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  1. #1
    Senior Member gore's Avatar
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    Oct 2002

    I need some opinions about Mac laptops

    Alright, Im in college as many of you know and well, I really need a laptop. Iv asked about this before i think but now Im also thinking about other options. I need a good laptop thats durable and won't break if it lands on a pillow. I went to apple.com and looked around there because even though I love PCs, Iv never really used OS X and I was looking there and seen that there laptops (although a bit pricey) seem to be awesome. I like the super drive idea. And also most importantly its based on Free BSD and has a version of unreal tournament. (heh yea thats a bit important) So my question is; The mac people have powerbooks and ibooks, Iv looked at both and im kinda lost. Iv never owned a Mac in my life and I need a little help in which one you guys would recommend.

    The laptop I finally choose on will be used for:

    School work and projects.

    playing a few games. Im not a "gamer" but I do like unreal tournament and things like that and I like playing games once in a while.

    I like music alot so ill prolly be taking CDs I own and adding them to the HD so I can listen to music.

    I like watching Videos from bands you dont see on TV. I know they have a nice app for this so im not to worried about that.

    I need the battery to last at least 3 hours. (Iv never had a laptop either but from what I understand this shouldnt be a problem.)

    Also it HAS to have a NIC. I noticed the Ibooks dont have these, not even as an option...well on the site they dont anyway...Do they have this option? If not Ill stick to narrowing down my selection to either a powerbook or a PC based laptop. (I heard Dell laptps were awesome but like I said Iv never actually used one so Im not sure.)

    Basiaclly what Im looking at right now is either a powerbook, an HP laptop, a Dell, or a VPR Matrix. (any suggestions are welcomed too.)

    I want it to be fast also. I was looking at the Macs and I noticed the processors are usually around 1GHz or so. Now this seems just fine but Mac OS X looks like it has a power hungry set of features. I dont need like 3GHz in speed but I dont want it lagging either.

    Also RAM...I can only imagine how much OS X takes up with all the nice clean cut looks it has and also Im used to Linux so RAM is important. I dont wanna have to rob a bank to pay for this but I dont want the thing running out of RAM while im working on a project while playing music and while surfing web sites.

    Anyone that has some know how about Mac laptops id really appreciate your help. I mean I want to be able to do things with it and also get work done and also play games once in a while. Soooo, what would all of you recommend? (Please do not say gateway laptops, I know I DO NOT want one of those) heh anything else though is welcomed. thanks.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2002
    If you have the $ I recommend buying a powerbook. I would really advise against buying an ibook if you want to play games or are used to speedier PCs. Powerbooks are schweeet. I like OSX but I can't afford to buy my own and my bro has an ibook and it is slow (too slow for me). Do yourself a favor and if you don't have the cash yet don't settle for ibook. Save the moolah and buy the powerbook. L8r.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Yeah I've used both. They make hardened Ibooks that you can drop :-)
    The cool part about OS X is that it IS Unix based and you can pull up a regular ol' bash shell and do most of the things you're used to doing in Linux/Unix. The GUI is very smooth and responsive and doesn't have a very large learning curve if you're used to Windows/X. They are very easy to use, almost too easy, which is exactly what Apple is trying to do.

    Admitadly, I'm not a "power" user of MAC's, we just have them at work so I have to support them. I find an Ibook to be more than adequate to surf the web and goof around. I've never tried to game with it though. The power book is going to cost you more, but it is beefier hardware. I would suspect with the new G5 processor being released, if you have a little patience you'll see the price on a G4 powerbook drop considerably.

    Anyway, though I haven't owned a Mac of my own in five years, if someone gave one to me, I'd use the hell out of it for a workstation.

    --edit. If the Ibook doesn't have a NIC, it's because they have built in wireless. Apple really want's you to buy one of their AirPorts for wireless access. As for PC based laptops, I'm a fan of Toshiba's, I have two that are like 7 years old and still run solid. I also like the Compaq Evo series, but have heard some unflattering things about the Presario series. ThinkPads are good too, and nobody ever got fired for buying IBM!

