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BOFH 14 April 2010 02:22

The Apple Thread
 
Mod Edit: This is a good thread for Apple questions, comments, and information. Please use this thread for all things Apple.

Gentlemen,
I constantly hear about how Mac is somehow far superior to PC in every possible way. That said, I'd like to give 'em a shot, but not at a high pricetag. I'm in the market for a new machine to use as a "media center," hooked directly to my bigscreen. Thought I'd try a Mac, if I can find a good price on one. Any suggestions?

Beyond that, I know that Mac is Unix-based...is it as easily customizable as Linux, or is it just 100% proprietary?

SHOOB 14 April 2010 13:58

Have you looked at the mac mini?

SOTB 14 April 2010 15:10

Quote:

Originally Posted by BOFH
....but not at a high pricetag.

What is "a high pricetag"? Apple just announced, yesterday, upgrades to their laptop line -- I think the prices stayed the same, no? Or pretty close?

magician 14 April 2010 16:21

Mac Mini is probably perfect for you.

JumpCut 14 April 2010 19:26

We run Macs exclusively, including editing suites that cut movies for broadcast and the big screen. My personal machine is a 24" self-contained iMac with 500GB hard drive and all the software candy, which is pricey. Bought it at the Apple store online for $1600. A very good home unit can be purchased for half that.

In terms of customizing. If you aspire to write code, Apple has a script system that allows you to customize as you see fit. However, you'll find many communities of Mac wonks that create shareware and open source programs that are easily tweaked to suit your needs. This is far more common in Mac Land than PC World. For example, RapidWeaver is an excellent web design program available for free. User create different plug-ins and share them, much like WordPress. The PC equivalent is DreamWeaver and available from Adobe for $200.00.

FWIW, many of my interns are college kids who've only worked on PC. Once they spin up the Mac and get the hang of it, they're instantly sold. It's not necessarily superior to PC, just very different.

BOFH 14 April 2010 20:53

Quote:

Originally Posted by JumpCut (Post 1293024)
We run Macs exclusively, including editing suites that cut movies for broadcast and the big screen. My personal machine is a 24" self-contained iMac with 500GB hard drive and all the software candy, which is pricey. Bought it at the Apple store online for $1600. A very good home unit can be purchased for half that.

In terms of customizing. If you aspire to write code, Apple has a script system that allows you to customize as you see fit. However, you'll find many communities of Mac wonks that create shareware and open source programs that are easily tweaked to suit your needs. This is far more common in Mac Land than PC World. For example, RapidWeaver is an excellent web design program available for free. User create different plug-ins and share them, much like WordPress. The PC equivalent is DreamWeaver and available from Adobe for $200.00.

FWIW, many of my interns are college kids who've only worked on PC. Once they spin up the Mac and get the hang of it, they're instantly sold. It's not necessarily superior to PC, just very different.


It should be noted that I run windows ONLY in a VM, and ONLY for the purposes of vulnerability/penetration testing. I'm interested in how Mac compares to Linux, and how the pricetag of the hardware will compare. For instance, I can build a pretty hardcore desktop, hook it up to the TV (No monitor necessary) and run Linux, which is free, for around $400-$500. I KNOW a Mac won't come that cheap, but if I can get a powerful Unix-based system for...say, $800 or less, I'd be willing to shell that out, just to see what all the buzz is about.

magician 14 April 2010 20:59

In that price range, Mac Mini is for you.

It has not been updated in quite some time, however, and it is underpowered. It runs OSX natively, however, and was designed to form the heart of a media center. Stuff it with memory and attach drives to it. You will like it. You will like it more if it gets updated before you buy.

The Pro versions are behemoths, and they are expensive. They are also cool as hell. I generally advise waiting until the new models are released, as that will give you cutting edge hardware until the next year, when the model refresh comes out.

I am looking hard at the new 17-inch PowerBook. Need to pay some bills before I can afford it.

JumpCut 15 April 2010 07:02

1 Attachment(s)
You can get terrific used Macs off of EBay for very cheap, if you simply want to test and play around.

For example, Apple made the eMac several years ago for the educational market. They phased them out around 2006. They come in 15" and 17" models and are self-contained (with CRT) in white boxes. I bought several of these for $150 each, updated the OS, and use them as general purpose machines (email, docs, etc.) Some models come with the SuperDrive, which allows you to burn CD/DVD with a mouse click. My college kids love these machines because they're tough as hell, but still have that Mac feel and reliability. We even have them networked by Airport units, and all of my new Mac software runs flawlessly.

