potential PB 12" purchase - please advise

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by globalstar, Jul 29, 2003.

  1. globalstar macrumors newbie

    Jul 28, 2003

    this is one of my first posts here. Thing is I need some advice. On a number of topics so please bear with me and help if you can.

    I am coming to US (currently in Europe) for the first time to study for a masters degeree (at CMU in Pittsburgh). I will arrive in the middle of August and the semester starts a few weeks later. I would love to buy myself a laptop by that time or during the first two weeks of school.

    I need it for MS word, internet, e-mail, music, an occasional movie and a hub for my digital photographs (the camera I haven't bought yet but i am leaning towards a Canon). I also need to have a wireless card and a CDR drive. I play games but very seldom and can live without it.

    Mobility and battery time are important, as well as a certain amount of ruggedness and a good amount of style.

    I have had no apple computer before, so I would be a switcher :) I know Windows very well but to be honest it bores me, even though I can use it very efficiently. Plus the thing that it just gets slow after 1 year (if you are lucky) and needs a complete reinstall irritates me a lot. i love more or less everything that apple represents and think that in every way it would be a sound investment.

    Anyway, I have looked at different models and think that the 12" PB suits my needs the best. So here goes:

    - the screen - I am afraid that i might find the 12" too small to use every day. I hope I am wrong. What are your experiences? How much does it strain your eyes if you use it every day for a number of hours?

    - the speed - even though I would mostly do office work, then speed is important to me. Especially in office work. I get very irritated if programs do not open very fast etc. Is the 867Hz G4 sans L3 cache enough? Do the programs open instantly? even if I have many open? Is changing from one program to the other instant as well? How would the speed compare to my current desptop (AMD 1700+, 256DDR ram, Seagate IV 40G HDD, GeForce 4mx440)? Will it be significantly slower?

    - the price - I am on a very strict budget. Currently I could get the 12" for 1399.- with the education discount. Add the wireless extreme card and sales tax, then its ok. Plus perhaps the 10G iPod for 269 minus a 200.- mail-in rebate. How much do you think would the price jump after an update? ~1500.- with the education discount? more?

    - applecare - I know it is wonderful but if I cannot afford it now, can I purchase it say 6 months later as well?

    - apple loan - as i haven't been to the states before I don't have a credit history (I have in my home country of cource). Propably I will not be eligible for the apple loan then as well (even though I could easily repay it). As I will not have much cash in the beginning do you think there are other ways to finance my purchase? Some credit schemes or something?

    Thanks for reading my post and I look forward to your advice!

    P.S. my school's computer shop offers currently a 15" TiBook with 1GHz and applecare for 2038.- is this too good an offer to ignore? maybe i should think of the 15". Thing is I would LOVE a big screen but I am worried about the mobility aspect. Plus I am worried about the sturdyness of the Ti casing.

    P.P.S. the store is also offering an IBM T40, very well loaded but with a R7500 for 1884.- I am hugely tempted. It is light and has a 14" screen (which as a main computer would be better than 12"). Plus centrine tech does offer longer battery time than apple Please advise. Should i seriously consider it over a mac? The main problem is that it cannot handle OSX ;)
  2. benixau macrumors 65816


    Oct 9, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    io_burn posted a benchmark he made. It shows one point where the mac has always beaten the pc no matter what. A G3 600 iBook with 128 can beat a P4 3.2Ghz 800FSB in this benchmark. BTW - i would advise that you get maybe a 15" if you dont need BT or APX. Other than that the 12" is good and you can always get an external monitor reaaal cheap.

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  3. Ambrose Chapel macrumors 65816

    Ambrose Chapel

    Jul 24, 2002
    You can buy AppleCare anytime within one year of the computer's purchase date.
  4. Freg3000 macrumors 68000


    Sep 22, 2002
    New York
    That is hilarious. I have a 12" PB, and it is great. I consistently get 4 hours of battery life, and with the ram maxed out, everything is snappy enough for me. This is also the first time am I am experiencing wireless internet, so I love the AE. It's a great little machine. :)
  5. patrick0brien macrumors 68040


    Oct 24, 2002
    The West Loop

    What makes it funnier is that graphic was an attempt at trolling. :D
  6. idea_hamster macrumors 65816


    Jul 11, 2003
    NYC, or thereabouts
    About Size:

    Before my return to the light, I used an early version of the Sony VAIO that was an "ultra-portable" through 3/4 of law school. The screen was about 12" and it was, in general, just fine. The single draw-back about the size was that after long (read: all night) periods typing, the keyboard was a bit too narrow to be comfortable. I've found that eyestrain is a function of resolution and brightness more than size alone. If you want the 12", don't worry about the size for your major uses.

