A Mac in the 3rd World

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by type32, Jul 27, 2009.

  1. type32 macrumors newbie

    Dec 20, 2007
    In September, I will be moving to a third world country for about a year and I wanted to solict the forums' advice on what I should do with my computer. The question is basically: stick with my 4 year old PowerPc ibook or buy a new one?

    Having a functioning laptop will be *very* important to my time out there. If anything happens to mine, I will be very very far away from the nearest Apple Store, so reliability is key; If it goes down, realistically, my only recourse will to buy a new laptop there, which will undoubtedly be some variety of very overpriced PC. I will also be in a country with spotty electricity so having a good battery is important.

    My current laptop is, as mentioned, a PowerPc ibook G4 purchased 4 years ago. It is a rock, and is working largely the same as it did when I bought it. The one problem it has had is with the battery. Two years ago, the battery stopped charging/holding a charge properly. I got a new one, which worked fine for about a year, until a similar thing started happening a few months ago. So, I will need to get a new battery before I leave, and I am thinking of buying two, given the state of electricity where I am going. The fan also runs a lot.

    So, on the one hand I am going to have to put money into this thing anyway; it's old, and I've used it *a lot*; and it's had some sort of charging/battery issues--harbinger of malfunctions to come? On the other hand, I have very little money and I don't want to spend any if I don't have to; I've had very good luck with my current laptop and I've heard (perhaps not true) that some of the newer intel Macbooks have been less reliable than older Apple products.

    Any advice? Is there a standard "life span" on these Ibook G4s? Thank you very much.
  2. Pixellated macrumors 65816

    Apr 1, 2008
    Have you considered getting a Dell Mini 9 Hackintosh?
  3. guydude193 macrumors 6502a

    May 15, 2009
    There's not a specific lifespan for anything, but 4 years is stretching it, especially if you want it to be as reliable and perfected as possible.
    Check into the Apple refurb section. They have cheap computers that are like-new (just in a different box) and they are extremely reliable.
  4. freesonwang macrumors member

    Apr 19, 2009
    Dear god, don't get a Hackintosh. Stability is key here.

    I think the safest route might be to get a lightly used new Mac laptop. Go on craigslist to your local area and try to find a new-gen Mac laptop (ie, any unibody laptop). This way, you get a laptop that you know has been "road-tested" for a few months by a previous user. This is slightly safer than getting a brand, spanking new one because that one could possibly be a lemon (and believe me, I got a lemon for my Macbook Pro. Mac lemons exist).

    Bring your installation CD along. If worst ever comes to worst, you can always "Archive and Install" to keep your files while solving any software based problems.

    Good luck!
  5. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
  6. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    Why does this even matter? :confused:

    Have you thought about a compromise and looking for perhaps a second generation Macbook/Pro? That will run a lot better than your iBook, it will be fairly dependable, and won't break the bank if you decide to get a new one when you return to the "first world." I would not take a brand-new machine anywhere with the conditions you describe- add in the various security issues and lack of police motivation and you'll probably never get it back if it gets stolen.
  7. jdechko macrumors 68040

    Jul 1, 2004
    If you're going somewhere with spotty electricity, are you sure you want to plug in a new mac? Power surge could instantly kill the whole darn thing.

    I'm not trying to discourage you from buying a new computer. If nothing else, buy a good voltage regulator or something.

    TUAW had a good article on this the other day.
  8. velocityg4 macrumors 68040


    Dec 19, 2004
    I would say get a second or third generation Macbook, max the RAM and put in whatever hard drive you think will be necessary. Since you sound like you will be traveling with it a lot you could save some money by getting one with a scratched up case as this would happen anyways.

    Given the spotty powersupply I would get two batteries, one to replace the current likely worn battery and a second for when power is on the fritz. Also bring at least two power adapters possibly three in case one gets fried (they usually run about $20 on eBay).

    Since there may be no repair centers I would suggest bringing some spare parts for items that are more likely to fail. One or two RAM chips in case one gets fried, they are small and cheap so why not? An external hard drive you build yourself so that it is easier for you to disassemble and can be sure to have a 2.5" SATA drive. Then if your main drive fails it can be replaced with your external. Keep the external backed up with "SuperDuper!" so you have a cloned ready to boot backup on hand.

    Another critical spare part especially since the power supply may be spotty. Bring one or two DC-In boards in case they get fried, they are quite small and can be found for around $30 on eBay. You will also need to bring a small screwdriver set with you with #0 and #00 philips. You may also need small Torx drivers T5, T6, T8 and T10. Not all are needed for a Macbook but they can come in handy.

