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Considering Changing to Mac. Eek!


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#1 of 36 OFFLINE   Darren Lewis

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Posted August 28 2007 - 08:11 AM

Hi everyone.

I'm seriously thinking about switching to a Mac for my main machine. My current setup is Windows XP, and whilst it's a good machine, it's now over three years old and I've already had one memory module go bad in it. I've used Vista for a little while on a work machine, and I hate it! Also, quite a bit of my hardware (especially my Nikon slide/neg scanner is not Vista compatible).

I could update my existing PC. I've previously built my own PCs for the last nine years, and I've been using Windows since 3.1, but right now I just want something that works and I can use rather than tinker with all the time.

So, I've been thinking about going Mac....

I've already got a nice 20" Dell widescreen monitor so an iMac would be wasting that. I'm also a bit concerned about the screen reflections reported from the new iMac in the MacFormat review. I can't stretch to the cost of a Mac Pro, although the specs are awesome.

What do people think about getting a Mac Mini? They seem to be a good spec machine, and would be ideal for switching to a mac.

Is it worth getting 2Gb of RAM rather than the 1Gb standard? I know Vista is a RAM guzzler, but what about Mac OS X?

Is it worth getting the Mac keyboard and mouse, or can I use my own MS keyboard and mouse (USB) with the Mac Mini? Is not having a right click button a big thing to get used to?

Lastly, should I wait for OS X 10.5, or is that potentially going to have issues, and I'd be better getting the current stable 10.4 Tiger?

I've heard lots of good things about Macs. The handful of people at work who have them absolutely love them, and you guys here seem to have had good results.

I'll probably have loads more questions before converting as to be honest I'm a bit worried I won't like it! I just know I hate Vista with it's high hardware requirements and incompatibility with existing software and hardware that I have.

Thanks in advance.

D.

#2 of 36 OFFLINE   nolesrule

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Posted August 28 2007 - 08:33 AM

There's always option 3. No need to get Vista or switch to a Mac. Get another XP system if you want a new machine and are happy with XP. XP is still available, even through Dell.

#3 of 36 OFFLINE   Andrew Pratt

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Posted August 28 2007 - 10:22 AM

Quote:
I could update my existing PC. I've previously built my own PCs for the last nine years, and I've been using Windows since 3.1, but right now I just want something that works and I can use rather than tinker with all the time.

You sound exactly where I was 6 months ago and I made the jump and never looked back. The Mac Mini's are excellent machines and there's some good deals on the older models if you're looking to keep the costs to a minimum. There was a nicely spec'd one in the For Sale area not that long ago as well but I don't know if its still available. As another idea have you considered a laptop? You could always plug in your monitor to that when 'docked' at the desk but would have a portable to surf wirelessly around the house/deck etc. I dumped my desktops a few years ago and now both my wife and I only use laptops.

#4 of 36 OFFLINE   Christ Reynolds

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Posted August 28 2007 - 01:48 PM

Quote:
There was a nicely spec'd one in the For Sale area not that long ago as well but I don't know if its still available
It's not Posted Image

Make the switch. I bought a Mac mini to get me started with OS X, and very recently sold it (to another HTF member). I bought a Mac Pro, and I couldn't be happier. The mini is a great machine to start out with. If you want to make the switch, there should be nothing holding you back. You get a MUCH more stable operating system, great hardware, and even if you want to stick with some Windows-only programs, both VMware and Parallels have OS X integration features that allow a Windows virtual machine's applications to seamlessly operate on your OS X desktop. And your Mac will run Windows natively, too. Make the switch. I've not heard of anyone who switches and later regrets it.

CJ
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#5 of 36 OFFLINE   Keith Plucker

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Posted August 28 2007 - 05:17 PM

Recently I have been Mac shopping myself. The Mini is tempting but there are a couple things that bother me about it.

First, the integrated video on the Mini is rather poor. My concern is that various effects of the UI in Tiger/Leopard will not feel as snappy with the Mini's integrated video as compared to what a more capable GPU would be able to do.

Also, the Mini's HD, being a 2.5" model, has capacity and speed limitations. HD performance affects so many things, I see that as a real problem. The Mini can be expanded via its Firewire port but that is still no match for a 3.5" drive connected to an internal IDE or SATA connection.

That being said the Mini has silence and a unbelievably cool form factor going for it so I still haven't ruled it out. I guess it comes down to what you plan to do with the machine and if these things would have a big impact on you.

As far as your other questions, I would definitely get 2GB of RAM. I wouldn't call OS X a RAM hog but it will make good use of the extra headroom.

Personally, I have never been a big fan of Apple's keyboards and mice. I would use what you have or buy from a third party.