    About portability:

    When I switched back to Apple, I got a Rev A 500MHz 15" TiBook. I never really had an issue with portability, since anytime I was carrying a books, I was likely to have a bag of some sort. The 15" fits in most backpacks and briefcases (unlike the 17") so no real problems there. If you want the 15", don't worry about portability.

    About the IBM:

    Don't settle.
  7. tjwett macrumors 68000


    May 6, 2002
    Brooklyn, NYC
    screen: decent. the size doesn't bother me. i like small. the thing is that the resolution is a bit small. sometimes things can look a bit fuzzy. not terribly, but if you're a display snob it may bother you. also it's a little dark, much darker than the 12" iBook.

    speed: slow. it's not gonna blow the doors off you 1.7 ghz PC by any means, not even close. however, it;s not disgustingly slow. i get by ok with my music and video editing.

    price: that educational discount is a great deal, well worth it. however i must stress that if you are not using any apps that the rely on AltiVec (G4) then i would have to suggest buying an iBook and saving even more money, maybe get an iPod with the rest. my girlfriend has a 900mhz iBook and it feel better than my 12" PowerBook for a bunch of non-AltiVec apps.

    applecare: a waste of money, but that's just my opinion. here's why; AppleCare only covers factory-defective parts. it's not insurance, by far. it's just an extended warranty, and not a great one. places like Circuit City, Best Buy, and Compusa all offer an extended warranty for less money, and with better coverage. you get a year of free service from Apple standard when you buy your computer. any factory defect is likely to arise well before the first year is up. faulty electronics will usually fail very early on. beyond that, most of the damage caused to your computer will be from lugging it around all the time. that's the nature of a portable computer. and AppleCare does NOT cover anything that happens outside of the machine having a bad part. it might be god with a desktop but i find it a waste with the portables. buy an iPod with the extra money. it's alot more fun to play with than your AppleCare certificate;).

    appleloan: yikes! really high interest rate. i have great credit and i still got slammed. i'll be paying for this for a while. if you can, get a bank loan. if not, AppleCare is a good way to get a computer fast, only at a price. it's issued by MBNA, which is a huge bank. a good payment record on your AppleLoan will help you establish credit fast. but if you miss a payment, watch out! they are very strict and your rate will skyrocket and stay there until you've finished the loan.
  8. jxyama macrumors 68040


    Apr 3, 2003
    i've never owned a laptop other than the 12" so i can't really make any comparison. (but i've used my gf's dell a bit...)

    pb12's keyboard alone is worth a lot to me. it's very comfortable to type on.

    screen size hasn't been an issue with me but i have a fairly good eyesight... depends a lot on how much you plan on using it. getting a cheap external display is always a good option...

    about speed. apps will not open instantly. this has more to do with the OS than the processor. (at the level of comparing 867 MHz vs. 1 GHz level G3 and G4, the differences are minute.) this is just like windows or linux - OS X is not any snappier. i strongly suggest you go try out a demo mac with OS X. you have to judge for yourself, especially if you consider yourself rather picky about this.
  9. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    Speed: For what you use your computer for, get the iBook. It'll save you some money with the educational discount, and will be just as fast as the PB for office applications. Then you have to max out on RAM from a 3rd party vendor (not Apple). Get 640MB of RAM from elsewhere, like www.18004memory.com or www.crucial.com

    Screen size -- I think a 12" is fine for me, but maybe not for you. For a similar price, think about getting the 14" iBook. If its not an issue, go for the 12" iBook.

    Portability: Notice that the 14" ibook has a 6 hour battery life, while the 12" has a 5 hour life. They're both light.

    Don't get the Applecare until after 9 months or so, and DO NOT FORGET WHEN YOU PURCHASED YOUR COMPUTER. Some people forget that a year is up. If you don't need Applecare by then, don't get it. Stick with an extended warrantee from the store if you can, but ask them for details about the warranty beforehand.
  10. globalstar thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 28, 2003
    Thank you everyone for the comments!
    I am not sure about the iBook though. The educational discounts being bigger for the PowerBooks render the pricedifference rather insignificant. Yes the Combo drive (I need a CDR) is 200.- cheaper that 12"PB but it has also a smaller HDD, crappier keyboard (I've tried it at a store and quite dislike the iBook keyboard for some reason). The battery is better but then the coolness factor is much lower that the AlBook...

    Plus the built in bluetooth will be important for me in the future.

    Anyway - so the concensus seems to be that the screen should be fine for daily work?

    Any comments about the 15" 1GHz withe Applecare for 2038.- offer?
  11. globalstar thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 28, 2003
    ok. but I have also a Duron 900 with 192MB SDRAM and Radeon 7000 32MB DDR plus a 30G Maxtor HDD. Will the PB be slower than that as well?

