iBook 14” or Powerbook 15” for my needs?

dferigmu

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Oct 3, 2004
265
0
Washington, DC
Here's the deal: I have decided to buy a laptop. I will be using it for 6 months at home and then taking it with me while I live in Europe for a year. Other than taking it on the plane with me, it won't go anywhere else with it. I'll be treating it like a desktop, so it'll just sit at my desk here and wherever I stay in Europe. The only reasons I'm getting a laptop is because I wanted a computer in Europe with me and getting a desktop for only 6 months of use would be a waste.

Since this is the case, I have ruled out a 12" iBook or Powerbook because the screen is just too small. I also don't want to spend money on an external display and don't have enough money for a 17" PB.

So my main question is: Do you suggest the iBook 14” or Powerbook 15” for my needs (Office, iLife, Dreamweaver, internet, watching movies)? Here are some more specific questions:

1. How large is the speed difference between the iBook and PB's processor and hard drive?

2. I don't really have to worry about durability and battery life since the laptop will always stay on a desk. I will however need a good wireless internet signal. I have heard the iBook has a better signal? Is this true? Is the signal noticeably better?

3. Since the laptop will be sitting at a desk at all times, I probably won’t be using the battery at all. Is it possible to just take the battery out or shut it down so its value doesn’t get depleted? I don’t want to drain the battery’s life by keeping the laptop plugged into the wall, in-case I ever need the battery. What should I do about the battery in my situation?

4. I'm debating whether or not I need a Superdrive. I won't be making movies, so the only reason I would need a SD is for back-up purposes and would only do this a handful of times. Is that truly worth the extra $135?

5. An iBook with my needed specs (512 MB RAM, 80GB HD, combo or SD) costs between $1,311-1,511. A PB costs $1,799-1,934. Are the extra features in the PB worth the extra cost?

6. Finally, I want to have a set of good quality 2.1 speakers plugged into the laptop. Is it possible to plug high-powered speakers into the iBook? Which port would I need to be able to do that?

I really appreciate all the help. I am hoping to make an order by this week-end, so I would be really grateful for all your suggestions!
 

devman

macrumors 65816
Apr 19, 2004
1,240
4
AU
Well I can help you with question 2. We have a PB15, iBook14 and two iBook12s in our home. Each of the iBooks does MUCH better than (my) PB15 for wireless.
 

jxyama

macrumors 68040
Apr 3, 2003
3,735
1
dferigmu said:
1. How large is the speed difference between the iBook and PB's processor and hard drive?

2. I don't really have to worry about durability and battery life since the laptop will always stay on a desk. I will however need a good wireless internet signal. I have heard the iBook has a better signal? Is this true? Is the signal noticeably better?

3. Since the laptop will be sitting at a desk at all times, I probably won’t be using the battery at all. Is it possible to just take the battery out or shut it down so its value doesn’t get depleted? I don’t want to drain the battery’s life by keeping the laptop plugged into the wall, in-case I ever need the battery. What should I do about the battery in my situation?

4. I'm debating whether or not I need a Superdrive. I won't be making movies, so the only reason I would need a SD is for back-up purposes and would only do this a handful of times. Is that truly worth the extra $135?

5. An iBook with my needed specs (512 MB RAM, 80GB HD, combo or SD) costs between $1,311-1,511. A PB costs $1,799-1,934. Are the extra features in the PB worth the extra cost?

6. Finally, I want to have a set of good quality 2.1 speakers plugged into the laptop. Is it possible to plug high-powered speakers into the iBook? Which port would I need to be able to do that?
obligatory reminder: 14" iBook screen has the same resolution as the 12" iBook/PB. the screen is physically bigger but will not offer more "space" on the screen.

1) for your use, speed difference will be minimal.

2) iBook's wireless reception is better, but not by as much it used to when PBs were titanium. Al PBs get pretty good reception.

3) yes, you can take the battery out. but i wouldn't bother. the potential to lose everything on the screen by a single trip on the power cord or power loss is rather scary, i think. the battery life will not be affected that much if you will keep it plugged in all the time.

4) SD is completely up to you. if you want DVD burning for backing up, consider adding an external later. the main reason you should consider SD is if you want to use iLife apps to burn DVDs without having to lug external units. if you can afford it, i'd recommend it because i imagine your use will expand once you have the computer and you may just want to burn DVDs.

5) for your use, probably not.

6) just the headphone jack, unless you get a USB spearker set...
 

dferigmu

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Oct 3, 2004
265
0
Washington, DC
jxyama said:
4) SD is completely up to you. if you want DVD burning for backing up, consider adding an external later. the main reason you should consider SD is if you want to use iLife apps to burn DVDs without having to lug external units. if you can afford it, i'd recommend it because i imagine your use will expand once you have the computer and you may just want to burn DVDs.

6) just the headphone jack, unless you get a USB spearker set...
Great answers! Keep 'em coming.

About the SD, I probably won't be making DVDs with iLife. The DVD-RW would simply be for backups.

