Switch?? But What To Buy - Help Pls

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by dalvin200, Mar 24, 2006.

  1. dalvin200 macrumors 68040

    Mar 24, 2006
    Nottingham, UK

    I've been a reader of these forums for quite a few months now, and have been contemplating buying a mac for about a year.

    Bare with me, cos this might be a long post!!

    I'm a lifelong PC user, but am now getting a bit tired of constantly checking for spyware, viruses and updating that software - plus that software still takes up space and time to maintain, not to mention adds to startup time of the PC.

    I currently own a P4 2.2 PC, which is about 4 years old now. I've done some upgrades, like putting in an extra 250GB HDD and an extra 512MB RAM (on top of the standard 256MB), and the system is kind of hanging together - only because about once a year I have to reinstall XP from scratch cos I end up with some nasty malware that screws the system up.

    Anyway, what I mainly use the PC for is the internet/email, iTunes/iPod, graphic design / photo editing using Macromedia Fireworks/Adobe Photoshop, and currently my new hobby is video editing (or lack of..).

    This last point is very crucial, because I find it very hard finding a good piece of software thats very user friendly and also produces decent quality DVD's. I've owned about 5 pieces of software which are just pants, and what I've ended up with is the quite decent Adobe Premiere Elements 2.0 (cut down version of Premiere Pro).
    BUT, i find this is VERY taxing on processor/RAM power and my system slow to a grind when using this. I can't run any other app when I'm using this, which is a pain - plus when you are manipulating the timeline, it just take ages for any new transition etc.. to render..

    Anyway, this has meant that I'm not producing the DVD's I should of been producing (of the little nipper), and my wife really wants me to get on top of the situation (as do I).

    The iLife software to me, just seems perfect for what I want to do, and it's seamless integration just sells it to me. If only there was iLife for Windows!!!! :p LOL..

    I also need some word processing/spreadsheet support - maybe databases (but not really bothered with that), and I've seen OpenOffice also support Mac's - so I guess this would be sufficient for my needs.

    I also burn a lot of CD's and DVD's using Nero. Is iDVD the equivalent? Can you do the same thing? Like burn data discs as well as audio cd's? Or will audio cd's be best done in iTunes?

    Is it easy to port over my iTunes library from PC to a Mac? I guess my iPod etc.. will have to be reformatted?

    And I don't really care much for playing games, as I have consoles for that!!

    SOooo.. I see 2 alternatives to my situation:

    1) Buy a new desktop PC with an up to date processor (core duo) etc.. maybe like this one: http://www.medion.co.uk/flash/md8800/index.html


    2) Buy a Mac

    I know I'm on a Mac forum, with biased views, but I ask if you could help me out here with honest opinions.

    Last year I upgraded the PC monitor to a 19" LG TFT (its NOT widescreen tho), so it would be ashame to lose that.

    The dilemna I'm facing is if I were to go for a Mac, which do I buy?
    The iMac or Mac Mini?

    Does the Mac Mini core duo really have the processing power to replace my current desktop? Or do I keep my desktop, get a mac mini for video editing and other iLife stuff, and use a switcher between mac mini and pc?

    Or do I just dump the PC and monitor and get an iMac (also room saving as it doesn't have a tower).. Would I be able to hook up the 19" LG to the iMac and use a dual screen display?

    I also have a windows laptop which I bought last year, and just primarily use this for surfing the web around the house - I guess this is no probs if I did get a Mac anyway, cos the wireless will still work.

    Also, I have a LinkSys router, and I'm guesing this is fine for the Mac too..

    Basically, I'm trying to cover my bases with what software etc.. I use everyday on the PC, so if I do end up with a Mac, it will be a smooth transition (apart from the learning curve of using the OS).

    Your comments / opinions and help is very much appreciated on choosing which type of Mac to go for if were to take the leap over.

    Thank you
  2. liketom macrumors 601


    Apr 8, 2004
    iMac would be perfect for you i think

    cheaper option would be a Mac Mini and then you could use your TFT what you already have.

    iLife is the sweet thing about all new Macs
  3. student_trap macrumors 68000


    Mar 14, 2005
    'Ol Smokey, UK
    otherwise its microsoft office

    for audio cd's use itunes, iDVD is more of a tool for creating DVD menu's as far as i know (guys?), otherwise get Toast for your data burning (if you want a program to do this, OSX can do this for you too

    Its easy to port your music over, you will not have to reformat your ipod

    if you like ilife, get a mac, and from your needs it sounds like ilife would be perfect for you

    For light video work, a mini with plenty of ram should be fine, however, moving up to a imac would show significant increases in speed. You could use the display with an imac


    Id definately go for the mac, especially as you have a windows laptop and computer alraedy, which could bridge any software gaps. remember that the intel macs can now boot windows xp (although its not supported in any way officially).

