Officially gone crazy (12 vs 15 PB)

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by rapps, Jul 18, 2004.

  1. rapps macrumors regular

    Jun 17, 2004
    Damn...I am just driving myself nuts over whether to get the 12 vs 15 PB! I've read through the old posts and they have been very helpful...but cannot seem to make a decision that sticks for more than a few hours.

    I'm going to law school next year in NYC and wanted to retire my old thinkpad and not bring up my pc (b/c of space reasons and I'm sick of pc's). I'm going to just use my PB in my apt and for law school. I'm going to be doing minor photo editing, ipod stuff, lots of researching and writing, etc.

    I want the portability (I think the 15 is going to be portable enough), so the 12 would be ideal. However, each time I see the screen of the 15 and compare the weights (not the dimensions) of the 2 models...there doesn't seem to be much of a difference. The options I'm mulling over are:

    1. Get the 12 inch with the SD and upgrade the HD to the 5400. Eventually purchase an LCD monitor for the apartment when I move to NYC.

    2. Get the 15 inch with the SD and upgrade the HD to the 5400. No need for the monitor and just compromise the minor difference in portability for a better screen when I'm not in the apt.

    3. Same as 1 or 2 but with a combo drive and pick up an external dvd drive.

    HELP!! (Geez....if all my decisions involved such fun things to trivialize about.)

    I do appreciate all of your suggestions and really respect your input.

  2. jsw Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    My humble opinion:

    If you're going to law school, you're going to need to look at - and write - documents. Lots of documents. Lots and lots and lots of documents. The 15" screen is much better for that. Obviously, you can connect a 12" to a monitor, as you say, but it's nice not to have to do so, and you won't always be home. Plus, the 15" can get the backlit keyboard, which might be useful in darkened classrooms and lecture halls. Since this sounds like it'll be your only system, I'd recommend the 15" as a nice compromise in size and screen real estate.

    Also, as always, I recommend that you wait until the last possible moment to buy (never know what will be announced), then buy it, love it, and stay away from the Apple site for about six months so you don't learn about the announcement that inevitably will come out a day after you open the box. ;)

    Edit: if at all affordable, get the 5400 HD, as you mentioned. You probably don't need to additional video RAM (and $100 is a lot to pay if you won't use it). But the HD speed is a no-brainer. And, as always, buy with one RAM stick from Apple, and get another from OWD, Crucial, or Kingston.

    SuperDrive is a personal choice, but DVDs are excellent backup media, and,if you can swing it, it's a nice option. But it isn't by any means essential. I'd get it, but you shouldn't feel compelled to.
  3. rapps thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 17, 2004
    Thanks for the reply! think it is worth the extra $90 to have just one stick of ram?

    Also, good point about writing documents. It would be easier in the library to type with a bigger screen to look at.
  4. BrianKonarsMac macrumors 65816

    Apr 28, 2004
    yes get the one stick of ram! this shouldn't even be an option.

    superdrive, personal preference. i couldn't live without a dvd burner, but i don't need a portable one. external at home is perfect.

    i love my 12" and a 15" isn't large enough to place two documents side by side, so i'm not sure the larger screen for typing makes much sense to me. however, go with what feels natural, play with them yourself. i got the 12" because it can go anywhere (and it does), the 15" would make train rides to school quite cramped.
  5. jsw Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    Well, you'll save that much when you buy the second stick outside of Apple, given that you might want to up the RAM to 768MB or a gig either immediately or within the time you own the system. Buying it with two 256MB sticks means throwing one of them away if you upgrade.
  6. arnette macrumors 6502


    Nov 22, 2002
    Manhattan Beach
    Do NOT to the "one stick of RAM" thing. You can buy a 512 for $100 so why blow money on air??

    Also, the 15" is your computer. Live it. Learn it. Love it.

    Good luck!
  7. OziMac macrumors 6502

    Oct 24, 2003
    You lucky prick, going to NYU law school... ;)

    I don't agree with jsw though - I think you'd be much better off with the 12". Much more portable for lectures / research in libraries or elsewhere. The fact that you can take it anywhere without even feeling it's there is what makes it so good for research - you can take notes everywhere. I used a 12" iBook and a 12" Powerbook for my last 2 years at law school and they were absolutely perfect. The battery life was also a huge plus, but I ended up taking my power adparter along everywhere too. And with wireless everywhere at schools these days (as I'm sure it would be at NYU) having that portability makes all the difference in the world.

    I do have a 15" now - but I don't carry it around as much anymore and tend only to use it around home or at specific places like work or friends' houses. I can't imagine that the extra space on the screen will assist in looking at documents - most of your stuff will be from hard copy books or printed off Lexis or other online databases anyway.

    Good luck with the Powerbook and your course!
  8. rapps thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 17, 2004

    Wish it was NYU :cool:

    Its getting tough nowadays to get in!! I'm going to Fordham Law, actually....

    Your comments are making it tough on me!! One second I'm convinced I should get a 15"...then i read your comments and BAM...back to the 12". Do you think dragging around the 15" will end up getting to me...over the 12?
  9. BigEvan23 macrumors member


    Jun 17, 2004
    My thoughts.