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    I've never owned a Mac personally (yet), but one of my relatives has a G4 Powerbook and I absolutely love playing around with it. Personally, I'd go for the Powerbook over the iBook, just for the more powerful G4 processors. Last I saw, most iBooks still only had G3. And if you're going to be gaming some, specifically UT, you may need the extra power.

    Thread_killer is has a point though, I get the sneaky feeling that the G5's are right around the corner...like, released within the next few weeks kinda thing. Either "Call for Help" or "The ScreenSavers" over on TechTV was dropping hints to the point that made me think that. So, keep an eye out...


  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    i used to have one of the VPR widescreen models (200A4 model. or maybe it was 200A5) anyway, i used it to play DAOC and the screen was incredible. It had built in wireless, and a slot CD-R/DVD drive (no tray, just a slot like a car stereo)

    the keyboard was somewhat of a pain, but that's just because i'm not used to laptop keyboards. other than that, i really liked it. the only bad things is, best buy manufactures and distributes them. so when best buy is sold out, your only hope is ebay...
    i\'m starting to think that i\'m bound to always be the first guy on the second page of the thread.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    iBooks do have a built-in NIC. It says so on http://www.apple.com/ibook/specs.html, and I've plugged many into ethernet networks.

    Rumors about the G5 being in laptops soon are, AFAIK, completely unfounded. Those things suck a lot of juice, and run hot. Not really laptop material. There are rumors of new PowerBooks coming out in the next few months, but they won't be a huge revision.

    Currently, you can put 1Gig of memory in the 15in PowerBooks, 2Gigs(!) in the 17in PowerBooks, 768Megs in the 12in PowerBooks, and 640Megs in the iBooks. I have 768 in my PowerBook, and it runs pretty well, even with Photoshop/Illustrator/etc. (Installing RAM in a PowerBook/iBook is really easy. Don't buy your RAM from Apple, it's super-expensive. (Though less of a ripoff than Dell.) Buy is somewhere else and install it yourself.)

    Gaming is a weak spot on MacOSX, but the big games do come out pretty reliably. Unreal Tournament 2k3 is out, as you noted. Everything from Blizzard comes out at about the same time as the PC versions. More info at http://www.apple.com/games/. Frankly, for the casual gamer (like, say, me) MacOSX is fine.

    As for battery life, Mac laptops are excellent. Some of the slower Centrinos get a longer battery life, but the performance just isn't there. 3 hours should be no problem. Sometimes I forget to plug in my PowerBook when I take it to work, and I don't even notice that it's not plugged in for 3-4 hours. (And it's running Folding@Home all the time, so it's at 100% CPU usage.)

    Schoolwork and the like should not be a problem. You can probably get MS Office for ch33p through your school, and that pretty much means that there's no interop problems with Windows. Of course, the developer tools are free from Apple, and there are no problems talking to other unix-like machines.

    Unless you're going to be using lots of Apps that take advantage of the vector units (Velocity Engine or whatever they're calling it these days), you might be happier with an iBook. Apps like Photoshop, Illustrator, and pretty much any video editing app use the vector units. For G4 optimized apps, the iBooks are still noticeably slower than the PowerBooks, but not by a huge margin. They're also smaller, lighter, and cheaper. That said, if you want the speed and features, the PowerBooks are damn nice machines. With one exception (see below), you should buy whatever machines best fits your budget. It's not like the iBooks are useless toys, OTOH it's not like the PowerBooks aren't a good value. Hell, even the 17in PowerBooks is well-priced compared to the competition.

    Oh, and don't get a 12in PowerBook just yet. They don't have any L3 cache, which slows them down considerably. Rumor has it that the next version will have cache, and be thinner, too.

    If you're even thinking about a mac laptop, I'd advise against a Dell. They make fine, decent-quality laptops, but they're just so clunky compared to Apple's. The Sony Vaios are a more comparable set of machines, but in my experience they're a little fragile. Most of my friends who have Vaio laptops have problems with keys falling off, cracked cases, etc. The VPR matrix machines looks pretty nice, they're basically Wintel clones of the PowerBooks. I can't say much about them, never having used one, but it's a bit worrying that they don't talk about battery life. They're fairly compact dual-spindle machines that don't have Centrinos, so I would definitely find some real-world battery life specs before buying one.

