Advice for a new mac user :)

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by gear02, Aug 18, 2004.

  1. gear02 macrumors member

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    Aug 18, 2004
    #1
    Today's the day I go buy a 12inch powerbook. YAY!! Actually this is the second time, the first time I got an ibook about 20 months ago and sold it quickly because I didn't need it. This time I do need it for school and I can't wait. I've really been wanting a powerful mac that can run OSX 10.3 well (my iG3 ibook had some hiccups).

    ANYWAY. I need a lot of advice. This is a windows guy entering an almost unknown world.

    First, the machine. I'm getting the G4 1.33 12inch pbook. I'll buy some memory later from a cheaper place than apple. I'm also getting the 20Gb Ipod. My reasoning behind getting this now rather than waiting for the new models is that I'm saving $200 for the edu price along with the $200 for buying the ipod and pbook together. I don't think I could save that much money if I get the new pbook which won't be too much of a performance boost anyways. What do you guys think?

    I'm not getting the applecare because it's like $300 more and I don't have that much money to spare. Is this an essential?

    What other things should I get?

    Software: I'm planning on getting Office 2004 when I get my pbook. Other than that, I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IS OUT THERE. I've went through the desktop thread and copied down all those nice programs you guys use to make your desktop so nice (one of the reasons why I wanted a pbook and why I can't wait for Tiger). Are there any other software I need? I've got adium, quicksilver, fruit menu, launch bar, backlight, cleardock. Anything else?

    Thanks in advance!

    One more non buying question. Last time I played with macs, I got really confused by the folder structer (home, applications, etc). How do you guys organize your software and where do you install your programs?
     
  2. yellow Moderator emeritus

    yellow

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    #2
    IMO it is. Some folks will agree. I would MUCH rather have the protection of a 3 year full warranty for my laptop, and not need it, then have my LCD crap out on me 2 days after my 1 year warranty runs out. That's an expensive fix. Remember, you only have 90 days of phone support as well. But the NICE thing is, you can buy AppleCare up to (I think) a week before your 1 year warranty ends. So, if you don't have the $ now, buy it later. But I do suggest buying it! ESPECIALLY for a laptop!
     
  3. stoid macrumors 601

    stoid

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    So long, and thanks for all the fish!
    #3
    Don't blindly get Office 2k4, you might not need it. Look at alternatives first. Spend that money on AppleCare. If by school you mean college, and in college you plan on taking advantage of the fact that you can take your computer anywhere, you should protect your investment. AppleCare doesn't care if you drop it, or spill beer on it. ;) But carrying it around jostles it's innards far more than a desktop ever sees, and so thing inside may just break even if you are taking care of it.

    As for other software, what do you want to do with it? That will determine what software.
     
  4. yellow Moderator emeritus

    yellow

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    #4
    If this is your first Mac, I think it's important to skip 'enhancement apps', because some of them can cause OSX to become "crashy", like 'enhancement' haxies from Unsanity. You should first get your Mac, and just use it, as it is. Get used to it. See what you like. See how stable it is. See what you think you're missing. Then, once you've been using it for a month, and have an excellent back up to fall back on if things go haywire, you can start tricking it out with all sorts of OS hacks.
     
  5. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

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    #5
    Hey, congrats - it's going to be a fun day for you!

    The 12" is a nice, portable, fast little Mac which you will really like. Some will probably jump on and tout the 15" - which is a nicer in many ways, but it's a lot more expensive. I think you'll really enjoy the 12".

    AppleCare can wait, but the almost universal advice is that you really should get it, esp. for laptops. You can get it any time within the first 12 months after purchase of your Mac.

    Office will be helpful for a student - make sure your school doesn't have a great deal on it before you buy (some schools do).

    As far as other software - I'd get to know what comes with the PB first, then look for software to fill the gaps. I mean, download whatever you want, but I'd explore what's there first - just to get to know it.

    Edit: i.e., what yellow said before I got done typing...
     
  6. yellow Moderator emeritus

    yellow

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    #6
    Did I mention how important it is to have some sort of backup solution? No?

    It's very important to have some sort of backup solution. Especially when your collegiate life is on it..
     
  7. gear02 thread starter macrumors member

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    Aug 18, 2004
    #7
    Thanks for the advice! It's really helpful! First, I guess I need to clarify, I'm going to bschool next year. I'm applying right now, so I don't have access to any good offers right now. I think I'm going to get applecare down the road since I guess I can buy it before the initial year is up. Also, I need to get Office since I need word to type my apps up.

