View Full Version : Apple Newbie Needs Advice

10th August 2005, 10:17 PM
So where to start,

Ive been a PC user for about 25 years and pretty comfortable with that space. I run a few linux servers at home, have a couple of IBM laptops and a PC that I built.

Ive come to the conclusion that I MUST learn and appreciate the world of MAC.

My plan is to replace my desktop with a MAC notebook desktop replacement. i.e. perhaps ill spend around 4 K (although I would like to spend a little less on the notebook and get a docking station and nice big screen)

I would really appreciate your advice and direction guys

oh.. and heres what ill be using it for:
- Web design
- Graphic design
- with my sony DV camera and my canon camera
- web browsing and other such activities
- podcasting (see my site @ http://www.ozpodcaster.com)
- listening to music

So I guess all the standard stuff (memory and cpu to be top notch) but also need to consider the audio (for my podcasts) and graphics for dvd editing etc

Look forward to your thoughts

Cheers Matt

10th August 2005, 10:28 PM
Considering there is not a huge range of Apple notebooks & your budget your best bet would be a PowerBook.

The 15" models retail in the 3K range & should cover all your bases. Extra RAM would be cheaper as an after market install.

Not too sure about the docking station however plugging an external monitor in is no dramas & you could even run dual screen. B)

The iCurve is an alternative too...
...& would work well with a seperate keyboard / mouse.

10th August 2005, 11:33 PM
It really depends on why you want a desktop replacement.
Like Kildare said, for 4k you will probably go after a 15" Powerbook, which is a fine machine but it does sacrifice quite a lot for portability.

If you do not plan to do much Graphic and Web design on the move you are probably better off getting an iMac 20" and a iBook 12" for portability. The iMac has a much larger screen, a G5 processor with a much larger HDD and all that jazz, in addition you will have the iBook for portability and have all that freedom. Under this scenario you can first purchase the iMac to see if you love the Mac universe (I'm pretty sure you will, being a long time window switcher too) and if you want the portability afterwards you can always invest in the iBook or even a Powerbook after that (not that much difference anymore).

Another plan would be to get a Powerbook of and size, and then get an external screen whether it be a Apple one or not it will work perfectly together.

Macs will handle your desired tasks with great ease, and just remember to forget what you have learnt in the Windows world.

11th August 2005, 12:04 AM
Thanks for the quick response guys really appreciate it.

Couple more questions if I may.

Is 4 k a pretty tight budget for just the notebook ?

Should I spend a bit more, im not even fully across the mac range is the powerbook the top of the line and then its all about what screen size and processor i buy?

Should I wait until the next itteration of macs come out and if so any ideas when that is

Sorry these are such basic questions but I dont even know what the pro's and cons of powerbooks vs imacs etc are :)

Kind Rgds


P.S. I was thinking perhaps the 2nd one in from the right (15 inch Superdrive)

http://store.apple.com/133-622/WebObjects/... (http://store.apple.com/133-622/WebObjects/australiastore.woa/80605/wo/6X6wStKChA4Z3m6UT8c1smwnSvN/

11th August 2005, 07:30 AM
Originally posted by king89@Aug 10 2005, 11:33 PM
If you do not plan to do much Graphic and Web design on the move you are probably better off getting an iMac 20" and a iBook 12" for portability. The iMac has a much larger screen, a G5 processor with a much larger HDD and all that jazz,
I couldnt seem to locate the 20 and any notebook with the g5 processor on the apple site ?

11th August 2005, 07:53 AM
the iMac 20" is a desktop machine. www.apple.com/au/imac

the king89 suggestion was to get an iMac on yr desk, and get a cheaper iBook for portability, "If you do not plan to do much Graphic and Web design on the move "

edit: credit where credit's due, king89 is king idea, not i

11th August 2005, 07:59 AM
ahhh sorry now Im with you


11th August 2005, 08:01 AM
yep i'd go with what gringo said.... go iMac G5 and iBook for portability! it will end up much cheaper

11th August 2005, 08:28 AM
Yeah, the Powerbook is the top-of-the-line portable Apple computer. Your two options (to sumarise what has already been said) are a powerbook, with peripherals when at home (keyboard-Bluetooth perhaps? and mouse, iCurve, Powermate etc etc) or an iBook and an iMac. :) If you choose this later option, I recommend a new 12" iBook: they have just been updated, and the 12" is more portable and cuter than the 14". On a purely aesthetic sidenote, the iBook and iMac will match in ice-white colour. ;)

