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Speaking of Apple... Some Advice?

? Feed Editors? Um, Yeah, They're Called Magazines |


| VoIP: It's Not a Car or a Brand of Vodka ?

November 02, 2005

Speaking of Apple... Some Advice?

Rob Hof

I'm finally thinking of making the Switch from a home Windows PC to Apple. And if you don't mind taking a little time, I could use the help of the Mac faithful out there. I want the new PC largely for doing Web work, storing multimedia, and using as an entertainment hub. I'm betting I'm pretty typical of a lot of people here, so your advice could be helpful to more than just me.

Anyway, my question is this: Which Apple laptop to get--iBook or PowerBook? I don't want to spend a whole lot of money, given that the Intel-based Apples to come out starting next year look promising, and I'll probably want to upgrade at some point. On the one hand, I want something that has a reasonably big hard drive, since I'll be using it as my main storage for all multimedia files, and that will last me at least a couple years--which suggests PowerBook. On the other hand, after lugging around a Dell D600 for years, I like the light weight of the iBook. And screen size doesn't matter much--for my purposes, smaller might be perfectly fine.

So, should I go for the best iBook I can get, or for a lower-end PowerBook? Thanks....

UPDATE: Yowza! You folks are amazing. So much incredible advice. I still haven't decided which way to go yet, but I'm staggered by the depth of your knowledge and willingness to share it. Anyone else who's looking to switch, the Comments are a goldmine! And don't forget the many more on Arik's post at Byte of the Apple.

02:19 PM

Apple Computer

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I would have made the switch a long time ago if my work tools didn't require me to use a Windows platform.

I'd go for the iBook for the simple reason that it's a lot cheaper. Intel-based Apples will throw the market into upheavel.

I'm hoping that come next year I can use a Apple computer with a dual-boot OS X and Win XP Pro system.

Posted by: Wes at November 2, 2005 03:07 PM

I recently purchased a 12" iBook. It replaced a 15" Titanium Powerbook and complements a Powermac. I really love the iBook. It's peppy! The little Mac that could. It's lighter, quieter, cooler, smaller and speedy since I got a lotta ram.

I didn't mind at all going from a 15" screen to a 12" either, though I do coding and Photoshop work on a cinema display.

The screen resolution of the iBook maxes out at 1024 x 768. So if you like your prOn...I mean, "multimedia", crystal clear, than maybe Powerbook.

If you really want to hold out for the intel mac, I'll float you my Titanium for a test run. It still very much holds it own. I'd only ask for your eldest child as collateral.

Posted by: dg at November 2, 2005 04:21 PM

I recently switched to Apple. I bought Power Book 17, and using it almost for the same things as you want. If you travel a lot, buy smaller if not, I would recommend you 17'' even if you do not care. You will like it. (at least PB 15")

Posted by: Marty at November 3, 2005 03:26 AM

Buy a small machine and a large fast external hard drive for storage of all material except that you are currently working on. You need at least 512 memory. My G4 Powerbook has twice that. Otherwise choose whichever machine has the most tactile and eye appeal for you.

Posted by: Peter at November 3, 2005 09:08 AM

unless you absolutely need the portability, it sounds like you should get a new iMac with frontrow...

Posted by: Ben at November 3, 2005 09:15 AM

I'm a Mac Systems Admin by trade. I've been doing this for well over 10 years now and have exclusively used powerbooks as my primary computer since 1997. I currently own and use a 15" Titanium 1 GHz G4 PowerBook. It gets hours of daily use, in excess of ten a day, sometimes close to fifteen. I purchased this machine in February of 2003. Prior to that I used a 300 MHz Wallstreet G3 Powerbook for five and a half years, since 1997.

My point here is to encourage you to by the most powerful laptop you can afford. Max out the RAM, get the largest hard drive. The iBook's a nice computer, don't get me wrong, but it'll become obsolete a heck of a lot faster than the PowerBook.

Finally, make sure you purchase the AppleCare extended warranty. One repair job for a PowerBook/iBook can easily exceed the cost of AppleCare upfront.

Posted by: Phil Burk at November 3, 2005 10:49 AM

If you are looking to do a lot of multimedia stuff on the the laptop I think you should look at the PowerBooks, because they have more video ram and faster bus speeds.

If you look to the new PowerBook with the 15" display you are also going to get the ability to have larger hard drives customer ordered and higher capacity of memory.

