Help Out A Lost Switcher

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by Borjan, Sep 28, 2004.

  1. Borjan macrumors regular

    Sep 28, 2004
    First off, I have been looking around the forums for a while, trying to find out how to make my firrst purchase into the Mac. boy, it seems that I've come in at one of the worst times! I did try to come up with the answers for myself, but simply put, I can see that everyones 'ideal' Mac is different, it's all down to the needs of the user. As such, I'm going to try and give as much information about me and my concerns in the hopes that the nice people of the forums can guide me...

    It might be a long one guys.... :p

    Okay, first up, a little about me. I'm 17, and am in the U.K. I have around £1000 saved up and more coming in (and about the same amount in an account that I'm not supposed to access... ;) Don't worry, I'm patient. And I will be using the computer mainly in my room, though I am looking for a decent laptop as a desktop replacement. Currently we all share a PC in my house, and that gets real annoying, real fast! I will be taking the laptop around the house and out a fair bit too, as I enjoy the freedom. Bear in mind that I'm looking more at the 15" at the moment... persuade me otherwise! I'll get more portabilty and save a whole bundle!

    Here's a list of the things that I will be doing with my future Mac:

    1) School Work. An obvious one.
    2) DV editing. Here's were it gets a little strenous. I have a Sony DCR HC40, and want to dabble in a little video editing. Also, reassure me that the graphics card will have no real effect on this. Also, how about hard drive set up? A fast external right? External DVD burner? Or internal? So many options..
    3) Photoshop. I like to draw, and will be buying a tablet regardless soon.
    4) Websurfing. Again pretty obvious. Thinking about Airport too....
    5) iTunes. At least I have an iPod already! Good stuff...
    6) And probably anything that makes my life easier...

    What I am not concerned about with however is gaming... I have a PC for that... :D As for runnning programs simultaneously, I'll use my common sense and try not to run everything at once when using my Mac. You can't do all that with only one pair of hands! :p

    Anyway, there are a few questions remaing that are bugging me.

    1) The graphics card and Tiger. I'm pretty sure that the graphics cards currently being shipped with the PB are Core Image compatible, however, I haven't quite figured out how well they will handle it. For instance, if I purchased the 64mb, would that be enough to run the fancy eye candy of Tiger nicely? Would 128mb?

    2) How G4 will work with Tiger. I know what everyone is saying. No G5 for a while. I've got that. And maybe no dual G4's in the laptop for a while too. But my question is, though how will a G4 PB, the Mac I'm looking at currently, handle Tiger exactly. I'm sure this has been answered, but its not all clear to me. Breaking it down, will I suffer from a speed issue in the OS, or will I find that G5 owners can do certain things that I can't? Maybe it will be both! And if it is the latter, will it be things that I can do without, as I have no interest in programming or complex math, which is from what I gather intially what the buzz about 64-bit is all about. Later, the codes will be optimized for 64-bit so that we all benefit, but for now, are things looking good for the G4?

    3) Tiger in general. As you can see, the above problems all relate to the fact that a 64 bit OS is coming out, and I'm not entirely sure how envious of G5 users I will be if I choose a G4 PB! Maybe the best idea is to wait it out...

    Anyway, thats it! Sorry about the long post, but I really can't do this on my own! The 'Search' button is great, but nothing compared to personalised service! Thanks in advance for you replies, and feel free to keep them short and snappy, I bet everyone sick and tired of answering these questions...
  2. munkle macrumors 68030


    Aug 7, 2004
    On a jet plane
    Hey Borjan, welcome to the forum and hopefully the world of Macs soon! :D

    Just wanted to point out that the screen of the 12" powerbook is easily hooked up to an external monitor. Effectively giving you portability and more screen space when you want it - and like you said you'll be saving money too (if you alredy have a spare external monitor that is!). It really is a very capable machine and would suit your needs once you put the requisite RAM in.

    I'm feeling lazy so I'm gonna leave it to somebody else to answer all your other questions in more detail ;) Welcome again matey.
  3. Manzana macrumors 6502a


    Jul 19, 2004
    Orange County, CA
    Well, that also might be true the other way around!

    My speculation is that the current PB's available will run Tiger very well, the 9700 mobility is one of the top lappy cards available and if you go to 128MB...I say that is very good.

    For your uses seems the 15" suits you best, and you can save some cash now by waiting to buy an external dvd/r at a later date.
  4. Palad1 macrumors 6502a


    Feb 24, 2004
    London, UK

    Got myself a maxed-out 15'' pb three months ago, can't live without.
    Screen is great, keyboard.. well.. I wouldn't have thought that I would ever stop using my trusty Keytronic.

