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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > Help with macbook buy--$10 iTunes reward!

Help with macbook buy--$10 iTunes reward!
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jlfspook
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Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Chicago, IL
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Jan 20, 2008, 04:23 PM
 
Hey guys,

I'm trying to decide which laptop to buy. I was hoping for a MBP refresh, but it didn't materialize. Now I don't know if I even need a MBP.

My first Mac was a 17" Powerbook 1Ghz. It's on its last legs; it's almost five years old. The battery is dead. I'm in my third year of law school, so I've been using a 13" Sony VAIO for the past 2.5 years. All of my multimedia is in my Powerbook. The worst has been using the USB 1.0 port to sync my iPhone.

Daily usage? Web surfing/email, Office suite, iTunes, and iPhoto. Every now and then I use handbrake to convert DVD video to mp4s to use view on my iPhone. I'd also like to run Parallels to run Quicken for Windows. Until Intuit releases Quicken 2008, I don't think that the current Quicken version for Mac will serve as an adequate replacement. I don't use computers for gaming as much, although I'd like to check out Spore when it comes out. I haven't ruled out the possibility of purchasing an iMac in the fall as a home computer.

Help? My Powerbook limps along merrily, but it's just too slow for some things--especially Handbrake. I desperately want to run Leopard, which I've yet to install. I like the MBs, but I don't know if they have enough juice. The MBA is stunning, but, again, it seems underpowered. Is it too slow for my needs? The MBP is the gold standard for laptops, which is why I'm attracted to the MBP 15". I would probably buy the high-end model. I'm unsure as to whether I would add the 2.6 Ghz processor and the 7200 rpm hard drive.

I use to be huge into computers and hardware back in college but, with age, I've really lost touch with the field. I'm to the point that I don't really know the difference between 1.6 Ghz C2D on the MBA and the 2.6 Ghz C2D on the MBP.

Any help would be massively appreciated. Indeed, I'll reward good advice with a $10 gift card from the iTunes music store! My point in offering the reward is that I know it's laborious to recommend computers to people. I've been there before.
     
alligator
Mac Elite
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Minnesota
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Jan 20, 2008, 04:45 PM
 
I have a MacBook Pro (15" 2.4 GHz) and I have the exact setup you are describing. I'll answer your questions and give you my thoughts based on my real world experiences. I'm also an attorney, so I can relate.

I would first choose the MacBook Pro over the MBA because of the speed and hard drive size. I have a 120 GB 7200 RPM drive in my MBP and it performs equal to a desktop machine. The Mac works very well for all legal needs. I use Pages and export documents to Word when I want to share with others. I use Safari for all legal research and database connections (for example, docketing of due dates) to a central server.

Daily usage? I use e-mail (Mail), iTunes plus my various iPods, iPhoto for family photos, and iWeb for a personal web site. I can even run intensive applications like Aperture. It doesn't even break a sweat. I use Quicken 2008 for Windows after just upgrading from 2005. I run Windows XP in Parallels after trying to run Vista Ultimate. Skip Vista, it doesn't run fast enough to be effective. Windows XP simply flies and probably runs better than on a dedicated box. I maxed out my RAM to 4 GB, and dedicate 2 GB for Parallels. The 15" screen is too small to see all of the Quicken registers effectively unless you run it in full screen mode, but I do this only half of the time - mainly because I can live with a small window. I drive an external 23" Apple display with this machine, and it works perfectly. I switched from a fully loaded Mac Pro to this MBP and I the difference isn't that great. Skip Quicken for Mac, it doesn't have the same features as Quicken for Windows. I installed the Mac version on my father's machine, and the only thing it has going for it is automatic .Mac backup.

Skip the iMac, the MBP is portable. That's enough reason to get it alone. Use an external display, then you have the best of both worlds. I set up my father's iMac, so I know the difference.

If you have too many iPods or extra equipment, you will need an external USB hub. These are cheap, and can be purchased when you run out of USB ports.

The bottom line, I run my machine exactly as you describe, and I'm happy with it. (I'm also in a position to upgrade often, but I've chosen not to recently - that speaks volumes.)

Good luck with your purchase, and keep your $10 and spend it on something at the Apple store. You won't regret it.
     
seivad
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Join Date: May 2007
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Jan 20, 2008, 04:58 PM
 
g'day mate

it seems like your up for a Macbook

depending on if you do get an Imac, gaming on a laptop just isnt that cool - i use my macbook through bootcamp for basic games like the sims and rollercoaster tycoon etc....

by the sounds of the apps your using daily, and the fact you need to run windows apps, why not simplify your computers into one macbook. run windows through VMware Fusion or Bootcamp and you can kiss your Sony vaio good-bye!

i think a macbook pro would be wasted money for you, you wont be using its full potential, its pretty hard to stress one of these laptops - as many people would agree

-get a black macbook with 4gb of ram and 160gb hdd and you've future proofed yourself for another 3-4 yrs.

cheers Mickey
     
jlfspook  (op)
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Jan 20, 2008, 05:36 PM
 
That's fantastic advice. Thank you both.

Is there really that much of a difference between a stock MBP 15" with 2.4 Ghz, and a BTO w/ 2.6 and 7200 rpm drive?

And, also, the inevitable question: wait for refresh or buy now?
     
seivad
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Jan 20, 2008, 06:22 PM
 
buy now - everything gets out dated eventually, why not be happy with what you have! plus its got the new santa rosa system in the macbook pro's. they are at a good revision too, no whines, great OS X version, they've almost perfected what could be a macbook pro.

If your really keen for that extra screen real estate, get the macbook pro, but if your after bang for buck value....macbook anyday, thats why it gets such a high-rating on CNET, because it is that good.

cheers Mick - keep your $10 on iTunes and buy some COG (aussie band)
     
stwain2003
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Jan 20, 2008, 08:00 PM
 
I would say that the MacBook would be the best choice for you. If the only resource-intensive thing you're doing is HandBrake, the MacBook will do a more than exceptional job. I had a Mac mini 1.66GHz Core Duo with 512MB of RAM, and Handbrake flew! I also personally recommend against using Parallels, but instead using VMWare Fusion. From experience, it is a lot more stable. I also recommend that you max out the RAM (4GB). If you really need the maximum amount of power you can get, get a 7200RPM drive. But also, keep in mind that they run a tad hotter, and they consume more battery life than a 5400RPM drive.

If you feel that you need the 15.4" screen, a MacBook Pro isn't a bad computer, it just seems a bit overkill for what you're doing. While it is true that the MBP is the "gold standard", that's generally in the desktop-replacement category. The MBP gets significantly less battery life, as well as being heavier and flat-out big.
8GB iPhone
Coming Soon: Mac mini Core 2 Duo 2.0Ghz
     
jlfspook  (op)
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Jan 20, 2008, 08:13 PM
 
I feel the tug of the Macbook, I really do. The only thing that's holding me back is the lack of backlit keyboard. I really like that feature on my PowerBook, although I can't remember the last time I used it...
     
stwain2003
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Jan 21, 2008, 12:40 AM
 
Well it also boils down to the fact that you'd be paying at least $500 more for a backlit keyboard...
8GB iPhone
Coming Soon: Mac mini Core 2 Duo 2.0Ghz
     
Eug
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Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Caught in a web of deceit.
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Jan 21, 2008, 12:42 AM
 
Get a MacBook. It will blow your PowerBook away. Way, way, way faster than the fastest PowerBook ever made, for everything you mentioned.

Here are some benches I ran way back when:



     
   
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