Gonna buy a 12" PowerBook. Help me on the details.

Discussion in 'OT Technology' started by P07r0457, Dec 18, 2004.

  1. P07r0457

    P07r0457 New Member

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    Okay, I feel kinda dirty here, but I'm a life-long PC user that is gonna be getting his first 12" PowerBook. My Gateway 650XL (ginormious desktop-replacement) is kicking out on me, so amist my search for a new notebook, I have fallen in love with the small, but powerful, PowerBook.

    Now, for the details:

    I need something ultra-portable, so it's definitely gonna be the 12" model.

    As for the hard drive, the demo model I was playing around with had the 60GB 4200RPM drive, and it was surprisingly responsive. However, my initial plans had me going for the 80GB 5400RPM drive to improve response. I do not need the extra storage capacity... But can anyone comment on possible speed/responsiveness differences between the 4200RPM and 5400RPM options? On my Gateway, the difference was night and day, with teh 4200 being dog-slow. Also, what can I expect in terms of battery-life differences between the two? Signifigant, or not?

    Now for memory... On my PCs, it's always been 512MB+, or bust. Any less and the system would crawl. I was *very* impressed at how responsive the demo responded with only 256MB of on-board RAM. However, I've also read multiple reports saying that Apple's caching engine is very memory-hungry, and when you get to using it for prolonged periods, you need a lot of RAM. What are the recommendations here? I will mostly be using it for going back to school, so office-style applications, web browsing, music playing, etc. Is 256MB sufficient? 512MB? 768MB? 1.25GB?

    The bluetooth mouse is just cool ;)

    I'll be getting the combo drive, since my desktop has a DVD-RW.

    I was considering a second battery. They report "up to" 5 hours -- which to me would mean that you'll never actually get that. With normal use (DVDs, music, typing, research, web usage, lots of WiFi) what can I expect in terms of battery life between charges? If I buy two batteries, can I swap them without shutting down? Or do I lose everything? One thing that was very disappointing with my gateway was battery lifetime. Not between charges, but from it being new to it being worthless. In 2 years, I have completely killed 2 batteries so that they no longer keep a charge. Since this is for school, I will be constantly using it on battery power. How long do I get out of a battery? 1 year, 2 years, 3 years, etc? I am most-definitely getting the Apple Protection Plan which extends my warranty to 3 years. Does this also include replacement of batteries? Or is that considered "wear and tear" and I'm out of luck? Battery life is a huge point for me!

    Now, I was comparing the 12" PowerBook to the 12" iBook, and the difference in quality is night and day; the PowerBook is hands-down built with much better materials and workmanship. However, why does the iBook get 6 hours battery life while the PowerBook only get 5 hours? Just a curious observation I've noticed.

    In terms of software, I was looking at the $150 Microsoft Office 2004. Are there any recommended alternatives to consider? What other software do you guys use?

    On a PC, it's a cardinal sin to not run up-to-date antivirus and spyware prevention. What about on the mac? I know that mac-viruses exist, but what can we do about them? (I hate norton, so what else is out there?) On the PC, you've got WindowsUpdate and various repositories for Linux to keep your system current... What do you do on a mac?

    I consider myself so tech-savy that it's rather awkward being on the other side having to re-learn all this. But after looking at every excuse *not* to get a mac, I simply feel more certain that the 12" PowerBook is perfect for what I need. Any help is greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Raddiux

    Raddiux Guest

    I can't answer all your questions (I don't own a Powerbook - yet), but i'll give you a few pointers from what I do know.

    If all you plan on doing is browsing the net, listening to music, and working in word, then 512mb will be enough. 256 will work but OS X really starts to shine with at least 512mb RAM. Personally i'd just get a 512mb chip and bring it up to 768 which should last you a while. Unless you plan to do HEAVY photoshopping, movie editing, or other memory hungry tasks, 768 will be more than enough. Keep in mind that if you look at your actual memory usage in OS X, it will seem that even 1gb of RAM is completely used up in a matter of a few hours. Don't be alarmed. Thats the way OS X works. Its philosophy is unused ram is wasted ram. So even if you were to stick the max 2gb in there, even that would eventually be used up to cache everything that you do. This is one of the reasons OSX feels so responsive with minimum hard drive access.

    The iBook might look 'cheaper' compared to the Powerbook, but from all the reports i've read, the iBook is actually a good bit more durable than the Powerbook. The PB is prone to dents and warping if you're not careful with it. Thats not to say it'll get banged up just by placing it down on a table, but the iBook is known to be built like a tank.

