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Keeping score

This will be the last whingey post about powerbooks, promise. Here’s where I’m at now:

Powerbook #1: Dead on arrival
Powerbook #2: Lid catch broke after 1 week, Hard Drive died after 2. Thats where I got to last time.
Powerbook #3: Dud battery.
Powerbook #4: Made of jam.

So, I’m now on #4, which while I hate to tempt fate, is looking good so far. I’ve still got a long way to go to top Michael’s record of 8 (see comment 49).

As I added in the last post, I’ve used Macs for 16 years now, and owned my own for 5. I’ve never had any issues, until these new powerbooks, never. All my macs have been rock solid, with any problems arising from my own extreme stupidity. Could it be that these powerbooks were rushed out, with little quality control? Or that Apple’s efforts are more concentrated on iPods? After all, thats where the money is for them. I’d like to think that I just got the few dud ones, and that these are just overly-paranoid conspiracy theories.

All of these have had screens with the horizontal lines problem by the way, but its still too subtle to concern me.

There goes the "living off a powerbook" theory

There was one drawback I hadn’t considered when switching to this ‘living off a powerbook’ idea. No its not underperformance Mr Budd, its no performance. It all falls apart, when the powerbook dies on you.

Thats right friends, this one lasted just over 2 weeks before dying on me. After another excruciating 2 hours talking to Applecare (in India), I’m being refunded again. I refuse to accept a repair on such young powerbook. I need this to last me a few years, it can’t start its life like this.

I’m sure you can imagine right now, just how pissed off I am. This is the second powerbook to do this in as many months. Out of frustration, I shouted out I’ll buy a bloody Dell then!!, but of course I didn’t mean it. Things are bad, but not that bad. This is not an OS problem, its a very particular hardware problem.

So, now I’m in a quandary. Old faithful has been put back into service (now replete with silver-gaffer-tape-to-hold-it-together™ accessory). Maybe I should order a plain off-the-shelf model? There does seem to be incompatibility problems with upgraded RAM and hard drives.

And what I really wanted to be blogging about today was how good Jeff Tweedy was last night at the Shepherds Bush Empire…

Later… While its crap that so many of you have had similar, if not far, far, worse problems than I have it is reassuring. You see, I’ve used Macs for 16 years now, and owned my own for 5. I’ve never had issues until these new powerbooks, never. All my macs have been rock solid, with any problems arising from my own extreme stupidity.

Ack. What to do. I wish there was a widescreen iBook available right now. Waiting until next year for intels isn’t really an option, no matter how good they are.

The new beast

Damn that Gruber, he’s beaten me to the punch once more. Mind you, in typical Daring Fireball style, his piece is more detailed, researched and well written than anything I could’ve come up with (which is why I’m a member). So, I’m actually very pleased that he’s saved me time! Go and read that review if you want to really know about the new Powerbooks.

Like John, I opted for the upgraded 2gb RAM and 100gb (7200rpm) hard drive, which despite the longer delivery time for a customised model, its well worth it. Combining this with a 20” display provides me with my ideal setup. Unless you need to do video/3D work these machines provide enough oompf for web development and CPU hungry tasks like print design. I intend to use this setup now, rather than syncing with a desktop machine, and I’ll let you know how it goes.

This was the first time I’d used the migration facility in OS X. I’d always preferred to start with a clean install and then cherry pick what I wanted to go back in. This time, I felt a bit more nervous, there were too many files and settings that I didn’t want to risk losing. I’m glad I did – a firewire cable + 2 hours later and 62gb of files and settings had been installed. Everything ran as it had been, except I experienced the same problem John had with wireless, until running the airport update.

I’ve also found getting used to two-finger scrolling very easy and natural. This is a great feature, and find myself trying the double-fingered fondle on older machines too.

The other habit thats changed since getting the new powerbook, is that Omniweb has returned as my default browser. While Safari with plugins still feels slow and bogged down, Omniweb positively flies with this setup, and the larger resolution screen makes it ideal. Between Omniweb and Camino, Safari isn’t getting a look in at the moment. Can’t wait for their move to webkit (whenever that happens) which should finally solve issues with Flickr. I’d be interested to know if John’s habits have changed too, as earlier in the year he stated that he had left Omniweb, mainly for performance issues.

There are probably a lot of people waiting for the arrival of the Intel powerbooks (which could be as early as February according to the rumour sites), rather than going for these new models. While I’m usually Mr Early Adopter, in the case of Intel, I want to give it a couple of years and see what happens.

