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Lifelong Windows user contemplates (gasp!) a Macintosh! Advice please!


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#1 of 69 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted March 21 2005 - 04:19 AM

Been a lifelong Windows user.

I am going to be purchasing a new
computer at year's end.

I am very curious about moving to
a Macintosh.

Every Windows user knows that Macintosh
is the superior computer with the superior
operating system. I use my computer on
a daily/hourly basis as it has become an
integral part of my business and life.

I'd like to move on to a platform that
is more professional and efficient than
what I have been using all my life.

A few things bother me about Macintosh....

First, the price. If I were to buy a
Macintosh G5 (and I want the best) I am
already opting to spend a lot more money
than I would on a top-of-the-line Windows PC.

Secondly, the fact that I have hundreds
of Windows-based software that may or may
not play under Macintosh bothers me as well.
I have heard that there is a program that
allows Windows programs to play under the
Mac OS, but I also heard it can be slow.

So, a few questions....

1. If I am going to use the computer mostly
for surfing, email and photo/video/audio
editing programs, is a Mac G5 overkill?

2. I see most G5 computers tout 512 memory.
If I were buying a Windows PC I would opt
for at least 1 gig. Is 512 memory on a Mac
comperable to the same on a Windows PC? I
will be using a lot of high-memory programs
and startups.

3. Are there still a lot of software that
will not work with the Macintosh? For instance,
even chat cliants like Trillian or
email programs made by 3rd party vendors?

4. Can I work with .JPG .GIF and .BMP files
in Macintosh or am I now going to be working
with an entirely new array of file types?

5. What program allows you to run Windows
programs under Mac? Will it run any Windows
complaint software? How much slower will it
run under the Mac environment? Can I run the
Windows client and multitask with Mac programs
outside that client at the same time?

6. Is it easy to migrate from a Windows XP
environment to a Macintosh? In other words,
within a few hours of use, will I pretty much
be comfortable navigating around the Mac OS?

7. A top-of-the-line Windows PC costs about
$3k or so. How about a G5 with lots of memory,
high-end graphics, a DVD and CD burner, TV card,
(and perhaps a few other bells & whistles) cost?
Note: I don't need a Monitor

8. Will my Linksys adapter automatically
configure to the Macintosh settings once I
turn it on? I'd hate to have to reconfigure
my entire wireless broadband network.

9. If I switch to Mac will I regret it? Will
I miss Windows? Will this be the best move I
will ever make?


A lot of questions. Answer what you want.
Feel free to arm twist me away from Windows.
Very much appreciate the advice in advance.

 

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#2 of 69 OFFLINE   SethH

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Posted March 21 2005 - 04:52 AM

7. A top-of-the-line Windows PC costs about
$3k or so. How about a G5 with lots of memory,
high-end graphics, a DVD and CD burner, TV card,
(and perhaps a few other bells & whistles) cost?


Well, here's the thing. A top-of-the-line G5 has two processors in it, whereas the top-of-the-line Windows machine most likely only has 1 CPU at that price (you could spend more and go with dual opertons or something like that).

Your photo file extensions will remain the same (JPG, GIF, TIFF, etc).

I would certainly add another 512MB of RAM, but buy it third-party and install it yourself to save some $$.

As far as programs working under OS X, I wouldn't be too worried. Will most of your software work? Probably not, but most utilities and the like are either included in OS X or freely available online. If you're into games then you should probably stick with Windows, but other than that you should be fine going with Mac. There is a program called VirtualPC that allows you to run Windows on the G5 in a window just like any other program. It may slow things down some, but if you've got dual G5 processors I doubt you'd take too much of a hit.

If you are into serious photo/video/audio editing, then the top-of-the-line G5 is not overkill -- that is exactly what that computer is made for.

Please note that all this is coming from a Windows guy, but I'd love to go Mac if I could afford to.

#3 of 69 OFFLINE   Thomas Newton

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Posted March 21 2005 - 05:49 AM

Quote:
1. If I am going to use the computer mostly for surfing, email and photo/video/audio editing programs, is a Mac G5 overkill?

No. You could get a Mini or an eMac (both G4-based), but given that money doesn't seem to be a big issue, I would think that you'd be happier with an iMac G5 or a PowerMac G5.

