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Call for 15" Alu PowerBook experiences, esp. heat+battery life

Message #1 - Posted 2004/11/05 - Martin Aspeli

Hi,

I'm considering buying my first Mac, a 15" PowerBook. I'll probably go for the 1.5GHz model with 1Gb RAM and the fast(ish) 80Gb disk. However, I'm concerned about two things:

o Heat - some reviews says it runs uncomfortable hot. If I spend a night coding, am I going to have sweaty palms? If I leave it on my lap during lectures, will my trousers catch fire? How bad is it in real life use?

o Battery - Apple claims 4.5 hours, some reviews say 2!. That's the same as Evesham (whose poor customer service is the reason I'm buying this book in the first place) claimed for this ASUS-built Centrino machine. I get about 3.5-4 hours in real use, on scaled-back CPU, dimmed backlight and typing notes, browsing the web etc. How is battery life in the real world? It would be nice to be able to watch a DVD on a battery, and I need to be able to get through 2-4 hours of lectures taking notes without the machine dying.

Any real use experiences, good or bad, would be greatly appreciated!

Martin

Message #2 - Posted 2004/11/06 - Bob Harris

Previously, Martin Aspeli wrote:

Hi,

I'm considering buying my first Mac, a 15" PowerBook. I'll probably go for the 1.5GHz model with 1Gb RAM and the fast(ish) 80Gb disk. However, I'm concerned about two things:

o Heat - some reviews says it runs uncomfortable hot. If I spend a night coding, am I going to have sweaty palms? If I leave it on my lap during lectures, will my trousers catch fire? How bad is it in real life use?

o Battery - Apple claims 4.5 hours, some reviews say 2!. That's the same as Evesham (whose poor customer service is the reason I'm buying this book in the first place) claimed for this ASUS-built Centrino machine. I get about 3.5-4 hours in real use, on scaled-back CPU, dimmed backlight and typing notes, browsing the web etc. How is battery life in the real world? It would be nice to be able to watch a DVD on a battery, and I need to be able to get through 2-4 hours of lectures taking notes without the machine dying.

Any real use experiences, good or bad, would be greatly appreciated!

Martin

I'll most likely get shot for saying this, but I decided against the 15" Powerbook in favor of the 14" iBook G4/1GHz _BECAUSE_ after playing with both in an Apple store (about an hour and a half worth) and I decided that the Powerbook would be too hot sitting in my lap.

Also when I checked the specs, the 15" Powerbook 1.25 (this was last year and that was the fast model at the time) had a 46 Watt/Hour battery vs the 14" iBook's 61 Watt/Hour battery.

So I made my decision based on larger capacity battery (at the time), and less heat sitting in my lap, would be more comfortable and since less heat generally means less power being drawn from the battery translates to longer battery life.

I get about 4.5 hours with screen at full power, and running WiFi. If it crank down the backlight (like playing iTunes or listing to internet streaming audio and don't need the screen), I can last a lot longer.

Things may have changed since a year ago, so you might want to check the specs at http://www.apple.com to see if the battery size had changed.

Also if you can get to an Apple Store, you can handle the different models and even place them in your lap to see if they are comfortable to hold.

Bob Harris

PS. Sometimes I actually wish the iBook was a little warming; it would help keep me warmer on those cold winter nights :-)

Message #3 - Posted 2004/11/06 - John Johnson

Previously, Martin Aspeli wrote:

Hi,

I'm considering buying my first Mac, a 15" PowerBook. I'll probably go for the 1.5GHz model with 1Gb RAM and the fast(ish) 80Gb disk. However, I'm concerned about two things:

o Heat - some reviews says it runs uncomfortable hot. If I spend a night coding, am I going to have sweaty palms?

Yes.

If I leave it on my lap
during lectures, will my trousers catch fire?

No.

How bad is it in real
life use?