Just my two cents

Posted by: Joe at November 3, 2005 11:48 AM

You could investigate another choice, the Mac Mini. It's basically a Powerbook without the screen, keyboard, and mouse. The new models come with built-in wireless capabilities and you can use almost all PC peripherals. As Apple makes the Intel transition next year he may find the new portables more attractive. The Mini is the most cost effective switch possible and can be used for dedicated purposes should you get a portable later. The January's Macworld should see some new home device released in Jobs' keynote as all the existing hardware has already been updated.

Posted by: RBoylin at November 3, 2005 11:52 AM

As previous posters have suggested, the new iMac sounds ideal for your needs.

That being said, I encourage you to consider the new PowerBook over the iBook. As well as being somewhat speedier, the aluminum enclosure is much more robust, and the ability to run dual high-resolution displays in spanning mode is very valuable. The new PBooks have great displays, and I suggest the 7200 RPM drive as well. Automatic adjustment of screen brightness to ambient light (not to mention the back-lit keyboard) are among the many very nice touches that make the PBook much more than a utilitarian tool; it is a genuine pleasure to work with.

Good luck with whatever you choose.


Posted by: Bryan Crawford at November 3, 2005 12:39 PM

I would recommend steering away from the 14" iBook. The bigger screen doesn't give you any more pixels than the smaller screen.

Posted by: Russell at November 3, 2005 12:40 PM

I would suggest either a 12" iBook or 15" Powerbook to start with. The 14" iBook gives no gains display wise. I moved from a 15" iMac G3 to my 12" iBook and noticed no loss in screen space as they both had the same resolution.

If you want it to last a long time and you want to make the most of apps such as the iLife suite then I suggest the Powerbook. As someone previously stated 512MB of ram is really a minimum but seeing as all Macs come with at least this you are ok.

But if you don't need the portability of a laptop I suggest you look at the new iMacs as these are powerful enough for most tasks and as they are using G5 chips they are likely to be one of the last macs to switch to intel chips

Posted by: Martin Pilkington at November 3, 2005 01:11 PM

I use a 15" Powerbook as my only computer, and it's magnificent. If you want your laptop as a desktop replacement, I'd certainly recommend it. Another option in that scenario (especially if you travel a lot) is to get a 12" PB and augment it with an external display; that was my previous set up, but I really wanted the widescreen even when I traveled, and more desk space, so I sold the monitor and PB and that paid for the new 15".

However, as others have noted, with Intel transition coming, and your preference for a small screen, I'd probably recommend a 12" iBook. I had one a couple years back and it was totally reliable, and an unbeatable value, especially if you look for refurb or previous year models on Apple's website. Much more robust for travel (it's made to toss in a backpack) and a good adjunct to a desktop. And you can save major $ for when you're ready to upgrade to the MacIntel in 2 or 3 years (after the bugs are worked out).

Yes, the HD is small, but really, unless you need access to all your stored media all the time, an external hard drive makes a lot more sense for that purpose, or even just storing stuff on CDs.

The only drawback: the iBook doesn't support DVI output, so if you connect to an external display, you'll get a less sharp VGA image. Also, be sure to max out the RAM -- go to 1 gig total at least.

Posted by: brett at November 3, 2005 01:18 PM

Powerbook! Advantages - WAY better keyboard - WAY better display - dual-desktop when you connect DVI - you will love PowerBook and hate iBook!

Posted by: Mart at November 3, 2005 02:33 PM

I highly recommend the 12 inch PowerBook if you want portability. You'll simply love how portable this thing is, it's the most capable PDA you can imagine. instead of a pocket, you'll need a backpack, but you can still hold it comfortably in one hand.

Plug your PB into a monitor for extra real estate when you are writing an you'll be very happy. you'll need to elaborate when you say "multimedia". That can cover 10^2 in hard drive space. If you are creating a lot of video, you'll need an external drive in a couple years no matter what you start with today.

I have an 80 GB drive and I have 2000 audio files, 2000 5 megapixel images, Both seasons of Battlestar galactica, a season of FireFly and some Dr. Who, quite a pile of applications and file archives. In three years I've gone from 40GB to 60GB to 80GB. So expect to need twice as much as that in 3 years.

