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iMac vs. Powerbook for college...

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iMac vs. Powerbook for college...
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New Member
Join Date: Mar 2005
2005-03-14, 12:27

Hey. I am a graduating high school senior, and after four years of an instable, lemon of a PC, I've decided to switch over to Mac (yay).

The problem is, i keep vacillating on what to buy. To powerbook? To iMac 17"? To iMac 20"?

The main quality of the powerbook that Iím attracted to is the portability (duh). I feel like in college this will be very, very convenient, if not essential (?). On the other hand, the powerbook is much more expensive, and doesnít have the G5 processor... However, if the speed difference is negligible, and the portability is important, I would be willing to pay the extra dollars...

As far as iMacs go, they are extremely beautiful, small, and elegant. My only confusion comes when deciding which size to buy, 17" or 20"? At first, I was totally set on the 20". But now Iím having second thoughts after seeing a friend's 20"... it is very, very big, and this is, after all, for college. But part of me says that if I'm going to buy a Mac, I should go all out and get the 20". However, the other part of me says this is not practical for a college dorm, and the 17" is pretty big anyway. Also, I am thinking of buying a nice 5.1 speaker system. I feel I could justify this purchase by saving money on the 17". I rarely do any intense gaming, but I do watch a lot of movies, and do some audio/graphics editing.

Also, though I would be extremely cautious, as this will be in a dorm, there is always the concern of the system getting stolen, which makes me lean a bit more towards the iMac.

Any thoughts as far as what to buy? And any upgrades I should add to whichever I do end up getting?

Thanks very much,
Random Hero
Join Date: May 2004
2005-03-14, 12:38

I bought a 15" powerbook for college and it worked out great. If you buy a powerbook BE SURE to buy a cable lock for it, so you can lock it to the desk.

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Cynical Old Bastard
Join Date: May 2004
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2005-03-14, 12:39

I would go for a 12" iBook. Nicely optioned it would only cost around $1500.
The iBook is missing some features that you would get in the Powerbook, but it is less expensive and is still a great computer.
I think that you will fine the portability to be a deciding factor. Being able to take your computer with you when you are doing research in the library is a massive plus. Not to mention being able to use the computer to take notes in class, work on papers between classes or at the cafe.

I would get between 512 and 1gb of RAM and something like a 60GB HD. Oh yeah, Applecare is a must for either of the laptops or the iMac.
Join Date: Feb 2005
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2005-03-14, 22:41

Originally Posted by Random Hero
I bought a 15" powerbook for college and it worked out great. If you buy a powerbook BE SURE to buy a cable lock for it, so you can lock it to the desk.
BE SURE that the desk can't be picked up and stolen WITH the powerbook. I'm still waiting for a company to come out with a nice, thick cable lock (Say 1/2" to 1") for use in a permanent setting. (Like for a MacMini, Airport, or just for your PB/iBook while you're at your desk.

As for size, it's mainly a personal preference, but I'm in love with all of Apple's footlongs. Just stay away from that monolith of a computer, that 17" PB!

EDIT: Forgot to answer your question. Get a laptop. Portability is essential, especially in a college setting. You might lean towards the PB right away, but the iBook's no slouch, either.

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Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: H-Town
2005-03-15, 16:12

Get a laptop

Now allow me to rant.

I haven't been to your school but i can tell your right now that people at your dorm don't care if you get your studying done there. The night you need to get some actual work done on your desktop computer they will throw a party at the adjacent dorm. They will turn the music up so loud that you can't hear your own thoughts! They will yell and laugh so much that you think they are having seizures!

Second worst enemy to working in your dorm is your roommate. Even if you are friends before college life, when you study he will transform into a demon that is obsessed with bringing over friends when you are trying to get work done and making unnecessary noises to see how far he can go before you snap.

With a laptop you can escape from your dorm room and get work done at the library. And don't make the mistake of seeing allot of on campus computers that you think you can use. When you need to use the on campus computers everyone else will need to use it too! And there will be none for you.

Also if you are like me and bump rides to come home for break you can forget about bringing home a desktop, there ain't no room.

Even if you are doing graphics intensive stuff the current G4 memory bottle neck is so sever that you would be better off getting an 12" ibook and pumping it full of ram (third part of course).

Last edited by NaMo4184 : 2005-03-15 at 19:36.
Veteran Member
Join Date: May 2004
Location: New York City
2005-03-15, 16:45

The iMac is portable enough that if NaMo's prediction of campus computers being occupied when you need them is moot as you can relocate your iMac fairly easily to the library or such... (just bring a LOCK!!!)

I'd suggest the iMac 17". It is plenty big for watching movies and small enough to be able to manage it easily.

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Selfish Heathen
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Zone of Pain
2005-03-15, 16:52

Originally Posted by Paul
The iMac is portable enough that if NaMo's prediction of campus computers being occupied when you need them is moot as you can relocate your iMac fairly easily to the library or such... (just bring a LOCK!!!)
Uhh, yeah. I can just imagine some poor guy lugging a 20 lbs iMac all around campus with the cables and keyboard and mouse stuffed in a huge bag dragging behind.

Get a PowerBook. You'll thank yourself later. True portability of a notebook is a godsend beyond words for campus life. You can't work on an iMac in the dining hall. You can't work on it outside. You may not even be able to find a comfortable place in the library to set it up since you'll need a flat workspace and a nearly power outlet.

