I’m getting a new Mac. A list of possibilities. Comments/suggestions welcomed.

The Problems
My G3/500 PowerBook is out of hard drive space (and the drive is failing), slow for running many essential design applications, and unable to run some other applications (though thus far nothing critical).

My music studio computer, a PowerMac 7600 upgraded to a G4/700, has almost no hard drive space to record onto and SCSI hard drives are small and expensive compared to IDE/ATA drives. All PCI slots on the computer are full (video card, MOTU 324 music card, 802.11g wireless card).

The G5 Desktop solution
Suped-up Dual G5 2-GHZ: $2700
Digital Performer 4 upgrade: $300
Unisyn upgrade: $100
MOTU 324 for 424/G5 card: $300
USB MIDI interface: $75
1-GHz G4 iBook: $1400

The advantages of the above setup would seem obvious except there are a good number of users on the net who say that the Digital Performer 4 upgrade is (1) power hungry in the extreme—solved by a dual G5, I’m sure—and (2) somewhat unstable compared to DP 3.1, the Mac OS 9 version.

The 1-GHz G4 iBook is also hardly the ideal solution for my PowerBook woes. It’s twice the hard drive space and twice as fast (+G4), but I’d lose monitor spanning for running dual displays (which I do frequently) and I’d lose the PC card slot that I use for transferring digital photos (though I could always attach a USB cable instead).

And the biggest downside to this approach? That it costs nearly $5000.

The PowerBook-centric solution
Suped-up PowerBook G4 1.5-GHz: $2400
Sonnet Trio USB/FireWire/IDE controller card: $200
80 GB and 160 GB ATA hard drives: $200
USB MIDI interface: $75

The approach sacrifices gobs of G5 power for G4 portability. It also changes Zephyr into a permanent, dedicated Mac OS 9-based music studio machine. It replaces the 802.11g wireless PCI card with the Sonnet Trio PCI card so I can add big IDE/ATA hard drives.

The PowerBook G4 1.5-GHz is a good upgrade from Trinity, my G3/500 Pismo. It’s 3x the speed, a slightly bigger screen and resolution, 2.5x bigger hard drive, Super Drive-equipped, etc., etc. Suffice to say, that as far as I can tell it’s pretty much better in every respect, in some ways signficantly. There is no question that this part of the equation works out very, very well.

The financial math obviously works out better here too: At sub-$3000, I might even be able to add an iPod to the mix. Maybe an LCD monitor as well, if Apple would ever get on the ball and release the new ones so long rumored to be in the pipeline.

Does this work for the music studio? I’m pretty sure it does, though I hate that it more of less kills the prospect of further studio upgrades for the foreseeable future. I mean, I’m not going to dump another $400-$500 into Zephyr only to turn around and buy a G5 next year. Though I suppose I could transfer the hard drives, so maybe it’s not the dead-end I think it is. Well, the bottom-line is that I think a G4/700 will be sufficient—a G3/275 worked OK for awhile—and I’ve never come close to the processor limit running Digital Performer on Zephyr. Hard drive limit? You betcha.

So the above represents my current thoughts. It’s no secret that I’ve been sick as a dog this week, so if anybody has questions, suggestions, or the like, please feel free to leave a comment. I’m not gunshy about dropping a lot of cash when necessary, but I’d sure like to feel confident that I’ve covered all the angles.