The iBook is pretty peppy. The video is decent. The Powerbook 12 is probably not much faster, but it is lighter and so small to be easy to handle one-handed. My Powerbook follows me everywhere. I tried a 17 inch and LOVED the screen but the portable 12 inch PB makes it such a wonderful companion.

Posted by: Naraa Haras at November 3, 2005 02:45 PM

Rob. Welcome to the light side. I'd get the largest iBook with added memory. Also get a new iPod for backup etc..

Then swap it oiut when the new Mac intel laptops are solid.

Posted by: RON NORRIS at November 3, 2005 02:47 PM

go with...

a mid range powerbook.

15" model. yes - it's a little more than you're hoping to pay but believe me after a few weeks you'll not be thinking about costs when you realise you've got a pretty darn robust machine that'll still be hot to trot for at least two years- and beyond that it'll still be going strong.

also the larger screen will give you ample room - the 15" inch running at its highest res gives you more room than you might expect - and you can always hook it up to an external screen / tv / projector. smaller might be fine for now - but you'll love having the slightly larger screen longterm. and its light!!

Posted by: peejay at November 3, 2005 02:49 PM


I switched years ago, buying an iBook because it was the cheapest route. I was thrilled with it, and for two years I did not need anything else, but eventually I filled the HD (The 10G HD that seemed plenty big just was not enough). I bought a 15" Powerbook and was even more thrilled - the big thing you gain is a better (and bigger screen). The bottom line is you can't go wrong, but if you can afford the powerbook, you will probably prefer it - especially for video editing. But if not the iBook will be a nice system.

The best place to get it is the Apple Store where you can look at the screens and lift them and see what size best fits your needs. Or if you want to save money check apple's deals page:

Posted by: bobby Skinner at November 3, 2005 02:50 PM

I'd get the 12" powerbook, with 1.25gb RAM -- Buy an external LCD - you can use it with a future machine. You get two independent displays with the Powerbook. When you travel, just disconnect the external display. At home, use the big display as your primary display. For backup and extra storage buy an external Firewire drive which again, you can leave at home when you travel. The 1.5ghz product should be fast enough for everything but creating a DVD, where patience will help. I use a high end G5 with a huge display at home, but travel with a 12" Powerbook. Have fun shopping!

Posted by: bill at November 3, 2005 02:51 PM

Additional info...Switching from Windows to Mac? Never forget to ask to "crossgrade" your software. That is, if you're switching to Mac, ask for the Mac version of your existing Windows software for the upgrade price before you just go out and buy a whole new version for full retail price.

Posted by: RON at November 3, 2005 02:53 PM

The 15" powerbook is your best bet. I think the intel-switch won't affect you that much. I use a 15" powerbook and speed isn't an issue. It's snappy.

I have a friend who recently sold his 12" iBook to get a 12" powerbook.

Go for the superior powerbook.

Posted by: dave at November 3, 2005 02:55 PM

I have used several Powerbooks from the inital Wallstreet, a 15" Ti PB and most recently (and currently) a 12" Al PB. My wife has a 14" white iBook and my sons share a blueberry iBook.

For me, the biggest difference between he iBook and current PBs is video out capability. iBooks I think only provide VGA and only support mirroring (although there may be a hack to get around this limitation). If you were to compare the 12" iBook with the 12" PB - I would think that the iBook would be the better value.

Since you mentioned that you want a larger disk, you may be forced to get the more expensive PB. If I were to buy today, I would get the iBook, max out the RAM, and buy an external Firewire drive. I actually use a couple of external drives now (each time I upgraded HDs from my older powerbooks, I purchased an external FW case that holds the older drives) and these drives work great.

For my thoughts, the main reason to get the PBs over the iBook would be get one of the widescreen displays that are available with the 15" and 17" PBs. If you do not care about the display (ie. can live w/ 1024 x 768) then go for the iBook.

Either way, you should be happy with the Apple laptop. They both will serve your needs. If you are still in doubt, go to an Apple store near you and play for a while.

Welcome to the Apple world

Posted by: rich at November 3, 2005 02:56 PM

I can't decide myself!

For 12in models, DVD burning is available only on PB models; the PowerBooks also sport better video specs for pro users; if these are not your essentials, then the iBook lines are great value products especially for first time user.