11th August 2005, 08:56 AM
i'll throw my weight behind both suggestions, i have a Powerbook 15" with all the bells and whistles. The only thing thats missing from it is the G5 processor. If it had one of these it would be the perfect computer for me. if you were really keen on getting only 1 computer then you would best wait for the next Powerbook upgrade and hope that apple would include the newly released IBM G5 notebook processors. This would be a gamble and who knows how long you would be waiting.

if it was me, i would get teh 20" iMac and the 12" ibook. The only real downfall of the ibooks is their graphics card but this shouldn't really matter to you.

11th August 2005, 09:16 AM
I would recommend a setup that was done in Macworld April 2005 (Pg. 66) - I've attached a page of it below. Since I had to decrease the quality quite a bit (to fit within the 100k attachment limit) you may not be able to read the text. If you want the entire April MacWorld PDF, let me know.

Anyways, you have your monitor, keyboard and mouse. Then you can hook in your Powerbook and do your work on a full size keyboard and screen. Then grab the Powerbook and be on the go.


11th August 2005, 05:49 PM
TAK i think you have pretty much nailed it for me

Could I ask you to email me the article.


Guys any advice regarding where to buy ?

and how much cheaper than stated in the article do you think i could bargin someone in a shop down ?

Again thanks fellas


The Architect.mac
11th August 2005, 06:00 PM
Good photo - i especially like how there are no connecting cables coming out of the powerbook - especially the all important dvi connection to actually power the screen. maybe there is a desktop down below---

You can't go wrong with this setup combined with bluetooth keyboard and mouse and griffin iCurve to get you up and running in style.

Apple don't do deals except education - but i hope you prove me wrong!

Links necessary




11th August 2005, 06:27 PM
ive always been concerned that i'll eventually ruin the DVI connector if i was to keep on removing it daily when i take my powerbook with me.

11th August 2005, 06:35 PM
No, I would not go with the PowerBook + Display option at all.

The pdf of that MacWorld is American, and as such the prices are in US Dollars.

I would get a 20" iMac as a pretty desktop that is also a powerhorse for $2795.
Then, I would get an iBook 12" for 1599.

That has you set. And if thats a bit too much, why not go for the mid-range iMac, a 17" Model, for $2299, and the 12" iBook for portability, and then with the extra cash get a wireless base station to access the internet on both your machines wirelessly.

The wireless router is essential and would be a driving force behind getting the iBook.

And, if pics seem to sway you ...


I honestly think the iMac+iBook combo is the best implementation of your money and results in the best power and portability combo.

11th August 2005, 06:38 PM
oh god i didnt realise that was US dollars lol

right so im now looking at your setup and salivating!!

Heres my current setup: http://www.bluearsefly.com/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=18

what a mess hey!

ok so im pretty much sold on something close to your setup.

I currently have a billion 7500G modem/router/wireless setup would that work ?


11th August 2005, 06:59 PM
I'm a highly portable user, taking my 15" PowerBook (I brought 11 months ago) everywhere for work and travel..

Here's a link to a post about my home setup, (http://forums.appletalk.com.au/index.php?showtopic=219&view=findpost&p=77678) which does the trick in my small London flat where space is at a premium.

Like Ozi and Macmate I'm a big fan of the capabilities of a fully spec'd up 15" PB (mine has the 128mb Vid Card, faster HDD, 1.5 Gig RAM), however if you want a solid machine at home then a 20" iMac with extra RAM, with a spec'd up 12" iBook for the road may be the way to go.. these can be networked wirelessly, and you could simply sit the iBook up on the desk similar to mine with its own k'board and mouse plugged in for using it in the office. (Since typing all this I've noticed that Snowy28 has written a similar recommendation, so i'm fully backing the 20" iMac with 12" iBook package - the reason I went PB and not iBook is that I wanted the best portable I could get, as its my only home AND work machine for 2.5 years while abroad.. If i had to buy them as a pair all at once, i'd do what Snowy said too!)

the only change to this is my recently purchased Apple Mighty Mouse

I needed my PB for ultimate portability and capability while abroad so I went the whole hog for a completely portable office, however when I eventually return to Brisbane, i'm planning on getting a home-based iMac 20" with all the extra's, and the PB will remain my mobile work machine, sometimes returning home to sit next to the iMac on its iCurve.

