Speaking of Apple... Some Advice?

Posted by: Rob Hof on November 2, 2005

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.

Reader Comments

Wes

November 2, 2005 3:07 PM

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.

dg

November 2, 2005 4:21 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.

Marty

November 3, 2005 3:26 AM

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")

Peter

November 3, 2005 9:08 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.

Ben

November 3, 2005 9:15 AM

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

Phil Burk

November 3, 2005 10:49 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.

Joe

November 3, 2005 11:48 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

RBoylin

November 3, 2005 11:52 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.

Bryan Crawford

November 3, 2005 12:39 PM

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.

Cheers

Russell

November 3, 2005 12:40 PM

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

Martin Pilkington

November 3, 2005 1:11 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

brett

November 3, 2005 1:18 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.

Mart

November 3, 2005 2:33 PM

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

Naraa Haras

November 3, 2005 2:45 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.

RON NORRIS

November 3, 2005 2:47 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.

peejay

November 3, 2005 2:49 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!!

bobby Skinner

November 3, 2005 2:50 PM

Hi,

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: http://store.apple.com/1-800-MY-APPLE/WebObjects/AppleStore?family=Certified&siteID=VeZI%2FRsU2UI-JZt%2FyLcrlLBdxPBdC%2AJmrg

bill

November 3, 2005 2:51 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!

RON

November 3, 2005 2:53 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.

dave

November 3, 2005 2:55 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.

rich

November 3, 2005 2:56 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

DRZ

November 3, 2005 2:58 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.

allgood2

November 3, 2005 2:59 PM

Personally, I highly recommend the 15" PowerBook. It's my workhorse and its wonderful, but that said—if 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.

RON

November 3, 2005 2:59 PM

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dogfriend

November 3, 2005 3:00 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.

Bob

November 3, 2005 3:05 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.

Bob

November 3, 2005 3:06 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.

MacSwitcher04

November 3, 2005 3:11 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 Apple.com for specs.

Also, you may just want to configure the laptop at apple.com 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. :-)

~Dan
Happy in Utah with 3 Macs purchased in less than 12 months.
No more Windows at my house! It's awesome too.

Jon

November 3, 2005 3:13 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!

JP

November 3, 2005 3:17 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.

Steve

November 3, 2005 3:18 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...

DonLvNv

November 3, 2005 3:22 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.

jim

November 3, 2005 3:23 PM

Rob,

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.

jim

Thumper

November 3, 2005 3:44 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.

Skip Flipjack

November 3, 2005 3:44 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).

Ken

November 3, 2005 3:47 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 (http://osx.hyperjeff.net/Apps/) that lists over 13,000 OS X apps.

Check out all options in person and enjoy the switch!

Neil

November 3, 2005 3:58 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

Neil

Mark

November 3, 2005 4:07 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.

steve

November 3, 2005 4:18 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!

steve

Carlo

November 3, 2005 4:29 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.

Jerry W

November 3, 2005 4:38 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.

david lundgren

November 3, 2005 4:41 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.

dave

wwd

November 3, 2005 4:43 PM

Rob,

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.

wwd

Tyler

November 3, 2005 4:44 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!

Ted Wood

November 3, 2005 4:55 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.

Rick M

November 3, 2005 4:57 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 apple.com) 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!

GO SJU JOHNNIES!!

Stephen H

November 3, 2005 5:00 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".

http://www.macofalltrades.com/

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!

Bill

November 3, 2005 5:04 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.

gheem

November 3, 2005 5:07 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.

Paul Hagood

November 3, 2005 5:23 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!
Paul

Mike Riley

November 3, 2005 5:25 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.

N. E.

November 3, 2005 5:45 PM

Rob,
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. :-)

Norm

Scott Boettcher

November 3, 2005 6:04 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 Versiontracker.com for the latest.

Use sites like Macfixit.com, www.macdailynews.com and Maccentral.com for Mac info.
iLounge.com is great for iPod-related goodies.

Enjoy NOT having spyware and viruses!!!

Good luck, and welcome.

SB

j

November 3, 2005 7:09 PM

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

MacSwitcher04

November 3, 2005 7:22 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 be like moving from a stick shift car to an automatic. You'll need to give yourself some time behind the wheel before you stop reaching for the stick or searching for the clutch pedal. Other than that, you'll adjust real fast.

MacDude

November 3, 2005 7:27 PM

I think a 15" Powerbook is what you need, it's a very nice machine with the balance of the features you want. It's impressive to have and show off. Do get AppleCare and your covered for three years.

For pure power and awesome multi-media you can't beat the PowerMac's, especially the Quad and a 30" Apple Display. Because lets face it, there's only so much room in a laptop and they do tend to turn into desktops if you start adding more hardware.

I have a PowerMac G5 Dual 2 Ghz and a 30" with a RAID O 2- 10,000 RPM Raptors as a boot drive connected to a very good 5.1 surround sound system.

My machine rocks as a multi-media machine, three HDTV's, 3D video games, sometimes 2 at once even, web, email, dvd movies, iTMS movies etc. i can't wait for the Quads to ship. :)

So if you really enjoy multi-media, you have to go PowerMac.

Laptops are fine if you need portability exclusively, but if you can drop that and go cheap with a portable and muscle desktop machine you'll be very happy like me. :)


http://homepage.mac.com/hogfish/PhotoAlbum2.html

ADM

November 3, 2005 7:40 PM

I'd go with a 12" Powerbook filled with RAM. Small, ultra portable, but still powerful enough to do some video editing while lying on the couch.

