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Buying my first Mac laptop, intended for FM 7 use


Chris Hinder
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Hello everyone.

This is my first post/thread. I actually signed up at FileMaker Dev Con last year.

I'm beginning to get into FileMaker a little more, and hope to do more development work. I've reached a few conclusions:

1) I am beginning to need a laptop

2) I could do with a Mac as I want to develop more FM solutions for clients. Currently have no Mac machines, so I can't test solutions intended for the Mac environment.

Makes sence to get a Mac laptop I think.

I am planning to go solely for FM 7, since I have no major projects on the go and no major FM 6 solutions to support. AFAIK FM 7 does not run on OS 9, so I'm looking at OS X only, am I right?

I have been advised that in order to get decent performance from OSX I really should go for a G4 machine.

How accurate is this? Whats OSX like on a G3? It should be noted that uses include FileMaker development/testing and (some) Photoshop work.

Are the 12" iBook and PowerBook screens OK? I'm not seriously considering one as I'd like as large a screen as I can get.

Please excuse the influx of questions. I'm pretty lost. I dont mind buying second hand and would prefer to avoid buying new if at all possible ($$$).

Many thanks for reading this far.

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I would recommend you buy the fastest PowerBook you can afford. Stay away from the ibooks they are much too slow especially if you are used to a fast Wintel notebook. Also I would try to get the highest resolution display and lots of RAM. To answer your question concerning OS X on G3 Molases comes to mind.

Good Luck!

PSC

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The newer iBooks are G4, starting at 800 MHz, that's not too shabby. Keep in mind that Mac MHz <> PC MHz, i.e. that iBook will in general be faster by a good margin than an 800 MHz PC.

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Chris:

I've got a Powerbook G3/333 which I use for FileMaker 5.5, 6 & 7 development in OSX, and it's perfectly fine for that - Photoshop would be pretty impossible, I believe, although I do tons of work in Graphic Converter (a shareware photoshop-style image editor on the Mac, which I recommend)... The key to speed in OSX is lots of RAM and the fastest hard drive you can get, as virtual memory is always on, and the OS tends to refer to the drive an awful lot.

-Stanley

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  • Newbies

Thanks for the responses guys.

Fitch - thanks. Am I correct in thinking a XXX Mhz G4 iBook will be of similar speed to an identical speed G4 PowerBook, taking into account differences in RAM and graphics card? Roughly the same?

stanley, thanks. I'll keep an older G3 in mind. Cashflow isnt great at the moment and the boss isnt too convinced I need a laptop, so if I get desperate I'll go with a G3 and see how I get along smile.gif

A more specific question: At home we use wireless ethernet. At work, 'wired' ethernet.

Do all the laptops come with the necessary PC Card slot for a wireless adaptor? Do any of the laptops NOT come with an ethernet port?

Many thanks

Regards

Chris

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Chris:

The iBooks are definitely slower than the PowerBooks with identical CPUs. Check out this page:

http://barefeats.com/pb17.html

As far as the older (black) G3 PowerBook is concerned, if you do get one, try to get a "Pismo", which is the only one with FireWire, and has a 100MHz system bus (vs 66MHz on earlier models). See this page for Pismo test results (which do show that if you really need speed, go modern):

http://barefeats.com/pb09.html

All Mac laptops have an ethernet port. I believe that the iBooks do not have a PC card slot, but all the others do, including the older G3.

-Stanley

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complete-db said:

I would recommend you buy the fastest PowerBook you can afford. Stay away from the ibooks they are much too slow

This is NOT true. iBooks are now available with up to a 1Ghz G4.

The main (some say only) difference between a G3 and the G4 processor is the Altivec engine. This is only used in certain graphical applications, NOT including OS X.

I have been working solely on a laptop since 1998, originally a Lombard/Bronze G3/333 and now on a Snow 14.1" iBook G3/900. Next to me I have a dual g4/1.42Ghz and I prefer the OS X performance of the iBook.

About the only problem that I can find with the iBook is that it does not support dual monitors, hooking up a monitor only mirrors the display on the LCD. But that is a pretty minor issue.

If you are looking for a new laptop, go to a local Macintosh dealer (Apple Store, CompUSA or independant retailler) and just play with them for a while. See which one you like best, then get the fastest version of that system.

