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Looking at buying Mac laptop


Sam P
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I switched from PC to Mac years ago when I became interested in graphics. I had used Macs at school (Jr. college) and really liked the way they worked, but used Windows PCs because I could afford them.

 

I now work in a graphics profession, and the Mac is the default platform in the industry, so I use a Mac at work too. This isn't to say you can't do professional graphics work on a PC, you can, but it's less common.

 

Since then I've moved from graphics to video to music. Again, nothing you can't do on a PC, just my platform of choice.

 

At this point the differences between the platforms (Windows, Mac) are as small as they've ever been. Windows has become easier to use, and the Mac has become much more stable.

 

In terms of software, there's very little you can't do on a Mac, OSX has been a real boon in this dept since it's opened the floodgates to UNIX coders. The main area of weakness is with some brand new, but low-profile, technologies, for instance the porn...er...video format, DIVX. It's a pain to deal with on the Mac.

 

Overall, with the advent of OSX and now the G5, it's the best time in years to be a Mac user.

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Thanks for the response.

 

What about in terms of everyday usage?

 

I'm considering a notebook computer and I really like the build quality, size, and look of the Apple PowerBooks.

 

Maybe I can give you some ideas about my usage and you can suggest whether it's for me (vs. a similarly priced notebook running, say, WinXP).

 

I do mostly the following:

 

- Websurfing: LCVG (of course 8) ), online course materials, research, etc.

- Audio (music) / Video media (lots of downloaded car videos and you know, the other kind :oops: :lol: )

- Lots of writing.

- Some photo-tinkering using Photoshop. Some artistic renderings, as well.

- Some games.

- Wireless capability is a must for campus usage.

- No video editing capability needed.

- I'll also be writing plenty of Java on the computer, but as far as I know there shouldn't be any problems going back and forth between the notebook and my school's Unix systems.

 

Other things to consider are my library of PC software which I already paid for, vs. having to buy everything for Mac again. I also want my existing Windows documents to be moved over to the notebook.

 

What do you guys think? Any other things to consider?

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Originally posted by Sam P@Sep 16 2003, 02:14 PM

Thanks for the response.

 

What about in terms of everyday usage?

 

I'm considering a notebook computer and I really like the build quality, size, and look of the Apple PowerBooks.

 

Maybe I can give you some ideas about my usage and you can suggest whether it's for me (vs. a similarly priced notebook running, say, WinXP).

 

I do mostly the following:

 

- Websurfing: LCVG (of course 8) ), online course materials, research, etc.

- Audio (music) / Video media (lots of downloaded car videos and you know, the other kind :oops: :lol: )

- Lots of writing.

- Some photo-tinkering using Photoshop. Some artistic renderings, as well.

- Some games.

- Wireless capability is a must for campus usage.

- No video editing capability needed.

- I'll also be writing plenty of Java on the computer, but as far as I know there shouldn't be any problems going back and forth between the notebook and my school's Unix systems.

 

Other things to consider are my library of PC software which I already paid for, vs. having to buy everything for Mac again. I also want my existing Windows documents to be moved over to the notebook.

 

What do you guys think? Any other things to consider?

I use a PowerBook every day. In fact, I'm still using an older G3 Pismo. With the new G4s out today, though, I'm pretty close to getting one of the 15" PBs with SuperDrive.

 

I work with Windows people all day long with no problems. I also never crash.

 

As far as working with the school's Unix systems, OSX will be perfect for you. It's BSD.

 

For video, you should be fine, although there is the occasional file that won't play. Not many. For editing, you've got the best apps. For audio, again, some of the best apps out there.

 

For writing, Office X is great. Some say it's better than the XP version.

 

For games, eh, I wouldn't get a Mac for games. They are out there, but I pretty much never play games on my machine, but that's probably due to the G3 processor.

 

For wireless, just get an Airport card, and you're good to go.

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A Mac ought to fill most of your needs quite well.

 

- Websurfing

Safari is the best web browser on the planet. I'm totally serious.

 

- Audio

In my experience casual audio is kind of a mixed bag on the Mac. I say "casual" because I assume you're talking about mp3's and not music creation (where Pro Tools and others have made the Mac the platform of choice). Casual audio isn't as mature as on the PC. If you're a serious audio codec junkie (APE, FLAC, MPC, etc.) you'll find the Mac options range from barely adequate to non-existant (as is the case with APE).