    As for spyware or antivirus software - just forget them. Don't even bother. OS X viruses do not exist, and its pretty much impossible to get spyware since most software requires the input of an administrator password to be installed. And don't bother with utility software like Norton Utilities - they actually fuck up more things than they fix.

    I'm not sure about the difference in HDD speeds, but like i mentioned before, OS X caches just about everything you do, so the only benefit you'd get from a faster drive is quicker bootup times and the first time you run each program. After that everything is cached and pretty much start up instantly. Of course, this only works if you put your PB to sleep instead of turning it off (which you should do anyway).

    Oh yeah, the most important thing - WAIT until MWSF (Jan 11th?). More than likely, the Powerbook models will be updated then. The current models are long overdue for an update.

    I hope I answered a few of your questions :)
     
  3. P07r0457

    P07r0457 New Member

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    I'm curious why you think the ibook was better constructed than the powerbook? Because when I picked the PB up, it was very solid. The ibook, however, flexed when I picked it up.
     
  4. fifty50

    fifty50 New Member

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    ok, i can answer your questions best b/c i was in your same exact position just a couple months ago. i was a die-hard PC user that was always against macs until i started dating someone and am pretty much ALWAYS at her apt. she has an iBook and i just fell in love with her 12" iBook. i ended up buying the 12" powerbook myself this past september. hands down, I LOVE IT. anyways, as to your questions...

    i come to realize that speeds on a mac and speeds on a PC just doesn't compare. 1.33GHz processor on a mac doesn't equal a 1.33GHz processor on a PC. i have the 60GB 4200rpm hard drive in my 12" powerbook. no problems with it what so ever. is quick and responsive. no disappointments here..

    as for memory, i was the same way as you, with PC's needing atleast 512 to survive. so i opted to upgrade the PB to 512ram. as with the hard drive, is quick and responsive. i dont think you'll see much more of an increase if you went over 512mb.

    second battery? only if you need to go 3hr+ w/o having access to a power plug. doing casual web browsing and with my IM chat and irc programs going along with iTunes, the PB predicts about 3.5hr battery time. if i'm programming in java, compiling my code, etc while doing all of the web browsing, etc, it predicts about 2hr's. compiling takes out alot. so this is all on you whether you want to buy a second battery or not. actually, where does the second battery go? or do you have to remove the primary battery to replace it with the secondary battery in which you have to shutdown and such anyways?

    as for the PB vs iBook comparison. reasons why the iBook gets better battery life...not as powerful as the PB, not built with an aluminum case. therefore, since the PB is more powerful and incased in aluminum, it will produce more heat. more heat, fans have to work harder to get rid of the heat, therefore less battery life than the iBook.

    i only got office 2004 b/c i'm school (univ at buffalo) has licensing agreements with microsoft so i get certain MS software for free. i'm sure you can get the eductation discount on it through apple, but still not sure how much it'd cost ya. theres an alternative to MS office and is favored in the *nix (linux/unix) world. openoffice located at www.openoffice.org is a free alternative to MS Office. can do everything MS Office can do, very similar, couple small difference, and best of all, is FREE. just need to DL the x11 software from apple's website (which is also free).

    again as for norton, i installed it b/c my school offers it for free. i'm not nearly as worried as i was when i always used a PC regarding getting a virus. apple also has a software update where you can set it to check for updates weekly at a certain time or whatever. or click on the apple in the top left corner and click on 'software update' to manually check.

    damn, i think thats the most i ever did in one post. hope this answers most of your questions. if you have any other you can PM me.

    p.s. i've owned my PB for ~3mo now. love it, will never go back to a PC

    -rob
     
  5. P07r0457

    P07r0457 New Member

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    actually your post disappoints me a little. Apple claims 5 hours for the PB, so hearing that you get only 2-3 is rather disappointing. I will need the full 5 hours daily, so that's why I want the second battery. You do not have to shutdown to swap batteries, if you sleep the PB, you can remove the battery and you have approximately 3 minutes to put another in... plenty of time.

    But I don't want to have to use both batteries daily! It's also been my experience that batteries will not hold a useful charge after no more than a year.

    Damn. The Asus m5n that I was originaly consider actually gets around 5 hours battery life (they said 8, but 5 is realistic) so 2-3 is rather disappointing. :(
     
  6. amill94

    amill94 OT Supporter

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    With my powerbook I usually get about 4hrs out of the battery. That is with the lcd on full brightness.....listening to mp3's...wireless on, blue tooth on, and doing basic stuff like image editing or web surfing.

    I bought my 12" in May of 04. A week after I bought it I got an additional 512mb of ram to bump it to 768mb. It made a good amount of difference in performance. I was never a mac fan until my friend converted me. I don't run anti-virus on mine, or spyware protection.

