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Opinions Requested - Apple Computer Choice

Discussion in 'Electronic Devices' started by bigfoot, Jan 28, 2011.

  1. bigfoot

    bigfoot Loaded Pockets

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    After good experiences with our iPhones, and recently having purchased an Apple TV, we are now thinking of taking a big step into the Apple computing world.

    We are drawn to the iMac 21.5" ($1199) computer after seeing one in person in the Apple store. The screen looks great and should work really well for viewing and working with digital photos. Not to mention that it should work flawlessly with iTunes. From what we could tell using the demo model, it has pretty fast performance. We don't do any gaming or anything, just surfing the 'net, working on documents (MS Office) and pictures, and enjoying music.

    Other options would be the basic 13" MacBook ($999) or the Mac Mini ($699).

    The initial cost is high, but we are hoping that by avoiding future virus software purchases, PC computer malfunctions, etc. this will lessen the pain a bit.

    So... what are your thoughts? Thanks in advance!
     
  2. scríbhneoir
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    scríbhneoir Uber Prepared
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    I have had my iBook G4 for seven years. I think in that time, at least half a dozen Windows PCs and laptops have passed through this house...and died. Knock on wood, this thing is a workhorse. I am looking at the same exact iMac and a Macbook Pro. It will be loaded with Office for Mac, and that's it. I have NO qualms about staying with a Mac. I turn it on. It goes. Though the initial cost is higher than what a nonMac would cost, I figured so far it has worked out to an average of $20 a month. The longer it lasts, the less it costs. The only reason I need to upgrade is because I can't increase the memory enough or upgrade to the OS and software I need for my work files. I am VERY pleased with my Mac. That iMac screen is sooo impressive.
     
  3. Judochop

    Judochop Loaded Pockets

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    I have an imac (21.5 inch screen) and it's a thing of beauty. Clarity, speed, performance are all top notch. The Mac Mini, and I may be wrong on this, is a performance enhancer for an imac. It'll boost graphics, performance, etc. but does not come with the actual computer itself.

    One thing I will say and will never apologize for, is the serious lack of quality excellence that Apple has for its accessories. The mouse that they offer is horrendous and I feel that it's not made to last. If you do get an imac and I sincerely hope you do, get a better mouse (one that has a USB port to plug into the computer).
     
  4. scríbhneoir
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    scríbhneoir Uber Prepared
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    The Apple salesman told me not to bother with the wireless mouse or keyboard. He said get 'em with USB. I guess battery life is also an issue.
     
  5. Judochop

    Judochop Loaded Pockets

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    Yeah, that doesn't surprise me. I mean, the headphones that come with the ipods and iphones are TERRIBLE. In fact, I once had the Powerbook G5 aluminum series (now discontinued) and although it ran pretty well for a while, the adaptor literally burst into flames. I ended up actually going to a website that sold its own version of the adaptor that was smaller and more energy efficient. Not to mention cheaper too. But that entire powerbook line was discontinued because of so many hardware malfunctions, I BELIEVE that they have the kinks worked out with their new powerbooks.

    Both the imac and the powerbook are phenomenal though, I highly recommend getting one of them and just getting your accessories from another source.
     
  6. P35

    P35 Loaded Pockets

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    the Mac Mini is a stand alone computer, comes in several configurations, and is a lower cost alternative to the Imac, even if you buy a new monitor. When Apple stopped supporting software for their non Intel chipped machines, we replaced our G4 with a mini, no regrets, great computer....I've been a Mac user since 1989, never had a Mac fail, the Mini is my sixth Mac.
    one you go Mac you won't look back;D
     
  7. coyote

    coyote Loaded Pockets

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    after 25+ years of PCs i bought a bottom of the line white cheapie macbook last year, after a yet another virus killed my hard drive.

    i find the 13" screen so much better than every other 18-19" laptop screen i've had that i don't even wish for something bigger.

    and for a living i'm a pro photographer who builds websites in it.

    while i probably could use more than 2GB ram to speed things up, it still does the job i need it too, even when running photoshop and dreamweaver, along with email, a browser, iTunes, and a couple others all at once.

    i ain't going back.

    (ps- i'm not always a big mac fan. ie: we were given an iPad recently. what a piece of worthless junk. just an expensive show-off toy for the rich and bored. so we dumped it.)
     
