Down But Not Out

Thoughts and Advice on Replacing a Two-Year-Old iBook G4

Dirk Pilat - 2006.02.01

Good morning, fellow lowenders.

As you might remember, in my last column I was contemplating the replacement of my ailing two-year-old iBook, giving me the choices of buying a "no name" run-of-the-mill i686 running Ubuntu Linux, a new G4 iBook (maybe with a future price reduction from Apple when they clean out their stock), or wait for the new Intel iBooks.

I asked you, the readers, to give me your opinion on what my best options are - and you certainly rose to the challenge.

Eric McCann reminded my what side I was writing for:

"Besides, you're writing for LEM, you should know how to stretch life out of a new G4...."

Ouch. That hurt. Of course, he's right.

On the other hand, I was very happy to do all my emailing and document processing on an SE/30 with 1 MB of RAM, so I feel only slightly hurt.

Owen Strawn just put the boot in a bit deeper:

"Sounds to me like you should be looking at a nice used laptop. Hey, this is Low End Mac after all."

Jerry Freeman brought up a good option that would at least give me a warranty:

"A simpler solution would be a refurb 12" PowerBook from the Apple Store. Full one year warranty, greater hardware features - exception[al] AirPort range, and I would wager two years before any software incomparability problems arise."

Floyd Gilmore believes in Apple's commitment to it's PowerPC customers:

"I doubt that Apple would dare to offend all those people who plunked down their $500 or more on a G4-based Mac mini or iBook G4 by rendering them obsolete in less than two years. Support for those models should reach out to 2008 or so, but that's more tea leaf readings and not based on facts."

I would certainly hope so. As you can see, a pattern begins to form. I think the consensus is moving towards a used G4 portable machine.

Bryan Taylor, a fellow Kiwi, sold his old TiBook and bought a nice used machine on TradeMe, the local equivalent to eBay. There was only one problem:

"An interesting point, I found it hard selling the TiBook, I found I had a ridiculous emotional attachment to it :-)"

The most comprehensive email came from David Ip. His email earned him a very stylish and incredibly exciting Oamaru fridge magnet. He told me about his recent similar dilemma and added some helpful financial realities. His closing statement rang very true to me:

"All computer equipment becomes obsolete eventually, so you can't really buy for the future (with a notebook, anyway). Evaluate your needs and buy accordingly within your budget - and if you can, buy used and let someone else take the new computer tax hit (15% in my area!)"

How very correct.

What do I do with my iBook? Email, word processing, iTunes, and surfing the Web. A preloved 2005 iBook G4 with enough RAM will be plenty for another two years. By then the Intel iBooks will have enough native applications to make them interesting.

But a 2005 G4 isn't really a low-end Mac, is it?

So I'd better shut up - otherwise somebody will email from his PowerBook 150, telling me what a big sissy I am. LEM

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