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Macbook, what to buy?


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14 replies to this topic

#1 of 15 OFFLINE   Carl Miller

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Posted October 15 2008 - 05:11 AM

I held off purchasing a new laptop due to the new lineup being near. Now that it's here, I'm underwhelmed.

I could still buy a previous generation 13" MB, load it up with 4G RAM and a 250G HD w/ 2.1 core duo and it's $1,347 or:

Buy a new one, add to equal RAM and HD above, with a 2.0 core duo and it's $1,549 or:

A 2.4 core duo, add the RAM and its $1,749;

The big difference, looks aside, is the Nvidia graphics but how much of an impact is that really going to have? I'm not a gamer. I would use Adobe PS and Illustrator on occassion if I'm traveling on business and take some web site work along with me. Rarely essential.

Down side, for me anyway may be the glass touch pad. I have the iTouch, I'm not proficient with the gestures and I'm not sure I want to be.

No Firewire? Won't that make back ups significantly slower?

Glossy vs. Matte....Not sure about this. I see a lot of objection to the glossy screen, but don't understand why?

The pricing structure seems to be $200 for a feature, plus aluminum...and a backlit keyboard with the 2.4 MB.

What to do, what to do?
Carl

#2 of 15 OFFLINE   ErichH

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Posted October 15 2008 - 05:34 AM

Posted Image

Amazon.com: Apple MacBook Pro MB133LL/A 15.4-inch Laptop (2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Processor, 2 GB RAM, 200 GB Hard Drive, DVD/CD SuperDrive): Computers & PC Hardware

Amazon.com: Apple MacBook MB402LL/A 13.3-inch Laptop (2.1 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Processor, 1 GB RAM, 120 GB Hard Drive) White: Computers & PC Hardware

You can beat this price at Apple in the refurb store (same as new)

http://store.apple.c....-1-0-ARTICLE-0

There were black books yesterday, but now they're history.

1 gen back rules

#3 of 15 OFFLINE   Ken Chan

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Posted October 15 2008 - 09:45 AM

Quote:
is the Nvidia graphics but how much of an impact is that really going to have?
With Snow Leopard, we should start seeing a new class of applications that take advantage of the GPU to do "regular" processing, which can make many things a lot faster. The big apps from Adobe might take longer to rev. If you're planning to keep this new laptop for the next (say) three years, I would avoid the slower, built-in Intel graphics.

Quote:
I'm not proficient with the gestures and I'm not sure I want to be
Once you start two-finger scrolling on the trackpad -- which works even if the window is in the background -- you won't want to go back.

Quote:
No Firewire? Won't that make back ups significantly slower?
FireWire 400 vs. USB 2 -- not significantly, no.

Quote:
I see a lot of objection to the glossy screen, but don't understand why?
Some people are sensitive to reflections. Glossy screens can be harder to calibrate, for those that require color accuracy. Some people like to bitch and moan. You should go to a store and see for yourself.

For me, a bigger issue is that even on the Pro, in the last generation, the screens had lousy color: dull, poor gamut, a very narrow optimum viewing angle, and bad off-axis color. When you go to the store, Google "lcd test". The first hit should be LCD monitor test images and check out the screen. Compare the laptop to an iMac or Cinema Display.

#4 of 15 OFFLINE   Michael_K_Sr

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Posted October 15 2008 - 04:57 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Chan
Once you start two-finger scrolling on the trackpad -- which works even if the window is in the background -- you won't want to go back.

Tell me about it. Occasionally when I'm tasked with repairing a user's old PowerBook or iBook, the lack of two-button scrolling drives me up the wall.

#5 of 15 OFFLINE   Thomas Newton

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Posted October 16 2008 - 05:49 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carl Miller
No Firewire? Won't that make back ups significantly slower?

It's not just a matter of speed. If you already have FireWire-only devices, or are thinking of buying them, or would like to have "FireWire Target Disk Mode" in reserve, it's handy to have that FireWire port.

