), get a tibook now.

    Otherwise, if you can wait, then wait. The 12" is nice, but is crippled compared to the rest of the line (no cache, pc card slot, etc.). The screen at full brightness is equal to the tibook screen at 2/3 brightness but without as good contrast. The wrist rest gets HOT. When it gets upgraded, all of these (except the screen?) will most likely be fixed. The 12" is by far better choice if you want a true portable - I would never take my tibook to a cafe to work, its too big and too delicate feeling.

    The tibook has fans that are a bit noisier than some would like, and really isn't as rugged/solid feeling as the aluminum. I would expect the new machine to be a significant improvement in this respect.

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