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Laptop Buying Guide for Designers
I’m in the market for a laptop. At peak production, I’ll run Freehand, Flash, BBedit, Firefox (or other browser), Dreamweaver, and Photoshop. (Sometimes, all of the above applications are open in addition to Word and Excel.) I’ll do PDFs or PowerPoint presentations, but not much video work. I’m wavering between an iBook or PowerBook, and not sure what screen size will be best either. Monitor size. Durability. Pros and cons. Share your thoughts on the above matters as they relate to your needs, insight or experience with Apple laptops.
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ARCHIVE ID 2346 FILED UNDER Hardware/Software
PUBLISHED ON Jun.20.2005 BY Jason A. Tselentis
mad scientist’s comment is:

I've had (and continue to have) great experiences using a 800 Mhz 15 in Powerbook G4 (DVI). This is the old Titanium model, with 1 GB total RAM.

The newer 15 in Powerbooks are a great platform for what you are doing. They have DVI connections on them, so you can hook them up to any flat panel you want for an extra display when in the studio. The iBooks are nice, but limited in screen size and won't do dual monitors natively.

Just be sure to bump up the RAM to as much as you can afford. Happy laptop shopping.

On Jun.20.2005 at 01:32 AM
Virginia’s comment is:

I've got a 15" Powerbook and use it in a pretty similar way. Go for a minimum of 1GB RAM, and get yourself some kind of stand for it to sit on when it's not travelling - they really do heat up, and some air circulation's gotta be a good thing. Also get an external keyboard and a fancy multi-button mouse, to cut down on cramp. The iBooks are more rugged, but the Powerbook is a classier, faster, better machine. The 15" screen is a perfect trade-off between size and portability (and you could always buy an external monitor to add to it). HTH!

On Jun.20.2005 at 01:34 AM
Tselentis’s comment is:

So that's two ticks for the 15 inch. Besides a larger screen, what advantages does it have over the 12 inch?

On Jun.20.2005 at 01:45 AM
alykat’s comment is:

I'll second the previous two recommendations for the 15in PowerBook.

Don't have much to say about the 12in. Looking at the tech specs, I think it has a couple fewer ports than the 15in does, and it the processor is marginally slower (1.5GHz vs. 1.67GHz). It also doesn't come with as big a hard drive as its larger siblings. I used to work with someone who had a 12in, and he seemed to like it quite a bit, but he didn't do any design work with it. The screen seemed too small to work as a full-time machine for me.

At that same job, I had a 17in P'Book, and while both the computer power and the screen real estate were fantastic, I found it was a little too much laptop to be carrying around with me every day, particularly when travelling. Also, since it's not as universal a size, it was a bit more difficult to find a good carrying case for it.

On Jun.20.2005 at 02:07 AM
Nick Frühling’s comment is:

Here's another one for the 15", which is the best of both worlds: not too big and not too small. Goldilocks would chose the 15" Powerbook.

I've got the 15" and it's the best ever, in the world. My father in law has the 12" and while it's an awesome machine you can carry around easily with one hand, if you were doing more than checking mail, surfing the net, or playing music, it's too small. Especially with the big programs and their pallettes, even with my 15" I miss some of the Illustrator windows that I have at work on a 19" monitor, but only one or two that I have to move sideways instead of down.

Just got another compliment on the size of the screen today, and when my Powerbook arrived in the mail, I honestly thought they had sent me a 17" by accident, it's that nice.

On Jun.20.2005 at 02:15 AM
Justin’s comment is:

The 15" has a Firewire 800 port and the 12" does not. It also does not use that freakly mini-dvi port. The FW800 is really great if you ever do any video work or want to do anything remotely bandwidth heavy when connecting externally since it essentially gives you two firewire buses (say, the FW400 for a DV cam and the FW800 for a hard drive).

I'd also get the biggest, fastest hard drive you can, which I think is a 5400RPM 100Gb job. Don't get anything less than 1Gb of ram, either. 128Mb of video ram will also help a bit too, since Quartz2D Xtreme (or whatever) will basically run a lot of the GUI stuff on your video card and ram can help a bit there.

If you wanted to skimp anywhere on the 15", I'd cut the superdrive. Most people hardly burn dvd-rs, and you can already buy a 16X external dual layer for about the money you'll save.

I am on my 2nd 15" and love it. Can't wait till they put an Intel Yonah in it.

On Jun.20.2005 at 02:22 AM
Rick’s comment is:

FWIW, I inherited a small (14"?) 800MHz iBook. I can run Illustrator no problem. Photoshop is okay, but nowhere near what I get on my G5; slow enough that I'd rather wait until I'm at my desk. BBedit would run fine on a vintage Texas Instruments GerbilWheel2000, so no worries there.

I'm all in favor of buying as much computer - and as big a screen - as you can afford. I'd much rather lug around a big machine that does what I want than curse a little one that doesn't.