For instance, my MiniDV camcorder has both MiniDV and USB ports. But I am pretty sure that the USB one is only for still pictures. Video uses Firewire, so there would be no way to directly transfer digital video to a "refreshed" MB.

The only notebooks in the current lineup with any form of FireWire are:

1. The $999 white one (which has the Intel integrated graphics and which seems basically unrefreshed). It has FireWire 400.

2. The 15" MBP. It has FireWire 800.

3. The 17" MBP (which seems basically unrefreshed). It has FireWire 800 and FireWire 400.

#6 of 15 ONLINE   DaveF

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Posted October 17 2008 - 07:41 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carl Miller
I held off purchasing a new laptop due to the new lineup being near. Now that it's here, I'm underwhelmed.

...

What to do, what to do?
This was really a design and "infrastructure" refresh. In terms of raw performance, it's uninspiring.

So, how much do you need a new laptop? If you've not gone from "want" to "need", can wait for the next refresh. I think that significant CPU revisions are coming from Intel early next year, so there should be revised Macbooks in 6-8 months with more "oomph".

For the trackpad, play with it in the store. Do you currently use tap-to-click, two-finger right-click, and two-finger scroll? If so, you may find the new trackpad even easier than the current ones.

Firewire: I don't use it and would be just as happy if the ports vanished. But a friend looking at his first Mac and first Macbook is disappointed: his one-year old video camera is Firewire. The loss of FW400 screws up his upgrade plans. He'll either keep an old PC for video transfers, or not buy a Mac, all for one port. So if you need FW, you have to move to the MBP. But if you don't actually use it currently, frankly, USB2.0 hard drives work just fine for backup.

#7 of 15 OFFLINE   Andrew Pratt

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Posted October 17 2008 - 03:54 PM

Quote:
Tell me about it. Occasionally when I'm tasked with repairing a user's old PowerBook or iBook, the lack of two-button scrolling drives me up the wall.
Agreed. I keep trying that on my IBM laptop. Its just so intuitive it becomes second nature.

#8 of 15 OFFLINE   Carl Miller

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Posted October 17 2008 - 04:23 PM

Thanks guys. I'm going to the Apple store over the weekend to check out the glossy screen and touch pad. My back up drive has firewire and USB 2 so I guess that's not a big deal. Doesn't make sense that they'd ditch it as I figured the move would eventually be toward firewire 800 but whatever.

I'm not in the market for an MBP...smaller and lighter is better for me as I travel a decent amount (2 1/2 - 3 months/year) and already have to lug a work laptop when I travel. Not allowed to use that for personal use.

Dave, I strongly want a new one. I'm using an old Dell which is at least 4 years old. It works, but it's under powered and I can't do any graphics work on it without getting extremely frustrated at the sluggish performance and occassionally suffering lock ups if I get careless and try to open files that are too large, or too many files at once.

I have a 4 week trip to Atlanta in February so that's about as long as I think I could wait if I really had to. I'll probably just buy one and let the glossy screen and touchpad be the deciding factors.
Carl

#9 of 15 OFFLINE   bpickell

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Posted November 01 2008 - 10:48 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Chan

FireWire 400 vs. USB 2 -- not significantly, no.


That is not entirely true. You are just comparing transfer speed/throughput and not how the two formats actually transfer data.

FireWire will do a batch transfer where USB does packet transfer. You tell me which would be faster. If you have 5 GIGS of data to transfer?

A) a format that will take 1.5Mb packets which have to stop between each packet and verify that the packet was received then renegotiate for the next packet, etc.

B) Negotiate transfer send entire 5GB file then do the check to make sure it was successful, then close connection.

BTW I timed the above scenario and and Firewire 400 beat the snot out of USB2

#10 of 15 OFFLINE   Carlo Medina

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Posted November 01 2008 - 11:33 AM

I don't know the technical details like Brian does in the above post, but I can tell you that using USB2.0 and cloning my roughly 120GB hard drive to an external 7200RPM 2.5" SATA HD took about 90 minutes, and about 70 minutes using Firewire 400.