Steve Chen

November 3, 2005 7:58 PM

If you are sure you will be buying Intel-based Apple notebook not long after it's out, I would suggest you to go with iBook. However, my purchasing general rule of thumb is never buy the first generation of a new design... If you agree, then I would suggest you to go with a low-end PowerBook and max out the RAM. Personally, I tend to buy the best computer I can afford and stick with it for years. All my Mac computers has at least last me for 4 years, one of mine is nearly 10 years old and is still ticking. Have fun!

Chris Olson

November 3, 2005 9:35 PM

I'm a mechanical engineer and use Macs exclusively for my work.

My advice is to plan on using your Mac for at least five years - forget the vicious PC upgrade circle you've been part of. Spend the extra upfront to spec it accordingly.

I know where you're at, but here's my experience: I needed a new notebook in 2001 since I was buying a new PC notebook every two years to stay ahead of the game. I bought the top-of-the-line PowerBook G4 instead. It's now 2005 - my PowerBook shipped with Mac OS 9.1 when I bought it, switched to OS X in Nov 2001, and it's been incrementally upgraded to Mac OS X Tiger without ever loosing one byte of any of my data. I've swapped out the orginal 10 GB drive for an 80 GB - again with the aid of the Firewire port never loosing one byte of my data, replaced the original CDROM drive with a DVD writer from OWC, and installed 1 GB RAM in it. 4 1/2 years after I bought it, my PowerBook still works fine for CAD and data analysis work, plus I use it to make home movies, for iTunes, email, web, and all the other stuff you use a computer for. I plug a 1 TB LaCie Big Disk into it for data storage. I won't need a new notebook for at least 2 more years unless this one breaks.

I think you'll find out the same thing - Macs have a much longer useable lifespan than PC's. So buy accordingly - spec it accordingly. Like me, you'll probably save money in the long run, and be happy enough with your computer that you won't even worry about an "upgrade" to an Intel machine when they're released. I'd go with the PowerBook because it has Firewire 800, is .3 lbs lighter than a 14" iBook, has gigabit ethernet, and Type I/II PC card slot for future expansion to hook up some peripheral 4 years from now that doesn't even exist today. Not to mention that the PowerBook is simply drop-dead sexy and stands out in a crowd. You'll find out what I mean the first time you walk into a meeting where everybody slaps their black plastic PC notebooks on the table, and you whip out your PowerBook.

The Dark Side of the Moon

November 3, 2005 10:19 PM

Depending on what sort of multimedia you plan on doing, if you ARE doing some sort of music venture (a la GarageBand), I would lean more towards the PowerBook. Why? The iBooks currently don't have an audio-in port, and the PowerBooks do sport one. Granted, you can use FireWire and USB adapters in replacement of audio-in devices, but with only one FW and two USB ports to spare, you might be plugged in a little too much. Hope I helped, somewhat.

I switched to the Mac just over a year ago, and (literally) it has changed my life. Laugh if you want, but being able to create things I *NEVER* would have with Windows, is a very humbling experience. I hope you feel this too.

Dr. J.

November 3, 2005 11:12 PM

First, stop calling it a "PC"! You won't go wrong with any of them as long as you get enough hard drive capacity and memory for your needs - even if they are short term. Macs havea way of hanging around a lot longer than you expect.

Wader

November 3, 2005 11:50 PM

I work with over 2000 ibooks and own 1 PowerBook. I wouldn't trade my PowerBook for an iBook, or for that matter, any number of iBooks.

Nico

November 4, 2005 12:14 AM

iBook vs Powerbook. Tough decision. My choice definitely goes to the Powerbook. Why? mostly because of the screen resolution. iBooks are unfortunately limited to 1024x768 which is an issue when you want to connect your laptop to your 20" screen at home or at work. My fiancee has an iBook, she loves it, I love it too. Depends also on your budget, powerbooks are very expensive compared to the iBook and compared to PC laptops.

Raed

November 4, 2005 12:18 AM

15" Powerbook! I can't imagine you finding anything lacking in this laptop for your needs. I think you will fell the same years from now as well. Congratulations on making the switch, you will not regret it.

david

November 4, 2005 12:29 AM

PowerBook all the way. all the way.

Russ Hughlock

November 4, 2005 12:30 AM

Heh. I had the very same dilema about 4 months ago. I just didnt know what to do.

I kept going online and checking them all out - went to the apple store about 3 times...

In the end the wife swayed me as i was zeroing in on the 12" PB - she told me to get the 15" PB - and there is a reason i love her - she was right.

I bumped up the memory to a gig and it has completely replaced my windows desktop machine

When it comes to power and portability the 15" beats everything. the 17" is just too big, and the 12" are a little small for a workhorse.

My advice - buy as much as you can afford

Now i am struggling with the dilema of a 20" imac or a powermac...

Steve Isaacs

November 4, 2005 12:46 AM

Powerbook for sure.

Cameron Anderson

November 4, 2005 1:08 AM

Since A) you're a tech writer and B) the machine you seek seems like it'll be your main machine, I would go with a 15-inch Powerbook with RAM and hard disk space maxed out. Be sure to get the 3-yr service plan for it, as well as crossgrading any Windows apps you may have used in the past. Throw in a black 5th Gen iPod or iPod nano, plus a case, and a Marware C.E.O. Milano laptop case and Powerbook Protection Pack, and you'll be a MacAddict soon enough.

Danny Choo

November 4, 2005 1:32 AM

Hi,
I recently switched too - a powerbook g4.
Once you have decided what you want, I compiled some reviews of tools that I needed for the mac just for switchers - may be useful.

http://www.dannychoo.com/gallery_theme/eng/gallery_mac/photo/Tools+for+Switchers/

Rick Cummings

November 4, 2005 1:57 AM

S-Video Out. Comes on the 15" or larger PowerBooks. That reason alone disqualifies the iBooks and the 12" Powerbook for me. Get an external drive to store your music and movies. Do your eyes a favor and get a 20" Cinema Display to go with it. I switched 3 years ago and have never looked back.

