To Buy, or not To Buy

by Tom Bridge

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In another month or so I'm headed back to graduate school to pursue a Master's in the Philosophy of Technology from Virginia Tech, so I'm thinking, well, maybe this is the time for some new computing gear? Sure, I'll still have my server-minis, but I'd really like a solid machine that can really handle Aperture. I've pretty much decided on a 20" iMac G5 to handle all my needs in this department, but then I thought, well, I type faster than I can hand write notes, perhaps it's time for a new laptop!

At first, I was thinking 12" or 15" PowerBook G4, as it would be nice to have some serious hardware in the field as well, and the new high resolution screen on the 15" is particularly crisp and is similar to what I'm using now, but boy are those prices daunting for someone who's about to become a student again.

So I was leaning toward the 12" PowerBook, when one of the older models was handed to me by a coworker who had, shall we say, not properly cared for her laptop. Boy. Those things will take a beating, but the case wear is enough to cause me to cringe a bit! After 18 months in the field, her case was well-dinged and the finish was coming off on the top case below the keyboard, causing me to reconsider.

I figured, well, sure, the iBooks are cheap and have lengthy battery lives, maybe that would be a good choice. I had my heart set on a 12" iBook and a 20" iMac and perhaps a display to use the iBook with later. Well, I was set until this morning, when Think Secret started talking about Intel iBooks for Macworld San Francisco. Crap. Now what the hell do I do?

Do I buy the powerbook and hope it holds up? Wait for a new iBook that may not natively run all the apps I need? Wait for a magic new PowerBook Intel machine that may come out next year? I hate buying gear before Steve gets his Keynote on in San Francisco.

are you considering a Mac laptop purchase?


2005-11-17 12:01:01
intel macs
I would not buy one of the first gen intel based macs. i have a good feeling that issues are going to come about with 10.4 and the hardware. i think waiting till the intel based powermacs come out would be a good time to wait, or at least until the end of 2006 when all of the issues are hopefully worked out. look at dell, they still cant get a machine to work right, and they have been intel only for how long....
2005-11-17 12:07:46
Happy new G5 owner
Tom, I just bought myself a new dual processor G5 a couple of months ago. Of course, I missed out on the new dual-core design.

But I really don't care that much. I bought the G5 because we needed a new system at home, my wife is doing video editing and I am starting to dabble with electronic music production again.

The machine kicks ass. There's no way I would have rather limped along on our old crappy Windows box for another year or two before Apple came out with high-end Intel based machines.

2005-11-17 12:38:08
intel macs
While I expect there will be issues, let us say that Apple are rather less 'price led' in their component choice than Dell. Hence we'll get a slow disk drive in the Mini and iBook, rather than a faster/larger but nonetheless cheaper component.

After all, other manufacturers are able to build excellent Intel based machines.

I'm hoping they don't ditch the 12" machine - I like the idea of ultra-portable and plug into a monitor when you get there. May as well get an Intel mini and lug it as a 17" machine.

The real interesting thing will be seeing if they are going to go for a standard PC motherboard, or stick with their custom boards.

2005-11-17 12:49:59
The right time
consider this: I would never buy the first gen of anything.

that said, the best machine to buy is the one you need on the time you need. if you need it now, now is the time to buy.

for example, i'll be buying 2 or 3 imacs, a mac mini and an xserv in early '06 after steve has given his speach. why not to wait for the new macs? simply because i need that machines on that time.

ibook is a very good machine. ibook + imac, better yet. i just don't recomend buying a 12" of anything ;)

2005-11-17 12:50:07
Couple comments...
1. Tom, are you looking at the student pricing? I don't know if you can access that data until you're actually a student, but it might be worth checking out.

1a. You might want to consider registering as a student developer on ADC. It's $99, but gives you a one-time hardware purchase with even deeper discounts than the regular student pricing.

2. Me, I'd get the Powerbook. I just bought a 15" -- the reason I didn't get the 12" was the resolution and the ability to get 2GB. As a Java developer/student, I multitask heavily and use up that RAM quickly. A protective padded sleeve for the Powerbook does wonders. My Powerbook is four-plus months old and there's not a scratch on it.


2005-11-17 12:51:24
happy imac g5 owner
...since last week. I also considered waiting, but boy the new imac (20") sure is a great machine and I would buy it again immediately. The funniest thing of course is photobooth. But if you want to buy a laptop I think I´d rather wait for the new intel stuff. I´m almost sure that Apple will come out with them sooner as planned and the Intel processors really have a lot of potential. Please tell us how you decide ; )
2005-11-17 13:06:17
As John Gruber put it …

»I have no doubt that whenever Intel-based PowerBooks do ship, they’ll provide a significant performance boost over the final generation of PowerPC models. But it’s always been the case that “next year’s” model will be faster, and, quite often, cheaper as well. The pending switch to Intel doesn’t change my basic buying advice: if you need a new Mac now, get one now.«

2005-11-17 15:11:05
Same here
I wanted to move from my PC notebook to an 12" iBook or Powerbook, but all these announces about the move to Intel makes me rather wait and see what comes instead of spending a lot of money for something that's outdated in early 2006.

I think this whole move doesn't do any good to Apple customers, due to the uncertainity.

2005-11-17 18:19:48
Buy the tool you need.
If you need the tool and will use it, buy it. If not, don't. I bought the first iBook when it came out - the Tangerine Toilet Seat. It lasted 7 years and still functions - runs OSX a touch slow, but not too bad. I can boot into OS9.2 if I need to. And... it still does exactly what I need, most of the time. I bought a new iMac about 6 months ago, because I *needed* to be able to do video editing.
The decision should not be based on what hardware may/may not be coming - it should be based on your needs.
2005-11-19 01:52:32
It's a tough one...
I guess it comes down to want versus need. If it's more need than want - buy now. If it's more want than need - wait. My main machine is a 15inch Alu Powerbook which is coming apart in places but it still runs fine. Unless it totally breaks down I'll wait for the Intel Macs to arrive. And I'll actually consider buying an iBook this time because they seem so much more durable with their casings. The Powerbooks look nice but I've been disappointed in the durability of the shells. They ding, dent, and scratch too easily - at least for me :-)