Posted by: DRZ at November 3, 2005 02:58 PM

Personally, I highly recommend the 15" PowerBook. It's my workhorse and its wonderful, but that said??f your looking to save money, and don't mind waiting an extra few seconds here and there when doing your mutlimedia work, then, I'd go for the 14" iBook, with a RAM and Hard Drive Upgrade. You'll want at least 1GB RAM (so an additional 512MB Memory chip) and if you eat storage space like me, you'll go up to the 100GB hard drive.

Now you can do those upgrades, and AppleCare directly from Apple and still come out spending less than for the 15" PowerBook. And if you wanted to shop around you could get the memory and hard drive far cheaper somewhere other than Apple and have CompUSA or some other certified vendor install and still be cheaper.

Either of those options work will if you need pure bang for your buck. Go for the iBook.

But ultimately, if you need POWER, go with the PowerBook. It's my work and play toy, the faster processor and video graphics card make it super responsive, and up to almost any tasks (well except high end sound editing, where 2GB RAM is sinfully slow). But I do web programming, make videos, database development and remote administration of a number of servers and client desktops (W2K, WinXP, W2003 Server, etc.). It rocks.

Posted by: allgood2 at November 3, 2005 02:59 PM

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Posted by: RON at November 3, 2005 02:59 PM

I have a 15" Powerbook. It is a very nice computer. I rarely even use my desktop computer anymore. I bought mine refurbished from the Apple Store for about $300 less than the new price with a 1 year warranty.

Posted by: dogfriend at November 3, 2005 03:00 PM

While everyone else is saying stay away from the 14" iBook because it has no more pixels than the 12" iBook, there is the advantage that the pixels are larger. From your photo on the masthead, it appears that you are no longer a youngster and thus may be of the age where your eyes aren't what they used to be. You may find the the larger pixels easier to see when comparing the two iBooks.

The 14" iBook is faster, has a bigger HD, and a CD/DVD burner (while the 12" has a CD burner/DVD reader)- all features that may be of interest to you. Of course you can have an upgraded model builf for you. And upgrade the RAM - that you can do for yourself at less cost.

On a similar subject, the latest PowerBooks are offering more pixels in the same size screen than the models they replaced. To do this, the pixels were made smaller. This allows more, but smaller objects to be displayed on hte screen. Increased magnification may in fact lead to smoother edges (e.g. expanding MS Word Magnifcation above 100%), but for other applications magnifcation may not be the answer.

Bottom line - go to a store and compare them side by side. There is no wrong choice, just one model may be better than another for YOU.

Posted by: Bob at November 3, 2005 03:05 PM

While everyone else is saying stay away from the 14" iBook because it has no more pixels than the 12" iBook, there is the advantage that the pixels are larger. From your photo on the masthead, it appears that you are no longer a youngster and thus may be of the age where your eyes aren't what they used to be. You may find the the larger pixels easier to see when comparing the two iBooks.

The 14" iBook is faster, has a bigger HD, and a CD/DVD burner (while the 12" has a CD burner/DVD reader)- all features that may be of interest to you. Of course you can have an upgraded model builf for you. And upgrade the RAM - that you can do for yourself at less cost.

On a similar subject, the latest PowerBooks are offering more pixels in the same size screen than the models they replaced. To do this, the pixels were made smaller. This allows more, but smaller objects to be displayed on hte screen. Increased magnification may in fact lead to smoother edges (e.g. expanding MS Word Magnifcation above 100%), but for other applications magnifcation may not be the answer.

Bottom line - go to a store and compare them side by side. There is no wrong choice, just one model may be better than another for YOU.

Posted by: Bob at November 3, 2005 03:06 PM

I switched last year - as a matter of fact, November marks my 1 year anniversary with Apple's Macintosh. And ya know what, the honeymoon ain't over either! :-)

Anyway, I would suggest whatever you get has 1GB of RAM (not 512mb like some have said here).

Also, get the 100GB HDD at 7200 RPM.

Get at least the 15". I think the 12" still runs at 1024x768. That's okay for traveling, but when you're working at home . . . well, you may want to do like I did with my 12" PB and hook it up to a larger monitor while at home. The video card in it can go up to 2048x???something. Check for specs.

Also, you may just want to configure the laptop at and compare features and prices between the powerbook and ibook. If you are definitely going to jump on an Intel Mac next year, maybe go for cheaper. Just depends on you and your pocket book. :-)


Happy in Utah with 3 Macs purchased in less than 12 months.