And about the speakers and the iBook, will the headphone jack provide the same quality sound as the line-in port on the PB?
 

jxyama

macrumors 68040
Apr 3, 2003
3,735
1
dferigmu said:
And about the speakers and the iBook, will the headphone jack provide the same quality sound as the line-in port on the PB?
line-in on the PB is for recording. it's not an audio output port...
 

Badradio

macrumors 6502
Aug 19, 2004
405
0
Manchester
jxyama pretty much covered it, but I'd add two things:
The iBook manual suggests that you run the battery down until the computer goes to sleep automatically once in while to preserve the life; aside from that, you can use is plugged in with no worries about wearing out the battery.
About the superdrive - the combo drive reads, writes and rewrites cds faster than the superdrive, so if you don't want to burn dvds, you're getting poorer performance for more money. Can't remember the speeds OTTOMH, but they're on the Apple website.
 

Lacero

macrumors 604
Jan 20, 2005
6,639
2
Wow quite a comparison between the 14" ibook and the 15" pb. First off, the resolution on the 15" pb would be higher, which is good for what you want to do, plus you can span an additional monitor over 1920x1200 pixels.

Only question for you is if you can afford to pay the premium of the PB. I'd say go for it if you use it for any venture where there is money to be made. Otherwise, the ibook is no slouch either.
 

dferigmu

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Oct 3, 2004
265
0
Washington, DC
Lacero said:
Wow quite a comparison between the 14" ibook and the 15" pb. First off, the resolution on the 15" pb would be higher, which is good for what you want to do, plus you can span an additional monitor over 1920x1200 pixels.

Only question for you is if you can afford to pay the premium of the PB. I'd say go for it if you use it for any venture where there is money to be made. Otherwise, the ibook is no slouch either.
I'm at the Apple Store Tysons right now and am going back and forth between the 14" iBook and 15" PB. The PB just seems so much nicer. I like the screen a lot better and the overall feel is one of higher quality. The iBook also seems to get dirty quicker. I do have about $2000 to spend. Now I just have to decide if I need a SD for backups.
 

deebster

macrumors 6502
Oct 21, 2004
276
0
Olde Englande
For backups you could get an external firewire hard disk. Either a pre-made one or a DIY one (firewire case and internal HD, either 3.5" or 2.5". 2.5" ones do not require a separate power adaptor as they draw power directly from the firewire port.).

That would then allow you to do a complete clone of your Mac's HD as a backup, which would be easier than burning DVDs.

Sounds to me like you really don't need the internal superdrive option. Save your money and if you later feel the need for one do it the external firewire way too.
 

dferigmu

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Oct 3, 2004
265
0
Washington, DC
deebster said:
For backups you could get an external firewire hard disk. Either a pre-made one or a DIY one (firewire case and internal HD, either 3.5" or 2.5". 2.5" ones do not require a separate power adaptor as they draw power directly from the firewire port.).

That would then allow you to do a complete clone of your Mac's HD as a backup, which would be easier than burning DVDs.

Sounds to me like you really don't need the internal superdrive option. Save your money and if you later feel the need for one do it the external firewire way too.
Yeah, I think it's settled. I'm getting a 15" PB.

About the backups, who makes a good 80GB external hard drive with easy backup capabilities? And how big are they? Would it be easy for me to take it to Europe in a laptop case?
 

deebster

macrumors 6502
Oct 21, 2004
276
0
Olde Englande
Not sure about the best manufacturers of pre-made external hard disks, but usually they are just a 3.5" desktop HD in a box. I made my own and the box dimensions are roughly 7.75" long, 4.25" wide and 1" high. The box itself weighs very little. Maybe have a search around on eBay or any online accessories store to get an idea of what's available.

As for portability, I can carry mine around in the front pocket of my laptop bag, but the power adaptor that it comes with is a bit chunky and goes inside with my (12") iBook.

Given the costs of disks now I would go for something larger than 80GB though, like 200GB or so. A friend in the US just bought a 200GB pre-made one for around $200.

2.5" disks can go up to 100GB now too, so if portability is a real issue then maybe that is the way to go.Firelite pre-made disks seem to be fairly well thought of, or of course you just get a 2.5" case and put in any laptop disk.

Making the backup itself is easy using the donation-ware app 'CarbonCopyCloner'. It is a fully bootable backup too. You don't need to think about what software comes with any disk/case you buy, as CCC does all you need.
 

devman

macrumors 65816
Apr 19, 2004
1,240
4
AU
dferigmu said:
Yeah, I think it's settled. I'm getting a 15" PB.

About the backups, who makes a good 80GB external hard drive with easy backup capabilities? And how big are they? Would it be easy for me to take it to Europe in a laptop case?
There are several brands to choose from. Go for the 2.5" models they are very small, very light and very easy to transport. You want one that's bus-powered (does not need its own power supply) and you should seriously consider one with two firewire ports (allows you to chain other devices - eg. iSight).