Quote:
2. I see most G5 computers tout 512 memory. If I were buying a Windows PC I would opt for at least 1 gig. Is 512 memory on a Mac comperable to the same on a Windows PC? I will be using a lot of high-memory programs and startups.

You should get at least 512MB if you're going to be doing much more than word processing and Web browsing. (Apple ships 256MB as "standard", but one of the games that they include with current iMacs/iBooks does not run well on a 256MB machine.)

My machine currently has 1GB of RAM, but I had 512MB for a number of months, and it was plenty for most things.

Quote:
3. Are there still a lot of software that will not work with the Macintosh? For instance, even chat cliants like Trillian or email programs made by 3rd party vendors?

A Wintel binary is a Wintel binary and is not going to run natively on a Macintosh. (Different CPU instruction set, different operating system and APIs) That said, there are many programs for which there are Mac versions (e.g., MS-Office) or native Macintosh equivalents.

Quote:
4. Can I work with .JPG .GIF and .BMP files in Macintosh or am I now going to be working with an entirely new array of file types?

You can definitely work with .JPG and .GIF; probably also with .BMP (Windows bitmap?).

Quote:
5. What program allows you to run Windows programs under Mac? Will it run any Windows complaint software? How much slower will it run under the Mac environment? Can I run the
Windows client and multitask with Mac programs outside that client at the same time?

Virtual PC (flavors for Windows 2000 Pro, Windows XP Home, Windows XP Pro). It won't run anything that needs accelerated graphics (like most modern PC games), but it should otherwise run Wintel software. It will be a lot slower than a real PC. It will run side by side with native Mac programs.

Quote:
6. Is it easy to migrate from a Windows XP environment to a Macintosh? In other words, within a few hours of use, will I pretty much be comfortable navigating around the Mac OS?

Yes.

#4 of 69 OFFLINE   Bryan Toth

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Posted March 21 2005 - 06:12 AM

Quote:
Been a lifelong Windows user.

I am going to be purchasing a new
computer at year's end.

I am very curious about moving to
a Macintosh.

Every Windows user knows that Macintosh
is the superior computer with the superior
operating system. I use my computer on
a daily/hourly basis as it has become an
integral part of my business and life.



Don't do it Ron ... don't give in to the "think different" ads ... Posted Image seriously, I don't think that "every Windows user knows that Mac is the superior computer ..." I actually was a Mac user **way** back in the day (mid 80's) and then moved to PCs and don't ever want to go back to the Mac side. I know they've changed substantially since then (those first Macs don't even resemble the new ones in any way, shape or form). I've worked with Windows as a server OS (since NT 3.51) and desktop OS (since 3.0) for the past 15 years, and yes there are problems. But with the current versions, if things are configured correctly, problems should be minimal .... and (I don't think even die-hard Mac users could dispute this) ... you're still going to get more "bang for your buck" out a PC than a Mac .... Just my 2 cents ....

Bryan

#5 of 69 OFFLINE   Joseph S

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Posted March 21 2005 - 06:47 AM

Note: There are rumors that Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger is due REAL SOON, as in less than a month. There are also rumors that a complete revision of the G5 desktops is due at the time as well.

I would wait 2 weeks as most of the rumors revolve around a 4/1 announcement with mid April release, to see if you can get 10.4 for free installed.

You may be able to get the "latest" dual/quad machine or the current machines at a nice discount.

More RAM is always better. Although I don't IM, I have heard great reports about Fire which is opensource and free.
http://fire.sourceforge.net/ It has been running on OS X since the old OS 10 Beta release four plus years ago. iChat in 10.4 will have built-in videoconferncing with MPEG 4 H.264.

#6 of 69 OFFLINE   Walter Kittel

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Posted March 21 2005 - 06:49 AM

Depends upon what you mean by 'bang for the buck'. If you use your PC as an oversized night light then the Wintel platforms offer more for the money. Posted Image But once you get into actually using your system, the software bundled with OS X and overall experience of using OS X negate, at least for me, any price advantages to be found in PC Hardware. For my money, OS X offers the best desktop experience to be found.

Ron - Make sure you hook up a two button USB mouse. I have a Logitech MX-700 that I swear by. In terms of getting used to the environment, it is different and will take you more than a few hours. Once you get used to how things work, I believe you will be pleased.

Edit: I agree with Joseph, wait for Tiger to be released.

- Walter.

Fidelity to the source should always be the goal for Blu-ray releases.

