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Old 06-25-2011, 04:46 PM
 
1,637 posts, read 3,656,122 times
Reputation: 1023

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I'm in a position where my computer has died and I would like to move onto a Mac. My current financial situation doesn't warrant the purchase of a new Mac...yet. I've come across a Powerbook G4 for a reasonable price but I'm not well versed in them.

The specs I've seen do seem ancient but as a temporary solution, it may work. 1.33ghz, 1.5g.

Some questions I have:

1. Can/does this run a newer version of OS X? I imagine that Lion or Snow Leopard may be too much for it to handle. Is it?

2. Upgrades - what sort of upgrades can I do to make it run better/faster? I understand that memory is cheap. Anything else?

3. About how old are these machines?

4. Can I get microsoft office 2007 for this machine?

5. The plan would be to upgrade to a new iMac in a few months and have the laptop be a sort of runaround computer. How compatible would the two be for files, programs, etc...? Ideally I'd like to store most stuff on my external HD and share files to whichever computer I'm using. Most of my computer usage is internet, school classes, some music editing stuff but not much. Basically light to moderate duty.

6. Am I going to have any issues with my wireless internet and this machine? I have AT&T UVerse.

Thank you for reading and hopefully posting some helpful info. And please, lets not get into PC v. Mac. I am set on making the move and will not buy another PC. Thanks!
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Old 06-25-2011, 05:46 PM
 
Location: Barrington, IL area
1,594 posts, read 2,681,977 times
Reputation: 4950
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.Bungle View Post
Some questions I have:

1. Can/does this run a newer version of OS X? I imagine that Lion or Snow Leopard may be too much for it to handle. Is it?

2. Upgrades - what sort of upgrades can I do to make it run better/faster? I understand that memory is cheap. Anything else?

3. About how old are these machines?

4. Can I get microsoft office 2007 for this machine?

5. The plan would be to upgrade to a new iMac in a few months and have the laptop be a sort of runaround computer. How compatible would the two be for files, programs, etc...? Ideally I'd like to store most stuff on my external HD and share files to whichever computer I'm using. Most of my computer usage is internet, school classes, some music editing stuff but not much. Basically light to moderate duty.

6. Am I going to have any issues with my wireless internet and this machine? I have AT&T UVerse.

Thank you for reading and hopefully posting some helpful info. And please, lets not get into PC v. Mac. I am set on making the move and will not buy another PC. Thanks!
1. The last PowerPC-compatible OS is Leopard, released in 2007.
2. Aside from RAM, you can add a larger/faster hard drive or SSD.
3. The last PPC machines were shipped in late 2005/early 2006.
4. Office 2007 is for PC's only. Office 2008 for Mac is what you're looking for.
5. The only compatibility issues I can think of is running Intel-only applications on a new iMac and not having a PPC-equivalent application on the PowerBook. But if you're dealing with file standards such as MS Word and PDF that wouldn't be an issue.
6. The AirPort Extreme card in PPC machines supports 802.11b/g, not n. Even if you have an N router it will still work with b/g devices.

Personally, I wouldn't spend more than $150 on any PPC Mac, but they are very usable for light work.
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Old 06-25-2011, 06:12 PM
 
1,637 posts, read 3,656,122 times
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Thank you for that info. Much appreciated.
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Old 06-27-2011, 08:59 AM
 
Location: USA
701 posts, read 994,305 times
Reputation: 651
What gramirez said. Plus go to Mac Powerbook forums and put in the specs of the machine you're buying, just to get another opinion. Try to learn more on OSX. Otherwise, you might get frustrated that it's so unlike Windows.

For $300 or less, I would consider buying it, if everything was kosher. It only takes 2 gigs of ram, max. (It's all you need, unless you're a spec "horse" ). And I think DDR2 specifically. Just be careful on buying ram if you need to. You have to know the details. Also, I don't think you can upgrade to SSD (solid state drive) because the Powerbook is ATA, not SATA. I seem to remember reading something about that when I was considering upgrading last year. I could be wrong. Double-check that.
Backlit keyboard - I will never buy another keyboard without it. I like working in the dark.