I wouldn't sit it on my lap for long periods of time, but that's as much for ergonomic reasons as anything else. I have sat down with the machine in my lap for 1-2 hours at a time, without feeling uncomfortably hot. Mind, our ideas about what constitutes 'uncomfortably hot' might differ.

o Battery - Apple claims 4.5 hours, some reviews say 2!. That's the same as Evesham (whose poor customer service is the reason I'm buying this book in the first place) claimed for this ASUS-built Centrino machine. I get about 3.5-4 hours in real use, on scaled-back CPU, dimmed backlight and typing notes, browsing the web etc. How is battery life in the real world?

I seem to get somewhere between 2-3 hours on a battery. It seems that the wireless sucks _much_ more power on this machine than my Pismo (which would make some sense, 802.11b vs 802.11g), and it's got a considerably larger screen, faster CPU, etc. I haven't tried any extreme power-saving measures on this machine, and I haven't had it all that long (only since August), so you might be ale to get more out of it.

It would be nice to be able to watch a
DVD on a battery,

I don't think this is going to happen.

and I need to be able to get through 2-4 hours of lectures taking notes without the machine dying.

If you need at least 4 hours of uninterrupted battery use on a PB, my experience tells me that you don't want a 15"AlBook. My Pismo would reliably give me 3-4hrs on one battery, with the possibility of having a second one in the other bay. I hear that the 14"iBook gets great battery life (no surprise here).

All this assumes that you aren't interested/able to plug into the wall, or use an external battery pack (assuming that they make such things for the PB), or carry a second battery to swap in when the first one goes down (the battery on the 15"PB may be swapped while the machine is asleep).

HTH

Later.
johajohn@indianahoosiers.edu
Let 'indiana' be a 'noln', and 'hoosiers' be a 'solkk'. Leave only the 'noln' and .edu after the @ to reply .

Message #4 - Posted 2004/11/06 - Perfidious Albion

Previously, Martin Aspeli wrote:

o Heat - some reviews says it runs uncomfortable hot. If I spend a night coding, am I going to have sweaty palms? If I leave it on my lap during lectures, will my trousers catch fire? How bad is it in real life use?

When using MS word a 1GHz Al is noticeably hotter than a 667MHz Ti (perhaps not to surprising given the speed difference) .

P. A.

Message #5 - Posted 2004/11/07 - Matti Haveri

Previously, Martin Aspeli wrote:

o Heat

I have a 1.25 GHz AlBook and I like it.

The very front of the PB (between the function keys and the LCD hinge) gets somewhat hot during CPU/AltiVec-intensive tasks (iDVD's MPEG-encoding etc). AFAIK the aluminum case acts also as a heat sink so I consider this normal... That part of the metal gets hot but I can touch it with a finger without discomfort. The palm rests get only mildly warm sometimes. (The max CPU temp is 64∞C and the quite silent fans kick in to keep it under this during iDVD encoding etc. Otherwise the PB is whisper silent).

The bottom of the PB may get somewhat warm during CPU intensive tasks. But I seldom run such battery-draining, heat-inducing tasks on battery power, and when connected to the mains power the PB is usually on a desk anyway.

If I'm wearing shorts, then I sometimes put a small pillow on my lap and the PB on the pillow because the bottom of the PB may sometimes feel warm against the skin.

So all in all I really don't have any real issue with the heat.

o Battery

I recently got a brand-new battery (part of Apple's replacement program for a bad battery batch) so I have some perspective what a new battery can do:

I can run the PB on the fully charged new battery for 3 hours 40 minutes (CPU in reduced mode, LCD brightness at its minimum with the display dimmed to 1 point, only light www-browsing and email with AirPort ON, I always have BlueTooth OFF). A complete re-charging takes about 3 hours. (After the first such battery calibration the onscreen meter estimates about 4 hours 4-11 minutes of battery power left but I guess further calibrations will make more realistic estimations).

The old original 6 month-old battery had a similar duration.