No more Windows at my house! It's awesome too.

Posted by: MacSwitcher04 at November 3, 2005 03:11 PM

I suggest you get one of the new 15" powerbooks. The screen is an absolute pleasure, and the machine is NOT heavy - it only weighs about 5lb. Most comparable PCs will add 3-4 lb to that total.

The new powerbooks also come with 128MB of video memory and have a fantastic battery life.

However, as others have mentioned, if you don't really need the portability, the new iMac seems tailor-made to suit your needs.

Good luck!

Posted by: Jon at November 3, 2005 03:13 PM

Although I am in love with my 20" iMac G5 for photo work (and a machine beautiful enough to have sitting in your living-room), I do sorely miss travelling the POWERBOOK 12" ALUMINIUM I had with my last job. Sturdy, light, lovely to look at, and in my opinion a much better key feel than the more "plasticky" iBooks.

Mind you, with my new job coming with a horrible 10 pound HP craptop, I'd take a Newton at this stage.

Posted by: JP at November 3, 2005 03:17 PM

I been using a 12 inch iBook for the last two years and I love it! I have a 17 inch monitor at home which I use to expand my display (you don't really need a PowerBook for this feature--google it and you'll find the software) so it's great when I'm at home and can use the big screen in addition to the laptop's screen. I carry it with me constantly and it's so light I barely even notice it.

If you decide on a 12 inch model, get the iBook. It has the same screen resolution as the PB. You don't get DVI with the iBook, but if you can live without that, save yourself some money-- so you can piss it away later when the MacTels come out ;)

Though if you're going to get a larger screen, you should definitely look at the PB which has an incredible high-res screen.

Whatever you decide to get, you're going to be extremely happy! Enjoy...

Posted by: Steve at November 3, 2005 03:18 PM

I bought an 14 " IBook and a OWC Mercury Elite Pro-AL Pro FireWire 800/400+USB2 Combo Solutions w/300g HD as extra storage. I also upgraded to 1 gig ram.

Posted by: DonLvNv at November 3, 2005 03:22 PM


My son has the 12" powerbook, my daughter has the 15" ibook. Both are good machines, run fine. But with your concerns about cost and the Intel switch I'd go with the ibook.

I'm taking your post at face value and I'm assuming that you're not a power user. The powerbooks are great machines, and my son's is a marvel. But I'm reading into your post that you want to switch, but are anticipating also another computer purchase in the near future. If this is true, then I recommend the ibook.

I agree with the earlier posts, load them with extra memory. Either laptop will be fine. The ibook will be cheaper, but you won't notice a real lag in performance verses the powerbook. I borrow my daughters ibook to record 16 tracks of audio on Cubase sx... works fine, doesn't chirp.

Office for mac opens all of your files, and you'll love no malware, and no viruses. Make sure you save all of your addresses, links, and documents. They'll import fine.

You'll have about a week of slow-time learning the new OS.... but then it will become more and more intuitive.

Finally, on the "entertainment/media hub" question. I've always ascribed to having an external HD for my media in the mac or windows environment.. As mentioned before, I do digital audio recording. One of the drawbacks in the media realm is that when your HD houses your application, and your data, it can really overwork your hard drive. Your hard drive is constantly switching from application to data, and it puts a lot of stress on the physical mechanics of your hard drive. Prolonged use will burn up your hard drive. This is true in the windows as well as in the mac world.

Having an external HD will allow you to put the applications you want on the mac, and the data on the external. You can also share it, and make it portable that way. If you're getting rid of an old windows machine, and you have a HD on it that's in good working order, you can just slip it into an external case and reformat it. You'll want about 7500 rpm.

Having said all that, all of this is critical for recording. So if you plan on recording movies, or audio, then you should get an external HD. If you're just gonna load the data on the HD and then play it, you're probably ok in the long run leaving it all on the laptop.

Get the extra battery, especially if you're going to be playing movies.

enjoy... feel free to email me personally if you have any questions.

Welcome to the dark side! lol.


Posted by: jim at November 3, 2005 03:23 PM

As a long-time Mac user, but always on desktop models -- Performa 636, iMac Rev. B, PowerMac Quicksilver G4 -- I've long dreamed of having a laptop but was put off by their cost and lack of expandability.