    That would be a dissappointment.

    Plus about Altivec - doesn't Aqua use it as well?
  12. patrick0brien macrumors 68040


    Oct 24, 2002
    The West Loop

    It'll do just fine against that. No disappointment :D
  13. globalstar thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 28, 2003
    Thanks guys!

    any more comments would also be very helpful!
  14. jxyama macrumors 68040


    Apr 3, 2003
    1 GHz/15" with applecare for $2k?!

    is it the "standard" 1 GHz/15" with 60 GB HD and Superdrive??

    if you can afford that, i'd seriously consider it. that's a great offer, even without the applecare!

    (surely some will argue that 15" Ti is old, and it is... but except for WiFi reception, springly keyboard and slight decrease in portability, i can't justify not getting that 15"! that's a great, great deal!!)

    i wouldn't worry about the sturdiness too much... the mobility is a different matter. another thing i'd love about Ti is the dvi out, that'll come in handy if you can afford a nice digital ext. display.
  15. globalstar thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 28, 2003
    yep - its the whole thing.
    of cource the store now has less than 10 left.
    I could afford it if I would not buy the digicam for a few months.
    I know it is a very much more powerful computer.
    But choosing this I could not get the 10G iPod for 69.- (considering the 200.- mailback offer the apple internet store has on education orders).

    I would propably LOVE the screen, but I am afraid of ruining the thing - titanium being painted, the screen cover (the lid) notsturdy enough etc...

    decisions, decisions......
    however I want an apple!
  16. legion macrumors 6502a

    Jul 31, 2003
    12" screen size
    The screen size will only bother in the wee hours of the morning. If you're young (which I'm assuming you are), only when you've been working for a long time will you get eye-strain. Plus due to Apple's insistance on low dpi screens, you're only really losing "real estate" space.

    Wait as long as possible (as close to 1 yr) before getting it. I've always had a problem with Apple's warranty policies and since you get 90 days phone and then 1 yr factory-defect warranty, put it off as long as possible.

    apple loan
    STAY AWAY :eek:
    The rates on this are INSANE. It's better to look for a loan from your school's credit union (that's almost always the cheapest and they are usually very generous with credit/lack of credit histories)

    now, coming to a Mac board and asking for an objective opinion on an IBM laptop seems a little risky... but you've stumbled on at least one poster who is enamoured with the line you're looking at (That'd be me :) )

    I have a T40p (high-end model of the same series) and couldn't be happier with it after 3 months of use. To me, it's perfection for mobile design and the warranty service is unbelievable. If Windows has begun to bore you, consider Linux. The T series and IBM both support Linux very well ( I have a 60GB 7200rpm drive for Linux and a 40GB 5400rpm drive for WinXP Pro and hot-swap the drive with the OS I'm not using with the optical drive when necessary.) It has 2 PCMCIA slots (Apple 12" has none) and a great night solution wth the ThinkLight. If you can get your hands on a T series and an Apple 12" and 17", take them to a dark room and spend 30 minutes typing on it. You'll find the ThinkLight more elegant and useful than the backlit keyboard on the 17". My old university had machines avail. to test from any of its corporate board members (which happened to be IBM, Apple, Intel, and HP) where you could borrow machines to see what you like. Since you mention the IBM deal and the Apple deal, the tech group on campus must have some avail to test out in person. I really wanted to go Apple, but nothing compared to this machine at the time in the laptop market (and still doesn't, though the long-awaited Al 15" might when it finally shows up.)

    And by the way, two things:

    the battery life is insane (6.5hrs to 8hrs consistently; 5 hrs if watching back to back DVDs) My laptop comes standard with the 9cell battery, instead of the 6 cell which I think the one you have listed has standard (though you can use either). If you need more battery life, there is an additional 4 cell battery that fits into the modular bay for even longer time (but if you're working 8 hrs straight without being able to let the battery recharge for 1 hr, you're overworking :p )


    the wireless and bluetooth reception is brilliant-- however stay away from the "true" Centrino component wifi minicard option that uses the Intel chipset and get either the Cisco chipset or the IBM dualband (Phillips chipset) wifi card. I've heard of nothing but issues with the Intel chipset wifi card. All three are internal options.

