A different perspective on what to buy (longevity?)

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by slefkoff, Jun 6, 2007.

  1. slefkoff macrumors newbie

    Jun 6, 2007
    4 years ago I bought the Rev. A, 12" Powerbook G4 (867mhz) to go off to college. It still works just as well as it did when I bought it (no lcd problems, no hd problems, ncd burner problems, etc.)...in fact, I'm going to be selling it once I buy a new notebook this summer. Anyway, I'm going to law school this August and need a laptop.

    I'm obviously deciding between a Macbook and macbook pro, but I'm looking for longevity. I'm willing to spend the extra $500 or so for the mbp, but if I don't need to, I'd rather save it. Maybe what I'm saying is I'm looking to get a laptop that will last me another four years.

    It seems like most of the posts here have people replacing computers every 2 years, and I'm definitely not going to be doing that. I only really use internet, e-mail programs, ilife, office, and other normal programs...in addition to an external monitor. Using those things I'd go with the macbook. But four years ago my decision was between a G4 powerbook and a G3 ibook...needless to say, the ibook probably wouldn't be totally functional now. The current crop of apple 'books are more similar, which is why I'm having trouble deciding.

    If I want it to last 4 to 5 years (or longer), will the Macbook do that as well as the MBP will?

  2. amoda macrumors 6502a

    Aug 9, 2006
    I guess it depends on what you envison your uses will be in 4-5years. If in 4-5 years all you'll be doing is word processing and net browsing then probably the macbook will suffice. I don't see Offce: 2011 requiring more processing power than what the macbook has to offer.

    However games in 2011 will, pretty much definitely, require more than what the macbook has to offer. They'll probably even push the mbps to their limits.

    Since you're going to law school (congrats) you'll probably be pretty busy and won't have time for games (uggh). So a macbook should be able to take you straight through law school.
  3. seany916 macrumors 6502

    Jun 26, 2006
    Southern California
    For your use, just get the low end MB Pro.

    It's just an overall nicer computer and experience. The slightly smaller size is nice, but pride of ownership means a lot. The MB just seems "Playskool" when I'm on one.

    If you're the type that keeps a computer for 3+ years, definitely get the Pro.

    Low end model.
  4. flopticalcube macrumors G4


    Sep 7, 2006
    In the velcro closure of America's Hat
    The gulf between the G4 PowerBook and the G3 iBook was huge. The differences between the MacBook and the MacBook Pro are not as big. If you sell either of them in 4 years, you almost certainly won't make the difference back.
  5. mccldwll macrumors 65816

    Jan 26, 2006
    Go to law library. Talk to law students. You might find the larger screen nice for library work/research, multi docs. The smaller nice for portability/class notes. MB probably more durable. MBP "shor is purty." Price difference is irrelevant. And don't plan on 4 or 5 years--you can probably make it through in 3.:)
  6. Membrain macrumors member


    Jun 5, 2007
    Melbourne, Australia

    My story is quite similair. Bought a 12" G4 Powerbook about 3yrs ago (I know because the apple care warranty is just about over) still using it now and I feel very attached to it. Yesterday I ordered the 2.4/MBP/160/2x1G. I decided 6 months ago that I would need to upgrade in the near future because it was starting to seem slow and waited until this revision to squeeze the longest use out of the new one I could.
    I'm really glad it wasn't a major redesign, I wanted to buy tried technology. If Apple had introduced some of the stuff that was rumoured i would have bought the previous model at a discount. I'm really pleased with the ability to take 4G of ram and the faster video card (I like games).
    I bought the fastest processor with the fastest video card (in a 15") because these are not easily replacable. I'll replace the HDD and bump the ram to 4G when they drop in price to give the machine a mid cycle boost rather than paying too much now when it's going to seem like greased lightning to me anyway. I've purchased Apple care again because with the 12", I needed a hard drive replaced at 2yrs and a bluetooth board replaced at 2.5 yrs, $500 insurance.
    My aim is to get 3 years use out of this machine.
  7. blackstone macrumors regular

    Dec 12, 2005
    Washington, DC
    As a law student, I'd advise you to go with a fully loaded Macbook (assuming that you really will just be using it for the typical e-mail/word processing/notes/web/iLife stuff and not for gaming). The slightly smaller size of the Macbook is better for when you're taking notes in class, and since law students carry their computers literally everywhere, you'll probably appreciate the difference in size and weight in your backpack.
  8. Dynamyk macrumors 6502a


    Jul 8, 2005
    Go for the Macbook, the portability is more handy and with the tasks your doing you don't need the extra power of the MBP
  9. mattsajay macrumors member

    May 24, 2007
    i would say go for the mbp. here are the reasons:

    1. the chipset: santa rosa 800 fsb with 2 gig ram (now 667 but theoretically upto 800 ddr) expandable to 4 gb.

