G4 PowerBook 12 inch

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Sb.kim87, May 30, 2013.

  1. Sb.kim87 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 30, 2013
    #1
    Hi fellow Mac users!

    I've been thinking about buying an old PowerBook g4 12 inch to use only for schoolwork (mostly iWork) and checking mail from time to time and of course the usual Internet surfing. What do you guys think?
     
  2. justperry macrumors 604

    justperry

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    #2
    Depends on the speed of the CPU, the later ones should do better, you also need RAM, 1 GB for instance just doesn't cut it.

    An iPad could do the same.
     
  3. notjustjay macrumors 603

    notjustjay

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    Canada, eh?
    #3
    Agreed.

    Don't get me wrong, I loved the 12" PB. It was my first Mac and I think it will always be my favorite. It was my daily machine for 5 years, and then I sold it to a friend. I probably would have kept it longer, except that was when they transitioned to intel and all the new software eventually stopped working on PPC Macs.

    As a result you're stuck using the last PPC-capable OS and apps, including whatever version of Safari that would be. It might still be OK for now, but for how much longer?

    Another question is how long the battery lasts, if you intend to use it as a laptop. Might need replacing. Might be expensive.
     
  4. Old Muley macrumors 6502a

    Old Muley

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    #4
    I loved, loved, loved my G4 Titanium Powerbook when I first got mine, but that was a good 12 years ago. Until about 2 years ago, I still routinely used my G4 iBook for light internet, mail and old-school games. If you are willing to put up with the dated hardware and software, these machines can do what you want for under $200USD. Of course an extra $150 to $200 can get you into an Intel machine which opens up some more possibilities for you.
     
  5. keysofanxiety macrumors 604

    keysofanxiety

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    Nov 23, 2011
    #5
    Nope, nope, nope. Even on Tiger the G4s are complete dogs. I know a lot of people will disagree but if your experience with OS X has been with any sort of Intel machine, you'll be painfully disappointed with going to PPC.

    Not to mention Flash is rubbish on PPC and HTML 5 is next to useless on them. Finding a PPC web browser capable of running things to how you'd expect is also an arduous task. Forget Safari, forget Firefox.

    For the same money, and for what you're going to do, just get an iPad/cheap Wintel notebook. I absolutely guarantee that you will regret purchasing any G4 laptop, even if you're using it to simply browse the web. They don't hold up. :(
     
  6. Sb.kim87 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 30, 2013
    #6
    Thats a bummer :( Its just that I love the design of the older powerbooks, hence why I wanted a powerbook. If Im correct there's a intel version of the old powerbook design?
     
  7. Idefix macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2012
    #7
    key word: "buying"--namely because of all the great advice above. If someone were to give you one, that's a different matter.

    You're restricted to 1.25 GB RAM. Also, can hardly find any decent size IDE HD...

    Better off with an iPad mini.
     
  8. keysofanxiety macrumors 604

    keysofanxiety

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2011
    #8
    Hi, that's correct. The first & 2nd gen 15" MacBook Pros (Core Duo & Core 2 Duo) have the look of the older PowerBooks. If memory serves they kept that same design up until around 2008. They're still capable machines if you're after that older look.

    However, I'll say this from experience; they're a pig to upgrade the hard-drives if you're looking to shove an SSD in there. You're pretty much ripping off the whole top case, and although it's not a 'difficult' job if you're okay with a screwdriver, they never seemed to go back on snugly (in my experience) :eek:
     
  9. notjustjay macrumors 603

    notjustjay

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    Canada, eh?
    #9
    Well, the first several generations of MacBook Pros were identical in design to the 15" G4 PowerBook. Up until 2007 or so, after that they went to the new unibody design.

    I still have one. Bought in 2007, daily driver for the past 6 years. I've upgraded the RAM and HD but it's still going just fine for day to day stuff. I love how long Macs last! It's only been this year that I have seriously contemplated switching (maybe a 13" MBA or rMBP) but only because I'm itching for new toys, not because there's anything wrong with it.

    I intentionally bought the last-gen model before the unibody design. As a result, I can still replace my battery, and I have no glossy screen.
     
  10. Cubytus macrumors 65816

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    Mar 2, 2007
    #10
    I DO LOVE THAT DESIGN TOO!!
    Ha, I fell less alone now!

    Even though they're much less tough, there's something in that perfect balance of straight and subtly rounded metal cases that just screams "not your average machine". That was lost in the transition to unibody that just anyone copies now.

    Pro and classy, they had it all before the unibody.
     
  11. Sb.kim87 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 30, 2013
    #11
    True, and there was a huge design difference between the "normal" and "pro" design.
    For some weird reason a g4 powerbook costs around 150 euros and the "powerbook" intel version costs around 300 euros :confused:
     
  12. justperry macrumors 604

    justperry

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    #12
    The only version Powerbook which is still fairly usable is the PB 15" 1.67, the last version is the one to choose since they don't have the dreaded lower Memory slot problem.

    So, if you still want one get that one.

    I have one but the lower res one, my lower slot does not work so my max. memory is 1 GB.
    And, run Leopard on it.

    I eventually (a couple of months ago) bought a new Mini, reason, too much other gear which I could not communicate with, for instance my Tv, has Plex but there is no PPC Plex version, iPhone, no way to jailbrake it on PPC.
     
  13. iShater macrumors 604

    iShater

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    #13
    I had to reply to this, cause my 12" G4 PB is one of my favorite little machines. :)

    I have to be honest, while it can be usable for email and word processing, you are better off getting an older intel based MB.

    More bang for the buck (and I know I am shooting myself in the foot since I am looking to sell by beloved 12" PB soon!) :p

    The Intel based MB and even older MBP for a bit more money will give you much better performance, and you are not stuck with older PPC software.
     