    Portability-wise, it's clearly not a 12'' but I take it with me everyday on a 10 km bike ride without any problem.

    The radeon 9600 works reasonably (come on it's no PC and most games are not mac optimiized anyway) and the firewire 800 port packs enough punch for any extenal hard drive dedicated to video.

    The 5600 rpm hd is okay (thank god for the 16mb cache), but for dv editing ,you may consider buying an external drive.

    As for RAM, don't buy apple, order from a local shop (got 1 gig of kingston pc2700 ddr)

    So I'd say go for a 15'' with all the options, this laptop will last years.

    You may also want to use a bigger screen, maybe you could save some money by buying a 12'' SD and buy an external monitor + keyboard + stand for home usage, but you lose the radeon 9600 and get a geforce fx 5200, and I don't know a thing about this card...

    Performance-wise, the most important thing is not CPU power but RAM, there is not such a big difference between 1.2Ghz and 1.5Ghz, but there is a whole universe between 256 megs and 1Gig.

    You can never have too much ram.

  5. Mechcozmo macrumors 603


    Jul 17, 2004
    I have a 1.33Ghz 12" PowerBook. It is really fast...

    Got a 512MB stick of RAM from Crucial, it worked fine, and now I have a total of 768MB. I almost never use the swap file, unless I start up Virtual PC. The 5200rpm hard drive is plenty fast for what I do, and the lite DV and AV stuff will be fine. But if you do a lot of work, invest in a nice FireWire drive, and daisy chain the camcorder to the hard drive, to the mac. BTW, Firewire is better due to higher bus power, so you don't need an AC adapter for the HD.

    The screen is great, Expose allows me to do more with it than a 15" screen without Expose. Keyboard is the best ever. :D Go for the 12", the portability of the 15" is fine but the 12" can go anywhere and more.

    Plus you can save some cash....a lotta cash....;D
  6. flyfish29 macrumors 68020


    Feb 4, 2003
    New HAMpshire
    I just wanted to say that you made one of the best newbie posts I have ever seen. You are well informed and obviously know of the search button and pay attention to things in the forum and the fact that you spelled Mac Mac instead of MAC will keep quite a few off your back.

    It seems as if funds are somewhat limited in the short term so I would go 15". If you have never worked on a 12 inch you should try it...really small. Now that being said, having Expose (check>OSX.Expose for more info) makes a small screen more manageable if you are flexible and take advantage of it. I find myself still sending open windows to the dock when I should be using expose instead and I am one who almost always takes advantage of gadgety type stuff that saves time and work.

    Anyway, I do notice a difference when working on my wife's 14" iBook (which does iMovie, etc quite nicely I might add) and my 17" iMac which is only a 3" difference just like the 12 to 15" models. It does make it hard to work on for me as I am multi-tasking very often and like easy access to many small windows- maybe Tiger will fix that some.

    Good luck and welcome!!~!
  7. AJ795 macrumors member

    Sep 4, 2004

    I posted on this board a couple of weeks ago because I was thinking of switching to a PB, but I was thinking of going for the 15".

    After reading what's been posted in this thread I'm having second thoughts...maybe I should go for the 12" instead.

    Can it's nvidia graphics card handle DV editing (which is what I wanted to use it for)?
    At first I thought having the 15" screen would be better but do people manage OK on the 12"screen?

    Also do people think that in the next upgrade (whenever that is) we may get the ATI card in the 12"?

    Now I'm confused...I was pretty much confirmed on the 15" and now I don't know whether I should save a bit of cash and go for the 12"...any suggestions and advice would be much appreciated!

  8. mcadam macrumors 6502a


    Apr 3, 2004
    Go for the 15" - if you are gonna do anything on it apart from writning and surfing i think the 12" screen feels really, really small... had an iBook like that and it was hell for graphics and doing architectural drawing...

    now i have 17" pb and i love it... but 15" is quite a bit more portable... go for it, go go go... :)

    ...just my 2 little cents

  9. Borjan thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 28, 2004
    Thanks for the welcome guys. Especially FlyFish!

    Anyway, as for your general comments on the 12", like someone said, doesn't that restrict me to 64mb graphics card? Were I to get a 12", then an extra display is most likely a must have, as I will have this Mac as my desktop replacement. Nobody seems to mention whether connecting up to an external monitor AND using Tiger with all the fancy visuals both put a load on the GPU? Maybe more than 64mb could handle!?!