    For the different items I mentioned for the best prices I would shop at the following.
    - eBay: Batteries (about $55), AC Adapters, DC-In board, used Macbook, any travel adapters, and possibly a dock for the spare batteries to charge
    - Newegg: Hard Drives, External HD enclosure (USB or Firewire to SATA 2.5"), spare RAM
    - Home Depot, Lowes, Sears: For good Torx Drivers
    - Radio Shack: for mini screwdriver set

    The parts you get really depend on what you can afford, and how much you can bring with you. Will you be with a team of people or simply bringing a lot of stuff with you, then a good surplus of parts is not such a big deal. If you do not need a lot of storage space you may consider some smaller SSD's for the internal and external since they can take rougher handling.
  9. eawmp1 macrumors 601


    Feb 19, 2008
    The OP said his budget is limited.

    1) If you are in the "third world" would you rather have a new or old computer stolen?
    2) I'd buy 2 batteries, a power surge/battery backup supply with converter for local outlets.
    3) If it dies - can you ship it out for repair? (remember - new Macs can also die)
    4) If it dies and there is no reapir - you can go native. It works for the people there.
  10. type32 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 20, 2007
    Thanks very much for the responses thus far. You've given me a lot of great information, stuff I never would have considered. I really appreciate it.

    So far, I haven't decided what I should do (although it seems the consensus is that I shouldn't expect my current machine to make it through another year). If anyone has any further suggestions please post them.

    Thanks again.

    Edit: some of you suggested getting a "broken in" laptop instead of a brand-new one. I am extremely wary of buying off craigslist or whatever for obvious reasons; is a machine from the refurb store considered "broken in" or is essentially a new computer?

  11. juanb3d macrumors newbie

    Feb 28, 2008
    I was born and raised in a "third-world country"... So I'll give you a couple of tips, and I have a question for you:

    First, the question: what country is it you're traveling to? In most of Latin America, for instance, you can get good if not excellent service for your mac. There is also authorized Apple resellers and Apple authorized tech support...

    Then, the tips (mostly what eawmp1 said already):

    1. Be discreet and don't show off your mac in public places. Use a nondescript bag for your laptop, not a super-flashy one that screams "expensive computer inside".
    2. Yes, electricity can be dodgy. Get a surge protector, don't leave your mac connected for too long, or use the tricks that eawmp1 mentioned.
    3. I'd take my old mac with me if I was you. But if you take a new one, you should be OK too, as long as you do some research and use common sense.

    My two cents, and hopefully this helps!
  12. slu macrumors 68000


    Sep 15, 2004
    I would consider this to be overkill and expensive.

    Many of the suggestions here are good. But I think the most important thing suggested no matter what route you take would be to invest in a high quality surge protector and to have a spare battery and AC Adapter.

    If I were you, and if the iBook has enough power for your uses, I would stick with that and add battery/surge protector.

    If you are nervous about it failing, I would buy a new PC laptop or netbook. I know that won't be popular, but if an iBook has enough power for your uses, then a cheap PC is the way to go IMO.
  13. steviem macrumors 68020


    May 26, 2006
    New York, Baby!
    I would also say a Netbook. Low power for a modern laptop, but quicker than the iBook.

    Even if you get it cheap and have it as a backup for the iBook it should be ok.

    I had an iBook about the same age as yours. It ran really well until 2 years ago the airport connector on the motherboard got dry solder joints, then it lost airport and would keep throwing up kernel panics if the airport was switched on. It would've required a new logic board so I used it as an excuse to buy a MacBook which cosmetically, looks worse than the iBook!

    My suggestion would be to get a cheap netbook as a backup though.
  14. Dr.Pants macrumors 65816


    Jan 8, 2009
    Why specifically are "broken-in" computers a problem?

    The Apple Refurbished Store sells, well, Refurbished Computers. They have been Pre-Owned, but mainly appear there either because the customer returned them or they had fault that was fixed - they are essentially new in the fact that Apple sells them. Generally they are not several-year-old machines. From Apple;


    Also, what would really help us out? Just how much can you spend in Dollars/Euros/Yen/Etc?
  15. Gregintosh macrumors 68000

    Jan 29, 2008
    It matters what country we are talking about as different countries have varying levels of support and widely different conditions.

    If you are talking about 3rd world as in Latin American or some parts of Southeast Asia, you may be pleasantly surprised by the amount of support and parts available for any mac. If you are talking about going on some religious expedition into the heart of war-torn parts of Africa, you may be struggling to find electricity to power your computer to begin with.

    My advice is to get the new MacBook Pro with SSD.

    My reasons:

    1. If you are going to be stuck without electricity for a while (maybe you won't get to a plug until the next day) you will have ~6-7 hours of computer time in case you need to access some files or get some document work done.

