Purchasing Help for a Wannabe Switcher!

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by shortchannel, Feb 2, 2005.

  1. shortchannel macrumors newbie

    Feb 2, 2005
    Hello. I need some advice regarding my first Mac purchase. I have read the forums pretty thoroughally, and haven't really found the answer to my questions yet, so I'll post them here!

    Basically, I am an experienced PC user, though I don't really do graphics or video work. However, I do do the occasional c and c++ coding. Mainly however I surf the web, write documents, chat, etc.

    So, I am looking for my first Mac to compliment my PCs. I have a Dell desktop and a Thinkpad. I realize that I probably am not what would be considered a power user, but I want this first mac experience to be a good one.

    I am torn between the 12" ibook, the 12" powerbook, and the 15" powerbook. I like the idea of the portability of the 12", but the 15" seems larger and nicer. I have some specific concerns as well:

    1) Is the quality of the screen (resolution, contrast, brightness, viewing angle) good on the 15"?

    2) is the 15" worth the additional $600 over the 12"?

    3) if not, why get the 12" Powerbook instead of the ibook? Will the additional video ram make that much of a difference?

    4) if I did get the 15", should I spring for the added VRAM?

    5) HAs anyone who got the ibook/12" PB found themselves regretting not having the larger screen/backlit keyboard/9700 video card of the 15?

    I think I may have more questions, but lets start there. I am especially concerned with the screen quality. I keep seeing these new xbrite/supoerbrite screens in the PC world, and they are nice. While I don't expect the PB/iB screens to be as good as these, are they at least bright and clear, with good contrast?

    Thanks so much for your help! THis is a great board, I've been reading it for a couple of months while trying to make my choice, and I'm really excited to join the world of Apple!
  2. dkeninitz macrumors regular

    Feb 16, 2003
    Germantown, MD
    I'm also a PC user (Dell 8300 and Thinkpad T40), and I own a PB 15. I'll take a whack at a few of your questions.

    1. The PB 15 has an excellent screen. Brightness, contrast, sharpness and viewing angle are terrific. Side-by-side, my PB screen is significatnly better than that of the T40 on sharpness, considerably better on viewing angle, and roughly the same on brightness and contrast (i.e., excellent). Personally, I like it as much as the new "X-brite" and "Tru-brite" screens on some of the PC laptops, though those tend to have a "glassier" (as opposed to matte) look, which some people no doubt prefer.

    2. The 15" is actually $500 more than the 12", $1999 vs. $1499. To me the price difference is worth it, because you get a lot more screen real estate with the 15" (plus I think a beautiful screen deserves to be bigger!). If you don't need/want a big screen, then the 12" may suffice. Note that the HD on the 15" is bigger. Since it sounds like the screen is really important to you, I think you'd be happier with the 15" (the 12" gets pretty warm in the keyboard palm rest area too).

    3. The iBook is nice, but it's just not a PB. The PB has an aluminium housing that feels a lot sturdier than the plastic iBook, and it has a much more substantial keyboard. Frankly, IMHO the iBook has a pretty cheap feel. The iBook has only 32mb of VRAM. If you want your first Apple experience to be truly first rate, I say go for a PB.

    4. The 64mb of VRAM in the current PB is plenty. One thing I've noticed is that Mac's just do a far superior job in handling screen redraws and graphics. My T40 is painfully slow on screen redraws compared to my PB. Even my Dell (128 mb VRAM) is slower than my PB. (that's why I just got a 17" iMac for myself and a Mac Mini for my son). I've concluded that Macs can do far better than PC's on graphics even with only half as much VRAM.

    5. Can't help you here; I don't have an iBook.

    Good luck with your decision.
  3. brandon6684 Guest

    Dec 30, 2002
    If I'm not mistaken, isn't the screen in the 12in PB the same as the one in the 12in iBook? Either way, I've found the 15in to be much crisper. On the VRAM thing, the PB will help insure you for the future. I've got an old iMac with only 16MB of VRAM, and it's bee strained a bit more under Panther for the eyecandy, and I don't think things are going to get better in Tiger. For now 32MB will suffice, but yu may want to look at 64MB if you plan on keeping it a long time.
  4. shortchannel thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 2, 2005
    Thanks for the advice, dkeninitz/Brandon. I appreciate it. I think I am pretty much settled on the 15" now.

    I guess that leads to the next question: 1.5ghz or 1.67ghz? and if 1.67, do I upgrade the VRAM? Is the extra .17 ghz and 64 megs of ram worth the upgrade cost?
  5. wordmunger macrumors 603


    Sep 3, 2003
    North Carolina
    Personally I don't think so. Better to spend your money on a faster HD and more RAM -- both of these things affect performance more. The VRAM upgrade may become more important with Tiger, though, but based on what you say you do it doesn't sound like you need it.
  6. vtprinz macrumors 6502

    Nov 30, 2004
    What what I've heard around the forum, Tiger is going to be really GPU heavy for all of its niceities. I believe it will cut back on some of the graphics if you have a 32mb gpu, but for the full experience you should really get a 64mb video card (i.e. go for the PB)

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