    I hope not. :D The graphics card, and possibly the max. RAM issue are the only things holding me back from a 12". Well that and the Backlit Keyboard. Not to sure why I want it... Damn Apple!

    (And sorry AJ795 for creating a post that confused you! Hopefully this will end up both getting Macs better suited to us!)

    More suggestions please!
  10. h0e0h macrumors 6502a


    Aug 30, 2004
    West Monroe, Louisiana
    hey man, lemme throw my 2 cents in. First of all, welcome to the forum... i'm new too and i've gotten alot of help from here. I'm 18 and switching was kind of a fear of mine. to be honest, i got alot of exposure from church. Our multimedia guy uses a dual 1.8 powermac and that is where i got hooked. I too do alot of video editing. i LOVE my 12''. Sometimes i hook it up to the 19'' LCD in my room and that is cool too. The main thing is the portability. I edited a video for 3 hours on the way back from my senior trip on the 14 hour bus ride and finished the video using imovie before the battery ran out. I love this thing and i take it too and from school painlessly. Be sure that you pick up a copy of office. and I really think that the 'new' powerbooks (1.33/1.5) will have no problem with Tiger. Don't be skeptical like i was. go ahead and get your feet wet. switching is the best thing that i have ever done in my technological life. now i like my ipod even more after i bought my powerbook... my canon zr60 too. BTW, unlike most laptops the aluminum casing is really nice... it cleans up well, and it doesn't get as hot as my parent's dell. **Edit... I too also wanted the light-up keyboard and now that i have this one infront of me it isn't bad at all, because the screen is so powerful and so exceptional that it provides enough light for typing anyway.
  11. James L macrumors 6502a

    Apr 14, 2004
    GPU has VERY little to do with video editing. People think when they see the word video that it automatically comes down to the GPU, but this is not always the case. The GPU really comes into play for 3D stuff more than anything else (and some OS stuff).

    Here's what makes for powerful video editing:

    1) Powerful CPU for rendering times, etc.

    2) Lots of RAM (system)... self explanatory.

    3) FAST Hard Drive (at least the internal 5400rpm you can upgrade too). There is a lot of disc usage during video editing.

    Hope that helps!
  12. Borjan thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 28, 2004
    Thanks again guys!

    I'm interested in the fact that h0e0h had no problems video editing on the 12". Performance wise that is. How about the screen estate when you do so? I hope the smaller screen doesn't get in the way too much. Also, thanks for clearing up the GPU question James L!

    So maybe 12" is the way to go? Looking at the 12" compared to the 15", I'm losing out on:

    1) A smaller screen. (duh...)
    2) A NVIDIA vs. an ATI. (both are Core Image capable right?)
    3) Loss of a Firewire 800 port. (Apparently not too many devices support this yet?)
    4) Mini DV out ONLY (someone explain this one to me please? I'm not too good on the whole Dual Monitor thing)
    5) Max. of 1.25GB of RAM only. (More on this later)
    6) No Backlit Keyboard (I'm sure I could live without it...)
    7) No Gigabit Ethernet. (Dont really plan on using this that much.. so no big loss? Is 100MB fine for 'normal' people ^_^ )
    8) Loss of the PC card slot (How do people use this by the way?)

    Anything else I've missed? On the subject of RAM, I realise that 2GB would give a really nice performance boost over 1.25GB, but even at 768MB (which is what I will probably do at first) I shouldn't really be seeing much of the system lagging, should I? I notice that not everone is going out to max out their PB's anyway...

    Again, you input from downgrading from the 15" to the 12" is welcome, especially on how the list above will effect me...
  13. James L macrumors 6502a

    Apr 14, 2004

    A couple of thoughts...

    2GB of ram may not give ANY performance boost over 1.25GB, if you are not performing tasks that require that much ram. Your Mac ships with an app called activity monitor, which can tell you exactly how much ram is being used, what demand is on the cpu, etc. If your tasks never require more than 1.25GB of ram than you will see NO performance boost going to 2GB.

    On the topic of 12" vs. 15", it is not just a smaller screen, but less screen real estate (1024x768 resolution versus 1280x854 resolution). For some people this is not a big deal, for me it really is. That extra couple of hundred pixels of width, and the extra 80 or so pixels of height, means I never have to move palletes around when working in Photoshop, Flash, FCE, etc.

