Questions about PowerBook G4 12"

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by GrimmPenguin, Jun 29, 2007.

  1. GrimmPenguin macrumors regular

    Jun 29, 2007
    I am deciding whether or not to buy a PowerBook G4 12" 1.5Ghz. I am wanting to use it temporarily until I am able to purchase a MacBook sometime next year. I was wondering if these models of the PowerBooks are still good. The most extensive task I will be doing is multi-track recording via FireWire with GarageBand. I plan on purchasing one with it's speculations maxed out (1.25GB RAM, 80GB Hard Drive, SuperDrive).

    Are there any problems with these PowerBooks? Are they capable of doing the multi-track recording? Are they terrible slow compared to the MacBooks and such? Also, since I'm getting an older model, should I go with a refurbished from,,, etc. or am I safe with getting one on eBay significantly cheaper?

    Oh, and if I purchase a used or a refurbished model from one of these stores, am I able to get AppleCare for it?

    I would appreciate any help whatsoever. Thanks!
  2. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    Hi, welcome to MR...

    I can answer at least some of the questions...

    1) Quality issues with the PB G4 12" are generally pretty rare. If you're buying from a private party, be sure to get photos of the case to evaluate dents, and if possible, some kind of statement about battery health. Other than that, eBay is okay, although just be careful for scams, etc.

    2) You can only get Applecare for it if (a) it was originally purchased less than 1 year ago or (b) it is purchased refurbished directly from Apple (who doesn't sell very many anymore). If condition (a) does hold, then you can get Applecare for it regardless of whom you purchase it from, but depending on how it was originally purchased, you may end up with trouble with whether or not Apple has documentation of the original purchase date. If you get a serial number, you can check eligibility using

    3) I suspect that a MacBook with similar memory and hard drive would be better than a PB/G4/12", but I'll defer on that.
  3. GrimmPenguin thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 29, 2007
    Thanks for your help.

    As far as eBay goes, the only thing I'm worried about is scams. Are refurbished laptops okay? I don't want it to fail on me and have to go through a hassle of getting it replaced/repaired.
  4. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    I'm not sure how to answer the question... refurbs from Apple's online store have a very strong reputation. I don't have any direct experience with the work those other companies do.

    Macs generally have a good reputation for longevity unless there is some kind of component failure -- those do happen and they are hard to predict (e.g. the hard drive is just as likely to fail on a PB as it is on a Thinkpad).

    But in terms of general longevity... there are tons of fully working, happy 3-4 year old Apple notebooks out there (including the one I'm typing on), and there are also many, many 5, 6, 7, etc year old ones still ticking away.
  5. GrimmPenguin thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 29, 2007
    That's understandable. A friend of mine still has his Bondi Blue iMac G3. However, that's a desktop, but still it's still working!

    I take it this is a slower moving forum? Well now that some of my questions are cleared up, I'm really only worried about the multi-track recording with GarageBand. I want it to run smoothly. And also, I'm hoping that there isn't a lag if I want to control Apple Loops and such with my MIDI controller. I've used a MIDI Controller with a MacBook Pro at Guitar Center, and there was almost no latency between the MIDI Controller and the MBP at all. I just hope that it will be the same for this PowerBook. If not, I can live with it until I am able to purchase the MacBook that I want.
  6. SuperCompu2 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 23, 2006
    If you're looking for a test of longevity, my Main computer is 7 years old, my laptop is 6 and my oldest, yet still functional (and running OS X) laptop is a whopping 9 years old. The only problem I've had with an Apple computer is the mysterious iMac G3 sitting in my bedroom that won't turn on. Other than that, never a problem!

    I've heard nothing but great things about 12" Powerbooks, and I believe if you were to buy one you'd be surprised by both the build quality and the enduring speed of the G4. Lots of people seem to think that PowerPC chips are old and crappy, but really the only people who see a difference are super-high end users. I wouldnt think your music recording will be in any way slowed by the G4 over the Core Duo or Core 2 Duo (except in really specific benchmarks).