Other codecs (MP3, AAC, Ogg) have great support. iTunes is great to a point -it doesn't have nearly the flexibility nor depth of a fully outfitted Winamp, Foobar 2000, or J. River Media Center but what it does it does very well.

 

- Lots of writing

I'm of the opinion that Microsoft Office for OSX is better than Office XP.

 

- Some photo-tinkering using Photoshop

As Ed mentioned, the Mac is the visual art platform of choice. -so, no problem with this requirement.

 

- Games

Obviously there's a major difference in terms of the quantity of games released (but you're not really going to expect much gameplay from a laptop anyway).

 

- Wireless capability

I've used 3 laptop PC's with integrated Wi-Fi. None of them could begin to compete with the ease of set-up of my iBook w/Airport card. Just select the network you wish to connect to and you're done. Range is great as well.

 

- I'll also be writing plenty of Java on the computer

Perhaps someone else can speak on this. I'm ignorant on Java.

 

Which models are you looking at?

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(Jay, thanks for moving this, I realized after I posted that it should probably be broken out...but I've had an exceptionally busy morning at work.)

 

- Websurfing: LCVG (of course), online course materials, research, etc.

- Audio (music) / Video media (lots of downloaded car videos and you know, the other kind )

 

Obviously Quicktime is fine, it will handle lots of formats. MS is about to, or just has, released WM9 for OSX. If you're viewing more obscure formats, then sometimes OSX can't do it, like I mentioned with DIVX (although there are some DIVX viewers out there, I haven't checked them out).

 

For audio, iTunes is a great application for listening to internet radio, ripping and managing MP3s and/or AACs, and for buying music through the online music store.

 

- Lots of writing.

 

You've got Word for high-powered editing. Or several other text editors of varying quality, price and feature-set.

 

- Some photo-tinkering using Photoshop. Some artistic renderings, as well.

No problem, but I'm not sure if you can cross-grade PS from PC to Mac, or vice versa.

 

- Some games.

You can do "some" games in OSX, but don't expect anything near the library you have on the PC.

 

- Wireless capability is a must for campus usage.

This is one area that Apple leads in. They've been building in wireless technology into every laptop for 3+ years. The integration is nice.

 

- No video editing capability needed.

And here's the rub when it comes to Apple computers. You will get video editing capability whether you want it or not. Every machine they sell has FireWire and iMovie. It's one of those things that makes Mac more expensive than PCs...you can't get one without these features included.

 

- I'll also be writing plenty of Java on the computer, but as far as I know there shouldn't be any problems going back and forth between the notebook and my school's Unix systems.

Since OSX is a UNIX system, shouldn't be a problem. However, it's my understanding that OSX's Java is slow compared to Windows. It's fully compliant, just slow.

 

As far as software goes, well that's up to you to decide whether it's worth your money and time to become dual-platform. Some software companies might let you cross-grade from one platform to another, some even include both platforms on one install disc.

 

I have a couple of friends who are high-level programmers (high-level in terms of talent) who have moved to OSX, one bought a PowerBook the other a PowerMac, and both of them are very happy. One (the one with the PowerBook, which has turned into 2 PowerBooks) has stopped using her PC altogether, except for gaming and while at work.

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I just happened upon an InfoWorld article written by a Windows user about using OSX...not sure if it applies to your situation at all, but it seemed relevant:

 

 

EDIT: It's a two-part article:

 

part 1: http://www.infoworld.com/infoworld/article...nnection_1.html

part 2: http://www.infoworld.com/article/03/09/12/...nnection_1.html

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The responses are much appreciated! You guys rock.

 

I'm specifically looking at the Powerbook 12-inch. I went to look at one just now and I really liked what I saw. The build is tight (all the shut lines are microscopic) and overall it looks superb. I'm slightly apprehensive of the Silver colour, however, as it appears very prone to scratches versus black plastic). The LCD is also very sharp. It'll be perfect for spending extended periods of time hacking away at an assignment. No eye sore!

 

The keyboard also seemed decent. I haven't sampled enough notebooks to generate a solid frame of reference, but I typed a paragraph without any errors. It didn't feel as good as a good old fashioned KB, but I'm sure it's something I can get used to (I've heard that many notebook KBs are horrible in that they are very mistake-prone). I sucked with the touchpad, though.