Having said that ....

I still use my Powerbook G4 15 everyday (circa 2005/2006) and not just for "light" duty either. Still original specs on OSX/Tiger, 80 gig HD, 2 gig ram, etc... Battery life is down. It now holds only about 1 hour 45 minutes or so. But it's still good enough. I can replace the battery easily, but not yet.

It's actually my "primary" computer as it is what I use for all my important stuff, like Invoicing/Billing, Timesheets, Excel number crunching, Word docs when I need to (Office 2008) and database work (Filemaker). I can even connect to the mainframe remotely (consulting work related). Also do some Unix command line stuff using the terminal.

Wireless has never been a problem anywhere I bring it. It's been an excellent investment. (I bought an Intel MBP a year ago but my wife and son are always using it.)

Also use it for "creative" stuff, using iLife suite, Mac the Ripper, Handbrake, Garage Band. Was thinking of upgrading the hard drive to 250, but have been putting it off as I don't really need to yet. Obviously, all data is encrypted and backed up to external media.

It works a heck of a lot better than my wife's office-issued Dell Vostro Windows laptop. And is probably more secure against virus/malware, I think. I don't know of any virus that's affected the PowerPC. Who would bother, right? Okay, maybe malware for Safari. But on the PowerPC platform?

By the way, Norton Security suite still works great on my PB G4. Has never slowed it down at all. I don't know why it isn't as good/fast on the Window platform.

Oh, one last heads-up: if you plan on using an external drive for backup, make sure it has it's own power cord or is firewire. The usb powered ones may not get enough juice from the PB G4. What I've found it that the PB G4 has the correct USB specs. But, the some usb-powered external drives aren't. They require more power than the USB specs. No biggie, just a heads-up.
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Old 06-27-2011, 09:47 AM
 
1,637 posts, read 3,656,122 times
Reputation: 1023
Quote:
Originally Posted by fastninja500 View Post
What gramirez said. Plus go to Mac Powerbook forums and put in the specs of the machine you're buying, just to get another opinion. Try to learn more on OSX. Otherwise, you might get frustrated that it's so unlike Windows.

Luckily, I've been exposed to a few versions of OSX from my old job and school. I like it a lot. One thing I'm curious about when buying used, what do I need to do in order to make sure nothing bad is installed on it like a keylogger or a program that still allows the previous owner access to it?

For $300 or less, I would consider buying it, if everything was kosher. It only takes 2 gigs of ram, max. (It's all you need, unless you're a spec "horse" ). And I think DDR2 specifically. Just be careful on buying ram if you need to. You have to know the details. Also, I don't think you can upgrade to SSD (solid state drive) because the Powerbook is ATA, not SATA. I seem to remember reading something about that when I was considering upgrading last year. I could be wrong. Double-check that.
Backlit keyboard - I will never buy another keyboard without it. I like working in the dark.

Having said that ....

I still use my Powerbook G4 15 everyday (circa 2005/2006) and not just for "light" duty either. Still original specs on OSX/Tiger, 80 gig HD, 2 gig ram, etc... Battery life is down. It now holds only about 1 hour 45 minutes or so. But it's still good enough. I can replace the battery easily, but not yet.

Are batteries relatively inexpensive and easy to purchase?

It's actually my "primary" computer as it is what I use for all my important stuff, like Invoicing/Billing, Timesheets, Excel number crunching, Word docs when I need to (Office 2008) and database work (Filemaker). I can even connect to the mainframe remotely (consulting work related). Also do some Unix command line stuff using the terminal.

Wireless has never been a problem anywhere I bring it. It's been an excellent investment. (I bought an Intel MBP a year ago but my wife and son are always using it.)

Also use it for "creative" stuff, using iLife suite, Mac the Ripper, Handbrake, Garage Band. Was thinking of upgrading the hard drive to 250, but have been putting it off as I don't really need to yet. Obviously, all data is encrypted and backed up to external media.