I guarantee you won't be disappointed at $150.00. You can always flip it to another buyer when done.

Be sure to get the SuperDrive. This is the G4 model that we use:

ussfpa 15 April 2010 08:01

Dude-you get what you pay for. I was a PC advocate for more than 20yrs, I paid what I THOUGHT was high cha-ching for my mac, but it has been an absolute pleasure to own. I have since bought one for my daughter and my Mom. It NEVER crashes, I turn it on and in less than 30 seconds I am on the internet and doing whatever I want to do with however many programs I want to run. I can run Windows on it if I ever have the whim or fancy. I don't have to constantly do the drivers, the virus scans, etc....
I dropped a couple grand on my last PC laptop - I dropped a couple grand on this laptop - but I am INFINITELY happier with it.
It's worth the cha-ching...

PA

JAFO 15 April 2010 10:08

I have an Alienware, which was supposed to be "top of the line". Not so much. Too many crashes, driver updates, Windows 7 updates, and the list goes on. I've had the thing for less than a year, and ready to trade in on a Mac. The girlfreind has a Mac that she is quite content with.

What's the learning curve for PC to Mac? I'd like to keep it as a laptop vs desktop. Any recommendations? I need at least 4 USB ports as well.

Local 15 April 2010 10:30

I run a Lenovo T500 with Ubuntu. No complaints, runs super faster, never crashes, etc.

My media server is an appletv hacked to run the latest Boxee beta software. It does 720p, but because apple has locked their GPU it has to do everything off the processor, it can't do 1080p. Boxee will soon release their Boxee box, which will do 1080p and if you want a 'cheap' media server this is probably it for you.

If you just want to 'try' a mac, and have an intel machine, you can download and install mac os X on your current PC. Depending on your hardware configuration and what drivers are available, it will run pretty close to what you would buy in the mac store. Google for more information, moving father into this territory would be frowned upon by CV.

Fwiw my lenovo triple boots windows 7, Ubuntu, and OS 10. I haven't booted OS X in a while, but when I last worked on it there wasn't a wifi driver that worked with OS X for the intel wifi card.

Having a girlfriend in the graphic design business - she bought a top of the line Mac laptop 3 years ago. Granted, she's a bit of a 'hard' user - but the thing has basically self destructed. The CD rom drive doesn't work, the keyboard and mouse recently stopped working as well. Just outside the warrenty the battery stopped holding a charge.

The OS is VERY closed, NOT very secure, though for the most part hasn't received the same kind of attention that PC's have exploit/security wise.

I dunno. You'd have to pry my Linux/Lenovo combo from my cold dead hands.

- Local

kmc86 15 April 2010 10:52

Quote:

Originally Posted by ussfpa (Post 1293179)
I dropped a couple grand on my last PC laptop - I dropped a couple grand on this laptop - but I am INFINITELY happier with it.
It's worth the cha-ching...

PA

X2, I switched to Mac last year and have never been happier with my laptop. Only problem I had, was I had some Rosetta Stone packs, so I just partitioned the drive and set those up on Windows. I'll probably never buy another PC

Local 15 April 2010 11:42

I think its worth noting...

PC stands for Personal computer, not windows

if Apple or windows should have the "PC" monkier... apple computers used to run exclusively on "PowerPC" processors. Windows never ran on PC anything... but somehow got stuck with the title of PC's...

I understand after all the "I'm a mac, and I'm a pc" commercials people use the PC monkier for windows machines... but its kind of silly.

Esp now that Apple computers run on Intel processors and 90% of their hardware (possibly 100% someone please correct me) is found on machines running windows, the only real difference is the software.

So while people will understand what you are talking about when you say "PC vs Mac" - please understand to a tech savy person... its just like saying clip versus mag.

splitting hairs (or Operating systems),

Local

MixedLoad 15 April 2010 15:56

You won't regret getting a Mac. I bought the 12" Powerbook five years ago and I upgraded to a 15" MacBook Pro in early 2008. They're fantastic machines and I've never met anyone who found the transition difficult.

On the contrary. Though I grew up on a 386SX/16Mhz with 1mb RAM and a 40MB HD, running MS DOS 4.0 (before the upgrade to 5.0) and know my way around any machine that's running MS Anything, I can with certainty tell you that it's infinitely easier to use Apple's OS Anything.

Way simpler and for the everyday user who takes pictures, surfs the web and does some work on it these things are unbeatable.

