Too many underlying questions! College, Refurb MBP, and iPod! Help please!

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Ryuukumori, Dec 30, 2008.

  1. Ryuukumori macrumors 6502

    Jan 18, 2008
    I am really excited for this new year. I'm going to college next fall, and with Apple's last MacWorld, it should be big. Now, here's the deal.

    I want to buy an Apple laptop for college, as I will be majoring in music. I know for a fact that JUST IN CASE, I would like firewire on a laptop. This opens up to the MBP, but the price is very high. I would love to go refurbished for a MBP in JUNE, so by the newer refresh, this means I will be just in time for a cheaper notebook and the iPod promo.

    My questions are listed here.

    1. If I buy a refurbished MBP, do I still qualify for the iPod Promo? (I will be selling the iPod when I get it and buy a 3rd generation iPod Touch)
    2. How much cheaper (by fact of previous models), are the baseline refurb MBPs?
    3. Is it smart I buy a MBP for college just for firewire and larger screen, as I will be doing music?

    Thank you all very much for the consideration. I was about to buy an iPod Touch this week when I thought about it and came here to see MacWorld and the endless possibilities. :)
  2. grimreaper1377 macrumors regular

    Oct 20, 2007
    1. Refurb MBP's do NOT qualify for the promotion. At least, this year they weren't.

    2. $200-$300

    3. I would look at buying the "old but new" MacBook Pro's (the one that has 8600 gfx card). It has firewire 400 + 800, whereas the new ones only have 800. The only issue is that you won't have the newest model and that the graphics cards are time bombs since they will all (?) break eventually.
  3. pnyc macrumors 6502

    May 12, 2007
    Brooklyn, NY
  4. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    What kind of computer doesn't eventually break? ;)
  5. mAc-warrior macrumors member


    May 11, 2004
    Hi from another MBP-toting college student!

    You're right about the MBP being the right notebook for you. The larger screen, Firewire, as well as the processing power from the graphics cards that will become available in Snow Leopard are all good reasons for you to look into a MBP rather than a MB.

    If you're considering buying in June there is a good chance that there will be many refurbs of the current generation available at that time. You'll save a few hundred off the retail price. Another thing you can consider is the ADC (Apple Developer Connection) membership for $99 which nets you around a $500 discount off a non-refurb MBP (if I remember correctly). There's a long thread about developer prices in this forum, it should be in the top few pages.

    Honestly, the iPod touch that comes free in the summer is kind of like a cherry on top. You can do without it, especially if you can save a fair amount on the computer itself. iPods aren't that expensive; you could save from June until October/November when they release new ones if you really really want one.

    Honestly, I think you have to just worry about the computer that will be required for your program first. Worry about the iPod later. If it so happens to work out that you can get both, bonus.

  6. Ryuukumori thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 18, 2008
    Thank you all for your replies. Too bad the refurbs don't qualify. BUT, still doesn't mean it's a bad deal.

    Is music all that bad to worry about firewire? I forgot the newest MBP only had firewire 800. I have a firewire cord for only 400. Do I really need to worry?

    With the new processors on the way, maybe I am suitable for the refresh MB when it releases (with edu discount) and a free iPod to sell. That means there's a super discount. But, a MBP is more powerful, and might do good.

    Most important concern for me is money. Is it worth going for a refurb with a firewire 800 + larger screen + dual graphics for a little more than a refresh brand new MB in June? This is for my music production, so thanks again.
  7. mAc-warrior macrumors member


    May 11, 2004
    Well, to be honest I don't know much about music. Many of the audio interfaces plug into computers via Firewire because it has higher bandwidth than USB. This is why it may be advisable to have a computer with Firewire. But, if you don't think you'll be using any audio peripherals (or the ones that you may use are USB-only) then the MB would probably be sufficient for you. When you start getting into mixing tracks in Logic and editing is when the horsepower and screen real estate of the MBP come in handy.

    The Firewire 800-400 adaptors are pretty cheap too. Not to worry there.

    Somebody else who knows more about music will know more!

  8. darngooddesign macrumors G3

    Jul 4, 2007
    Atlanta, GA
    IIRC the new ones will do FW400, you just need a 400 > 800 cable.
  9. Ryuukumori thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 18, 2008
    Well, by the looks of no Firewire 400 in either, is it the same as buying a MB as it is a MBP since both might need a converting cable? USB to FW 400 and FW 400 to FW 800 respectively?
  10. mAc-warrior macrumors member


    May 11, 2004
    To my knowledge there is no such beast as an all-purpose USB to Firewire cable offered currently. At least there wasn't when the Unibody Macbooks were announced. I have seen a USB to Firewire cable designed specifically for transferring DV video from a USB-based camera through a Firewire port, but this cable also required Windows XP. I assume there is some software that is necessary for the conversion. It was also in the $100 range.

    Also, USB is notably slower than Firewire 400. Even if a USB --> Firewire 400 cable did exist, you would not get the same performance from it as you would from Firewire 800-400. And an 800-400 cable can be had at Monoprice for less than $5 I believe.