On Jun.20.2005 at 03:00 AM
pk’s comment is:

i use a 15 as well, 1Ghz with 2GB RAM installed. i actually upgraded from a 12" because the teeny keyboard left me nowhere to prop my wrists and therefore hurt like the dickens.

i almost went to a 17, but as i was test-running them, it just felt ridiculous. it wasn't significantly faster, so the overall net gain was that people would look at me in coffeehouses and go OOOO CHECK OUT MISTER THINKS HE'S ALL THAT, which would have sucked.

as for souping up your machine, you can actually get a 7200RPM drive, but it's pricey. relatively new, and i think it's only made by samsung.

On Jun.20.2005 at 03:20 AM
Drew’s comment is:

15" loaded with RAM

external firewire drive for backups/large files

maybe a giant flatscreen to plug in to at home if you want it

On Jun.20.2005 at 03:31 AM
Tselentis’s comment is:

And the weight / transportability of the 15? Is it really a pain lugging that around? What about working with it on airplanes or within the confines of a hotel?

On Jun.20.2005 at 04:14 AM
Michael Holdren’s comment is:

Jason, I'm going to go against the grain here and suggest a 14" iBook. Both the iBook and the Powerbook have G4 processors, and since you're not doing a lot of video work, you're probably not going to need the extras on the Powerbook.

Do you like to connect to an external monitor? If so, you will only have monitor mirroring on the iBook while the Powerbook will use the monitor as a true second display, giving you two desktops.

The big difference is the price point. The iBook is substantially less expensive given it has practically the same performance as the Powerbook.

Also, whatever 'Book you go with, load that puppy up on RAM. But don't do it through the Apple store, go through MacMall or MacWarehouse or some other third-party vendor. Their RAM prices are lower than Apple's and they usually run a special giving you a free inkjet printer or a free RAM upgrade.

I have the first Titanium Powerbook, which is 15 inches. I've never ever had issues with portability due to it's size. I've taken it on road trips, plane trips, and coffee houses. It fits in any bag and it rests very well on my lap. The smaller iBook/Powerbook (12") is extremely portable, yes, but I feel like I lose some screen real estate when it's that small, even though the resolution is the same as the 14 incher.

Go to a retail store that has these models on display and spend some time with them. Usually they have Microsoft and Adobe software installed, so you can judge for yourself the system responsiveness.

Hope this helps.

On Jun.20.2005 at 04:38 AM
Jason Tselentis’s comment is:

Yes, it helps. I really do need to see the machine in the context of how I'll use it.

On Jun.20.2005 at 05:14 AM
Rob’s comment is:

Jason, really have to thank you for posting this question. I'm in a similar situation, needing to replace my ailing, slow but still in the land of the living PowerBook G3.

I too have been wavering between the higher cost of the PowerBook 15" vs. the IBook 14" and appreciate Michael's thoughts as well as everyone else's. Since in either case, it's a serious investment that needs to made.

But here's the Catch-22 and the other big question for me..if Apple does switch chips (to Intel) in 2006, doesn't that make all current hardware and software incompatible with the new breed of Macs? And if so, what are the chances that Apple will be willing to support both it's new vision and the old guard? Anyone who's more tech savvy then me, which is most everyone I know, can tackle this one, if they like.

On Jun.20.2005 at 06:31 AM
jo’s comment is:

I have a 15" G4 with 1GB of RAM, and I can only echo what everyone else has been saying: perfect size compromise between portability and screen size. I love it.

I've never had any experience with iBooks, and not being a very techy person, I couldn't really say what the ramifiactions of the Intel/Apple deal are going to be for all the Apple hardware (a la what Rob mentioned). But if Intel chips in Apple computers would make everything incompatible, that seems like it would be terribly bad business, yes?

On Jun.20.2005 at 07:49 AM
Christopher Risdon’s comment is:

If screen size isn't an issue, I would go with the 12" PowerBook. I've had the iBook, the 15" PowerBook Ti and now a 17" PowerBook.

I go with the 17" PowerBook because 80%-90% of the time it's essentially a desktop replacement - but that other 20% of portability is a must. Though infrequent enough for the size not to be a burden (I've watched movies on the plan with it with little problem)

But if I had all the money I could want to spend, I would buy a desktop and large monitor, and then buy a 12" for shear portability. On the road, I usually can tolerate a smaller screen for the limited graphic working I do - usually updates, and client show-and-tell, but rarely heavy-lifting when on the road.

The reason I say the 12" PowerBook over iBook is because of the monitor issue brought up earlier. iBook will only mirror external monitors, while PowerBook will add the extra real estate. The is a consumer/pro differentiaion that Apple makes. However - someone told me they upgraded their iBook to add an extra monitor through a third-party software driver, but I haven't seen this to confirm.

Also, the Powerbook is more flexible from a RAM standpoint - i.e. BOTH slots in the PowerBook are upgradable (so you can max out at 2GB of RAM by putting 1GB in each slot) -whereas the iBook, the base of 256MB strip is soldered on, so you can only upgrade one of the two slots, maxing out at 1.25GB.

