17" Powerbook G4 Questions

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by Eomando, Apr 7, 2004.

  1. Eomando macrumors member

    Apr 7, 2004
    Hi guys,

    I'm way ahead of myself posting here, you see, I'm not planning on getting a powerbook until *October* when I start my phd and get some funding :) But anyway, researching these things is just plain fun, and if I have to wait so long, then I may as well enjoy the wait.

    Oh yes, and this might get kind of long - just a warning that I tend to ramble, and since this is my first post here, none of you will know what you're getting yourself in for reading ;)

    So, like I've already said, I'll be starting my phd in October and I'd quite like a nice new 17" powerbook to "celebrate" the occasion. I've currently got a laptop PC that *just about* meets my demands at the moment, but something with a bit more...presence, would be appreciated. I've spent the last few months looking at laptop PC's and I've not been *too* impressed, though any would be an improvement over what I have now (I have the added problem of my next laptop having to out-do my boyfriends current laptop, a Dell Inspiron 8600 ;) ) and when I finally thought of Apple, I
    completely fell in love with the 17" powerbook.

    So, my (many) questions to you all are these:

    ---Newbie Mac Questions---

    1) How would the 1.33 G4 processor compare to my current laptops 2Ghz pentium 4 mobile (its not a fancy centrino, its intels pre-centrino laptop processor)? - I'm going to have to do rather a lot of programming and I'd rather not have to wait around for things to get going :)

    2) Do macs have any specific advantages over PC's for programming? - it's an expensive machine and it'd be nice to have extra reasons for having one of these beauties, newbish question though it may be!

    3) Could anyone point the way to a decent OSX tutorial/walkthrough that I could flick through?

    ---Powerbook Specific Questions---

    4) Keyboard - It'll have a fair bit of typing going on, on it, so a comfy keyboard would be nice. Probably I'll end up getting an external one, but if/when it gets taken up to the department, the laptops keyboard will get used then. Basically, I can't stand flimsy, rattly keyboards - can anyone give me their opinion on the powerbooks keyboard?

    5) Speakers - my current laptops speakers can be summed up in one word "tinny", ok, two words "extremely tinny". So the powerbooks speakers follow this suite, or can you actually get some tone from them?

    6) Spec Lastability - since its such an expensive laptop, it really *is* going to have to last me about 3 years before i could upgrade it.. Is the 17" powerbook going to be completely obsoleted within a year or so? (The main uses of it will be programming, one hell of a lot of typing, photoshop-ing and a bit of gaming on the side - mostly counterstrike and some semi-recent games like Morrowind/neverwinter nights etc...) I suppose it's more down to me being greedy and wanting the "latest" ;)

    7) Are there any "big issues" with the 17" powerbooks? Are they sturdy reliable machines, or is it quite often that people get sent duds or have to send them back to apple for one reason or another?

    ---Misc Questions---

    8) latex support - just about everything I write is done with latex, not office-type programs. Does anyone know if there's a suitable way of doing this on the mac? Linux has a nice program called Lyx, a kind of graphical frontend for writing latex...so it'd be nice if there was something similar for the mac :)

    9) Gaming - OK, so I know that games don't come out on the mac as soon as on the PC, and I'd also rather not have to go and buy all my games that *are* on the mac again.. So my plan was to have the computer as a dual-boot mac osx/linux box, and use winex to play games, rather than a windows emulator on the mac.. Has anyone else tried this? It'd be interesting to know what happens.

    10) OSX/Linux - I'd rather *not* have a dual-boot machine if possible (I get absolutely sick of linux not recognising my modem, and having to switch back and forth to windows when i want to go on the net!), so if anyone has any ideas concerning me migrating completely away from linux..then they'd be very welcome - hence macs suddenly becoming a very serious consideration for me since they're both unix-based (and share some of the same apps?)

    I think that's everything, even though I'm *sure* I haven't asked half and a quarter of the things I wanted to ask when I started writing!

    Anyway, *any* help/comments/suggestions would be greatly appreciated.. If I do go ahead with this, it'll be my first mac, and also my first real exposure to the mac (no-one I know has one to go look at)...

    It's still a long way off to October, so I'm pretty sure the hardware specs should have improved *slightly* by then, but assuming that they stay roughly the same, I'm curious as to what I'd be getting for myself *besides* a beautiful laptop with a nice large screen :)

    Thanks for listening,

  2. Grimace macrumors 68040


    Feb 17, 2003
    with Hamburglar.
    The keyboard on the 17" PB is better than any external keyboard I have ever used. It's amazing.