  8. carrot

    carrot Loaded Pockets

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    I have the late 2009 21.5" iMac and before that I had a Powerbook G4 12" for five years going strong. The current offering (mid-2010) is nearly identical but with a slight performance and graphics boost.

    For my uses as a web developer and software engineer, the 21.5" screen is not enough and I pair it with a 22" Samsung HDTV for dual 1080p screens (that's 3840x1080). But for day-to-day web browsing, word processing, etc, the single 21.5" screen is plenty to comfortably work. The screen quality is absolutely superb and does not fatigue my eyes like the cheaper screens used on "budget-minded" computers. It is also wonderful for watching movies, although when I watch movies I sit about four feet from the screen.

    Paired with an iPod Touch, iPhone, or iPad, the iMac makes a superb music box, although if you are really serious about listening to music from it you'll want some external speakers (despite the fact that the internal ones are already surprisingly good). If you are going to use the computer as a shared computer, the iMac is ideal for this and offers a better bang for the buck. Even if you share everything, consider setting up different user profiles for each person in the household so that everyone can customize it to their liking.

    Performance is great. The iMac offers plenty in that regard and also comes bundled with Apple's excellent iLife productivity suite that lets you organize your photos, edit videos, and author music. iLife is not pro software by any means but I think few need to look further. Another great thing about the iMac is that it is whisper quiet. There is no buzzing, whirring, or clicking in daily use.

    Note that the iMac comes with the standard Apple Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard and Magic Mouse. These are the ones I use daily and I am very pleased with both. Key travel on the Keyboard is plenty and also has a good snappy feel to each of the keys. The Magic Mouse is simply superb. Scrolling with the Magic Mouse is effortless (just like scrolling on the iPhone) and the new optical sensor (over the previous Wireless Mighty Mouse) is accurate and never misses a beat. I was a hardcore trackball guy before the Magic Mouse came along, but the velocity scrolling is that much better than anything I've ever used. On the subject of battery life: invest in a good NiMH charger and Eneloops, or the similar rebranded ones Apple sells at a reasonable price. I get about a month's worth of charge on the Magic Mouse and about two on the 2009 Wireless Keyboard (vs. the older 2007 with slightly longer battery life, but more batteries).

    My personal feelings towards the wireless keyboard and mouse are that, unless you keep your iMac next to a microwave (microwaves can cause interference), you will have no problems. I haven't encountered a single issue and would not bother with USB input devices. The Magic Mouse is quite literally, the best mousing input device I have ever used. On the other hand, the keyboard is better than most, but nothing to really brag about. Since Bluetooth is encrypted, you do not have to worry about neighbors snooping on what you're typing.

    Coming from the Windows (and to some extent, Linux) world when I first bought my Powerbook G4 was a big leap of faith but I have never looked back since, nor regretted switching over. OS X offers the best user experience bar none -- applications are polished and pleasant to use, there is no malware to worry about, and you need little to no actual computer maintenance. I realize that Apple computers tend to appear absurdly priced when compared to their Windows counterparts but they are absolutely worth every penny and provide better value, especially over the years.

    A few things that Windows users are accustomed to that Mac users never deal with:
    - virus scanners (the few Mac AV software in existence mostly scan for Windows viruses, which do not affect Mac)
    - adware scanners
    - reformatting the computer once a year (when a Windows system is used, it slowly degrades over time until it becomes miserably slow to use)
    - disk fragmentation (OSX automatically defragments the drive as you use it)
    - blue screens of death/crashing (the Mac equivalent is a kernel panic, but I have yet to see any the entire time with my year-old iMac running 10.6 Snow Leopard)

    The other great reason to switch is that Apple offers in-house help with experts at any Apple store. Got a problem? Make a reservation online, cart your iMac over to the nearest Apple store, and get help face to face with an expert who can diagnose your problem and solve it, without giving you the runaround.

    A few corrections:
    The Powerbook line was retired when Apple made the switch from PowerPC (made by Motorola and IBM) to Intel x86. I personally know many people whose Aluminum Powerbooks are still in service (the last were made around 2006).

    The Mac mini is a full standalone computer. It is the Apple equivalent of a PC desktop mid-tower: add your own keyboard, mouse, and monitor and it is good to go. I don't recommend it unless you are on a very tight budget: the iMac offers a much better value.