If you're thinking you can go small (i.e. 12"), and monitor or RAM expansion aren't a big deal, then go iBook - 1GB of RAM is good for average print jobs. But otherwise, PowerBook - you'll get the portability, but with some professional features with monitor expansion capabilty and RAM - 2GB of RAM should be more than enough for everything save frequent video work.

On Jun.20.2005 at 08:20 AM
steve’s comment is:

Great timing, I'm a minute away from ordering a new laptop to upgrade my 400mhz g4 tower. It's done, time to turn it into a network server.

I've been waivering between the two 15" G4 Powerbooks and up until Michael Holdren's post above, I was going to go with the 1.6GHZ processor becuase it is the only one that supports the upgraded video card to a 128MB (supports dual monitors) but if what he says is true about the laptop acting as a monitor and the plugin of another making it a second screen, than I'll save $100.

So I'll probably go with a 1.5 GHZ 15" Powerbook with at least 1G of ram (ON ONE SLOT CARD!!!) and leave it at that.

On Jun.20.2005 at 08:58 AM
Chris Johanesen’s comment is:

I would definitely recommend AGAINST the 14" ibook or the 12" powerbook. Neither of them give you significant gains over the 12" ibook to justify the price. I have a 1.2GHz 12" iBook and I used this utility to let me run dual displays. Use at your own risk of course, but it's really just a few OpenBios commands, is quite safe, and works great.

The 1.2GHz is pretty fast, although it can get bogged down when running multiple design apps at the same time. (I have 768MB of ram—recommend as much as you can afford.)

The 14" iBook is a waste. You get a bigger screen, but it's the same resolution as the 12" so it's no better for design. The processor isn't fast enough to really make a difference.

Personally, I wouldn't go near a powerbook until they have the PentiumM ones next year. The G4 chip is really long-in-the-tooth (thus the switch to Intel), and will look positively useless next to the new intel chips. To spend $2000 on a Powerbook that will be hopelessly out of date in a year seems foolish.

I would stick with a 12" ibook, which is nice, light, and has great battery life, is super cheep at $999, and then upgrade to a kick-ass powerbook next year.

Good luck.

On Jun.20.2005 at 09:04 AM
gregor’s comment is:

powerbook hands down -- max sceeen size for ibooks is 1024 x 768, nor can you dual monitor with an external monitor, only mirror.

the 12 inch PB does have the same screen size limitation, but not the extrenal monitor issue, so 15" inch or 17 and an 800, 887, 1 GHz tibook or any aluminum Powerbook would suit your need well.

On Jun.20.2005 at 09:07 AM
Adrian Repasch’s comment is:

My only suggestions are, that for whichever laptop you choose, buy an external hard drive for all your non-essentials/back-up and that you keep up on the maintenance of your laptop. Defrag the hard drive on a regular basis, since laptop HDs are a little slower, it will help to keep it from bogging down.

As for the external HD, it is wiser to use one with a cord and AC adapter. The bus powered ones are very tempting, I know I have one, but they can, overtime, lead to burning out your firewire port.

I speak from experience, the constant plugging and unplugging of bus powered HDs (external HD and iPod) fried my port. To resolve it, you either have to send your computer away for a few weeks to get the port replaced or buy a PCMCIA card with firewire ports. I did the latter only so I wasn't sans laptop for a few weeks. It sucks because you end up with a lot more clutter on your desk and wires out of your computer.

Hopefully I will soon have a few weeks someday with no work so that can send it off to get properly fixed. I can't believe I just said I wanted a few weeks with no work.

**The iCurve is a nice adition to any laptop workstation**

On Jun.20.2005 at 09:18 AM
mark’s comment is:

did you say Flash? on a 12"? yikes!

I've worked on Powerbooks for around 8 years and love em, but you need screen realestate for graphics, flash etc. I have always hooked up to external monitors - the bigger the better. I stumble with Flash on my 15" on the train - just so many palettes, would not even consider anything smaller if you plan to use it on its own.

The weight can be a bit of a burden, but you get used to it. I bike to the station for 20mins, ride the train for 50mins, then walk for 15mins to the office.

a full size keyboard and mouse (or tablet) will keep your sanity too. and a second power supply can be a lifesaver and a real convenience if you constently hookup both at home and the office.

assess your needs/wants and decide from there, but if you spend a lot of time working on it then a few $may not make a huge difference , especially if you keep it for 3 or 4 years...

On Jun.20.2005 at 09:19 AM
gregor’s comment is:

I worked on an 12" aluminum powerbook for about a year when the 1 GHz model came out. It was great as I was also traveling as spending lots of time on wifi cafes when my son was at swim team practice -- not the greatest set up for screen size, but definitely doable.

can't beat the 12" for portability. As for ibooks, the price is great, but I've had a succession of bad ibooks beginning with the 800 MHz g3 up through the 1st G4. each and every one had logicboard failure.