With the announcement of the switch to Intel, however, I've decided that I will give Apple's first Intel-based notebooks serious consideration. Dual-boot capability would seal the deal for me.

That said, if I were you, I would consider an iBook teamed with a large external hard drive then look to upgrade to an Intel-based model when they become available.

Good luck, but I'm sure whatever you choose you won't be sorry about making the switch.

Posted by: Thumper at November 3, 2005 03:44 PM

I don't think anyone mentioned the PowerBook are lighter than the comparable iBook and on the iBook you can only mirror displays (unless you find the hack to correct this-it's out there so i hear.)

The main thing is you're making the right choice (pat pat pat on the back).

Posted by: Skip Flipjack at November 3, 2005 03:44 PM

Choosing which Mac to buy is always a hard choice. In our family we have 3.

I use a 15" PowerBook for business travel and connect it to a 23" monitor at the office where it does everything needed in a one man company. For me it is a great computer and I have bumped the RAM to 2 gigs - using a third party vendor as Apple's memory is rather expensive. The ability to work on the large display is a huge advantage and very addictive.

The wife has the 12" iBook which she prefers over the 20" iMac because she can sit at the kitchen table, surf the web and watch TV. I've used it a bit and love it also. There are restrictions, however, especially the RAM limitation. Depending on how much you want to get into multi-media a lot of RAM later down the road might be need.

The 20" iMac is the third computer and I use it more than my wife does. I have a gig of RAM and might move up later to 2 gigs, but I'm very happy with how it is performing as it is.

The main question is: do you really need a portable? If not then the iMac is about $800 cheaper than the 15" PowerBook (with the PB having the faster HD and both including AppleCare).

If you are going to head towards the $2,000 mark then I think the 20" iMac is the best value. If you are pushing below the $1,000 then the iBook is a great start, as is the Mac mini. You cal also consider a Mac mini with the 23" display - that will get you spoiled quickly and set you up for a move to a PowerMac one day.

AppleCare is a must in my opinion. I had to call today with a problem and spent 55 minutes on the phone with them, only to find the problem was something MS put in the Startup folder. My PB is over a year old so AppleCare picked up the tab.

One last comment. If you're like me you'll end up doing more on a Mac than you did on a PC. There is a ton of apps on Apple's website, from freeware up to commercial apps. There is also an ad free site ( that lists over 13,000 OS X apps.

Check out all options in person and enjoy the switch!

Posted by: Ken at November 3, 2005 03:47 PM

I would get a Powerbook if you can afford it. Although our 17 inch PB cost $3000 two years ago, it is definitely worth it and runs very well even after two major OS upgrades. I would imagine it will be another 2 years before I start to see the CPU struggling to keep up with the demands of upgraded software and OS.

As others have said a couple of things are important:

Max out the ram - I have 1 gig in mine.

Get Applecare - had to have a catch fixed - the bill without AC would have been over 300 bucks.

Online vendors often give you a base price with a lot of things thrown in. I got 513 MB ram, carrying case, printer all for free with the PB.

I also paid about 60% of the retail price for the Applecare by buying online. You have to get it before the 1 year warranty runs out.

Good luck and welcome to the Mac club


Posted by: Neil at November 3, 2005 03:58 PM

Rob - consider this: you are buying a tool. How well do you need it to work? There's a lot of good advice here, but in the end - you still need to get the tool in your hand, on your lap, in front of your eyes. Go to an apple store and test 'em out.

My company has used G5s, G4s, 15" laptops, 12" laptops and a Mac Mini. We love 'em all, and they all do the job we bought them for. You just need to consider what you want to do and what is important to you when you do it. Keep that in mind and you won't go wrong w/any model.

Posted by: Mark at November 3, 2005 04:07 PM

I have a Rev. A 12" G4 Powerbook and it's my main computer and has been since I bought it. I do quite a bit of digital video and photography work, Garageband, etc. and it's great. We debated 12 vs. 15" and went for the smaller for more portability. It's very light but extremely capable; I'd go for 1GB of RAM, when I upped mine to that things improved quite a bit. Whatever you get, enjoy!


Posted by: steve at November 3, 2005 04:18 PM

Get the 12" PowerBook now on sales. It's exactly what you are looking for, just right out of the box.

80 GB HD and SuperDrive for your multimedia storage, enough power to last a couple of years, lighter than any iBook ever made.

Go for it.

It's stunning.

