Is an older MacBook a good match for an iPad2?
April 3, 2011 8:29 AM   Subscribe

iPad first-timer - is my mid-2007 MacBook the right computer?

I'm tinkering on setting my partner up with an iPad2.

Since she'll need a computer to activate/sync/etc it from, rather than our old Powerbook G4, I thought of dedicating a mid-2007 Intel MacBook we have to this purpose.

It's currently running 10.4, with iTunes 8 - is this a viable basic starting set-up?
(I know I get it on 10.6, but I'd like to avoid unnecessary costs & work.)

Any other pointers for an iPad novice? She'll be using it to read, research and also write some, to keep her collection of photos from the computer sync'ed and mobile, and for skype/facetime calls.

(I'm fairly iOS aware via my iPhone, whereas she has little interest or patience with the geekery-nerdery.)
posted by progosk to Computers & Internet (14 answers total)
Response by poster: I know I get it > I know I can get it
posted by progosk at 8:31 AM on April 3, 2011

I can't think why it wouldn't be enough. Basically, any Intel mac can do anything. If it's less than smooth, then max the RAM.
posted by krilli at 8:34 AM on April 3, 2011

It'll be fine.
posted by schmod at 8:38 AM on April 3, 2011

For what it's worth, Apple recommends 10.5.8 and iTunes 10.2.
posted by jz at 8:46 AM on April 3, 2011

Response by poster: Hm - just tried hooking my iPhone (3G) back up to the MacBook (instead of to the more updated work MacBook Pro that I use it with) and iTunes 8 says it can't sync it unless I update to at least iTunes 10.1...

(The idea was to have my Appstore purchases available on the computer to load to the iPad.)

I might need to do some upgrading after all...
posted by progosk at 8:52 AM on April 3, 2011

I tried to sync an iPad with an old MacBook that was running 10.4 and it couldn't be done. You can still sync an iPad with a Windows machine running XP, though. I did end up upgrading to Snow Leopard but I had to spring for the iWork/iLife upgrade box set (~$150) since Apple no longer sells the OS upgrade by itself.
posted by codefinger at 9:53 AM on April 3, 2011

Best answer: The limiting reagent is iTunes, and by extension OS X, not your hardware.

You'll need at a minimum the earliest version of iTunes that will support an iPad 2, which is to say iTunes 10.2. Older versions of iTunes are not compatible with newer versions of iPod, iPhone or iPad; generally a new version of iTunes comes out when a new iThing comes out, and no earlier version of iTunes will work with it. And iTunes 10.2 requires OS X 10.5.8 at a minimum.

Your hardware is more than adequate. Even a G4 PowerBook will work, so long as it's running OS X 10.5.8 and iTunes 10.2.
posted by mcwetboy at 10:12 AM on April 3, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for that, mcwetboy; codefinger: the apple site still lists the 10.6 snow leopard upgrade at $29 - and I've read that this works from 10.4 too... or has something changed in this regard meantime?
posted by progosk at 10:50 AM on April 3, 2011

As far as I know, it still works.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 10:57 AM on April 3, 2011

Snow Leopard disks will work on a blank hard drive, so 10.4 shouldn't give them any trouble.
posted by JiBB at 11:21 AM on April 3, 2011

The machine will go faster and smoother too, once you upgrade to 10.6.

Plus when you go to 10.6 (or 10.5) from 10.4, you get Time Machine – I strongly recommend you take the chance and start using it to automatically back up your files.

Sorry for the OT but knowing that one's data is significantly safer feels pretty great :)
posted by krilli at 12:26 PM on April 3, 2011

Best answer: As an iPad owner, I can tell you that the only surprise I had was when I plugged my iPad into my mac mini and the iPad showed in the corner of its screen "not charging".

It turns out that only certain macs supply enough power over the USB ports to charge an iPad. If your mac isn't on the list, you're limited to using the AC adapter included with the iPad. (This isn't a bad thing, it's just different compared to iPods and iPhones.)
posted by Wild_Eep at 12:32 PM on April 3, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the heads-up, Wild_Eep - mine's mid-2007, so one season below the limit, and indeed I get Not Charging. Would have had me puzzled...
posted by progosk at 2:49 PM on April 3, 2011

Anyone who gets the "not charging" message should be aware that it would more accurately be expressed "charging slowly." Particularly if the iPad is in sleep (screen off), it will definitely collect charge from a USB port of that age -- just more slowly than it would straight from a wall jack.
posted by kalapierson at 11:44 AM on April 5, 2011

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