UnDead Powerbook - Good or Evil?
September 14, 2008 1:12 PM   Subscribe

Should I revive my Titanium Mac Powerbook?

My laptop's hard drive just ate itself. The fine people at NYC's Tekserve can replace the hard drive for $250 or thereabouts. However, it's an old laptop, (I think it was the 2nd generation Titanium powerbook), now considered vintage, and so replacement parts are no longer made, and I was told that if I encounter any further problems with this machine, they likely cannot be fixed. Furthermore, the battery likes to fall out, so it usually needs to be plugged in to a wall.

I just got a new desktop recently, so there's a bit of a sting at the thought of buying a new laptop, too. But $250 seems like a lot for something that might not last long.

I would use the laptop mainly for word processing, internetting, and perhaps a little music sequencing (reason), either when I travel (which is at least once every month or two), or when the desktop is in use by my wife.

So, do i spend the $250 to revive this heavy clunker or not?
posted by blapst to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
Well, I can't tell you what to do, but I will tell you that I spent $300 to get my Powerbook fixed last summer and it went kaput - for an unrelated reason - six months later. At the time it seemed like a good idea to just keep it going, but in retrospect, I wish I'd saved that money and put it towards buying Apple Care on a new laptop.
posted by lunasol at 1:24 PM on September 14, 2008

FWIW I just replaced my 12" aluminum PowerBook for similar (although not as immediate) reasons. I loved the little rascal, especially since it was such a great size for traveling.

Long story short: I haven't looked back. My new 13" MacBook is better in every way, except maybe looks. Better screen, bigger drive, more RAM, faster, better wifi reception…once you've moved up you realize how outdated the old machine was.

I don't live on the bleeding edge of technology, but once a machine is four to five years old I figure its about time to move on. You might be surprised to find out how much your machine is worth on the open market, if only for parts. My advice would be to sell it for whatever you can, and put the money (plus the $250 you're going to have to spend anyway) toward a new MacBook. I think you'll be happier (and not much poorer) in the long run.
posted by dinger at 1:29 PM on September 14, 2008

What's the processor speed? Under 867Mhz is unsupported by Leopard, the current-day Mac OS. I'd spend a little scratch to revive the 1Ghz version.
posted by porn in the woods at 1:30 PM on September 14, 2008

Why don't you replace the hard drive yourself and pay only the cost of parts?
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 1:32 PM on September 14, 2008

yeah, my PBG4 from 2002 went down about a month ago.

Getting at the hard drive is about 10 minutes of labor, a new hard disk runs about $60 or so.

The tricky part is that you've got to remove the bottom plate, which requires some care and concentration.

2nding the MacBook suggestion. A new Macbook is at least 3x as good as a PBG4. ~$1000 from Amazon.
posted by troy at 1:50 PM on September 14, 2008

I think this must be happening a lot of us. I just gave up on my beautiful 12" G4 PowerBook. I'm now typing on a new MacBook. The keyboard isn't the same, and it's a bit bigger, but everything else is much improved.

You're going to have to get a new computer sooner or later, might as well do it now while you have a choice and aren't trying to save data because the HD failed
posted by miles1972 at 2:21 PM on September 14, 2008

Another option is to buy a used MacBook. That will be somewhat more expensive, but it will be much faster, and value pr $ is probably much better than for a new hard drive for the Titanium.
posted by flif at 3:02 PM on September 14, 2008

I think your TiBook is well and truly at EOL. I'm just waiting for the supposed October refresh of Apple's laptops to replace my poor long-suffering 12" 'book. Really, having a portable portable, with a working battery, high-speed WiFi, modern processor, able to run the same OS as your desktop and do sassy Leopardy things... I'm betting that when you get a new MacBook you'll wonder why you waited so long.
posted by mumkin at 3:12 PM on September 14, 2008

the cheapest ATA laptop hard drive is $62 at NewEgg, and will give you 120GB of storage. a set of precision screwdrivers (incld. the needed Torx sizes for the titanium PB) runs $25 at Sears. there's free repair guides at iFixIt, and this repair will take you less than an hour, even if you're extra special careful (which you should be). (the titanium PB was the easiest to do this kinda stuff in until the MacBook came out.)

personally, i'd replace the drive yourself. it's literally a "undo a handful of screws, pull the old, connect the new, screw the screws in" kinda thing. when the refreshed machines come out in the next month or so, you can get a good deal on a refurb and make back the money you spent on the HDD and tools plus a little bit more selling that machine on eBay, and you'll have a set of handy dandy screwdrivers to boot.
posted by mrg at 4:05 PM on September 14, 2008

You can get a replacement drive at ifixit.com, and they have easy-to-follow instructions on their website. Plus you can print out a screw guide to keep those organized while working. I've taken my Pbk apart many times--it's easy. You will need a smallish Philips screwdriver with a fine tip, and possibly a certain size of Torx driver; you can buy the later from ifixit as well.
posted by neuron at 5:45 PM on September 14, 2008

Yeah, the Titanium PowerBook looks easy to replace the HD, much easier than the Aluminum PBs and previous model MacBook Pros. You can really cheap out if you want, too. Checking my local Craigslist I see an 80GB ATA drive for $35 (you don't want an SATA drive). If you don't have Torx drivers you might be able to find a handy friend that does.

No sense spending $250 on that machine but don't throw it away when the fix is both cheap and easy so long as it continues to meet your needs (and it sounds like it does).
posted by 6550 at 11:34 AM on December 12, 2008

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