View Full Version : Upgrade PB or get a monitor?

2005-03-10, 11:51
So I've been doing enough freelance work to afford an upgrade to my home setup. Here's the pertinent things in my setup:

AL Powerbook 15"(1ghz, 1gb ram, airport, bt, cd-rw)
Sawtooth G4 450mhz (448 ram,dvd-r drive, 30gb and 80gb drives)
Gaming PC (2ghz amd)
Sony 17" 200ps CRT monitor (dual inputs, still works good)
External Lacie 160gb fw drive for backups
Airport Extreme base station w/ printer shared

The Sawtooth and PC are upstairs and share the Sony monitor. Sawtooth doesn't really do much just for storage and DVD-burning. The PC is for gaming which has become more infrequent as side work has picked up.

The Powerbook sees the most use, its what i do all my surfing and design work on (mostly print, some web), typically from the couch. Sometimes I'll take it upstairs and run dual with the monitor if I'm feeling cramped for pixel space, but I prefer being downstairs. Only beef is that the darn thing gets hot on my legs sometimes.

Was thinking of selling the PB and Sawtooth to help finance a new Powerbook, but then was thinking, maybe it'd be nicer to get a big 20" monitor to work on instead, my current speed is adequate I guess. I keep flip flopping back and forth over what'd be more important... speed or real estate? Then there's the issue of simplifying... do I really need a whole extra machine that really does nothing but burn the occasional DVD?


Here's what I'm currently considering:

Option 1: Sell PB and Sawtooth but get an external case for it's DVD-R. Get a faster CD-RW equipped 15" PB. This would be my cheapest route to simplify and get some more speed.

Option 2: Sell PB and Sawtooth, get a faster Superdrive-equipped 15" PB. Less cheap more simplification.

Option 3: Sell PB and Sawtooth, get a faster Superdrive-equipped 17" PB. Can't decide if a 17" is too big for lap use or not. Does get me more real estate so maybe it's killing two birds with one stone?

Option 4: Keep PB, sell Sawtooth but get an external case for it's DVD-R. Get a 20" Apple monitor for more real estate. Hold out for G5 Powerbooks. Having all the screen real estate would be sweet but would have to sacrifice a speed increase for now and wait til later.

Any thoughts/suggestions/observations would be appreciated. Do the 17" PBs run as hot as the 15"? Any designers out there using PBs as their main machines?

2005-03-10, 17:29
In the mean time, you should consider putting a Folding@home client (http://teammacosx.homeunix.com/software.html) (with team AppleNova (http://forums.applenova.com/showthread.php?t=1619)!;)) on that old Sawtooth and Windows PC if they're just sitting up there idle most of the time. :D

I think the important question you need to ask yourself is what will benefit you the most. You already said that you prefer the mobility of the PB and that you don't often hook into that monitor. So, will the added screen real estate really benefit you that much?

Also, the newest PowerBooks aren't a whole lot faster than what you already have unless you'll be crunching numbers continuously. The same old bottlenecks are still in place (bus speed, hard drive speed).

Ever time I see a 17" PowerBook, I think how uncomfortable it would be to use on your lap for a long period of time. I always have seen it more as a mobile desktop computer than as a laptop computer.

Of the choices you gave, I'd personally go for Option 4.

2005-03-10, 17:45
Yeah I'm curious... do people actually use the 17" on their laps? I've never actually put one in my lap (they're all bolted down at the store) but my first impression is that'd it'd seem too big and bulky?

2005-03-10, 18:41
I've used a 17pb on my lap, and the size is kind of uncomfortable. So if you really need more space I would suggest getting the bigger screen. If you really burn DVDs a lot I would suggest a new external 16x burner. Try option 4.

2005-03-10, 20:46
Keep your PB and get an external monitor. Seriously. Even if you upgrade to another PB in the next couple of years, you've still got a nice monitor to hook up.

Don't bother going to the 17" from 15". The pixel gain is negligible. At least wait until the 17" offers 1920x1200 pixels to buy a new laptop. You'de be much better off getting a nice hi-res LCD for the time being (and not necessarily an Apple if cost is a factor).

2005-03-10, 21:49
Personally, I am planning on upgrading my 15" alubook to a 20" iMac soon. I really love using the computer on the couch and in the bed, but in general, I'd much prefer to have a huge screen and the ability to process more tracks.

2005-03-11, 10:08
Keep your PB and get an external monitor. Seriously. Even if you upgrade to another PB in the next couple of years, you've still got a nice monitor to hook up.

That was another draw to Option 4. If the side work keeps ramping up I'll be able to work full time for myself (and quit making money for other people). In that case it'd be in my best interest to get my ass off the couch and get a dual-G5 to all my design work on.

So if I accept my current machine as "good enough" and go with a new monitor... any suggestions aside from the Apple 20". It's very nice looking and like the wide aspect, but something with DVI/VGA would be nice as I could hook one of the other machines in as well and ditch the old 200ps (damn that things lasted a long time).

2005-03-17, 14:47
OK so I guess I'm a true Apple fan. I paid the Apple Tax™ and opted for the 20" Cinema Display. Was able to get it from a reseller here that gave me a good trade-in value on the Sawooth (+accessories) to offset the cost a little so that helped.

Just set it up over lunch running off my closed-lid Powerbook and gotta say I'm really pleased. The screen is really nice and bright, and is the perfect dimensions (physical and pixel) for working on these book spreads I'm doing. Not to mention Neverwinter Nights auto-detects the 1680x1050 resolution as a video option! It's a really nice looking piece of industrial design as well, very nice fit and finish, doesn't look out of place in my (temporary while we paint extra bedroom) office/dining room.

My only complaint is a small one. Running it off the Powerbook (or a Mini I suppose) you have to leave the powerbrick on the desk due to the "all in one" cable configuration they use.It'd be nice if they'd include a little power extender cable if you needed one. Ah well, at least the brick is tastefully plain white.

Overall really glad I opted for the monitor over the 'book right now. Big thumbs up. Thanks for the advice guys. :D

2005-03-17, 15:11
This may be a little OT but in the general spirit of the discussion. I just went throuogh a related thought process on two fronts. First, I needed to replace a 15" iBook. Thought about it a lot and came to the conclusiont that there was no earthly reasont aht I need allt hat screen real estate when I was traveling and opted for a 12" powerbook. I am delighted. The beast fits in my smallest briefcase. I no longer have to carry a separate computer bag this little guy can just be shoved anywhere and for word process or watching a movie on a plane it is fine.

On the desktop I was feeling more an dmore constrained by my 867 dual G4, the constraints coming in the form of dealing with very large files in Photoshop. I made the leap to a dual 2 Ghz G5, not because I wanted or even felt I needed the speed but because I knew I need the RAM capability. I have 3 gigs of RAM installed and working with 500Mb images in PS is now very very tolerable .. still not instant always but definitely tolerable. the 1.8 G5 would ahve limited the RAM options too much and that is the only reason I didn;t go for it.