It works a heck of a lot better than my wife's office-issued Dell Vostro Windows laptop. And is probably more secure against virus/malware, I think. I don't know of any virus that's affected the PowerPC. Who would bother, right? Okay, maybe malware for Safari. But on the PowerPC platform?

By the way, Norton Security suite still works great on my PB G4. Has never slowed it down at all. I don't know why it isn't as good/fast on the Window platform.

I use Nod32 and I believe they have a Mac version. Is is something good to use or with something as old as a G4 is it just a waste?

Oh, one last heads-up: if you plan on using an external drive for backup, make sure it has it's own power cord or is firewire. The usb powered ones may not get enough juice from the PB G4. What I've found it that the PB G4 has the correct USB specs. But, the some usb-powered external drives aren't. They require more power than the USB specs. No biggie, just a heads-up.

I assume because it is an older USB version the bus doesn't put out enough juice?

Thank you for the detailed reply! I have a few more questions I'll put in bold in the quoted text.

My wife has also come across some good deals on used MacBooks so we may be looking at those as well.
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Old 06-27-2011, 12:56 PM
 
Location: USA
701 posts, read 994,305 times
Reputation: 651
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.Bungle View Post
Thank you for the detailed reply! I have a few more questions I'll put in bold in the quoted text.

My wife has also come across some good deals on used MacBooks so we may be looking at those as well.
If you can afford it, just buy the Intel Macs. I would only consider the Powerbook G4's if it was too good a deal to turn down.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.Bungle View Post
Luckily, I've been exposed to a few versions of OSX from my old job and school. I like it a lot. One thing I'm curious about when buying used, what do I need to do in order to make sure nothing bad is installed on it like a keylogger or a program that still allows the previous owner access to it?
Well, you can upgrade to a better/larger hard drive and re-install OSX, he,he …. But I have to warn you, there’s a lot of teeny screws to remove. Search Youtube or IFixIt for “replace Powerbook hard drive” …..

http://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Device/PowerBook_G4_Aluminum_15%22_1-1.5_GHz

Go to the Mac specific forums and you’ll get better answers.

Search for “Restore Powerbook to factory specs” or something like that. You should get something like this: Restore to factory settings? - macosx.com

Or this: Barkings!: How to Erase Your Macs Hard Drive Before Selling It (OS 10.4)

Most important: Make sure you get the original Mac OS disk that came with the Mac. You can re-install the OSX on top of the old one. The Mac OS should update itself over the next day or so.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.Bungle View Post
Are batteries relatively inexpensive and easy to purchase?
I found them reasonably priced when I spent a few minutes looking for one via the Mac forums. If they’re about $130 from Apple, then you figure it’s probably half that somewhere else. Search for “Powerbook G4 battery”…. Example: Apple PowerBook G4 Battery Charger|Apple Powerbook G4 12 15 17 Battery
Note on battery: Apple Portables: Calibrating your computer's battery for best performance

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.Bungle View Post
I use Nod32 and I believe they have a Mac version. Is is something good to use or with something as old as a G4 is it just a waste?
I don’t use Nod32 so no comment on that. Weighing the odds, it looks like a waste of time. BUT, that would depend on your comfort level. Due to my work, I’m paranoid about data security.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.Bungle View Post
I assume because it is an older USB version the bus doesn't put out enough juice?
That’s what I read when I researched the issue before. It put out enough juice according to USB spec at the time it was released.
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Old 06-28-2011, 01:08 AM
 
Location: Not far from Fairbanks, AK
16,726 posts, read 29,327,585 times
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I agree with the poster above in relation to buying an Intel Mac. If you take your time and look around you may be able to find a second-hand iMac with "Intel inside."
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Old 06-28-2011, 06:01 PM
 
1,637 posts, read 3,656,122 times
Reputation: 1023
After the info from you guys and some other info I found browsing macrumors forums, I think I am going to opt for a used macbook for now. I've found some around $400 which seems reasonable. Thank you again for all the powebook and other info, it has been very helpful.
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Old 06-28-2011, 08:51 PM
 
Location: Maryland not Murlin
8,193 posts, read 22,576,686 times
Reputation: 6169
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.Bungle View Post
I'm in a position where my computer has died and I would like to move onto a Mac. My current financial situation doesn't warrant the purchase of a new Mac...yet. I've come across a Powerbook G4 for a reasonable price but I'm not well versed in them.

