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Switching to Apple: macbook or macbook pro?


Jack M
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Since there's so many fellow geeks here....

Soon to be ex-PC user here. Not that I'm disgruntled with PC's, but I've been seduced by iTunes and I want to give the Mac world a try. Also the Linux-esque OS is a big turn on.

The computer's primary function will be photography. I shoot a Canon 30D in RAW. 95% of my post-processing is done in Canon Digital Photo Professional (DPP). I do not see myself going to Aperture. I am a serious hobbyist and a semi-pro.

Can I get away with the standard Macbook, or is the Macbook Pro the proper machine for evaluating images on screen, and for a RAW image workflow?

PLEASE NOTE, when at home, where I will be working on my images 99% of the time, I will be using an EXTERNAL MONITOR - 20" Samsung lcd, 1600x1200.

As far as I can tell, the major difference to the pro is the graphics card and the ability to go to 4gb RAM. Is the better graphics card really necessary for photo work? Or is it really for gamers? I would think it wouldn't take a supercharged graphics card to display static images.

Any other reason I should go for the pro?

I have 2 external USB hard drives, so on-board HD space is not a concern.

I am not into video editing or gaming. At all. I neglect my family enough as it is working on my stills.

My last PC (Gateway 2.2GHz Pentium 4 desktop) has served me well for 5 years. So I will expect and demand 4-5 years of service out of my next machine. Are Macbooks up to that task? Or are they like iPods - just fragile fashion accessories for college co-eds, good for 2 years tops?

Thanks in advance.

-Jack

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I have a G3 tower next to me that still works a decade later and runs the most current OS, so apple hardware is good.

as for the ipod comment, I have a origional ipod that I got a couple months after they came out, I dropped it off of a lift breaking the metal back of the thing and the battery but the damn thing worked when I replaces the battery and the back from a ipod that I bought on ebay that had gotten wet. ohh yeah mine has been wet many times is still holding up so no complaints here.

I'd go with the pro model for the better video and the extra ports (USB and firewire 800)

aperture(the app) might require the hardware that only the desktops and macbook pros have.

if you even want to think about video get the pro because final cut will only run if you do a few tricks editing .plist files and then the performance is not so hot.

I'm wishing I had of gotten the pro myself sometimes.

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aperture(the app) might require the hardware that only the desktops and macbook pros have.

I don't see myself using Aperture.

my iPod comment was based on a Nano I had that saw light duty and lived for precisely 12.1 months. :angryfire Also I have some friends who have had bad luck with other 'pods.

Another thought: resale? The Pro is just sooo much more money. Would I be able to buy a standard Macbook, try it out for a month and if it doesn't cut the mustard, ebay it without losing my shirt? Or better yet, exchange it??

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hehe, gamers and mac users are different people

there is not a gaming centeric mac.

that nice video card comes in when you are scrolling around big images and is that much better down the road

Also, the ****ty onboard graphics use main system memory, with photoshop, iphoto and a few other memory hungry apps open I run into VM and it starts gettin' slow. with 1.5 gb things are a little better but I'm already getting close to the limit of what my machine can hold and wanting more.

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I am doing a mostly raw workflow with 1GB Ram on a 1.5ghz (laptop) and 1.8 ( G5 iMac not intel chip) and they both seem to work pretty fast. If I have lots of things going in the background they slow down some. When I am doing multiple layers on large files in photoshop I am wanting a little more speed but who doesn't.

Don't forget about refurb from Apple. All these have 2GB standard and some have the upgraded video cards, etc. I believe all carry standard warranty and can be extended to three years with Apple Care.

All these from Apple site today:

Apple Certified Refurbished 15-inch MacBook Pro

Refurbished MacBook Pro 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo

15.4-inch widescreen display

2GB memory

160GB hard drive

8x SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)

NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT with 256MB of GDDR3 memory

Built-in iSight Camera

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• Save 13% off the original price

Original price: $2,499.00

Your price: $2,199.00

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Refurbished MacBook Pro 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo

15.4-inch glossy widescreen display

2GB memory

160GB hard drive

8x SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)

NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT with 256MB of GDDR3 memory

Built-in iSight Camera

Learn More

• Save 13% off the original price

Original price: $2,499.00

Your price: $2,199.00

Estimated Ship:

3-5 business days

Free Shipping

Add

AppleCare Protection Plan - MacBook Pro/PowerBook (w/ or w/o Display)

extends the complimentary coverage on your MacBook Pro/PowerBook to three years of world-class support and service.