  14. yellow Moderator emeritus


    Oct 21, 2003
    Portland, OR
    I'm guessing this is the PCMCIA slot. Here's a brief list of PCMCIA add-ons.
  15. Borjan thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 28, 2004
    Best replies for me so far! *thumbs up* Tiger ready....

    Ahhh, seems like this PCMCIA slot will give me.... more FW and USB ports mostly. :confused: Lol, anyway thanks for the info! The memory card reader would be nice though.. :(

    Good point. This is making the 12" look more and more attractive! I'm sure as long as I don't go crazy on the resources, I'll be fine...

    So, all in all, looking at the Apple Store, my current thinking is the 'lowest end' PB available (I know it isn't really about it being 'low end' I just can't think of a word to describe it... How about 'most portable'? :D ). I will afterwards purchase a (faster) external HD, external DVD burner, and the external monitor. And of course RAM!!!

    Phew... that's a lot of 'externals'. Anything else for my PB?

    Wait a second... what about an iBook? That's awful close to the PB I want. But I will probably still go with the PB. After all, I'm getting built in Airport and BT, Core Image Support, easier external monitor setup. Oh, and of course a nicer keyboard... :p

    Are those enough reasons to spend around £200 more to get a PB instead of an iBook?!? Hopefully there are more. Looks like I might want to wait and see how the (possible) October upgrades affect the laptops...
  16. rueyeet macrumors 65816


    Jun 10, 2003
    For the DV and Photoshop, at least, a Powerbook has more horsepower, in general, than the iBook. You're going to have this computer a while....getting the best you can afford will give you the greatest defense against obsolescence. I'd also say that unless you've got a monitor hanging around to hook the 12" up to, you should really consider a 15". Think of it this way: buying the extra screen will take up any savings from buying the smaller 'Book.

    For both DV and Photoshop, the extra screen real estate of the 15" may well be the biggest, and only meaningful, difference. I'd actually recommend going anywhere nearby that has Macs on display and really looking at the two sizes, trying them out if possible, and seeing if the 12" will limit you at all.

    I have a 15", and I can tell you it's not only eminiently portable, but it's big enough to be comfortable in one place too. Most times I'm using my TiBook on a stand in the bedroom, and it fills that space nicely. When I do pick it up and carry it downstairs to the couch, or next door, it's like carrying a spiral notebook or 1" binder, just heavier. I use Photoshop as well, and wouldn't want to be doing it on a smaller screen, because I like to have at least iTunes going to keep me inspired. :)
  17. Whotheheck macrumors member

    Mar 31, 2004
    I think the 12" is fine IF you have an external monitor to use at home. On most aps, you will be having to moving stuff around the screen a lot to see what you are doing on the 12". Stuff like imovie, iphoto etc. work fine on the 12" but photoshop, illustrator etc. are a pain.

    If you plan on buying a dvd-burner, why not get a superdrive instead??? idvd does not support external burners...
  18. Borjan thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 28, 2004
    Hmm, yeah I remember this being mentioned somewhere... But I'm sure there are apps out there that do the job really well when it comes to external burning...

    Anyway, the whole 'visiting' a store idea is something that I really should do again. I went a while back, and my impressions were truthfully that the 15" looked right for me. But with all the research that has come from this thread, now the 12" in theory seems okay. Looks like a real life visit will have to decide for me!

    Or maybe I shouldn't go at all, and shy my eyes from every 15" that I see. That way, I'll never learn of how great a mistake it was to go with the 12".... :p

    And by the way, there are a couple of CRT monitors that are around the house, so the external thing is sorted, I guess...
  19. zachj macrumors member

    Oct 5, 2004
    As far as I know, external DVD burners still don't work in iDVD . . . Unless I'm wrong and that has changed, I just wanted to mention it, since nobody said anything. My usual hangout is ocforums, so I mostly read headlines here . . . **Edit . . . opened this thread in a new tab last night and forgot to update . . . it's been said ;)

    As for swap file usage, I want to know what your PowerBook was smoking! Mine uses a LOT of "virtual memory," aka, the page file. Just having Safari open pushes me into 2GB of use . . . lots of tabs will increase that to 3GB. Unless there's something really wrong with my PowerBook, I can't see why yours wouldn't touch the page file, and mine would eat away 1/20th of my hard drive!

    Any word on the TiBook's ability to run Tiger?