Also, I don't think I would wait for Leopard (10.5). Let the early adopters find the bugs and upgrade 2-3 months after it is released.

I am trying to decide if I want to "go cheap" with the Mini or spend a more on a Mac Book Pro or Mac Pro tower (I currently have a PowerBook and self-built XP desktop).

Decisions, decisions. Posted Image

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#6 of 36 OFFLINE   Oren

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Posted August 28 2007 - 05:39 PM

Darren,

The mini would be a GREAT way to go to get your feet wet, make sure it's all to your liking, before you dive in. Are you near an Apple store? I count 10 stores around England (see http://www.apple.com...ail/storelist/). If so, just go there and play around with their base mini. You'll be able to see firsthand how it operates with the exact specs you'd be getting.

Apple just recently upgraded the mini (on August 7th), so now is a great time to buy. Faster processor, more memory, bigger hard drive. Sure, it uses 2.5" drives, but if you outgrow it you can always add an external hard drive (go with a Firewire one - Firewire is MUCH faster than USB 2.0).

The more memory, the better, of course. For basic computing, 1GB is fine. If you will be manipulating large images, like in Photoshop, you'll want 2GB. Then again, it's not much more, so if you can afford it up front, get it and avoid the hassle of installing it later.

You could use a PC USB keyboard and mouse, but you might as well get the Apple ones (or ones made for Macs). That way, it has the power key, command /apple key, the right labels for the keys to control sound, brightness, etc. It will just work.

I wouldn't worry about the integrated graphics. They're fine for all the regular computing stuff, including Apple's eye candy in the OS. They're not so good for 3D, but are you a 3D gamer?

Look at it this way: now going with Mac is basically risk free. If you don't like it, you could just erase everything, install Windows, and use it as a PC, and a pretty sweet one at that.

Now, the question is whether or not to wait for Leopard. Leopard will be coming out sometime in October, probably near the end. It's pretty nice (you can see a lot of the technology in it at Apple.com). That's a tough call, and only you can make it. I'm waiting until then to pick up a 20" iMac for use as a home theater source.

#7 of 36 OFFLINE   Craig S

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Posted August 28 2007 - 05:43 PM

The Mini's a good little machine, and as others have pointed out it's a great way to get your feet wet. I would get it with 2 GB just because it's not an easy upgrade.

Some caveats...

You mentioned you have hardware that's not supported under Vista. Have you checked to see if it has Mac support??

Also - what do you do with your machine?? What are the primary applications you use? Have you considered the cost of acquiring OS X equivalents?? Or are you just going the virtualization route?

Quote:
Is it worth getting the Mac keyboard and mouse, or can I use my own MS keyboard and mouse (USB) with the Mac Mini? Is not having a right click button a big thing to get used to?
Use your own kb & mouse. And contrary to what you have apparently heard Mac OS X does support right-click functionality - it's just not used quite to the extent it is in Windows.

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* No good movie is too long, and no bad movie is short enough.

* No good movie is depressing, all bad movies are depressing.


#8 of 36 OFFLINE   Darren Lewis

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Posted August 28 2007 - 07:47 PM

Thanks for all the replies.

I definitely don't want to go with the new XP machine route (either off the shelf or update my own hardware). I'm just fed up of Windows and the direction it's going. I'm also tired of the 6 to 12 monthly OS reload I seem to have to do to keep things running smoothly.

I don't use games at all so the 3D graphics won't be a problem for me.

Most of my computer usage is office, photos, music (iTunes) and web development work.

For the major apps, most of the versions I have are a few years old and could probably do with being updated anyway. I use office XP for basic office tasks (but plan to either switch to Open Office or get Mac Office, or maybe iWorks 08), Dreamweaver MX (hopefully can upgrade to CS3 for Mac as I was planning to upgrade to the windows CS3 a little while ago), Photoshop Elements (again I will probably get the new version as I'm on the older version 2 that came with my camera!). For PHP web development, I use Zend Studio but they have a version of that for Mac I can change over to at no extra cost. There's also a couple of minor utility apps like zip and cd burning, but I'm assuming I can source Mac equivalents for relativeley small cost if needed at all.

The only apps I haven't yet investigated for Mac equivalents are an FTP client, SSH client (currently use PuTTY) and a backup client (I currently use Acronis True Image).

I'll still have my 12" PC laptop with XP which is only 18 months old. I can't really justify the expense of selling that and getting a mac laptop too. I guess I could use a Mac Laptop as my one and only main machine and "dock" it to the Dell monitor when at home, but I'm not sure about that. Will have to think about it...