Posted by: Carlo at November 3, 2005 04:29 PM

Get the 15" powerbook, its the best deal for the money if you want a laptop and it does dual monitors without haveing to use mirroring. You can watch a movie on one monitor and do some work on the other. Its also a good size for travel. If you do get a laptop I would put the Dock on the side, this give you a little more lenght for your windows.

Posted by: Jerry W at November 3, 2005 04:38 PM

Lots of opinions, all supportable! Any Mac laptop is a great computer.

As the owner of a small database consultancy and a HEAVY user of these things on the road and in the office, my comment is that the 15" Powerbook is pretty much acknowledged to be the workhorse of the Apple portable line. Really, any of them will probably do fine for you, but this 15" that I'm writing on now - two years old the other day and still my main business computer (have a 12" PB as a spare/backup - is the best computer I have ever owned. These things are serious machines. You CANNOT go wrong with one.


Posted by: david lundgren at November 3, 2005 04:41 PM


I have used most of Apple notebooks and I recommend the 17?powerbook. I know that the size of the notebook really bothers many. However you will only notice the size when you pull it out of your bag and put it into your bag. When you carry it around it will feel the same as most notebooks with a little more weight.

But once you open it and use it, you will thank me!!!!!! It’s worth the larger size screen and more of everything else. Remember your using UNIX soooo make sure you have 1 to 2 gigs of RAM.


Posted by: wwd at November 3, 2005 04:43 PM

I am a college student who switched to Mac after the computer I bought with the $1000 gift certificate the college gave me as enticement to come, went dead only two weeks after arrive on campus.

At the time there were two verstions of the 12" and I got the best. I've had the computer for nearly three years now, and it's great. I'm currently studying abroad in France and only after taking nearly 10,000 photos at high resolution on my Canon 20D did my hard-drive become full.

I'd say go with the Powerbook, you'll be able to use it for several years, and still get your hands on an Intel based Mac, when they come out, maybe one of the lower end ones.

I currently need to buy a computer for a job that I have, and will probably go with the iBook simply because I won't do as much multi-media on it.

Hope this helps!

Posted by: Tyler at November 3, 2005 04:44 PM

I may as well chime in.

The 12" iBook is my preferred choice for its ruggedness and portability. It's almost too portable for some people, and for them I'd recommend the 15" PowerBook. The 17" is a whopper and you begin to lose some of the portability with it.

The iBook doesn't have some of the more "pro" features, such as a PC Card slot or the faster Firewire 800, but it packs everything else.

All the best with your new Mac.

Posted by: Ted Wood at November 3, 2005 04:55 PM

Mr. Hof:

Congratulations on your decision to leave the dark side. Once upon a time I switched. I've been living the utopia that is mac for over 3 years now, the painful memories of the windows experience are behind me, and I've never been happier...

If you plan on upgrading you mac next year when apple offers intel processors and in turn the ability to run OS X and windows side-by-side--financially speaking it makes more sense for you to go with a cheaper mac, regardless of which model that might be. That said, there really is no difference between the powerbook and ibook. You can build either one (via to be internally identical, however the powerbook will always be more expensive because of it's "titanium" shell. Both are good machines, and while they may be slightly higher priced than the windows-based competition, you're paying extra not only for the sexiness that is apple, but for the most advanced, secure, and hassle-free OS that is X. Hope this helps...

Good luck, you won't regret it!


Posted by: Rick M at November 3, 2005 04:57 PM

Hey Rob,

I didn't have the time to read all the responses to your request, so at the risk of repeating someone else's, try looking a website called "Macofalltrades".

My son recently purchased a G3 iBook from them for about $400. The drive is small (in my opinion - 20gb) but it serves his needs well. I believe you can purchase an airport card for the laptop from them for about $95 more.

You should visit an Apple store near you and be prepared to spend some time there. They have lots of goodies for you to try out and my experience with the staff has been really great.

I recommend that you stretch and try to spend as much as you can. In the long run you will be happier. The newer ibooks & powerbooks contain an airport card and bluetooth capability, which will contribute to your computing experience. The ibook has a polycarbonate shell that seems to take the day-to-day punishment rather well. If it's overall power you want (in a laptop), then the powerbook is the direction to go.

I think you'll be quite excited as you learn more of the things you can do with the Macintosh and OSX. Enjoy!

