Breaking (away from) the PowerBook

Note to self: next time you have trouble navigating a flight of stairs, the computer's safety is your number one priority. Bones heal; laptops don't.

That's what I discovered when my 15-inch. PowerBook took the brunt of a fall last month. The next time I booted it up -- thank goodness, it booted! -- the display showed a vertical gray strip as big as my thumb. It was topped by a black inkblot that trickled along the entire upper perimeter, suggesting the glass had cracked, air had entered, and the LCD was seeping (and likely to get worse). To add insult to injury, the DVD drive's slot was bent, preventing anything from being inserted. (Fortunately, there was nothing waiting to be ejected, either.)

Despite all that, I was hopeful. Apple's excellent AppleCare protection plan had replaced my monitor once; surely a similar operation, even outside warranty, would be just as painless?

Ah, naive me. After bringing the 'Book to the Apple store from whence it came (in December 2003) and waiting 90 minutes for my Genius appointment to scroll up, I was given the bad news: a new display alone would cost about $1200. Then the Genius examined my serial number more carefully and reduced the estimate to $800 -- still unjustifiable, considering my plans for this machine.

I had been intending to replace the PowerBook this coming December. It's served me well, but some programs were starting to slow down -- especially layout in Pages or QuarkXPress -- and my 80GB hard drive was very full. I was looking forward to upgrading to a new ICBM (Intel Chip-Based Mac), with Leopard pre-installed, six months from now.

Alas, I had to move up my timetable. Whatever hardware revisions will come to Apple's laptops this fall will not adorn my new machine as planned, as I bought a 15.4-inch. MacBook Pro (LED-backlit, matte display) this month. I added AppleCare (of course) and the necessary CompactFlash and S-Video adaptors and modem to compensate for features present in my old laptop but not my new one. Setting it up was remarkably easy. After backing up my PowerBook to an external FireWire drive (which I do twice a week), I connected it to the ICBM, nee MBP, and ran Apple's Migration Assistant, which did a surprisingly comprehensive job of preserving my environment. My Finder icons, wallpaper, Microsoft Office settings -- almost everything got copied over. Booting my new machine is just like booting the old one... only faster!

Now that I have Intel inside, I'm still adjusting to the loss of my Classic (OS 9) applications. Some programs have modern analogues, but I'm hesitant to spend so much money on Graphing Calculator, which used to be OEM software. And what about the next time I hanker for a late-night session of Civilization II? I'm looking into SheepSaver to give me back access to these Classic apps.

So that is my tale of how I've come by my new MacBook Pro. Now: what to do with the old PowerBook? MyMacGuys recommended I look into having MacService repair it, but I doubt it'd be worth the expense to get it into sellable shape. I could use it as-is, hooked up to an external monitor, but I really don't need a non-portable laptop, especially alongside my MBP. I can sell it for parts for $100. Maybe I could extract the internal hard drive and slap it in an external case for additional backup/storage for the MBP. Any recommendations?

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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