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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > 17" vs 15" Powerbook -- opinions please

17" vs 15" Powerbook -- opinions please
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icruise
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Sep 9, 2004, 12:04 AM
 
I currently have a 12" powerbook that I have had since the aluminum models were introduced. When I bought it, I wanted a small and light computer, because I was going to be taking it places on a fairly regular basis. However, in recent months my situation has changed, and I rarely take my powerbook anywhere -- it's pretty much a desktop machine. I use it hooked up to my 17" LCD screen almost all the time. (I still need it to be portable though, so a G5 is out.)

Anyway, I'd like to replace my machine with one with a bigger screen (and my current machine is only 867mhz, so a 1.5Ghz machine should be a nice speed boost). I had originally thought that I would go for the 17", but I think I might be overcompensating for my current machine's small screen. And beyond that, I recently got a good deal on a 23" cinema display (aluminum model) to replace the 17" LCD I have now, so I'm thinking that a 15" model might be sufficient. It would also be easier to carry and it would save me some money as well. (When you take into account the deals I can get on the two machines, the 17" will end up costing me $200 more.)

I wonder if people who have used both can give me some input about the difference between the 15" and the 17", taking into account the fact that I will be using whatever I get with the cinema display (using monitor spanning).

And of course, I realize that there may be some new machines coming soon, but as long as it isn't a revolutionary change (PBG5 or dual core PB) I'm OK with that. I need the machine soon.
     
Mobile Mod
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Sep 9, 2004, 12:09 AM
 
I have owned both the 15 and 17" models from Apple and can say that the 17" is just too big for a laptop in my opinion. The notebook was so big that it usually prevented me from sitting on my chari in the living room because it would not fit between the cushions. The 17 is a marvel in terms of engineering and the looks, i will not deny that. However, the 15 is a lot more comfortable and basically has the same specs as the 17 except for the screen size. When I had the 17 i found that I didnt want to move around as much simply because it was not convient to do so, I mean the laptop itself is HUGE!

From the situation you are describing it sounds like you are going to have a very large display at your desk, and when you are travelling, if you could deal with a tiny 12" screen then I doubt that a 15" screen will cause you issues the few times you use it without a montior.

If it were me I would buy the 15" and save the 200 and then use that to buy a wireless keyboard and mouse combo to go with the pb so you had a really nice desktop space/environment when you sat down there.

Just my $0.02,
Justin
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davisrg
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Sep 9, 2004, 12:14 AM
 
Go for a 17" ... the 1440x900 resolution is standard and down-converts perfectly from the native resolution of the 30, 23, and 20. 1280x854 is not a widely used resolution ... it's even hard to find simple things like desktop pictures in that res ....plus, working for an Apple Service Provider, I can assure you that we've seen FAR fewer problems with PowerBook 17s, rev a-c than PowerBook 15, rev a-b ... (i.e. bad optical drives, defective flat panels, etc... and NOT just the rev a white spot problem but other problems with 15" panels as well)

I have a 17" and I love it .... go for the 128MB VRAM upgrade and 5400RPM hard drive ... PowerMax (powermax.com) usually has the CTO/BTO units in stock ...

Originally posted by Icruise:
I currently have a 12" powerbook that I have had since the aluminum models were introduced. When I bought it, I wanted a small and light computer, because I was going to be taking it places on a fairly regular basis. However, in recent months my situation has changed, and I rarely take my powerbook anywhere -- it's pretty much a desktop machine. I use it hooked up to my 17" LCD screen almost all the time. (I still need it to be portable though, so a G5 is out.)

Anyway, I'd like to replace my machine with one with a bigger screen (and my current machine is only 867mhz, so a 1.5Ghz machine should be a nice speed boost). I had originally thought that I would go for the 17", but I think I might be overcompensating for my current machine's small screen. And beyond that, I recently got a good deal on a 23" cinema display (aluminum model) to replace the 17" LCD I have now, so I'm thinking that a 15" model might be sufficient. It would also be easier to carry and it would save me some money as well. (When you take into account the deals I can get on the two machines, the 17" will end up costing me $200 more.)

I wonder if people who have used both can give me some input about the difference between the 15" and the 17", taking into account the fact that I will be using whatever I get with the cinema display (using monitor spanning).

And of course, I realize that there may be some new machines coming soon, but as long as it isn't a revolutionary change (PBG5 or dual core PB) I'm OK with that. I need the machine soon.
     
Mobile Mod
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Sep 9, 2004, 12:21 AM
 
Originally posted by davisrg:
<snip>plus, working for an Apple Service Provider, I can assure you that we've seen FAR fewer problems with PowerBook 17s, rev a-c than PowerBook 15, rev a-b ... (i.e. bad optical drives, defective flat panels, etc... and NOT just the rev a white spot problem but other problems with 15" panels as well)<snip>
I also work for an ASP and we have actually seen the opposite of this and have had more 17"s come in then any rev of the 15" powerbook. Albeit that when the white spots issue first was discovered I was doing A TON of those, but even with those numbers I have seen a total of 13 17" notebooks with bad trackpads and then 9 with bad superdrives! (just counted on GSX)

Just my side,
Justin
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icruise  (op)
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Sep 9, 2004, 12:30 AM
 
Sounds like we have some divergent opinions here (as I expected). I think there are a couple of main issues I am concerned about.

