The conversation on this page has been archived and is no longer active.

iBook vs PowerBook (and Linux battery life)

Message #1 - Posted 2005/03/22 - larwe

I'm contemplating the purchase of either an iBook or a PowerBook. The main thing in favor of the PowerBook is that I can get a SuperDrive in the 12" unit. I like the small 12" form factor. The other differences - analog audio input, MiniDVI, faster RAM bus and CPU - I'm not sure I care about. (Price is not an issue and the applications I use probably won't have perceptibly better performance on the PowerBook).

A couple of questions, which might not have easy answers, but I'll try:

* How does battery life compare between 12" iBook and 12" PowerBook, given same RAM and OS, WLAN switched off, dim screen and no optical drive activity? For that matter, what is the nominal battery life? store.apple.com doesn't even give a ballpark number for the iBook (no technical specifications link!).

* What will the larger video RAM in the PowerBook get me, if I choose to install a dual-boot system and run MacOS as well as Linux? Is it worth caring about?

* How well is power management supported under Linux? In particular, is sleep properly supported? On x86 machines, I have a constant battle with ACPI. I haven't found any good references on this point amongst the web sites of people running Linux on portable Macs.

Message #2 - Posted 2005/03/23 - Nigel McMillan

in article 1111524157.469339.15080@f14g2000cwb.googlegroups.com, larwe@larwe.com at larwe@larwe.com wrote on 23/3/05 6:42 AM:

I'm contemplating the purchase of either an iBook or a PowerBook. The main thing in favor of the PowerBook is that I can get a SuperDrive in the 12" unit. I like the small 12" form factor. The other differences - analog audio input, MiniDVI, faster RAM bus and CPU - I'm not sure I care about. (Price is not an issue and the applications I use probably won't have perceptibly better performance on the PowerBook).

A couple of questions, which might not have easy answers, but I'll try:

* How does battery life compare between 12" iBook and 12" PowerBook, given same RAM and OS, WLAN switched off, dim screen and no optical drive activity? For that matter, what is the nominal battery life? store.apple.com doesn't even give a ballpark number for the iBook (no technical specifications link!).

* What will the larger video RAM in the PowerBook get me, if I choose to install a dual-boot system and run MacOS as well as Linux? Is it worth caring about?

* How well is power management supported under Linux? In particular, is sleep properly supported? On x86 machines, I have a constant battle with ACPI. I haven't found any good references on this point amongst the web sites of people running Linux on portable Macs.

I can give you my reasons for going with the 12" iBook after owning a 14" powerbook. Basically the iBook is
- tougher (for a road warrior). My powerbook is gorgeous but just does not stand up to constant travel - maybe I'm just too rough? - has much better WiFi reception
But
- can not run dual independent monitors so for powerpoint presentations etc you are stuck with video mirroring (ie same on screen as on monitor) - the 12" weighs about the same as the 14" powerbook

Battery life in my real world experience was better in the ibook (4 hours of use, dimming screen, no WiFi) but I suspect that is because batteries are just better now than when I got my powerbook. Both have much much better battery life than our Toshibas we have at work.

Cheers

Nigel in Oz

Message #3 - Posted 2005/03/22 - Davoud

larwe@larwe.com:

I'm contemplating the purchase of either an iBook or a PowerBook. The main thing in favor of the PowerBook is that I can get a SuperDrive in the 12" unit. I like the small 12" form factor. The other differences - analog audio input, MiniDVI, faster RAM bus and CPU - I'm not sure I care about. (Price is not an issue and the applications I use probably won't have perceptibly better performance on the PowerBook).

If you're not going to use demanding applications -- I'm thinking iMovie/iDVD -- why do you need a SuperDrive?

My philosophy: whatever you are buying, get the best _that you can afford._ Performance wise, that means a PowerBook.

Davoud

Message #4 - Posted 2005/03/23 - Bob Harris

Previously, larwe@larwe.com wrote:

I'm contemplating the purchase of either an iBook or a PowerBook. The main thing in favor of the PowerBook is that I can get a SuperDrive in the 12" unit. I like the small 12" form factor. The other differences - analog audio input, MiniDVI, faster RAM bus and CPU - I'm not sure I care about. (Price is not an issue and the applications I use probably won't have perceptibly better performance on the PowerBook).

