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ibook now or next year?


Angry the Clown
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Psst, resident LCVG Mac nerds. I’m talking to you!

 

I'm still mulling over a decision to get an ibook. Given the hours of the morning I tend to sit awake and get on with written work I'm not finding sitting in the study staring at my desktop at 3am to be overly comfortable and as such think (hope) I could get more done with a portable device that I could take around with me when travelling, and also have on my lap whilst sat up in bed during those wee hours.

 

Looking at the recently updated specs I don’t imagine I’d need anything more than what the base unit 12 inch model delivers (unless someone could argue the 14 inch offers genuine benefits?). My interests these days are mainly for word processing use, and of course as a mobile connection for the ipod…etc, and maybe basic storage of photography work.

 

My concern mainly lies with what is to come in 2006, mainly the switch to Intel and how this might affect further support and availability for devices using the current chipsets and so on. It’s true I could get by without a notebook right now and just live with the discomfort of writing at the PC here, but I know I could get things done more efficiently if I had one. Whether this answers my question as far as deciding to get one now or next year is concerned I am not too sure.

 

The annual cycle of updates is always expected, so it’s not an issue of thinking ‘well next years will be better’ because if we held off buying because of such fears we’d never end up buying anything. The changes next year though would seem to be a little more pause for thought however, a little more radical what with a leap to a new chipset. I can accept a purchase will ultimately become obsolete, but how soon it might become obsolete is what really concerns me.

 

Daniel

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I don't even own a Mac, so I'm not the best-placed person to answer, but here are the two things I'd put forward:

 

1) 10 minutes playing with both (admittedly not the biggest test in the world) found the 12" to just be too small. The lack of screen real-estate and the tiny graphics had me struggling to see what I was doing clearly at a sensible distance (i.e. not hunched over the screen). So I'd take the 14" just for that.

 

2) If there are going to be any compatibility problems at all with this whole dual-architecture thing, it's more likely to be in the other direction. Fat binaries are actually easier to compile than Intel-only ones, but people with shiny Intel laptops will be waiting for all their apps to get recompiled if they don't want them to run horribly slowly under emulation.

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Well, in the weeks since Apple announced the move to Intel, I have seen a lot of commentary from people more knowledgeable than I (mainly at the Arstechnica forums, but elsewhere too) and it seems pretty safe to assume that the PowerPC will be well supported for quite a few years to come.

 

Apple has basically dictated that Mac applications will be compiled as 'universal binaries' which means that they will run on either Intel or PPC hardware. This is a one-click operation in Apple's development environment. I'm sure that in some cases this isn't as easy as clicking the 'universal' button, particularly with highly optimized applications (like video editing apps). But for the kinds of applications you mentioned, I believe this will work fine and that developers will offer apps that work on both machines for many years. The consensus also seems to be that this transition is a much easier one to make than the move from 68k to PPC that happened over a decade ago...and that was a surprisingly smooth one.

 

My feeling is that you are probably better off buying a machine now, with an established architecture that is well supported, than waiting until the Intel machines ship, with what will likely be limited software support.

 

The only negative is that when the Intel machines ship, there may be a flood of ported Windows apps that those developers won't bother to port to PPC. But those are apps Mac users don't have access to anyway, so I'm not sure you'd even notice.

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10 minutes playing with both (admittedly not the biggest test in the world) found the 12" to just be too small. The lack of screen real-estate and the tiny graphics had me struggling to see what I was doing clearly at a sensible distance (i.e. not hunched over the screen). So I'd take the 14" just for that.

 

Well I did look at bumping the 12" hdd to 60gb, but doing so makes going for the 14 inch outright more appealing as the price difference between the two becomes less of an issue considering the bonus of 60gb by default, slightly faster processor and DVD writer one gets with the bigger one.

 

Daniel

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Apple has basically dictated that Mac applications will be compiled as 'universal binaries' which means that they will run on either Intel or PPC hardware. This is a one-click operation in Apple's development environment. I'm sure that in some cases this isn't as easy as clicking the 'universal' button, particularly with highly optimized applications (like video editing apps). But for the kinds of applications you mentioned, I believe this will work fine and that developers will offer apps that work on both machines for many years. The consensus also seems to be that this transition is a much easier one to make than the move from 68k to PPC that happened over a decade ago...and that was a surprisingly smooth one.