#7 of 69 OFFLINE   Pamela

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Posted March 21 2005 - 08:32 AM

Ron, I am a lifelong Mac user (graphic designer). I recently purchased a dual processor G5. Just for kicks, I priced a dual processor Dell with similar specs and the price was about the same. Which computers were you comparing the G5 to?

1. There's no such thing as overkill. Posted Image

2. As for the memory, 512 is the minimum, but I would go higher. I just added 2 GBs to mine this weekend and it rocks.

3. There is some software that is not available to the Mac market. I think you will find, however, suitable Mac replacements. I use Eudora for my email. Oh, and you won't have to contend with the nasty viruses, worms, etc. . . another Mac plus.

4. I go back and forth between my Mac and PCS all the time, in regards to graphics files. Never had a problem. At work, I create a lot of graphics which need to work on a PC.

5. Virtual PC really works. i used it in the past. It's been a while. Maybe it is faster now. You can go back and forth between the "PC" and Mac applications easily.

6. Migration? Piece o' cake.

7. You could price it out at the Apple Store web site. Things like memory, however are exorbitant through Apple. I just picked up two 1 GB sticks for $299 at Fry's. Apple wants $800.

8. Your Linksys adapter should automatically configure, When I hooked up my Netgear, I don't even remember doing anything, except plugging it in.

9. Only you can answer that. Go to the boards at Apple.com and do a search. You will see other "switchers" and can get an idea of the good and the bad.

P.S. I am familiar with the Window environment, as I also have a PC at work, and repair and troubleshoot them for friends (reluctantly, lol).

#8 of 69 OFFLINE   Seth--L

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Posted March 21 2005 - 12:59 PM

Speaking as a user of both a Mac and PC, using them for graphic design and digital video editing (Avid):

Every Windows user knows that Macintosh
is the superior computer with the superior
operating system.


Windows XP is actually pretty stable. The gap has narrowed to the point that there is only a gap for specific prosumer needs.

1. If I am going to use the computer mostly
for surfing, email and photo/video/audio
editing programs, is a Mac G5 overkill?

A G5 is overkill (unless you can easily afford it). RAM is more important than a super fast processor because higher end programs are such memory hogs. I edit on a 1.25 G4; I only wish I had a faster processor when I have to render 2 hours of video.

2. I see most G5 computers tout 512 memory.
If I were buying a Windows PC I would opt
for at least 1 gig. Is 512 memory on a Mac
comperable to the same on a Windows PC? I
will be using a lot of high-memory programs
and startups.


You want a GB of RAM for a Mac unless all you're doing is email, word processing, and surfing the net.

Are there still a lot of software that
will not work with the Macintosh? For instance,
even chat cliants like Trillian or
email programs made by 3rd party vendors?


I don't know anything about Trillian, but there is a heck of a lot more software out there for Windows.

You can use Eudora for email (which you should be using for your PC; it kicks the shit out of outlook).

4. Can I work with .JPG .GIF and .BMP files
in Macintosh or am I now going to be working
with an entirely new array of file types?


Yep.

6. Is it easy to migrate from a Windows XP
environment to a Macintosh? In other words,
within a few hours of use, will I pretty much
be comfortable navigating around the Mac OS?

It will be smooth sailing after about 10 minutes. In theory everything works the same. I think the Mac OS is more fun to use.

7. A top-of-the-line Windows PC costs about
$3k or so. How about a G5 with lots of memory,
high-end graphics, a DVD and CD burner, TV card,
(and perhaps a few other bells & whistles) cost?
Note: I don't need a Monitor


No matter how you cut it, a Mac is going to be more. Don't buy at Apple's online store. It is extremely overpriced, especially when it comes to RAM.

9. 9. If I switch to Mac will I regret it? Will
I miss Windows? Will this be the best move I
will ever make?


One thing you haven't asked about, which is probably more important than all your questions ( Posted Image ), is tech support. From owning both Dell's and Mac's, Dell does a far superior job.

The only thing you'll regret is the relative limited amount of software and being part of an extremely small minority.

Pretty much the only reason I continue to use a Mac is exclusive for DVD Studio Pro. You have to pay $5k to get an equivalent DVD authoring program for Windows. It's cheaper to own a Mac just for that than spend $5k.
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#9 of 69 OFFLINE   Rob Gardiner

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Posted March 21 2005 - 02:08 PM

Ron,

Have you considered switching to LINUX? You would then have the best of both worlds: the cost-effectiveness and massive selection of PC hardware, and a stable, secure OS lacking all of Windows' quirks.