A couple of questions, which might not have easy answers, but I'll try:

* How does battery life compare between 12" iBook and 12" PowerBook, given same RAM and OS, WLAN switched off, dim screen and no optical drive activity? For that matter, what is the nominal battery life? store.apple.com doesn't even give a ballpark number for the iBook (no technical specifications link!).

I have the 14" iBook G4/1GHz/640MB and my wife has the 12" iBook G4/1GHz/768MB. The battery life in both iBooks is about 4 to 4.5 hours with Airport WiFi active and the screen at full brightness.

Hand in hand with the better battery life, is less heat generated so it is not as hot sitting on the lap.

* What will the larger video RAM in the PowerBook get me, if I choose to install a dual-boot system and run MacOS as well as Linux? Is it worth caring about?

Someone mentioned the iBook only allowing video mirroring, but you can install "Screen Spanning Doctor":
http://www.rutemoeller.com/mp/ibook/ibook_e.html to allow using 2 screens with the external screen supporting up to 1280x1024. I have used this on my 14" iBook G4/1GHz.

* How well is power management supported under Linux? In particular, is sleep properly supported? On x86 machines, I have a constant battle with ACPI. I haven't found any good references on this point amongst the web sites of people running Linux on portable Macs.

I have no idea.

Bob Harris

Message #5 - Posted 2005/03/23 - larwe

Hi Nigel,

I'm contemplating the purchase of either an iBook or a PowerBook.

The

main thing in favor of the PowerBook is that I can get a SuperDrive

in

the 12" unit. I like the small 12" form factor. The other

differences -

I can give you my reasons for going with the 12" iBook after owning a

14"

powerbook. Basically the iBook is
- tougher (for a road warrior). My powerbook is gorgeous but just

does not

Hmm, this is an interesting one. Hadn't read this fact anywhere. Thanks for that.

- can not run dual independent monitors so for powerpoint

presentations etc

I'm a Scott McNealy type - I believe that world productivity would double if PowerPoint was abolished. I use transparencies and markers for presenations when I can. Besides, it is against my religious beliefs to use Microsoft software. That aside, the dual-display feature is something I've never used. I only connect my laptop(s) to a monitor when I'm at a desk and want to use a bigger screen and external keyboard - in which case I turn off the internal display anyway.

- the 12" weighs about the same as the 14" powerbook

It's still quite a bit lighter than my HP boat anchor, though :)

Nigel in Oz

Heh. I escaped Oz several years ago.

Message #6 - Posted 2005/03/23 - larwe

Hi,

main thing in favor of the PowerBook is that I can get a SuperDrive

in

the 12" unit. I like the small 12" form factor. The other

differences -

If you're not going to use demanding applications -- I'm thinking iMovie/iDVD -- why do you need a SuperDrive?

I generate quite a lot of data and need to keep a fairly large number of documents (well, data files) on my hard drive. Some years ago my essential work-in-progress documents folder crossed the 700Mb mark, so it no longer fits on a CD-R. It's simply convenient to me to be able to burn the entire folder to one DVD. And it's much harder, on a laptop, to upgrade later than it is to buy the drive preinstalled.

My philosophy: whatever you are buying, get the best _that you can afford._ Performance wise, that means a PowerBook.

For practical purposes, the machine is free (it's tax-deductible and it's being paid for with otherwise uncommitted extra-curricular income). So I can afford either the iBook plus a new iPod Photo for my wife (she currently has a second-generation 10Gb iPod), or just the PowerBook by itself. I just want to be sure I don't make a decision I'll regret.

Message #7 - Posted 2005/03/23 - larwe

Hi,

Bob Harris wrote:

G4/1GHz/768MB. The battery life in both iBooks is about 4 to 4.5

hours

with Airport WiFi active and the screen at full brightness.

This is good news, thanks.

