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Switcher Hangout The place for switchers to discuss their new machines, and how to work with OS X. General support can be had here for newbie stuff, like "How do I restart my new iMac?" :)

MacBook Pro - Need some buying advice


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fiveightandten

 
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I know this has come up a decent amount, and i've read through old posts using the search function. But i'm looking for a few opinions, in addition to info I couldn't find.

I'm trying to determine which Mac laptop would be best for me. My options are to either go with a (relatively) cheap one with the money I have now, or wait until tax return season if it's a wiser decision to spend the extra money for something better. I'm usually a believer in buying used, as most of the time you get a lot more bang for your buck...provided you know what you're buying. I don't do any gaming or video editing. Mainly just web-browsing, listening to music, and some light music recording...nothing that heavy, just with freeware programs on my PC right now.

So i've been curious about the 1.83Ghz 13" Macbook, or the 2.16Ghz 15" Pro. I want a laptop for portability, and the 17" is huge...also much more expensive. When buying new, the 2.16 Pro is twice as much as the 1.83. And seeing as the main difference that isn't upgradeable is the graphics capability, i'm wondering if it's even worth it. I'm not that concerned with the hard drive capacity, I have an external drive that I store all my music and videos on, and an iPod that I use for music.

I would be able to snag a used or refurbished 1.83 on eBay for $750-800. If I needed more RAM, at my leisure I could upgrade to 1GB, or even 2GB for $200 give or take. Used 15" Pros run about $1200. For light use like this, is the Pro really worth the extra $500+ used, or the extra $900 new? I have about $800 to spend now, just about enough for a used 1.83 13". Or...if buying the better machine makes more sense, I can wait for tax returns to come around, when i'll have enough for the Pro.

Any opinions?


Also...Currently, I have a Dell PC, so my iPod is configured for that. I also have an external 160GB hard drive (USB), which I formatted in FAT32. What would I need to do in order to use that with a Mac without loosing all my files? Would I need to reformat the iPod for use with a Mac?

Sorry for the lengthy post. But i'm pretty new to Macs, so I naturally have a lot of questions.

Thanks in advance,

-Nick
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1. If you don't need the discrete graphics card in the MBP, the regular Macbook will certainly handle all of your internet and iTunes needs. I couldn't comment on its suitability for audio editing.

2. You can authorize your new Mac to sync with your iPod and iTunes account. If you're never going to use the Dell again, you can also de-authorize the Dell so you aren't wasting one of your "slots" on a defunct system.

3. Mac OS X can read & write to FAT32. So both your external HDD and iPod are fine as-is. You could reformat either or both to the Mac OS X filesystem, but then neither would be accessible from non-Mac computers.
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fiveightandten

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ToddG View Post
1. If you don't need the discrete graphics card in the MBP, the regular Macbook will certainly handle all of your internet and iTunes needs. I couldn't comment on its suitability for audio editing.

2. You can authorize your new Mac to sync with your iPod and iTunes account. If you're never going to use the Dell again, you can also de-authorize the Dell so you aren't wasting one of your "slots" on a defunct system.

3. Mac OS X can read & write to FAT32. So both your external HDD and iPod are fine as-is. You could reformat either or both to the Mac OS X filesystem, but then neither would be accessible from non-Mac computers.
Thanks for the reply, I appreciate the info.

So, as far as regular Macbook vs. Pro...are there other aspects that would make the Pro a better decision? Battery life? Durability? (seems the plastic Macbook cases crack easier than the Macbook Pro titanium dents). I know the Pro has the card slot, and has an additional firewire slot, and the keyboard is backlit. Do the regular plastic Macbooks have the heat issues that the Pros do?

What i'm seeing is that the price difference is roughly $500-900. I guess i'm just wondering if i'm missing anything else. For instance...picking up a Macbook, at worst worst case, dumping a few hundred into it to upgrade the RAM and putting a superdrive in it if I needed. I'd wind up with a machine that has a smaller screen (without the matte option), lesser graphics capability, and doesn't have the card slot and the extra firewire port. The keyboard wouldn't be backlit as well. Anything worth noting that i'm missing?

BTW...can you clarify what you mean by 'slots'? I'll probably keep the Dell around to use, it's a pretty recent machine, nice LCD monitor, and i've kept it clean...OS re-install every few months, so it runs nice.