Posted by: Stephen H at November 3, 2005 05:00 PM

Welcome, Rob, and congratulations! My advice is to get the 15" PowerBook - it's a workhorse and believe me, once you start using it you'll be surprised at how much of your work (not just home computing) you'll move to it. I personally switched three years ago and as corny as it sounds, it really has made a difference in my life. Less stress, more productivity, and not to mention the Apple community...they're the friendliest and most helpful bunch of folks you've ever met. (Hi everybody!) Whatever you go with you'll be pleased and there are literally thousands of people to help you along. It's an experience, that's for sure. Let us know how it goes - these folks LOVE a newby.

Posted by: Bill at November 3, 2005 05:04 PM

Powerbook, I am a pro photographer and love the 12 inch for its reliability, size, screen, and all the other good stuff mentioned above, stuff as much ram as you can afford into it.

Posted by: gheem at November 3, 2005 05:07 PM

Get a 12" Powerbook, a 19" Dell Ultrasharp flat panel monitor, and a couple of huge external hard drives.

The Powerbook is plenty powerful for your needs, but you don't want to use a laptop for a storage device - the drives are too small, slow, and prone to getting stolen/dropped/gummed up with a spilled Slurpee, etc. The large Dell flat panel is easy on the eyes and helpful with images and other multimedia. You can use a couple of Firewire drives for fast, redundant storage. Keep one in your car or office, the other in your home, so there's always a safe copy.

Powerbooks retain their value better than iBooks, don't scratch as easily, are smaller and faster, and have more ports. You can drive an external monitor with them, and you'll admire its beauty every time you use it!

Have fun!


Posted by: Paul Hagood at November 3, 2005 05:23 PM

First off, it doesn't matter which Mac you get, OS X is a world better then Windows. After switching from XP to OS X 3 years ago, I couldn't believe how stupid I felt for not trying a Mac earlier. My Mac has brought back the fun to using a computer.

I think an iBook is a great machine. I just bought a new 15" 1.67Ghz Powerbook to replace my 14" 700Mhz G3. That old iBook is still a great machine and has held up well. I moved to the Powerbook for the bigger screen and the ability to run my 20" cinema display as an extended desktop. That being said, I don't think you can go wrong with an iBook with a Superdrive for your first Mac. It's good looking, a good performer, and it's tough.

Posted by: Mike Riley at November 3, 2005 05:25 PM


I say go with your gut vs portability. You can use an external hard drive (get firewire or dual port) to get 250 to 500 gigs when you need it. Using it is super easy.

I use a 14 inch iBook and I really like the extra size screen. When I work in an application, it still leaves me room to play with other things on my desktop. Just a thought.

Enjoy your Mac. :-)


Posted by: N. E. at November 3, 2005 05:45 PM

Hi Rob,

Nice to see you're "coming out" :)

I would get a 15" PowerBook - assumimg that a desktop model (iMac G5) won't do.

Get a good external FireWire drive for backups and extra storage: Spend $20 on "SuperDuper!" for backups. Excellent piece of software.

Get a GOOD case for the PB - don't use a backpack or a "sleeve" I use a Zero-Haliburton hard case - the kind that all the drug dealers use in movies (aluminum)

If you travel a lot, and worry about stolen data, get "Securikey" It's a hardware dongle/software package that will keep a lost or stolen PowerBook's data away from 99% of the would-be "finders" of your laptop.

Join the Apple "Discussions" to get the most help/advice from knowledgable people - great place.

Spend the extra money on AppleCare. Laptops are more fragile and costly to repair (doesn't cover damage caused by negligence)

Use Firefox as your web-browser. Safari is excellent, Firefox is catching up though.

Buy good quality CD/DVD media. Test the brand first though - some drives are finicky.

There's lots of great freeware/shareware for the Mac - goto for the latest.

Use sites like, and for Mac info. is great for iPod-related goodies.

Enjoy NOT having spyware and viruses!!!

Good luck, and welcome.


Posted by: Scott Boettcher at November 3, 2005 06:04 PM

15" powerbook is the way to go. not as bulky as the 17 and will all the pazaaz!!

Posted by: j at November 3, 2005 07:09 PM

Someone mentioned that you should give yourself a week to learn the OS. While your milage may vary, he brings up a good point. Give yourself time to learn the way the OS behaves and the applications within it. Its going to

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