    I was considering the ibook for price since I just do basic things with my notebooks, like image editing, office apps, and the web, but the powerbook is so much better looking, plus has the better video card, faster memory, hard drive, and other things. I love my powerbook.
     
  7. P07r0457

    P07r0457 New Member

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    I called Apple Tech support and got answers to my remaining questions. In case anyone is wondering, here's the results:

    1) Hard drive: The 4200RPM drive is perfect for office-type applications. Content creation is where a benefit comes from going with the 5400RPM drive. It does negatively affect battery life by about 20-30 minutes by using the 5400RPM drive.

    2) Memory: 256MB is the minimum. I explained what I'd be doing with the notebook, and he recommended 512MB. Since there's only 1 slot to upgrade, I said I'd likely get a 512MB stick ($88 for Corsair) for a total of 768MB. He said that I'd be very happy with that. Good.

    3) Bluetooth/WiFi : Turned off, you save about 10-15 minutes battery life.

    4) 4 hours seems to be the typical reported battery life for the type of work I'll be doing. Average useful life of the packs are 365 charges, which would put me at just about a year considering I'll be using it daily. I'll end up buying 2 battery packs, but I was told to plan on getting new batteries every year. Unfortunatly, the Apple warranty (even the extended one) does not cover batteries. Damn.

    5) PB vs. iB: The iBook is meant for schoolwork and office junk. The PowerBook is meant for content creation. It was recommended that I look at the iBook considering what I was planning to do with the machine. I pointed out that the PowerBook (besides looking way better) had the aluminum construction, and felt much more solid. Considering that I'll be traveling often and need this machine to be rugged, it was agreed that the PB was definitely the better choice.

    I am finding it very hard to wait until late January for Apple to possibly relase new model information. Considering the discount that I have been offered for ordering now, I may have to get it. Honestly, this config is basically perfect for me. The Apple rep told me that he doesn't think they'll be doing anything drastic to the 12" model. He wouldn't comment on the 15" or 17", but he said the 12" should only be getting a faster CPU (probably 1.5GHz). So if anyone knows differently (specifically talking about the 12" PB, here) Please let me know, in a PM if that's better... Because I've got the itch for my new machine!
     
  8. xxxgames12

    xxxgames12 Guest

    YAY! Apple has recruited yet another mac user.

    :)

    Gongrats.
     
  9. maczter

    maczter Life is trying things to see if they work.

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    i'd wait three weeks if i were you.

    i forgot there was a macworld event scheduled to happen a few weeks after ordering my last mac. i ordered it pretty much tricked out, including the DVD-RAM drive, which doesn't even burn regular CD's. a few weeks after i received my shiny new machine, they started putting the super drives in the G4's and my DVD-RAM is never used now since hardly anyone has a DVD-RAM drive. it won't write to a regular DVD or even a CD. it's basically a really expensive CD-ROM drive that gets used to make back-ups on the rare occasion i decide to wipe my drive and do a fresh install.

    wait three weeks. there are surprises more often than not.
     
  10. xxxgames12

    xxxgames12 Guest

    haha. yea- good advice^^

    wait until after the macworld apple keynote, they always release awesome hardware/system upgrades.
     
  11. JointBeaker

    JointBeaker packaging engineer #2 OT Supporter

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    DVD-RAM crew. :wiggle: :hs:

    EDIT: now swapped a Pioneer DVR-108 in instead.

    EDITx2: DVR-108 crew :bigthumb:
     
  12. maczter

    maczter Life is trying things to see if they work.

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    did the 108 work out of the box with iDVD?
     
  13. JointBeaker

    JointBeaker packaging engineer #2 OT Supporter

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    No, IIRC. I think I picked it up ~ early October, and it was a few weeks before a buddy sent me a firmware flash.

    I don't have drivespace needed for iDVD right now, so, I've never used it. The firmware flash took care of having the old Que! Firewire burner from showing up in iTunes, tho. :dunno:

    I bought it when the 108 was about 85 bucks, I'm sure it's a lot less by now. At that time, Newegg shipping > *
     
  14. Banana Mike

    Banana Mike Guest

    I realize that this is a semi-old thread but I still thought I would add my two cents in. I got my iBook yesterday and have been using it a lot. I just took it off the charger around 30 minutes ago and have been laying in bed with it. 25 minutes lasts me for 10% of the battery, so I get roughly just over 4 hours in one charge. I think that that is okay. I will probably invest in another battery at some time or another... probably before the snow falls in 2005. :hs:
     

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