EDIT: Also, you could try it out for FREE.

#10 of 69 OFFLINE   Thomas Newton

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Posted March 21 2005 - 02:58 PM

Quote:
Don't buy at Apple's online store. It is extremely overpriced, especially when it comes to RAM.

The online Apple Store is the best place to buy Macs; it will accept custom orders. Most of the mail-order places appear to sell just standard configurations, at full list (plus or minus $10), with maybe a printer or 256MB of RAM thrown in as a sweetener.

I agree that Apple Store RAM is overpriced. You buy that RAM if you're looking at a "hard-to-upgrade" situation -- i.e., upgrading a Mini.

#11 of 69 OFFLINE   Seth--L

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Posted March 21 2005 - 04:31 PM


The online Apple Store is the best place to buy Macs; it will accept custom orders. Most of the mail-order places appear to sell just standard configurations, at full list (plus or minus $10), with maybe a printer or 256MB of RAM thrown in as a sweetener.


Compared to Dell, the Apple Store doesn't give you all that many configuration options; it's not nearly as "custom". In fact, this is one thing I really don't like about the Apple store. They basically have 2 or 3 base models for each computer, and your options are mostly limited to expanding things like the HD and RAM. Stores like MacMall give you pretty much the same options, with lower prices, and typically throw in a few nice items, as you noted.
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#12 of 69 OFFLINE   SteveLa

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Posted March 21 2005 - 04:54 PM

I help administer an a user base of 400+ Macs. Our I.T. costs consistently rank far below other firms in our industry (legal). The reason for this is that because the Macs are so low maintenance, we can get by with a help desk of only five individuals. We have zero problems with spyware and viruses (except for Word macro viruses which are easily disposed of without the need for anti-virus software.) The Macs integrate seamlessly with the few PC's we keep at the office (yes...some firms still use Word Perfect Posted Image). As others have mentioned, VirtualPC does an adequate job emulating Windows, especially when run on a G5 system. I would highly suggest that whatever model you may choose to buy, purchase additional RAM from a third party vendor, ESPECIALLY if you plan on using VirtualPC. There's no better investment for my dollar than having a significant amount of RAM onboard. As someone who is beta testing the next major revision of the operating system, I'd suggest waiting until 10.4 (Tiger) is announced. You'll be pleasantly surprised at the major enhancements. For what you mention Ron, (e-mail, Internet use and A/V editing) the Mac seems a no brainer. I'd only suggest Windows if you find yourself frequently running Windows-only applications that tax the processor.

#13 of 69 OFFLINE   Thomas Newton

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Posted March 21 2005 - 05:12 PM

Interesting mini-article on tech support:

Consumer Reports - Computers: New Considerations

Quote:
Three years ago, we saw a drop in satisfaction with tech support; it’s now one of the lowest-rated services we evaluate.


#14 of 69 OFFLINE   Seth--L

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Posted March 21 2005 - 05:31 PM

I'm not sure what people expect from tech support (well actually, I think they expect someone to come to their home to plug the computer into an outlet). Obviously my anecdotal experience is hardly representative of all Dell owners, but my entire family, including extended, has owned Dell's for many years, crap has happened, and they've been very responsive. For instance, this past summer the hard drive in my laptop died. I called tech support, got someone on the phone in about 10 minutes, 5 minutes later the tech support person ordered me a new HD which I received two days later. He offered to send someone to my home to install it, but I told him I could handle that myself. Dell never made me jump through any hoops to prove that my HD was really dead; I didn't have to even send them the dead drive so they could confirm my claim. There is nothing more frustrating than tech support thinking you're lying or giving you a hard time about your problem.
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#15 of 69 OFFLINE   Ken Chan

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Posted March 22 2005 - 10:56 AM

Quote:
No matter how you cut it, a Mac is going to be more.
Last time I checked, the high-end dual processor machines are about the same. (Sure, don't buy the RAM from Apple.) Prices change all the time, but it's not like the Mac is 50% more, like they used to be.