    Happy shopping!
  7. Royale w/cheese macrumors 6502a

    Jun 5, 2007
    I had a 12" Powerbook about 2 months ago. 1.5ghz, 512, 80gb. It was fairly good with garageband. The refurbs are to be found, but sometimes they are more expensive then the macbooks. The upgrades, ram and HD, are also a little more expensive too, so if the price is not too bad depending, I would probably go with a Macbook. As for refurbs from the apple store, my 12 powerbook was one, have a 2.5 dual g5 powermac, 17" 1.67 powerbook, 60gb ipod photo, 60 gb ipod video, two 1st gen shuffles. Only problem ever had with anything was a superdrive failure in the powermac.
  8. ricgnzlzcr macrumors 6502a


    Jun 7, 2005
    I used a 12 inch powerbook 1.33ghz with 768mb of ram with garageband. It worked very well and allowed me to record my first songs. Overall a great computer that I miss very much.
  9. jadex macrumors newbie

    Jun 9, 2005
    Houston, Tx, USA
    It's been 2 years, and my PowerBook G4 12" is still going strong (even after an initial hiccup with the LED screen, and two serious drops). So yeah, they last a long time [longer than any PC that I've had, anyway].

    Before I bought it, I did some research and got generally positive feedback. Even now, people are complaining about not having a 12" model avaliable. It's light (3 lbs, I think) and easily portable. The main problem I came across is the PB having a tendency to overheat or become too hot to handle manually.

    I don't use GarageBand that much, but I have had my Mac work overtime on a few huge tasks (data transfer and encoding mostly for research projects). If I was doing too many other things (working on Word documents and using sites from the Internet AND having iTunes on full blast WHILE it was downloading 5 new free videos), it would freeze, but not so much that it was a serious problem.
    Most of my friends saved up money for first-generation Intel-based MacBooks and MacBook Pros, but we don't notice a difference in task speed. If there is, it's probably very slight.

    Like the other posters said, I'd be carful of scams on refurb sites other than Apple or university sites. I'm not sure about the AppleCare, though.

    I guess it'd be a good carryover until you can get a MacBook. But if you're going to put all of those extras on a PB (none of which I have; I think those things may be hard to get/find), I'd personally save my money for the MacBooks. I mean, a new OS is coming out in October...but that's just me.

    It'll do just fine for the task you need it for.
  10. Mechcozmo macrumors 603


    Jul 17, 2004
    I own a PowerBook G4 12" Rev. C (1.33 GHz, 768MB RAM) and frankly... this little thing is one of the best computers I've ever used.

    You probably won't find many 12" PowerBooks that are 'flakey' anymore-- they've either had their issues worked out or died (or never had issues in the first place which is, believe it or not, the most common of the three options).
  11. OutThere macrumors 603


    Dec 19, 2002
    I love my 12"'s still snappy and works great, though maxing out the RAM is very needed. The only thing I'd be concerned about when buying as a temp computer is that the 12 inch PBs are holding their value pretty well because they were discontinued and not replaced. Are you ready to drop a good ~$700 of cash on a temporary computer?
  12. GrimmPenguin thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 29, 2007
    Thanks all of you guys for your reviews! I really appreciate them!
    As for "temporary", I should have added that this may be from January 08' to a couple of years from now. My plan is to get a MacBook when they put LCD lighting in it, or if by some wonderful chance, they release a 13.3" MacBook Pro. I was planning on getting a MacBook (the more expensive of the two white models) when Leopard came out, but due to my budget, I am not able to. So I figured I'd get something portable, yet able to do what I need it do, and cheap enough to purchase *soon*.
    And surely, by this fall, the value of it will drop just a little more.
  13. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    No, not really... it's actually a very active forum. Today it's just a forum overtaken almost completely by iPhone insanity. ;) There actually are PBG4/12"-ers for sale here not too infrequently, and I purchased my iMac G5 from someone here.

    I do like that model, also, to be honest. My reasons are very different -- they have nothing to do with cost or temporariness, and everything to do with not being willing to purchase a notebook that weighs >5 lbs. So I've toyed around with, at some point, selling my iBook G4 and doing one more G4 upgrade to the very last 12" PB or possibly the very last 12" iBook.

    Unless I get a subnotebook from Apple. :D
  14. GrimmPenguin thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 29, 2007
    See I like the portability too. I don't plan to go to a 15" MacBook Pro unless absolutely necessary, which, I highly doubt will happen. The biggest laptop I had was 14". I found that comfortable, but I am not willing to go over 14". I like to use a laptop as a portable device! If I want/need something bigger, I'll be more than happy to do it on my desktop. And less than 5 pounds sounds absolutely wonderful to me, hah!

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