  20. kasei macrumors 6502a


    Dec 30, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    I looked at PowerBooks for over a year. I agree with the posting above, the only way to get a feel for the system is to take one for a test drive. No one I knew had a PowerBook when I was looking for one so I became a regular at the Apple store. I got to know one of the ladies at the Genius Bar and she would let me sit at the bar with one of their demo models to get a feel for the system. I looked at the 12" for a long time as I needed something that was portable, but I was also worried about obsolescence as model changes were happening quite frequently at the beginning of the year. So I moved up to the 15" for more power. Ultimately I decided on the 17" because it had everything I needed plus I am in front of my system all day long. But it sounds like you are more prone to pick up a 15" system.

    Bottom line is I know money is tight, but get what you can, even if it mean going a little bit beyond your budget.

    Welcome to the forum, these guys are great and they have helped me make the transition.
  21. pashazade macrumors member

    Mar 5, 2004
    Richmond, London, UK
    Hi Borjan,

    The PCMCIA card is useful but not needed, I use my mine memory card reader most times, It's just so much nicer than yet another thing to plug in. The other use is for a GSM/GPRS/3G card, I have a 3G card and it works great, as I don't pay for it it's even better.

    With regards to external disks etc, although useful they can get irritating, everytime you come home everything has to be plugged in, everytime you want to move your laptop, it all needs unplugging. very frustrating. I would recommend getting as much as possible internally. As you are doing DV then the external FW Drive is a must but a superdrive is much more flexible, you'll be able to use it when you want.

    By getting a 15" you can put off buying an external screen until you really need one [ you won't want to use any old crt after using yr PBook :) ]

    The 15"s are also very portable, I use mine on the Tube on the way into work and have no problems.

    As you say, you should really try them out for a sustained time to see how you get on re 12 v 15. Are you based near an Apple reseller or is it an awkward trip.

  22. Borjan thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 28, 2004
    I live in London, so not too much of a problem there... :D

    Btw, pashazade, how do you use the GPRS card for free? I thought it worked just like a wireless modem, so you would have to pay for an 'ISP-like' service...

    EDIT: And what exactly do you use it for?
  23. pashazade macrumors member

    Mar 5, 2004
    Richmond, London, UK

    I use it for free because my company pays for it. It's actually a 3G card so i get almost broadband speeds. I use it for regular internet access, it means that when I'm travelling I can always get internet access without having to sign up to all sorts of WiFi networks then claim the cost back.

    It's very useful and just works :)

  24. Mechcozmo macrumors 603


    Jul 17, 2004
    My suggestion:

    12" PowerBook. The screen is great, and you can connect it and have DUAL MONITOR (not mirrored, that is an option though) support. In the box, there is a mini-DVI to DVI as well as a mini-DVI to VGA. You cannot drive the 30" screen, but that really isn't a huge loss. The 15" is very nice and portable, but I like the 12" due to the way it just fits into my life.

    1.25GB or 768MB of RAM. I have 768...with ~8 apps open I generate maybe 4 page-outs, which is really low. A page-out is a use of the swapfile, BTW. My iMac generates slightly more due to the slower RAM speed, but the DDR333 in the PowerBook is plenty fast. 768 is the way to go, and if you find that you "need" more, sell the stick of RAM on ebay and buy the 1GB stick. No big deal.

    Combo Drive. The faster read/write speeds for CDs come in handy...9x import speeds into iTunes, whereas the Superdrive comes in at 7x. I have seen higher, but that is just a little FYI. Also, if you do end up doing DVD burning, external burners and Toast Titanium 5 burn disk images really well. Do a google search for "iDVD easter egg" and after the easy process, you can burn to disk images from iDVD, connect to an external burner, and then use Toast to burn. I say Toast 5 because it is cheaper that 6, does the same things, and I like it better. I have burned DVDs this way...I can create them elsewhere, plug it into AC power, let it "burn" to a disk image, and then use Toast to burn it to the external burner.

    Backlit Keyboard. Nice, but in real life not used enough. The screen is bright enough, and the keyboard close enough, that I can type reasonably well without needing to look.

    Gigabit Ethernet. Go Wireless! With built-in Airport Extreme and Bluetooth, there is no reason to use a wire...but if you do, then standard Base-T10/100 Ethernet will do fine. Many cables are not able to support Gigabit Ethernet, nor the routers/switches/hubs that those cables go to. In a few years, it will be more important, but in the next 4 years you are good.

    Keyboard: Best keyboard ever, hands down.

    Just a side note...with Expose you really can do a lot. You don't need huge, vast, screen space. Just the F9, F10, and F11 keys.

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