Serious (and specific) iBook questions...

in General Discussion edited January 2014
...from a fella who's never polled others here for their opinion on a purchasing decision.

Okay, here's the deal: I want an iBook. The novelty of this LCD iMac has worn off. But beyond that, I find myself at a point in my life where - due to several factors - I'm travelling again a bit. I'm gone lots of weekends, small trips, housesitting for someone, visiting friends 2-3 hours away, doing more freelance design/illustration work, training others in Illustrator and Macs, etc.

I HATE only having access to my favorite thing in life (a Mac) ONLY when I'm home and ONLY when I'm at my desk. I REALLY want (need?) a laptop.

What I need from you people (iBook owners, it should go without saying) are honest, straightforward answers to some of my questions and/or concerns.

First, let's put some context to this to establish a baseline, or to get an idea of the type of user I am.

- I don't use Photoshop. At least not high-res, processor intensive stuff. Maybe 72ppi RGB stuff, if any.

- I don't do digital video. No iMovie or iDVD usage.

- I don't do animation, 3D rendering, gaming or anything where a G4 traditionally is thought to have an advantage over a G3.

In a nutshell, here is it: I use Adobe Illustrator, Suitcase, a browswer, iTunes and e-mail 93% of the time. Honestly.

I spent the summer converting all (or most) of my CDs to mp3s, so the G4 handled the real "heavy lifting" of all that encoding. All I do now is the occasional CD I come across or buy (which is not a lot at all).

But that leaves one very important thing (and the whole point of this thread): honestly, how is OS X on an 800MHz iBook with 640MB RAM? For the things I'll be doing on it (light mp3 encoding, Illustrator stuff, writing, iTunes, surfing and e-mail)?

I'm wanting to get the 800MHz 12" model because I think that's the most perfect computer Apple currently has, in terms of features/price/power/portability/cool factor.

Just to keep this from veering off into wasted discussion, NO I am not going to get a PowerBook. I don't like them, I don't want one. They're hot, they're fragile, they scratch, the AirPort reception is weak...and oh yeah...they're EXPENSIVE!

$1499 is just right for me.

So please...let's keep this iBook-related, okay? I already know everything I need to about PowerBooks vs. iBooks and why this is for that and blah blah blah.

I'm not a "power user" and I'm not a heavy high-resolution 3D graphics type either.

With the sole question of OS X performance, the iBook is made for people like me.

Okay...spill it. I want to hear it all.

1. OS X performance (be honest)

2. Any iBook-specific quirks or annoyances I'm not aware of?

The rest, I'm pretty up on (the screen is indeed gorgeous, I love the Combo Drive, AirPort rocks, etc.

I just really want all my art, music, writing, e-mail, surfing, designs, etc. with me 24/7...should I choose to do so.

And no...I don't want it in addition TO my iMac. I want ONE computer only.

Any help, suggestions, info, feedback, horror stories, etc. are greatly appreciated.

Think a guy like me - with such modest needs and uses - would be happy with one?

I think so...just wanna hear your take on it, from a current owner's perspective.


  • Reply 1 of 37
    pscatespscates Posts: 5,847member
    First, thanks for the kind words.

    Second, that 12" is at 1024x768...which is the resolution I'm totally used to and happy with. Nothing will change, really. Just a bit smaller.

    I've become a pretty good F-key-using palette hider in Illustrator lately, calling up just what I need at the moment then sending it away when done.

    Ultimately (as I mention in a couple of other threads), I'd really love a G4 widescreen iBook ( ), but I think I could get the 800MHz G3 one and be really happy with that until a G4 iBook does come out.

    I don't know...just thinking aloud. A friend of mine is going to Ireland for Christmas and New Year's and I'm pretty much shacking up at her place for the next two weeks, housesitting and taking care of her cat and all.

    It pisses me off that I have to lug my iMac, speakers, keyboard, etc. over there.

  • Reply 2 of 37
    mcqmcq Posts: 1,543member
    I've used the 800 MHz iBook, 384MB ram for about a month now, and it runs OS X just fine, no real lags or anything to speak of. I don't run Illustrator, but I've used Photoshop Elements a little, and that seems to run okay if that helps at all. It's a great notebook, and I don't think you'll have any problems with it.
  • Reply 3 of 37
    scottscott Posts: 7,431member
    My wife's iBook from last X-Mass is a nice little computer. It doesn't seem to have any odd things about that annoy her or me. It is slow, even in OS 9 <img src="graemlins/hmmm.gif" border="0" alt="[Hmmm]" /> It hangs up a lot. She named it "Snowy" and often she calls it "Slowy".