Interestingly I've revreted back to my 800 MHz tibook as main machine. does everything I want and fast. It and an old 400 MHz imac have been the most durable and solid machines I've owned to date (sad to have gotten rid of the imac as was a great computer for the kids!).

On Jun.20.2005 at 09:46 AM
randal’s comment is:

It really depends on how you use it. Designers always need more desktop space, so the 17" would logically be best. I also got the 15" (1.25gh), though, as I also like to take it with me in my bag sometimes and my old wall street model used to give me backaches. The 17" is about the same weight as that old clunker. If you plan on always carrying the laptop, though, think about either the smaller one or getting a laptop backpack rather than a shoulder bag. Personally, though, I have a hard time using photoshop or programming flash on a 12" 1024 screen -- and I've had to do it quite a number of times.

I generally use the laptop only at home and for travel. I purchased a tiny portable 80gb firewire hard drive to backup and transport all my files home so I can keep my two main machines synced, so I rarely have to bring it to the office. I've never heard about bus-powered firewire frying ports, but bus-power will drain your battery. I rarely use it on my laptop unless it is plugged in.

Here is a question -- Adrian suggest defragging your laptop hard drive, but my understanding was that this makes little or no difference on OS X. Is this true? What utitilies do you use?

On Jun.20.2005 at 10:18 AM
Armin’s comment is:

> And the weight / transportability of the 15? Is it really a pain lugging that around? What about working with it on airplanes or within the confines of a hotel?

I have a 15" and I have found it to get a tad heavy by 2:00 - 3:00 pm if I had to catch a plane around 7:00 am. By 9:00 pm, my shoulder is aching. But, I don't even remotely have the best bag for carrying a laptop. Also, until I win the lottery I have to fly in the cramped sits and have found it impossible to do any work on the plane with the 15". I may be able to open it and watch a DVD, but that's it. If I get an exit row seat it's no problem, it's very comfortable. I also tend to set it on my lap rather than on the tray table and it works well, it gets a little bit hot and I'm not sure if that whole electric discharge coming off the battery will damage my privates in the long run. (How's that for an honest opinion?).

At times I wish for a 12" powerbook. But the screen gets too small for doing any decent work with Dreamweaver or Photoshop or InDesign.

I have an iCurve stand, mouse and external keyboard for when I have it docked at home. Works great.

The 17" is a frickin' monster. I know people who own one and they never carry it around. It's a burden.

On Jun.20.2005 at 10:24 AM
Tan’s comment is:

If the idea of a laptop is portability and travel consideration, then a 12" Powerbook is the optimum size. Unless you can afford to fly business class, a 15" will NOT fit opened on a tray table of a standard coach seat. And I know it's just barely lighter than the 15", but the bulk of it is much easier to handle when you have to take it in and out for security and other places. There's less of a chance of dropping a 12".

And at home, since you're docking it to a new 20" plasma anyway, you'll never miss that extra 3".

I'm on my second 15" Powerbook for work, but I have a 12" for personal use and travel.

And btw, in today's world of ultra-chic laptops — smaller is cooler. The new IBM thinkpad is tiny, and so are a couple of the Sony VIAOs. In client meetings, I get more comments when I pull out the smaller 12" powerbook.

On Jun.20.2005 at 10:46 AM
judson’s comment is:

Just stop!

get the 17" pb

I have it with a gig chip and a gig of ram and I won't buy another computer for 5 or 6 years.

You will love the screen size and the book is not too big to carry around.

good luck..

On Jun.20.2005 at 11:21 AM
Lautaro Gabriel Gonda’s comment is:

The "wait until the good ones come out next year" stripe of advice isn't the best, in my opinion. There will always be better computers coming out. If you're always waiting until the really good ones come out next year, you'll never buy anything. Just buy what you need, when you need it. You've said you need it now, and you're just looking for advice on the what. (Besides, I wouldn't expect to see Pentium M PowerBooks until 2007, and there will be PowerPC updates in the meantime, which is just fine.)

In my design program there are four or five 15" powerbooks, two 12"ers and my 17". A couple of people have 12" iBooks, and they complain about them constantly, and wish to upgrade. My girlfriend and brother both are happy with their iBooks, but they're not designers. Conclusion: PowerBook is the best choice for pros.

I'd say go for the 15" or 17" for the added I/O options. I've owned both and I like the 17" best. Brenthaven makes an excellent shoulder bag designed specifically for this model, greatly reducing the encumberment factor. I love the extra screen space; it's the same LCD panel as the 17" iMac. If you want to connect an external monitor I recommend the Dell 2005FPW, which you can find for under $600.