First, is the difference in physical size between the 15" and the 17" really a big deal? I'm not going to be toting the powerbook around on a daily basis, but I will need to take it places occasionally.

Second, does the extra screen resolution you get with the 17" (as opposed to the difference in screen size) really make a difference in the way you work? Can you display two Word documents side by side on the 17" and read them both? I'm a translator, so I often will have an original document in one window and the translation in another. That's one reason that I like to have 2 screens when working at my desktop, so it would be nice to be able to do something similar when I'm out and about as well.

I'm not sure what to think about the reliability issue, but as long as the major problems (like the white spot issue with the first 15"ers) have been more or less resolved with this revision, I'll just have to take my chances, whichever model I decide to go with.
     
davisrg
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Sep 9, 2004, 12:36 AM
 
Wow ... I guess it varies widely based on location and customer base ... I was just looking them up in GSX as well ... but no matter, the 15 is still a fantastic machine, like everything else Apple makes ... in fact my 2 best friends have a 12" and a 15" and they both love them ...

It's a toss-up .... flip a coin.

Originally posted by Mobile Mod:
I also work for an ASP and we have actually seen the opposite of this and have had more 17"s come in then any rev of the 15" powerbook. Albeit that when the white spots issue first was discovered I was doing A TON of those, but even with those numbers I have seen a total of 13 17" notebooks with bad trackpads and then 9 with bad superdrives! (just counted on GSX)

Just my side,
Justin
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Guntis
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Sep 9, 2004, 07:08 AM
 
I just put two Word documents side by side, and still have enough space for the formatting palette. All I had to do is to switch to Outline view so that text would wrap at the end of the document window. No problems with that.
I also had opportunity to buy 15" or 17" PB. First, I was excited when I saw 17" on Apple website, but then, when I saw it in real life, my excitement fell flat in just a few seconds. This laptop is just TOO BIG to carry it arround. It's possible, but its look doesn't encourage one to do that. 15" is really portable with enough screen size to help things getting done on the daily basis. I suggest you 15", unless you *really* need 17" resolution. Save $200 on 15" and add that money to get faster hard drive and faster graphics, plus Keynote software (if you need it), or add $100 to get 512MB of RAM memory in one slot, so that you could add another 512MB later without throwing away one SIMM from your PowerBook. The best thing for you would be to see both models side by side and then make a decision.
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Peabo
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Sep 9, 2004, 07:41 AM
 
If you're not going to take it somewhere new every day (and even if you were) then I'd say get the 17 inch. I have one and basically use it as a desktop, but I still take it places when I need to. It's not as huge as people say, I can have it sitting on my lap just fine, and carrying it around is just as easy as any laptop since I'd image you'll use a carry-case!

If you're just going to use it as a desktop, then the extra pixels will be very useful - especially since you can't change them after you've bought it! I think Steve Jobs touted the 17" as a laptop that can replace a desktop - so it sounds like that's the kind of machine you're after!
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Maflynn
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Sep 9, 2004, 08:05 AM
 
Get the 15"

If your a road warrior then the 17" really doens't fit in those tiny seats on an airline. Also people will interrupt your work asking questions about big AL, now this may be quaint the first few times you may tire of it.

If your not and are looking for a desktop replacement then the 15" still works, because most times under these circumstances you will have a monitor attached to it, so your not gaining anything with the 17"

I've used the 15", its not too heavy for traveling, fits in those nice airline seats and is plugged into a monitor if its on my desk. Additionally its fine if I want to use it on my couch while watching tv.

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Randman
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Sep 9, 2004, 08:07 AM
 
For $200, get the 17. You'll get the top-of-the line PB and you already said that you're not going to use as a portable that much. It's still thin and not as large as people are making it out to be. The extra screen space is worth it.
If you eeally think that the 17 is too large, stick with the 12, especially since you already have a monitor.
I have to admit, it took a week or so to get used to going from a 14 iBook to a 17 PB but now, the extra size is more than worth the price difference.

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iREZ
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Sep 9, 2004, 11:55 AM
 
If you go the route of the 17" you'd save yourself some bux by not having to upgrade to one stick of 512MB RAM like you would with the 15" (so that your next upgrade could take you to 1GB instead of 768MB. If I were looking at the 15" superdrive model, I'd definetely be looking at the 17" as well.
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Xisiqomelir
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Sep 9, 2004, 12:15 PM
 
17"

(Unless you really CANNOT handle the minuscule extra weight or work in a cardboard box with no desk room or something)
     
filmmaker2002
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Sep 9, 2004, 12:30 PM
 
