To buy or not to buy - even what to buy!
August 10, 2006 7:01 AM   Subscribe

Should I stick with my last July G4 iBook, buy a MacBook or an iMac or wait for untold delights?

I'm thinking that now my iBook is a year old it might be an idea to sell it and move on to pastures more powerful. I was thinking of a MacBook, or even ditching the portable form factor now my lifestyle has changed and going for an iMac. Does anyone have any thoughts or advice? And should I be doing this now - is there something in the pipeline I should be waiting for?
posted by dance to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Wait at least a couple of months to see if Apple bumps the MacBook Pros up to the Core 2 Duo processors. It's a widely expected move. The Core 2 Duos use less power and are 64-bit machines.
posted by alms at 7:08 AM on August 10, 2006

I am planning to do exactly as alms says in contemplating a replacement for my dearly beloved Powerbook G4 Cyprian (purchased June 2005) with the addition that I will wait until they release Leopard. The new machines next spring (think MacWorld and then spring break) should be really nice. By then hopefully they will have a new iPod out and I can buy my new Mac and a new iPod when they have the back to school promotion with iPod rebate.
posted by jxpx777 at 7:23 AM on August 10, 2006

Yeah, don't buy a MacBook, unless you think you need something new to cook breakfast on...
posted by baylink at 7:29 AM on August 10, 2006

And should I be doing this now - is there something in the pipeline I should be waiting for?

As always with Apple these days, nobody knows, and any "rumors" you hear are stabs in the dark. The Intel Core 2 Duo is definitely due soon (because Intel have said so), but it's probably not going to be a spectacular upgrade, and no one knows when the iBook or iMac will actually get them.

The MacBook doesn't get much hotter than your iBook. is hardly a source of impartial advice on this, and the cooking breakfast video that circulated was a joke.
posted by cillit bang at 7:37 AM on August 10, 2006

The Core 2 Duo is out and expected to find its way into machines by the end of the month. I don't think Apple will sit by and watch its competitors scoop it, so I think a CPU improvements in at least some of the existing lines is likely, along with price decreases in existing Core Duo systems. (As cillit bang notes, this is speculation...)

The next big thing for laptops is likely to be Santa Rosa "in the first half of 2007."

If you're not interested in the portability, you can get a lot more computer for a lot less money by getting a desktop instead of a laptop.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 7:58 AM on August 10, 2006

I bought myself a MacBook and I'm well pleased with it. (Yes it runs hot. No, it hasn't cooked my testicles. No, the battery hasn't exploded. No, the case hasn't flaked or discolored.) My previous iBook was quite old (2001!) and I badly needed more speed and to get on the Intel wagon. Having said that, I think you can wait for a while. If your machine is only 1 year old, it's still pretty much up to date. Give the new hardware a little longer to shake out. Even a few months and you're likely get more bang (and reliability) per-buck.
posted by outlier at 8:22 AM on August 10, 2006

The MacBook doesn't get much hotter than your iBook.

Sure it does. I can put my iBook and macbook side by side and let them just sit there and after 15 minutes it's not even close. The iBook runs considerably cooler than the macbook.

That said, I love it. I can deal with the heat.
posted by justgary at 8:42 AM on August 10, 2006

The Mac Buyer's Guide lists dates of past releases in each product line, which is useful if you're trying to second-guess future product release dates.
posted by mbrubeck at 8:47 AM on August 10, 2006

One of the great truths about being an Apple owner is that there is not only always something in the pipeline worth waiting for, but that purchasing today's unit will hasten the release of the new one... (Or at least it always seems that way)

The big question probably should be "do you need the additional speed now?", with a follow-up of "what applications do you need the speed in most?"

I dumped my (1.5 GHz) Powerbook and went to a MacBook Pro about five months ago, and I'm very happy with it -- I do web app development, and it was worth it just for the improvement in browser render speed alone. Problems have been minimal, and every OS update has been an improvement.

On the other hand, I'm still stuck with Microsoft Office and Macromedia Studio (both of which I have to use, for various reasons) not being out in universal binaries yet, which makes them about as slow as they ever were on my G4.

If the primary applications you use are not out as universal binaries, you might as well wait -- you're not going to see a performance improvement moving to the Intel machines until they are ported over.

On the other hand, if the applications you spend time in ARE available as universal binaries, and you need the speed today, then there's probably nothing wrong with going for it -- sure there will be faster machines coming, but the bump between a Core Duo and a Core 2 Duo probably won't be anywhere near as big as the bump from G4 to Core Duo (if running universal binaries).

Given that you're already considering staying with the G4 a little longer, staying with a Core Duo long enough to make it worth buying would probably not be a problem -- as long as it buys you any improvement today.

Desktop vs. Notebook is a personal decision; my notebook spends 95%+ of the time on the shelf in my office connected to an external keyboard and monitor. But the convenience of being able to toss it in a bag in 15 seconds, going to wherever and being able to open it back up and have all of my stuff at my finger tips, just where I left it, is big enough for me to have stuck with the G4 notebooks for several years when I could have had much better performance on a G5 desktop...
posted by nonliteral at 11:23 AM on August 10, 2006

cillit bang: ...but it's probably not going to be a spectacular upgrade...

Uhh, actually, it would be notable. It's a completely different microarchitecture between the Core and the Core 2 chips. And the Core 2 is usually about 30% faster per-core, at the same clock speed... and in some ops (notably floating point vector ops... it can be multiples faster). It's possibly the most signifigant single jump in processor capabilities for an Intel chip since the PentiumPro came out circa 1995.

As far as it relates to the question... yes. If you care about price/performance wait a month or two. There won't be another jump in per-core processor capabilities like this for at least two, perhaps three years. At the very worst, you can pick up a cheap Core (1) Duo macbook for cheaps on ebay before year end.
posted by zeypher at 2:32 PM on August 10, 2006 [1 favorite]

In case the OP is still watching this thread -- rumors suggest that both lines will be upgraded in sept. (I'm facing the same question, except that I also really would like the ipod rebate. But on the other hand I suspect they'll upgrade the graphics card in the macbook to the 965, which still isn't that great, but appears to suck quite a bit less than what you'd get now. And my g3 ibook is pretty slow nowadays.)
posted by advil at 11:20 PM on August 12, 2006

Rumors from Asia have almost always turned out to be bullshit.

If you care about price/performance wait a month or two

There's absolutely no reason to think the MacBook will get the Core 2 Duo in that timeframe. the MacBook Pro will get it at the earliest opportunity, but there's much less need for the MacBook to have the latest processor, and Apple has its margins to think about. It could be six months or more.

And the Core 2 is usually about 30% faster per-core, at the same clock speed... and in some ops (notably floating point vector ops... it can be multiples faster).

Except the benchmarks don't seem to be showing this.
posted by cillit bang at 7:02 AM on August 13, 2006

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