On Jun.20.2005 at 11:53 AM
Tan’s comment is:

Sorry, Judson — but I have to agree w/ Armin. The 17" is ridiculously large and impractical. You can't find a laptop bag for it, you have to carefully handle it w/ two hands (unless you're Yao Ming), and there's not a chance in hell it will fit anywhere useful like on a plane. Sure, the 17" screen is nice, but the cost difference b/t a 17" and a 12" is equal to the cost of a 20" cinema display plus $200 for extra SDRAM.

Besides, isn't the pixel count on the 17" essentially the same as a 15" but expanded for a larger screen? So it's not really a significant increase at all, is it?

On Jun.20.2005 at 11:59 AM
Lautaro Gabriel Gonda’s comment is:

Not to pimp it too hard but Brenthaven makes cases custom cut for any powerbook you can buy.

Also the 17" has a screen resolution of 1440x900, whereas the 15" is 1280x854.

And while we're correcting facts, Yao Ming had the 12", Mini Me had the 17".

On Jun.20.2005 at 12:14 PM
Tselentis’s comment is:

The 17" seems like a real frickin' horse. I don't know who'd want to lug that around town besides some Marine or Reservist who's training for long hauls.

12" sounds reasonable. I've worked on a 12" before I had my 20" LCD, and it's not that terrible. What about the 12" keyboard? I hear a lot of people insisting on an extra keyboard. This a need or want?

On Jun.20.2005 at 12:15 PM
Adrian Repasch’s comment is:

I have to agree with Mark's comments about flash.

Working on my 15" with flash open feels a little claustrophobic, especially if you have other apps open or windows open in the background. I couldn't imagine working on a 12" with flash.

On Jun.20.2005 at 12:37 PM
Jose Nieto’s comment is:

I commute every day with a 12 inch Powerbook running 1.33 Ghz, with 1.25 Gb RAM, and an 80 Gb hard drive, and I couldn't be happier. The size and weight are perfect for portability, and the screen size is not an issue because I keep 20+ inch screens at home and at work. The main reason to go with the Powerbook over the iBook is the graphics card; both the 12 inch and the 14 inch come with 32 Mb cards, while the Powerbook has a 64 Mb cards, which makes a big difference when running large displays. The mini-DVI output has not been a problem--I just carry the adapter with me when I travel. I could probably use the gigabit ethernet on the 15 inch (the 12 inch comes with 10/100 Base-T), but the fact is, most of the time I'm on Airport, so it doesn't matter a whole lot.

Tan is absolutely correct about space availability in coach, and when you're carrying a laptop on your back for more than 20 or 30 minutes, that pound difference makes a big difference. I do have an external keyboard, and I appreciate the fact that I can close the 12 inch display and use the laptop as it were a desktop. It also helps with the ergonomics.

BTW, I'm sure the Pentium M laptops are a priority for Apple; still, I wouldn't expect to see one for a least a year. The question to ask is: can you live with your current equipment for another year?

On Jun.20.2005 at 12:58 PM
Tselentis’s comment is:

The question to ask is: can you live with your current equipment for another year?

Is that a call to all laptop shoppers, or those waiting on the new Intel machines? Cause frankly, you won't see me running out the door and buying the first phase of Intel machines. Like anything else, it's a safer bet to buy in on the 2nd or 3rd wave. My decision to buy a laptop now is that Apple has gotten a lot of the technical issues resolved with its laptops—althouth the scrolling trackpad and overheating battery have been problematic.

On Jun.20.2005 at 01:10 PM
pedamado’s comment is:

I believe every single comment recommends you to buy an Apple Powerbook (eve iBooks - whatdaf*ck?).

Some recommend cheaper ones that can be soon replaced, other recommend some more expensive ones that will las for some years.

Well... here's my opinion - Buy a good computer that will serve you for 1-2 years. No more.

(Judson - no computer will last for 5-6 years... that is... unless you are aiming for an expensive calculator ;P)

This implies buying the best processor avaiable (at least the best processor within your budjet limit) with lots of RAM and Hard Drive.

So what does this mean? At a first glance you'd say - this means buying a G5 Powerbook with 1 GB RAM or more and 80GB Hard Drive. Check this Powerbook spec

As you might know by now, buying a computer in Europe (I'm from Portugal) is a lot more expensive. Specially if it is an Apple (as it is demonstrated in the previous link). Even worse if it is a Powerbook - With this specs it'll cost you about 2200� and you'll stiall have to upgrade the RAM (more os less 2000 USD). So what can you do? Buy a chaper one?

Well... I have a different oppinion.

As Steve Jobs already noticed, the future of computers isn't in the PowerPC*. He is even switching processor architecture to a more future reliable one - Intel x86. So why not change now? Before Apple does a big mess Why not buy a PC instead of a Mac? Anyone who says that Standard x86 PC's are worse than Apple's Mac's hasn't been around for the last 5 years. It's true that the Tiger is a beatifully designed OS, but... The thing is your work isn't your OS... your work is your work, and, truth to be said, OSs these days are so alike! (just istall a linux distro like Fedora Core 4 and see where Apple has been getting they're ideas).

