Questions before I make the switch

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by merlin_1102, Sep 26, 2005.

  1. merlin_1102 macrumors newbie

    Sep 26, 2005
    Hey Guys

    I have been meaning to make the switch for the past 1-2 years now. Something has unfortunately always come up. It has also not been as high a priority as I use Gentoo Linux over windows 99% of the time. Now that Apple is making the switch to the intel chips I would like to get a last generation apple laptop. I have been needing to replace mine for the past 2 years (since I purchased it I have had nothing but problems and it has been in under warrenty 8 times now). I am hoping apple will be different. I am a student so money is a bit tight but I have been saving for awhile now and can afford a 15” powerbook if needed. I have a few questions though.

    If you don’t want to read the below, skip to the bottom as I have given a very brief outline of my questions without any of the background. Sorry for such a long message, I just don't want to get ripped off again on a laptop.

    First of all is the powerbook worth it? I considered a 12” powerbook, but I am thinking it might be awkward to use the keyboard. I find my 15” Toshiba Tecra S1 currently a little bulky to carry around, but I think I would be annoyed with the smaller size. Plus, if I am getting a powerbook I would want the backlit keyboard :). So that leave the 14” iBook and the 15” power book. I am not sure if an extra $1000 currently justifies going to a 15” powerbook. So my question is ‘is the powerbook worth it’? I plan to mainly be using this laptop for coding, web browsing and maybe some light gaming. Coding and doing homework will be the #1 priority though.

    Hardware support is my next question. Is the IBook more fragile than the powerbook. In the tech-shop I work in I notice more ibooks come in for repair then powerbooks. This could be because more people purchase ibooks. I really don’t want to have to send in my laptop 7 or 8 times like I did with Toshiba. If I do have to send it in though how is the support. On one of the occasions where I sent my Toshiba in it came back disassembled. I was quite upset. So how is the support if there are problems in general? This is probably one of the biggest concerns after the ordeal I just got through and is inpart one of the reasons I am looking for a new laptop. After my previous experiences I will defiantly be getting the 3 year Apple care plan.

    If I decide on a powerbook is it safer to wait till mid October due to the potential of updates to the line and perhaps a price drop? Did anyone ever figure out what was under that black table cloth at the Mac expo in Paris?

    How is wireless signal with powerbooks? I plan to use wireless quite frequently and would like a good signal. I heard that powerbooks, due to casing, can sometimes have a poorer signal. Also can I get a a/b/g card? If so can I also get that with the iBook?

    How is the battery life? I have only heard that the iBook is slightly better then the powerbook, but have not seen any definite numbers. Are we talking roughly 3 hours, 4 hours? Any rough estimate would be helpful. Estimate under normal conditions preferably.

    Also one last question that has little to due with my purchase per say. Does anyone know about Apple Retail stores and their pricing? We have a Campus Tech Store which is an apple outlet supposedly. I asked for their prices with student discount included and they are the same as Apples without the student discount. I had then double and triple check that the student discount was in and they assured me it was. I asked for a price without the student discount and they said it never came up as they only sold to students. Does Apple have any policy on what other companies need to set their prices to? Should I be able to get the Apple website student discount from them?

    Thanks for your replies. For those who just wanted a quick outline of the questions, its provided below.

    Quick Outline of Questions

    Given the price difference of about $1000, is going for a 15” Powerbook, as opposed to a 14” iBook really worth it?

    Are iBooks more frequently in for repairs then powerbooks?
    How is Apple’s hardware support (3 year apple care plan)?

    Anything on whether I should weight to mid October to see if there are any powerbook updates coming as the rumours suggest?

    Do powerbooks have a poorer wireless signal then iBooks and is it possible to get a a/b/g card in iBooks or powerbooks?

    How is the battery life on iBooks as compared to powerbooks (rough estimate in hours)?

    Sorry for the long message and all the questions. I just got burned when I laid down $3500 for my Toshiba laptop and have not gotten a full weeks use out of it without having serious problems. I am just now trying to be really cautious.

    Thank You So Much For Your Help

  2. wordmunger macrumors 603


    Sep 3, 2003
    North Carolina

    A quick reply to the questions I know off the top of my head:

    I went for the 14-inch iBook. However, the powerbook definitely has the coolness factor. The monitor is the main thing that makes a major difference. If you can live with 1024 x 768 and don't care how cool your computer looks, go for the iBook.