Waiting for new powerbooks again

New powerbook

I did it earlier this year and now I’m doing it again. Waiting for California to wake up and announce the new powerbooks at 10am. Back in January I decided to buy Dunstan’s 17”, rather than go for the new model. The 17” is lovely (and actually thinner than the 12” or 15”), but after lugging it around SXSW, @Media and a trip to New York this year, I decided its just too much. I now use it with a 20” cinema display, and just don’t need the extra size.

If it didn’t cost so much to upgrade my Titanium powerbook (more than a new one!), I’d have done that. Its lighter than the current models, and I prefer having all the ports at the back where they’re out of the way. It is a little worse for wear though:

Old powerbook with peeling casing

And its got a lot worse since that was taken. With only one screw left on the bottom, it does tend to flap about a bit, and to insert CD’s, you have to lift the bent upper casing slightly. The thing is, I loved it. This 15” was the best machine I ever owned – the best balance of screen size and portability.

So, a month ago I decided to go back to a 15” powerbook, and get a new one. Mr Oxton expressed his interest in buying the 17”, so it will have a ‘heritage of sorts – Dunstan, then me, then John. Shortly after ordering the new one, the rumour mills started talking about new models coming soon, but I don’t let that talk bother me.

The new powerbook arrived last week, and was what Apple call “dead on arrival”. A faulty hard drive meant kernel panics everytime it started up, and I was not best pleased. The ritual of opening a new mac is such a wonderful thing (and rare), but the joy soon ended. After it was taken in to be looked at, they wanted 7 days to repair it, or 2 weeks to replace it. Thats no way to start its life, so I asked for refund.

Ringing round mac dealers, many aren’t taking orders for a new custom spec powerbook, as they all expect Wednesday’s announcements to bring new models.

So I’m waiting, and so is John.

Update – The event came and went, with new iMacs, not new powerbooks. Bugger….

Update 2 – According Computer Warehouse, they are still expected an announcement on upgraded powerbooks any day now. Could be today, or early next week…

Waiting for new Powerbooks

G5 Powerbooks soon?

I recently decided that my Titanium G4 Powerbook is finally due for a replacement. Like an old car, its starting to get costly repair bills. At the moment, its suffering from ‘floppy screen’, and when that goes, it just isn’t worth considering a repair. I’m not bitter, its two and half years of use and hard abuse has been a very good innings. Its also been my favourite Mac I’ve ever owned – more so than my G5 desktop, and I’ve been thinking of using a setup like Mike Matas where the Powerbook is the main machine.

For the last couple of months the advice from rumour sites has been unanimous. Don’t buy now – new lines are on their way. What they will be no one is sure – The Register and DigiTimes had reports that suggested the possibility of G5 Powerbooks, whereas Mac Rumors were more conservative predicting just another bump in processor speed and HD size. Whatever they were, they were expected any day now.

I asked my Account Manager at MacWarehouse who in turn spoke to his rep from Apple. I wasn’t sure how honest an answer I would get, but he claimed that there would not be any new powerbooks until May/June! While that would tie in with the DigiTimes report that delivery was set for the second quarter, Powerbook G4’s (at least in the US) have been marked end of line, and with stocks drying up, what are Apple going to sell in the meantime? It seems unlikely that Apple would release a new Powerbook, and then again in a few months time, but according to Appleinsider “sources say that Apple also holds a PowerBook G4 upgrade in the pipeline—rumored to be the last G4 bump before the laptops acquire G5 processors in the second half of 2005’. To complete the optimism, MacMinute stated as far back as last February that “All of the key components for Apple to produce a PowerBook G5 appear to be ready, and Mac users should expect to see the new laptop no later than this summer’. Obviously that hasn’t happened.

However, the problem with using a G5 processor in a Powerbook has always been heat. A desktop G5 needs no less than 9 fans to stop it boiling over, how on earth could they acheive that in a small Powerbook casing? Apple’s chief financial officer, Peter Oppenheimer, stated that for Apple to produce a G5 equipped PowerBook would be the mother of all thermal challenges.

The rumours (and certainly my heart) are pointing towards a G5 Powerbook soon.

One more thing though – if you use a 17” Powerbook, please leave your experiences here, as I can’t decide between that and the 15”.

Update : More on the dual core G4 rumors.

Another update : In the end, I opted for buying Dunstans ever so slightly older 17 incher, rather than a brand new one right now. It was a great decision – I love that screen!

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