PPC to Intel support... and should I buy a MacBook?

Chance for some fantasy Mac buying…

My two and a half year old iBook starting crashing on me a lot about a month ago (kernal panics, freezing, go slows… you name it…) and my local Apple Centre and got the IT equivalent of ‘see if some aspirin help’: ‘Try a clean reinstall. If that doesn’t solve it, it’s probably the logic board.’

I did, and it hasn’t. It’s a bit better, but still crashing, although not in a BSOD way, which means it’s probably the logic board, so that’s £400 to sort out, apparently.

So my next quandary is whether to replace, and if so, with what.

Should I choose:

(a) £400 to mend an ageing laptop;
(b) £400 for a secondhand Powerbook from a respectable dealer;
or c© £800 for a gleaming new MacBook.

I can figure out the pros and cons of the MacBook, but any thoughts on the pros and cons of getting a secondhand Powerbook vs new logic board?

I’ll be using it a lot, for work (I’m freelance so I can’t not have a computer) but not making massive demands, on the whole – mostly WP, email, and web. I do a bit of photoshopping, video editing (Powerbook’s extra outputs score well here), and DTP. I lug it around a lot so I don’t want anything massive.

Can I use my registration number (from my iBook) on the Intel version too, or does that require a whole new purchase?

Two weeks ago, I was exactly in your position! I chose option c, and I’m perfectly happy with my new MacBook!

I’m positive I’d be delighted with the MacBook. It’s the extra £400 I’m worried about.

Is a basic MacBook good enough spec? I’ve heard it suggested they could need additional RAM to work properly.

Scrivener is Universal, so it works just as well on Intel as it does on PPC (since I upgraded to a MacBook from an iBook, it has been developed on an Intel machine, too). And no, you don’t need to buy a separate copy - you are registered for all 1.x versions (2.0 will require an upgrade fee, but that is way off in the distance and I haven’t even begun thinking about that yet - I am, after all, only working towards 1.1 at the moment!). Your licence actually covers any machines you own and primarily use - so you can even have Scrivener installed on more than one machine.

As for your quandary… Well, my iBook was always far more reliable than my MacBook; I bought a first generation MacBook and have been plagued with troubles with it. First it had the discolouration problem, so I sent it back. Whilst it was being repaired, they replaced the hard drive, because that was about to fail, apparently. Then the discolouration returned twice more and it had to be in for repair twice more. After that, I had the infamous random shutdown problem, and it had to be fixed again. After all of that I lost all confidence in it and bought a second-generation MacBook Pro to use as my primary machine instead (that was a treat to myself after I finally released version 1.0 of Scrivener). Touch wood, my MBPro has been brilliant and I’ve had no problems with it; I’m hoping it will be as stable as my lovely iBook (which is still running, over three years later). I put my MacBook away as a back-up machine. Recently I decided I would take that to Italy with me for my week holiday instead of the MBPro. I hadn’t taken it out of its box for months, and when I did I found that the battery was completely dead. It turns out on top of the random shutdowns and discolouration issues, there is also a widespread issue with MacBook batteries running down to below the point where they can ever be recharged again - so now I need to get in touch with Apple to have them replace the battery. So the one time I needed my MacBook again, I couldn’t use it (I took the iBook instead).

BUT… That was the first generation MacBook. The first-gen MBPros had problems, too, apparently, and my second-gen is fine. My point is: look around the forums and make sure that all of the first-gen issues have been fixed. If the new MacBooks are as solid as the MBPros, then I would definitely say go for an Intel machine. I just had a very bad experience with my MacBook.

All the best,

goes pale

First-generation anythings are always a risk. But don’t let that scare you away from a MacBook - I know a few people who have one and they swear by them. Anyway, pre-Intel Macs are doomed to be left in the dust, anyway, so if it were me I’d spring for the MacBook. Every time I’ve bought an older computer to save a buck I’ve regretted it.

I agree, don’t get a PPC. My iMac G5 is only 2 years old and, while I love it and it runs perfectly, I can already feel myself being left behind. I’m contemplating getting a MacBook myself just to keep up (my first-gen iBook works, but can’t run anything after 10.3…)

I should add that I bought my friend a (2nd-gen) MacBook for his birthday this year and he loves it - he hasn’t had a problem. I just came off the phone from AppleCare (they are sending me a new battery out) and even the AppleCare guy said, “Yeah, you always get these sort of problems with first generation machines…” :unamused: I would definitely go for the MacBook. The glossy screen is lovely and they are beautifully designed. I just like to bitch about mine whenever I get the chance, that’s all. :slight_smile:

You’ve probably heard this already, but I’ll add my voice to the cacophony: Put in as much RAM as you can afford, no matter what machine you buy. That, more than processor speed, determines how long your computer remains useful as well as perceived speed (imo).

I’d also recommend splurging for AppleCare, especially since it sounds like your purchase would be your main machine. :slight_smile:

I run Scrivener on both my Intel Mini and a G4 Powerbook and it works fine on both for me. Still lusting after a MacBook, though. (Or my dream machine: a Mac Subnotebook. :wink: )

Yes on the MacBook. I know about four people who have them and LOVE them. I will get one myself next time around, which will likely be within the next six months. My own 2 and 1/2 year old iBook is still working quite well. But I am definitely getting that ‘left in the dust’ feeling.

For a laptop, I would ALWAYS get AppleCare and definitely max out the RAM if possible. As well as getting the largest hard drive I can afford. Of course, that adds to the already added cost of getting a new machine!

Don’t forget you can save some significant dollars/euros/pounds by getting a refurb MacBook from Apple. Comes with the same warranty as a new one (and be sure to get AppleCare). Just make sure it’s not a 1st gen machine.
I’m still cruising happily (touch brushed aluminum) on my 2005 G4 PowerBook. I’ll probably sell it to a friend and snag a MacBook in a year or so, so I can get Leopard and iLife 08 free, along whatever improvements are due in the next iteration.

