Is now the time to buy a PB? (Not a G5 thread, I promise)

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by williamsonrg, Feb 8, 2005.

  1. williamsonrg macrumors 6502

    Sep 8, 2004
    Denver, CO
    OK, right off the bat, let me just say that this thread has absolutely nothing to do with waiting for a G5 Powerbook. I won't get into what I think about this obsession many people have, because it seems to needlessly anger people.

    My girlfriend and I are both about to graduate college, and we both desperately want to be "switchers." We were going to wait until after graduation, but both of our craptastic (can I say that?) laptops are about to die. Specifically, her one-year-old Dell laptop keeps randomly shutting off, even when it's sitting still, elevated and running only AIM (side note, if anybody has suggestions, let me know).

    She wants to switch to a 12-inch PB, but a few things are holding her back.

    1) Is it easy to add RAM once we have more money?

    2) I want an UNBIASED opinion of the reliability of Apples. She wants one, but she's afraid that it's mostly a "grass is greener" phenomenon. Dell's used to be highly regarded too, but obviously hers failed her. Is she really less likely to have problems with a PB? And is the support as wonderful as Consumer Reports says it is? We hear all the stories about how wonderful Apples are, that they "just work," but is that true, or just a marketing smokescreen?

    3) Applecare: worth it? Again, I want unbiased opinions. It's a lot of money for us, but after her last experience with the Dell (with a 1-year warranty that expired just before she had this problem), we're considering it. How easy is it to get it fixed without Applecare after the 1-year warranty is up?

    4) And of course, I have to ask, do people have problems with PBs randomly shutting off? If that happened after her Dell experience, she might just cry, and I don't want that.

    Thanks in advance to anybody who puts in their $0.02. It's a lot of money for us to commit to (thought a lot less now that they've been upgraded), so I want to be sure before we make a decision.
  2. madmaxmedia macrumors 68030

    Dec 17, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    1. It's really easy. I think you have 1 available slot, so just plan accordingly. Keep in mind that Macs run much better with at least 512MB, so you may want to go ahead and buy the extra RAM now. If you want to save money, buy it from a 3rd party, not Apple. 512 MB total is enough for my needs.

    2. Software-wise, Macs really do just 'work'. I recently switched a couple of months ago, and rarely ever turn off my Macs (eMac and a 12" PB now), much less reboot them. Apple notebooks are awesome with sleep mode- shut the cover and you can put your notebook away (consumes minimal power.) Open the lid, and the notebook springs to life in 2 seconds or so. That's why I never shut off my notebook.

    Hardware-wise, I think you will be just fine with the current models. Typically, brand new models do seem to have some glitches, but we're on Rev. D of the PowerBook by now. They are very good machines.

    3. It all depends on your personality. In general, ALL extended warranties are a relative bad buy, because most people never use/need them (that's a good thing of course!)

    The great thing about Apple is that you can renew AppleCare at any time during the original warranty. So just buy your PB for now, and see how it goes. If you can afford a PB over an iBook, then maybe you will have some spare cash for AppleCare later.

    4. I've never heard of such a thing. I've heard of other stuff of course, but typically in the brand new releases. Maybe it had to do with her power management settings? (sounds worse though)

    Those are my honest impressions-
  3. jsw Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    Well, with your laptops dying, it does seem like a good time to buy something, and with recent price drops and improvements to the PB line, there's never been a better time to go with a PowerBook.

    To answer your questions:

    (1) It's not all that hard to add RAM (biggest things seem to be to press it in firmly and, of course, make sure you're properly grounded - after buying RAM certified for the PowerBooks).

    (2) PBs are very reliable. Of course, with any product, there will be failures. However, my 5.5-year old PowerBook still runs just fine - even after a coworker dropped it so hard four years ago that the left speaker was crushed into uselessness. The thing's a tank. The newest ones are as reliable as any other laptop you'll find. The "they just work" bit is more because they run OS X - an excellent, virus-free OS - than because of the construction per se, but they're very well built.

    (3) I'd wait a year to buy AppleCare - just don't wait 366 days. I think it's worth it, esp. for a laptop, but you've got a year to decide and form an opinion. Having AppleCare will make it easier to sell the PBs within 3 years should you decide to upgrade (it could happen...).