OS Apart, you said you want to run Flash and Dreamweaver... well if you have used an Win32 PC equivalent to your current Mac you've noticed that these aplications run faster and smother under WinXP. Imagine what a state of the art computer won't do!

There's more. As Graphic Designer (who works with WinXP, MacOS 10.2+ and Fedora Core 3 regularly), I say that these days there is no difference between working in MacOS or WinXP (some day not even with *NIX OSs). They do EXACTLY the same! The main difference is... well... hum... let me see Graphic Designers like to show off with their trendy computers? Buying Apple's computers isn't buying the best computers. Yes, you buy a good computer, but it's not the best nor the most reliable computer. In my opinion it isn't even the most beautifull one!

So what have I been saying all this time?


Consider buying a computer with:

80 - 160 GB Hard Drive

1 - 2GB RAM

2.0 - 2.5GHZ (PPC)

3.0 - 3.6GHZ (Pentium)

2.0 - 2.5GHZ (PentiumM)

(2MB L2 Cache - I think this is the best processor for graphic artists)

128MB Graphic Card

802x WiFi Compliant

4hrs Battery Energy efficient

Under 2.3 Kgs (+- 5Lbs)

Robustly built (as in doesn't break appart at the first collision!)

Finally... it should be beautifull. Although the computer is an interface to your work, at least you should like to look at it.

With this in mind you could buy a Powerbook G5, or, as I am getting ready to do, you can buy a Sony Vaio VGN-S3XP 2.0GHz** (it's a bit more expensive, but worth every cent!)

Think about it.

Just don't buy a Powerbook because eveyone's buying it!

*This might be proven wrong by IBM/Sony/Toshiba new processor Cell

**In case you're wondering. No. I don'have anything to do with Sony or any affiliated company. I also don't have a grudge againsn't Apple - I'm also prepairing to buy a Dual PowerPC G5 2.0GHz at Work.

On Jun.20.2005 at 02:09 PM
BlueStreak’s comment is:

Why not buy a PC instead of a Mac?

How about because I've been collecting Mac fonts and software for the last 21 years? It would be a major pain in my ass, and very costly to switch platforms.

On Jun.20.2005 at 02:29 PM
pedamado’s comment is:

What do you mean collecting Mac fonts and software for the last 21 years?

Man... you probably have Englebart's original Mouse program!!! ;P

Now seriously... changing platforms isn't to be taken lightly. You should consider it very seriously and do it at the best opportunity. As by 2007 you'll have to upgrade your software because of Apple's Architecture change... why not start considering changing platforms?

The only problem at hand is your software. You should only consider changing platforms if your willing to "upgrade" your software.

As of your fonts... if you bought them, you own some rights over them. Some of these rights permmit you to convert them to Open Type for personal use.

Nevertheless... you can just sit tight and not do anything, just letting the world pass by...

With my previous post I just wanted to stress out that there is more to computers than Apple's. I really hate people who are closed minded or unwilling to change or do something different, like lot's of people I met during my Graphic Design course at Faculty.

On Jun.20.2005 at 02:56 PM
Tan’s comment is:

Jason — get yourself an extra wired Apple keyboard, and a wireless notebook mouse. I hate to admit it, but I've got a couple of Microsoft's wireless mice, and they work wonderfully. They are 100% compatible out ot the box — just plug and play — and they have a tilt scroll wheel, which you'll quickly learn to appreciate. Warning: most of Logitech's hardware peripherals aren't Mac compatible, while ALL of Microsoft hardware is. I know, go figure.

The Apple Bluetooth peripherals are nice, but they are expensive and they drain batteries like crazy.

And as someone already mentioned, get the iCurve powerbook stand. It elevates the laptop screen to match the cinema display, plus, it does a great job of keeping the laptop running cool.


Sorry Lautaro, but those bags are hideous and scream CompUSA. People know you're not going hiking, and that you're sporting a laptop along with some ethernet cables and a couple of old issues of Wired.

Now, when you're ready, go in style and get yourself something Italian, like Nava Milano, or MH Way.

And for the women in our audience, there's style to be had at Acme Made. I bought a laptop tote for my wife from there, and she loves it.

On Jun.20.2005 at 04:09 PM
jenny’s comment is:

The 17" seems like a real frickin' horse

It is. My husband (who's a creative director) has a 17" Powerbook; I think what makes it "portable" for him is that he drives to work - no hauling that thing on MUNI. Beyond which, I spent untold hours Christmas shopping for what he would consider a nice looking leather bag (which means, among other things, that its not supposed to look like a computer case) that fit the thing, which I did eventually find.

I have a 15" Powerbook and I love it, but if portability is the main factor, go with the 12" and use a second monitor - the 15" does get heavy when you're on the go all day.

Tan - thanks for the tip on those Acme Made bags - very cool.

