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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > Help with choosing a PowerBook

Help with choosing a PowerBook
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corp miler
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Jan 28, 2003, 05:41 PM
 
I need some help in choosing which PowerBook to go with. I am a professional designer and will be using the computer for Photoshop and Quark along with iMovie and iDVD for myself. I need the portability of a laptop, but will need to purchase a 17-19" monitor for actual layout. Currently I have a Pismo 500 and am considering the new 12" with Superdrive. I could consider a new 15" and forgo the superdrive, but that would not allow me to use iDVD, which I would use. The reason I'm looking at upgrading the Pismo is 1) 8MB VRAM with a larger monitor 2) no Superdrive for iDVD. I assume the 12" would be a big step up from the Pismo, correct? How does the 12 performance and screen quality compare to the 15 relative to my Pismo? Is the lack of L3 cache a big issue for what I'll be doing? The 17 is just too expensive and big for a laptop for my needs. Thanks for you help.
     
cwasko
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Jan 28, 2003, 05:55 PM
 
The 15" has a better vid card and can support higher resolutions on external monitors, not to mention a larger screen and a higher resolution there.

There is alot of speculation that after the current supply of 15"s run out, that Apple will release an Aluminum version. It may be in your interest to wait and save up so you can get the 15" with the SuperDrive.

If your main drive for the laptop is pure portability and that you'll be carrying it around everywhere and using it while on the road, then you should probably think about the 12". But, if you will be using it in stationary places and just want the ability to bring your work whereever you go, then the 15" would be perfect.

I have the 17" on order. My reasons for gettin it are to repalce my B&W G3 350 and my iBook 600. I have a 20" CRT that I will be hooking-up to the 17" so I'll get some kick-ass realestate.
     
morlium
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Jan 28, 2003, 06:24 PM
 
Originally posted by cwasko:
The 15" has a better vid card and can support higher resolutions on external monitors, not to mention a larger screen and a higher resolution there.
Both the 17" and the current 15" PowerBooks support the same external resolutions. It's doubtful that we'll see a 15" update until the spring, so if you're looking for a desktop replacement within the next three months, I'd advice not to wait.

I currently have a 733 DA desktop with a 1.5GB RAM and a 1MB L3 cache, and I have to say that it lags a bit in Photoshop. I'm sure that the 12", with its lack of L3 and 640MB RAM limit will lag just as much, if not more. Frankly, it's a bit of a bother when using InDesign.

I have a 17" on order. However, I previously had a 15", and thought that the speed was more than adequate for my tasks, which seem quite similar to your. If you don't want Bluetooth or a light-up keyboard, I think that's you best bet.

I'd recommend a good, hard-shell briefcase, though.
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AssassyN
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Jan 28, 2003, 07:50 PM
 
I would at least wait until March to see if the 15.2" TiBook morphs into the 15.4" AlBook...you'd kick yourself if it came out right after you'd already gotten something else.

And not to jack this thread, but on the 17" PowerBook, can you run the notebook's own screen ALONG with an additionally attached screen via the DVI port JUST LIKE it would be running dual displays on a PowerMac, like w/ screen spanning and everything? Or would it be 2 seperate displays? Or can they not run simultaneously at all?
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cwasko
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Jan 28, 2003, 07:59 PM
 
Originally posted by AssassyN:
And not to jack this thread, but on the 17" PowerBook, can you run the notebook's own screen ALONG with an additionally attached screen via the DVI port JUST LIKE it would be running dual displays on a PowerMac, like w/ screen spanning and everything? Or would it be 2 seperate displays? Or can they not run simultaneously at all?
Yes, on all the PowerBooks you can run dual monitors, i.e., 'spanning' - not mirroring like the iBooks. Although, you can mirror if you want to as well. Theoretically, there is (was) a way to get the PowerBooks to display to an external monitor when the lid was closed. I'm not sure if this ability is on the new ones. So, I can run my 20" and the PBs 17" at the same time and have it just like my B&W with 2 Radeon cards and the 20" and my 17".
     
AssassyN
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Jan 28, 2003, 08:05 PM
 
Ok, so you can use the PowerBook's display + an external display as one single screen, but can I use them seperately as well? Like surf the net on the PowerBook screen while typing a report on the external screen?
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morlium
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Jan 28, 2003, 08:21 PM
 
Originally posted by AssassyN:
Ok, so you can use the PowerBook's display + an external display as one single screen, but can I use them seperately as well? Like surf the net on the PowerBook screen while typing a report on the external screen?

?? Just separate the windows onto separate sides ...
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AssassyN
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Jan 28, 2003, 08:24 PM
 
LoL, please forgive my ignorance here...I've never owned a Mac before, and plan on "switching" in May 2003 before I head off to college by getting a 17" PowerBook, and I've never used dual-displays, and just wanted to know if I could run two seperate things (like Internet Explorer) on one screen and Microsoft Word on the other, and I guess I can. Thanks!
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morlium
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Jan 28, 2003, 08:49 PM
 
By the way, I'm glad the Mac won.
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AssassyN
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Jan 28, 2003, 08:51 PM
 
Thank you, and thanks for your help!

And by the way, me too! I'm so anxious for May!!
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ASIMO
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Jan 28, 2003, 08:56 PM
 
Originally posted by AssassyN:
LoL, please forgive my ignorance here...I've never owned a Mac before, and plan on "switching" in May 2003 before I head off to college by getting a 17" PowerBook, and I've never used dual-displays, and just wanted to know if I could run two seperate things (like Internet Explorer) on one screen and Microsoft Word on the other, and I guess I can. Thanks!