The only problems I have with the PB is occasional uneven illumination and occasional creaking hinges. Sometimes after the LCD has been dimmed and full brightness is restored, the LCD may have uneven illumination in the lower right for a few minutes. And now the LCD hinges are sometimes so stiff that the creak when the LCD angle is adjusted. These are only minor issues but I may use AppleCare to fix them later. Apple's discussion boards indicate that the hinge problem can be readily fixed but I'm not sure about the uneven illumination.

Matti Haveri <mattiDOThaveriATsjokiDOTutaeiroskaaDOTfi> remove ei roskaa

Message #6 - Posted 2004/11/07 - Nelson

On Sun, 7 Nov 2004 04:22:44 -0500, Matti Haveri wrote (in a previous article):

If I'm wearing shorts, then I sometimes put a small pillow on my lap and the PB on the pillow because the bottom of the PB may sometimes feel warm against the skin.

You might not want to do this. I read somewhere (Apple Docs?) that they are counting on the heat transfer from the bottom of the case to help cool the machine.

Nelson

Message #7 - Posted 2004/11/07 - Matti Haveri

Previously, Nelson wrote:

I read somewhere (Apple Docs?) that they are counting on the heat transfer from the bottom of the case to help cool the machine.

There are cooling vents near the PB hinge (between the function keys and the LCD) and even a soft pillow can't obstruct them.

The fans very seldom or never kick in when I have use the PB on a pillow or a soft carpet. The fans kick in only when the CPU temp is over 63-64?C so I think there is no risk of overheating the PB with this practice.

And even if I used heat-inducing apps while the PB was on a pillow, I think that the fans and those unobstructed cooling vents would prevent overheating anyway.

I have monitored the CPU temp and I have never seen any issue of overheating the CPU.

Matti Haveri <mattiDOThaveriATsjokiDOTutaeiroskaaDOTfi> remove ei roskaa

Message #8 - Posted 2004/11/07 - Nelson

On Sun, 7 Nov 2004 08:16:44 -0500, Matti Haveri wrote (in a previous article):

Previously, Nelson wrote:

I read somewhere (Apple Docs?) that they are counting on the heat transfer from the bottom of the case to help cool the machine.

There are cooling vents near the PB hinge (between the function keys and the LCD) and even a soft pillow can't obstruct them.

The fans very seldom or never kick in when I have use the PB on a pillow or a soft carpet. The fans kick in only when the CPU temp is over 63-64?C so I think there is no risk of overheating the PB with this practice.

And even if I used heat-inducing apps while the PB was on a pillow, I think that the fans and those unobstructed cooling vents would prevent overheating anyway.

I have monitored the CPU temp and I have never seen any issue of overheating the CPU.

From "PowerBook G4 15-inch Getting Started.pdf" (Apple, p.100, Appendix B):

Using Your PowerBook
--------------------
When using your PowerBook or when charging the battery, it is normal for the bottom of the case to get warm. For prolonged use, place your PowerBook on a flat, stable surface. The bottom of the PowerBook case functions as a cooling surface that transfers heat from inside the computer to the cooler air outside. The bottom of the case is raised slightly to allow airflow that keeps the unit within normal operating temperatures. In addition, the computer vents warm air from the back of the case.

Warning:
--------
Do not place your PowerBook on a pillow or other soft material when it is on, as the material may block the airflow vents, in particular the rear vents, and cause the computer to overheat...

Then again, maybe they're kidding :-)

Nelson

Message #9 - Posted 2004/11/08 - Matti Haveri

Previously, Nelson wrote:

From "PowerBook G4 15-inch Getting Started.pdf" (Apple, p.100, Appendix B):

Thanks for the note. I'll keep that info in mind and RTM.

Message #10 - Posted 2004/11/08 - Neill Massello

Nelson wrote:

You might not want to do this. I read somewhere (Apple Docs?) that they are counting on the heat transfer from the bottom of the case to help cool the machine.

The OP might want to look at Rain Designs' iLap
<http://eshop.macsales.com/Catalog_Item.cfm?ID=6524&Item=RAI10025>. Not perfect, nor cheap, but pretty good for dissipating heat.

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