Tom

November 4, 2005 2:14 AM

Wow, you have received a TON of replies. I'm sure by the time you get to my response, you'll have either made up your mind, or will have simply stopped reading (like I have). I'll try to be brief: either the 12inch iBook, or a 15inch PowerBook will be a good buy. The most important thing (IMHO) is to get 1GB or RAM on either computer.

The 15inch PowerBook does have these advantages: brighter screen, PCMCIA port (actually, more ports in general), more "solid" keyboard, better sound, faster bus, better graphics card, extended desktop support, etc. Applications will run a lot faster, but it won't be too noticeable unless you are running GarageBand or have a lot of assets in another iApp. The PB does have some drawbacks though. The battery life is poorer than the iBook, but the new PBs do sport better battery handling and "Safe Sleep". Also, the AirPort (802.11b/g) reception is not the best, but there are ways to boost that.

The iBook is a good machine, don't doubt that for a second. I own a PB, but had to use an iBook at work (before I was promoted). For 8 hours, I treated that thing like crap and it took it. The beefier apps were a bit slower than on my PowerBook, but only marginally. I would have 8 or so apps (including MS Office) open at any one time and it never hiccuped. Add to that the better battery life and better wireless reception, and it's a great machine for general usage.

Depending on the amount and type of multimedia you will handle, I might lean toward the PB, because if my Mac mini is any indication, the PB might handle large RAW files a tad better... but that is only one suggestion. As an entertainment hub, either will suffice. Software used for web dev. like DreamWeaver and Photoshop are very usable on either machine as well.

Oh, one last thing... external storage would be a good idea. If you have a lot of data, get a nice big drive from LeCie or someplace similar. If you are not in the habit of downloading a lot of large files though, just get an iPod. Heck, if you wanted to, you could install and boot Mac OS X off of the FireWire-enabled iPods (ie: pre-5Gen iPods). Just a suggestion.

Bellamy Budiman

November 4, 2005 2:24 AM

Hi Rob, I've switched to an 20" iMac recently (finally). From what you said, I'd say you should get a 12" iBook, considering that you're also going to be looking out the new Intel Macs next year, so then you could save some buck and upgrade next year if you want to. If it's only for web work, small multimedia storage, and an entertainment hub, I guess the iBook would suit you well. Of course, you can always get an external hard drive should you run out of disk space (this is too a good investment).

But if you're constrained with the resolution and the processing power, but not the budget, a 12"/15" Pbook or a 20" iMac are also sweet deals, IMHO. 17" Pbooks are just too big to carry around as a mobile (at least for me).

Whatever you choose now, every each of them would be a reliable investment. If you're looking out for a budgetary notebook, get an iBook. But if you're looking for a good investment for a longer run as well, Powerbooks wouldn't hurt. And I do agree that Macs would stand out in crowds. Good luck!

tom stringer

November 4, 2005 2:45 AM

get a Powerbook 15" and you will never look back.

a fine machine that will do all you ask of it.

welcome to the other side my friend

tom

Benjamin

November 4, 2005 3:26 AM

The main reason I would choose a powerbook over an ibook is the size. The 12" powerbook is so small and portable, with power to boot that it is the best buy out of all of them.

Java

November 4, 2005 4:30 AM

Wow, you have had a lot of replies!! I have read a few and the answers seem to go back and forth.

I think that there are 3 main aspects you should consider

---------
1) Size:

It sounds like portability is the key. I opted for a 12" screen for that reason. When I am home I have a 17" monitor that I connect to and I can use both screens. I bought the PB 2 years ago also because it had the dual screen capability whilst the iBook only had screen mirroring (I am not sure if the iBook has caught up) ... small laptop + big screen at home = perfect solution (but a lot of the time I just use the 12" screen with no issues)

---------
2) Features:

When I bought the PB it was the only laptop with a superdrive and was a bit faster. Now the iBook has caught up. In fact ALL iBooks now are more powerful than my PB and they all can have superdrives. Since we are most likely talking about the 12" the PB seems to have very few features that the iBook does not. some notable exceptions

a) Dual screen mode: I am not sure if iBooks support this now (maybe they do)

b) Screen resolution: one of the other replies made this point and it may be a valid one if you forsee connecting up to an external monitor

=> if you do not think you will use an external monitor then there may be very little real difference between the 2 models

c) Styling: iBook is slightly bigger (even at 12" size) but may weigh less. I think the PB is more stylish (slightly) and has a better keyboard ... not sure this is a deal breaker though

---------
3) Cost:

Obviously this is a key factor especially with the Intel Macs coming. Here the iBook offers great value for money ... the PB a little less (especially the 12" that does not have some of the new PB features). I think that this alone would push me to choose the iBook. With the savings you can splash out for that external screen.

=> Word of warning though. I have had my PB for 2 years and it still works perfectly ... even when the Intel models come out I think that I will be hard pushed to find a real reason to upgrade ... It seems that you may have a slight Windows bias here, where changing computers once a year is a must because of all the Malware and viruses you accumulate. I believe that whether you buy an iBook or a PB you will probably find that they last a very long time with no noticeable erosion of performance.

All the best and good shopping

Cheers

Rolphus

November 4, 2005 4:52 AM

I've just made the switch as well, and I'd say, given the multimedia work you're talking about, the PowerBook is where it's at. For all multimedia work (photos, audio, etc), disk performance is a big deal, and the iBooks' 4200 rpm drives are very DRASTICALLY slower than a desktop 7200 rpm drive. I initially went with a 15" PowerBook (with a 5400 rpm drive), and found it to be noticeably lagging compared to my Windows desktop. For various reasons (not least, the release of the new PowerBooks), I took that machine back and got myself a new 15" PB, with a 100Gb 7200 rpm drive. It has made a mammoth difference to everything - starting the OS, starting applications, performance of audio apps like Ableton, adding files to iTunes and iPhoto, you name it. Even simple stuff like adding artwork to an MP3 can take a great deal of time with a slower laptop drive, and the 7200 rpm drive makes all the difference in feel.