Thanks again for the reply.

-Nick
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Nick -- I'm not familiar enough with the regular MacBook, and especially older models, to give better advice. I'm sure there are plenty of other folks here who will be able to answer those questions.

For iTunes and your iPod, you can "authorize" up to five separate computers to sync with one particular iPod at a time. So if you want to use your iPod with both the Dell and the new Mac, that's no problem.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ToddG View Post
Nick -- I'm not familiar enough with the regular MacBook, and especially older models, to give better advice. I'm sure there are plenty of other folks here who will be able to answer those questions.

For iTunes and your iPod, you can "authorize" up to five separate computers to sync with one particular iPod at a time. So if you want to use your iPod with both the Dell and the new Mac, that's no problem.
Todd,

Thanks for the reply again...and thanks for your honesty.

Actually, I had a chance to take a trip to the Mac store and spend a little time on both machines after being a little more informed, as well as talk to the guys there about them. The 13" Macbook gets the nod on size and battery life. It also runs a good deal cooler...but that's about it.

I wasn't a fan of the overall much cheaper feel of the 13". The 15" Pro just looks and feels nicer. I didn't like the separated keys of the 13", or the wobbly hinges, or the sound of the speakers (which are hidden under the plastic and don't project sound all that well through the little slot they provide under the screen). Couple that with the fact that the Pro has the better processor, twice the memory, and twice the hard drive capacity...i'm now of the opinion that it's worth the extra cash and worth waiting another month or 2 for.

The 17" MBP is still a beast of a laptop, and just plain too big and expensive for my tastes.

Thanks for the help.

-Nick
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Nick -- Look at it this way, if the MBP is economically feasible for you, it will satisfy your needs and give you more capabilities both now and for the future.
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Strongly suggest you choose MBP, macbook is good and according to your requirement, it seems that MB is capable of doing all the works you need, but MBP is simply more powerful in graphics, and that will be crucial if you want to run leopard smoothly on your laptop (although MB can also run leopard,even iBook G3 can run this OS) , and besides, to run leopard is one thing, to run it smoothly could be entirely another(Think about how many iBook G4 users cried when tiger's dashboard with 3d water ripple emerged).

MBP 15'' is a good choice, professional, bigger in screen size and relatively cheaper~

PS , it will be easier to upgrade your RAM with a MBP 15", because all you need is to buy another 1G Ram stick, if it's MB, you have to sell your original 256*2 RAM in a cruelly low price and buy another two memory sticks, that's a waste of money and time as well.

just for reference and it's totally up to u
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fiveightandten

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ToddG View Post
Nick -- Look at it this way, if the MBP is economically feasible for you, it will satisfy your needs and give you more capabilities both now and for the future.
Thanks again Todd. That's kind of the way i'm looking at it. The MBP seems to be something that will last longer and is more upgradable. I don't see it being too inferior any time soon.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aintor View Post
Strongly suggest you choose MBP, macbook is good and according to your requirement, it seems that MB is capable of doing all the works you need, but MBP is simply more powerful in graphics, and that will be crucial if you want to run leopard smoothly on your laptop (although MB can also run leopard,even iBook G3 can run this OS) , and besides, to run leopard is one thing, to run it smoothly could be entirely another(Think about how many iBook G4 users cried when tiger's dashboard with 3d water ripple emerged).

MBP 15'' is a good choice, professional, bigger in screen size and relatively cheaper~

PS , it will be easier to upgrade your RAM with a MBP 15", because all you need is to buy another 1G Ram stick, if it's MB, you have to sell your original 256*2 RAM in a cruelly low price and buy another two memory sticks, that's a waste of money and time as well.

just for reference and it's totally up to u
Thanks for the reply. I'll be honest and plead ignorance about any of the capabilities that Leopard will have. I don't know much about the Mac OS's. What I do know is i've got a few friends with MBP's, and another with the last 15" G4 they put out, and they're all great computers and seem to make more sense then the PC equivalents.

It's tough for me to justify spending that kind of money on a computer, as the 13" MB was the top end of what I was looking to spend at first. But after spending some time with it in person, and seeing the 15" MBP...I think it's worth the money. Heck, i've spent that much on guitar amps, why not something that's a little more utilitarian?

-Nick
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