Quote:
Have you considered switching to LINUX? You would then have the best of both worlds: the cost-effectiveness and massive selection of PC hardware, and a stable, secure OS lacking all of Windows' quirks.
You exchange them for Linux's quirks. I hear more about people switching from Linux to Mac: you get the benefits of Unix, plus a really polished UI, better software selection (there are several excellent Mac-only programs), and things that "just work". It is more expensive, although I'd say you get what you pay for. If you like tinkering, then certainly Linux is worth a try; but Linux is free only if your time is worth nothing.

#16 of 69 OFFLINE   Rob Gardiner

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Posted March 23 2005 - 12:05 PM

Ken,

When did you use LINUX last? I ask because my experience is very meager, yet very recent. A friend of mine got fed up with "unexpected behavior" due to Windows' quirks and I told him I would set up LINUX on his 4- or 5-year old Athlon (P-III equivalent) system.

I downloaded an ISO image for UBUNTU LINUX, burned it onto a CD, and booted the CD. I was greeted by an attractive graphical splash page and the message "Press F1 for help or ENTER to install". After pressing ENTER, I was led through a Wizard-like setup routine and was asked some simple questions like what language do I speak, what country do I live in, etc. The partitions on the hard drive were set up automatically. The whole process was completely "user friendly" and was actually easier than installing Windows!

While the installer was copying files, I made myself a cup of coffee (well, 2 or 3 cups of coffee, the install process was a bit slow). Every piece of hardware was detected automatically, including the new wireless G adapter I put in there for my buddy. When it was done, I was greeted with a chocolate brown desktop, complete with Firefox, Thunderbird e-mail, Open Office (MS Office compatible application suite), and many more programs.

With a minimal investment of time, and NO tweaking, I will (tonight in fact!) be able to give my friend a completely working machine, that fully meets his needs (web, e-mail, and word processing). I'll do a bit of research, to see what other maintenance needs to be done on the machine to keep it running smoothly, but the install disc contains software for every conceivable purpose -- I just need to learn how to use the package installer, and I don't imagine that is a huge undertaking.

My point is that this is not your father's LINUX. I was truly shocked at how simple and straightforward and user-friendly the whole system is. I understand there are other LINUX installations that present the user with a multitude of options (none of which would be meaningful for me, due to my lack of experience) but UBUNTU, in particular, is well-suited for a "total fucking LINUX noob" like me. Posted Image

#17 of 69 OFFLINE   DougWright

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Posted March 23 2005 - 01:52 PM

Quote:
Every Windows user knows that Macintosh


Here is one windows user that disagrees with that statement. I switched from macs in 96 or 97 and have never looked back.

I see you mentioned in the other thread you want media center. Does Mac have an equivalent? That alone could sway your decision.

Not to hijack this thread, but to help with your current needs : Regarding AMD 64 bit, 64 bit is the future but I think it is a little early yet, and since you know you will be upgrading again in 2 years I would suggest waiting until then to see if the time is then right. Being on the leading edge sometimes sucks. Are any media centers built with Athlon chips I don't know?

I have had great success with an Intel processor/chipset and would never consider straying from that combination.

I upgrade every 2 years too I would guess, I gotta find a way to write it off Posted Image
Doug "Thread Killer" Wright

#18 of 69 OFFLINE   Christ Reynolds

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Posted March 23 2005 - 02:41 PM

Quote:
I gotta find a way to write it off
just take kramer's advice. "you just write it off!

CJ
And then when I feel so stuffed I can't eat anymore, I just use the restroom! And then I CAN eat more!

#19 of 69 OFFLINE   Rob Gillespie

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Posted March 23 2005 - 08:00 PM

Quote:
My point is that this is not your father's LINUX

It may be easy to set up now, but any of the desktop UIs are a confusing mess comapred to the Mac (and often to Windows too). Linux is quite happy until you want to change hardware or want to start making things work better for you, then it's time to start reading pages of help files and praying you don't have thirty-four program dependencies which need to be updated before you can continue.

I'm interested in a Mac Mini myself for the general desktop work I do at home.
No longer here.

#20 of 69 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted March 24 2005 - 12:28 AM

Still not certain I want to go the
route of a Macintosh, but for COMPUSA
cardholders there is an offer for
18 months financing NO INTEREST - PLUS
10% off purchase.

Here is the Macintosh they are offering:

Click Here

Not sure how great this Mac is and
whether to buy it or just wait till the
end of the year when Windows PC processing
speeds and capabilities will be higher.

 

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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