    I'd go for the imac if you could stretch, its a great solution in my opinion for most peoples computing needs, and would definitely handly your video needs better than a mini.

    However, don't strike off the mini, its no slow computer either, but i think for the small difference in price between the high end mini and the imac, you may aswell go for the better machine
  4. dalvin200 thread starter macrumors 68040

    Mar 24, 2006
    Nottingham, UK
    Thanks for this info.. basically, any data dvd's i burn is backups - ie, divx movies to watch on my divx/dvd player in the lounge. audio stuff iTunes can handle no problem too..

    Are you saying OSX can create the DVD backups? without using any other (payware) software?

    Are you saying i could use my existing 19" TFT with the iMac? So I could end up with a dual screen display? (I have no DVI ports on my LG monitor.. just the standard old stuff if that makes any difference)

    I would be effectively replacing my current PC Desktop with a Mac, so I would only have the windows laptop as my "windows" pc..

    Well.. the core duo high end mini (with 2gb ram + 120gb hdd) works out to £899 incl tax

    The 20" iMac with 2gb RAM + 256MB Radeon comes to £1489

    is the extra £500 really worth it?

    i know there are big differences between iMac and Mini - dedicated graphics vs onboard, faster and larger HDD, monitor, faster processor etc..come to think of it, if you were to add all of these aspects to the mini (if it were possible) i guess it would cost more than £500..

    8x superdrive? hmm.. i have 16x in my PC and i use 16X media (DVD5 that is).. does make a difference in speed..

    oh, another query was how long does it take to convert video files into DVD files?
    for example: on pc, you capture your video from camcorder in AVI mode, then you edit this AVI to your needs, and then create the necessary DVD files from this AVI.
    If you were to have a 2 hour AVI - to convert it into a DVD would take about 6 hours using 2-pass (for better quality) - is this the same as on Mac? Or is it a complete doddle comparedto a PC?

    Thanks again..
  5. Wince99 macrumors newbie


    Oct 31, 2005
    yes you can, you insert the dvd, it shows up on the desktop, you drag and drop your files to it and you burn it. (why make it complicated when you can make it simple)

    the only thing is that you can't erase cd-r and dvd-r directly from the finder. You have to use the "disk Utility" that is included with osx.

    it would require an adapter, but it should work just fine. From apple.com :

    -Mini-DVI output port with support for DVI, VGA, S-video, and composite video connections via adapter2

    it's worth it if you use it. if you play games, don't go with the mini. Moreover, there are apps (finder included) which make use of the graphics acceleration which might speed up your workflow. (but then again if you rely too much on games, don't buy a mac... :rolleyes: )

    with iLife, the workflow is :
    1) open iMovie and plug in your camcorder to import
    2) edit (cut/transitions/effects/titles/etc.), you can also add music from iTunes (or Garageband if you feel like composing it yourself)
    3) mark your dvd chapters directly in iMovie
    4) click on export to iDVD
    5) create your dvd menud in iDVD
    6) burn directly from iDVD (it will encode automaticly)

    the workflow is simple and fast (you can use magic dvd and everything is created automaticly for you, I you want to do it faster). It always depends on how much editing you want to do. For the encoding, it depends on you system. As I still don't have my intel iMac, I can't tell.

    hope that helps,
  6. dalvin200 thread starter macrumors 68040

    Mar 24, 2006
    Nottingham, UK

    you mean you can't erase cd-rw and dvd+-rw from the finder (with the emphasis on the rw, as you can't erase -r, can you??)

    this is the monitor i currently have: http://www.novatech.co.uk/novatech/specpage.html?lg-l1915s&P=1

    is this the correct adapter: http://store.apple.com/Apple/WebObjects/ukstore.woa/wo/StoreReentry.wo?productLearnMore=M9320

    and what about resolution? the max my current LG monitor can handle is: 1280x1024 - I guess this means that if i did have dual screen, i could be forced to use this resolution on the iMac too?

    wow.. if i can hook up my dual display (ok, 19" square screen + 20" iMac widescreen) that would be great!! multitaking would be awesome.. do some editing in one window while surfing web in another window.. ;)

    Like i originally said, I don't care much for games on PC systems.. I have my consoles for that :)

    Ahh cool.. that sounds like a sweet workflow..

    Any indication of encoding timings? from previous gens of macs? just as a roundabout comparison..
  7. elisha cuthbert macrumors 6502a

    elisha cuthbert

    Feb 25, 2006
    Ues you can erase -rw using disk utility ( its as easy as clicking erase)
    as for -r no you cannot erase them
  8. Yvan256 macrumors 601


    Jul 5, 2004
    Getting a more powerful PC wouldn't get rid of all the other problems.