    The G3 is dead for me. I wouldn't buy a G3 mac at this time.

    [ 12-16-2002: Message edited by: Scott ]</p>
  • Reply 4 of 37
    There are lots of people who love to dump all over the G3, but you know what? It's not that bad a chip. It runs 10.2.2 like a charm, and I have the 14" May 2002 iBook. I suspect that the newest midrange and high end iBooks, with 32 MB VRAM will show better performance since they have full QE support.

    If you're not doing anything that a G4 would be needed for, you'll be happy as a clam with the iBook. And if you think X or X-native apps are running too slow, just pump it full of RAM.
  • Reply 5 of 37
    scottscott Posts: 7,431member
    If you're doing OS X then you're doing something you need a G4 for.
  • Reply 6 of 37
    torifiletorifile Posts: 4,024member
    Scates, pre-congrats on your ibook purchase (you know you'll get one ). I've got a Ti 667 with 512 megs of ram and I was using my brother's ibook (600, 640megs) and when I first started using it, I was shocked at how snappy it was. Really. It seemed faster under relatively light loads than my Ti. Really. I had to take a second look to make sure I wasn't imagining things. The RAM really seems to make a HUGE difference. I'm sure the 800 will be a pleasure to use under X. At least it would be for me. Of course, I always enjoy X (except when VPC is running, but that's another issue...). Get it and get as much ram as you can stuff into it. Enjoy!
  • Reply 7 of 37
    I like my iBook 14 in "700" mhz "when I bought it". It is slow compared to my PC but it works fine. Just don't plan on using the sleep function. It hangs all the time. I think you will like it however

  • Reply 8 of 37
    [quote]Originally posted by Scott:

    If you're doing OS X then you're doing something you need a G4 for.<hr></blockquote>

    First of all, just ignore Scott.

    Second of all, I have used and owned several models of both iBook and PowerBook. It sounds to me like you will be very well served with the portable power of the iBook, especially with its current video chip and 800 MHz processor. The highly portable form factor, durability, and lack of heat will more than make it a better choice for you than the PowerBook.

    Unlike most people here, I am a freelance consultant who gets paid on a daily basis to make this type of recommendation

    Paul, feel free to PM me if you need any more specific advice.


    [ 12-16-2002: Message edited by: FormerLurker ]</p>
  • Reply 9 of 37
    emaneman Posts: 7,204member
    Paul, the iBook seems like it's perfect for you.

    Whenever I've used the 800MHz iBooks at the Apple Store they've seemed to run really well in OS X. I wish I could have a 800MHz iBook instead of my 500MHz.
  • Reply 10 of 37
    pscatespscates Posts: 5,847member
    Wow, thanks for all the concise, straight-ahead responses. Just what I was hoping for!

    The only iBooks I've dabbled with for any amount of time have been the 500 and 600MHz models at the Apple store or a CompUSA.

    I was thinking that the 800MHz model, along with the 32MB VRAM and the new video card would be a nice little computer.

    Sometimes I sit here with this iMac and - cool as it is (and believe me, it IS) - I just feel like it's overkill for me, you know?

    I'm not using the SuperDrive. Yeah, it's great and cool to have one, but I don't think I'm anywhere near burning DVDs (don't even own a digital camera OR camcorder, so...).

    But above all that, just knowing that I can pick up this letter-sized thing that has my whole life on it and EASILY tote it anywhere I want to go really, really appeals to me.

    I'd probably be even a MORE passionate and enthusiastic advocate and cheerleader for the Mac because I'd have it with me when I'm visiting a PC-using friend or family member. What better way to "spread the word" than to have one right there with you to show off?

    Well, I trust you guys. If the consensus here is that OS X runs acceptably on it, then I guess that's what I really wanted to know. I'll definitely max out the RAM for sure.

    By the way, did you guys see this iBook stand reviewed in the new issue of Macworld?