I can also personally vouch for the spanning abilities of the PB's DVI out - just this morning I came into work early and did some DVD and photo editing with it spanned across onto my standard work DELL TFT screen - pure plug and play and very very crisp..

Good luck making the decision! Feel free to MSN Message me or send a PM if you want to know more. My details are below this post.

And you should also have a fish through the Notebooks and Desktops Forums in this site to read some similar threads to yours, where people have contemplated similar purchases. Plenty of different opinions and advice offered.

11th August 2005, 09:30 PM
Originally posted by Snowy28@Aug 11 2005, 06:35 PM
No, I would not go with the PowerBook + Display option at all.

The pdf of that MacWorld is American, and as such the prices are in US Dollars.

I would get a 20" iMac as a pretty desktop that is also a powerhorse for $2795.
Then, I would get an iBook 12" for 1599.

That has you set. And if thats a bit too much, why not go for the mid-range iMac, a 17" Model, for $2299, and the 12" iBook for portability, and then with the extra cash get a wireless base station to access the internet on both your machines wirelessly.

The wireless router is essential and would be a driving force behind getting the iBook.

I honestly think the iMac+iBook combo is the best implementation of your money and results in the best power and portability combo.
Snowy this is really helping me...thanks.

heres my current thinking.... I have had to stop and really think about why i want the mac rather than concentrating on just how nice they look :)

The thing is I carry a work laptop (IBM) to and from work every day and the truth is im not often going to take the mac notebook with me (you know on a daily basis and stuff). Its more that Im trying to get a really good quality all in one notebook combined with a BIG external display and almost completely stop using the PC that I have at home. (I will keep it hidden away and occasionaly use it for a couple of programs that I cant use in mac world)

The logic then is that when I go on trips (overseas etc for work) I can have my home pc with me (the apple notebook) with everything loaded and working and continue doing my podcasts and taking photos overseas.

So with this in mind .. Im still kinda reverting back to one of the powerbooks and a big display..? does that seem logical or have I missed something?

Look forward to your advice

11th August 2005, 11:48 PM

Let me enlighten you.

First off, thats not my setup :P It was just one I found at Spymac.

This is my setup
Click for bigger (http://img331.imageshack.us/img331/8500/setup1a0gv.jpg)


Anyway, I am still recommending the iMac/iBook combo. What you are forgetting is the sheer portability of your iBook, and that it can still record podcasts and store photos and all that. However, if you want some files that are on your iMac, do not despair.

Welcome to .mac. http://www.mac.com/WebObjects/Welcome.woa?...ty=US〈=en (http://www.mac.com/WebObjects/Welcome.woa?aff=consumer&cty=US〈=en)

Using the iDisk feature, you can upload all the files you think you'll need from your iMac onto your .mac webspace. Then, when you are on your iBook travelling overseas, you can pull all that data from your .mac page, and then with the easy to use templates host photo galleries and have web space available to host your podcasts.

It is, in my opinion, the best solution for you. You get so much more power out of the iMac than the PowerBook, and with some smart and lateral thinking (and the help of some Mac-heads!) you will wonder how you will function without it.

If any of this is sounding complicated, don't worry. Mac is simple. Everything you do is simplified, and it will be a sinch to work out.

Hope I helped, albeit the long winded post!


12th August 2005, 07:07 AM
Admittedly I do not do anything other than standard Word Processing (legal) type work on my home gear, but I can speak up for the Ibook IMac Combination.

I have an Imac G5 with 768 Mb RAM and assorted extra drives, 1 usb and 2 firewire. I also have a 15" Powerbook 1.33 for portability, that has 512Mb RAM.

If you have lots of RAM the only issue with the iBook is drive speed, that will only be reflected in decreased performance compared to a desktop but will still be more than useable.

Over time if you invest in some external firewire drives you can have the extra security of having a drive or drives which can be swapped between both machines, unlike the windows world you can even have apps loaded on those drives. The flexibility of being able to swap drives between machines and boot off an external drive is really impressive. It also means that the gripe of expandibility limits which would otherwise apply to powerbook/ibook and iMac disappears. Best of Luck!

