cracked LCD, new computer?
May 7, 2006 5:37 PM   Subscribe

My iBook's LCD cracked. I am a poor college student. What is my next step computer-wise?

I have a 12" iBook. Yeterday when I got home from essay writing, I toook iBook out of its case and saw a black splotch with cracks on the upper left side of the screen. [the cracks look sort of like when hail hits a car windshield and it shatters] Now half of my screen does not work.

I know that replacing the screen would cost too much money to be reasonable.

Should my next computer be a Mac? I love OS X, I love Apple, but I don't know if I should get myself into a lot of debt for a Mac, and I don't know if a PowerPC Powerbook/iBook is the better idea or is an Intel MacBook Pro would make more sense in the long run.

The other option I am considering is getting a cheaper PC notebook, installing Linux, and spending the summer learning to use Linux. The problem with that is I know nothing about PC laptops - I don't know which ones have a reasonable weight/battery life/price or how easy it would be to use wireless internet with Linux.

What should I do?!

Also, what should I do with my iBook after all of this goes down?
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel to Computers & Internet (14 answers total)
New macs are coming out on Tuesday, reportedly, so maybe the current models will drop in price?

I've done the linux laptop thing and it's fine, but not as polished. Depending upon what you do, it may be fine.

At the very least, you can hook up a monitor to your ibook and use it as a desktop.

posted by rbs at 5:55 PM on May 7, 2006

If you can live with no mobility, you can put this off for a long time by getting a shitty 15" CRT (you should be able to find one for free close to you... I have 2 lying around).

I run FreeBSD on an IBM ThinkPad, and I love it. It works very, very well for me, with the exception of no hibernate, and suspend-to-ram (sleep) is kind of touchy with X11. If you have the time, I'd go this route, but keep in mind, just because you know OSX doesn't mean you know unix ;)
posted by devilsbrigade at 5:58 PM on May 7, 2006

Repairing your 12" iBook will run you about $375 through MacService.

Prices include installation and free shipping, and they apparently have very fast turnaround times, so that *may* be an option for you.

Any cheaper PC notebooks you find in the mainstream you're going to find Windows XP on, and you're going to pay for the privilege. Ebay is an option for a linux-based laptop, and a few companies may offer them, but they're harder to come by in general.

Further, depending on your experience with computers in general, Linux may have a far sharper learning curve than XP, so there's always that to consider, though it sounds as if you don't want to go to XP for whatever reason.

The cheapest laptop Dell is offering is for around $500, which likely means you can find hardly-used ones on eBay for even cheaper. Keep the processor above 1.5GHz, the RAM around 512MB and you'll be happy with the basics in Linux.

MacBook's are running pretty damn expensive (and pretty damn hot) so it's up to you to balance out your comfort with a Mac versus a price premium of 400% in some cases.

Really, though, if you liked your iBook, it's not a terrible consideration to have that fixed...
posted by disillusioned at 6:01 PM on May 7, 2006

I assume it's not under warranty?

With respect to Linux, I guess the question is, "What do you want to do with it?" If it's just basic office stuff, you can totally do that. There's Firefox, OpenOffice, Gaim, etc. If, for example, you want to do video editing, then Linux is probably not the right choice. If you need special software for school, you'll probably be stuck as well.

Be prepared though to invest a lot of time learning what you're doing and trying out lots of options and getting frustrated. For someone without experience it will be as much a hobby as anything else.

I'd recommend you get a Dell or Lenovo laptop and install Ubuntu on it. That is, if you decide you want to invest the effort in learning Linux.

