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Is it worth the price?


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15 replies to this topic

#1 of 16 SethH

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Posted July 09 2008 - 02:57 PM

So here's my dilemma . . . .

I'm looking a new computers for my parents. I'm a big fan of apple, although I haven't owned one personally since well before OSX was developed, and they are very interested in owning an Apple.

The only Mac that really makes sense for them is the mini. They have a nice 24" monitor that's only about 6 months old, so an iMac is not really a necessity or a desire.

So, here's my current comparison:

System 1 = Mac Mini
Price = $799
Core2Duo Processor -- 2.0GHz x 2
1GB RAM
120GB HD
MacOS 10.5


System 2 = Dell Inspiron 530
Price = $499
Core2Quad Processor -- 2.4GHz x 4
3GB RAM
500GB HD
Vista Home Premium

So, on the surface, it would appear that I would be paying an additional $300 to get 2 less cores, slower cores, 2GB less RAM and about 25% of the HD capacity. In exchange for those concessions I would get a better OS and a more attractive, smaller computer.

So . . . is it worth it? My inclination is to either go with the Dell or wait until the next refresh cycle of the Mac Mini. It has apparently been quite awhile since they last revamped it so my hope is that they will update it in the next 2-3 months.

As much as I am a fan of Apple, I really think they have a large gap in their product line for computers. If you don't want a built-in monitor there's a pretty large distance between the $799 Mini and the Pro that starts at $2799.

#2 of 16 Yee-Ming

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Posted July 09 2008 - 04:18 PM

Some might say paying $300 extra for OSX instead of Vista is worth every penny... Posted Image

But seriously, the Mac will also come with iLife and all sorts of other software, which might or might not be worth the extra $300 to your parents. And there's always the ease of use factor.

#3 of 16 Carlo Medina

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Posted July 09 2008 - 04:55 PM

It's totally up to you if the software that comes w/ a Mac is worth it [as well as the small form factor]. If it is, then go the Mac route. If it isn't, then obviously the Inspiron is the way to go.

A word of caution if you're leaning towards the Mini...it's been a very long time since it was updated. I hardly ever suggest "The Waiting Game" as there is always something better "just around the corner". But the Mini is actually overdue for an update, so I'd hate for you to buy one this week and have a new version (usually more CPU power, HD space, RAM for the same price) and have a new version come out in August.

#4 of 16 DaveF

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Posted July 09 2008 - 04:59 PM

If those were my choices, I'd buy the PC. I think the mini is egregiously overpriced. It's not $300 extra for OS X, it's $99 for the outdated hardware and $700 for OS X.

If buying a Mac, I suggest spending the money to get an iMac or better.

And how do your parents feel about switching computer systems? And buying new software to replace their Windows software? And migrating all their email, photos, etc?

#5 of 16 Ronald Epstein

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Posted July 09 2008 - 08:59 PM

I would never consider a PC period.

I realize the iMac is about $400-$500 more than what you
expected to spend, but I think in the long run you are getting
a better computer that has the latest OS X and software.

If you buy it from MacMall (should be a link at the top of our
main Apple forum page) you get 6 months to pay it off, so that
may make it much easier for you to budget.

In fact, here is a link for you

These also have webcams built in so they can communicate
with other family members with the same capabilities.

Let us know what you decide.

Ronald J Epstein
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#6 of 16 SethH

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Posted July 09 2008 - 10:34 PM

Thanks for the feedback guys.

A couple things that were mentioned that I'll address.

1 - And how do your parents feel about switching computer systems?
They are a little nervous and a little excited. My dad is a long-time Apple shareholder, so he was the first to bring up the idea. My mom is an elementary school teacher, so she's worked with Apple her entire career (or at least since the mid-80's), but amazingly enough they are just now beginning to use OSX, so there would be a learning curve for her too.

2 - I realize the iMac is about $400-$500 more than what you
expected to spend, but I think in the long run you are getting
a better computer that has the latest OS X and software.


I have a couple issues with the iMac. First, they don't need a monitor as they have a relatively new 24" viewsonic LCD. Second, the iMacs seem under-spec'd as well . . . just not to the same extent as the Mini. The lowest-priced iMac has a 2.4Ghz Core2Duo, 1GB RAM, 250GB HD. If I go up to that price-range I may go the route of the MacBook.

While I agree with avoiding the "something big is right around the corner" mentality, it seems pretty certain from the various sites I've read that the laptops will be getting a refresh pretty soon and most sites also agree that the Mini is long overdue for an update. So we may wait 2 months to see what they come up with for "back to school" and then compare them to the current Dell deals to get a better comparison.

#7 of 16 Michael_K_Sr

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Posted July 10 2008 - 01:28 AM

One of my friends is currently living the PC nightmare...malware infestation requiring a total reformat. Even after reinstalling everything, he's having problems with dictionaries, contact lists, etc. I would NEVER, ever get my parents a PC. They require too much diligence to keep free of viruses and other spyware and even then it's not 100% foolproof.

The quad core chips you reference aren't going to make much of a difference in any machine you buy unless the applications you are running have been designed to fully utilize the processing power of each core. It's typically specialized professional software packages that can take advantage of those multi-core processors ...the type of software I doubt your parents would be using.