On Jun.20.2005 at 04:36 PM
Kristian Walker’s comment is:

I've been using a 17" PowerBok for nearly a year and I won't change back to anything else. The screen is large enough for me to have ample workspace AND room for palettes. It has plenty of power for both print and web work. As a design firm owner/creative director, I take it with me for client presentations and meetings all the time. On that note, it's nice to be in a meeting and be able to quickly pull up a file to show the client how something wil look.

On Jun.20.2005 at 04:43 PM
gregor’s comment is:

What about the 12" keyboard

The 12" keyboard is compact and takes very little adjustment -- I've found it better for my needs and moving back to a standard desktop or larger laptop keyboard takes little adjustments.

On Jun.20.2005 at 04:46 PM
Daniel’s comment is:

There's been so much talk about how great the 15s are feel like I need to speak up (no pun intended, sorry) for my little 12" PowerBook. It's so good.

Any comparisons between it and the 12" iBook are almost moot. Yes, the screen is the same size and the processors are similarly speeded. But the PowerBook has a faster bus and twice the video RAM, which really do make it faster.

The smaller size of the 12" is wonderful. One of the reasons I wanted the 12" is because I ride my bike to school a lot and I wanted something that I could carry with me in addition to carrying lunch, books, etc. and the 12" has been wonderful. And I haven't needed to carry some lame laptop bag either. Just a TImbuk2 messenger bag. You can take it with you without it being some huge commitment. It's wonderful.

Then, the screen size. There are certainly times when I'm like "gee, I wish I had a bigger screen" and other times when I've hooked it up to an external display and loved it. However, absolutely dwarfing those times in quantity are the times that I don't notice; times that I use Illustrator and Photoshop and never think twice. The only times I wish for a bigger display are when working on large documents and when using Flash. Sometimes, in Illustrator or Photoshop, I do a lot of zooming. And in Flash, the interface takes up so much room that there's not a lot left for the stage. But, if I were buying again, I'd buy the 12" again.

And the keyboards are the size size across all PowerBooks so that shouldn't be an issue. I do have an external mouse and keyboard that I swear by. However, when I do type on the PowerBook's own keyboard, it's the best typing experience. Ever.



On Jun.20.2005 at 05:10 PM
Daniel’s comment is:

Geeze that was long. Sorry. One more addition, the mini video out port on the 12" supports the same things (DVI and VGA) that the others support. You just need to use one of two adapters (included with the PowerBook) to do so. It's really no trouble, aside from having the adapters with you. You can also get an s-video and composite adapter to hook it up to a TV, etc.

On Jun.20.2005 at 05:17 PM
Tselentis’s comment is:

I'm off to the store tonight. Good comments all the way around. As tempting as the 15"---it's out of my budget. I don't feel the extra $$$ is worth it. And hell, if you want a portable, it should be portable. Right?!

On Jun.20.2005 at 06:47 PM
Rick’s comment is:

I second the Acme Made endorsement. I wish I could rock one of those things!

Good luck on making a tough choice, Jason!

On Jun.20.2005 at 07:08 PM
Tselentis’s comment is:

When faced with a difficult decision and a morass of choices, don't choose.

A colleague said this to me about my current laptop situation, and referenced an article about brand extension. The article focused on toothpaste, but we could look at any product or good in the same way—including computers. It seems that more and more and more is thrown at us, making choices almost paralyzing. Granted, I'm not deciding on something critical that has life altering consequences, but I get nostalgic for the days when there was one machine to choose from—the MacPlus.

Note to self, Variety is the spice of life. It's nice to know that there's all types to fit Just Right, as Goldilocks would say.

On Jun.20.2005 at 07:23 PM
ps’s comment is:

i have a 17" for a while now. it travels along just fine and i appreciate the extra screen real estate.

contrary to what tan thinks, getting a laptop bag is no problem.

On Jun.20.2005 at 11:13 PM
Jason Tselentis’s comment is:

I've heard the same about the 17", and while it does suit my needs the fact is that it's out of my budget—way out. I'd sooner get a new home system or roll the money into my IRA.

On Jun.21.2005 at 12:36 AM
DesignNerd07’s comment is:

In regard to Rob's question about compatibility issues when Apple switches to Intel chips:

MacWorld published a pretty helpful article on their site last week at:


In fact, they have a whole section devoted to the Intel switch at:


Hope this helps!

On Jun.21.2005 at 12:51 AM
mitch’s comment is:

just as an aside - the best computer bags ever are from Waterfield Designs. i have a 15" TiBook and a large cargo bag + sleevecase that hold the laptop and the rest of my life inside beautifully.

On Jun.21.2005 at 01:31 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

Get a small iBook + the Mac Mini.

Best of both worlds.

On Jun.21.2005 at 11:28 AM
jeff c’s comment is:

I just bought a 15" PB and 20" display 2 days before the Intel announcement.

After freaking out for a day or so, I realized that most of the Mac world will not be switching overnight anyway. Many print houses still use Quark 3.x, so it's gonna be a long transition as far as hardware goes.