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Passing by
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: London, Europe
2005-03-15, 17:07

Powerbook 12" or 15" with decent RAM (at least 1GB) would be my choice.
New Member
Join Date: Mar 2005
2005-03-15, 20:37

Thanks everyone for your responses... though im still tempted by the iMac (its just so damn beautiful) the powerbook is def starting to look more appealing.

So say i got the 15" PB... do i need to up the RAM to 1gb? And what about that video memory thing... should I spring for the 128? again, I dont do much gaming, just lots of movies and some editing...

Less than Stellar Member
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Durham, NC
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2005-03-15, 20:46

Get the powerbook. Or an iBook and use the extra cash to buy a monitor for your desk. The best of both worlds.

But, I agree with Brad. The laptop is the way to go for college.
New Member
Join Date: Mar 2005
2005-03-16, 12:12

How does the screen contrast / color / resolution compare between the PB (15") and the iMac (17")?
2005-03-18, 15:29


The most important question is what you'll be majoring in, or what are your interests? Or for which uses you will need your computer. If you're going to be an English major, business major or science major, save your money and get an ibook, you'll need your money for other things!!

I always equated the powerbook with a better screen, more video ram for video/image editing and the arts. For the rest of us mere mortals, ibooks should suffice. Someone put it very well... if you have the money, get a powerbook!

As for someone else posting about dorm life, I concur. The majority of your studying will be in a library and NOT in your dorm room. So getting something that is not portable is not a good idea. Besides, you'll spend the next four years of your life moving from one place to another so portability is a key factor. Good luck in college!

Join Date: Jul 2004
2005-03-18, 23:07

Originally Posted by powdersnow87
Hey. I am a graduating high school senior, and after four years of an instable, lemon of a PC, I've decided to switch over to Mac (yay).

The problem is, i keep vacillating on what to buy. To powerbook? To iMac 17"? To iMac 20"?
I'm in the same boat as you. G5 vs. portability...

First off, do you really need/want to bring a computer everywhere you go?
Yes the iMac is a desktop and it is a bit of a hassle to move it, but no where near a typical desktop. So if you just need to move it a few times a year, I think the iMac is portable enough.

Secondly, laptops break down more. Even when you use it primarily as a desktop replacement, you'll still have issues with the battery, and for me at least, I had overheating issues with my last laptop as it aged.

And security-wise, yes the iMac is 20lbs but it's still pretty damn easy to steal. Just as easy as the laptop, so you want to secure the iMac if you get that.

I'd avoid the 20" iMac simply because I think it's too big for a dorm environment.

How long do you want to use the computer? If you get a G5, it will last several years because as more features are put onto the OS and more complex programs come out, it will age gracefully. If you get a 1.33Ghz G4, yes it will run Tiger, but it may not handle 10.5, 10.6 so well. If you plan to upgrade your computer after you graduate, then the PB should be perfectly fine.

I'm either looking at the 12" iBook (great value) or the 17" 1.6Ghz iMac.
I'd be much happier with the iMac in my apt. But the thought of surfing the web wirelessly on my iBook at Starbucks or when I'm on a roadtrip and spending the night at some motel has me leaning toward the iBook.
Senior Member
Join Date: May 2004
2005-03-19, 10:50

PB+wireless networking+warm spring day=Awesome

When I lived on campus, I would put my ABS in the window and go outside and lie in the grass, surfing the web. It was even better before everyone and his brother had WiFi cards, people were in awe. What everyone has said about laptops and portability is right on. Being able to pick up my computer and take it to the library, the coffee shop, class, on the train, in the car. It's wonderful. Besides the convenience of being able to take it anywhere to write papers and such, I've spent more than a few long train/car rides occupying myself by watching movies on my computer. I will probably get a desktop of some variety after I graduate (less than 2 months now!), but I will hold on to my PB (which will be 4 years old by then) because the option of portability is wonderful. Trust me, you will be glad you got a laptop. I can't really speak to PB/iB, except to say that both are very capable computers. I'd say, if you have the money, go for the PB, if you're worried about spending that much, go for the iBook. But either way, get a laptop. You'll be glad you did.
Veteran Member
Join Date: Jun 2004
2005-03-19, 11:12

I recommend 12" iBook. If you need more display room, get an external display. If you need more power, get a powerful non AIO desktop. Powerbooks don't have power and they cost far too much. You can almost get a 12" iBook and a Dell 24" widescreen for the price of a 15" PB. I had a 15" earlier. I lost nothing upon moving to the iBook.

Personally I think having a laptop isn't such a big deal - my iBook only leaves my desk when I travel, not when I'm in town - but when you compare an iBook to a very similar Mac Mini, the portability costs so little you might as well take it. Some of my friends have laptops, some have desktops. Only the ones who have a laptop from work carry their laptops anywhere.

There are dorms, and then there are dorms.. I have never found mine noisy, and I have never studied in a library, in five years living on campus in three different buildings. I have never had the need to lock anything except the door. Even when I lived with a roommate, it would have been easy to fit a fullsize television in the room, never mind a 20" computer screen. Frankly I don't understand in what kind of room a desk fits in, but a 20" screen doesn't.

Bottom line, you can't tell the conditions on a campus until you are actually there and see how it is.
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