    I was in the same exact position...actually I got into law school in NYC but decided not to go. Working at Skadden Arps for the last year really dissuaded me but thats a side note. Instead I'll be focusing on my creative side and attending NYU for graduate design program. My friend uses a 12inch pb at Fordham law and although its adequate I think the extra screen real-estate is a necesity. As far as the HD, 5400rpm is simply a must. The only reason to get the 4200 is if you are gonna swap it out for a 7k60 deskstar 7200 rpm drive (cost=200 bones more or less). Next, the ram is certainly worth it. Step it up to the single dimm 512 that way, later on if you decide to buy some ram from say a co. like crucial you can double it to a gig for only 110 bucks. So 90 from Apple and 110 from crucial and for 200 dollars you are at a gig. Try to do that with Apple memory and you will see just how worth it is to make that small investment. I didn't think that the dvd burner was worth it but thats because I have a faster superdrive in my home machine. You may want to go the external route with all the new technology emerging, ie. dual layer, faster speeds, etc. In this case the fw 800 ports only available on the 15 inch will be very useful. Also, for the extra 45 bones I would bump up the video ram to 128, you may not need it but for that cheap price its couldn't hurt especially if you wanna do some video gaming on the side. So here is my config with edu discount: 1.5ghz 15 inch, 128mb vram, 5400 80gb drive, combo drive, 512ram plus 512 from crucial. Cost: 2344 +110 from Crucial 2450. Not to shabby. Hope this helps, good luck with your first year...I hope you make law review! :D Remember always buy the best you can afford, you won't regret it!

  10. rapps thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 17, 2004
    Hey Evan,
    Thanks for the advice! Glad you figured out not to do law b/f it was too late. what aspects to you think your friend could use the extra size of the 15"? Also...if I just ebay the extra 256 ram and pop a 512 from crucial...I'm looking at about $100 minus what I get for the 256 on ebay for 768 MB compared to $200 for gig. Is it worth it for an extra hundred dollars?
  11. OziMac macrumors 6502

    Oct 24, 2003
    Fordham is an awesome school, you'll have a great time.

    Look, I don't think dragging the 15" around will get to you - though I haven't quite stopped treating it with kid gloves yet. It's not the sort of thing you can pick up quickly and easily with one hand in the same way you can the 12", because you need to balance it's weight over it's length... but that is semantics, it is still sufficiently portable...

    But I think the little things with the 12" will make all the difference - being able to put it in your bag without feeling it, making it easier to carry and more secure. You don't exactly need huge grunt power for what you need it for, and it's not like the 12" is a slouch - not as good with graphics as the 15", but it doesn't sound like you'll be doing much video editing or game playing ;) And I find the screen sufficient to work on one document/window at a time - whilst you can look at two with the 15", each is a bit smaller and I can't say it serves much of a purpose - often better off to print stuff out that do try to extract stuff on the fly from an open document. Because that's a skill you're going to need more when you get out into practice (or further research or whatever you do)...

    [EDIT] The reason the bigger screen makes a difference for me now is that I do a lot more graphic design and video editing on it, so screen space and dimensions help - but whilst at uni, the smaller the better as far as I was concerned...

    I just don't think you need the 15" when the 12" satisfies all of your needs and has several advantages over the 15", and you could spend the difference in price on other stuff like RAM or even software that would further enhance your experience (especially an LCD for your apartment).

    [EDIT] So my recommendation would be 1, but with the combo drive - assuming that you have no urgent need for super protable DVD burning, the external burner would do you well at home and you have the option of upgrading it to a dual-layer. PLUS you can splurge on the LCD etc at some stage.

    All in all, a great package and an absolute treat for a student - you just have to remember to study! Though I must say this - getting a Mac and eliminating gaming possibilities was one of the best things ever to happen to my academic career! ;)
  12. rapps thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 17, 2004
    Thanks for your insightful comments! I do appreciate you taking the time to help me. decision hasn't been made any easier!!!

    I just don't want to regret either way not/getting the larger/smaller screen :p

    I have a 12" thinkpad that's only ~3lb's...but it's been acting up and seems to be on its last leg. I'm used to just grabbing the laptop with one hand and chucking it in my pack. I was just figuring that if I was going to drop X amount of dollars to make the most of it (of course, without sacrificing portability), not to mention it can be my desktop replacement without having to shell out more $ for an LCD.

    I wish I could rent one of each for a week :D

    That would solve my issues :)
  13. BigEvan23 macrumors member


    Jun 17, 2004

    Maybe Im a little spoiled because I have recently grown very attached to screen size. I just picked up a new 23inch lcd and I am absolutley in love with every pixel, ditto for the 15 inch screen when on the go. I think for a desktop replacement that you almost have to go with the 15. 1024x768 grows cumbersome quickly. An ichat window open, word, itunes and soon your using expose like a fiend to snatch up some more desktop space. You learn to manage but at the same time if you can get the 15 that extra space will prove very useful. You will be taking many notes on your machine in word...then you will read your textbooks and take more notes...then you will have three documents open incorporating those notes into one master outline to study off of. I see my friend doing it all the time and moving between the windows gets annoying quickly on the smaller screen. Just my thoughts seeing it in action at Fordham. Also, be prepared for an absolutely ignorant mac support staff, the university IT department is mac-retarded. Well if you think you can get a decent price on ram on ebay then go for it. I just know that Panther can be a memory hog and so can the commonly used apps. Having a gb of ram has almost become necesity for me in 10.3.4 but that could also be a function of the programs I run. Regardless, if you want to expand down the line I think the 90 is worth it in the short run. With tiger comming out and all of its new features 1gb might become the standard to run things comfortably in the future, who knows? I would aim higher than lower just to be sure and "future-proof".
  14. OziMac macrumors 6502

    Oct 24, 2003
    I agree, trying them out is the easiest way to work these things out...

