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Old February 8th, 2005, 12:50 AM   #1
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iBook or Powerbook?

Is the iBook as up to the task of video editing, midi recording and creating short web videos as a Powerbook?

Thanks in advance for helping me decide whether I'll get more significant bang for my buck with the pricier Powerbook.

Dorothy
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Old February 8th, 2005, 09:27 AM   #2
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The iBook is fine. I would suggest an external FireWire drive for your video files though. One major drawback to the iBook is that it only supports video mirroring instead of spanning. Apple does this to intentionally bump you up to the PowerBooks.
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Old February 8th, 2005, 11:05 AM   #3
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The iBooks really give you a lot of "bang for the buck." I got my daugher a 12" last fall and was impressed by how snappy it felt.

However the screens on the Powerbooks are really much nicer (more pixels). This is especially noticeable on the 12" iBook since the pixels look kind of coarse (1024x768) versus my 15" Powerbook (1280x854). And like Mark says, the Powerbook has a dual ported video card which lets you use a separate external monitor, or plug in an NTSC monitor via s-video. IIRC, the Powerbooks support more RAM than the iBooks also.
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Old February 8th, 2005, 02:34 PM   #4
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Oh yeah, the new 17 inch PB has digital audio I/O too... forgot about that tidbit too...
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Old February 9th, 2005, 01:35 AM   #5
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Mark and Boyd, thank you for your replies.

How do you import audio from a CD or midi keyboard into the iBook?

Dorothy
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Old February 9th, 2005, 07:51 AM   #6
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That would be the same regardless of which Mac you get. You import CD audio by simply popping one into the internal drive. iTunes will open and the rest is very simple. If you want to use one of these files in FCP you can just drop it into your timeline, but since it's in AIFF format you will need to render it (which is no big deal).

For MIDI you can get a very inexpensive (~$20?) USB interface "dongle" thing. I have one of these which I use with an 88 key midi keyboard and it works great. Of course there are more expensive USB options as well that offer more ports, digital audio, etc. I got my daughter a small M-Audio MIDI keyboard for her iBook. It has a USB port built in so no interface is needed. GarageBand, part of the "iLife" suite, comes with all new Macs and lets you build compositions using MIDI keyboards and pre-recorded loops. You can export your GarageBand creations to iTunes and then save them in a format which would allow you to drop them into FCP.

Getting back to your original question, I think the iBook is "up to the task of video editing," but any of the powerbooks would give you some nice upgrades, a little better performance, and a nicer all around computer. If you can afford the price difference I don't think you will ever regret going with a Powerbook. The 15" model is probably the best combination of features for the price. OTOH, the 12" iBook is a very slick little machine if you're on a budget. Personally I don't think the 14" iBook makes any sense.
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Old February 9th, 2005, 12:04 PM   #7
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"For MIDI you can get a very inexpensive (~$20?) USB interface "dongle" thing. I have one of these which I use with an 88 key midi keyboard and it works great."

Sorry if this sounds like a silly question but does the imported audio quality remain the same regardless of the cost of the USB interface used?

"I got my daughter a small M-Audio MIDI keyboard for her iBook. It has a USB port built in so no interface is needed."

I'd like this feature combined with a keyboard "piano feel".

"If you can afford the price difference I don't think you will ever regret going with a Powerbook. The 15" model is probably the best combination of features for the price....Personally I don't think the 14" iBook makes any sense."

Thank you, Boyd, I appreciate your feedback and suggestions.

Dorothy
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Old February 9th, 2005, 12:24 PM   #8
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Dorothy,
The MIDI interface does not actually transfer audio. It only transfers MIDI data, which is an instruction set that tells your software what instruments and notations to play. A simple MIDI interface like one provided by Edirol would connect your keyboard to the computer for controlling programs like Garageband or Logic, which contain their own instruments. If your keyboard already has a USB connection you would not need something like this.
If you want to move the AUDIO from your keyboard, you will need a different connection (depending on the keyboard).

For instance, I have a Roland Fantom. I use the UM-1 (link above) to transfer MIDI between my keyboard and my computer. I use the instruments that are provided in my keyboard (because Roland makes such beautiful instruments) so when I get everything arranged for final output I connect a Digital Optical Audio cable from my keyboard and capture the "sound" to my computer, much like you would video.

