From PC to Mac Part II: The Good, The Bad, and The Printer
I got my “new-to-me” iBook about a week ago and have been playing with it off and on ever since. This is my first Mac and expect to have a bit of a learning curve. I have some experience with Linux so the interface isn’t completely foreign to me, but that experience was always short-lived. But this is the first time I’ve had to set up properties, install software, and generally troubleshoot something that wasn’t a Windows PC.
The system’s hardware included 512 megs of RAM and a 1.33Ghz G4 Power PC processor. I was concerned about how this setup would handle the software I wanted to run on it, not really knowing how to compare the processor and memory needs of a Mac and a PC.
First thing to say is that I knew immediately that I had made the right choice form-wise. The iBook fills the size and weight niche right in between a netbook and your standard notebook. The fact that it has a DVD drive adds a little weight, but the battery is smaller which takes some weight off. The battery actually came charged, but battery life seems to only be a couple hours tops. The keyboard doesn’t feel overly cramped, but I can see how using this as a main PC would be hard over the course of several hours. This iBook even shipped with a spiffy carrying case that fit it perfectly. It is definitely used: some grime around the keys and track pad, a little schmutz on the screen, but I think some windex on the case and keys (NOT THE SCREEN!!) will help. Its nice clean lines and white case continue to tie in well with Apple’s current product line, making it look newer than it is. The screen is a bit dim, but again it’s older tech and good for what it does.
One thing that I haven’t gotten used to yet is the one-button trackpad. While OSX is able to accommodate two-button mice the iBook’s trackpad only has one large bar for a button. Clicking and dragging is a bit hard, and right-clicking anything is impossible without knowing keyboard hotkeys. So that’s not as newbie-friendly as I expected, but once I connect a mouse I think this problem will solve itself.
Once OSX was up and running (it’s running 10.5 Leopard) I tinkered around with a few programs to see how they would run. Most of them opened and ran with very little lag time. Garage Band took a long time to load however, and locked the whole system up while doing so. Fortunately this isn’t a program that I plan on using much if at all.
I loaded a DVD and it started right up and played with zero clipping, a decent picture and passable sound. This can be a good portable DVD player for travel.
I fired up Safari and was very pleased to see that it loaded pages quickly over the wireless. This really impressed me, as I’ve been having mysterious issues with my wife’s laptop with dropped connections and very slow loading times. As an internet device, this will also fit the bill nicely.
The biggest problem I’ve had is getting it to connect to my home printer, which is connected to my home PC. When I bought my last printer, I wanted to get one that connected directly to the wireless router and I’m kicking myself hard for not doing that. I haven’t been able to connect the printer at all (it’s an Epson NX300) even after trying workarounds I’ve found on various Mac help sites. I might end up having to hit the local Apple Genious Bar at the mall. I’m wondering if I might need to use Cisco’s Network Magic, which I have installed on my other home PC’s, to get the networking straight.
The only other disappointment I had was that some of the software I expected to have on it didn’t come, most notably Microsoft Office for Mac 2004. I purchased this iBook on Amazon.com refurbished. I read on the main product description for the iBook that it came with Office 2004, but in the description for the product it said that it shipped with NeoOffice. I didn’t see this, but my product didn’t come with either Office 2004 or NeoOffice. I downloaded NeoOffice to give it a try and didn’t really like it, so I might try OpenOffice. If that doesn’t work, I may have to shell out some dough to get MS Office or iWork. The description also said that it was to come with iMovie and that was also missing, but I can’t see you making movies on this anyway so I wasn’t that disappointed. I let the seller know of the missing software and pointed out the confusing description on his listing. Given that I think I still got a good deal, plus a 2Gb flash drive and a bag that I wasn’t expecting, I didn’t demand a refund or anything. My fault for not reading the description, but the seller agreed that it should have been clearer.
All things considered though it seems like a good choice. Once I get the printer going it will be good to go.