    (4) I've never heard of one randomly powering off, but I'm sure a few have. However, it's likely to happen within the first few months if it's a hardware issue, and it'll be under warranty - plus, it's very unlikely.

    I think the switch will make you both happy. I use both OS's and have a Dell laptop - which fortunately still works - that I use for work, but I prefer OS X and Macs by far because they simply seem more comfortable. Use one for a few weeks - time to get used to those bits that are slightly different - and you'll agree. No one switches from OS X back to Windows, and there's a reason for that. Good luck!

    Edit: madmaxmedia makes a good point about RAM - the 12" PBs just have one accessible slot. You get 512MB by default, but I think the upgrade to 768 is a good idea if you can afford it.

    And it goes without saying to get the educational discount, of course.
  4. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

    Jun 25, 2002
    Gone but not forgotten.
    I just bought a 15.2 inch PowerBook, a refurb. I also had a PowerBook in 1998, which I hated with a passion, so I may have something useful and/or unbiased to say.

    1) It is easy to add RAM after the fact but the 12 inch only has one RAM slot so it could be expensive. 256 MB is soldered to the motherboard and cannot be swapped. The open slot will hold up to 1 GB sticks. Of course, this means that you have to sell whatever you had in there. Another thing of note: don't buy just any RAM for it. You can trust Other World Computing or

    2) Every machine is unreliable to a point. That's why I bought a refurbished model. I wouldn't say that any PowerBook is unreliable but they've had their faults. In contrast to many x86 machines like Dell and HP/Compaq make, the PB is much more reliable.

    3) AppleCare (or some extended warranty) is always worth it when you consider the cost of an LCD. Do you have $800-$1000 in your wallet?

    4) I don't recall anyone having problems with a PB just shutting off but there have been various battery and battery life concerns lately.
  5. ChrisWB macrumors 6502

    Dec 28, 2004

    I am also a student and I had the exact same thing happen to me with my Dell laptop. Luckily, my parents paid for the extended warranty. Dell ended up repairing it three times. That laptop ate hard drives. After the warranty ran out I stopped using it because I know that I will lose my data after three months, just like the last three times. I am waiting until I can purchase a powerbook this fall for the next semester.

    I can't answer all of your questions, but I'll try to help. I have used Macs in school for the past year and none of the 24 macs in the mac lab have ever had a problem like the Dell did. The school is still using g4 450mhz power macs which run all day, every day and never have a problem. I would say applecare is definitely worth it, but if you can't afford it right away wait 11 months and then buy it. You have up to a year from when you purchase it to add on the additional two years. Apple uses propriatary parts, so some can be extremely expensive (for example: $500 displays).

    Is there any reason you're looking at a powerbook as opposed to an ibook? I was just in the apple store and they both look pretty cool, though I have to admit the powerbook feels better. They're really not that different speed and spec-wise.
  6. vtprinz macrumors 6502

    Nov 30, 2004
    Couldnt' be easier. Few screws on the bottom, and the slots are right there

    In short: Yes, it's more reliable.

    A little longer answer is that she might have some problems starting out. Getting used to a new operating system means she's probably going to create user based errors that will occassionally crash the system. When I first got my iBook 2 years ago (first mac) there were a few months where a program would occassionally crash (though the rest of the computer was fine) and maybe a handful of times I actually had to restart the system. After getting more adjusted to the system, I haven't had to do so since. The biggest thing to remember if this is your first mac is that, when you close out all of the windows of an app (say an internet browser) the program itself doesn't actually close. You could easily get a dozen or so apps running without realizing it, killing your system memory.

    The other aspect to the whole reliability issue is viruses/adware/spyware. Of which there is zip, zero, nada on a mac

    Generally yes. The cost of applecare is pretty small in comparison to the laptop itself, so it's a good investment, and if you need one or two repairs it will more than pay off. Plus, you don't have to buy applecare right away, you can get it anytime within the first year, so wait until you have the money for it.