I'd also say that 512 Mb is really on the low end of acceptable if you like to keep applications open (and on a Mac, it's generally accepted that you do keep stuff running). I've got 1.5Gb (thanks to some slightly fortuitous circumstances), and while I'm not eating that up, I regularly have less than 512 Mb free. On my older PowerBook (with 512 Mb), I was getting a lot of disk thrashing, even when just having the basic desktop apps open (Mail, iCal, Address Book, Adium/iChat, iTunes).

Of course, getting a fully-loaded 15" PowerBook is going to set you back enough money to buy a small yacht... but hey, can you use a yacht on the train? ;)

fvquicke

November 4, 2005 5:06 AM

first of all, goog choice!

I also suggest an iBook with enough RAM.
Opposite to some comments above, DVI and VGA output have the same quality. With an excellent tool (spanning screen doctor, http://www.rutemoeller.com/mp/ibook/ibook_e.html) you can have multiple displays connected to your iBook. So the difference between PowerBook and iBook becomes even smaller.

Have fun!

Stuart

November 4, 2005 5:14 AM

Chris Olson the mechanical engineer is spot on. Macs just keeping goin' and goin'.

I switched to Mac in August 2000 - 500MHz G3 iBook, the machine is still going strong and there's no end in sight. With each new version of OS X, the same hardware gets faster and faster which is the polar opposite of Windows PCs.

My iBook has now been given to a friend who's fallen in love with it and wants to buy it (but it's so hard to let go!). I upgraded to the 17"PB which in use I regard as a portable desktop replacement. Personally, I'd go the 15" PB for power, portability and the extra screen realestate and graphics capability over the iBook.

Whichever you decide on, it'll be a workhorse for many, many years to come.

Bart de Vreede

November 4, 2005 5:31 AM

Just take a look at the amount of reactions you get from Mac users. You think if you posted it the other way (mac ->pc) you would have got these amount of reactions? Buy a Mac and become a proud member of this community. Experience problems with a Mac? Ask the forums and see that the people really want to help and inform. I switched about 5 years ago and sice then I'm walking around with a big smile.

@Russ Hughlock.
There have been some recent benchmarks between the single and dual processors and the differences were pretty small. If you require really heavy duty (and I mean really heavy like moviestudios movie editing) go for the Dual G5, but otherwise go for the iMac G5. I've got this one and I really make him work (graphic design) and he does the job fast and secure everytime.

Roel

November 4, 2005 5:41 AM

Go for a Powerbook. 3 weeks ago I changed my 12" ibook for a new 15" powerbook - and I don't regret the extra speed and screen real estate. The Powerbook screen is not only bigger, it is also much, much brighter.

Please also forget about the upcoming Intel Macs. It is not sure they arrive next year, and if they do, I would never ever buy one the first two years. They are likely to be bug-ridden (google for reports on the first G4 powerbooks...).

The current powerbooks, especially the 15", are at their best; almost all hardware bugs are removed.
Remember you are spending quite a lot of money; you don't pay big money to be a test user...

Joram Oudenaarde

November 4, 2005 5:41 AM

Well, giving the fact that you want to upgrade, but like the lightweight of your current PC-laptop i think i can say the following:

Take the iBook. The HD's in both the Powerbook and iBook are the same, and you can upgrade them in the store (or even buy one yourself and let a computerstore place it for you).

The PowerBook is faster, with more connectionports like DVI. But if you don't plan on hooking the laptop onto a bigger external screen, the iBook is good enough. The weight is not an issue with either one of them; they're very light to begin with ;-)
And with your light work (you're not doing any heavy Photoshopping and such), i think you don't need the massive power.

The only thing you should consider is the screensize (12" or 14" on iBooks), and be sure to buy extra RAM (not from Apple; their prizes are too high). The HD is an extra, which is entirely your own choice. But 768mB RAM or more is highly advisable.

kaj

November 4, 2005 5:52 AM

I started more then 10 years ago with a little performa mac, later i upgraded twice to a faster g4. Now i'm jusing a powerbook g4 15", and for me this is the ultimated computer.
But i understand you want to keep the option of buying an intel based powerbook somewhere in the neer futher. My sugestion will be:
Buy an ibook, because its good pricesed with an externale harddrive (consider the "lacie mobile serie"! because it doesn't need external power). The externale harddrive is allways handy when you have a lot of data and want to travel with your computer. And you will have a lot more options when buying an laptop, no need to buy the biggest powerbook there is.

Björn Lagerman

November 4, 2005 6:29 AM

Congratulations -u´l love anything u choose!!

Chris Laidlaw

November 4, 2005 6:58 AM

I was in the same boat. Though my need was for presentations. I was using an upgraded 400MHz G3 PowerBook. I knew the intel Macs were around the corner so I didn't want to spend a lot now.

I went with the 12" iBook. Let's be serious you really don't need more. You may "want" it but let your "want" be satisfied with the Intel Macs next year (or the year after this iBook is that good).

Although two highly recommended suggestions; Max out the RAM to 1.5GB and try to go with a Hard drive upgrade if you think you'll need to always carry that much data with you. I thought my 30GB drive (now available with 40GB) was enough but I enjoy using the iBook so much I wish I'd bought more HD space so I could stop using my G4/1.4GHz PowerMac all together.