You can get an old MacBook (2008ish) for a few hundred bucks right now and it'll do most anything you need on a daily basis.

As for the Mac Mini, you can bump that thing up if you gut it and you can install different OS's on there to have it become your home media center. They're quite amazing little machines and dirt cheap.

random 15 April 2010 17:48

Quote:

Originally Posted by JAFO (Post 1293224)
What's the learning curve for PC to Mac? I'd like to keep it as a laptop vs desktop. Any recommendations? I need at least 4 USB ports as well.

Fast learning curve. I knew the basics from handling friends' Macs, but when I got mine I'd figured out major things within a week. It's pretty self-explanatory and user-friendly.

Also, a biased shout-out to Apple's Customer Service. My HD crashed about 1.5 years ago (bought my Mac summer 2006) so I was out of warranty. Took it to the store, they told it was fried, gave me some business cards with data recovery companies on them. I went home, did a bit of research, and found out that complaints had been made about a specific HD installed in Macs during a period of 2006. I call up Apple, explain the problem. The guy actually asked me for the link of the report (online article, not a major news outlet) and after reading it, Apple shipped me a new one free of charge. And they all spoke English.

DC Photog 15 April 2010 17:58

Quote:

Originally Posted by random (Post 1293412)
And they all spoke English.

One of my favorite things about them.

JAFO 15 April 2010 18:47

OK, now I'm sold on a Mac Pro. Went to the local Apple store, and was completely jazzed by these machines. I'm not so crazy about the $345 for a service plan, but what are ya gonna do?

Soooooo, does anyone want to buy an Alienware M17x? I'll pay for shipping. Or does anyone know of companies that do trade in? Send me a PM for specs if you're interested.

SOTB 15 April 2010 19:32

Quote:

Originally Posted by JAFO
I'm not so crazy about the $345 for a service plan, but what are ya gonna do?

You have a year from the date of purchase to decide if you want it or not. And this is whether you buy it through Best Buy or the Apple Store itself -- although IIRC (I may be wrong), the Best Buy plan may be a little more attractive (we bought our daughter's Macbook from Best Buy, but the Best Buy plan I think calls for the payment up front).

Bottom line, give it a year to think about it, no reason to give them the cash up front, unless you just want to save the hassle....

gadget 16 April 2010 08:45

Quote:

Originally Posted by ussfpa (Post 1293179)
Dude-you get what you pay for. I was a PC advocate for more than 20yrs, I paid what I THOUGHT was high cha-ching for my mac, but it has been an absolute pleasure to own. I have since bought one for my daughter and my Mom. It NEVER crashes, I turn it on and in less than 30 seconds I am on the internet and doing whatever I want to do with however many programs I want to run. I can run Windows on it if I ever have the whim or fancy. I don't have to constantly do the drivers, the virus scans, etc....
I dropped a couple grand on my last PC laptop - I dropped a couple grand on this laptop - but I am INFINITELY happier with it.
It's worth the cha-ching...

PA

Same experience. I'm currently a Chief Engineer for a major defense contractor working on large scale integrated systems. I spend 8 - 10 hours a day on a MS Windows platform then go home to my Mac. We have very few issues with our systems at work but this is due to the huge number of IT support personnel constantly performing maintenance, effective firewalls, and user inability to "knob dick" with the systems. Most people at home don't have this kind of support. As stated in an earler post, Mac OS X uses unix as it's underlying operating system. Unix is more secure and more stable than the MS Windows OS. My wife and I got our respective computers at the same time--her's is a Toshiba Laptop running MS Windows XP mine is a Mac Book Pro running Mac OS X (Snow Leopard). Mine runs better than when I bought it (I upgraded to Snow Leopard) and has never crashed, My wifes POS is sooooooo sloooooooow now it's almost unusable... and it crashes. Performance wise, I'm running Adobe Creative Suite 4 (Photoshop, Acrobat, Illustrator, Dreamweaver... CS4) on both MS Windows systems and my Mac Book Pro (natively). My Mac Book Pro (laptop) is much faster than my desktop and they have similar CPUs & RAM. As far as interoperability, I run a mixture of Mac & MS systems on my network (WiFi & hard wired) using a dedicated PC as my file server (about 5 terabytes of mirrored storage).

BOFH 16 April 2010 09:03

I keep trying to make the point that PC does not mean Windows...but nobody listens. I am quite certain Mac will run "better," than Windows. It won't run any better than a PC, though. What I want to know is, will a Mac run better/faster than Linux, as I haven't run Windoze in quite some time now.


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