    I wouldn't wait -- if you need a computer now, get one now. I don't know any inside info, but if there are any updates, they are likely to be minor.

    iBooks have a better signal than powerbooks, though powerbooks have improved. I don't think you can get an a/b/g card for an iBook. You might be able to get one for the PB's PC card slot.

    The 14-inch iBook has the longest battery life of any Mac laptop. My almost-year-old iBook gets about 4 real-world hours, compared to my wife's 15-inch PowerBook that gets 2 to 2 and a half. They'll probably do about 30 percent better than that brand new.
  3. GimmeSlack12 macrumors 603


    Apr 29, 2005
    San Francisco
    It looks mainly like you want to know the difference between the iBook and PowerBook. I would say a Powerbook is not worth the extra money. The iBook is the best deal from Apple right now (besides the iMac). The Powerbook battery and iBook battery are pretty similar, the wireless capabilites use the same hardware, neither are in the shop more for repairs than the other.
    If you are looking to be portable with the machine, I'd say look at the 12" (same resolution as 14" iBook, not sure about Powerbook). Apple's hardware support is pretty good, AppleCare is recommended, but doesn't cover stupidity (like most warranties).

    Anyone else?
  4. katie ta achoo macrumors G3

    May 2, 2005
    in the *snipped* part, you said that the keyboard use on the 12" might be kind of weird, so you were considering the 15". They are the same exact keyboard. Same size, same everything.. it just isn't backlit on the 12".

    The 14" iBook runs the same resolution as the 12". It isn't bigger, resolution-wise. It just looks bigger because of the bigger screen, No increased screen real-estate.
    the 15" PB has a .08GHz faster processor, but you won't notice that. At all.
    the PowerBook DOES have a PCMCIA slot, if that is important to you.
    The PB comes with a larger hard drive, and has a wide-screen display. it's all a matter of what you want.
    If I were in your shoes, I wouldn't consider the 14" iBook, but rather the 12". I'd increase the HD size. They're sooo close in spec, that.. it just .. I can't justify the cost! :)

    I can't say anything on repair frequency. The iBook G3 I had from a Pawn shop had ZERO problems, and my 15" PowerBook had a bad HD that I got replaced under warranty. The genius bar was AWESOME and will help if ANYTHING ever goes wrong.
    Apple's Hardware support, IMO IS AWESOME! The genius bar is LOVE. I've had nothing but good experiences with them.

    Waiting until october... if you want/need it now, get it now. I am not sure about updates.

    My PowerBook's wireless signal is a little... wonky. Sometimes it's awesome (right now, I''m getting four bars. YEA!) and other times I have to reset and reset and reset. BLA! Anywhoo, Airport is built into all PBs and iBooks now. It's all good.

    The Battery life.. OK. On the 12" G3 iBook, original battery, I got a good 6 hours with dimmed screen, reduced processor, low speakers, etc.
    The 15" gets 4.5 hours. With Airport, BT, Dimmed Screen, not-muted speakers, and reduced processor. One time I GOT OVER FIVE! I was trying to drain my battery, so I had iTunes open, with a visualizer running, and it WOULD NOT RUN OUT! IT WAS NUTS!

    With either way you decide, the Apple laptops are awesome. I like 'em.
    (and don't ask how I chose to get the 15"... I didn't really choose.. it's a long, fabulous, full-of-tears, story. OK, it's not really long, but I can MAKE IT BE LONG. HA!!)

    What happened to the Toshiba?

    Good luck with your decision. If you need any more help, post again. We're all helpful, kool-aid drinkin' nerds.

    well, at least I am.. Hmm.

    I just checked the apple site about wireless in PowerBooks. They get B and G.
    Are there really any "a" hotspots any more? :confused:
  5. fartheststar macrumors 6502a


    Dec 29, 2003
    That's not right. Buyer beware. Print off a quote from the Apple web store and get them to sell it to you at that price. If not, just buy from the web store and have it delivered. That's a great deal of money you'd be throwing away. Same with software. The EDU software is cheaper than the full blown versions and sometimes is even cheaper if your school gets a deal.