LaCie, EzQuest, SmartDisk, GVP, RocStor, and there's others. Some come with backup software included - check first.
 

dferigmu

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Oct 3, 2004
265
0
Washington, DC
devman said:
There are several brands to choose from. Go for the 2.5" models they are very small, very light and very easy to transport. You want one that's bus-powered (does not need its own power supply) and you should seriously consider one with two firewire ports (allows you to chain other devices - eg. iSight).

LaCie, EzQuest, SmartDisk, GVP, RocStor, and there's others. Some come with backup software included - check first.
I just remembered that I'm also buying a 20GB iPod. Can't I also use that as a back-up? It's just that I can't afford spending another $200 in addition to a PB, iPod and all the extras I wanted to buy.
 

zach

macrumors 65816
Feb 14, 2003
1,205
0
Medford
You can, but you might want to consider getting a 40 gigger then, just to be sure you have enough backup space.

Nothing sucks more than losing all your data and not having a full backup.
 

dferigmu

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Oct 3, 2004
265
0
Washington, DC
zach said:
You can, but you might want to consider getting a 40 gigger then, just to be sure you have enough backup space.

Nothing sucks more than losing all your data and not having a full backup.
I think I'll stick with the 20GB iPod and just have all my music on there. Then for everything else, would you suggest a SD or an external HD for back-ups? It'll mostly be pictures and documents.
 

kretzy

macrumors 604
Sep 11, 2004
7,924
0
Canberra, Australia
Just remember that if you order the 15'' combo you get the slower processor and no backlit keyboard....unless you purchase the SD model and downgrade to the combo drive as a BTO option.

Good Luck!
 

shane-o-mac

macrumors regular
Jan 24, 2005
130
0
Mmmm...actually if you buy the new powerbook you do get a back lit keyboard on the combo model. As far as processors go...only a 11% difference in speed, if that is a concern buy some more RAM you will see a bigger preformance boost that route then buying the SD 15". On that note, you can always upgrade the combo to a SD for $135. The only reason I would invest in the Stock SD model is if you need to boost your graphics card to 128 and/or run a 30" dispaly, other wise the processor does not justify the price gap.

Just my opinion
 

dferigmu

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Oct 3, 2004
265
0
Washington, DC
shane-o-mac said:
Mmmm...actually if you buy the new powerbook you do get a back lit keyboard on the combo model. As far as processors go...only a 11% difference in speed, if that is a concern buy some more RAM you will see a bigger preformance boost that route then buying the SD 15". On that note, you can always upgrade the combo to a SD for $135. The only reason I would invest in the Stock SD model is if you need to boost your graphics card to 128 and/or run a 30" dispaly, other wise the processor does not justify the price gap.

Just my opinion
Yeah, I'm going for the 1.5Ghz model because there's no real difference between 1.5 and 1.67Ghz and I don't need 128MB of video RAM. I'm just trying to decide if $135 is worth it to be able to make DVD back-ups.
 

SurfAddict

macrumors member
Feb 7, 2005
89
0
More than 11%

On the recent benchmarks posted here on macrumors front page it show about a 11% difference between the 1.33 and 1.5 processors (the old and new low end processors) because of the limiting FSB I would expect probably another 8% on the 1.67 so probably a total of 19-20% proccesor speed difference between the high end iBook and high end 15" PB
 

Floop

macrumors regular
Jan 14, 2003
145
0
I didn't realise you could run the PowerBook without the battery installed, if the laptop was connected to the wall power socket. Hmm.

Floop
 

dferigmu

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Oct 3, 2004
265
0
Washington, DC
Floop said:
I didn't realise you could run the PowerBook without the battery installed, if the laptop was connected to the wall power socket. Hmm.

Floop
I'm not going to try it. I'm just going to keep the PB plugged into the wall, then use the battery once a month, to keep it going if I need it sometime.
 

leekohler

macrumors G5
Dec 22, 2004
14,162
19
Chicago, Illinois
This is what I always tell people-if your laptop is going to be your only computer, get a PowerBook. If you already have a desktop, get an iBook. You've made the right decision. :)
 

Mr. G4

macrumors 6502
Mar 29, 2002
298
1
Rohnert Park, CA
Since you are going to use it as a desktop (no need of mibility) why not buy an iMac G5 20" better screen, better processor...just a though.

The iMac can be easily carrying around :)
 

dferigmu

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Oct 3, 2004
265
0
Washington, DC
Mr. G4 said:
Since you are going to use it as a desktop (no need of mibility) why not buy an iMac G5 20" better screen, better processor...just a though.

The iMac can be easily carrying around :)
I was going to buy an iMac G5 up until about a week ago. Then I realized I don't want to lug my new $2000+ investment to Europe and back.

Plus, I'm intrigued by the Powerbook. I've never owned a laptop and I have heard I will really like when I start using it more and more. Also, when I get back from Europe, I might move to New York City. A PB would be perfect for a small space and when I want to come home to DC on week-ends.
 

dferigmu

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Oct 3, 2004
265
0
Washington, DC
leekohler said:
This is what I always tell people-if your laptop is going to be your only computer, get a PowerBook. If you already have a desktop, get an iBook. You've made the right decision. :)
Sounds perfect! ;)