    I've never heard of a mac randomly shutting off. Never happened to me and never happened to anyone I know. My 4 year old Dell, however, does randomly shut off. It's supposed to be a safety thing I believe, if something starts going wrong. But sometimes it will happen when I'm not even touching it.
  7. dkeninitz macrumors regular

    Feb 16, 2003
    Germantown, MD
    Well, I wouldn't describe PB ownership as outright Nirvana. I'm a "sort-of switcher" who's used (and continues to use) PC's. For the last five years I've owned (other than Macs) mostly Dell and IBM machines, both desktops and notebooks. I bought a PB 15" TiBook a few years ago, and recently bought an iMac 17" and a Mac Mini. In short, I love the design of Apple products, However, when it comes to service, I'm much less enamored of Apple than most Mac devotees. Before you buy into the Consumer Reports hype, here are a few thoughts/observations.

    I find Mac adherents to be a pretty devoted lot, "true believers" if you will, who are pretty loath overall to criticize Apple (not there aren't critics out there, and on these forums). But I personally find Mac diehards to have a more lenient standard when it comes to service from Apple. For example, I find it's not uncommon to hear PB owners who've bought AppleCare for $350 swooning at the wonderful service they've gotten from Apple, as in "I bought AppleCare, and when my PB failed, all I had to do was package it up, ship it off to Apple, and I had it back repaired four days later". For half that $350 I've bought 3-yr Dell warranties where Dell came out the day after I reported a problem and fixed my machine on-site, both notebooks and desktops. So to me it seems as if Apple's stellar service reputation is based in part on lowered expectations. I know a lot of Dell owners who'd snort at the thought of sending their machine back to Dell for a week, and paying $350 for the privelege.

    That said, I'll reiterate that I LOVE Apple hardware and the Mac OS X operating system. On your specific questions.

    1. A breeze

    2. Nothing special compared to my experiences with Dell and IBM.

    3. Well, if you have a hardware failure after 90 days, you'll have to give Apple a credit card number before they'll even talk to you unless you have AppleCare. I personally view it as AppleExtortion, but hey, that's just me.

    4. Never had this happen to me; can't speak for others.

    Good luck with your decision.
  8. therevolution macrumors 6502

    May 12, 2003
    You can still take it to a physical Apple store or authorized reseller and have it taken care of for no additional charge. Yes, it's kind of dumb they charge after 90 days for phone support, but it's not like you can't get it fixed without paying more.
  9. puckhead193 macrumors G3


    May 25, 2004
    From what i heard its really easy to add more RAM, if you don't feel ccomfertable u can go the apple store and have them to it. Applecare can wait for a yr. before u can't get it. I think its wise because if something happens your covered. MAc OS X is very reliable. It never crashes (no blue screens of death) and its very true, they just work. Apple releases updates every so often that are simple as a click to install.
    I use a powerbook, my brother uses a daul 2.5 GHZ G5 and a 12" ibook and we have no complaints.
  10. williamsonrg thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 8, 2004
    Denver, CO
    Another great reason to buy a PowerBook is these forums... I always get a response within about 10 minutes, and it's always helpful. I've never found a one-stop place like this for the PC world (though I'm sure it's out there).

    Anyway, thanks for all the responses. They all provide food for thought. The response seems generally to be: "Go for it!" Right now, the Dell "only" shuts off 3-4 times per week. I think we'll wait, maybe try and actually talk to Dell's "tech support." If it keeps getting worse, we'll probably just get a new laptop. Hopefully the Dell will last until Tiger comes out.

    But anyway, keep posting, I still like hearing more opinions. The more the better.
  11. h0e0h macrumors 6502a


    Aug 30, 2004
    West Monroe, Louisiana
    im not really sure about you're total situation... but here's a part of my story. For 8 years i used nothing but a PC. I worked at school on PCs, owned 2 at home, and even used them at work. So, I decided to get into some digital video stuff for church, and looked into a new PC laptop and my powerbook. I decided on apple based on working with one. My story is so sucecssful that not only have i LOVED my powerbook and had ABSOLUTELY no problems out of it, but my mom loved it so much that she bought a 14" ibook, and i'm fixin to buy the new mac Mini. I have never had a single problem, and my 4 friends that have switched since may haven't had any problems either. It is WELL worth it... I was very skeptical at first, but believe you me, its more than a well thought out investment. If i were you and weren't going to do any major vid/photo stuff, i'd go with the 12" iBook over then powerbook, just for the money reason. good luck with your new purchase...
  12. williamsonrg thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 8, 2004
    Denver, CO
    Thanks again for the advice... Also complicating the issue is that we also want an iMac, so we may try and wait and buy that first. We want the ultra-small PB, but only having a 12-inch screen may get on our nerves.