    2. buy through student-adc: the net cost for the low end 15' comes to around 1850$ including tax and adc membership fee. that reduces the difference between mbp and mb to 350$. (mb with adc-student or edu discount with 2 gb ram comes to 1485 including tax)

    think 4 years down the line: whatever apps you use, just the sheer expandability of the mbp to 4 gb ram and installing leopard with the new zfs system (and time machine to back up your documents) will protect your investment.

    3. . changes: led/more screen space etc.
  10. falsecathedrals macrumors member

    May 16, 2007
    I just went through the same decision making process.
    I bought a ti powerbook before college thats currently 4.5 years old and still running. I know if I had bought an ibook it would have been dead at least a year ago (happened to many friends). I'm going off to a PhD program in chemistry now and won't be able to afford another computer for at least another 4 years. I decided to get the base MBP over the fully loaded blackbook for future proofing. It could be overkill now, but in 3 years it won't be obsolete. I'd rather spend the extra money now then have to buy a whole new computer a year earlier.
  11. flopticalcube macrumors G4


    Sep 7, 2006
    In the velcro closure of America's Hat
    1. The MacBook can be expanded to 3GB (well 3.3GB). The maximum memory speed the new mbp can take is 667. The memory controller does not run at 800Mhz, only the front side bus.

    2. Yes. Edu lowers the cost difference. Leopard, Time Machine and ZFS will work the same on both machines.

    3. The screen is really the swing point. If you want the screen go for the MBP.
  12. slefkoff thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 6, 2007
    Thanks everyone for your responses - I'm not set yet (we'll see if some small computer for notetaking comes out tuesday), but I think I'm going to get the base mbp because of what one of the folks here said - I don't want to buy a new computer a year early because it's become obsolete. Unlike 4 years ago, the differences are so slim that I don't see that scenario happening...however, better safe than sorry.

    Thanks so much for the quick responses. I'm not getting it for another month, so if you have any more input, please continue this thread - I have a while before I decide for certain.

  13. tango554 macrumors member

    May 6, 2007
    Get the macbook pro. 90% of your research will be online. Think about the countless hours in the library reading cases on westlaw and law review articles on heinonline. You can't exactly carry your monitor into the library with you, so a bigger screen is helpful.

    Then again, you have to lug it around.
  14. MikeyTree macrumors 6502

    Jan 5, 2007
    As a law student in my last year, I'd definitely recommend the MBP. You're going to be spending hours and hours doing research on your computer, and you'll want the larger screen. You'll also sometimes have to compare two different documents, especially if you get a law job during the summer, and you'll need the screen for that.

    As for portability, the MBP is a bit wider than the MB, but only 0.3 pounds heavier (5.4 vs. 5.1 lbs). That's nothing. Especially when you consider that you might be carrying 10-15 pounds of casebooks and codebooks. A lot of law students buy one of those rolling luggage cases, or a good backpack and another bag for extra books.

    Take a look at http://maclawstudents.com for good advise about programs and the like. Especially look at the article about web browsers, because lexisnexis sometimes acts funny with browsers that aren't Internet Exploder. Weslaw works fine.

    You should also be aware that most law schools have a program that lets you write exams on your laptops (Examsoft is the most common one), but some schools won't let you use Macs for it. Even with bootcamp. Check out your law school to be sure.
  15. Dave00 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 2, 2003
    One thing you also might consider is keeping your current 'book. My roommate when I was in medical school was a law student, and he seemed to use his computer mainly for researching on Lexis-Nexis, and writing papers. Your current machine should work just fine for this. I'd consider instead investing instead in maxing out the memory, and in a nice external monitor for when you do some work at home. Or, get a desktop (iMac or Mini) to use at home.

    My opinion is that a laptop is like a car. If you've gotten through the first few years and it's still running fine, you use it until you run it into the ground. A new machine risks dead pixels, battery issues, overheating, etc. and you probably won't need the increased processing power. I am only now feeling the age of my venerable Pismo G3 Powerbook, which is 6 or 7 years old, and only because I've started dabbling in video editing.
  16. emptyCup macrumors 65816


    Jan 5, 2005
    The weight vs. screen size issue is worth considering, as is what you want to do with it. If a Macbook does what you need it to now, it will still do the same thing in 4 years. If you buy a more expensive computer just to "future proof" it, you will find that nobody wants that crummy old Santa Rosa processor in the future. Buy what you need, put your extra money into RAM and enjoy this computer until there is a reason you must buy a new one. Best wishes.
  17. mattsajay macrumors member

    May 24, 2007
    Hold on .. I was thinking the reasoning went like> softwares and their features catch up with the hardware, hence the concept of future proofing. i.e. in 4 years you would have the option of upgrading hardware to catch up with the software.

    santa rosa is at least 64 bit whereas napa for some features is 32 bit. if in 4 years santa rosa becomes "obsolete" the napa will become " too old!!!"

    so even if you put in 2 gig ram in the macbook, it will serve you very well for 3 years (say) but will start to lag behind after that. you can extend the 'basic' functionality of the machine for two or three more by investing 350 bucks now and 100 bucks later for extra ram.

    do i guess, my logic is investing 400 bucks on machine to up grade is probably better than investing 1500 again on a brand new pience of hardware.. i.e. keep the laptop till it becomes completely unusable. for desktop hardware though, its another story!
  18. aquajet macrumors 68020

    Feb 12, 2005
    What you're saying here isn't really based on anything factual. It's all guesswork. Plus, the MB C2D will use 3gb RAM.