    I'm just looking for helper apps. Things like media player classic for windows. You know, things that make your life much easier. I'll work on getting my gui neat and cool later, but I guess what I'm saying is that I don't know what software mac users use (other than photoshop, which I'm sure is a stereotype mac users love ;) ).
     
  8. gear02 thread starter macrumors member

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    #8
    backup solution?
     
  9. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

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    #9
    At the very, very least, plan on backing up to CDs or DVDs (depending on which drive you get) and on using the 20GB iPod to store important docs you're working on (as well as writing them to CD/DVD). Just assume every night that your disk will fry when you boot in the morning. It most likely won't fail the entire time you own your PB. But... if you assume that it won't fail, it'll break down as soon as it's loaded with critical, not-found-elsewhere files.

    And always, always, always back up any iTMS-purchased music - you cannot re-download it.

    .Mac isn't a bad deal for the backup alone - it ensures a completely separate backup, no matter what happens to your Mac or other items.
     
  10. gear02 thread starter macrumors member

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    #10
    Why is it nicer?
     
  11. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

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    #11
    Biggest plus is the larger, higher-res screen. I think the portability of the 12" is a big plus for the little guy, but the extra screen size of the 15" makes it more useful in some situations.

    Also, there's the backlit keyboard option... more flash than substance, but still cool. Definitely not necessary.

    But... you're looking at hundreds more. Maybe not worth it....
     
  12. chaos86 macrumors 65816

    chaos86

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    Sep 11, 2003
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    127.0.0.1
    #12
    im a new college student too

    one really nice thing about being a student:
    MS Office 2004 is $150 AND that includes 3 licences!!!! find 2 other college student mac users and split it 3 ways.

    use your ipod for yellow's 'much needed backup solution'

    i got the 15incher. i couldnt deal with 1024x768 after using an emac at 1280x960 for so long. i even have trouble now getting used to the missing 106 rows of pixels on the 15 (1280x854).


    what i did was buy office and install an old version of photoshop, illustrator, dreamweaver, and flash that my step dad owns but does not use. other than that i am entertaining myself with garageband and warcraft 3 til i go to school and realize how much stuff i want that i cant have because i blew all my money on books. ;)
     
  13. gear02 thread starter macrumors member

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    Aug 18, 2004
    #13
    My reasoning for getting the 12 over the 15 is not money (though it helps). At work I have a 15 inch Dell Lattitude D800. The screen is huge and is really quite nice, but it's heavy and the size of the screen makes the laptop very bulky. Now, I guess I could use this for the next year instead of getting a pbook now, but bring it home and back makes me feel very uncomfortable because of its size and the fact that it feels very plasticky and structurely weak. I'm afraid I might break this thing, and at $2500 it's not worth the risk.

    My cousin bought the 15 pbook last year and I was in love with it. The screen was nice and big and it felt well built. However, i think the purpose of my laptop is to be very portable since this thing will be taken to every class (bschool requires laptops in class). I don't think I need it to be very powerful since this won't be my main rig (my PC will be my gaming computer, sorry guys). But yet, this MUST last me 3 years (this year, plus 2 in bschool), so it does have to be powerful enough. I figure the 1.33 G4 12 inch pbook with a decent memory upgrade will do the trick. I guess I could go and get an ultra thin IBM or Dell with 2.4 ghz centrino...
     
  14. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

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    #14
    Well, generally, Mac laptops seem to last longer than their PC brethren, although this might be because Mac people tend to be slightly less gotta-have-the-latest-hardware types than PC users. Still, the PBs last. Mine's 5 years old, and still works. I find that the screen resolution is fine when out and about. Of course, you can always connect a monitor to the PB for mirroring/spanning. But you've got the PC as a desktop, so you don't need the screen space.

    The 12" will work great for you.
     
  15. gear02 thread starter macrumors member

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    Aug 18, 2004
    #15
    Still, I have a bad feeling that when I go to the apple store tonight, I'll get tempted to get the 15...or worse the 17! ack!

    btw i just remembered on piece of software that I might need to get. Virtual PC. Is this an essential? How does it work? Is it good?
     
  16. emw macrumors G4

    emw

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    Aug 2, 2004
    #16
    Based on what you've outlined above, I think you can avoid the temptation of the larger 'books. The 17", although nice looking, can be a bear to lug around.