    EDU versions usually allow you to use the software but "not for profit", and cannot be upgraded, but are much cheaper in price.
  6. merlin_1102 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 26, 2005
    Thanks For The Help


    Just to respond to some comments and hopefully get a bit more feedback.

    There are no A Wireless hotspots, but I currently go to the University of Waterloo (A CS uni) and in my residential area there are over 22 G Wireless networks. I am currently finding it very difficult to connect to the router and I don't want to run cable. So I am going to try and setup an 'A' network and hope for less interference.. well nto hope.. i know there will be less.... :) If not then it will be time to start a WAR!

    I was considering the 14" cause I do want some screen space and I find 15" just slightly to big but not so big that its unberable. Can the 14" laptop support more then 1024x768 for a resolution? That may or may not drive me slightly nuts. I will have to check at what my current laptop is set to.

    There is no immediate need as I have a laptop right now. The only time critical thing is my own health as Im really anxious and excited... I want a new toy :)

    The PCMIA thing I did not know and does slightly concern me. i dont have any PCMIA cards righ tnow.. well I have a firewire one for my laptop but thats it. So ... but I would like the possibility of potentially getting a A wireless card.

    Unfortunatly the iBooks seem like a much better deal, but the powerbooks have one or two features that I want which arent available for the iBook like PCMIA... or a backlit keyboard :) but who knows.

    Is the 12" iBook really worth getting over the 14" ibook. I also have an external monitor I can use. So I can get better resolution through that I guess. But how is the keyboard? Is it more awkard on the 12". Someone mentioned there similar to the 14" or the exact same.

    This is more for the other person who asked about my Toshiba and might shed light on why I have asked so many questions. It may also show how bitter I am towards toshiba. Bassically, before I came to University I had saved up $4000 dollars to purchase a really good laptop for myself. I did not want to carry around a desktop. So i spent $3500 on a Toshiba Tecra S1 (the first centrino I think to market). I was really excited. First problem, there was a pixel that would flash dead and alive non stop. i twas really annyoing. i twas ok if it stayed dead, and ok if it stayed alive, but the flashing drove me NUTS and it was close to the center. Very distracting. Toshibia essentially gave me the finger and said nor out problem. I also had constant reboots at random. I phoned tech support and told them it was most liekly a RAM issue and they brushed me off saying that if the machine booted it could not be ram and I could take it in if I wanted etc etc.. I had to go to University so I took off. I brougbht my desktop cause the laptop was garbage. A year later, toshiba admitted that they gave faulty RAM to all Tecra S1's in the year I purchased mine and i could get a free replacement. To make a long story short, the RAM they gave me was more defective then the RAM I previosuly had. The machine would not even boot (there more surrounding story on what it took me to get them to replace the RAM). I removed the defective RAM and swiped some from a friends laptop so we both had 256 for a bit. Then I notcied my sound card died (suppoesdly at random). I tracked it down to strangly enough dying everytime I used the modem. I had to bring the laptop back in anyways for another RAM replacment. Now in waterloo toshiba recommended me to a toshiba depot which was very far a way from me (and I later discovered is not fully authorized and often ships the products to place which is a 5 min bike ride from my house). When I brought it I brought printed documentation I found on the web about my sound / modem problem (many ppl had experienced the problem). The technician laughed in my face. No joke, a full laugh and stop short of calling me an idiot. My ram was fixed but my sound card problem gradfually got worse. So I then shipped the laptop to Markham (the toshiba canada head quarters). It came back to me with screws coming out the CD drive. I was beyond pissed. Eventually I convinced them to send me a completly new Toshiba Tecra S1 (slightly upgrade HD and Chip). Unfortunatly just recently the NIC port went dead on it. I want nothing more to do with them and there tech support. There phone up tech support people are terrible as well. They once transferred my call to someone who could not speak english. When I say cannot speak english I dont mean they there english was poor, I mean I think they transferred me to a chinese tech center for chinese people. Other times there systems were conviently down (several times). It got so bad that I got to know about 10 of them by name. i must have spent a total of over 48 hours on the phone over the course of two years with them..

    Long story I know but someone asked. Believe it or not thats the condensed version of it.

    Sorry for the spelling mistakes theres no spell check on this computer at work and I typed it up quickly.

    Brandon Slack
  7. katie ta achoo macrumors G3

    May 2, 2005
    nope. 1024*768 is the biggest.