You should go for it. Learn to love the open source.
posted by joegester at 6:12 PM on May 7, 2006

Second the heat problem complaint about the MBP. I had one for testing a few weeks ago from Apple. I almost burned my legs using it on my lap. I was shocked at the heat it threw off. When I mentioned this to my contact at Apple (who was hoping I'd be all ga ga) she insisted it was supposed to run at that temperature. No way. I'd wait on one of those puppies until they get this major issue sorted out.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:40 PM on May 7, 2006

So I forgot my advice, which echoes others: repair this one, use it for a while longer, and sell it. You could sell the unit as is for parts on ebay and maybe get $100-200, but the display is the really valuable part, alas.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:42 PM on May 7, 2006

I'd second just getting a cheap monitor until you have the money to either fix your iBook or get a new computer. I see sub-30 dollar monitors in GoodWill all the time. Not the greatest pieces of equipment, but they will get the job done. Also, your school may have a salvage sale where they sell off old equipment at a greatly reduced price, which is worth checking out.
posted by Loto at 6:43 PM on May 7, 2006

This won't help this time, but the next laptop you get, buy a personal articles policy to cover it. It'll protect you from accidental damage and theft and it'll cost you less than $50 a year. It doesn't cover defects like AppleCare, but unlike AppleCare, it'll last as long as you keep paying the premiums.
posted by kindall at 7:34 PM on May 7, 2006

Honestly, the quesiton you're asking is one of preference. Would I buy another Mac? In a heartbeat. That's me, though. Not you.

I don't mean for that answer to sound assholish, but the previous answers to mine (and a quick google) show that screen prices are reasonable, and cheaper than most (if not all) laptops that would be worth buying. What you need to do is ask yourself if you liked OS X, would you be happy with Windows, and can you make Linux work well enough that it would be a comparable replacement.

My opinion is that Linux is great, if it works with little screwing around. If you've never played with the XFree86 config files trying to find the video card/resolution/mouse that your computer needs (in command line, no less), you should avoid it at all costs until you're ready to really learn about OSes and their inner workings.

I can say this, though - I wouldn't buy a new Mac. Mac users are a strange bunch, and the craziest of them will buy whatever the newest and best thing out is, even if they just bought something a year ago. Macs are known for their great lifespans, so I don't think you'd be crazy to get a PPC iBook or Powerbook on Craigslist or eBay on the cheap, as long as it's around the current specs being sold on Don't go into debt to have the newest, coolest and potentially buggiest Mac out there.

Good luck. Oh, and second on the Personal Articles policy. Worth the approx. $30 to keep this from happening to you again.
posted by plaidrabbit at 7:53 PM on May 7, 2006

Second hand iBooks are fairly cheap on eBay (or craigslist or wherever). I'd recommend that route.
posted by cillit bang at 9:25 PM on May 7, 2006

I'm sorry, I don't know, but I love your handle.
posted by radioamy at 11:02 PM on May 7, 2006

Well, you should wait another day to see what Apple is announcing - but by all accounts it's the new (non-pro) Macbook - ie, the iBook's Intel-based replacement.

Your current iBook can be used with an external monitor/keyboard/mouse.

If you're mostly using the machine for browsing/word processing, then I wouldn't go all out for a newer machine.
posted by O9scar at 6:42 AM on May 8, 2006

Best answer: I'd say go and pick up a barebones compatable 12" iBook, swap memory and parts around to get the best machine, run it until it breaks again, then kitbash the two of them together to get it running again. You're not going to crack another screen, are you?

Low End Mac lists G3 12" iBooks starting at $318. Get a manual for the takeaparts - eServiceInfo might be able to help you out - Find the manual for your current unit, and buy the cheapest thing you can find with matching parts. You don't want to be stuck with two incompatable models.

PS - Make/find yourself a hard case: At least double-layer injection molded plastic lined with 1/4" of foam. The crap Targus sells is just a rip off.
posted by Orb2069 at 8:57 AM on May 8, 2006

My Powerbook just died the other day - expectantly, I had lost it too many times on the ground. No choice - next day I had a MBP and no, it isn't terrible hotter than my former PB, but that may already be uncomfortable for you, if you prefer to have it on your lap wearing shorts.
I would certainly have a look at the MacBooks that are supposed to come out soon. If you are not really a hard-liner Photoshop-guy, they will be the best you can get for your money, and hey, you can get Boot Camp for them too, if you really want to infest them with another OS ;-)
If you do use Photoshop, you might want to have a look at a second-hand G4 PB or iBook. They will be as fast as your MB for that single app. Everything else will feel like crawling compared to the Intels ;-)
posted by KimG at 1:59 PM on May 8, 2006

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