I agree with the general consensus of iBook .vs Powerbook. I like some of the extra features of the Powerbook and that is what made me lean that direction. (faster bus, gigabit network, more RAM, Firewire 800, dual display etc.)
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Old February 10th, 2005, 05:02 PM   #9
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You can use an iBook for editing (and I have). Also the iBook CAN do dual video displays. Apple intentionally disabled this feature to up-sell people on the powerbook:

http://www.rutemoeller.com/mp/ibook/ibook_e.html

I have edited on both a powerbook g4 867 12" and also a 12" ibook g3 600 and honestly they are about the same (except for mpeg2 creation and some rendering). As far as screen quality. I didn't notice a large (if any) difference in screen quality between a pBook and iBook.


FWIW I currently use the powerbook.

matt rickman
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Old February 10th, 2005, 05:13 PM   #10
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I've seen this hack before but have never attempted it myself. Think very carefully before attempting anything like this, Apple does not support it and you could permanently damage your computer.

I don't think there is any significant difference between the 12" iBook and PowerBook screens. The 15" PowerBook screen is a big improvement however. The 14" iBook screen has the same number of pixels as the 12" iBook, just larger dots; personally I don't care for it.
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Old February 10th, 2005, 05:27 PM   #11
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Well for others willing to try it, I have done it successfully on all 3 ibooks I have owned. I don't see how it could permanently damge the machine since it is a software based change that you are making.

How is the 15" powerbook screen a "big improvement" ? Other than being larger?


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Old February 10th, 2005, 05:58 PM   #12
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Actually it's a firmware-based change I believe. Anytime you mess with firmware there is a risk of making something inoperable. Apple has also been known to intentionally change specs on its products just to prevent 3rd party hacks from working. A recent change to the iPod firmware prevents RealNetworks "Harmony" products from working for example. I have no experience with this display hack - it looks very clever and probably it's completely safe - but the author himself puts a prominent warning in red at the top of his pages. Just realize you're using something unsupported which *might* be problematic.

Regarding the screens: iBook is 1024x768, 15" PowerBook 1280x854. Aside from the physical measurements, that's 306,688 more pixels - almost 50% more. Laptop screens always seem too crowded to me - especially for applications like FCP, so more pixels help. Also, I personally prefer the 16:10 aspect ratio but I suppose that's just a personal thing.

As I said earlier, the iBook is a nice little machine - I've bought two of them for family members. If you're on a budget then by all means go for the iBook. But if you get a Powerbook I doubt that you will later say "damn, I wish I'd gotten the iBook instead!"
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Old February 10th, 2005, 10:09 PM   #13
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Hi Rhett,

Thank you for your very interesting and informative discussion about midis!!

"I agree with the general consensus of iBook .vs Powerbook. I like some of the extra features of the Powerbook and that is what made me lean that direction. (faster bus, gigabit network, more RAM, Firewire 800, dual display etc.)"

Yesterday, I checked out the new 15" Powerbook at our local Apple store. The scrolling trackpad is a very cool, ergonomic feature. The palm area also felt noticeably cooler than the previous Powerbook model. But when this Powerbook looked up at me with its alluring, aluminum bod, it was love at first byte!!!

Dorothy
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Old February 10th, 2005, 10:32 PM   #14
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Isn't it sexy! I actually bought my first TiBook because it matched the Titanium casing on my Roland. Yea it's kinda sick but they look so good together. Of course the iBook is a really nice looking little computer too, I'm thinking of getting the 12" for my girlfriend.

Glad you enjoyed the MIDI info. I actually love searching for MIDI files online. I have several hundreds of them, some good, some not so good. You can find MIDI's of most popular songs, load them onto your computer and begin reworking them with software and your keyboard to come up with all kinds of new music. I have to admit though, I do most of my music work on the PC in Cakewalk. It's just too easy to setup and use, of course that's ALL that computer gets used for. I haven't found it's equal in OSX yet but I'm still looking. (easybeat looks like a cute one but not quite as powerful)
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Old February 10th, 2005, 10:40 PM   #15
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Boyd,
Thanks for the insight on the 15" powerbook.. I currently have the 12" but have been contemplating moving to the 15" mainly because I cannot capture to an external firewire drive without dropping frames. So I thought I would get a 15" powerbook and a PCMCIA Firewire card...

matt rickman
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