12th August 2005, 07:40 AM
I know i've already said that the iBook/iMac combo might suit you, but if you're inclined to start with a super-dooper portable then maybe you should head for something like the PowerBook 15"er.

As I said earlier, i've got 1.5 Gig of RAM in it, and it flies along and is very stable doing any task. And like I said, i'm planning on getting an iMac as a home machine to pair with the portable, so maybe this is your best option if you feel the need down the track to have a desktop for home, and just use the PB in the interim.

As much as they're extremely portable and certainly capable, the 12" PB's lack RAM expansion slots which I cite as a constraint for using it as your only machine. It also lacks a PCMIA(?) slot for CF cards and the like, and also doesn't have FireWire 800 or a backlit keyboard (absolutely essential when travelling on planes/trains at night!! I swear!!).

The 15" is a great size, is light and its thinness makes it very transport friendly for inside briefcases or for taking to meetings in a slim pouch or bag.

As the pics of my setup show, its a great machine for sitting on a stand at home, and with an iCurve like i've got you can just pair it with an Apple screen & keyboard/mouse and it sits at the perfect height for spanning via the DVI-out. Just 2 plugs disconnected and i'm on the road!

More food for thought! Sorry!! :D :P

12th August 2005, 08:10 AM
from the new bits of info you have told us i have changed my mind of what would suit you best. i would go a fully speced 15" powerbook (the 17 is just too big to be really portable). get the graphics card upgrade and the bigger/faster HD and chuck another 1GB RAM in it just like spargo and i have. i have one of these machines and its my everyday work machine as well as my everyday play machine. it won't give you as much grunt as the g5 imac but it will give you a lot more grunt while on the road. i was under the impression you were always going to be doing things like podcasting etc etc from your desktop mac if you went that way therefore the portable could be a much weaker computer.

12th August 2005, 08:04 PM
macmate great i think you and I are thinking along the same lines

Guys Im gonna go do some serious spending this week, but before I do I wanted to validate with you.

Ok so I went to next byte in the city (SYD) and chatted to Alan... damn nice guy and really helpful!

Heres the quote:

PB G4 15 inch 100 GB 128 MBVideo superdrive 3889.00


upgrade to 1 GB ram 269.00


23 inch cinema display 2299.00

+ apple care (2yrs) 449.00

Total = 6906.00

Now this feels pretty exy.. anyone know where i can get a better deal on this configuration?

Oh another thing

Im studying at waikato uni in NZ. and I travel there each week.. should I try and get the EDU discount over in NZ?

Also I plan on buying this through work as a package as such getting the FBT benefit

Finally guys perhaps by travellign to NZ next week i could buy it tax free?

thoughts ?

12th August 2005, 09:58 PM
Originally posted by ozpodcaster@Aug 12 2005, 08:04 PM
Ok so I went to next byte in the city (SYD) and chatted to Alan... damn nice guy and really helpful!
They are if you're looking to spend significant money. Once they've got it they are bloody awful (not sure if the swear filter will allow me to write fucking useless). Avoid that store at all costs (yes, bad customer experience).

If you want to start small why not go for Mac mini? You will not get the latest processor but it will be enough for what you want to do and will be usable for at least five years and two O/S upgrades. You can then lug it around (in a pocket!) and borrow a monitor and keyboard as needed.

Edit: the swear filter does allow me :lol:

12th August 2005, 11:44 PM
In your situation then just go for a fully spec'd 15" Powerbook, it will give you the portability that you require. I was originally under the impression, like a lot of the other people in this thread, that you wanted a portability for work and a powerful desktop computer at home.

I personally have a fully spec'd 15" Powerbook and it hasn't really every let me down. Apple screens are pretty expensive so you might want to have a look at some alternatives out there such as the ones from Dell. I believe you can get the student discount, but I'm not exactly sure about the tax free. And if you do it through work for FBT, I'm pretty sure you won't be able to get the student or tax free allowance. However, if you get under student discount you get 3 years warranty on your hardware (I believe, there is some debate about this but it is still on the Apple website). So you do have to pay extra for Applecare.

12th August 2005, 11:59 PM

Saving time.

Save a grand by going for the 20" Apple Cinema Display instead of the 23".

Wow, you are getting so ripped off for that RAM upgrade. Buy the Powerbook with stock ram, then get ram shipped in from www.crucial.com and save yourself money, while having a 1.5GB total of RAM.

