Help choosing a computer at work

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by Ted Max, Feb 18, 2004.

  1. Ted Max macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2004
    Location:
    New Mexico
    #1
    I just got a job at a university, and I have to decide whether to start off with a Mac or PC. The campus is 95% PC, so getting a Mac makes me an oddity. I'd have to do my own tech support, and while PC's get updated every 3-4 years (bulk buying program), Mac users end up having to grovel for money to get new machines.
    So, is it worth the hassle to ask for a Mac for use at work? If so, what should I push for, realizing that I might not get a new machine for many years? I am pushing for a laptop in addition to the desktop; does that change the decision?
    To put this into context: I am currently a PC user but am contemplating switching, and the work decision may ultimately influence my home decision.
    Thanks.

    Added a few details:

    Computer needed for social science work, so office apps, stats programs, citations management are more important than graphics, video, development apps.
    I have no idea what the specs would be on the Mac or this year's version of the basic PC. Last year's PC's were average boxes: P4 2.6, 512mb ram, 80 gig hd. That's one of the worries: If the choice is between an iMac 15 or a better PC, I figure I gotta go with the PC.

    One more thing: The decision has to happen by the end of the semester, so no waiting until August to see if Apple updates their systems.
     
  2. wordmunger macrumors 603

    wordmunger

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    Sep 3, 2003
    Location:
    North Carolina
    #2
    Hard to offer advice with so few details. Sounds like PC users get a better deal on your campus, so it might make the most sense to get a PC for work. But that shouldn't preclude you from getting a Mac for home use. I exchange files between my home Mac and my school PC all the time. There's really very little difficulty using MS Office, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, etc. files cross-platform.

    OTOH, if you don't get a lot of tech support for PCs at work either, maybe it would make more sense for you to use the same type of computer at home and at work--easier to troubleshoot. And you can always go to the Apple discussion boards (or here at Macrumors) for help when you need it.
     
  3. zodiac macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2004
    Location:
    Canadia States of America
    #3
    get a maxed emac

    Just get an eMac. It will have a gb of ram and a 160gb harddrive. It would be fine. I have to admit the pc users get a better deal but who even gives a ****? Any mac will be much more stable and easier to use(i.e, no viruses going into your computer everyday and daily crashes that increase over time).Go Mac.;)
     
  4. wordmunger macrumors 603

    wordmunger

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    #4
    Sounds like a Mac would work for just about everything you're looking for, except possibly statistics. If you have a server-based, command line statistics program, you can probably access it from a Mac, but otherwise, most statistics packages are only available from PCs. Certainly EndNote would meet your needs for citations, and MS Office would work on a Mac. For your requirements, the 15-inch iMac would work fine, as would the eMac. If you wanted to upgrade and have the option of more expandibility, you could get the 1.6 GHz powermac and get a third-party monitor.
     
  5. csubear macrumors 6502a

    csubear

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2003
    #5
    Well i guess it all depends on how much funding you are looking at. Maybe a powerbook and a 20" display would work for you? or an ibook and an emac?

    I know that endnote and ms office X work fine together. As for stats packages.. i can think of anything off the top of my head, but i am sure that you might be able to fine a comercial packages. I know that there are some open source ones. xmgrace comes to mind. btw. i work at a university and my lab is all mac, never has a problem yet :)
     
  6. Ted Max thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2004
    Location:
    New Mexico
    #6
    Another angle

    Thanks for the insights. Let's try the question from another angle:
    Since my work environment is PC centric and since some resources (stats packages) are only available in PC form, there are some good reasons to go PC rather than Mac. On the other hand, you all know there are great reasons to go Mac rather than PC as well. So...

    Do the advantages of being 100% Mac (at both work and home) outweigh the advantages of using a better-supported PC at work? Is going all-Mac worth some sacrifice, or is it just a compulsive goal without any real-world advantages?

    Yeah, it's a subjective question, I just wonder whether an all-Mac lifestyle is worth enough compared to a mixed Mac-PC lifestyle to insist on it. Anybody out there with an all-Mac or a Mac-PC mixed setup have an opinion about this?
     