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#11 of 15 OFFLINE   Ken Chan

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Posted November 02 2008 - 12:15 PM

Quote:
You are just comparing transfer speed/throughput
Did I?

Using Carlo's example, does 70 "beat the snot out of" 90? Is it even "significantly" faster?

#12 of 15 OFFLINE   Carlo Medina

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Posted November 02 2008 - 01:03 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Chan
Did I?

Using Carlo's example, does 70 "beat the snot out of" 90? Is it even "significantly" faster?
Well one's opinion is exactly that, one's own.

My opinion is that it is indeed significantly faster. I know exactly how valuable 20 minutes is to me, and then when you count that I clone back to my HD to effectively defrag it, that's 40 minutes total saved.

"Beat the snot" - well that wasn't my phrase, and it's a highly subjective one at that. Of course when the two formats claim "max rates" of 400Mbps transfer rate for Firewire 400 and 480Mbps for USB2.0, one would expect the results to be the opposite, 70 minutes for USB2 and 90 minutes for Firewire 400. So for the results to be flipped in the opposite's favor, one could make an argument for "beat the snot" out of the other.

But again, it's all opinion.

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#13 of 15 OFFLINE   Brian W. Ralston

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Posted November 02 2008 - 06:36 PM

What ever you do...if you buy a MAC laptop of any kind, you should ALWAYS (and now more than ever), buy Apple Care with it. It will add about $350 or so to the cost of the laptop. But the reasons to do this, FOR THEIR LAPTOP...are many.

The new laptops with the new single piece of aluminum design are such that if anything happens to the keyboard, the entire case has to be replaced. The keyboard is secured in such a way that Apple is not making it a servicable item. So...if you break a key...or something similar and you need to get it fixed, you do NOT want to have to buy an new case just to fix the keyboard.

Also...The Wifi and bluetooth modules are up behind the LCD screen..and the screen is fused to the glass front in such a way that if you need to service a Wifi or Bluetooth module because they stop working, you basically have to replace the entire top screen assembly. The new design of these laptops is cool...but it is also done in such a way that you will want to have the piece of mind of Applecare behind it.

And in general...laptops go through a lot of wear and tear. Opening and closing the case. The new glass trackpad might get cracked. With Applecare, Apple fixes things with little question. They will treat you well. Without it....for a laptop...you will kick yourself and the cost of fixing minor problems will be astronomical to the point that the $350 it costs would have been worth it. I have a friend whose G4 laptop was fixed 6 times for various things and on the 6th time after some minor complaining about the fact that the laptop had been in the shop so many times...Apple just gave him a brand new Intel Core 2 Duo laptop...top of the line as a replacement. The G4 he bought was top of the line at the time...so they replaced it with another top of the line on the current line-up. Without Applecare...that would not have happened.

Just sayin'
Regards,
Brian W. Ralston

#14 of 15 OFFLINE   Carlo Medina

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Posted November 03 2008 - 03:17 AM

+1 for AppleCare. I bought it for my iPod back in 2005, it was defective just after the return-date expiration, and they just swapped out a brand new one for me.

I haven't had to use it for my Macbook Pro (knock on wood) but if you need even one repair, as Brian said, it pays for itself. Just like car insurance (except with a really good, responsive insurer who provides much less hassle than car insurance guys). You don't buy it in anticipation of being paid out, you buy it just in case. I wouldn't buy this insurance for a desktop (and generally I don't buy extended warranties for most electronic products) but for laptops, especially if you will be lugging it around a lot, I highly recommend it.

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#15 of 15 OFFLINE   Ken Chan

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Posted November 03 2008 - 09:55 AM

Quote:
"Beat the snot" - well that wasn't my phrase
Right; I was replying more to Brian.


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