    2. Go with SSD because it is more reliable and if a hard drive is going to be hard to get a hold of where you're going or very expensive, then you might as well go for something that has the least likelihood of crashing.

    3. It is durable and will shown less signs of wear as time goes on.

    4. If you will be taking pictures, that SD slot will come in handy.

    5. The hardware is good enough to run just about anything so you don't have to worry about running into issues where a program you may want to run will not run because your computer is too slow, and there is no way to upgrade it out there.
  16. type32 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 20, 2007
    Thank you all again for your advice. I do very much appreciate it.

    It seems there's no consensus of opinion on what I should do as far as my machine goes, but there does seem to be agreement that I should at the minimum take a backup battery and backup power adapter. Can I buy these at any old place (i.e., are they all pretty much the same) or are there higher-quality places that you recommend? There seem to be a million places selling these things, all at widely varying prices.

    Also, if anyone has any tips on 220v surge protectors, that would be most welcome. The one I am finding most easily, the EuroSurge, is $50, which seems very expensive to me.

    Again thank you, and I apologize for the 'n00b'-style questions.
  17. Winni macrumors 68030


    Oct 15, 2008
    Because there are plenty of so-called second or third world countries where companies like Dell or HP offer full support services -- but Apple doesn't.

    In any case, a Mac is not the type of computer that I would take with me on "a long road trip" unless I'd be going to country where I know that I can buy replacement parts for it.

    Usually, a regular PC notebook from one of the bigger international players is the much safer choice.

    But taking a four year old notebook with you solves at least one problem: It won't be much of a financial loss if it breaks or gets stolen. And both are likely cases to happen.
  18. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    ...so why does the fact that HP and Dell offer support in certain countries relate to the discussion as well? The thread title is "A Mac in the 3rd World".
  19. MWPULSE macrumors 6502a


    Dec 27, 2008
    I'd go with most of velocityg4's suggestions you have to prepare for every eventuality n having all the spare parts that repairing computers is a big part of that. I would still carry out these suggestions with a pc laptop as well. Cos you can never be too careful.

    Just make sure in a public place your lappie doesn't scream
    one grand machine then you should be fine:)

  20. sapota macrumors member

    Sep 15, 2008
    Very likely, the speed of broadband internet will be slow, unless you pay more to get higher speed in '3rd world' countries. So even a decent computer would suffice. Usually the Mac notebook power adapters can take in 220V. But, you would need a mechanical adapter of some sort to plug into.

    I am not so sure surge protectors are needed for laptops as the power adapter/battery acts like a surge protector of some sort.
  21. instaxgirl macrumors 65816


    Mar 11, 2009
    Edinburgh, UK
    Tbh a machine from the refurb store is probably more reliable than something bought new. They're there because someone has returned them, possibly for a fault. After they are returned they are taken apart and individually tested by Apple (with anything dodgy being replaced). So really, they have more thorough QC than a new laptop.

    I have an iBook which is coming up for 4 years old now. If it was me I'd just be taking it with a new battery (2 for back up). This is because:

    1. This computer's VERY sturdy - I wouldn't be worried about it getting knocked cracked or anything while travelling.
    2. Mine has proven itself to be extremely reliable.
    3. Depends on where you're going, but I probably wouldn't be comfortable taking any new computer to "the third world". If something does happen to it it's better that it's an old computer.
  22. Big Boss Man macrumors regular

    Oct 27, 2006
    What is the security situation like in this unnamed country? I would follow juanb3d's advice about using a nondescript bag. Get a sleeve for your laptop and then put the sleeve in a regular backpack. Don't pull it out in public if you don't have to. Check with people who already live there about how safe it is. I would just stick it out with an old or used laptop if the place is kind of sketchy.
  23. Gasu E. macrumors 601

    Gasu E.

    Mar 20, 2004
    Not far from Boston, MA.

  24. type32 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 20, 2007
    Thanks everyone again for your advice. I've basically decided to try my luck with my current machine, and take along a backup set of batteries and power adapter.

    So my final question, and the lamest one of them all: do you have any advice on where I purchase my power adapter and batteries from? There are a lot of vendors and prices vary widely, making me think quality does too.

    Thank you again.
  25. Quad 2.5 G5 =) macrumors 6502

    Mar 29, 2009
    I have heard that Fast Mac makes good batteries that have a higher run time than the originals. If you haven't done so already, look into an ATA SSD to put in your iBook or a big HDD. (Western Digital makes a 320GB ATA HDD that is faster than the original iBook drive.) (4200 RPM vs. 5400RPM). Make sure you have maxed out the memory, this will help the iBook to be faster. Keep your 'Book in a generic padded backpack, to reduce the chance of it being stolen.

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