Version: v7.x

Platform: Mac OS X Jaguar

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Hey Chris,

You will have to get an Apple Airport 802.11b or Airport Extreme card 802.11g for the ibook/powerbook make sure you pick up a torx screwdriver to install.

Thanks,

PSC

Also concerning Mac clockspeed vs PC while it's true PPC is faster than it's Intel AMD counterpart keep in mind P4's are running 3.4 ghz and I personally think that OS X has more overhead the XP Pro. Also I would heed Stanley's advise concerning drive speed a photoshop file uses 2-3x file size so if you don't have the RAM it will hit your scratch disk, You may want to consider an external firewire drive to put your scratch disk on.

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A PowerBooks of speed X is faster than an iBook of speed X. The PowerBooks have faster I/O chips, etc.

Personally, the 12" is too small for my taste. I had a PB 17" and loved it (returned it when Ileft that job...)! It fit in my backpack.

I agree that if speed is an issue the highest speed hard drive is best. Definately max out the RAM to minimize paging (which allows the drive to sleep more and conserves energy).

I find the keyboard and trackpad to be a PITA. I carried a small mouse with me. I had separate keyboards, monitors, and power adapters at work and home. I used the monitor only because putting a keyboard in front of the PB made the screen awkward to view for me. I'm 53, so my peepers aren't as good as they were 25 years ago before I started my IT career...

I highly recommend the Coolpads. They really keep the heat down (and the fan off more).

Anyone who has an extra PowerBook: feel free to send it to me wink.gif

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If you take a good look at speed tests, it appears that the 12" PowerBook G4 shares some slower components with the iBook G4; the 15" PowerBook G4 appearing to be the speed demon of the bunch (when they've all got the same CPU, that is.)

-Stanley

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Argggg, my mental data is a PB generation old. I hope they used the PB's faster chipsets in the iBooks rather than cheapening the PowerBooks.

An ex-boss of mine got rid of his older PowerBook for a new iBook. His PB was getting trashed from being hauled around so much: flickering screen, loose hinges, etc. He's hoping the iBook will withstand more physical abuse. I suggested an old clamshell iBook wink.gif

I saw a clamshell fall off a lab bench without a problem. An older Pismo/WallStreet generation fell off the same lab benches: the screen broke. Otherwise it worked fine, added a monitor & made it a desktop..

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • Newbies

You have broken the first rule of equipment purchasing. What is your entire budget for FM7, FM resources, Laptop, Airport Extreme Card, RAM, Printer, Peripherals (mouse, laptop bag/case, lock), Additional Monitor, AppleCare, etc. ?

You didn't realize there were so many additional costs in owning a laptop?

Apple is supposed to be releasing new laptops on Monday, April 19, 2004, so the previous models will be reduced in price, you can also checkout the Special Deals section of the Apple online store to save money on a refurbished laptop and Airport card.

I recommend the Powerbook simply because you can never have enough horsepower in a machine you expect to make money with.

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  • 1 month later...

While a wintel system might be running 3.4 ghz, I don't believe that is anywhere close to top speed of a PC notebook. PC notebooks are all based on hobbled, aka "mobile" or "celeron" chips. Mac notebooks are much closer if not identical (Powerbooks) to desktop speed. Unfortunately, there will be no G5 notebook for awhile, for the same reason you can't run any REAL pentium. Too much heat. But that's OK as a G3 or G4 is loads faster at the same clock speed.

Also, it's not unusual at all for a Mac notebook nowadays to sell for less than a comparable wintel one. We still pay a bit more for desktops, in general. PCs are commodity items, Macs are not.

There is no need for a PC card slot for Mac notebooks to do wireless (though you can go that route if you wanted to (why would be a good question.) On a Mac the wireless networking is added in the airport slot which is separate from a PC card slot, and is installed inside and left there, not plugged/replugged like a PC card. Also, you don't have a stupid card sticking out the side of the computer, OR an ANTENNA, like you do on 99.9% of all the PC notebooks. Also, at this point, most Mac notebooks have the cards built in, and they are all 802.11g. Apple calls it 'airport extreme.' We had that first too, when PC notebook vendors were still promoting 802.11a, which is, of course, all but dead now.

Finally, as far as overhead of X and XP, well, I guess that might be the case, but Mac OS X is a real unix system, with the best GUI to date, and windows XP is, well, just version of windoze 2k that doesn't look quite so much like win 3.1. grin.gif

--Tripod

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