#8 of 16 DaveF

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Posted July 10 2008 - 01:52 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by SethH
Thanks for the feedback guys.

A couple things that were mentioned that I'll address.

1 - And how do your parents feel about switching computer systems?
They are a little nervous and a little excited. ...

2 - I realize the iMac is about $400-$500 more than what you
expected to spend, but I think in the long run you are getting
a better computer that has the latest OS X and software.


I have a couple issues with the iMac. First, they don't need a monitor ..., the iMacs seem under-spec'd as well . . . just not to the same extent as the Mini.

While I agree with avoiding the "something big is right around the corner" mentality, it seems pretty certain from the various sites I've read that the laptops will be getting a refresh pretty soon and most sites also agree that the Mini is long overdue for an update.... .
From your comments, it sounds like your decision has been made Posted Image and you (and your parents) want to buy a Mac; and the mini fits the budget. I suggest going for it.

I don't want to start the pricing argument: no one buys a Mac because they're cheaper. They generally are more expensive. But I don't think the iMac is especially high priced compared to a PC. And if you compare it to an all-in-one PC, it's definitely competitive.
Dell all-in-one : starts at $1300
iMac : starts at $1200

If your parents need the computer now, I suggest buying it now and getting on with it Posted Image If there's no rush, waiting never hurts when computer shopping. Though, it seems everyone has been expecting an update very soon, for the past year, and it hasn't happened. Apple seems to have forgotten about the mini.

#9 of 16 Ronald Epstein

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Posted July 10 2008 - 05:43 AM

I love Michael's point above.

Your parents will not have to mess with antivirus software
if they get a Mac.

Stay away from PCs. Between viruses, malware and (most of all)
Vista, they are the root of all evil.

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#10 of 16 Andrew Pratt

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Posted July 10 2008 - 09:29 AM

I would also suggest buying from the refurb side of Apple.com as you'll save a bundle going that route and bring the price much more inline with what the mini's are worth (and close tothe dull's price).

That said IMO the iMac's are a better deal even if it means selling off the 24" screen they have now. The Mini's while small in size still don't compare to the beauty that the iMac's bring. Also you'll likely want to pick up a matching Apple keyboard which brings the price upagain for the Mini.

#11 of 16 Sam Posten

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Posted July 10 2008 - 09:42 AM

Remember that the Mini and iMac are both, in essence, mobile computing parts put into a desktop formfactor. No matter how you slice it mobile parts are always more costly than their native desktop companions. And often less flexible and even a bit slower.

That said, yes yes a 1000x yes! If you can even get family members to switch do it, its worth the cost in what you make up for it in ease of use and less headaches. I would KILL to get my parents to switch to an iMac.

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#12 of 16 Ken Chan

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Posted July 10 2008 - 09:56 AM

Quote:
System 2 = Dell Inspiron 530
Price = $499
Is that with a coupon? The best I could do is with the deal with $150 Instant Savings, for $579.

It's not clear whether that system has DVI out, which the Mac mini does. (Hopefully your 6-month-old monitor does too.) The Mac mini also has FireWire and digital optical audio out, which are worth, I dunno, maybe $20 Posted Image

Considering any time you might spend doing tech support with a PC, the Mac might be the better investment.

#13 of 16 SethH

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Posted July 10 2008 - 11:57 AM

Is that with a coupon?

It's a deal that's been advertised online and in their magazines for a couple weeks now. I think it's scheduled to last a couple more weeks. Here's a link: The Dell Online Store: Build Your System

I'm not sure if it has DVI output. It uses the same graphics card as the MacBook (Intel 3100 integrated graphics) which has DVI, but I realize that doesn't necessarily mean the Dell has it.

Even if you hate PCs, you have to admit it's a pretty sweet deal.

One quick point of clarification. While I do feel the iMacs are a little under-spec'd, I do not think they are very overpriced if you do need a good monitor. If you already have a good monitor the value of the iMac drops slightly . . . at least for me.

#14 of 16 Ken Chan

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Posted July 10 2008 - 04:36 PM

That link has $230 Instant Savings, which is the price difference. But if you go through the "front door" of Dell's site, and pick the same model, I don't see it; or at least it wasn't very obvious. So it's good that Dell has these deals (which also have the psychological effect of encouraging you to buy) but it's a shame that you might end up paying extra just because you didn't see some link somewhere.

#15 of 16 Sam Posten

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Posted July 10 2008 - 04:53 PM

If anyone ever buys a Dell without superduper coupons they are crrrrrazy, at least crazier than most PC buyers (and I'm still one of those).

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#16 of 16 Dave Scarpa

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Posted July 10 2008 - 11:54 PM

I have an older PPC mini that I still use Everyday. I'd love an updated one but I agree $799 is too much for the hardware in the Intel Mini, you might want to look into getting a refurb, better price and Apple Refurb's are usually pretty reliable. I bought a 530 for a really good deal cause I needed an updated PC, of course it had XP on it and not vista, at the time I had a choice and I opted for XP. It's worked well, I mainly use it for video encoding. If the Mini ever gets a refresh I might consider a newer pne, but it desperately needs a higher end processor and graphics card.
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