 

My feeling is that you are probably better off buying a machine now, with an established architecture that is well supported, than waiting until the Intel machines ship, with what will likely be limited software support.

 

That's comforting. What do you think when it comes ot the sizes/spec, 12 or 14 inch?

 

Daniel

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That's comforting. What do you think when it comes ot the sizes/spec' date=' 12 or 14 inch?

 

Daniel[/quote']

 

Hmm, I think that's really a subjective judgment based on your needs, desires and work style. Have you tried out both machines?

 

On the one hand, the screen on the 12" is more cramped, but I don't think I've ever heard a laptop owner say they'd relish carrying around a heavier machine.

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My biggest complaint about the iBook is the 1024x768 resolution screen that they have had on them since they moved to the white design.
Yeah, this is why I decided not to go with an iBook recently as well (my Sony Vaio's motherboard died over Labor Day weekend, literally a day after I replaced the motherboard on one of my desktops because it had a bad cap). Also it uses a 6-bit LCD panel that didn't appear very vibrant, and it just seemed a bit difficult to read overall. If you have the chance, go to an Apple store/dealer and play around with one and see how you like it yourself. You should also be able to compare with the 14" model and get a feel for how you like the size of them overall.
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Have you tried out both machines?

 

I have yeah. The 12 inch certainly has that bonus of being so light and small, but things certainly are a little crampt. I’ll be in London this weekend and never resist a trip into the Apple store so I will have a play with them again…. Whether I leave the store with a purchased unit we’ll have to see.

 

A Mac owning friend of mine remains utterly convinced the universal binary element in future wont pan out as well as Apple hope and that PPC users will be stuck when it comes to new apps, patches and updates with a belief that no developers are looking to build for both chipsets. His is certainly the most pessimistic view on potentially buying a unit this year that I have come across. Doesn’t fill me with much joy, but I’m not sure I side with his vision of this bleak future for those who wont upgrade to Intel models so soon. I don’t understand how Apple could screw its user base like that. From a business perspective dropping support makes no sense.

 

 

My biggest complaint about the iBook is the 1024x768 resolution screen that they have had on them since they moved to the white design.

 

I agree the resolution really should be higher if you compare it to windows based laptops in the same price range. It's certainly a disappointing factor with the ibooks, and one I had really hoped they would update but I guess they won’t until they go Intel when ibooks will probably get a complete design overhaul.

 

Daniel

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Phil and I both went to Imac's in the last 2 months. If your switching right now your going to buy software now, and for the next few years both versions will be available. So after 3-4 years if they just decided to built for the intel machines only, its time for a new computer again anyway. The Intel machines are going to be rolled out over a period of time from what is being said. First probably will be the Mac Minis, then the laptops as they are dying for a cooler/fast chip, and then the Imac/G5 towers later next year. Plus apple is still planning on upgrading some of there G5 products before the Intel stuff comes out. I wouldnt worry about software if your buying a Mac right now

 

 

capt

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I went in leaning more toward buying the 12 inch. They only had the 14 inch in stock, and only one left at that... Naturally, I crumbled. I am rather thrilled with it to say the least though. Tiger is just heaven. I've no dead/stuck pixels either.

 

I'll assume it is more than wise to get MS Office for Mac for what I need? Obviously it'll help for taking files back and forth from my PC to the ibook, but I've never known if Apple offer their own word processing software to compete with MS Word, and I can't say it's a nice feeling having to spend a further ?350 on a Microsoft product to run on my shiny mac. :)

 

Daniel

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What type of office compatibility are you looking for? If its just Word support then Pages has you covered, PowerPoint, well then Keynote blows away PowerPoint...really does make PowerPoint look ancient.

 

But Office:mac does have some excellent features, Enterouge is probably the best Enterprise email client on the face of the planet. Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are so much better on the Mac.

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