  7. Mav451 macrumors 68000

    Mav451

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    Jul 1, 2003
    Location:
    Maryland
    #7
    Well Ted, the thing is Macs network well and can talk to PCs...not the other way around.

    So let's say your office CAN approve this. I would say a gradual transition to Mac would be ideal--and it can be done. I'm not sure what kind of office work you do, but if it's just basic Excel/PowerPoint and Word documents with some pdf files here and there, the Mac can do this with less IT help.

    The trouble is usually the initial starting cost...this is the same reason people pay easily twice as much for a Toyota/Honda rather than getting the cheap Kia. As a PC user, i believe that PC's can be tweaked to be as efficient as Macs in the long run, but in the office standpoint, Macs will require much, much less maintenance. And if you are not using any heavy 3D apps or Pshop or video editing, by all means, this investment will last easily 5 years or longer.

    *If you can build your own PC, like I have, you will be able to do it cheaply as well as building it for YOUR own needs while also using the Mac that your office will be mostly using later on. That is the huge advantage with PCs...no real investment cost (but not a good return either if you don't know what you are doing). I believe the best in both worlds approach, and with Macs, i can tell you, it will dramatically reduce down time from silly/ignorant office workers who download games/utilities that bring down PCs--Macs don't have these arbitrary applications in proliferation like the PC side does.
     
  8. Mav451 macrumors 68000

    Mav451

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    Maryland
    #8
    reading your post, I believe mixed, at the very least is important. When network/IT security is in this very state, having a few dependable Macs would be crucial, if not downright priceless should there be any downtime for your company. Downtime = less dollars, and even having a 20/80 ratio would be good.

    With 20/80, you have a slight investment, but not all in. I don't think you really lose by adding Macs. You lose by not having them at all. If I was running a company, I would definitely make sure there were Macs in the mix...I may be PC-biased, but I am not ignorant to having a diversified IT system. Diversity translates to versatility and who doesn't want that in the market?
     
  9. Falleron macrumors 68000

    Falleron

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2001
    Location:
    UK
    #9
    Re: Help choosing a computer at work

    I think you know what to do. Get yourself a "cheaper" emac with lots of memory + you will be just fine. If after that you have the option to get a laptop then do it. I bet that once you get a Mac you wont "want" to go back to using a PC day to day.
     
  10. cubist macrumors 68020

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    Jul 4, 2002
    Location:
    Muncie, Indiana
    #10
    The real question is, do you have the courage and determination to make a Mac solution work; or is it safer to just be a part of the herd that accepts and tolerates mediocrity. (esp. since this is a new job)
     
  11. wordmunger macrumors 603

    wordmunger

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    Sep 3, 2003
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    North Carolina
    #11
    The biggest problem with PCs is the endless proliferation of virii and spyware. Whether you believe that Macs are better designed or just less likely targets, the fact is that PCs suffer from these problems and Macs don't. So when the entire office is reeling from the latest virus attack, you'll be happily plugging away on your mac.

    Even if you can't upgrade as often as PC users, I'd take a 5-year-old Mac over a 3-year-old PC anyday. As long as you can get the software you need (and this is the big if), get a Mac.
     
  12. gwuMACaddict macrumors 68040

    gwuMACaddict

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    Apr 21, 2003
    Location:
    washington dc
    #12
    Re: Help choosing a computer at work

    you won't NEED any tech support... thats the wonderful thing about macs... and yes, grovel and grovel good... :D dual g5.... :drool:

    :D
     
  13. Ted Max thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2004
    Location:
    New Mexico
    #13
    Thanks for the tips

    Thanks for all of the advice. I don't know what I'll end up deciding.
    The killer at the moment is software; almost all of the software they use is on a LAN for PC, so if I go Mac, I may need separate Mac licenses for everything instead of just hitting the LAN. (And they don't want to spend a bunch of money buying me different versions of the software.) I wonder if Virtual PC can run stuff off a LAN in windows xp mode...
    You've given me some good things to consider, and I really appreciate it.
    I'll post here if I decide in the end to go Mac (I really want to).
     