    New toy day is AWESOME!!!! :) :)

    I would get the 12". It's $500 cheaper. Oh yea. the keyboard is awesome. They're the SAME. Exactly the same. Go to an apple store and type some and see how you like 14" v 12"

    Hehe.. "slack" what a fitting name. :) GBTW!
  8. devilot Moderator emeritus


    May 1, 2005
    To the OP; what will you use your laptop for?

    I read through your OP two times but I'm feeling really brain dead right now-- anyway, I can't seem to find what you'll be using your computer for. That would/could factor in the decision between an iBook vs. PB. So, I own both a 12" 1.33GHz PB and a 12" 1.333GHz iBook so I will do my best to answer your questions...

    -Whether or not the 15"PB is worth the $ difference is dependent on your needs.

    -I don't think that iBooks are necessarily in for repairs more than PBs, I think your assumption is correct that there might possibly just be more iBooks in circulation. The other thing is that the iBook G3s (someone please correct me if I'm wrong, also have the white casing and so look alike, but had a horrible issue w/ failing logic boards which might be why you have seen a high number of iBooks in for repairs).

    -May hear swear by AppleCare-- better treatment by the Geniuses (if you are close enough to an Apple Store) and phone support. That is awesome. However, CompUSA's warranty will cover 2 LCD replacements; even if it is accidental damage and they offer a one-time replacement of the battery w/ a manufacturer's battery.

    -As for waiting until mid-October? No one knows for sure if/when updates will come-- the most common and best answer is that if you are in need of a new computer then why wait? Tech will always become obsolete the second you buy it (ok, practically)...

    -My iBook definitely has better wi-fi reception than my PB. The router at home is out in the living room and my room is at the other end of the house (it's a one story house but a very loooooong house). From my bed, my PB would get 2 bars at good times and only one at bad times. My iBook always has full wi-fi reception (these are all from just the simple AE status in the menu bar).

    -With both 'books at: best battery life (CPU performance wise), 3 bars 'lit' up of the LCD brightness, AE and BT off, running only MS Word; the PB will get just about 4 hours while my iBook has 'said' well past 6 hours (one time it read 9 hours!! But I think it was just a little screwy that time).

    -Something else I'd like to add... my PB ran very very hot (as most will attest to) and my iBook runs so much cooler. The other thing is, I'm a smallish person and I'm not very strong so I thought I'd be disappointed w/ the extra weight gain w/ the iBook but in my backpack-- I can't notice the slight difference.

    Hope some of this can be of use to you.
  9. devilot Moderator emeritus


    May 1, 2005
    Okay I've already written a ton but...

    If your needs do not warrant the extra power of the 15" PB, I'd definitely go for the iBook. As for the 12" vs 14"-- have you seen them in person? Some people really love that the screen displays everything in a larger scale as it is 'easier' on the eyes. A lot of people here on MR will push for the 12" because it is 1) cheaper, 2) more compact/lighter, 3) very similar in specs anyway. However, if you need a DVD burning drive then you'd have to go w/ a 14". Personally, I leave the DVD burning to my desktop and don't need it in a portable and I prefer my portable to be just that-- as portable as it can be which would mean a 12" is right for me.

    I also agreed to downgrade from my PB to the iBook because I no longer needed the 'power' of the PB but my older sister needed a portable as her primary computer so I lovingly offered her my hard-earned PB and in exchange, my dad didn't have to spend as much because I was/am happy w/ an iBook. Honestly, I haven't noticed any 'power' difference between the two so far-- but I don't have PS to play w/ on my iBook so I can't be sure just yet.
  10. Ugg macrumors 68000


    Apr 7, 2003
    The keyboard is exactly the same so the 15" isn't going to be any better. I believe the quality of the LCD is better on a PB than on an iBook so you might want to actually compare them side to side before you buy. I love my 12" PB, it's very portable, after 6 months I still get 4 hours battery life. At home and at Starbucks, the wireless signal is very strong other places it varies. I have heard that the iBooks get a better signal but...