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Apple Certified Refurbished 17-inch MacBook Pro

Refurbished MacBook Pro 2.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo

17-inch widescreen display

2GB memory

160GB hard drive

8x SuperDrive (DVD+R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)

ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 with 256MB of GDDR3 memory

Built-in iSight camera

Learn More

• Save 22% off the original price

Original price: $2,799.00

Your price: $2,199.00

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AppleCare Protection Plan - MacBook Pro/PowerBook (w/ or w/o Display)

extends the complimentary coverage on your MacBook Pro/PowerBook to three years of world-class support and service.

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Price: $349.00

Estimated Ship:

Within 24 hours

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Jack,

Because you want to keep the computer for 5 years I would say get the macbook pro. It has a faster processor the ability to hold more memory and the graphics card has more memory. The processor is not something you can change out during the time you have it so go as fast as you can there. Moreover, you'll be getting a bigger HD and memory out of the gate so take that into consideration with the price. Consider the refurb as an option as well. Same warranty as new but at a significant price decrease. I've done this twice now with very good success.

Apple Care for the laptop is almost a must but you have up until the original warranty expires to get it and add it to the primary converge. This is 1 year from purchase. You won't need phone support since you can just call me. But if you have hardware problems it's a godsend. I've only used it once but if I didn't have it I would have been porked. Keep in mind that I have had over 7 different Macs in different configurations in the last 5 years and only 1 AppleCare issue. Desktop I wouldn't do it, laptop, without a doubt. Also, you can get AppleCare from anywhere as long as it is apple care. It's just another retail product from Apple. Amazon typically sells it for ~$50 less then Apple and it's the same thing. Don't be fooled by the Apple store idiots.

Geoff,

You and I are getting the new iMac 24" 2.8Ghz once the new Mac OS X, Leopard, hits the streets. This way we'll get the new OS for free. Should be sometime in October.

As for resale. Macs hold their value very well. I have a 3 year old iMac that I plan to get $800 for. I couldn't do that with a 3 year old PC POS. I have sold both Apple laptop and desktop with great success on eBay.

->Ben

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Actually OS-X is based on BSD.
which is a Unix derivative

Jack I'd say go for the Pro. but if you want to save money you won't be losing out on the non-pro. i haven't done anything with digital cameras on the computer (film for me)... so i dont know about the raw workflow (and i'm too lazy to look it up). but in anycase, both computers should have the same color space, however the macbook has a glossy screen while the pro doesn't (but it's an option now). if you're using an external monitor it wont matter anyway. you will however want to fiddle with the color space for that.

uhhh.. that's all i can think up right now.

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I had (actually still have - its my duaghter's now) a PowerBook G4 that served me well for 3 years. It survived a crash on the back of my motorcycle protected only by my ballistic nylon briefcase. It got dented and didn't close as well as originally, but worked fine with no issues. Pretty sturdy devices.

If you want it to last a long time, seems to me that getting the top of the line would make sense. I think the Pro now has better monitor tech that makes the battery last longer. Could be important if on a long trip. Plus the pro would be better if you want to run parallels or other win emulation.

They totally rock with an external monitor. I have a 22" Viewsonic and its amazing.

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Geoff,

You and I are getting the new iMac 24" 2.8Ghz once the new Mac OS X, Leopard, hits the streets. This way we'll get the new OS for free. Should be sometime in October.

Hey.... can I get Leopard for free too? Or will it only be on the iMac? Actually.... shee-it, maybe I want an iMac! Seems like more bang for the buck, no? Does it have a battery? Carrying case? It would be cool to grab it and bring it into the kitchen for entertaining to do juke-box duties.

Hmmm....

Anyway, here is the matrix so far:

Macbook 2.16ghz, 2gb ram: $1450

15" Macbook Pro 2.2ghz, 2gb ram: $2000

20" iMac, 2.4ghz, 2gb ram: $1650

24" iMac, 2.4ghz, 2gb ram: $1950

24" iMac, 2.8ghz, 2gb ram: $2200

I dunno, I'm thinking either the $1450 or $1650 machines.

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no battery in the imac, quite honestly if you consider a imac I'd say to either go way low end with a mini or go all out and get one of the boxes with xeons grrrrrr mac pro is a nice machine the imac is a compromise between the high and low end that I just don't feel is worth it, kinda like getting a custom GS deck without metal or something.

for support, feel free to call me as well I usually am not up to anything late at night.

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no battery in the imac, quite honestly if you consider a imac I'd say to either go way low end with a mini or go all out and get one of the boxes with xeons grrrrrr mac pro is a nice machine the imac is a compromise between the high and low end that I just don't feel is worth it, kinda like getting a custom GS deck without metal or something.

for support, feel free to call me as well I usually am not up to anything late at night.