    So, as the others have said: get yourself a Core Duo iMac, max the RAM (or at least 1GB), connect your current LCD for a dual-screen setup, and enjoy iLife and OS X.

    Oh, and the iMac has a Radeon X1600/128MB, so if you want to play World of Warcraft on it, it'll run great too. :cool:
  9. dalvin200 thread starter macrumors 68040

    Mar 24, 2006
    Nottingham, UK
    I'm almost sold on the idea, apart from the dual screen query..

    this is the lcd monitor i currently have: http://www.novatech.co.uk/novatech/s...?lg-l1915s&P=1

    is this the correct adapter i need to buy?: http://store.apple.com/Apple/WebObje...earnMore=M9320

    and what about resolution? the max my current LG monitor can handle is: 1280x1024 - I guess this means that if i did have dual screen, would this be the max resolution I could use? And the fact that the current lcd is not widescreen.. ? does this matter?

    excuse any ignorance, but macs are new to me, and dual screens would be an even newer thing - both of these aspects seem very exciting at the moment.

    i appreciate all the help you can give.

  10. Eraserhead macrumors G4


    Nov 3, 2005
    The adapter is right... the iMac can handle an external (Analogue AKA VGA) display of up to 2045 x 1536 (so 1280x1024 will be fine on full resolution!)
  11. dalvin200 thread starter macrumors 68040

    Mar 24, 2006
    Nottingham, UK
    But doesn't this lessen the the of the iMac? using 20" widescreen you would want touse a much higher resolution than 1280x1024, and the fact that 1280x1024 isn't a widesreen resolution in the first place - woukldn't that cause problems/look weird?

    Or am i reading too much into this?
  12. student_trap macrumors 68000


    Mar 14, 2005
    'Ol Smokey, UK
    I think you may be, the imac should be able to handle running two screens at a real good resolution, especially with a 256 graphics card, my powerbook with a 64 meg card can run its display and an external 15in moniter with no problems at all.
  13. dalvin200 thread starter macrumors 68040

    Mar 24, 2006
    Nottingham, UK
    ahh.. but i'm not saying the iMac won't be able to run 2 screens.. what i'm saying is my current non-widescreen LCD has a max resolution of 1280x1024

    first of all, this resolution is not widescreen
    secondly, the native resolution for a 20" iMac is probably a lot more than 1280x900(?) - the widescreen equivalent of my current LCD's 1280x1024

    what I'm asking is if
    1) the iMac and my current LG LCD can work together in tandem in this non-widescreen resolution?

    OR can I use a higher iMac resolution which my current LCD will just display in? (even though its max is 1280x1024)

    2) Will the fact that iMac is widescreen and my current LCD is not make any difference?

    I hope this kind of makes sense..

  14. student_trap macrumors 68000


    Mar 14, 2005
    'Ol Smokey, UK
    yeah i see, im not exactly sure, (i'm sure someone here will be though), but in my experience, OSX usually sorts everything out automatically. So i'd guess it would simply recognise your LG's proportions and adapt accordingly without unnecessary stretching etc. Can anyone back me up?
  15. Chundles macrumors G4


    Jul 4, 2005
    Your iMac will run at it's max resolution of either 1440x900 for the 17" model or 1680x1050 (I think that's the res) for the 20" machine and it will run your other LCD at it's max res of 1280x1024.

    It doesn't matter about the widescreen/squarescreen combo, the video card in the iMac will run them both at their individual maximum resolutions.

    You need the Apple Mini DVI -> VGA adapter for your LCD if it has only a VGA input.

    Dual screen is awesome. I'd love to hook up a 20" iMac and a 23" HD Cinema Display. One screen at 1680x1050 and the other at 1920x1200. Soooo much room!!!
  16. balamw Moderator


    Staff Member

    Aug 16, 2005
    New England
    Yeah, the new iMacs are the first to support screen spanning out of the box, as opposed to mirroring. If they only supported mirroring (officially) like the older ones you might have an issue with mirroring a wide display to a 4:3 one.

    BTW. I just bought a stock 17" iMac (over an Intel mini) for the living room and it is wiping the floor with my 2 year old 2.8 GHz P4 Dell. I concur with all the calls to buy an iMac and span the desktop to your old display.

  17. dalvin200 thread starter macrumors 68040

    Mar 24, 2006
    Nottingham, UK
    Thank you Chundles.. that sounds great!!!

    Next question: can you have control of how the 2 displays work? I mean, can you specify certain apps to run one the iMac screen and some on the other LCD? Or does it always have to be one large screen spanning 2 lcd's?