Design-wise, going from a 400Mhz G4 to the15" PB is like a revelation. Even at 512 MB RAM, it's a little speed demon. I was stressing for the better part of a year between the 12" and 15", but with the palettes on Adobe and MM apps, you WILL want the extra space of a 15". And let me say that having an external display is absolutely worth every penny (DVI port on the PB is a huge plus over the iBook).

Honestly for any type of design work, I wouldn't even think about an iBook of any kind. I'd only go with a 12" PB if you're definitely thinking of an external display and have to use it for lots of travel. But the tech specs on it won't age as gracefully as the 15" video card, HD, RAM ports, etc.

Good luck!

On Jun.21.2005 at 11:37 AM
Michael Holdren’s comment is:

I just wanted to take a minute to address pedamado's comment about there being no difference between working on a Mac or a PC due to the OS. I'm not going to go through a list of comapritive features bewtween OS X and Windows XP, that's not what this thread is about.

There are a lot of little differences between the OSes that ad up to a pretty big gap in favor of OS X. An OS is your working space, much like your desk or your office is, and your working environment is an important tool in your arsenal.

I just wanted to bring that up for those who don't realize that an OS is indeed very important when choosing a computer: it's part of the tool set.

On Jun.21.2005 at 12:56 PM
Ben’s comment is:

I'd say go for the 15 inch powerbook as well. But no matter which laptop you get, don't get the memory upgrade from apple. They overprice their RAM a lot and give you some random brand of memory. I'd say go for the standard 2x256 (or pay the extra for 1x512 if you want to end up with 1.5 gigs instead of 1.25) and then buy a gig stick of the appropriate memory from newegg.com. I got "kingmax" memory for my machine, which is pretty cheap, but I haven't had any problems with it at all.

On Jun.22.2005 at 12:20 AM
Andy Malhan’s comment is:

I'm going with Pedamado and am going to suggest that you take a look at the PC option too.

I've been using an IBM Thinkpad T42p for a few months now, and am very pleased with the purchase. 15" screen, 128mb video RAM, 1 gig RAM, IBM's famous full size keyboard on a notebook... I'm very happy with it. My daughter's recent father's day present - a Giordano notebook case - just makes it better!

Sure, switching operating systems is certainly an important consideration, but I agree that that dominance of Macs over PCs in terms of performance and reliability is a thing of the past and as such you'd do well to consider all options.

On Jun.22.2005 at 04:54 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

take a look at the PC option too.

I agree, if for no other reason than to confirm your Apple purchase.

I spent a long while looking for a suitable PC laptop for my wife only to discover that there really wasn't anything comparable to the Mac laptops in the same price range. Up to that point, I often made the incorrect assumption that Macs, in general, were overpriced compared to their Windows brethren. It turns out that that isn't true at all. Dollar for dollar/feature for feature, you really can't beat an iBook.

but I agree that that dominance of Macs over PCs in terms of performance and reliability is a thing of the past

All I can say is that I have to reboot my Win2k machine at work daily, my XP machine at home bi-weekly, my G4...umm...once every few months...and my OSX laptop, which I use the most, hardly ever.

I also had the chance to install XP Pro and OSX simultanously one weekend. XP Pro on a brand new HP = 3 hours including 20+ updates and a half dozen reboots or so. OSX on a 4 year old G4 = 40 minutes, including upgrades, 2 reboots.

In the end, I couldn't get IIS running with Visual Studio on the PC. Took it into some Geek Squad friends. They spent 2 hours trying to figure out the problem, then decided to spend another 3 hours reinstalling everything from scratch.

Now, granted, that's just an isolated case from my personal experiences...

On Jun.22.2005 at 03:00 PM
Chris Rugen’s comment is:

First off, I prefer Mac OS X over Windows, hands down (I use both). Those goddamn word balloons popping up all over the place in XP ("Update!" "Viruses are coming!" "You're on the network!" "You're on the network still!" "Update or you'll be at risk!" "Did I tell you about the network?") are reason alone.

That being said, I made the jump from a dual 466 MHz G4 tower with a 17" Apple CRT to a 1.25 GHz 15" PowerBook on an iCurve stand with a keyboard and retractable Kenisington travel mouse.

It is sooo much better. Especially with a wifi network.

I commute from Philly to NYC and back twice a week and I have freelance clients all over. It's indespensible. The extra $$$ for the hassle of a laptop the size of a card table doesn't seem worth it to me, but those 17" are very nice, I admit. However the 15" is equivalent to a 17" CRT, so it's not bad at all.

As for RAM: If you're running Tiger, don't bother with anything less than 1 GB of RAM. I was doing well with 512 MB in Panther, but a new laptop won't have the old OS, etc.

Good luck.

On Jun.23.2005 at 05:06 PM
Tselentis’s comment is:

Shoulder bags hurt. So why are they so popular? I don't see the benefit outweighing the pain!

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