    And I appreciate it's a difficult decision - either way you will be on a good wicket, so I wouldn't worry too much...

    However, I do think that the 12" is just as much a desktop replacement as the 15". The LCD is a luxury that you could afford if you went for the 12" giving you great usgae at home and maximum protability on the road - but it's not a necessity. Even having such a small laptop without the LCD is great for home because you will undoubtedly have stacks of books and papers on your desk, and the smaller footprint helps (albeit only a little).

    And keep in mind that it's not the be all and end all - I'm sure somewhere down the line you'll get another computer so there's no need for regrets ;)
  15. OziMac macrumors 6502

    Oct 24, 2003
    I have to add that I am baffled at how some people can prepare notes by having three different documents open at once and switching between them, especially at law school. If I can't have physical sheets of paper all lined up in front of me with plenty of room for scribbling and highlighting I can't conceive of retaining any information.

    I have no conception of how you can achieve that by looking at it all on a computer screen - but respect, good on you if you can...
  16. puckhead193 macrumors G3


    May 25, 2004
    grrrrrrrrrrrrrr... thanks.... i'm going to be a freshmen in college and i NEED a laptop for classroom use, i thought the 12 would do but its small to use everyday as a main computer. So i'm looking at the 15...the weight isn't an issue cause i'm used to a 14"ibook... but the half desk thing and a 15..... not to stable...So back to the 12, i would get an external montor mouse, keyboard, but there's no room for that in a college dorm.
    Plus on a side note i plan on doing video editing so i need the power.. so i fig. a G5 and a 12 but there's no room....grrrrrrr
    the 15 would be nice but the desk thing bothers me....
  17. rapps thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 17, 2004
    Well. I'll ponder it over at least until the 4G ipods show up on apple's site. I just sold my 3G on ebay tonight and got what I paid for it :D

    I could always get the 15" and if it ends up being a pain I can go back to my PIII Thinkpad :(

    I guess it's nice to have such silly things to worry about.
  18. rapps thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 17, 2004
    I'm sure nobody knows the answer to this one...but I'll try.

    Does anyone know if Fordham law have big desks or the really tiny ones?? :p
  19. OziMac macrumors 6502

    Oct 24, 2003
    Again, lucky - I took an AUD100 hit on what I paid for mine. But still more than enough to cover a new 40GB (and potentially a new 60GB if they were to come out).

    No offence, but you don't suffer from schizophrenia do you? How many people are you? :p
  20. rapps thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 17, 2004
    Another thing....these powerbooks really maintain their value. If I regret any mistakes...they sell very well. :p
  21. zakee00 macrumors regular


    Jul 7, 2004
    Anchorage, Alaska
    i would go with option 2, i LOVE my 15" rev.a powerbook, and you will me, you wont miss the "extra portability" of the 12", becuase the 15" is perfectly portable. plus its gr8 for documents...lots and lots of documents ;)
    it has fw800 built in also, that is a nice feature...dont have that on a 12"
    superdrive and hd upgrades are worth it; and i think it comes with AE built THAT is fun. 512 ram works for me but sometimes i wish i had more.
    good luck, have fun at me if u have any questions,
  22. OziMac macrumors 6502

    Oct 24, 2003
    Nick, AE is standard on all Rev C Powerbooks. And you can get the same superdrive and hard drive upgrade on the 12". The money saved could be spent on more RAM which is 'crucial' lol ;)

    I don't get why people adopt the 'what's best for me is what's best for you' attitude - Evans and JSW had some good points to consider, but Rapps, you know your own personal circumstances best, we can onlyoffer advice based on what you've told us - you will know what to get, and you won't regret it :)
  23. Akira macrumors member

    Sep 18, 2002
    The Netherlands
    12" looks cute,
    15" looks manly,
    17" looks divine

    nuff said :cool:
  24. DJY macrumors 6502a


    Dec 20, 2003
    Canberra AUST
    The first Mac I ever bought was my 17" Powerbook last month - and I'm very much in love with it...

    Another mate bought the 12" for portability - but already is now having to look at either buying a desktop or an external monitor as well...

    I have a few friends with the 15" - and they love it - but they all also have desktops or external monitors...
  25. tamara6 macrumors regular

    Apr 28, 2004
    I can fit two documents side by side all the time on my 15". In fact, that's why I got it. I love it.

    Don't know how much cutting and pasting (from one document to another) you do in law school, though. If it is a significant amount then the 15" is the one for you, imho.

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