    Finally, laptops are a very personal experience. They have very little that is modifiable so you have to almost be "wedded" to it. Everything from keyboards and the means to adjust settings (like speaker volume) to where the connections for modems and headphones are (front, back, left or right side of the case) can go from merely annoying to a real pain in the neck a few months down the road and what may be right for one person may not be right for you...good luck.
  17. jxyama macrumors 68040


    Apr 3, 2003

    great advice. ibm thinkpads would be one computer i'd consider if i ever have to go back to using PC.

    if you like music and the computing power is not the most important factor, (the only thing you listed that would significantly benefit from 1 GHz/15"/L3 cache not available on 12" is movie stuff.) then go for 12" with an ipod... i absolutely love them and jealous that you'd be getting both for less than the amount i paid for 12" alone back in feb. :D you can always get a cheaper 17" lcd ext. monitor for "desk" use too. (though no dvi...)
  18. globalstar thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 28, 2003
    that is where I am leaning as well.
    top speed is not so important (however I want it to FEEL fast - applications running fast, good speed in multitasking etc.). The coolness of the 12", portability make it a great proposition. And other good things in life as well - iPod would be great and I really want a digicam ASAP. I jearn to try out some easy photography plus I would love to keep friends here up tp date with my life.


    why I am still thinking:

    15" the screen - it just looks so gorgeous.....
    on the negative I do not want to feel bad when the new gorgeous 15.4 rolls out... I don't know the knowledge that the 12" shell will stay similar with the update is consolidating...


    the T40 - battery life!!!, 512DDR included, sturdyness, plus the unbelievably good international warranty (important as I travel a lot in the next 3 years)
    however XP is boring (but the one with the most possibilities, still boring). I want to try Linux, but I can do it on a PPC machine as well. And I earn for the apple design and philosophy in everything...
  19. jxyama macrumors 68040


    Apr 3, 2003
    for what it's worth...

    i don't think 12" will be much less "snappier" than 15". to me, that's the biggest difference in perceived "speed" - how fast does an app open? how quickly can you switch windows/apps? etc. for these issues, i don't think 12" is much slower than 15".

    the other part of "speed" is actually running apps. how fast can it render? process movies? rip a cd? there are benchmarks for those, but don't get too suckered into them... you are not very likely to sit next to a person with the "other" machine you were considering and compare the time it takes to accomplish the very same task.

    if i were you, i'd go with 12", ipod, camcoder, etc. afterall, what good is saving some time on a faster processor if you don't have any other gadgets to fill that time with? :D

    15" is a nice screen... but i think in your case, pros outweigh the cons.
  20. dcoltonbrown macrumors member

    Jul 29, 2003
    I will only say...GET THE APPLE CARE if you are buying an iBook. It will give you peace of mind at the very least and if something happened like..lets say... a faulty logic board, you will be covered.

    (How is that jzyama?);)
  21. jxyama macrumors 68040


    Apr 3, 2003
    he he, yeah...
    if you are worried, i'd wait until the year's almost up, remember the purchase date and get the applecare.
  22. ju87 macrumors newbie

    Jun 29, 2003
    i was facing the same choice several weeks ago, trying to decide between a 12" and a 15" powerbook for law school. i originally wanted to get a 15" for the screen size, but i decided to go with the 12" after spending some time playing with both of them at the store. i needed a laptop for taking notes, writing papers, storing info, communicating, and for music.

    the reasons for my decision:

    1. aluminium case: the case is sturdy and well designed with a strong hinge. all the ports are conveniently located on the left side. the keyboard felt more solid to me, though not quite as good as a thinkpad. i saw quite a few 15" powerbooks that looked very worn out: paint chips, paint rubbed away and broken hinges, so that turned me off a bit.

    2. bluetooth and airport extreme: although i don't use these features at the present time, i will probably make use of them in the future when the technologies are more common and more devices that take advantage of these technologies become avaliable. i plan to use this laptop for at least 3 years. i look foward to adding a bluetooth keyboard and mouse to my powerbook in the future.

    3. size: great portability. i can put the 12" powerbook in a slipcase and carry it in my backpack and still have room for notebooks and files. it's great to have a laptop that is about the size of a piece of A4 paper.

    my only complaint is that the 12" powerbook lacks DVI. more VRAM would also be nice.

    whichever one you get, you'll love it because OSX is superb.
  23. dcoltonbrown macrumors member

    Jul 29, 2003
    Just remember to check with apple to make sure that certain components like the logic board are covered in the 1 year warranty. I thought that I read somewhere that the logic board is only covered during the initial 90 day period.

    Good luck.

    Woohoo, I get to go back to work now because my iBook was just returned to me 5 minutes ago (from AppleCare). I'll miss my pc.
  24. jxyama macrumors 68040


    Apr 3, 2003
    i saw on your sig that you just got your ibook back... i hope it works out for you this time!
  25. patrick0brien macrumors 68040


    Oct 24, 2002
    The West Loop

    Other than to get one's budget in order, there really is no reason to wait on the AppleCare as it is based on purchase date of the covered machine, not incept date of the Applecare.

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