    The 12" is perfect for what you are looking to do. I am even tempted to go to a 12" for work myself. I travel quite a bit, and the 15" gets to be a load.

    Of course, it doesn't help that I lug around about 5 pounds in accessories, I suppose...
     
  17. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

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    #17
    Hey, no one will blame you if you get a bigger screen - but I'd go 15" before 17" if portability was a concern - that 17" is a beast if you're taking it in and out of a backpack 5 times a day. And the 12" is still the most portable one.

    As far as VPC is concerned: VPC 7 will be out in a couple of months. I'd at least wait for that. I mean, you have a PC, so maybe you don't need it at all - but don't get 6.1 when 7.0 is coming.
     
  18. emw macrumors G4

    emw

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    Aug 2, 2004
    #18
    Should've covered this in my last post. Since you already have a PC, I don't know what you would use Virtual PC for - it's pretty slow and cumbersome compared to a real PC, and unless you've got PC-specific applications that you have to run in mobile mode on your PowerBook, it's not worth it. You can exchange files, etc., between OS X and Windows without a problem, if that's what you were thinking about.

    Edit: should've known jsw would beat me to it... :D
     
  19. gear02 thread starter macrumors member

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    Aug 18, 2004
    #19
    Yeah I just read about it. I'm definately going to wait since the only reason why I would get vpc7 is just in case my bschool requires me to run some pc programs on my mac in class.

    I have read that office 2004 is very buggy. What's everyone's opinion on it? Is it worth it? What other options do I have if at school pcs are standard?

    Btw I apologize for this thread being in the wrong forum since now I'm asking general mac questions. But you guys have been really helpful!
     
  20. yellow Moderator emeritus

    yellow

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    #20
    It's crap. It's slow. Definitely not essential. You already have a Windows laptop, it'll be 10x faster then VPC.
     
  21. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

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    #21
    Don't worry about the forum. It's still buying advice, after all.

    I use Office X - the version before 2004 - and it works fine for me. I ran Office 2004 (free trial) for a month, and it worked fine for me as well - I just didn't see any reason to shell out for the upgrade. There were likely bugs, of course, but I'd hardly qualify it as "buggy", at least as far a Word is concerned, which it what I use the most. The others, I just played with.
     
  22. gear02 thread starter macrumors member

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    Aug 18, 2004
    #22
    not at school I won't. It's just in case i need it for some pc apps for school.
     
  23. emw macrumors G4

    emw

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    #23
    I am assuming these are apps that have no Mac equivalent? Either way, it probably can't hurt to have it in a pinch. I run it now and then, but generally only for testing something out in a PC-like environment. But as jsw mentions, wait until 7.0.
     
  24. chaos86 macrumors 65816

    chaos86

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    #24
    i know you already got your mac but somebody else whos about to choose a computer might be reading and since nobody else disposed of this awful thought i guess i must:
    1) theyre ultra thin because they skimp on the essentials like the masses of connectivity in the pbooks
    2) my understanding is that the centrino is the mobile equivalent of the celeron (has a low power mode for when unplugged like the g4) but if its anything like the celeron then you can expect to subtract about a third to a half of the speed when comparing it to a pentium 4. like 2.4 ghz celeron/centrino feels like a 1.2 to 1.8 ghz p4 would.
    3) ibm notebooks have that annoying as hell mouse blob stuck between the keys instead of a trackpad
    4) you dont get aluminium cases with the pcs, they feel like your work machine- plasticky and structurally weak

    correct me if im wrong pc guys, this is second hand info from my girlfriends pc techie dad but he usually knows what hes talking about.
     
  25. tristan macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 19, 2003
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    high-rise in beautiful bethesda
    #25
    b-school suggestions

    For B-school, you'll definitely want Office. Word, Excel, and Powerpoint is what you do all day, and you'll need to be able to share those docs with your PC-wielding team mates.

    There won't be very many PC apps you'll need, and if you do, you can probably use either a Teammates computer ,or a desktop computer somewhere. And a lot of stuff is web-based now. I think you could skip VPC.

    Backups are *critical* - burn CDs and make sure they work on PCs. If your Mac goes, you better be able to get access to a PC and all your work within hours.

    I'd get Applecare about a month before your one year anniversary. Make sure you register it, or you might have delays if you ever need to fix something.

    Good luck! Business school is a blast, and should be even better with a Mac. (I had a Dell that broke the month after I graduated - bought my PB a couple of weeks later.)
     

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