    Also.. I'm used to using a 2 button mouse with scroll wheel - is it a problem using this on a mac? instead of the "mighty" mouse? (is the mighty mouse optical/wireless?)

    I think i'm sold.. will wait until after april 1st in case apple announce any new bumps to the specs though.. and either way, I'll be a new member of the mac community very soon :)

    Now how to break the news to my wife!!!...
  18. student_trap macrumors 68000


    Mar 14, 2005
    'Ol Smokey, UK
    In my experience it is one large screen, however im sure that if you move and open window to the other screen and then quit the app, the next time you open it up it will open at its last position on the screen. Its difficult to test this properly with a 12in laptop though, so im sure someone else will clarify?

    You can use pretty much any usb mouse plug and play, im using a logitech notebook mouse, it will configure it all for you instantly. The mighty mouse is something special (optical but not wireless), with touch sensitive buttons and a scroll-ball. There have been quite alot of complaints about it here though

    This is ones up to you ;)
  19. Chundles macrumors G4


    Jul 4, 2005
    I don't know what you mean about the apps thing. I'm running a 15" CRT off my iBook at the moment. I have Safari open on one screen, iTunes and Microsoft Messenger on the other and one big picture spanning the two screens. You just open an app and drag it onto the other window. Sometimes I have a bunch of other apps running too. Not having apps full screen is wonderful.

    I think Photoshop has an option to dedicate one screen to palates and the other to the main artwork so you get your main work as big as possible.

    You can use pretty much any USB mouse on a Mac, for best compatability just check for the Mac logo on the side of the box. A 2 button/scroll wheel mouse will be recognised instantly by OS X and you can use it straight away. If you get the iMac it comes with an Apple keyboard (highly recommended as it comes with the dedicated volume keys and the eject key (Macs don't have eject buttons for their drives, you either press the key on the keyboard or drag the disc into the trash. It also comes with a Mighty Mouse which is optical, quite nice - it will initially allocate the right button as a main button so it acts like the traditional one-button mouse but a quick trip to the preferences will allow you to change that. I have mine set up left/right, clicking the scroll ball brings up Dashboard and sqeezing the side buttons brings up the Spotlight search window.

    Here's my screen set up at the moment, I have reduced the quality of the screen capture but you get the gist.

  20. dalvin200 thread starter macrumors 68040

    Mar 24, 2006
    Nottingham, UK

    Now.. there are some final queries which I need to sort out..

    I have a Palm Tungsten E and need this to sync with the Calendar App on OSX (is it iCal or something?)
    Does this work straight out the box? Or do I need any additional software/install drivers etc..

    I've checked my flatbed scanner works with mac
    My printer also works with mac
    usb hub, card reader etc.. all supported..

    so all looks good.. apart from the pda query above..

    I know this may sound stupid, but can i plug my 2.1 speakers up to the iMac?
    I didnt see any sound card info on the specs page that I could recognise?

    Thanks again
  21. balamw Moderator


    Staff Member

    Aug 16, 2005
    New England
    You'll need Missing Sync http://www.missingsync.com/ to have iCal support your Palm.

    If your 2.1 speakers connect to a single jack, they'll be fine, if they need separate sub and Left right connections, you won't have anywhere to plug 'em in. The iMac has a single headphone style jack that also supports optical out.

    Good luck with your switch.

  22. dalvin200 thread starter macrumors 68040

    Mar 24, 2006
    Nottingham, UK
    Missing Sync.. ok.. thanks for the info..

    I was also checking out some info on how to port over my existing ms outlook calendar and emails and also email archive(s) and came across "outlook to mac" which is $10, but seems like it should do a very good job

    Anyone here had experience of "O2M"? Work well?

    There's not really anything else, and I almost ordered the Imac and was about to click "pay", but i realised I dont have enough credit on my card until I pay the damn bill in a few days time. Next week better come round FAST!! :)

    My wife has kinda come to the idea.. we're going to london next week anyway, so I'll take her to the regent st store for a hands on experience with the iMac :)
  23. The Senator macrumors regular

    The Senator

    Feb 18, 2006
    everything should work fine. its very easy to move all your stuff to your new computer if you have a network. even a wireless one. All my pc stuff works on my macbookpro except my keyboard (cuz its 10 yrs old, my bf2 secret weapon) expanding the desktop works very well right out of the box you dont really need any software or special adapters. You probaly will have to reformat your ipod. I did, It dosent take very long. I'd defenitly go for the imac, I love the core duos. they are super fast at rendering and working with audio and video.(atleast thats what my friends say compared to their minis and emacs) Hope this helps

    Keep it real

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