Was gifted a 17" powerbook G4 with screen issues, what do I do with it?

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by jtgotsjets, Oct 16, 2011.

  1. jtgotsjets, Oct 16, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2011

    jtgotsjets macrumors 6502

    jtgotsjets

    Joined:
    May 20, 2004
    Location:
    Lawrence, KS
    #1
    So my girlfriend's professor's 17" PowerBook went on the fritz (vertical lines all over the screen, apparently a fairly common issue but was never acknowledged by Apple as such) for the second time and instead of investing more money in her dying PPC, she upgraded and gifted the gentle giant to us.

    It's one of the last PPC Powerbooks that they made; here are some stats:
    1.67 ghz proc
    1.5 gb RAM
    1440x900 screen
    ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 graphics card.

    I owned a G4 iBook back in the day and loved it every day I used it, but upgraded to Intel a couple years ago and haven't looked back. Upon receiving the PowerBook, I am struck by just how outdated it is.

    I had vague plans of putting it to use as a Home Theatre PC (I mean, cmon, a laptop with a busted screen? It's perfect!), but it doesn't seem to be quite quick enough to handle full-screen Hulu and of course Netflix doesn't even run on PPC, so it seems that its uses as a set-top box are limited.

    So, any ideas? The only thing I can come up with is a home server, but the hard-drive on this thing is only 100 gigs, which makes this an inelegant solution. Is my best option to just pop it onto eBay and hope we can make a few bucks? Maybe I could learn Linux?
     
  2. Aldaris macrumors 65816

    Aldaris

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2004
    Location:
    Salt Lake
    #2
    Add an external FW 800 or USB hard drive and turn it into a media storage solution for you and yours... Would go great to just have lots of media that can serve to your mac's, idevices, and AppleTV.

    Or ebay...
     
  3. aednichols macrumors member

    aednichols

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2010
    #3
    Have you tested external video out? If it works, then you have a Mac mini G4 in an alternate form factor.

    Any vintage G4 will make a decent media server, as Aldaris suggests, and this is an exceptionally fast G4 unit.
     
  4. jtgotsjets thread starter macrumors 6502

    jtgotsjets

    Joined:
    May 20, 2004
    Location:
    Lawrence, KS
    #4
    External video out does indeed work fine.

    I suppose it could work as a media server... Our TV has USB-in and can play media from external hard-drives, which would make the computer slightly redundant, but the TV's media player does have an annoying tendency to go out-of-sync. All a matter of making it an easier to use solution than the TV's native player, I guess.

    Now to look into clamshell operation.
     
  5. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2011
    Location:
    Phoenix • 85037
    #5
    Replace the screen and use it as an on the go internet/email machine.

    That's what I do with my 1Ghz. It gets transported to work, Starbucks, meetings, etc and is my main machine at home for internet and email. Maybe light word processing. All my financials (bills, receipts, etc) are kept on this machine as well.

    I use my 1.67Ghz for design, web maintenance and one business email. All my files related to that stay on this machine. Further I have Dropbox installed on both Macs and my work Mac which makes it easy to transfer files between all three machines when they are all on separate networks.

    It only cost me $80 and about an hour of my time to replace the screen on my 1GHZ.

    I have a bag large enough to carry both Macs and because I'm anal I do it, but realistically I don't need to. The way I have split it out it keeps my personal work separated from business work.
     
  6. wrinkster22 macrumors 68030

    wrinkster22

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2011
    Location:
    Toronto
    #6
    What i would do is I would replace the screen, and load it up with pictures and set to slideshow to work as a digital photo frame. It also would make a nice kitchen/recipe computer, or a gift to someone with not much money or computer needs (after repair)
     
  7. jtgotsjets, Oct 16, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2011

    jtgotsjets thread starter macrumors 6502

    jtgotsjets

    Joined:
    May 20, 2004
    Location:
    Lawrence, KS
    #7
    I considered replacing the screen, but the fact is that we just don't need another computer for computer-y things. I have my main computer (in sig), my siginificant other and I share an iPad (which takes care of couch/kitchen computing, as well as most of my "on-the-go" needs), my girlfriend has a MacBook, and I have an aging iBook that is admittedly slower than the new PowerBook, but doesn't need any repairs and is already set up how I like it.

    A new screen would be nice, but the screen has already been replaced once (indicating that it may be a recurring problem) and since we don't need the computer, I can't really justify sinking money into it unless the result is *awesome*. Ideally the cost of this project would stay under $100.