    <a href=""; target="_blank"></a>;

    Kinda cool. Actually, I'm a bit pissed because about four months ago I was chatting with a buddy and I said "Apple or someone else needs to come up with a cool stand that you put your iBook on that gives desk-bound iBook users a way to raise, lower, rotate and tilt the thing...just like the LCD iMac...".

    Four months later...voila.

    Next time I have an idea, no matter how silly I may think it is...

    I STILL think my idea of a three-legged ice-colored tilt/swivel stand with an integrated 4-port USB hub AND Zip Drive for the CRT iMacs would've sold like hotcakes! Would've solved about 3 or 4 problems/issues people cited most about the jellybean iMacs: shortage of USB, no tilt, riser or swivel function and lack of removable, popular storage (remember, this was before Apple FINALLY got a clue and jumped on the CD-RW that time, Zips still ruled).
  • Reply 11 of 37
    trumptmantrumptman Posts: 16,464member
    Well I currently own the Powerbook 500 but I bought it because I had the iBook 600 from my work and had to give it back. The iBook I had was the 8 meg Rage 128 model if I recall correctly.

    I found it to be just fine under OS X. The airport range and battery life were incredible.

    I also used it for working quite a bit with iMovie. I edited several small movies of up to 5 minutes in length after knocking them down from about 30 minutes of raw footage. (All imported to a 20 gig HD) iMovie was easily handled by this iBook, however I don't think Final Cut Pro would be enjoyable on it.

    To give you an idea of how well it handled the video, I will relate this story. Periodically I go through this love/hate thing with Apple. This time I was bound and determined to edit this video on my PC. Needless to say 2 days later, it was not all love and roses. Programs locked up, data was corrupted, etc.

    So in a very pissed mood I decide I will just do it on the iBook one day after work. I hook up the camera, import everything, and about 2 hours later I am looking at a very polished, finished video with titles, transitions, music, etc.

    I then hit the one glitch of this whole experience, only it wasn't a glitch. The battery reserve dialog popped up. See in my impatience of dealing with the PC for two days, I had simply started working on the iBook and had never plugged it in. I had done all this importing, editing, you name it, on battery power for 2+ hours.

    That pretty much sold me on it. I plan on getting another one soon myself.

  • Reply 12 of 37
    lucaluca Posts: 3,833member
    There was a swivel stand/dock thing for the iMac when it first came out... called (not surprisingly) the iDock. It was an ice colored swiveling stand that added two USB ports, a serial port, and an ADB port. No built in floppy or zip though. Still pretty cool.

    Back to the subject at hand, I'd have to say GET THE iBOOK! You'll love it. I bought one for myself two days ago, replacing my PowerMac G4/500 dual processor. Yes, it's slower, but I'm really happy with it anyway! Also, I expect the speed to jump up quite a bit once I put another 512 MB of RAM in it... OS 9 is just adequate with 128 MB of RAM, OS X is horrible with that little. The only thing is that the CD burners in some of the new iBooks have a flaw that causes them to burn at 4x instead of 16x on some media. I don't know why, all I know is that some of the media I tried (Imation) only burned at 4x using Disk Copy, while the other media (Hypermedia) burned at 16x in simulation mode in Toast. Don't know which factor it is, the program used, the media used, or the fact that I was in simulation mode. I called Apple support about it and the guy said he wasn't aware of it but he wrote everything down and found the topic at the Apple discussion forums. Hopefully there will be a firmware patch soon.

    And one final word - when you first get it, before it has a full 640 MB of RAM in it, you will be disappointed. Yeah. With only 128 MB of RAM it really is slow... unless you're doing just one thing at once. Even the 800 MHz one with 256 MB at the store was noticeably faster than mine, so I'm not too worried.

    PS: The fact that I still like it more than my PowerMac even though it's slower says something about it... also the factor I was most concerned about (screen size) has been the thing I think about the least. It doesn't look small after a few hours, in fact, after using mine for a few days, I have to wonder why Apple doesn't make a smaller notebook with a 10.3" screen, like the 2400c.

    [ 12-17-2002: Message edited by: Luca Rescigno ]</p>
  • Reply 13 of 37
    murbotmurbot Posts: 5,262member
    Well, I wouldn?t recommend an iBook to everyone, but I would say you?re the perfect candidate for one, Paul. You?re a vector junky, not a pixel pusher (as you said in chat ), so you won't be watching any progress bars in Photoshop or anything.