Hand in hand with the better battery life, is less heat generated so

it

is not as hot sitting on the lap.

That, and the ability to fit better on an airplane table than my 15" laptop, constitutes most of my lust for a 12" PB/iB.

Someone mentioned the iBook only allowing video mirroring, but you

can

install "Screen Spanning Doctor":

It's OK, I really have no use for the feature anyway. Never used it to date in any machine I've owned.

Message #8 - Posted 2005/03/23 - D P Schreber

["Followup-To:" header set to comp.sys.mac.system.] On 2005-03-23, larwe@larwe.com wrote:

PowerBook by itself. I just want to be sure I don't make a decision I'll regret.

In that case, consider the regret scenarios.

You listed all sorts of PowerBook advantages that you seem certain you'll never want. But unless you're as learning-averse as George Bush, the possibility of realizing you were mistaken is something you should allow for. If you're the sensible human being you sound like you are, you might well discover that some of these advantages are very nice to have after all. This is in my experience a very common phenomenon in high technology. More than common, in fact -- I'd say it's typical (among the sensible).

To discover after the fact that you could have had a feature or advantage you now realize you'd like to have -- that's regret at its worst. If you buy an iBook, this kind of regret is a very real possibility. If you buy a PowerBook, it's not.

Conversely, what are your potential sources of regret if you buy a PowerBook? Only one - that you spent a little more money than necessary. But you say yourself that cost is not a particularly high priority in this situation. So it can't be the source of a particularly significant regret, even in the worst case.

Conclusion: get a PowerBook.

Message #9 - Posted 2005/03/23 - Art Gorski

Previously, larwe@larwe.com wrote:

* How well is power management supported under Linux? In particular, is sleep properly supported? On x86 machines, I have a constant battle with ACPI. I haven't found any good references on this point amongst the web sites of people running Linux on portable Macs.

Well, you can always avoid the whole problem by recompiling your applications for Mac OS X. X Windows is nicely integrated.

Art Gorski * Mac Integration Staff * Rice University * Houston, Texas Remember to remove NOSPAM from address when replying via email

Message #10 - Posted 2005/03/23 - larwe

You listed all sorts of PowerBook advantages that you seem certain you'll never want. But unless you're as learning-averse as George

Bush,

)

While the argument is valid, please note that I've got a very good understanding of my usage patterns, and I already own computers with the features that the iBook is missing (Bluetooth as standard, large hard disk, fabulous graphics cards, ability to drive multiple independent displays). I *know* I never use these features. The only reason I have these things is because they came integral to the machine and I couldn't take them out to save money. There are a lot of features that people today seem to care about that I really don't; call me a curmudgeon.

It seems like the PowerBook is probably a better choice, so I'm leaning that way anyhow.

Conversely, what are your potential sources of regret if you buy a PowerBook? Only one - that you spent a little more money than

Right. This is really the deciding factor that pushes me towards the PB.

Message #11 - Posted 2005/03/23 - larwe

Art Gorski wrote:

* How well is power management supported under Linux? In particular,

is

sleep properly supported? On x86 machines, I have a constant battle with ACPI. I haven't found any good references on this point amongst the web sites of people running Linux on portable Macs.

Well, you can always avoid the whole problem by recompiling your applications for Mac OS X. X Windows is nicely integrated.

I develop for, and write about, open-source Linux applications. Moving this to a proprietary OS is not an option; my writing and consulting career is Linux-based. Yes, I could run Linux inside Virtual PC and do the rest of my work in MacOS. But this is painful and silly. Plus I don't want the headache of, say, trying to import my Evolution email into a MacOS package.

Message #12 - Posted 2005/03/23 - Steve

larwe@larwe.com wrote:

Hi,

Bob Harris wrote:

G4/1GHz/768MB. The battery life in both iBooks is about 4 to 4.5

hours

with Airport WiFi active and the screen at full brightness.

This is good news, thanks.

I'm in something of the same position. However, I could maybe use the larger screen so I just ordered a refurbed 15" Powerbook. However, I was wondering how well Airport is supported under linux? A (brief) glance at the ubuntu linux website seemed to indicate it didn't work - hopefully that was an old posting otherwise I'm stuck using in my office when I need to do linux work.

