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BenjiBoy650 12-31-2005 02:28 PM

Laptop advice for an Apple Noob
Alright so recently, I've heard some good stuff about Apple. I used to adamantly resist Apple products, but it looks like they're at the point where they're more mainstream but still have their traits that got them so big (stability, ease of use, etc). I've used Windows since I was 5 (now 18). Started off with MS-DOS, moved up through the ranks 3.1, 95, 98, then jumped to XP. I know all the stupid things about Windows - nobody needs to tell me about all the spyware, crashes, etc!

But up until now I've stayed with PC's. My Dell Dimensions 8200 works pretty good after several layers of protection (router firewall, Windows firewall, BlackIce firewall, Firefox, several anti-spyware programs, Norton anti-virus, no unnecessary downloads, etc), but now that I need a laptop, I don't mind having a change. This won't be my primary machine, so if I don't like it as much, it won't be the end of the world. So here's my situation.

I'm a student at UC Berkeley. I need a laptop because I commute on BART 1 1/2 hours each way, and I could definitely use that time to do work. Next semester, I'll be taking a class which requires me to use MatLab, which is some sort of engineering application. Plus, my family has been looking into a portable DVD player. I figured I could kill a lot of birds with one stone, so this laptop would have to play DVD, run MatLab (which...I think is for Windows), and of course wireless internet (B/G), word processing, etc. I NEED it to be 12" or so, because the seats on BART won't allow anything bigger to open up unless I catch the front seats with no obstructions (rare). I also need a long battery life, as it will need to play whole DVD's on trips and work for the entire 3 hours of commute per day. I have tons of MP3's, but I will manage the space efficiently (iPod user also) so I don't need a 100GB HD or anything. More RAM is good too. I'm okay with integrated audio/video, but I would like a fast processor so things don't take forever.

I've narrowed the choices down to IBM, Toshiba, and Apple. Dell was always a player because they're cheap, but then I realized you really get what you pay for. What do you guys recommend from the Apple lineup? Can I still use a majority of the programs I use on Windows? Mainly Streets and Trips, Winamp, Folding@Home, AIM/GAIM, Photoshop 7.0, few others.

Thanks for any insight in advance. Sorry if these questions were answered elsewhere, I didn't do a search because I came up blank on what to look for. I should have, seeing as how I'm a mod on another forum and I'm always telling people Search is your friend :(

(Mr. fearlessfreep24 sent me over here :) )

mynameis 12-31-2005 03:59 PM

I think you can find Matlab for OS X. I would check all the software you are going to use and if any of it can't run natively on an Apple then I would go with a PC.

You can use iChat or Adium in place of AIM/GAIM. There is a Folding@Home client for OS X. Photoshop runs just fine on an Apple. I don't know about Streets and Trips, but I bet even if it isn't available there is some equivilant.

You can get the latest rev 12in iBooks as refurbs from Apple with warranty for $800 shipped, just watch their refurb section. They usually appear at least once a week in there.

PunkRockTuba 12-31-2005 04:15 PM

I would say if you are getting an apple go for an iBook. I dont know about playing full dvd's, im sure you can get it done but I highly doubt at full brightness. For what youre wanting to do, I think a powerbook might be too much. I would ef. look at 12" iBook's.

dtravis7 12-31-2005 04:23 PM

For Microsoft Streets and Trips I found this.

mynameis 12-31-2005 04:30 PM


Originally Posted by dtravis7
For Microsoft Streets and Trips I found this.

did you read the reviews? That software sounds awful.

to_tough_to_die 12-31-2005 09:37 PM

Well, to begin with, you may want to try out the Mac OS somewhere, this will give you a chance to make sure you're ready to make the switch. The latest PowerMac G5 Quad is (arguably) the most powerful computer in the world, but if you hate the OS, what's the point?

Now, as for the Wi-Fi, all Apple laptops currently ship with 802.11 B/G (or Airport Extreme as Apple calls it) standard, so you shouldn't have any issues there.

The 12" iBook is your best bet, you can nab a refurb w/ exteneded warranty for ~$1000. If you have the time, you may want to wait for Macworld (Jan. 9th-16th). Wether or not Apple does do something, it's still your best bet, as you don't want to be kicking yourself later for it.

BenjiBoy650 12-31-2005 10:54 PM

I can and probably will wait for MacWorld, since I don't need a laptop real fast. If I didn't have one ever, it wouldn't kill me (I hope). But from past experience, unless they're introducing some 5Ghz dual core processor for $800, I wouldn't buy whatever it is they're releasing...ya know?

I will look into the iBook and PowerBook. I've always liked the extra power and I can afford it, and I don't want to be looking for a new laptop in 2 years...I want this to last at least 4-5 years. Thanks for the input everyone, keep it coming if ya have something to add :)

fearlessfreap24 01-01-2006 09:23 AM

welcome BenjiBoy!!!! to_tough_to_die said it best. i went to compusa and the apple store for several weeks to use the products before i bought my iBook. my battery lasts between 4-5 hours with the screen dimmed to the lowest setting running safari email, and adium on a wireless connection. as for dvd playing, i have only done it with the iBook plugged in. again welcome to the boards and there are plenty of knowlegable people around here that are helpful. enjoy

Mactheknife 01-01-2006 11:52 AM

I was in the same place you were about a year ago. I'd used windows my whole life and was curious about trying Mac's. Since then, I've bought a iMac G5, a 12" powerbook (upgraded to a 15" powerbook) and an iMac G4 for my wife. I'll never go back to Windows.

lil 01-01-2006 02:05 PM

My review of the PBook 12-inch - not saying you will go for that one; but it hopefully will capture the joy of and fun I have had since owning my PowerBook.

The review was meant to be posted on this forum but, it seems it has slipped by the wayside...


BenjiBoy650 01-01-2006 03:05 PM

I have a question regarding software for Mac's. Is there a plethora of free software out there for them? I'm not talking about stuff like software that costs money but was hacked. Instead I'm talking about things like GAIM, or Firefox, or WinAmp - useful software that is meant to be free. Is there an abundance of this kind of software for word processing, picture editing/resizing/etc, media players, etc etc?

PunkRockTuba 01-01-2006 03:44 PM

There is a ton of freeware, if you find a program you like, theres a good chance you can find a similar program thats freeware. Go to and look around, they have a ton of freeware.

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