Desktop to laptop transition

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by Chuck, Jan 22, 2003.

  1. Chuck macrumors regular

    Jan 3, 2003
    Here's a question, I guess mainly aimed at those of you who are used to using both a desktop machine and a laptop.

    This year I am making a transition from only working on a desktop, to only working on a laptop (PB17). Since I've never owned a laptop, I'm not all that sure what things I'm going to find difficult. I heard that there's no numeric keypad on the laptops which is a bummer. But more generally, how does it feel to always type on a laptop keyboard? Is it difficult to get used to, or does it more likely to give you a sore wrist?

    (If you're wondering why I'm going to laptop, it's basically because I'm freelancing [graphic design] from home and my wife and I will have a baby in 5 weeks [God-willing]. A laptop will mean I can just go and work in the library or a cafe if it's a bit too hard in our two bedroom flat.)

  2. mac15 macrumors 68040

    Dec 29, 2001
    I think alot of powerbook owners own other keyboards and mice, such as the apple pro keyboard and the apple pro mouse, because using a laptop keyboard isn't any good, nor is a pad instead of a mouse, if you want a desktop type feel by a Proper Keyboard and a Mouse (The Mouse is a must). That was for home use only.
  3. CrackedButter macrumors 68040


    Jan 15, 2003
    51st State of America
    I did this and i learnt a few things about mobile computing.

    One thing that is important is of course the safety of the machine. Make sure you purchase some sort of decent laptop bag, one of those military ones are good. You need one of them to protect your investment.

    You also got to think about weight, will you have it around with you all day? Can you carry it all the time, things like that. Then there is power sources, do you need them when working elsewhere, luckily macs have good battery life so there is no problem there really.

    Make sure you can do everything you need to do on it while working away from base, because you won't have be able to get them later will you?
    O and keep it safe never let it leave your site. Maybe some sort of lock for it if possible.
  4. yamadataro macrumors 6502

    I'm in the design biz too and mostly use a desktop as a main design workstation. And sometimes fix some minor details at the priner's office on my TiBook 15"/800.

    I've dreamed of having the totally portable design studio. But portables has always been less than perfect than desktops. If you connect an external display and keyboard/mouse to a portable, it's fine. But I couldn't design anthing on a built-in small screen. Maybe the situation will change a little with that 17" PB.

    I tried to experiment a traveling design studio for like 3 weeks in Bali island with my PowerBook G4 with a GSM wireless net connection. It was a major failure. Obviously it was not about the Mac. But my brain failed to work. High tech and tropical island don't fit...

    BTW, My PowerMac G4 Dual 1G MDD has died recently. While I waited to fix that machine, I connected all of the stuff connected to that PM G4 to my PowerBook G4/800.

    Cinema Display, mouse, pro-keyboard, Wacom tablet, a firewire hub, couple of hard drives, printer, scanner.

    The set-up worked perfectly.

    For a maximum productivity, speed and expandability, I'm went to the PowerMac right after it was fixed though.

    My personal conclusion:
    Even with the 17" screen, working exclusively on a PowerBook doesn't work for serious day to day operations. But with an external monitor and input devises, I think it works OK.
  5. peterjhill macrumors 65816


    Apr 25, 2002
    Seattle, WA
    Some tips:
    #1,2, and 3: Get Applecare Protection. It may sound expensive after all the money you shell out for the computer, but come on, it is alot cheaper than replacing just about anything.

    #4 Think about what you want in a case. Do you want to carry a million things with you? Get a backpack. Do you want something light, to take advantage of the weight savings of the Powerbook? Then look for something like the Sportfolio. You might even want to wait a few months for more case options to appear. There are only two on the apple site, and they both look pretty huge. I like something light.

    #5 Absolutely get an external keyboard and mouse. But don't stop there, get an external monitor also. I have a 21" CRT trinitron and love it. Of course you want an optical mouse, and I would start looking at some of the new cordless optical mice with the charging stations. Apple Pro keyboards are cheap and wonderful to use. Pick up another mouse, a corded optical, for using at home in front of the TV, because if you watch any TV now, you will start watching it with your compute in your lap. A mouse makes many things better.

    #6 If you are using the builtin keyboard... Take your watch off. The Al books will probably be better than the Ti books, but the metal parts of the band will continuously scratch the case. TAKE THE WATCH OFF!

    #6 Get a second battery! Maybe not right away, but you will appreciate a second battery. I use mine about once a week, and appreciate having it.

    #7 The AC adapter comes, if you haven't seen it, comes with a wall cord and small plug, either of which can connect to the transformer unit. Leave the small plug in your office and the cord at home. (or vice versa) Try to avoid having to take the long cord with you if you don't need it.

    #8 When battery life gets down to 5 minutes, you can turn down the screen brightness and CPU speed and get another 15-20 minutes out of the computer if you aren't doing anything too disk intensive.

    That's about all I can think of. Once you start using a laptop, you will not want to be without one. Oh, yeah, if you have a PDA, you will probably stop using it.
  6. alex_ant macrumors 68020


    Feb 5, 2002
    All up in your bidness
    Apple laptops DO have a numeric keypad - press Num Lock and your uiop-jkl;-m,./ keys become a keypad. I personally love Apple's laptop keyboard, the key surfaces are larger and the keys themselves have a better feel than any desktop keyboard (IMO). It's also quieter.
  7. yamadataro macrumors 6502

    I'd call that numeric keypad "virtual numeric keypad" though :D

    When you are doing some tax or serious Excel stuff, there's no way it can compete with the actuall full sized keyboard with numeric pad.
  8. Natron macrumors member

    Oct 26, 2002
    I have a TiBook 550 and find that the built-in keyboard suits me just fine. I mostly use mine when sitting in chair, couch, bed, etc..