 

I looked at the bigger ones but I really liked the dimensions of the 12-inch. It's exactly the size I'm looking for. Not bulky at all.

 

Someone else shopping commented that it was a tad heavy, but again, I didn't have a frame of reference for that to bother me.

 

Question: The sticker on the machine was $2000 CDN, but the Apple.ca website claims $2299 CDN. Is it possible I was looking at an older Powerbook, not the G4? The website also claims a "a lightweight and durable aluminum alloy enclosure" but what I felt was more akin to silver-painted plastic. Maybe my fingers were lying or I didn't look close enough.

 

I've also heard about Virtual Windows. How well does that work? Will it run everything Windows should? What about the hardware compatibility issues? I think my primary motive for wanting a Virtual Windows, besides using the occassional Win-only app or file, is something you guys can probably understand, this site being what it is. :oops: I've always wanted to have a notebook with plenty of quality old games emulated. Genesis, SNES and the like. :oops: My notebook will double as a pseudo-Gameboy.

 

I think my biggest hurdle right now is budgeting for all the Mac software. Photoshop sure as hell ain't cheap. Neither is MsOffice. Money is always a concern, so I might have to settle for an iBook.

 

If I decide to do it, I'll be buying towards the end of the month. Maybe even early October.

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Question: The sticker on the machine was $2000 CDN, but the Apple.ca website claims $2299 CDN. Is it possible I was looking at an older Powerbook, not the G4? The website also claims a "a lightweight and durable aluminum alloy enclosure" but what I felt was more akin to silver-painted plastic. Maybe my fingers were lying or I didn't look close enough.

 

To my knowledge, the only 12" Powerbook is the G4 model. You should be aware that Apple updated the entire Powerbook line today. Faster processors, better video cards, etc. Well worth investigating.

 

Looking at your needs you might want to consider saving some money and going with the iBook. The only task on your list that is really a potential resource hog is Photoshop. Unless you do really serious Photoshop work the Powerbook might be more than necessary. The iBook can easily manage everything else on your list + light Photoshop use. That said, if you have the money...by all means go for the Powerbook -it's an awesome machine.

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OK, quick dumb possibly obvious side question:

 

I'm also drooling over the new Powebooks, am currently an XP user on my desktop and not sure about which way to go.

 

Specifically, though, I'm really confused on the whole wireless thing - Apple keep talking about their AirPort standard, but it seems to be the same thing as normal Wi-Fi. Do I just buy an Ethernet to WiFi port to go on my router in either case? Its just so I can surf the net in the living room next to my wife while she watches the TV, rather than holing up in the other room in an antisocial way.

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Originally posted by iainl@Sep 17 2003, 12:31 AM

OK, quick dumb possibly obvious side question:

 

I'm also drooling over the new Powebooks, am currently an XP user on my desktop and not sure about which way to go.

 

Specifically, though, I'm really confused on the whole wireless thing - Apple keep talking about their AirPort standard, but it seems to be the same thing as normal Wi-Fi. Do I just buy an Ethernet to WiFi port to go on my router in either case? Its just so I can surf the net in the living room next to my wife while she watches the TV, rather than holing up in the other room in an antisocial way.

AirPort is Apple's name for 802.11b and AirPort Extreme is 802.11g (54Mb/s). You can use any WiFi router that supports those stardards. I'm not sure about the laptop itself, I believe you need an AirPort card from Apple to enable the wireless transceiver, some of the higher end PowerBooks come with the card pre-installed.

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I had a mac laptop last year, and the biggest problem I had was hardware compatability. :cry:

 

To start, no printer. In order to print anything out I was forced to email it to my pc, then print it from there, a big waste.

 

2nd was no file sharing. I think this problem has been solved, but my win98 machine didn't not play nice w/ the os9 laptop I had. Any communication was through email attachments even though both machines were on the same network. :?

 

Lastly, my nice new sony digital camcorder. Seems sony didn't think it was necessary to build a usb driver for the macintosh. No video editing 4 me.

 

This hardware issue has been a nagging problem for years now w/ mac owners, and the reason they won't be seeing any of my money anytime soon.

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