  14. virividox macrumors 601

    virividox

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    Aug 19, 2003
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    Manila - Nottingham - Philadelphia - Santa Barbar
    #14
    hmmm yeah LAN aspect of your post is important if they dont wanna spring for the cash, then it may force u to buy ur own software and that isnt a nice thought
     
  15. Ted Max thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2004
    Location:
    New Mexico
    #15
    It's decided, mostly

    Okay, I just found out that I can have a laptop OR a desktop, but not both. So I'm leaning toward getting the best Powerbook I can and doing the docking thing. Naturally I will try to stall awhile on the purchase in case Apple comes through with a Powerbook update before August.
    This seems like a decent solution, since I have an old Windows laptop of my own anyway, so if there's something I need on the LAN that's PC only, I can just haul that one out and jack it in.
    Right now I'm leaning toward asking for the best 15" PB I can get, since going bigger is both unlikely and will disincline me from using it as a portable computer, which is the whole point.
    Again, thanks for the help. If you want to weigh in on the PB model or options I should go for, feel free, but you've done your duty already. I'm looking forward to joining this helpful Mac community. Switcher inbound!
     
  16. Opteron macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    Location:
    South Australia
    #16
    I'm guessing the Uni will give you a budget and you are to select a computer that falls under that limit,

    $ for $ you will get a faster and longer lasting PC.

    but it's up to you, the eMac is a pretty lousey machine from where I stand, but if you fell it will forfill the tasks you set for it, then by all means, buy an eMac.
     
  17. evil_santa macrumors 6502a

    evil_santa

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    Sep 23, 2003
    Location:
    London, England
    #17
    Re: Re: Help choosing a computer at work

    At work I have 1 of 2 mac on a NT network, while i do all the tech support at my end, I have regular problems with conectivity to the network. Outlook will stop working, moving file to servers will suddenly go slow, printer will dissapear for months and the re appear! Support will say "we havent changed anything" "well its a mac, thats why it doesnt work"or even "i can't work a mouse with one button!" and other lame excuses. Then they wont upgrade the machine, i have a g3 400 os9 with, apps are all of the same age, ie photoshop 5.5. The designers who have pcs have had new machines & all the apps updated. I have been trying to get a upgrade for over 2 years now!
     
  18. stump macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2003
    Location:
    Maine
    #18
    This has been all very interesting for this lurker. I am very close to deciding to switch to a Mac as well. What is holding be back is the initial investment to switch and also the same concerns about software for the Mac.

    Currently, my Thinkpad works pretty well with XP and I do have a similar situation working at a university so I think hard about actually making the change. What I didn't see mentioned is anything about using Virtual PC on the Mac to run PC software. Does this really work well enough to be a possible way to help those of us who still need to use PC software and work in a PC dominant evironment?

    What also holds me back is that there not a current version WordPerfect available for the Mac. Yes, I have tried Word, but no, not for me. I couldn't see computing without WordPerfect so I think, and think some more about the switch after years of creating documents and presentations on PC's. If anyone has actually used Virtual PC on a regular baisis I would appreciate your feedback.
     
  19. maclamb macrumors 6502

    maclamb

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2002
    Location:
    Northern California
    #19
    YMMV. Mine did. My PC has no problems talking to my mac - (win2k) but sometimes my mac has problems talking to the PC (ibook going to sleep mostly).

    I had a mac at work (PC/financial shop) for a year and gave up. Yes, I supported my own machine (for what little it nedded ).
    BUT - version issues between software programs, and network issues killed it.
    Panther is better - but still not perfect. Much as I hate to say it, IMHO, the Mac is not as hands-down superior as this site would have you believe. You should use whatever is easiest and lets you get the job done and GO HOME.

    NOTHING Is going to p*ss you off more than spending $$$ on a Mac and then finding it's a a hassle to connect and share files, or there are apps that won't run on the mac or run the same way...
    I use a Mac and PC at home - and while I prefer the mac for most things, the PC is better at networking with other PCs (duh). IMHO mac networking has gone from OH MY GOD this is awful to varying between - ok it works and Sh*t, not again...