    The Magic Mouse is not offered in USB format. It is wireless Bluetooth only, but all current and many older Apple computers come with Bluetooth included. The Mighty Mouse, now known as the Apple Mouse is offered in USB and is good but not great. Biggest issue is that the scroll ball gets clogged occasionally and needs cleaning. Pass on it and just go for the Magic Mouse instead.

    Hope this helps answer any questions you have about your future computer purchase.
     
  9. bigfoot

    bigfoot Loaded Pockets

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    Wow, thanks folks! So much great info to digest here. Having had so many Windows PC problems (both hardware and software) over the last few years, we are about 99% set on a Mac. Once you start adding in the cost of peripherals to the Mac Mini, it looks like it is closing in on the lower priced iMac and Macbook offerings.

    Q: For those who work on digital photos and the like, do you find the 13" MacBook screen sufficient for doing this?

    Another Q: Any issues with failure of the hard drive on the MacBook or other Mac laptops?
     
  10. carrot

    carrot Loaded Pockets

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    I am curious what your rationale is for picking the Macbook over a desktop Mac? Since the iMac is a good deal more powerful for only a bit more money?

    I know a lot of people with Macbooks (more than 5) who have owned theirs for many years with no problems. One did eventually have to replace his hard drive but his situation is atypical since he is a power user who tends to go through hardware rather quickly. As with all computers, it is prudent to back up your important data, either to an external drive (such as Time Capsule) or to the cloud (such as Dropbox).

    I used the Powerbook 12" for a number of years to do a lot of kinds of work including a good deal of image editing. I think the screen space on my old 12" was acceptable although obviously not optimal.
     
  11. bigfoot

    bigfoot Loaded Pockets

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    We are leaning towards the iMac first, with the MacBook coming in second -- torn between portability and performance. Thinking harder about it, really all we do on the road is check e-mail or look at maps. (The iPhones or the netbook can handle that task just fine.) The MacBook would probably be overkill.

    So... iMac it is!! ;D
     
  12. carrot

    carrot Loaded Pockets

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    Amen to that. The iPhone is a boon to all kinds of travelers.
     
  13. BASR

    BASR Loaded Pockets

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    Check out this website before you make your decision. According to MacRumors, the iMac is almost at the end of its life cycle, meaning it will probably get a new update within a couple of months.
     
  14. spiritof76

    spiritof76 Loaded Pockets

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    The iMacs will be updated with the newest generation Sandy Bridge processors within the next couple of months. You should have no problems with the hard drive that you wouldn't have with any other PC. For the last decade, Macs have been using PC-standard technologies and components from CPUs to RAM to hard drives. The only exceptions being the power supply, video card and motherboard, which are usually custom made for Apple and can't be swapped for PC ones.
     
  15. coyote

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    i spend hours every day doing photos on my 13" macbook and have far less eye strain problems then i did on my old 15-19" PC screens.

    the mac screen is bright and sharp, very clear, and color is so good that i know exactly what to expect with any images i output to the web or print.

    originally i thought of adding an aftermarket 20-plus inch screen so i could then use the 13" laptop screen for tools and larger screen for image correction, but unless i was willing to pay for a larger Mac monitor, i'd only be hurting my quailty. and after a full year on the macbook, i just don't see the need...
     
  16. bigfoot

    bigfoot Loaded Pockets

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    Lots more great info, many thanks! Had no idea some of the Mac computers were due for a refresh so soon -- knowing that, we may wait it out for a little while.
     
  17. Foxfire

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    I have a Mac book Pro 15" with the i5 intel processor that I got back in July after my Gateway broke. I am glad I made the switch. I am really happy with it. Battery life seem to go on forever. The LED screen is awesome. I use it to edit photos mostly. I have friends that have been loyal mac user's for years and never have had any complaints.
     
  18. Jean

    Jean Loaded Pockets

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    Intel just recalled those Sandy Bridge chips ...

    http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/news/2011/01/intel-recalls-sandy-bridge-chipsets-due-to-sata-screw-up.ars

     
  19. Kabong30

    Kabong30 Empty Pockets

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    I find that the refurbs on the Apple site suit my needs well. I'm not a bleeding edge tech guy, and they come with the same 1 year warranty that the new ones do. I'm on my refurbed iMac now in fact (been running pretty much non-stop for 4 years!)
     
  20. xtal

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    The iMac line is a great value machine, and powerful too. As Kabong30 above, I've been buying refurbished items from Apple for years with no problem whatsoever. It's a nice way to get a full warranty and save a bit at the same time.