Bob, what do you feel is a compromise on the iMac?

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a few of my friends own them..

one issue i find infuriating about the macbook pro and probably the macbook as well is that the touchpad is flush mounted, you've got next to no tactile feedback as to whether or not you're on it, so i wind up with two fingers on it, and the cursor going everywhere.

aside from that, the macbook pro has assorted nicer features other than the obvious ones, including random things like a nicer charger

if the extra cost isnt going to cause hardship, I'd suggest the pro.

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Do you mean the magsafe plug? All MB and MBP's have that. Maybe you are thinking of the old iBook/Powerbooks with the circular power plugs?

Another Plus of a MBP is that you can choose to have the glossy or not glossy screen, instead of on the MB, where it only comes with glossy, which might be bad for editing photos when you are not hooked up to your monitor.

Also the MBP has a DVI connector built in, and on a MB, you have to buy a $19 adapter. It is still hundreds of dollars less, but it is still inconvienient as it is one more little thing to keep track of.

One more thing... keep in mind that the new iMacs come with the new keyboards that are basically like laptop keyboards. I must admit they look REALLY nice, though.

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the touchpad is flush mounted, you've got next to no tactile feedback as to whether or not you're on it

Hmm... I do not know of any laptop ever that had tactile feedback on a touchpad... Tactile feedback is when it presses back up, for example the usual context is when the keyboard on a desktop pushes back, giving you a mechanical sensation instead of on a laptop keyboard where the keys barely move at all.

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Bob, what do you feel is a compromise on the iMac?

lots of things, it's a cool box but it's basically a laptop without a battery and if I'm gonna drop that type of dime on a desktop I'm gonna go with something I can slap a new video card in as well at has slots for whatever neat new drives that come out say bluray or just bigger hard drives whatever. to me the imac has all the disadvantages of a laptop but none of the advantages.

if you don't plan to upgrade some of the components the imac is fine but in that case I'm more happy with a mini

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lots of things, it's a cool box but it's basically a laptop without a battery and if I'm gonna drop that type of dime on a desktop I'm gonna go with something I can slap a new video card in as well at has slots for whatever neat new drives that come out say bluray or just bigger hard drives whatever. to me the imac has all the disadvantages of a laptop but none of the advantages.

if you don't plan to upgrade some of the components the imac is fine but in that case I'm more happy with a mini

I personally love my G5 iMac. 1.8ghz, 20 inch screen, 2gbram, fast photo editing, very accurate screen. In terms of processing speed and power this machine runs my office. I typically turn it on, open PS CS, Filemaker Pro, Safari and Mac Mail all with a couple of clicks. 30 seconds later all programs are running perfectly.

I love to do things like drop 70 images on the PS icon in the dock and let it open them all ( while streaming internet radio with five other programs open and sending out a large attachment ). It truly is a great machine.

Once I have an image open, rendering speed while scrolling is very fast.

Now that I am working almost exclusively in RAW in Adobe lightroom, I see where I could use some more horsepower for the previews to come to full resolution a little quicker but this is also a three year old machine.

I wouldn't hesitate to buy another one in a newer version.

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I'm going over this all on my 17" Macbook Pro. I can't make any reccomendations for you, but this thing is perfect for my photography needs, music needs, video needs...basically anything I want it to do, it will do with a minimum of hangups, whereas the same functions would have crippled my PC-Based laptop.

I agree with bob about the iMac being a bastard child of a desktop and a laptop. Who wants a non-expandable desktop :freak3: ? The Mac Pro is a hell of a machine though. If you're going to go the desktop route, go with a top-end Mac Mini, and put it in your car :biggthump .

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Jack, the iMac is a sweet computer. if you don't need the portability i'd recommend it. despite what people say, it is upgradeable. just more difficult. but you can upgrade the harddrive, memory, and probably the processor since it is socketed. note that you may invalidate the warranty by doing any of these.

on the laptops: the single mouse button i thought would be annoying, but it really isnt. if you want to right click you hold ctrl + click mouse button. but ive found i right click less with a mac than i need to with windows. you might have to in a program but i havent found this cumbersome. if i'm in Blender then i hook up a mouse cause i need the third button also.

the mouse pad is not difficult to locate when not looking, so i dont know how that even became an issue. plus it's much easier to use. two fingers instead of one will scroll, which i like a lot.

Leopard will be on all the machines. but it wont' be out until sometime in october. so i'd wait. definitely wait. it's going to be awesome.

mac mini might be another way to go if you want to save a lot of money. you said you already have a monitor so that would work out perfect. only thing is memory is maxed at 1GB. but i dont see that as a huge problem. that's what i have in my pro.

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