I recently got a mini-DV video camera, but haven't yet got around to creating DVDs on the PC. Hopefully the new iLife 08 suite will help me out with that.

For harware, my HP laser, HP officejet and nikon slide scanner all have Mac OS X support. I think I've still got the Mac CDs somewhere, or if not the drivers should be on the HP and Nikon sites. My iPod should definitely work Posted Image

I do have an older linux file server machine in the cupboard, so as long as Mac OS X can talk to Samba and map network drives, I don't think it'll be a problem.

Thanks again.

#9 of 36 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted August 28 2007 - 10:29 PM

Another recent switcher here; start reading back through this forum and you'll find everyone's stories Posted Image

It appears you don't have any Windows -only software, and don't require collaborating via Office documents with other people. So that would make for an easier switch, and BootCamp / Parallels isn't needed.

What's your budget? How important is cost?

I don't like the mini on a price/performance basis and recommend a 15" MacBook Pro if budget is a lesser concern. It's a fast system, price competitive in its class, and can take advantage of an external 20" LCD.

You suggest keeping an XP laptop for portable use. My gut tells me that's a painful, long-term solution. If you like Mac OS X, you will not want to return to XP whenever you go portable. Also, keeping two systems in sync, especially if you move to Mac-specific software like iWork, will become cumbersome or impossible. And if you must have XP, BootCamping it on a Mac Portable will just make things simpler and more compact. If you need a portable and are making the switch, really consider a Mac portable.

#10 of 36 OFFLINE   Bob_Chase

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Posted August 28 2007 - 10:31 PM

As a fellow web developer/designer let me just say you can't go wrong with the Mac purchase (I'd recommend at least the MacBook). As someone previously mentioned you get the best of both worlds: running the Mac OS and Win OS side-by-side with their various browsers. As a web developer this is a dream! All of your testing done on 1 machine!!!!

Dreamweaver CS3 is available on the Mac side. This shouldn't be a concern as Adobe (and Macromedia before the merger) always supported the Mac.

As far as FTP Dreamweaver has it built in, but there are other clients available (I use Cyberduck--it's free).

Zipping files is not an issue just grab a free copy of Stuffit. CD burning is part of the core OS so that's not an issue.

Any other software concerns can be addressed by going to http://www.apple.com/downloads/ Just about anything you need can be found here. If not check out http://www.versiontracker.com.

And armed with that new DV camera and iMovie your inner Scorcese will be unleashed.

Lastly your Mac should be able to connect to the Linux server via Samba.

Good luck and let us know how you make out.

#11 of 36 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted August 28 2007 - 11:48 PM

It's hard for me to make a strong stand on this when I know
people are on a budget.

When considering the fact that you are buying a computer you
hope will last you for the next few years, going anything less
than a Mac Pro is not a good move.

I realize the Mac Pro with 2GB ram is going to cost about $2300
or so. I realize that this is an expensive purchase. However, you
are buying a state-of-the-art computer that will last you for the
next few years.

Sure, you could buy a comparable Windows desktop for less.
The problem is, as long as you are not a gamer, once you switch
to a Mac you will realize just how inferior Windows XP and Vista is.

It took me 20+ years to dispel the myth that Macintosh was an
evil entity that PC users should never consider. Do you realize
that Macintosh had its biggest year ever thanks to people who are
sick of Windows and are converting to OS X?

I was scared about moving to Mac. It took a lot of arm-twisting
from people on this forum to convince me to take the risk. It was
the biggest and greatest risk I ever took. I cannot begin to tell you
how much better the Mac experience is.

Really, if you want to do this right, spend the money on a powerful
Macintosh. Go with either a Mac Pro or a Macbook Pro. You will
not be sorry.

PS: I know very little about the iMac, but as long as you
don't mind going with a new display, they seem to be great computers
as long as you go with 2GB ram.

Ronald J Epstein
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#12 of 36 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted August 29 2007 - 12:24 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronald Epstein
going anything less than a Mac Pro is not a good move.

I realize the Mac Pro with 2GB ram is going to cost about $2300
or so. I realize that this is an expensive purchase. However, you
are buying a state-of-the-art computer that will last you for the
next few years.

PS: I know very little about the iMac, but as long as you
don't mind going with a new display, they seem to be great computers
as long as you go with 2GB ram.
Ron, you've a penchant for buying ridiculously high-end computers for who knows what purpose Posted Image

The iMac is a killer home machine now. And for any normal Posted Image buyer will be good for 3-5 years easy. If you want fast, the new 24" 2.8 GHz iMac is sweet! Plug in your 20" LCD for dual-monitor use. (I've no opinion on glossy for home use. But I chose matte for my MBP and understand the worry.)