    I admit, it did take a while to get used to the keyboard. It is definitely smaller than the pro keyboards, but after about a week or two of using it, I was fine with it.

    Having an external mouse is definitely a good idea, trackpad + Final Cut Pro just do not go together for big video projects. But using the trackpad for web browsing and checking e-mail, or doing quick stuff on the fly isn't horrible, especially when you don't have a flat surface for a mouse, or if you don't want to pull the mouse out too.

    An external keyboard would probably be nice if you use a full size keyboard about the same as you use your laptop, but I don't think it is a necessity. I wouldn't type a novel with the built-in keyboard, but regular use is fine.

    I am now able to easily transition from my TiBook keyboard to an Apple Pro Keyboard to the older, smaller Apple keyboards to a regular PC keyboard, just fine. Only minor difficulty came when starting to use the PowerBook G3 my dad is now using from work.

    I don't regularly wear a watch, but if I did I would definitely take it off before using the Ti's.

    Also, definitely get a screen protector. I purchased one from JR Hill, shortly after getting my Ti, and for only $7.00, it was very well worth it. I've seen older laptops with the keyboard marks on the screen, and since the TiBooks are even more compact, you will definitely want something to protect the screen.

  9. Natron macrumors member

    Oct 26, 2002
    For a numeric keypad, you can always get an external one for between $30 and $50.

    There are several makers out there, just do a search at or

    There is one over at for $49.99

  10. Chomolungma macrumors regular

    Jul 25, 2002
    Santa Fe, NM
    Wouldn't it be nice to hot-swap the battery without turning the computer off! Another thing; why can't they make the optical drive modular (I like a second battery in its place). I complain obout this in every portable thread :D .

    BTW use your AlBook for playing music in your car (just get a cassette that plug into the earphone outlet)
  11. Rajj macrumors 6502a


    May 29, 2002
    32° 44' N 117° 10' W
    I have been using Notebooks for years, and I personally prefer them over desktops, because of the mobility!!
    As others said, make sure to get the Apple Care, it will really come in handy when your kid smashes the screen!!!

    I recommend you not buy an external keyboard or mouse, because you will never get use to your notebook board or track pad!!! Beside once you start playing around with the track pad, you will find that it is easy to master!!!
    Happy shopping!! ;)
  12. monkeydo_jb macrumors 6502

    Apr 17, 2002
    Columbia, MO
    When the battery in my GHz Ti gets low
    I simply close it, eject the battery and
    put another one in. Then open her up
    and POOF! A fresh battery WITHOUT shutting
    her down.

    I love the builtin keyboard, but when it's
    on my desk optical mouse all the way.

  13. benixau macrumors 65816


    Oct 9, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    i had haerd of that one. i have now heard it enough times to believe it works. wow. apple should post this as a feature. or create a truer hot-swap.

    think about it. if your on the road for 8hrs, just hot-swap your powerbook battery at around four and you can keep on working.

    all this would require would be a 15min battery inside the powerbook. not that big really. only problem would be the weight.

    oh and before you ask, why 15min? that way apple sells it as a 2min battery and if someone is iDVDing then hopefully they will get 2mins. thats all.

    wadda ya think??
  14. peterjhill macrumors 65816


    Apr 25, 2002
    Seattle, WA
    Swapping the battery in a Powerbook has been easy for quite a while. I have never had a problem putting it to sleep and swapping it out. Even my SSH connections will hang around during sleep, and still be useful when woken up.

    I disagree about not getting a keyboard and mouse. Get one. I have no problem being used to one keyboard or another. If you are having problems... learn how to type with ten fingers.
  15. benixau macrumors 65816


    Oct 9, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    LOL, :D :D sweeeeet. :D:D
  16. WinterMute Moderator emeritus


    Jan 19, 2003
    London, England
    Can't you get a USB numeric pad?

    I've used the PowerBook range since the 160, and I wouldn't be without one now, I record and sequence large scale music and video work, mix to 5.1 surround and author and burn DVD's, OK, occasionally I'll connect a 2nd monitor, but that's all.

    PowerBooks rock, end of story.:D
  17. dotcomlarry macrumors regular

    Jul 16, 2002
    Akron, PA
    If you're going to use your laptop as a desktop replacement (or something like that) and you're going to connect more than a mouse and keyboard, I'd suggest getting a dock for the machine, just so you won't have to keep unplugging everything (mouse, keyboard, monitor, ethernet, etc) when you take it on the road. I'm sure someone will make a dock for the AlBooks eventually.
  18. Natron macrumors member

    Oct 26, 2002
    I'm kind of interested to see how a dock for the 17" PowerBooks will be made. The 15" TiBooks use the back, the iBooks have a piece for the left side (as, I assume, the 12" PB's will), but the 17" would need 2 pieces, one for each side. Not quite sure how this would work.

  19. JupiterZen macrumors regular

    Jul 17, 2002
    Reality Maingrid 23 Subjunction 42A
    Re: Desktop to laptop transition

    I love typing on laptop keyboards. They are the best ;) Maybe some getting used to, but not that much.

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