Best of luck with your decision :-)

Christopher Jones

November 4, 2005 7:26 AM

I recently switched. I was a Windows enthusiast. I went to all the product launches, BETA tested all the software and was activly involved in the developer community. All this came to an end when the lights switched on and I relized that I have been wating for that perfect OS for too long and that I really need to start looking elsewhere. I tried several flavors of Linux and finally went with getting a Mac. I can't be happier. I have had so much fun with my new machine that I have turned off my PCs in the house due to them never being used. Unfortunatly I am stuck in an office environment that revolves around ".NET" and the Windows platform, but I am working on that. =)

I would start with something small. I chose a 12" iBook. It is perfectly portable and it has been a dream to carry around. I have a bluetooth mouse that I use at my desk and I hook it up to a 20" LCD when needed. From the start I maxed the RAM at 1.5 GB. I knew that I would not be happy if it didn't perform well. Considering I spend most of my day in photoshop and inDesign the RAM was going to hold me back if I did not upgrade.

I have been so happy that I am looking at a Mini for my home family computer and a 20" iMac for my office. I also recently sold my MP3 player to replace it with a video iPod.

Hope this helps and I can only say ... You will be happy with the switch!

Dick Richie

November 4, 2005 7:47 AM

I read all of the replies and almost none of them were helpful. I would suggest a 12" powerbook. thats what Im using to write this and its great. Its fast and light weight. It can do anything Ive ever asked it to do from video editing to photoshop. The one thing I will say and its what I suggest to any user on any platform is get as much RAM as you can afford. Applications like the ones in Adobe photoshop are RAM hogs. Adobe even says that everything it does is based on RAM so the more you get the better. Thankfully apple is shipping with 512 now but you want more. The other huge bonus to the 12" besides its portability is that you can connect either a DVI or VGA monitor to it while at home so you arent tied down to the 12" display while at your desk. Its in my opinion that best way to go!

chris

November 4, 2005 8:04 AM

It's now Nov. I would really wait till next year before buying a new PB. Not unless business week is doing the buying;) Why wait? Get in intel in your PB. It will be so much faster than Apple's offerings today. I love my PB 15, but will switch it out asap when intel reaches the market. Don't get a ibook.

AcousticKitty

November 4, 2005 8:05 AM

iBook. The Powerbook doesn't seem to me to be worth the extra cost. Just be aware that apple lappies get really HOT, and be sure not to put it on your legs. I understand that can cook your eggs so to speak.

Mark Rickert

November 4, 2005 8:12 AM

Definately go with the 15" powerbook. I just got one at work and the biggest advantage of the powerbook is that you can connect a second monitor via the DVI connector and it gives you a second desktop... twice the workspace!
I'm a programmer and i need this to be as productive as possible.
The iBooks only 'mirror' when you connect thDVI to an external monitor, meaning that it displays what's on your LCD on the external. (although there IS a firmware hack for the iBook to enable dual-display, most people are leery about messing with the firmware of a $1,000+ computer.)

I switched in April with a mac Mini and i'm loving every day on my new OSX platform. I can do EVERYTHING i used to do on my windows machine and more!

Dx.Bob S

November 4, 2005 8:16 AM

Hello Mr. Hof,

I've been using MAC for years. As of the last 5 years, I've been M$ free. No viruses or spyware for MacOS X (yet) and it just works ALL DAY LONG non stop. Soon (if you need) you will be able to run windoze and MacOS simultaneously without VPC.

I think that ANY of the APPLE laptops will suite you just fine. Since APPLE engineers the whole machine, you get a high quality computer that will last more than 5 years. However, for what you want to use it for, I would recommend you choose a PowerBook for the additional display capabilities (http://www.apple.com/powerbook/).

You may also want to consider the new iMac G5 with Front Row (http://www.apple.com/imac/). It's ideally suited for your multimedia needs.

I'm not really fond of the idea of intel in a MAC because those cpu's are known for being tattletales as to what you're doing just like windoze backdoor keys. I just feel that even if the new intel is not a pentium, it will still compromise your privacy.

Also, I store all my stuff on 2 external firewire drives in a raid (mirror) config. that way if one drive fails, the other will back it up.

I feel that once you make the move to an RC (real computer), you may ask yourself what took you so long.

Enjoy your new MAC !
Dx.Bob S

Jurriaan Droppert

November 4, 2005 8:48 AM

It looks like everyone is giving hardware advice! In my humble opinion the major problem with the transition is getting your data across.

If you (like me) had a lot of email in PST-files (outlook personal folders), getting this ported to MBOX format (used by Mail.app) can only be done in two ways to my knowledge - put everything back on your mail account and hope your system administrator will let you connect your Mac OR use an application like Little Machine's Outlook2Mac (www.littlemachines.com).

In terms of Word / Excel / Powerpoint - there are plenty of options - I personally think Microsoft Office for Mac is pretty good (www.mactopia.com), but OpenOffice.org (free) does the job too.
If you use other applications like Visio or MS Project, getting Virtual PC is also recommended, although there are plenty of substitutes out there (even free) - take a look at www.verisontracker.com/macosx and the likes,

When it gets down to browsing the web - well Safari is actually pretty useless. There are plenty of non HTML-standard sites that you can't access. My advice is get Camino (www.caminobrowser.org, free!) as this works best, is pretty fast and has plenty of features.

If staying in contact with many Chat buddies is your thing get AdiumX, its a great multistandard chat client.

For media viewing, VLC (again free) beats Quicktime hands down - many standards supported out of the box, no purchasing of a 'professional' license to save movies and its customisable to your own look and feel.