I'm a road warrier. I carry my 17" everywhere, class, plane, car, everywhere. As a video editor/graphics/motion/DVD author, the extra space is a godsend. And for little over $100 difference between the 15" with 1x512MB RAM and the 17", it would be kind of stupid not to if total mobility wasn't a factor.
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LiquidSnake
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Sep 9, 2004, 12:32 PM
 
17v15 :
I don't have a 15 PB,but my friend have's one.
-I can't 'fell' the difference when it is in my bag.15&17 inch fit's in the same bag.They both use nearly the same space .They both 'feel' the same weight.So there is no big difference for portability at least for me.
- I am a big guy.Around 6.6.But if i have to use my on 17 PB on my 'lap'(whic is a very, very rare ) it still feel's big,so do 15 PB.15 PB is slightly more comfortable if you are thinking to use on tight space's but not much.
On the other hand :
-17 PB look's a lot better than 15 PB (Again at least for my 'taste' everybody's taste is different)
- 17 PB's extra screen space is well worth the extra money.
- 17 PB's screen is very acceptable as a desktop replacement(I can't say the same for the 15 PB - today's standart's are high.)
- 17 PB is somehow holding is 2'nd hand value more than a 15 PB.And it is more desirable (At least in my country)
- Did i say it look's better ? It is the top of the line laptop of it's class.
- 17 gives you more valuable screen for PS,Movie editing,albums,word processing,web designing , etc,etc and it is a real 'eye candy'.
-It'll match better with your new AL 23 incher
- Give the extra $$$ it is not much a difference for a laptop in this class&price range.
- I really don't care about the 'uh-ohh' factor(crowd pleaser)i buyed for my self and i really like the 17 PB.
I hope you'll be happy what ever you choose.
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SEkker
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Sep 9, 2004, 03:33 PM
 
This is a regular question on these boards. As an owner of both a TiPB 15 and a revA PB17, my experience has been very favorable with the PB17. In short, I feel that if you need a small machine, go with a 12", if you can live with a 15" and can afford the PB17, you will not regret it.

1) Size. In contrast to some other postings in this thread, I find NO disadvantage to the slightly wider machine. It still works as well as a 15" on an airplane and in other confined spaces. Indeed, I find the width preferable as it more comfortably fits on my lap (I'm 6'2").

2) Weight. The PB17 weighs in at 7 lbs, the same as the Pismo and related machines. I do not find this to be an issue at all.

It also sounds to me like a visit to an Apple Store to compare first hand would be very good.
     
icruise  (op)
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Sep 9, 2004, 05:03 PM
 
Originally posted by SEkker:

It also sounds to me like a visit to an Apple Store to compare first hand would be very good.
That's a good idea, although the nearest Apple Store is 3 hours away from me. I've seen both models up close in the past, though. I also think there are some things that you can't really tell just by looking at something in a store, and can only be determined by using something for a while.

Thanks for the input everyone! I'm probably leaning toward the 17" at the moment.
     
wuzup101
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Sep 9, 2004, 11:00 PM
 
For me personally the 17" it too big. However, I would say that for your use a 17" would be perfect. In the college world I find that even the 15" is too big in some instances. I large lecture rooms, where I would rather surf wirelessly than pay attention, even the 15" can be a tight squeeze. If you always have a nice table or desk to work on than go with the 17". Both of them are plenty portable... the 17" is only a bit bigger! Both of them will usually fit in the same bag... and when they are on your back/shoulder you can't tell the difference in weight. If you can... hit the gym! Anyway, again it's personal prefrence, if you have that nice 23" ADC than you probably don't need the 17"... but for 200 more you might just decide that it's worth it if you don't need to fit into tight spaces...
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dgbatchelor
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Sep 9, 2004, 11:19 PM
 
Originally posted by filmmaker2002:
I'm a road warrier. I carry my 17" everywhere, class, plane, car, everywhere. As a video editor/graphics/motion/DVD author, the extra space is a godsend. And for little over $100 difference between the 15" with 1x512MB RAM and the 17", it would be kind of stupid not to if total mobility wasn't a factor.
I have to agree with filmmaker2002... I also carry my 17" everywhere. The extra LCD real estate is priceless... I'd even consider a 19" laptop; however, I can't imagine the briefcase and the difficulty hauling it around.

PowerBook 17", 1.33MHz, 2GB RAM, 80GB drive... Nice.

Not having to run Windoze... Priceless!
     
Randman
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Sep 10, 2004, 05:03 AM
 
Originally posted by dgbatchelor:
PowerBook 17", 1.5 MHz, 2GB RAM, 80GB drive... Nice.

Not having to run Windoze... Priceless!
Fixed.

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vandelay
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Sep 11, 2004, 07:20 PM
 
I think you pretty much answered your own question by saying it's for the most part a desktop replacement. I'm very happy with the 17" and think the size is only a problem if you have to work a lot on the plane, flying coach.
Or if you are very small.
     
MrForgetable
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Sep 11, 2004, 08:00 PM
 
if i could have afforded (don't know if this makes sense) the 17 inch Powerbook, I don't think I would have. it IS quite large. but i can't afford it so that's out of the picture

if you can afford it, go for it! should be an awesome computer.
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