    I would just buy her a PB, but I think she wants a ring instead :rolleyes:
  13. jsw Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    She will always let you buy her a ring, but the PB might become increasingly difficult to get, esp. once she's accepted a particular ring. ;)
  14. Eevee macrumors 6502a


    Aug 10, 2004
    New Haven, CT
    Hey, just like me and my wife! We got the iMac after graduate school, and two years later, the 15" PB. It might be to your advantage to buy the iMac or 12" PB before you graduate to get the educational discount.

    I'm working in an university and thus work with both PCs and Macs. Strange things seem to happen to PCs (i.e. memory dumped, hard drive crashed, recycle bin does not work...). These are based on my experiences and also from friends who own PCs.

    For your questions:

    1) Yes

    2) Macs are reliable. Nothing has happened to ours so far. But like what jsw and bousozoku stated, every machines are unreliable to a point. And like what vtprinz stated, it will take time to learn OSX, so the OS will crash in the begining.

    3) I don't have applecare and am not planning to get one. That's just me. My G3 powerbook never had any problems. But it's not a bad idea to wait before the years over to get it if you have the money.

    4) Never heard of randomly shutting off.

    Before you get the iMac or PB, it might be better to get her that ring! Congrats!
  15. zimtheinvader macrumors regular


    Jan 10, 2005
    the capitol
    Os 10 is now (finally) solid, so I actually probably wouldn't automatically go or wait for 10.4, as when 10.3-10.2-10.1 were just coming out they were horribly unreliable in many ways.
    As for Applecare, I've not had the best experiences, atleast going to "Apple Authorized Service Centers," as they kept claiming I had somehow "abused" my ibook and caused its power adaptor to fail, edge to stress-fracture, ect. despite babying it and using it basically on a desk all day.
    Despite all that, I am still very happy with my mac (for everything except gaming and occasional software incompatibilities.) If you want to run all the major programs and copy dvds or whatever then its probably not for you, -I remember a hard couple of months getting used to the fact that alot of my software didn't run on the mac. Again though, I've really never lost a file or document ever in 4+ years going on, and the system itself runs just as smoothly as new, I hate using windows now!
  16. williamsonrg thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 8, 2004
    Denver, CO
    Just wanted to share an anecdote that illustrates the joy of Windows (and the joy of this particular laptop):

    Her virus scan caught a Trojan horse, and while McAfee was scanning the rest of her computer, it decided to suddenly shut down again.

    Ring... PB... ring... PB...
  17. madmaxmedia macrumors 68030

    Dec 17, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    If you really want mobility, you could buy a PB and an external monitor for home. You can actually shut the PB lid and just work off the external monitor, but I like 'spanning' the display (so you use both displays, each displaying a separate part of the desktop.)

    If you want to go all the way, also buy the Apple Bluetooth keyboard and mouse to work with the PB...
  18. tpjunkie macrumors 65816


    Nov 24, 2002
    i have a tibook 667 mhz (that being the C revision of the original titanium powerbook g4) and its still going strong, the only problem i've had was the laser of the combo drive becoming unaligned, and i choose to replace the drive with a dvd-burning superdrive. Other than that, I have yet to have a problem.
  19. williamsonrg thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 8, 2004
    Denver, CO
  20. minstryoffunk macrumors member

    Apr 19, 2004
    if you can afford applecare, definately go for it.

    Apple's service has been (for me) flawless, and they've helped me out of a jam many times (such as when a friend spilled rootbeer on my keyboard, or when my little brother got a cd stuck in my parent's old iMac), every time overnighting the replacement parts with no or a minimum of questions. I've bought applecare for every apple product i've had in the past 10 years, and have not regretted it once

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