    Seems to me, the OP's needs would be fullfilled by a current MB. As was mentioned already, the biggest thing to consider would be the screen size. If you foresee spanning a bunch of documents across your screen, a MBP would make things easier. Either way, it'll be a significant upgrade over the smallish screen of a 12" PB.
  19. Karpfish macrumors 6502a


    Sep 24, 2006
    A big thing is that you will be using an external monitor. With the MBP,you can keep the lid closed, hook it up to an external monitor and use a bluetooth keyboard/mouse.
  20. lamadude macrumors 6502

    Jan 12, 2006
    Brussels, BE
    When you think about longlivity I think it is important to remember that you can easily swap out the macbook (but not the MBP) hard drive. HD's are usually the first thing that breaks down in a laptop.
    Plus over the years the capacity of hard drives will keep going up and prices will go down. When you are a law student storage space seems more important to me than a graphics card.
  21. flopticalcube macrumors G4


    Sep 7, 2006
    In the velcro closure of America's Hat
    Ditto with the MacBook.
  22. Dustman macrumors 65816


    Apr 17, 2007
    any reason you can't just stick a couple gigs of ram in your current powerbook? a 867g4 should be more than capable for research and word processing.. actually, a G3 233mhz powerbook should be capable of that.

    if you want to get technical, all you really need is an apple lisa, and a set of encyclopedias. :p
  23. blackstone macrumors regular

    Dec 12, 2005
    Washington, DC
    Generally, though, law firms will give you a desktop computer to use. The only situation I can think of in which this would be an issue is when you are working outside the office yet also away from your external monitor setup -- something that would, I'm guessing, be a rare enough occurrence that this shouldn't be a factor in your MB/MBP decision.
  24. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    I was in the same boat as you many years ago. Which iBook were you looking at? Was it the G3 800 MHz with 32 MB of vRAM? ;)

    I ended up buying the rev B 12" 1 GHz PowerBook, and am now the current owner of a MacBook. I like the portability and couldn't imagine going from 12" to 15". I have an external LCD.

    Despite my problems I have had over the past 12 month with my MacBook, it is capable of doing everything I want it to do (when it's working). Everybody makes a lemon once in a while, and that's what I got.....a lemon. Despite this bad luck, if I had to make the decision again, I'd go for the MacBook. Going from a 12.1" PB to a 13.3" MacBook has been a very smooth transition. It's wider than a PB, it's shorter than the PB with the lid open, and it weighs more or less the same. The screen has higher resolution, and the screen is much much brighter. I hated the 12" PB's screen because it was always too dark and the colours were washed out. Otherwise, I also believe that my previous 12" PB was the perfect machine. :)

    Any Mac will serve your needs, from the sound of it. With regards to longevity, I think a current MacBook will last 4 years, regardless of the negative experience I have. The outer casing gets small scratches easier, but it's plastic and it hides quite well.....better than the 12" PB and 15" MBP can. Major scratches will show if you're not careful, but I can say the same about the 15" MPB. The 12" PB's keyboard was better than the one on my MB, but only slightly. I got used to this new keyboard, and the difference certainly isn't a factor for me.

    If you go with a 15" MBP, I'm sure you'd be happy as well, as long as you don't mind the extra size, extra features (that you probably wouldn't notice), and extra cost to you initially. :) And about the difference in screen size: The 15" MBP has a slightly higher resolution than the MacBook, but the difference is only 160 pixels in length, and around 100 pixels in height. It's not a big difference. Going from the 12" PB's 1024 x 768 resolution, to my 13" MacBook's 1280 x 800 pixels was a larger and more noticeable difference than if comparing the MB and 15" MBP's screens. Even if the change was identical to the change experienced going from 12" PB --> MacBook, the difference in desktop space is still less, as this is just an example of "diminishing returns". It's sort like the Megapixel Myth with digital cameras, except it also applies with LCD monitors as well.
  25. slefkoff thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 6, 2007
    Another Issue

    So I've been continuing my research and I know I must upgrade computers for the following reason:

    The exam software my law school uses is only available for Windows.

    I have to get a computer that will run Windows using Boot Camp so I can take the exams in my classes - my current powerbook will not run Windows. That said, will Windows XP run the same under the MB and MBP? Is the extra power of the MBP worth it if I know I will be running another operating system fairly often (for exams and certain law websites - lexis - that need windows)? I don't want to be dreading my Windows XP "experience" (any more than I have to)...

    As always, thanks so much for your responses.


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