    Much too much drama for me at work when I'm trying to be productive.

    IMHO Macs have become/are niche machines; for home they are great- nothing to hassle with to get good graphics, sound, basic office stuff done
    At work, in a Mac/Graphic env they excel.
    BUT in a PC-based, typical work env - i think it's risky. I prefer Dell, who comes out the next day and fixes it. period. Apple is fast , but not THAT fast.

    Why not RENT a mac for a week and see how it goes.
     
  20. Mav451 macrumors 68000

    Mav451

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2003
    Location:
    Maryland
    #20
    oh i was under the impression that Mac networking was suprerior--this is from what many MR members here told me as part of the "Mac is superior to PC" argument a few months ago. I guess that all goes down to heresay or "tingshuo" so to speak.

    Now i'm beginning to see a pattern.

    http://www.applelust.com/oped/applepeel/archives/peel_70_040206.shtml
     
  21. tiktokfx macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2003
    Location:
    DC Metropolitan Area
    #21
    I'm not sure how it's a problem that a PC can't talk to an iBook because it's asleep... if you have a laptop that's asleep, it's because it's not actually running... what's the confusion there?

    Macs generally have no problems with networking in *WELL-IMPLEMENTED* networks.

    If you have networks services that only run on Windows machines, then a Mac isn't going to run well, but nothing besides a Win machine is.

    FWIW, ever since getting my 12" PB I exclusively work on it. Got a couple Suns I'm setting up for a contract, I don't bother sitting down at them. Just ssh/X11 into them and do everything on my PB instead.

    Amusingly enough, running X11 on my 12" through a 10BaseT hub gets faster redraws than the framebuffer on the E250.
     
  22. maclamb macrumors 6502

    maclamb

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2002
    Location:
    Northern California
    #22
    Apparently the confusion lies with your reading/understanding of my post.
    I said:"
    but sometimes my mac has problems talking to the PC (ibook going to sleep mostly).
    "
    You mean a PC can't connect to an ibook when it's asleep??? YA THINK? :eek:

    I meant my ibook has problems re-connecting to the PC it was connected to after waking from sleep.

    Please read more carefully before assuming.
     
  23. tiktokfx macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2003
    Location:
    DC Metropolitan Area
    #23
    I wouldn't have had to assume had you actually written what the problem was in more specific terms. As it stands, what you wrote was extremely general and open to misinterpretation.
     
  24. James Craner macrumors 68000

    James Craner

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    Sep 13, 2002
    Location:
    Bristol, UK
    #24
    Ted Max, You have already said that your budget would not cover a desktop or a laptop. But you may want to find if they have a spare XP machine that you could connect to remotely using Remote Desktop Connection Client from Microsoft from say a Powerbook. This is the setup I have, I use a 15" Powerbook at work, but also have a XP Desktop as I have some forecasting software that only runs on Windows. The Powerbook works very well in a Microsoft Windows network environment. Using Entourage I can connect to our Office Exchange server for e-mail, contacts and calendar. I don't have any problems connecting to network share points (although browsing the network is a bit hit and miss). Office for Mac is fully compatible with the windows version (at least I don't have any problems with Word and Excel). The advantage of the Powerbook is when I go to meetings I close the lid to put to sleep and open it again to wake it up, which is almost instant. The rest of the office use windows laptops, so I smile while the go through the XP boot routine. Windows laptops do have sleep capability, but it appears less robust than the Mac implementation.

    If you can't get access to a windows PC then I suggest you get a windows PC or Laptop. Also I note that you are not a current Mac user, and this would also suggest you are better off with a PC. I don't think the University will be too impressed if you asked for a Mac, and you then realised that you either did not like it, or you needed a key application that was not available for the Mac. Also while I agree that Macs are easy to setup at home, they need more effort to work right in a Windows network environment. I needed some help from the IS department to setup Entourage to work with Exchange server.
     

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