Thanks,
Steve

Hand in hand with the better battery life, is less heat generated so

it

is not as hot sitting on the lap.

That, and the ability to fit better on an airplane table than my 15" laptop, constitutes most of my lust for a 12" PB/iB.

Someone mentioned the iBook only allowing video mirroring, but you

can

install "Screen Spanning Doctor":

It's OK, I really have no use for the feature anyway. Never used it to date in any machine I've owned.

Message #13 - Posted 2005/03/23 - larwe

Steve wrote:

I'm in something of the same position. However, I could maybe use

the

larger screen so I just ordered a refurbed 15" Powerbook. However, I

was

wondering how well Airport is supported under linux? A (brief)

glance at

It seems that Apple universally (?) uses Broadcom. They don't release chipset details. They aren't natively supported under Linux - on x86 systems they are supported only using ndiswrapper to run the Windows driver within Linux.

Message #14 - Posted 2005/03/23 - Matthew Russotto

Previously, <larwe@larwe.com> wrote:

Steve wrote:

I'm in something of the same position. However, I could maybe use

the

larger screen so I just ordered a refurbed 15" Powerbook. However, I

was

wondering how well Airport is supported under linux? A (brief)

glance at

It seems that Apple universally (?) uses Broadcom. They don't release chipset details. They aren't natively supported under Linux - on x86 systems they are supported only using ndiswrapper to run the Windows driver within Linux.

It's Broadcom for Airport Extreme (AlBook), Lucent for Airport (TiBook). The latter is supported.

There's no such thing as a free lunch, but certain accounting practices can result in a fully-depreciated one.

Message #15 - Posted 2005/03/23 - D P Schreber

["Followup-To:" header set to comp.sys.mac.system.] On 2005-03-23, larwe@larwe.com wrote:

I develop for, and write about, open-source Linux applications.

Linux specifically, or generic unix? Most generic open-source unix packages these days will build out of the box in osx. So from that perspective, doing your development in osx is no worse than doing it in bsd or solaris or any other non-Linux unix variant.

don't want the headache of, say, trying to import my Evolution email

Evolution doesn't run under osx? I thought it did.

Message #16 - Posted 2005/03/23 - larwe

D P Schreber wrote:

I develop for, and write about, open-source Linux applications.

Linux specifically, or generic unix? Most generic open-source unix

Linux specifically. http://www.larwe.com/technical/current.html for links to some of my current articles, http://www.zws.com/ in the top left corner has amazon.com links to my two books (I'm working on the third book, still haven't had time to update the web sites to reflect this).

don't want the headache of, say, trying to import my Evolution

email

Evolution doesn't run under osx? I thought it did.

I heard rumors of a version - I haven't researched it recently - but the data files aren't interchangeable with x86 versions due to endianness issues.

Message #17 - Posted 2005/03/23 - D P Schreber

On 2005-03-24, larwe@larwe.com wrote:

Evolution doesn't run under osx? I thought it did.

I heard rumors of a version - I haven't researched it recently - but the data files aren't interchangeable with x86 versions due to endianness issues.

Hmm. If endian issues are in play, won't you also have them with ppc-linux?

Message #18 - Posted 2005/03/24 - Steve

On Wed, 23 Mar 2005 2:10:10 -0800, larwe@larwe.com wrote
(in message <1111572610.579479.26600@l41g2000cwc.googlegroups.com>):

Hi,

Bob Harris wrote:

G4/1GHz/768MB. The battery life in both iBooks is about 4 to 4.5

hours

with Airport WiFi active and the screen at full brightness.

This is good news, thanks.

And if that is not enough, OWC is selling the NewerTech high output replacements for either ibooks or powerbooks. They claim "up to 50% more battery life".

http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Newer%20Technology/BAPIB111V48/

Steve C

Need Help? Have a Question?

Looking for more help, comments, and answers?

Ask your questions on Ask Different. Ask Different is a community of Apple users ready to help.