The specs I've seen do seem ancient but as a temporary solution, it may work. 1.33ghz, 1.5g.

Some questions I have:

1. Can/does this run a newer version of OS X? I imagine that Lion or Snow Leopard may be too much for it to handle. Is it?

2. Upgrades - what sort of upgrades can I do to make it run better/faster? I understand that memory is cheap. Anything else?

3. About how old are these machines?

4. Can I get microsoft office 2007 for this machine?

5. The plan would be to upgrade to a new iMac in a few months and have the laptop be a sort of runaround computer. How compatible would the two be for files, programs, etc...? Ideally I'd like to store most stuff on my external HD and share files to whichever computer I'm using. Most of my computer usage is internet, school classes, some music editing stuff but not much. Basically light to moderate duty.

6. Am I going to have any issues with my wireless internet and this machine? I have AT&T UVerse.

Thank you for reading and hopefully posting some helpful info. And please, lets not get into PC v. Mac. I am set on making the move and will not buy another PC. Thanks!
1. Leopard is the last version of OSX these can run, but to be honest, Leopard will provide everything you need, and then some. There really is no difference between Leopard and Snow Leopard except SL dropped support for PPC Macs. And to be honest, you will not notice, nor even use, let alone even be aware of, the majority of Lion's new features unless you are a total power-OSX user. I have used every flavor of OSX since day one, and will get Lion, but to tell you the truth, I only use a small fraction of the "thousands of new features" that accompany each new release. And I was a Mac fanboi hardcore up until about a year ago.

2. The only two things you can do are max out the memory and get a better/larger drive. I used Final Cut Pro and CS 3 on a single-core 1.25 Ghz. MDD up until about a year ago, and that was plenty "fast" for me. Then again, we are Americans and Americans want everything right-the-fcck-now, so perhaps my "patience" is a bit out-of-the-ordinary since I don't give a hoot between the difference of 40 seconds and 75 seconds when it comes to such things.

3. Apple never made a G5 laptop, so the G4 line went all the way until Apple went Intel; 2006.

4. No. But you can get MS Office 2003, 2008, and perhaps 2011. I haven't tried Office 2011, but reviews look good. However, if it came down between 2003 and 2008, I would go with Office 2003 in a heart beat. Office 2008 is too buggy and Excel does not have VBA as VBA was dropped for this version. Unless you are doing statistical analysts, or other functions of macros programming, which I do, you might not realize, nor care, that VBA is gone from 2008. While there are some work-arounds, just be prepared to lose some hair with Office 2008; whether you give a rat's behind for VBA or not.

There are also compatibility issues between Office 2008 and ChemDraw, which I also use. But, if you are just a home user, once again, you probably won't notice or care.

5. Your basic home files should be compatible, and OSX has a migration app built-in that would make transfer of such files rather easy. In fact, it is called Migration.

6. You should not have any issues with the wireless card and what-ever ISP you have. I know plenty of people who are still using G4 Powerbooks and have no problem connecting to the Internet whether they are at home, the coffee shop, school, etc.

It really depends on what you want to use your computer for, but in all honesty, as long as you are a basic "every-day" computer-user, you will not notice the difference between a G4 PowerMac or an Intel iMac.

Also, many (most?) Linux programs can be installed in OSX. Some, like Gimp, Scribus, and OpenOffice will work in the X11 window. Others, need a program link Fink in order to handle the package.

There was (is still?) an app called Shapeshifter that allowed to change the appearance of the GUI including icons in case you are not a fan of the brushed metal look.
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