I just got a MacBook recently, and I am loving it. Excellent computer. Let me go against the flow and say that the stock amount of RAM that they ship in them now is not shabby. I just have the 1GB in mine, and I regularly have Scrivener, EagleFiler, Skim, Tinderbox, TaskPaper, and OmniOutliner open without any slow downs. If you intended to do any multi-media (I have Lightroom on it, and it does okay with that; I wouldn’t dream of installing Aperture on it though!), then you might want to look into putting more RAM in. Ditto with Parallels and/or games.

Strictly as a writing machine though: I say 1 gig is fine. Battery life is good. I get about 4.5 or 5 hours under normal usage. It gets warm, but not hot. I’ve only had it for a little under a month now, so it is a little early to say whether or not it will be flawless—but it is feeling pretty stable, no quirks or indications of quirks yet. I really like the design of it too. The ports are all located intelligently. It doesn’t have the slide-out optical drive tray, but rather the slot load. It feels very solid. No creaks or groans when I pick it up. The screen hinge is smooth, and opens evenly (unlike my old iBook did) and again feels solid. Glossy: At first I thought I would hate it, but I’m a convert now. Glare hardly ever shows up in normal situations (read: Nearly anything other than an Apple Store! Those were the only places I had seen the glossy screen before, and they way they do interior lighting is most disadvantageous). Someone else on the forum already said this, and I know agree: Glare is actually a bit better because the light source has to be at a direct angle to create a reflection, where a matte surface will scatter light and increase the angular range. As with the iBook, I wouldn’t want to use the screen for any serious photo retouching. Vertical positioning impacts the contrast a lot. Enough that the bottom of the screen is often darker than the top.

Again, for writers, I think it is a wonderful machine. And it runs Scrivener with aplomb, which is the really important benchmark. :wink:

Thanks for the MacBook review, Amber. You answered a couple of questions I had, like whether 1 gig of stock RAM is enough if, like me, you don’t use multimedia.

One more if you don’t mind: is the MacBook alone sufficient for extended Scrivening as a desktop replacement, or do you augment it with an external display or a second, desktop computer? I know these are extremely subjective issues, but I’m just a bit worried about eventually downsizing from a 15" PB screen to the MacBook’s slightly smaller one as my only monitor.

I just wanted to say I’ve got a first gen MacBook which I’ve been extremely happy with. The only problem I’ve ever had it with was the random shutdown issue - which eventually got fixed by a firmware update anyway. Its blazingly fast (compared to the ageing G4 PowerBook it superseded) and I love the form factor - I think its the perfect size for me.

Hi Brett, I can answer that from a subjective and Scrivener-design POV: Up until last May, Scrivener was developed on an iBook 12", then on a MacBook 13" and only for the last few month on an MBPro 15". If Apple bring out a superportable, I’ll be getting it; I may even get rid of my old (bothersome) MacBook and get another one once I’m convinced it will be as solid as my iBook. In other words, one of the core philosophies behind Scrivener has always been that it should run well on a small screen. I use a 24" monitor attached to my MBPro for development, but that is only because I need to see the Scrivener window alongside the console and other Xcode stuff in the background. When it comes to using Scrivener - or any other text application - I find the smaller screen of an iBook or MacBook perfect (the 24" screen can sometimes be intimidating for writing simply because it makes the blank page seem even bigger. :slight_smile: ).

The 13" screen of the MacBook seems significantly larger than the iBook’s 12" and is a nice sized screen for writing (and using Scrivener, IMHO). The widescreen is especially nice for having the binder and inspector open, or for vertical splits.

Just my opinion…

Thanks for the thoughts folks. I know what an onerous chore discussing the delights of Macs is…

My general kind of use is going to be similar to Amber’s though I don’t tend to have vast amounts of reference material open. I’ll also be doing some basic video editing on FCP. My iBook more or less manages this (as long as things are rendered regularly, although it’s actually got a little more painful under each successive OS X update) so I’m pretty certain a MacBook will too.

On checking the Apple website, I realised MacBooks are £700 not £800. So that’s only a £300 bump up from a new logic board. ‘Only’… hem hem chiz chiz.

Anyone know how much bumping up the RAM to 2gigs would be? (spot the ‘ready to close the sale’ question there!).

I checked out the UK refurb site, and it’s not hopeful, and I don’t have the time to check it regularly either. And a new one wouldn’t have that smell.

For bumping up the RAM, go through crucial.com/uk. You will need to buy 2 1Gb sticks, because the MacBook will come with 2 x 512MB sticks in the slots. The 2Gb kit is around £60 from Crucial, whereas Apple will charge you £90 to upgrade the standard 1Gb model to 2Gb. Crucial guarantee compatibility and their website makes it as easy as picking the manufacturer and laptop model and they present you with the compatible memory. Installing the memory is a doddle, too, even if you have never done anything like it before - far easier than installing memory in the iBook. You just remove the battery. There’s a PDF on the Apple website that takes you step-by-step through installing the memory.

So, yeah - Crucial. I’ve bought from them a lot and they’re brilliant.


It was the Apple vs Crucial cost I was wondering about. I’ve put extra Crucial RAM in my iBook so I have no qualms about doing it myself. Although I’ll probably do what did with the iBook if Crucial’s cheaper and wait for a bit to see if I really need it.

Crucial are always cheaper than a build-to-order option from Apple, at least here in the UK. And like Keith, I’ve never had a problem with their service or goods.

(I’m just about to buy myself an extra gig of RAM for my iMac, actually, as I sadly can’t justify buying one of the new models…)