    The speakers are better than most, but are still a little tinny. There aren't too many laptops with good native speakers.

    It will definitely last you 3 years. I have had my 1Ghz for over a year now, and it's still like a new machine and beats out all of my friends' "newer" PCs.

    Gaming - games for Mac will be awesome. Games ported through VPC will not. No, not just slow - really sucky. Don't get a mac for its gaming benefits.

    Use an old Wintel box for Linux - they are great for that. Wipe the OS and have fun.

    You will love it - welcome!!

  3. Eomando thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 7, 2004
    Thanks for the reply :)

    It's *very* good to know that you think the powerbook won't get outdated very easily, that's really my main concern. My laptop now is just over a year old and is already *hideously* outdated..and it shows too (though it was a rather cheap one!) for what I end up using it for. Plus it has to compete against my boyfriends dell, i know it'll win for looks, but it'd be nice to know it'd at least be on a fair playing field against it. :)

    Another quick question? Since you say to keep a separate comp just for linux, is there anything specifically "bad" that you know of running both operating systems (OSX and linux)? I'd rather be able to do without linux if possible (i just get sick of compatibility issues with my current comp...), so probably I'll stick with the plain mac operating system for a while and see how it goes..

    It'll be *very* interesting for me to see how it goes. I just wish I'd seen them a few more months down the line - how am I going to cope waiting so long till I can order! Probably best though, it just means I'll be absolutely sure of what i'm doing when I do, do it.
  4. hawksjohnd macrumors newbie

    Apr 7, 2004
    LaTeX support

    8) latex support - just about everything I write is done with latex, not office-type programs. Does anyone know if there's a suitable way of doing this on the mac? Linux has a nice program called Lyx, a kind of graphical frontend for writing latex...so it'd be nice if there was something similar for the mac :)

    LyX can be run either using the Aqua GUI or X under OSX, so if you are comfortable using it, you can continue. There are also several text-based editors for TeX/LaTeX for OSX, notably TeXshop which formats straight to PDF. Or you can install a normal, command-line TeX installation and run from the Terminal, which allows all the detailed control possible on any Unix variant. I use LaTeX for all my writing, and I have had no difficulties transitioning from linux to OSX and back again, or in sharing files among both kinds of systems, including font installations, etc.
  5. belf8st macrumors member

    Feb 10, 2004
    I've been a long time bsd/linux user for many many years. I recently switched and purchased my first powerbook one year ago. I have found most of the linux applications I loved could be installed on os x. I've stumbled across very few if any that couldn't. Check out fink.sourceforge.net. Great tool! based on debian's apt-get. Also do a google on darwinports.

    I've been a long time unix geek. Switching over to a powerbook has been nothing but a joy! good luck.
  6. Eomando thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 7, 2004
    Thank goodness for that! If I could do everything I do right now with just the one OS, I'd be *so* happy.

    I'm glad you say you can get Lyx for the mac, it's just about the best thing I've ever used for writing reports and such, though eventually I would like to learn the real thing ;)

    And as long as I don't end up missing things from linux, and instead having things that work just as well (if not better) then I'm sure I'll be quite happy moving over to apple.

    I'll now go and check out those links belf8st, it'll definitely keep me busy finding everything I'll need beforehand. :D
  7. _pb_boi macrumors 6502

    Feb 25, 2004
    As some people have mentioned, Mac OS X is based very heavily on a FreeBSD core. The front-end has been dramatically improved, IMHO, from what many Linux users might be used to - though some value GUI idosyncracies ;)

    Apple boasts 99% comptibility for Unix developed apps being run on Mac OS X. The latest OS X versions have only improved on this integration - at the start, some people had complaints, but most people now agree it's pretty darn good.

    You say you'll be doing programming. I don't know what your PhD is, nor what development suite you use. Personally, for C, I usually use just gcc in Debian 3.0 or Bloodshed Dev C++ when I'm in Windows. Being a Unix program, gcc will run under terminal in Mac OS X.

  8. 5300cs macrumors 68000


    Nov 24, 2002
    I just got a 17" about a month ago and I'm still amazed at how nice a computer it is. The keyboard is very comfortable to type with (however it may not look it.) I think the speakers are quite good for a laptop. For quality of sound and volume, the 17" PowerBook has had the best speakers since I used a Wallstreet G3.

    Fink is definitlely something you'll want to check out, as other people have mentioned. It is even possible to run KDE, Gnome and other window managers on top of OS X :cool: very cool

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