    The smallish screen and resolution bothered me a little in Illustrator, but if you say that's a resolution you're used to and are comfortable working in, then that's a non-issue as well.

    The only thing you'll really need (want) a G4 for is iTunes, and as you said, your library has been done with the G4 iMac. The odd CD here and there is all you'll do, so what's the difference if it takes 7 minutes to import or 5?

    It's funny actually, I remember telling you in iChat a week ago this same thing, that you don't have to worry much about the G3 in iTunes, since you already converted all your MP3s, and would only be adding a CD at a time now. You were like "Oh yeah! That's right! Just a CD here and there, that's no big deal!!" I had the feeling that was maybe one of those nagging little issues in your mind holding you back... ready to rock and roll now, huh?

    For someone who doesn't want to break the bank, runs Illustrator, iTunes, Mail, and surfs the net... the iBook is probably ideal.

    A couple observations though, as someone who's had both these machines more than once. Not posting them to sway you to a PowerBook, but just commenting.

    Sure, Airport range is better on the iBook, but that isn't much of a thing depending on your situation. In my house for example, with the wireless access point on the main floor in my office, I can go to any corner of the upstairs or basement, out on the veranda in front, or out on the back deck - with either machine - and get a perfectly good connection. There are 2 spots in the house where a PowerBook gets one less bar than the iBook. So for a normal home user, it's not even anything to worry about. Depends on your situation/setup of course.

    As for the scratch thing - I've had a few PowerBooks, and they've travelled some miles too. I've never scratched, dented, scuffed or marked a PowerBook. Ever. A quick wipe with a cloth to get rid of some fingerprints maybe, and you'd never tell if from brand new. iBooks on the other hand, it seemed like every day I was holding it up and looking at it, saying "Damn! How the hell did THOSE scratches get there?!" If surface scratches and blemishes won't bother you, it's fine, and the case is damn strong. But even when you baby the thing, it'll get marked up pretty easily. Just sliding it into a sleeve the right way can give you a little scuff. Just stuff you only see holding it just the right way, but I was always bothered by it.

    So anyway, I'm sure an iBook would suit you fine. Definitely add a 512 MB chip to max out the RAM (and DO it this time, I know you're still sitting on 256 in your iMac ), and I'd get it with a 40 GB HD too. You're going down from a 60 GB in the iMac, so I'm sure you'll want at least 40. It'll add legs to your chicklet.

    BTW, are you ordering right now, or in a few weeks? No one things they'll get touched at MWSF, do they?
  • Reply 14 of 37
    I have an 12" 800mhz iBook with 640 megs of ram. I also have an 800 iMac Superdrive and had a 600 mhz iBook before those. I hated the 600, completely hated it. It was slow, sucked, wasn't worth wasting my time on. Had to wait for everything (in my opinion). It just pissed me off. It was my first Mac and I was completely disappointed with it. However, I loved the OS and the use of the apps. "If only it was faster"

    With that said. I got rid of it and waited two bumps and dove back in. I can honestly say that it was the best choice. The only thing I use it for is wireless surfing, email, iTunes out the butt, iPhoto, iMovie, d/l music and playing games. All of which it does very very snappy. This weekend I bought a couple of games at gametrader in New Orleans to try out the graphics card. I bought Giants and Sacrifice. Both games play awesome. Great graphics and no lag whatsoever. Anywho hope that was enough for you. Get it. You won't be sorry. I wasn't.
  • Reply 15 of 37
    der kopfder kopf Posts: 2,275member
    I have the 600 14 incher of last january (I think), and it'd call it an overall decent computer. It's SOMETIMES a bit too slow for my liking. This is very noticeable if I have a few apps running (maybe iTunes playing, explorer opening some huge html-file, some app - Thoth - downloading binaries while I am working in Photoshop). The response can become very slow. But then again, I do not have QE on my iBook, and it's 200 mhz less than the machine you covet. I do think they rock, the new iBooks. I've toyed a little bit with one and I was very jealous.

    Also, I do think you should take into account the fact that you will be changing from:

    a) a desktop machine (these are always faster/cheaper in comparison). I have oft half-assed been in doubt about whether I should not get some relatively high-end tower (again, especially in comparison) with the same money as I could get an iBook.

    b) a G4, and a relatively new one at that. I think most people who upped from some flavor of G3 to a newer iBook are always way more happy than people coming from some G4.