My wife is a freelance graphic designer. Were budget unlimited, I'd buy her an iMac over a Mac Pro today.

Happy shopping!

#13 of 36 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted August 29 2007 - 12:57 AM

Well, you have just heard from someone whom I highly respect.

I would not argue that the iMac is a preferable choice.

Ronald J Epstein
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#14 of 36 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted August 29 2007 - 01:09 AM

Ron, you're totally right: the Mac Pro is the faster, higher-end machine. I can only imagine the scientists, students, and developers that are lusting for one.

But I think the typical home user is better served by an iMac. If a person wants the best, highest-end computer, and budget isn't a concern, then the Mac Pro is it. And I've nothing against that. I went a similar route this time, for my MBP and got just about the best, highest-end laptop on the market. It's fun. But for friends who aren't so loony, I recommend the MacBook or iMac as a more sensible choice Posted Image

The mini is a good choice if you want a Mac for the lowest price. But I think it's a weaker value than the MacBook and iMac. Sensible people may disagree Posted Image

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#15 of 36 OFFLINE   Andrew Pratt

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Posted August 29 2007 - 03:45 AM

My advice would be sell the XP laptop and buy a MacBook pro. It'll be the perfect tool for what you're planning on using it for and if you keep the 20" monitor you'd have a wicked developer's tool (dual monitors is a godsend for developers)

#16 of 36 OFFLINE   Oren

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Posted August 29 2007 - 03:45 AM

I have to agree that the iMac is a better value, but it does cost more.

Comparing the $800 mini with the $1200 iMac: they have the same processor (2.0Ghz C2D), same superdrive, same memory (1GB). The extra $400 for the iMac gets you: a 20" monitor, bigger/faster hard drive (3.5" 250GB v. 2.5" 120GB), dedicated graphics, keyboard/mouse, and a Firewire 800 port (not to mention that one of the USB ports apparently still provides power after turning off the iMac, so you can continue to charge your iPod or iPhone).

To me, that's all worth the $400. This is why I think an iMac would make a better HTPC (as a source, hooked up to a larger screen).

#17 of 36 OFFLINE   Craig S

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Posted August 29 2007 - 06:37 AM

Good comparison, Oren.

Another difference between the Mini and the iMacs is the former only has B/G wireless, while the iMacs have B/G/N. If you're running a wireless network you will probably want to go N eventually, and with the iMac you're good to go.

I bought the orginal Intel iMac in January '06 and I just love it. I'd never been an all-in-one man before but the iMacs are so well-equipped that I can see most general users runnng them for several years without outgrowing them. Mine is still as snappy & responsive as the day I unboxed it, and I know I couldn't say the same for a 20-month old XP machine (and I still think XP is a pretty solid OS). The iMac isn't the cheapest machine on the market, but given it's quality and the fact it comes with OS X and iLife I would say it's about the best value out there for the average home user.

Three truths about movies, as noted by Roger Ebert:

 

* It's not what a movie is about, it's how it is about it.

* No good movie is too long, and no bad movie is short enough.

* No good movie is depressing, all bad movies are depressing.


#18 of 36 OFFLINE   Thomas Newton

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Posted August 29 2007 - 07:22 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Darren Lewis
Thanks for all the replies.
Most of my computer usage is office, photos, music (iTunes) and web development work.
...
I recently got a mini-DV video camera, but haven't yet got around to creating DVDs on the PC. Hopefully the new iLife 08 suite will help me out with that.

Between photo storage, music storage, and video storage, you'll probably need more than 160 GB of hard disk space.

That means that if you go with the Mini, you'll definitely need an external drive (though there are Mini-shaped external drives that fit under one).

#19 of 36 OFFLINE   Aaron Reynolds

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Posted August 29 2007 - 07:37 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronald Epstein
Do you realize
that Macintosh had its biggest year ever thanks to people who are
sick of Windows and are converting to OS X?

Thank you Vista!

#20 of 36 OFFLINE   KevA

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Posted August 29 2007 - 10:01 AM

I'm not sure if this comment helps, but in line with Ron's statement that a Mac Pro will last you through "the next few years," that might even be an understatement, as per the following:

I've been using a G4 (dual-867 with 1.75 GB ram) since I purchased this machine in September of 2002 and I still see no need to upgrade until at least well into 2008. I was recently checking the specifications for Leopard (OS 10.5 due in October) and my machine should handle it no problem. Beyond that, though I've used faster G5s, my system still runs all the applications I need (including Adobe CS3) reasonably well.

In brief, and all things being equal (though that's a tricky assumption in the technology game), I'm sure current Pro or iMac models can last the average user 5 or 6 years.


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