  14. jg321 macrumors 6502

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    UK
    #14

    This! Agree with everyone else, an early Intel one will give you much more bang per buck!
     
  15. Silencio macrumors 68020

    Silencio

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    Jul 18, 2002
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    NYC
    #15
    My 1.33GHz 12" PowerBook G4 was by far my favorite Apple laptop. Such a sweet little machine. Time moves on and PowerPC is an ever-receding memory.

    If you can find a used MacBook in decent to good condition, you will be far, far better off. In early 2008 I replaced my own 12" PowerBook with a Black MacBook, which I'm still using to this day — maxed out with 6GB of RAM and a SSD.
     
  16. macman312 macrumors 6502

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    #16
    Agreed, don't do it they are too old now even the 2008 macbook pros. Get an iPad instead
     
  17. iShater macrumors 604

    iShater

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    #17
    My current 2008 MBP is going strong and except for fancy gaming, it is still able to meet most of my needs. I wouldn't push him away from those if he can find one for a good price.
     
  18. ctone macrumors member

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    Nov 28, 2006
    #18
    A G4 12" PowerBook will work for what you need to do, but it will be relatively slow. It may need upgrades (RAM, hard drive, etc.) to keep it usable, and those are expensive compared to the computer, particularly the labor to replace a hard drive. I have one of these computers and the battery stopped holding a charge and it wasn't worth repairing, but it is still in use as a file server (connected to AC power).

    I agree with the posters who say that you will be much better off if you can afford to get a more recent Intel based Mac laptop so that you can run more current software. However, I disagree that an iPad is a suitable replacement in your case for a laptop for school work.
     
  19. aliasfox macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2004
    #19
    Don't do it. Even back in 2005, a 1.5 GHz 12" PowerBook couldn't play iTunes video files - how do I know? I had that machine and I tried it.

    My 867 MHz first generation is still on my coffee table, plugged in and sleeping, but never used. It is by far my favorite machine, but it is beyond dated at this point. I've rebuilt it twice from magnesium frame and bottom case on up (replaced the top case/screen, optical drive, hard drive, bottom case) twice, and I don't think I'll ever let it go, but the deficiencies are hard to ignore.

    - Slow. Not helped by software that's no longer optimized for PPC, if it's even available. Web browsing with anything Flash bogs down the machine. The 1.125 GB of RAM I have in there gets eaten by memory leakage within minutes. The 5400 RPM HDD that I have in there is immediately used as a scratch disk and that does nothing good for performance.

    - Screen quality. If you've gotten used to the quality of modern Apple IPS displays, the dim, washed out TN display on the 12" will look awful in comparison - oddly enough, it still looks better than some ultra-budget modern laptops though.

    - Fragile. I've replaced the bottom case due to too many dents, I've replaced the entire top case due to the latch breaking. Granted, I took this machine everywhere all the time, but it definitely should be babied. Anything you get now will likely not be in phenomenal shape either.

    - Battery life. Brand new, I could pull nearly 6 hours out of the battery - no, not a modern, screen at half, wifi on 6 hours. This is a screen at min brightness, all apps except for TextEdit closed, wifi off, sound off situation. Normal use would see under 4 hours with a new battery. Now? 4 minutes on my good battery. Maybe. A new one (if you can find one) will be $130.

    But it has the footprint of a sheet of paper, one of the best keyboards ever built, and I will never let mine go if I can help it.

    My suggestion would be to find a good deal on an early gen MacBook Air - even a first gen SSD based model. I'm tempted to say you can get them for around $500 these days if you look, and while they were dogs in 2008-2009, they will be a magnitude faster and more liveable than a 12" PowerBook would be these days.

    (though I secretly hope Apple will revive the 12" form factor with a new screen, no optical drive, and a modern processor... and keep everything else the same)
     
  20. Cubytus macrumors 65816

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    #20
    Almost no usable modern software runs on PPC now, that is the reason. And if you can't run a modern web browser, you're done.
     
  21. Macdctr macrumors regular

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    Nov 25, 2009
    #21
    I have found for simple web browsing and email my PowerBook G4 12 inch is more than adequate to do the job. Yes, it is much slower than my 15" rMBP but when using the G4 I already know that it will be much slower and some web pages simply won't work using the browser installed on it. For my needs the G4 is still useful when I want to use a much smaller platform...
     
  22. Juliemcg1 macrumors newbie

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    Sep 21, 2012
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    Colorad
    #22
    TenFourFox is kept updated and works fine for the operating system. OmniWeb is also maintained and works fine.
     
  23. Macdctr macrumors regular

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    Nov 25, 2009
    #23
    I think these days anyone running a G4 system should have TenFourFox installed. I have it and yes, I find TFF to be much more desirable when browsing the web...

    I keep both of my 12 inch PowerBooks simply because of how the keyboard feels and how small the form factor is. Yes, it is a PITA to swap out hard drives or worse, the optical drive but that's something not done too often and the iFixit guide is excellent to work off of. I find this laptop to be a beautiful execution by Apple and one to be kept in anyone's collection :)
     
  24. kylera macrumors 65816

    kylera

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    Seoul
    #24
    I've lent out my PowerBook G4 12" to a study mate of mine. It runs Leopard and has maxed-out RAM, though it's still using the stock HDD it came with.

    Doable? Yes. TenFourFox allows access to most of the latest web sites.

    Optimal? No. As much as I like the PowerBook, it's definitely not optimal for most tasks. Sure, unlike the iPad, you have easy access to keyboard shortcuts to switch windows on the fly (though iOS 9 is believed to allow cmd-tab or alt-tab in Windows speak style window changing), but it's not going to be a smooth experience at all.

    If you get it for free, my answer would be a "yes with some reservation." However, if you have to pay money, my answer would be "definitely no."
     

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