    Overall, if you need Firewire, you need a MBP. You just have to determine whether you need Firewire.

  11. Ryuukumori thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 18, 2008

    Maybe I need help from a musician or college student working with music who uses Macs.

    Right now, a refurb MBP sounds the best, as long as the MB doesn't get firewire.
    Can anyone lead me on how to record exactly using firewire? I play piano, alto sax, and electric guitar.
  12. J the Ninja macrumors 68000

    Jul 14, 2008
    Firewire is GENERALLY used to connect the digital audio workstation (or DAW, that's your computer and the audio software it's running) to the audio interface, which is the device that sits between the DAW and the source(s), and translates. It contains the analog-digital converter used in the recording. Some smaller interfaces can get by with USB, and use it instead since its cheaper. As far as recording goes, you'll need to find an interface that can handle the sources you want to record. You can look around over at the Digital Audio board for more advice and info (I'm still a student starting out at this stuff too). It's often also used to connecting an external hard drive for faster access to your audio data while you work.

    And, despite what some whiners and mis-informed people may have told you, dropping the FW400 port on the MBP cost it no functionality at all, unless you had two devices and neither one had an output for daisy chaining. FW800 is backward compatable to FW400, it just runs at half speed. The old MBP had only one FW bus though, so using the the FW400 port automatically dropped both ports to FW400 speeds. And you can daisy chain firewire devices, so running two things off one port isn't a problem.
  13. Ryuukumori thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 18, 2008
    Then do you know of any proper music equipment that might use Firewire 800?
  14. Demosthenes X macrumors 68000

    Demosthenes X

    Oct 21, 2008
    Not true. I'm not sure about digital audio, but digital video does not like daisy-chaining. That means you're limited to the internal harddrive when editing video on your laptop: you can't plug a DV cam into the computer and an external harddrive.

    Now, you could use the expansion slot, but I seem to recall reading that some people were having issues with Firewire expansion cards... :confused:

    Ryuukumori, I belive the new entry-level MacBook Pro was $1799 in the refurb store. Not a massive savings, but a better deal nonetheless.
  15. Ryuukumori thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 18, 2008
    Alright, thanks for the help.

    Well, it seems MBPs are having trouble with firewire these days. Maybe I'm wrong? If firewire is truly phasing out, then what about all that recording equipment? Are they making way for usb 3?
  16. mAc-warrior macrumors member


    May 11, 2004
    There's no "trouble" with Firewire. The FW800 port on the new MBPs and the FW400 and 800 ports on the old MBPs work perfectly fine. You can plug in an external drive and an audio interface into both computers. Most external drives are USB2 now anyway, and even though it is slightly slower than Firewire, it will work for an external drive. I have a couple and they're just fine. If you really want some speed, you could get an eSATA expresscard and an eSATA external drive, and use the Firewire port for audio equipment.

    Nonetheless, I think we are getting too far ahead of ourselves here. The bottom line is that either the new model or old model will be just fine for you. You will probably be able to get a refurbed unibody MBP in June when you're looking to buy. You have the time between then and now to check into which peripherals you may need.

    If you have any questions feel free!

  17. Ryuukumori thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 18, 2008
    Maybe I should build a custom PC for music production and a simple MB for the light college use?

    I have been talking to a few college buds of mine, and they say for the first 2 years, I will be taking mainstream classes to see where I am headed to major in. That means it gives me 2 years to decide what to do. I think desktops anyways are more powerful, and for sure, would be ample power for music production. Laptops are simply mobility machines, when time and constraints are set.

    What do you think? I am highly confident in building a desktop for this, and a MB would be just fine for me. (maybe even this rumored cheaper MB for MacWorld 09)
  18. gumbyx84 macrumors 6502


    Dec 7, 2008
    My GF majored in Music Production when she was in college, so I am basing my advice on what I have heard from her. She had a Mac (PowerBook G4 to be precise) that she got through her school (Berklee School of Music). It was the standard they recommend to students at the time. They still lean heavly towards Macs if I am not mistaken. I would assume most music programs would do the same.

    Beyond that, I the best way to decide would be to see what your school uses. If they are using Macs, it means your courses will be taught with Macs in mind, meaning you might not get the help you need from IT and professors if you are running XP or Vista. I learned this the hard way myself this past year. I got myself a MBP to replace my desktop as my apartment is as big as a sardine can and I had no room for it. I am a programmer and was happy to see that XCode (Apple's Development Environment) was free. However, after running into issues doing assignments for my courses, I found that my professors couldn't help me because they did not know how to use XCode. The Computer Science program runs exclusively on WinXP, so I was on my own figuring out why stuff wasn't working. I spent weeks trying to get stuff to work. If you are not willing to go through all that yourself, I would stick with what your school recommends for a OS.

    PS Where did you hear MB would be cheaper come MacWorld?
  19. Ryuukumori thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 18, 2008
    I know when I visited the campus, I saw a fair share of both types of computers. In the music department, I noticed many were using Macs and PCs. Maybe it's okay for both.

    And about the cheaper MB, it might be a cheaper 4th model. On the front page of Macrumors.

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