Powerbook buying help
August 27, 2005 6:04 AM   Subscribe

I am looking to buy an ibook / powerbook. I found a Lombard Powerbook G3 400 for $250

Here are the specs...

Fast 400 mhz G3 processor
14.1 inch Active Matrix Color Screen
128 Megs ram
6 gig internal hard drive
Dvd ROM Drive
AC power adatopr
2 USB ports
PC Card Slot
OS 9.0
Built in Ethernet
No warranty On Battery
30 day warranty on all other parts

I am wondering if this is worth it. (I am a IBM guy). All I really want to do is watch movies while traveling. Install photoshop cs2 on it, and put a wireless card in it.

Would I be able to install OSX?
posted by bsexton to Computers & Internet (16 answers total)
for cs to even run so you get some work actually done (correct me if i am wrong) you would want at least a 700 mhz g4, and MIN of 512MB ram, as well as at least 10.2.
if it was me i would pass on the lombard, and look for a little newer ibook. you might be able to get a 600-800mhz ibook for less then $500.
good luck
posted by ShawnString at 6:13 AM on August 27, 2005

I've got one of these. It runs older versions of X but I'm not sure it can handle the latest versions. I suspect it'd have difficulty with Photoshop. I can't quite remember whether the maximum ram is 128 or 256... so you might be able to beef it up a bit, might not.

Mine does me fine for testing websites, reading email, writing documents. Takes an age to start up with X though. The thing which might cause problems for you is the weight - compared to "modern" laptops, it's really quite heavy.
posted by handee at 6:17 AM on August 27, 2005

Response by poster: I think i can get a used g3 ibook 500 mhz on ebay for about 300-350 would this be a better idea than getting the lombard? See I pretty much want to just get a cheap one and see how I like using this mac software etc...maybe later on down the line get something a little nicer. I've never been a mac user other than when the schools had them when I was a kid.
posted by bsexton at 6:23 AM on August 27, 2005

Realistically, a 6 gig hard drive doesn't have enough room for OSX + Photoshop CS 2 + any of your work. Also, OSX is dead slow on pre-Tibook powerbooks. Personally, I'd pass. The best places to find good deals on used Macs are eBay and the Dealmac basement. As Shawn said, looking around for an iBook from a few gens back is probably the best option from a price-performance standpoint.

Even that's going to be expensive enough that you may want to bite the bullet and get a new (check out Dealmac) or refurbished iBook (i.e. go to the Apple Store and click on the Special Deals tag in the right column).
posted by boaz at 6:32 AM on August 27, 2005

A g4 .vs. g3 processor makes ALL the difference in the world with OS X. If your price range is that low, I would suggest looking for a G4 powerbook titanium. They were big sellers and you can find dozens on ebay at any given time. You'll want at least 512mb of RAM to run photoshop at a decent clip, no matter what machine you end up with.
posted by zerolives at 6:45 AM on August 27, 2005

See I pretty much want to just get a cheap one and see how I like using this mac software etc...maybe later on down the line get something a little nicer.

It's a false economy. Chances are, the lack of speed and responsiveness would put you off the whole idea of using a Mac. You're certainly not going to get CS2 working (or even installed) without more disk space and RAM, and newer versions of OS X will run like slugs.

As ShawnString said, you're better off paying for a used G4 iBook or titanium PowerBook. And as boaz said, the refurbs on the Apple Store are pretty decent: $800 for a 1.2GHz 2005 iBook will set you up well, and has very good resale value if you decide you don't want to keep it.
posted by holgate at 6:48 AM on August 27, 2005

You'll want at least 512mb of RAM to run photoshop OS X at a decent clip

Fixed it for you, zerolives ;) You really want as much RAM as you can possibly afford to run Photoshop.

Sorry to be such an inveterate upseller but the (IMHO) insane resale values of Macs make used macs a bad idea in general. If you just want to try out a mac for cheap, get a used desktop or a Mac mini, then sell it and buy a laptop if you like OSX.
posted by boaz at 7:04 AM on August 27, 2005

No, that is not worth it in my opinion.

However, for the record, I have a G3 500 iBook (snow; aka dual usb) with 384 ram on which I run Tiger. However, I wouldn't dare run PS CS2 on it. I use it just for text software and it runs at a 'fine' speed.

In addition, as others have said, that drive is relatively useless.

I bought my ibook on Craigslist for C$400 (us$335) and the battery in it was new.
posted by dobbs at 7:40 AM on August 27, 2005

Response by poster: Yeah so I've been checking around and it looks like I can get a pretty decent laptop for about 1000 new. I may go w/ the 12inch 1.33GHz, the one on apple.com should I get that or just go ahead and spend the extra money on the 14"

Thanks again!
posted by bsexton at 7:47 AM on August 27, 2005

bsexton, I find the 14" too big. I like the 12". Others will no doubt disagree. I really like the portability of the 12. Go look at them in person and if the 12 is big enough, get it and sink the extra cash into ram or keep it in your pocket.
posted by dobbs at 8:13 AM on August 27, 2005

Don't do it. While it might work acceptably well for playing DVDs while travelling (and then, probably only when running OS 9), it might not even be good for that.

Some versions of this model had really bad problems with crashes due to the CPU version (2.2; you used to be able to download an app from versiontracker that'd tell you which version of the CPU you had). While a lot of people only bumped into the problem after trying to install OS X, I had plenty of problems in OS 9 as well.

Additionally, you'll hate trying to run pretty much any version of OS X on it even if it has one of the good CPUs, and I suspect that trying to play DVDs in OS X will basically be undoable, just like trying to run Photoshop CS.
posted by kimota at 8:28 AM on August 27, 2005

Response by poster: Okay it's done I'm going to compusa today to get the 12" ibookG4 for $999

thanks everyone for their help...

it may be less than that. They're supposed to have cost + 7%
posted by bsexton at 9:10 AM on August 27, 2005

If you're an "IBM guy," and you are trying to save cash, why not look at getting a used Thinkpad? I bought a Thinkpad T22 (P3 900MHz) for $500 a year ago on ebay and have been nothing but pleased with it. Never had any crashing problems, its super light weight, and I carry it (and bang it around) everywhere.

To answer you question:
1. 128MB will not be enough for photoshop.
2. It isn't even a G4, it will be very slow when running X.
3. I don't think it will be able to play DVD movies well.
3. The battery will most likely be shot and need to be replaced. I doubt it would last through an entire DVD movie on a plane.

I do have a Mac, and I think they are a lot of fun to use; but you really need a high end system to have the "experience."
posted by nickerbocker at 10:17 AM on August 27, 2005

Good choice. Was going to suggest just that...on my 999.99 iBook

I do have a Mac, and I think they are a lot of fun to use; but you really need a high end system to have the "experience."

No you don't. Sure, if you're running ps with huge files, but that would be true of windows also. A 999 iBook is I need for the 'experience', and that's not high end.
posted by justgary at 7:07 PM on August 27, 2005

holgate: "...the refurbs on the Apple Store are pretty decent..."
Do you mean at apple.com? If so, could you point them out to me? I've been scouring the site since I saw this comment.
posted by nprigoda at 5:49 AM on August 28, 2005

Belatedly: go to store.apple.com and look for the red price ticket marked 'SAVE'. That's the link to the refurb section (no fixed URL, because it's WebObjects). They have refurb 12" iBooks for under $700.
posted by holgate at 12:06 PM on October 12, 2005

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