    Anyway, I have a 15in PowerBook 867. I'm very happy with it. MacOSX is great (although it's a bit unfamiliar to Windows users). A nice, lickable, consistent GUI with stable, powerful BSD is a truly wonderful thing. There's all sorts of ports of Linux software, only with a nice GUI. Take a look at MPlayer OSX, for example. The hardware is superb. My friend had dropped his PowerBook onto concrete. It dented, but worked fine. At work, people are always ogling my PowerBook when they walk by. The screen is great, it's pretty thin and light, and quite powerful. Hell, one of my Microsoft-loving co-workers is even thinking of getting an iBook, this after trashing Apple at every opportunity.

  7. #7
    Senior Member RoadClosed's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    This is contributing nothing to the thread because I have NEVER used an Apple Laptop but I know 2 things.

    1. They are powerful as hell
    2. They look MFing cool. The coolest thing out there.
    West of House
    You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door.
    There is a small mailbox here.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    I can't really add anything to what j3r said in his post, he was spot on, but I can say this.

    I bought my PowerBook because I was in the exact same position that you were in, I needed a laptop for college and I wanted all the stuff you mentioned. When I was looking only the really expensive PC laptops had built-in NICs and every Mac had one, something that Apple continues today hell the some of the G4's have built-in Gigabit Ethernet!!!.

    The mistake I made is that I bought a PowerBook G3 weeks and I mean WEEKS before the Titanium G4's came out, not to mention that it was before the days of MacOS X Beta. MacOS 9 had me looking at YellowDog linux, but once I got the X Beta, I realized that if I hang in there, I would have a fully functional OS with good memory management and a command prompt to boot.

    Unreal Tourney runs playably on my G3 400mhz + ATI Rage 128m, so I can only imagine on these new systems...

    I've never had a problem with RAM..., granted I've got a Gig sitting in my machine, but even when I had my machine compiling X Windows apps for 7 hours (it was a TON of apps, apparently everything in FINK had been updated so I had to spend 3 hours downloading source and then leave my computer on all night with its proc usage at 100%) I never have even broached the 60% mark of my RAM...

    Errors about running out of memory are a thing of the past and should rest with the dead MacOS Classic. Something that I only boot into to run photoshop because I am too poor to by a new copy.

    So do what you have to, but I think that Mac laptops are worth the expense, as all laptops are pricey if they are nice.

    Just a warning, don't think that all of your linux knowledge will translate well, somethings are very different, mostly revolving around something called NetInfo, as near as a can tell it is like LDAP/NIS type thing, I found a good .pdf file outlaying its intricacies, but its probably sitting in the depths of my Mac.

    The owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of dusk. -Hegel

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2003

    here is another AO member giving the rundown on the good things of his mac->

    although macs are the schtuph, i would not be able to use them, as most of my software is PC based. I could always buy an emulator, but by the time i've sunk money into mac versions of some programs, an emulator, the mac itself, etc.... i've spent enough to have purchased myself a pretty beeeeefy pc laptop.

    I'm currently doing some work on one of the new toshiba widesceen 17 models. it's amazing. (model number unknown - i gave it back to the guy already) but it's the one with built in wireless, combo drive, optional dvd-rw drive, and the list goes on. downfall: it's freaking huge. I could surf (in the ocean) on this thing, it's so long. but other than that, it's a great machine.
    i\'m starting to think that i\'m bound to always be the first guy on the second page of the thread.

  10. #10
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    I heard from a mac technician friend that this whole iBook thing is just a way to get rid of some of their old processors by covering them up with a pretty ibook casing, I would look into the Apple Pismo, they are running at around 6 to 800 on ebay and are truly sweet machines with a lot of expandability, when they were released (in 2000 perhaps, maybe 99) they were selling for more than the new titaniums. My friend just purchased one and it is really a sweet machine, great looks, all black with a white apple logo on back, and durable.

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