Finally we get down to the hardware. This is advice for the roadwarrior! I personally have a 12" Powerbook G4 (1.3Ghz). Although small and cute, it is a bit heavy and many of the well thoughtout powerbook features are not present. Go for a 15" at the very least to enjoy things like backlit keyboard (you'll thank me on the first plane you're on), battery swithcing while in standby mode (4 hours is a long time for the battery, but you always run out of juice before the end of the document says Murphy) - and also make sure you get an extra battery;-). get all the RAM you can afford as Mac applications are cached in memory for extra speed. go for a 7200RPM harddisk option only if you want to do some video editing and that's about all... Oh and don't forget to buy a proper mouse with two buttons ;-)

Hope you find it useful and wish you lots of fun exploring the World of Apple and Mac's. PC users get the idea that there is very little software out there, but this is definitely underestimated.
A final word - say good bye to Viruses (although I have the free ClamAV to make sure I don't forward any viruses). That alone is worth the transition!

Toodles....

Amy

November 4, 2005 9:12 AM

I use a Mac Mini with a partitioned external drive to manage my media (e.g., photos, mp3s, documents, etc.). I use a 15" PowerBook for everything else. Networking between Macs is very elegant, so I can mount anything from the Mini to my PowerBook. (We also have a 12" iBook in the house and that is a wonderful little machine.)

If I were you, I would consider setting up a Mac Mini with an external drive as a media server and purchase a 12" iBook for your mobile needs. This dual setup would come in at about the same price as a PowerBook and meet a variety of needs.

Brian Pennington

November 4, 2005 9:58 AM

One of the main reasons you would want to get a PB over an iBook is the ability to span monitors. I use spanning every day at work to make room for palettes, and since I have a 12" Powerbook. However, if you don't need to hook your laptop into an extra monitor very often or at all, I'd go with an iBook.

David B. Williams

November 4, 2005 10:01 AM

LUV the 12" iBOOK!

I have a 15" PB, my wife a 12" iBook. Ineed the OB for work, presentations, etc. But around the house, whether from the kitchen, couch or bed, that 12" iBook is the most COMFORTABLE computer I have every used. Hands down.

No matter what way you go, definitely BUY FROM APPLE and LOAD UP ON RAM.

RAM is more important than processor speed for good performance. And, non-Apple retailers sometimes use 3rd party RAM that Apple doesn't support. Buy everything else from anywhere, but configure and buy the actual system from Apple.com.

Berko

November 4, 2005 10:02 AM

I recommend the 15" Powerbook. The displays were just updated to higher resolution with much brighter screens, and the 15" is just right between too big and scrunching eyes and using expose every five seconds to get to your other windows. Also, the 15" comes with a PC card slot, which could come in really handy. I settled on the 12" PB because all the ports are on one side, which makes using my Bookendz docking station a lot more convenient. If you do go small, it seems imperative to me to get a large external display, i.e. nothing smaller than 20".

Since you're focusing on multimedia and such, I would suggest also getting a substantial external drive. I didn't think that my 80GB HD would fill as fast as it has, but I always find myself agonizing over where to move what to free up space. If I just had an external drive (perhaps a 100GB laptop drive for the enclosure I already have), I could rotate things around.

As far as the Intel switch is concerned, I wouldn't let that play as much a role as it seems you are. Apple's laptops won't be getting switched over to somewhere close to the end of 2006 and even then, I wouldn't be an "early adopter" because major transitions like this usually have some bugs at the beginning. So, I would wait until somewhere in summer 2007 to think about upgrading. By then, if you're anything like me, you will be ready to anyway.

Roberto de Souza Medeiros

November 4, 2005 10:05 AM

just one thing:

buy the most powerfull mac that you can!!!
and think diferent!

Sara G.

November 4, 2005 10:27 AM

Unless you're going to do some high-end video editing, I recommend getting a 14" iBook loaded to the gils. In my humble opinion, the 12" is too small and the 15" Powerbook is too big. You got it: the 14" iBook is "just right."

I know it's a tough decision to make, but once you have your new Mac you will kick yourself for not getting one sooner. Cheers!

tuco

November 4, 2005 3:26 PM

I have a 12" PowerBook for almost a couple of year now. I wrestled with getting a 15” or a 12”. I settled for the 12” because of size. I carry it every day. But in retrospect, I wish I would have gotten the 15”. The view angle on this 12” model is not good for the price I paid. I see the newer models are making changes to that.

I’d say if you going to use this laptop a lot, get a least a 15”. And today the iBook is becoming the PowerBook of yesterday so you have to make that call yourself. But I’m not a typical Mac user. I run Linux on my PowerBook too and I’m mostly in that environment.

Good luck.

DerekJ

November 4, 2005 4:10 PM

I am a 4th year Design Student (meaning: I use final cut, all adobe pgms., etc.) and am successfully doing it all on a late-model iBook G3 600MHz, with an external firewire 250GB HDD. I'm not saying you should use something THAT outdated, but what I am saying is that you don't have to pay an arm and a leg to get a great apple system. I'd say go with what you can afford.
As for your intel comment, yes, you're right, you shouldn't spend too much.
Now that can either be in the form of a mid-range ibook, or a low-range powerbook (the 12" ones are a good value), or you could check out the refurbished laptops on apple's website.
A lot of these macaddicts (I'm one too, don't worry) have put themselves in the poorhouse just to have the bleeding edge. My advice is to not get pulled into that fray.
Be sensible, not cheap. Have high demands, don't go broke.

Kevin Tumbull

November 4, 2005 5:56 PM

Short and sweet:
There's no one size fits all.