    Yeah, the PBs do run hot but it's not that big of a deal unless you use it on your lap a lot.
  11. FFTT macrumors 68030


    Apr 17, 2004
    A Stoned Throw From Ground Zero
    The iBooks are wonderful machines, but they are limited to the 32MB VRAM that can not be upgraded.
    In order to span hack to a larger display in the iBooks, you end up splitting those 32MB's in half.
    iBooks also do not offer the backlit KB

    If you're content with the 14" iBook display then it's not such a big deal

    The 12" PowerBook with superdrive, education priced
    for $1499 packs a lot of punch for the money and allows you to connect via DVI out to a larger external display with full 64 MB VRAM support.
    When you look at the prices of any good laptop
    the 12" PowerBook holds it's own for a very reasonable price.

    Personally, I'd go for the 12" PowerBook with a 20" external display because it gives you a faster processor. larger HD, and provides you with the option to work on those long projects with a larger external display while offering the ultimate portablility.

    Unfortunately, the 12 " PowerBook also does not offer the backlit KB.

    If you can afford the extra cost and don't mind
    trecking about with a larger portable, and you simply can not live without a backlit KB then........
    The 15" WS 1.67 GHz PowerBook might make you feel more at home, since you're used to a desktop repacement. The 1.67 GHz model also allows you to upgrade the VRAM to 128MB at time of purchase,
    Built To Order. You can not upgrade the VRAM later.

    No matter which model you choose, be sure to leave enough in your budget to add at least another 512MB RAM 3rd party.
  12. merlin_1102 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 26, 2005

    Thanks again for all the support/help.

    Mostly I will be using it for programming (im looking into the student developer discount :) ), writing up documents, and watching videos. I dont have the greatest of cable and Battlestar Galactica.. to tempting to not watch.

    I definatly would like a burner. I have an external one currently so I could potentially go without, but there is also extra screen space which I might like. I would really like to try one out but the 'Campus Tech Store' is really questionable. They dont seem to have any one display unless its a 17" and asking to try one is a big no-no for them. So I think im leaning to the iBook now as I cant justify the $1000 (the backlit keyboard is nice, so is PCMIA, but for that price.... usb and firewire can do everything pcmia can i think now) for the PB, espcially if it gets hotter. Unfortunatly you guys have cause me another dilema. Now Im stuck woundering about the 12" ibook :(.

    Anyways thanks for all your assistance.. I still have a week to decide (perhaps 2 as there is no big rush ) anyone else have nany thoughts?

    Seeing as many people seem to come back and are friendly on this forum I will be sure to post what I get when I get it.

    As for the backlit keyboard. that woudl just be a cool new thing i have never had.. not really a requirement. With the PB12" is the price really justified at the moment when compared with the iBook 12" or the iBook 14". The screen space is the biggest loss for me with the iBook at the 1024x768 resolution. So the output would be nice.

    Brandon Slack
    PS: since one of you found my last name funny (i meant to sing it Merlin_1102 but I was at work and writing out many e-mails, so course of habit), I onced signed a piece of paper with the word Slacker instead now my drivers license says Slacker :)
  13. FFTT macrumors 68030


    Apr 17, 2004
    A Stoned Throw From Ground Zero
    The best way to make your decision is to go to a fully stocked AppleStore, just to compare features side by side.

    Then if your campus store can get you a great deal
    order it through them.

    Your student developer discount is a one time deal
    so buy wisely.

    I'd get the 12" PowerBook, then add a 20" display when funds permit. ;)
  14. merlin_1102 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 26, 2005
    Hey Everyone

    I noticed many people seem to reply after they have made their desicions so:
    Thanks for your help. I finally went out and purchased a MacBook Pro with my ADC discount. Lower model with 1.83Ghz, but I upgraded the RAM to 1GB and got an extra battery. Could not afford much more on a students discount (been saving for some time now) and also figured the 7200 rpm hard drive would get hot.

    Thanks again for all your help. It is currently in Ankroage Alaska and it will hopefully reach my parents by Wednesday meaning I can have it by Friday (apple online store does not ship to PO Box addresses :( )

    Thanks :)
  15. Glenn Wolsey macrumors 65816

    Glenn Wolsey

    Nov 24, 2005
    New Zealand
    Congratulations on the purchase! All you need now is a nice ACD to hook it up to at home.
  16. student_trap macrumors 68000


    Mar 14, 2005
    'Ol Smokey, UK
    congrats, thats a nice 'puter you've bought yourself there!
  17. jadekitty24 macrumors 65816


    Oct 19, 2005
    The poor section of Connecticut

Share This Page