Nothing important to say, really. Just want to toast you a preemptive "Welcome to the fold."

Now, don't you go dying on us before then because we could really use you to boost our market share.
I, ASIMO.
     
AssassyN
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Jan 28, 2003, 09:02 PM
 
LoL, I sure don't plan on it!!

And I'm 100% getting a Mac for college...I've already shelled out ~$50 for a year long subscription to Macworld and MacAddict (I know, I know, but I like written publications as well as the internet). From now until May I'm just keeping my Mac options open as far as exactly what I'll get. But most likely it'll be a 17" PowerBook, and with these dramatic price drops, I'm realllly hoping to be able to afford a 20" Cinema Display to partner with it.
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craigthomas
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Jan 28, 2003, 09:18 PM
 
The Ghz PowerBooks are the true desktop replacements. It sounds like we have the same sort of situations: designers who want to dabble in home movie making for fun.

Let me tell you that the TiBook 15" with a superdrive is a GREAT computer able to do all that I could ever do with any desktop. I've run 300+ MB tradeshow Photoshop files for clients. I connect it to a 22" Cinema Display and get dual displays - a dream when you have palettes, email, browser, Word, Acrobat, Photoshop, GoLive and Quark going at the same time. Then, at the end of the day, un plug it an off to home to make some home movies of the kids with iLife. Have to take a little work home, no problem, you have all your files with you. Wait, you had an email from the client with that quote that needs to go into the annual report. No problem, your email is current because your email resides on your powerbook. I could go on an on why I love having a portable desktop in slim Ti clothes. Oh yea, Airport at home is a must.

Some things to consider:
1) I wish the latest PowerBooks had the option for more ram, so that goes to show that the 12" 640MB of ram is not acceptable to my computing needs.

2) If you do work some at home like I do, and you have a bunch of stuff/apps going will 12" be enough space with no external monitor? Not for me.

3) cwasko made a point that I agree with regarding the video card. Doesn't cut the mustard IMHO.

4) I think the 12" is for power hungry iBook people. Your a designer needing the power in a more powerful powerbook. If you're making money as a professional designer, get a system you can live with for a while and not regret having limited features.

5) I agree, the 17" is too big. The 15" is perfect for me with just the right power and portability combination. So, should you wait to see if Apple updates to a 15" Al? Can you wait? There are mixed opinions on whether Apple will even have a 15". I think they will, but who knows?
     
Agent69
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Jan 28, 2003, 09:38 PM
 
Originally posted by craigthomas:

I wish the latest PowerBooks had the option for more ram, so that goes to show that the 12" 640MB of ram is not acceptable to my computing needs.
I read somewhere that the 12" might support more RAM than Apple says but that RAM chips above 512MB aren't available for testing. I went to Crucial's website and they didn't show anything bigger than 512MB either.

I seem to remember this happening in the past with other Macs, although I couldn't tell you which models.
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007
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Jan 28, 2003, 10:51 PM
 
Originally posted by Agent69:
I read somewhere that the 12" might support more RAM than Apple says but that RAM chips above 512MB aren't available for testing. I went to Crucial's website and they didn't show anything bigger than 512MB either.

I seem to remember this happening in the past with other Macs, although I couldn't tell you which models.
I believe the 800 PB's can be upgraded to 1024, according to crucial...
     
corp miler  (op)
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Jan 28, 2003, 11:58 PM
 
craigthomas -- yes it does sound like we're in a similar situation. Actually this wouldn't be my work computer. I work on a new G4 PowerMac with dual monitors, but do often need to work from home. I would have a workstation at home with a monitor to plug the PB into. Then when surfing, like now, I'd go wireless (yes, AirPort is a must at home) on the deck.

Obviously from my post, I'm leaning towards the 12 -- it should be much faster than my Pismo and is very portable and it's more affordable. The Superdrive 12 is $2k. At that price I could easily get a monitor. Then again would the 12 screen seem too small compared to my 14" I am use to using? I could consider going with a similar 867MHz with a Superdrive for an extra $500, but then I might as well spend the extra $300 more to get the 1GHz with more memory and RAM. Before you know it, I've spent half again as much! Practically speaking, a new 15 with a Superdrive may be a bit too steep.

Revisiting my original question, how does the 12 performance and screen quality compare to the 15 relative to my Pismo? Is the lack of L3 cache a big issue for what I'll be doing -- I don't have it right now and still wake up every morning.
     
Superchicken
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Jan 29, 2003, 02:30 AM
 
a 733 lagging in Photoshop?!

Uhh... how? Like how big are the files? I used a 700 eMac with no L3 cache and it was breezing through 2 and 3 megapixel files like they were 640/480 images on my iMac 333Mhz... acctualliy faster.
and a 333Mhz is pretty close to a 500Mhz... I would say the 867 should be fine, not sure about quark you'd have to use classic since the new ones arn't 9 bootable.
But yeah the profformance of the 12 inch I'm not SURE on you'd be best to check out a bench mark site once they become more avalible. And then gauge it agianst a 500Mhz G3. I would say it'd be significantly faster, esspecialliy with quartz extream.
The monitor... not sure what resolution the pismos supported... my guess same size as far as pixels go, just more shrunk.

I'd say it should be fine.

Try one in the store, load a photo that you feel is big bring it on CD or camera or something to a store load it in, Fire up Photoshop or whatever they have there and check it out.

Personally I'd say go for it 15 inchers seem to wanna constantly say that anything below 15 inchs is to small... it's not.
     
   
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