The Value of Your Legacy Portable? (Updated)

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Date: Wednesday, April 27th, 2005, 08:17
Category: Hardware

As new machines continue to roll out of Cupertino, along with the release of Tiger this week, my old iBook Dual USB 500MHz continues to decline in value. So, what do you do with that old iBook/PowerBook that just isn’t worth getting rid of? Kitchen appliance, car stereo, stereo component? What’s your take on the use, reuse, recycle, potential for your dust attracting ‘Book? Read more for suggestions on where to send your PowerBook on retirement…


As new machines continue to roll out of Cupertino, along with the release of Tiger this week, my old ibook dual usb 500mhz machine continues to decline in value. You can’t get a portable for what this little bugger is worth, and it’s not the fastest roach on the track anymore.
This particular machine has no burner, and is in need of a HD replacement, making it a bit of a fixer-upper. So, what do you do with that old ibook/pbook that just isn’t worth getting rid of? I’ve thought of turning it into a kitchen appliance, i.e. a cabinet mounted internet/tv device, but can’t find a way to rotate/invert the screen image so it can be mounted upside down (then add a BT keyboard and mouse, and velcro them to the wall).
The other thought of course was to use it as a mobile (car) computer, to store music, and who knows what else, once again utilizing it’s potential invertedness to mount it to the ceiling and keep it out of the way- it could even be used to watch video cd’s. Could you get used to using the trackpad upside down? What would you do?
Another user writes: “I would love suggestions as to just what I can do with my Powerbook 5300ce. It’s maxed out at 64mb of RAM, has a 1gb HD, and runs OS 8.6 just fine. But seriously… anyone?”
UPDATE: Some of your comments:

Here are a few more solutions as to what to do with your old Mac portable when it is too slow to be used for the latest applications.
MP3 Player – It’s big and it’s bulky, but you can use it to play MP3s, and using the clock you can use it as an alarm clock when you modify the startup settings. By using it as an MP3 player, you use it’s own hard drive for the files instead of the hard drive space on the new Mac. And if you’re ever fixing or modifying your new mac, you can still listen to your favorite mp3s on the old one while doing so.
HTML Testing – Not all of us are using the latest and greatest, (me included, using a 7300/200 upgraded with a G3/400mhz card). Still, you can write your code on a new mac, and view it on the old laptop seeing how things will appear using old versions of Netscape, Internet Explorer and the like. The same goes for game designers, seeing how fast or slow their game will run on an older Mac and finding the “lowest common denominator”.
Retro Gaming Station – I enjoy playing a myriad of older video games on my Mac, and the majority of them run fine. Some of the games post-1990 (i.e.. Mortal Kombat) run very slow and are unplayable, but the majority of them run fine. LCD screens aren’t very good for games that have a high amount of action, but some of the older games don’t have that which should be no problem for viewing the videos. You could use your new Mac for this also, but having it on your laptop allows you to play anywhere the mood strikes you. Imagine playing Burgertime while riding the can, or playing Zaxxon while waiting for your car to come out of the shop…
Sound Editor – I do lighting work in a small community theater, as well as some sound effects. Right now we use a CD player to trigger sounds but I would like to have a laptop to be able to trigger sounds from instead. Imagine being able to see the soundwave of an old telephone ringing and knowing exactly when the reverberation of the bell would end. Then I could select or load the sound for the next cue from a list and trigger it at the right moment. Because Macs are so easy to use, you could donate it to a theater and only have to spend a few minutes showing the sound effects person how to set things up.

“Trailing edge” Mac? Make it a “Missionary”!
Mac Mini too pricey for your Windows-afflicted friends? Invite them to take Ye Olde 500MHz iBook for a test drive…with an old iPod as bait. Or, if you know an acquaintance who doesn’t have a computer, but is interested in the Digital Life, introduce them to AppleWorks and “The Simpler Computer Life.”
I’m a dual system user who started out with a thrift shop Mac SE 4/40 after years of “Intel Inside” and “Windows users unanimous.” This led to a PowerBook 1400, my first portable computer since a late 1980′s Toshiba 1200XE introduced me to the world of laptop limitations. However, unlike the 12MHz 80286/CGA Monochrome graphics/15MB HDD/1MB RAM/2400 BPS modem reservation, the PB 1400 64MB RAM/1.4GB opened the door to more interesting units. (The Mac SE/30 32/540 was donated to a Packard Bell Computer-afflicted part-time caregiver who was long on interest but short on cash. The PB 1400 w/printer went to a preschool teacher who was also on a tight budget.)
More recently, my across the street neighbor got my Rev. 2 Wallstreet 266/384MB RAM/40GB (upgraded via Sonnet G3 500MHz card) to return to the Mac world. A former coworker who’d been interested in the Windows world got a Lombard with OS X and a printer. The switch from Windows-experience-no computer to Mac user was swifter than expected once she hooked up with a Mac guru a few streets over. This is being written on a 1.25GHz G4 512MB RAM/80GB AlBook, the high end companion to a 500MHz G3 640MB RAM/60GB Pismo. As far as I’m concerned, “better old tech than no tech” in a world that requires some computer skills.

There are PLENTY of college students who could seriously make good use of a laptop, even as useless as you might find yours. For instance, your iBook may not be tops at running Photoshop, capable of burning CD’s, or have enough storage space to meet your needs, however for a cash-strapped college student, the ability to just type a document, check email accounts, do basic surfing, all while being on-the-go would be life changing. If you think that I, as a college student, would be able to squeeze some good use out of your iBook.

Reformat or security wipe the old hard drive and then take you old iBook to the nearest K-12 school and give it away. Many school teachers would love an old (but slow) iBook.

Kids. Yup, kids. A laptop that may not have the horses to do the stuff you want it too is probably perfect for a student to use in note taking or surfing. They won’t need to do multi-level PhotoShopping or render 3D imaging – at least as quickly as current users, but they can still do their e-mailing and websurfing on even an OS 9 machine.
While your old machine may be only worth a couple of hundred as a trade, or even less, to a student it’s a gift that they can use for years.
My old Lombard is with my daughter in Israel, and my dad’s old iBook is with my other daughter here in Toronto. Both are capable of running a version of OS X and can do pretty much whatever they need to do, and do it portably.

Send us your comments for a future update.

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