New MacBook: Sounds like a deal to me

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
May 16th, 2006 • 2:07 pm

My wife’s PowerBook G4 (Titanium) is getting really old. It’s still working OK, but:

  1. the screen is not very bright any more;
  2. it is rather slow (400 MHz G4 processor with 384 MB of RAM) and I don’t really dare install Tiger on it;
  3. the original 10 GB hard drive was replaced three years ago with a 40 GB hard drive, so my wife is not desperate for hard drive space, but it’s prevented me from installing certain things on it just the same;
  4. the AirPort reception has always been poor (rather than the advertised range of 150 feet, it’s more like 50 feet);
  5. the original battery is pretty much dead and the second battery we got (for free) soon after we got the machine is on its last legs as well;
  6. the letters on some keys on the keyboard have been rubbed off; the “8” key is half-broken and keeps snapping off if my wife types too fast; the space bar started doing the same last year, but I was fortunately able to “fix” it temporarily by adding a few layers of masking tape on the underside—who knows how long that will last, though?
  7. the phone jack for the modem has always been iffy and it’s getting worse (the connection is easily lost if the cable is pulled in certain directions).

In addition, it has all the other obvious limitations of a five-year-old machine (no USB 2, etc.).

It has served us reasonably well (except for the AirPort issue) and has never had to be repaired and have any parts replaced (except for a couple of its glued-on rubber feet, which fell off soon after we got the machine, fortunately when it was still under warranty, because apparently these tiny bits of rubbers are outrageously expensive)

All this to say that we’ve been thinking about getting a replacement machine for a while. My idea was to wait until the launch of the Intel-based laptops, and then preferably to wait for the replacement for the iBook G4, i.e. the MacBook (not Pro) launched today.

There are several reasons for this. This laptop will primarily be my wife’s machine, and she definitely does not need a top-of-the-line machine. An iBook/MacBook has all the features that she needs. It has a plastic enclosure, which hopefully means much better AirPort reception than with the metal-based laptops (unless Apple screws up again with its AirPort antennas, of course, which is always a possibility).

I will have an Intel-based machine in the house, which will enable me to make some interesting comparisons and also ensure that I can better emulate the environments of those of my tech support clients who might have Intel-based Macs.

My wife uses her machine primarily for e-mail (with Mail), web browsing (with Safari), and word processing (with Microsoft Word). The universal version of Microsoft Office won’t be available for a while yet, but I am reasonably confident that the existing version will run at acceptable speeds for my wife under Rosetta. Unlike me, she doesn’t use Adobe programs, so that’s not really an issue.

Another nice bonus is that my wife loves black. We obviously don’t know a black MacBook looks like in real life, whether it scratches easily and its scratches are easily visible, etc. But I don’t think that should be too much of a concern.

So all in all these new MacBooks look like a pretty good deal to me. The 13″ screen might be a bit smaller than the current 15″ screen my wife has on the TiBook, but its resolution is actually a bit better, and it still has the widescreen aspect ratio that she’s used to.

She might want to see one with her own eyes before making the final decision, but it seems to me that all MacBook and MacBook Pro models these days have pretty much the same pixel size. I might just have to make a few adjustments to her user interface (including the default zoom setting in Word, etc.) to make sure it’s comfortable for her. (She does need glasses.)

The only thing that I would definitely add is more RAM (obviously). I already have one of Apple’s USB modems, so I won’t need to buy one of those. Apart from that, the machine has all that we need, really, and is significantly cheaper than the TiBook was back in 2001.

So I think we’re going to take the plunge! Hopefully these new models won’t be affected by any of the noise issues that have been reported for early MacBook Pro models…

3 Responses to “New MacBook: Sounds like a deal to me”

  1. ssp says:

    I felt the urge to upgrade when seeing the news this afternoon. Mainly because the iBook I got has such a tiny screen. But it’s still so new and I’m weary of 1st generation Apple products :( In your wife’s situation it sounds like a perfect match, though!

  2. Pierre Igot says:

    Well, it’s been ordered now :-). I’m not too concerned about 1st generation this time because they have had a chance to fix the worst problems with the MacBook Pro. I realize it’s a different model, but it’s not the first new Intel-based laptop model. Hopefully there is a fair amount of cross-pollination between the MacBook Pro and the MacBook engineering teams :).

    I am a bit curious to see that “glossy” screen which seems to be generating a fair amount of controversy, but I am not really too concerned as glare should not be a problem in the environments in which my wife will be using it.

  3. ssp says:

    I’m curious about the screen as well. For everybody saying the screens are horrible there seem to be 0.3 people claiming it’s not really as bad with the latest coatings.

    Please let me (us) know how the screen looks for real once the machine feels comfortable at its new home.

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