    This said, I am happy with my iBook, though I do hope to upgrade to a PowerBook in the not too distant future.
  • Reply 16 of 37
    gordygordy Posts: 1,004member
    I have the original Dual USB iBook, and I am please with Jaguar's performance on it. It is still a perfect computer--though I don't use it much since I graduated.

    • Wow factor


      Problem free system (for me, at least)

      Plug & play on any network (another wow factor)

      Due to its size, nearly anything that can hold a 1" spiralbound notebook can be use as a sleeve.

      Battery life is impressive.

      If you install the Airport card, you expand the networking possibilities.

    • None for me--well, the glossiness scratches easily.

    EDIT: Oh, I have no desire to get a PowerBook.

    [ 12-17-2002: Message edited by: gordy ]</p>
  • Reply 17 of 37
    I've got the 600/DVD-8mb of Ram rage 128/ version and I love it. Of course you know about getting a nice 512MB stick in there...

    One thing I would recommend is getting a bigger harddrive. Mine is only 15GB and its dangerously getting cramped with mp3s.

    BTW: Can we get it upgraded at an apple specialist, without voiding the warranty?
  • Reply 18 of 37
    nemnem Posts: 45member
    Well, I got a 700/384/CDRW/Radeon from august this year. Before I bought it I heard a lot of people complain about iBook being slow in OSX, but I was instantly releived when I saw it for myself. There isn't no problem with performance in OSX at least not with models that support QE, my guess is that those who complain have the older iBooks which might not be as snappy.

    I'm not sure on this, but I heard that the G3 in the Radeon iBooks is different from the one in Rage-iBooks. That might be the thing that makes the difference. Besides the graphic card at least.

    My belief is that you will be very happy with it. Mine is used mostly as you will be using yours, except for Illustrator, and I use it as a desktop-replacement with the moitor-spanning hack. Couldn't be more pleased with it.
  • Reply 19 of 37
    lucaluca Posts: 3,833member
    The G3 in the newer iBooks (Radeon and better) is a 750fx, instead of a 750cx. The main difference is that the 750fx has 512kb of on-chip L2 cache, while the 750cx has only 256kb (also on-chip). L2 cache helps a lot... most computers Apple made that didn't have L2 cache are really slow (like the original 233 MHz PowerBook G3, or the PowerBook 1400/117). So increasing it from 256kb to 512kb helps a lot.

    Also I've heard from numerous sources (including a friend of mine who owns a 700 MHz iBook) that the extra 100 MHz makes no difference at all. We tried a number of different benchmarks and they all came up more or less equal. Basically you're getting the features, not the speed.
  • Reply 20 of 37
    powerdocpowerdoc Posts: 8,123member
    [quote]Originally posted by Luca Rescigno:

    <strong>The G3 in the newer iBooks (Radeon and better) is a 750fx, instead of a 750cx. The main difference is that the 750fx has 512kb of on-chip L2 cache, while the 750cx has only 256kb (also on-chip). L2 cache helps a lot... most computers Apple made that didn't have L2 cache are really slow (like the original 233 MHz PowerBook G3, or the PowerBook 1400/117). So increasing it from 256kb to 512kb helps a lot.

    Also I've heard from numerous sources (including a friend of mine who owns a 700 MHz iBook) that the extra 100 MHz makes no difference at all. We tried a number of different benchmarks and they all came up more or less equal. Basically you're getting the features, not the speed.</strong><hr></blockquote>

    There is much more difference than just a larger cache.

    this cache is connected throught 256 bit to the core, vs 64 bit for the cs : it's mean the bandwitch is 4 time faster. There is also cache locking features. the bus can be clocked until 200 mhz. The chip has 5 stages , compared to the previous G3 who has just 4 stages (but i don't think that it increase the performance, just the maximum clockspeed i guess).

    At equal mhz this chip is supposed to be 20 % faster than the 750 cxe. If the difference was only a larger cache it will be only 5 % faster (difference between the P4 256 KB and the P4 512 KB)

    20 % is a great difference, the atlon 64 with 1 MB of cache is supposed to be only 20 to 30 % faster than the athlon XP.
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