Here's why you should buy a:

12" iBook:
You're uncertain how the transition will go and it's the least expensive, in this case a Mac mini is probably the better option.
You don't need to store/move large amounts of data (no DVD burner), and don't need an extended desktop (video out is mirror only).
1.5GB of RAM is enough.
Portability is a major factor.
You don't need a great deal of desktop real estate. (1024x768)

14" iBook:
Same native resolution as "12, so it's easier to read (like my mom).
Video editing and DVD output is something you want.
You need to move large amounts of data: It's faster to mail a few DVDs worth of data than upload them.
1.5GB of RAM is enough.
You don't need to store/move large amounts of data (no DVD burner), and don't need an extended desktop (video out is mirror only).
You don't need a great deal of desktop real estate. (1024x768)

12" Powerbook:
You don't need a great deal of desktop real estate. (1024x768)
You want a brighter screen that is more readily viewable in situations where glare is a problem (noon in a car in Arizona).
Portability is especially important.
1.25GB of RAM is enough.
You need extended desktop capability.

15" Powerbook:
You need a decent amount of desktop space to work with.
Brighter screen (than iBook).
For some reason, 1.5GB of RAM is _not_ enough...
It's small/light enough to be easily transported by you (I use a small backpack).
You may need the ability to use it in dark conditions without an external light source, and the keyboard is backlit. (This is great for use on the road as a car passenger, since keeping the dome light on can impair view of the road).
You need something extremely quick.
-----
Whatever you get:
1)Drop in at least a gig of RAM beyond what it ships with stock. If you're comfortable adding it yourself, you can get it from NewEgg.com for a very good price. If you want page links, email me. OSX will take advatage of whatever RAM is available.
2)While you may not find some programs that you currently use available for OSX, there are almost always equivalents, and better ones at that.
Multi-network IM client: Trillian -> Fire (free, inlcudes spell check and speech, but no video options or voice chat)
Basic Graphics app: ACDsee/Irfanview -> Graphics converter (too many features to go into it)
Other apps: Ask around, the Mac crowd can be a bit rabid at times but they're generally helpful in this case. Also due to low level differences in Window/OSX, when you want to test out a new app on OSX, it doesn't change the OS. (no registry) Unlike my XP Pro machine, which can be flaky after tons of install/uninstall cycles, the OSX box is fine. This does not include things like Norton, is almost as evil on OSX as XP...
3)Get yourself a how-to book. It'll help alot. Robin Williams (not the actor) wrote an excellent guide to OSX 10.4 published by Peach Pit Press. It's available on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble. It's not condescending, it's very graphical, and it's helped my mom move to OSX a great deal.
4)Find other people who have switched/use both daily and ask them questions. There are quite a few of us out there.

David Wang

November 4, 2005 10:11 PM

Rob, if it's your first Mac I suggest getting an iBook. While most Mac-heads will suggest to get the most tricked out system you can, I feel that you want to minimise your investment on something you may or may not fit into your work and life. It is, after all, still a windows world.

I switched to a Mac earlier this year and I've learnt lots of stuff since. I wrote down what I learnt in my blog. Hope everyone who's looking finds it useful http://www.itchyhands.com/2005/10/04/how-to-switch-to-mac

Dexter Ang

November 5, 2005 12:19 AM

I have no idea what others have suggested so let me address each of your issues first:

"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."
-- If price were the main concern, get an iBook. If you really want to upgrade to Intel-based Apples, I suggest you wait a couple of years first. Let them work out the kinks in the system. Besides, with Universal Binaries, this really shouldn't be a concern at the moment.

"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."
-- I would suggest you get an external harddrive instead. This way you could move around files when you choose to upgrade computers. Or do what I do... setup a Linux server with RAID, then store files there.

"I like the light weight of the iBook. And screen size doesn't matter much--for my purposes, smaller might be perfectly fine."
-- This was the main reason for me selecting the iBook after using my Thinkpad T30. Light weight is great. I believe the Powerbook 12" is equally light weight.

My reason for using an iBook is simple cost. It's the cheapest Apple laptop I could find. All I had to do was increase the RAM (I only got 512mb, I suggest you to max it out). OS X works great. Most of my apps are freeware or Open Source software anyway. I use the laptop for general office work (spreadsheets and a few documents in NeoOffice/J), SysAd work (remotely managing servers, creating bash scripts, some php coding, etc.), and general multimedia (watching DVDs, sorting out pictures, etc.).

I would like to note that, except when there is a major update, I have hardly restarted my laptop. I simply close the lid and leave it suspended. So far I've seen it go up to 16 days uptime without a reboot. Although I'm sure I've passed 16 days before. I use it like my cellphone. I never turn it off, I just charge it when the battery's low.

sz

November 5, 2005 7:23 AM

I've owned and used them all (apple laptops) - all time favorite so far is the iBook. iBook over powerbook you say?? yes - it's small, light and tough - and it costs alot less. and believe it or not spend the money you save on extra ram and it holds it's own easily against any standard powerbook (speaking from experience here!). also, get used to using mac os x's Expose function - it makes using ANY sized screen a pleasure. They even have better airport range. Get used to os X on a well endowed iBook and you'll be a power user by the time the intel macs come out. for now a tricked out 12' ibook is the answer (xtra ram and bigger hd), i'm telling you - you wont regret it!

JoseMariz

November 5, 2005 4:34 PM

See this site:
http://www.xvsxp.com/

Mac Portuguese Reference see my site :P
http://www.orbitalmac.com

i vote for ibook in your case or old powerbooks...

Good Lucky!

Alex Martelli

November 6, 2005 1:32 AM

I own many laptops, Mac and otherwise. The one I always end up using is -- the 12" iBook I got BTO ("built to order") with an 80GB disk and 1GB RAM -- except when I have to use the one my employer (Google) provides employees, which is a 15" Powerbook (Google asks every employee to use Google-provided machines for any remote connection to Google's internal network... a very reasonable stance).

The PB is also a great machine, of course -- more powerful, bigger screen, etc -- but the iBook is lighter and handier to keep on my lap and carry everywhere, so it ends up being my default machine for almost all uses.