    If the screen was already working, a digital picture frame would have been first on my list, but when you factor in replacing the screen, the end result is a digital picture frame for not much less money and a *lot* more time and effort than a brand-new, purpose made digital picture frame.

    We made sure that the person giving it away didn't know anyone that really needed a computer—she was aware that it was going to be more-or-less a toy for us. I'd be open to the idea of donating it to someone that needs a computer, but seeing as how it comes with a built-in cost (either screen repair or external monitor), I'm not sure how useful it'd be to someone who can't afford a computer.

    I'm leaning more and more toward media server...
     
  8. jtgotsjets thread starter macrumors 6502

    jtgotsjets

    Joined:
    May 20, 2004
    Location:
    Lawrence, KS
    #8
    Quick question while I have this thread going:

    The computer was given to me as just the computer and power cord. It still has all the data from the old owner.

    Obviously I'd like a fresh install, both for my own purposes and as a courtesy to the previous owner. She is not very computer savvy (80 years old), so I don't think it's worth the trouble having her track down the system restore disks, and unfortunately the only OSX disks I own are either the system disks specifically for my iBook and iMac (will these work?) and a Snow Leopard install, which of course wouldn't work on PPC even if I had multiple licenses for it.

    Can I restore from the other computers' disks? Or am I better off finding a legally grey copy to reformat? Or does anyone else have a suggestion?
     
  9. Aldaris macrumors 65816

    Aldaris

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2004
    Location:
    Salt Lake
    #9
    I think the other 'restore discs' have the OS and primary drivers specific for that individual machine, not sure if it would work. Gray market might be the way to go unless you have a buddy with any OS X 10.4/5 on hand that could lend it to you for quick installation...

    Obviously not the route I'd go but here is one for 149.00. A quick eBay search brought up lots of results ranging from $25-185 (server edition). So to each his own in the event you can't find a more easily accessible option.
     
  10. stroked Suspended

    stroked

    Joined:
    May 3, 2010
    #10
    Connect it to your iBook with firewire, and use the free app Carbon Copy Cloner. You will have the choice of copying the whole partition, or just the OS.
     
  11. kbfr08 macrumors 6502

    kbfr08

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2007
    #11
    If you can't fix it, or find a use for the laptop, then I'd buy it off of you, since I have a spare 17" screen that I *think* may work with the laptop.
     
  12. jtgotsjets thread starter macrumors 6502

    jtgotsjets

    Joined:
    May 20, 2004
    Location:
    Lawrence, KS
    #12
    If I can track down a firewire cable, I'm thinking this is probably my best option. Thanks!

    I have some ideas for it, but I may be a little too ambitious. I'll make a mental note though.
     
  13. mike457 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2010
    Location:
    Ontario
    #13
    You should be able to boot up the 17" in Firewire transfer mode, connect it to the iBook, run the iBook's restore disks from the iBook, and install to the 17". Just be careful you're selecting the right target disk for the install!
     
  14. stroked Suspended

    stroked

    Joined:
    May 3, 2010
    #14
    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1238573

    I bought some FW cables from this guy. They are only $3 shipped. You will need a FW 400 6 pin to 6 pin.
     
  15. osxoverwin macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2011
    #15
    Well, you can get replacement screens from eBay, and if you're willing to do your own repairs, get one and fix it, or get someone who is comfortable doing repairs like this and get them to do it. You then have a working laptop you can use when travelling (not really a huge deal if you knock it around, lose it, wvr else) or just sell it on eBay after the repair. Or you can sell it before the repair as not working. But you get less ca$h that way. Wvr you decide! :)
     
  16. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2011
    Location:
    Phoenix • 85037
    #16
    I've replaced the screen on my 17" and my wife's 12". I have to say that while the 17" was more expensive ($80) then the 12" screen ($25) it was CONSIDERABLY easier replacing the screen in my 17". My wife's 12" PB is fiendishly tight to work in and requires removal of the logic board and about 75% of the rest of the internal components! The 17" is easy!
     
  17. zen.state macrumors 68020

    zen.state

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2005
    #17
    Close the lid and connect it to a desktop display.
     
  18. jtgotsjets thread starter macrumors 6502

    jtgotsjets

    Joined:
    May 20, 2004
    Location:
    Lawrence, KS
    #18
    You win most obvious comment.
     

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