I wouldn't upgrade the internal HDD. For the extra price your paying for the extra 20GB it's not worth it. Get a small external (120GB?) if you need the space for the same price.

If you're a student, grab the EDU discount.

Though, you may find that you will save more money with the work benefit.

EDU discount is 12%.

Go for the smaller screen. DIY RAM. Enquire about discounts. :)

Also, this machine may take a few weeks to arrive, so allow for that. Thats also another reason not to upgrade the HDD - it will cut potentially weeks off the shipping time.

13th August 2005, 12:19 AM
Hopefully my last suggestion to this thread is to add that you should order the PB with the standard 512MB of RAM, so that it comes in one stick rather than two 256 MB sticks which take up both off the slots.. costs a little bit extra.

This way when it arrives, it will have one free slot to insert the after-market 1 Gig stick that most of us have suggested, without having to lose a 256 stick to make space - and sorry, I should have mentioned that I got my extra Gig after market from www.epowermac.com based on the Gold Coast, rather than from Apple when I purchased the PB.

Having seen them all side by side at an Apple Retail store, I reckon the 23" is an amazing step up from the 20" one - it just depends on if you can afford the cool grand difference.. i think you should do it!! B)

13th August 2005, 01:21 AM
Many good replies, no need to add much except that spargo's parting comment of leaving yourself room for expansion is perhaps the most credible way to make a computer purchase.

13th August 2005, 01:33 AM
Personally, I'd either go one of two options:

1. Buy a 17 inch powerbook - you'd be surprised how good the screen is for graphic design - it's exactly the same size screen as the 17 inch iMac G5, which is what I have (would be the perfect machine for you, if you didn't need the portability of a powerbook). The 17 inch powerbook is $4299


2. Go for the 15 inch powerbook and 20 inch cinema display combo as mentioned by other users. The powerbook and the screen will come in at $4898, and you shouldn't need any extra RAM to get started - it will come with 512mb standard.

13th August 2005, 02:11 AM
Originally posted by danno74@Aug 12 2005, 04:33 PM
... and you shouldn't need any extra RAM to get started - it will come with 512mb standard.
Once you've had 1.5 Gig, you'll never go back..

I'm straining my memory to remember what that spinning beach-ball looks like??

(I knew i'd get suckered into making another post!!! I like the PowerBooks too much!)

13th August 2005, 08:36 AM
ok guys thanks, some good advice.

No one recommended a place to buy in syd so i guess ill just keep looking around.

Thanks again for all the advice and help

FYI I bought the missing manual and Im 1/2 way thorugh :)

13th August 2005, 11:51 AM
As for "duty free" shopping, you won't be able to buy duty free, but you can claim the GST back from customs at the airport, through their Tourist Refund Scheme.


Basically, you get the GST back - 10% - if you leave the country within 30 days of having purchased the goods...

13th August 2005, 01:22 PM
To help you with buying.

go to applecentrebroadway on parramatta road
near broadway shopping centre and sydney uni.

I don't recommend buying it straight off from the store though.
Just ask the shop assistants to talk you through the machines you wanted:
They have a couple of G5 powermac setups if you wanna dream-browse, but most are iBooks and ImacG5's. Pick-up an ipod if you don't have one already, i think there's an ipod with ibook sale on at sydney uni at the moment, If you're a student that is.

I don't recommend say going to the MYER apple display at Pitt street mall, the shop assistants wont be much help. But then you can ask them to quickly go through the features with you.

If you live in western sydney, i think there's a nextbyte apple store near baulkham hills. see www.nextbyte.com.au

Definitely buy online on the apple online store:
Quick tip... don't upgrade your RAM via the apple store!
Go to www.epowermac.com.au and select RAM from there! You will save about half the price you'd pay at the official apple online store!

If you wanna save a bit of cash, ebay for a superseded powerbook: they would usually cost about the same as what you'd pay for the iBook.

One last thing... Have you included a budget for software?
I'm a Uni student so My essentials are: MSOFFICE, OmniOutliner, Omnigraffle, InDesign suite
Hobbywise: check out FinalCut Pro etc. Ask the staff at applecentrebroadway to walk you through some of these stuff if you wish.

hope this helps.

PS if you do decide to buy a brandnew powerbook, wait til mid-september coz it's due for an update and a price crash really soon (we hope).