Considering that the iBook costs about half as much as the Powerbook, I think its price/performance ratio is THE best one in the industry, bar none. Unless you absolutely HAVE to have internal DVD writers, PCMCIA slots, or the like, I wholeheartedly recommend the 12" iBook.


Alex

Herbert

November 6, 2005 8:16 AM

The new 12" ibook is the machine. Max the ram, add a firewire drive and run all the multimedia you can stand. Light, tough and powerful and half the cost of a powerbook. The only "real world" reason to spring for a powerbook is the pcmcia slot.

Paul Degner

November 10, 2005 9:11 AM

Whatever you do, buy a refurbished unit. Here's the URL:

http://store.apple.com/1-800-MY-APPLE/WebObjects/AppleStore.woa/70402/wo/gC1S8XrDuZrc2BUU8hmDHlVU9BK/0.0.17.1.0.8.63.0.0.0.0.0.0.3.1.1.0?94,50

You'll save the equivalent of the first year or two of depreciation. All units are covered by Apple's AppleCare one year warranty and you can extend it if you feel the need (I'd only do so towards the end of your first year of ownership).

I've owned several Macs over the past twenty one years. They get better all the time. You'll probably want to upgrade in a couple years so the refurb unit is a good choice since it will cost you next to nothing when you sell it.

BTW, in response to the last post, I haven't used a PCMCIA slot in years.

Michael Skinner

November 10, 2005 11:35 AM

There still isn't a perfect laptop for desktop replacement yet. IntelBooks might mitigate that further, but right now, the lack of a G5 and the slower hard drive speeds mean you still must compromise. If pressed to buy only one machine, I would go for the PowerBook G4 15" at $1999. But, for only $300 more, you could buy an iMac G5 17" ($1299) and an iBook 12" ($999) and have the best of both worlds. All the compromises of the iBook (slower processor, smaller screen, no Superdrive) are addressed by the G5 when you are at home, yet you'll still have a light Mac laptop to easily travel with (BTW, a great little hack called Screen Spanning Doctor allows for dual display on iBooks). I currently work this way with a 1.25GHz eMac SuperDrive and a 1GHz 12" PowerBook G4 Combo. I use the eMac as a Server/Desktop, and sync all my important files through dotMac. When I do GarageBand or iMovie, I use the eMac because of its faster processor, faster hard drive and bigger screen. When we go away for the weekend, I throw my PowerBook and an Airport Express in the bag and hardly notice the extra heft. If I am in another room with the PowerBook, say lounging on the couch in the family room, I can control my eMac remotely using Apple Remote Desktop and vice versa. I wouldn't like the 12" PowerBook if it was my only machine, but the eMac makes up for its few shortcomings. BTW, the iBook does not "run cooler" than the PowerBook G4 as someone suggested; its plastic skin just doesn't conduct heat as well as the PowerBook's metal skin, so you feel more heat on the PowerBook. Since moving heat away from the core of the machine is good, the PowerBook actually "runs cooler" where it matters; on the inside.

Jon Graves

November 10, 2005 5:24 PM

I chose the 12" PowerBook over the 15" PowerBook as a second machine using the reasoning that even when it is no longer considered fast, it will still be small!

I don't regret it for a minute - I just wish I could get our 3 year-old off it!

JRoquet

November 11, 2005 11:01 AM

Be sure to check out this 12" iBook feature comparison with the 12" Powerbook:
http://systemshootouts.org/shootouts/special/2005/1022_12ibook_12pbook.html

Then look compare the differences between the 12" and 15" Powerbooks.

Rob Hof

November 11, 2005 12:44 PM

I again have to thank everyone for amazing help here. I believe I'm settling down to going with an iBook, possibly a refurbished one, because I don't want to spend the close to $2,000 that a Powerbook with enough oomph would likely require. (Plus, I'm swayed by the possibility that iBooks have better wifi reception--that's huge for me, because this thing has to move constantly around the house and to the garage.) But I also wondered if it would make sense to buy a Macmini with my savings, and use that to store most of my songs, movies, and photos. That way, I wouldn't be overtaxing the iBook hard drive (and wouldn't need as big a one for it), and the mini also could act as the base computer for my Linksys wifi, since I want to get my wife's PC onto the wireless network. Does that make sense? Thanks again. One way or another, I think I'm finally going to become a Mac owner!

jc

November 19, 2005 9:50 AM

I've owned both an iBook and a Powerbook. I owned the iBook
first. It was a G3, which I passed on to a family member.
I 'upgraded' to the Powerbook for several reasons. The larger
screen, the lit keyboard, the DVD burner (superdrive). The
supposed extra 'Power'. But if I had to do it over again I would
have stuck with the iBook. Better battery life. Better wireless
range. And it turns out I don't need all that power to surf the
net or read/send email. And nowadays you can get a superdrive
with your iBook, and it uses the G4 (same as the Powerbook).
I got my wife an iBook and every time I use it it makes me smile
and yearn. I miss my old iBook. Oh, and it just feels more
durable, too.

MacRaven

December 29, 2005 5:48 PM

Rob, if you haven't bought yet, wait until Macworld is over. You might be better off seeing what gets upgraded first to the Intel chip. Will be faster, possibly cheaper. but most important you'll be buying the future and not the past.

Both the MacMini and iBook are possible in the rumors for January '06 upgrade. We'll see. Or better yet, come to Macworld and enjoy the rush of a Keynote yourself!

jose branco

January 11, 2006 12:45 PM

The best! " very small"

PowerBook 12.1-inch TFT Display

512MB DDR333 (256MB built-in + 256MB SO-DIMM)
80GB Ultra ATA drive @ 5400rpm
8x SuperDrive (DVD±RW/CD-RW)
AirPort Extreme Card
1.5GHz PowerPC G4
NVIDIA GeForce FX GO 5200 with 64MB DDR Video Memory
iLife'06

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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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