'guidance' on stepping into mac for the first time

Discussion in 'iMac' started by wolverines, Dec 10, 2011.

  1. wolverines macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2008
    #1
    I'm a long time PC user looking to cross over and buy a mac for the first time. I first started looking for a bigger screen so I can log into work remotely (i'm working on a 17" laptop right now but have 2 older 19" screens at work). One thing led to another which led to thinking about buying an all in one (easier to move around the house as needed) and the options from Dell or HP aren't so hot, which led me to the iMac.

    The primary use will be internet/email, ms office type stuff, and with the opportunity to use iLife probably some more photo/video stuff (we have a canon t3i and don't do much with the pics/videos right now). And of course logging into work when necessary (work is a Windows 7 pc but remote access works via the mac). Once we have it, who knows what else we might discover.

    So knowing what we plan on using it for, is the base level 21.5" iMac good enough? I would think so. It's always nicer to have a bigger HDD and faster graphics card, but for an extra $250... All of our photos/videos are stored on an HP Mediasmart server on my home network so I should be able to keep them all there and access them by creating some sort of share on the iMac. I go back and forth between the 21.5" and the 27". The 27" may just be too big for the desk/space it will be in most of the time, and it will certainly be more difficult to pick up and move around. From reading the forum it seems pretty easy to swap the RAM out for both if that turns out to be necessary.

    Would love some advice/suggestions as I dig more into making this switch. Sorry for the long post. Thanks!
     
  2. boy-better-know macrumors 65816

    boy-better-know

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2010
    Location:
    England
    #2
    From the uses you list, a base 21 should be fine. What I do reccomend is that you buy office for mac rather than use pages. If you rely on office a lot like I do, pages just isn't the same. Though office does cost a lot. And pages can be bought on its own for £14.
    With regard to the switch from windoze to mac, do it, embrace it, love it. Get the tracpad, learn the gestures, it will make your life better.
     
  3. Sandman1969 macrumors 6502a

    Sandman1969

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2007
    #3
    Yeah. The 21.5 should be plenty for what you want to do with a computer. I would also recommend office for the Mac. Luckily I get a huge discount through work as we are partners with M$. Could you utilize any educational discount?
    Online doesn't do any verification.

    If you really want a mobile solution you might want to look into a laptop and a monitor on your desk. Though that will cost a good bit more.

    Don't order the memory through apple. Go with the base memory and order from macsales or crucial.

    We switched back in 2007 and love OSX. We also went all in for the ecosystem with the Mac, iPad, iPhones, and appleTV. The whole family loves our apple world.
     
  4. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Location:
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #4
    I agree with boy-better-know, except that I prefer Pages - and will recommend it with some conditions.

    If the documents you are producing are going straight to print, or straight to final use, then Pages combines good word processing with an easy to learn page-layout system. It integrates well with the rest of the system, and with Numbers (the spreadsheet application) and Keynote (the presentation application). Most of my documents are for internal use, but I have a lot of them since I am a small business. I use iWork (the complete suite with Pages, Numbers, and Keynote) to build everything from internal inventory control forms to newspaper ads to presentations I make to photo classes I teach. I use Pages to record the minutes of a groups I volunteer for, and distribute those minutes - (and the minutes look fabulous! :) ) However..... I distribute those minutes as a PDF....

    If you are going to need a word-processor to create long and complex documents, with footnotes and indexes, etc ---- then Word is the better choice. If you are going to need to collaborate on documents with colleagues (who use Word) then you will need MS Office for sure.

    It's not that MS Office or iWork is "better" than the other, it's that each fulfil a role superbly. Ms Office does more, but it does it by being complex. If you know it already - great. On the other hand iWork is much easier to use, and integrates better with the system.

    Luck.

    ps There are lots of threads on this board about learning to use a Mac. Do some searching and reading before posting questions, unless you like sarcastic answers. The majority of people here are very helpful, but there is a certain element (who seem to be quick on the "reply" button) who enjoy being, um, slightly sarcastic.

    Also... don't mess with the Terminal until you really know what you are doing .... and even then, only if there is no alternative. Too many threads here have started with someone mistyping a command and destroying key system files.
     
  5. degsyuk macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2010
    #5
    I've used MS Office on Mac from the 'X' version through 2004, 2008 and now 2011. The Windows version has more features, more advanced features and is better in every way. It's worth checking to make sure the features that you use are supported in the current Mac version. If not, it's possible to run the Windows version, but it will make the transition more expensive.

    If you intend to keep your Mac for more than 3 years it might be worth moving from the base model to one with a faster cpu. RAM is usually cheaper from third-party suppliers and is well worth the investment (especially if you run Lion).
     
  6. robgendreau macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2008
    #6
    The iMac screens are great, but it's often more economical to get the smaller iMac and if need be add a second monitor later.

    Rob
     
  7. flynz4, Dec 10, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2011

    flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2009
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #7
    RE: Bolded section above. We have a MediaSmart server as well (actually two of them)... and it really does not work great for what you want to do. For iPhoto & iMovie (and also their professional counterparts that I recommend)... you will want to import the media into the libraries, and for that I have found that local storage... or direct attached storage is the best solution.

    Since moving to an almost 100% Apple compute environment, our WHS machines have been relegated to a lower and lower stature. I've given one of our two 8TB WHS machines to a daughter... simply because I did not need it anymore. My second WHS server is essentially doing nothing except for holding the ripped "full DVD copies" of my DVD collection... which I never use for anything. I only ever view the H.264 (Mpeg 4) copies that are kept on the iMac and streamed around the house. Quite frankly... I question if the WHS is even worth the power to keep it on anymore and it is only a matter of time before that is given away too.

    I would recommend getting an internal drive that is sufficient to cover your expected needs over the lifespan of your computer. Most people significantly underestimate how quickly their media will grow... so consider that as well. Currently that is 2TB... but I am hoping that Apple offers a 3TB or 4TB version on the next release when I buy my next iMac.

    Regarding 21" vs 27": Consider that the 27" has almost twice the pixels which makes it quite a bit easier to have two documents side by side. In general, I am a minimalist regarding how many windows I want open at the same time... but even with that preference... I am amazed at how useful it is to have a few windows open, and totally visible on even the most simple tasks (ex: as simple as moving files from one directory to the other). When I am doing something even slightly more complex (Ex:writing a paper)... it is very useful to have my word processor open in one window, and my reference material open along side. When editing a web page... I love having my web page editor in one window, and then all of the elements I might want to add to the page (ex: pics), open along side, so I can visualize which picture would look best on the page.

    Those are just a couple of examples of how more screen real estate can help in simple everyday tasks. My recommendation, if your budget affords it, is to get the highest resolution screen possible. In the case of an iMac, that is a 2560X1440 display. I am really looking forward to upcoming ~4Kx2K displays that should be available within the next few years... but I am buying a new iMac now anyway... because by the time the newer high res displays are available, then I will be willing to upgrade again.

    /Jim
     
  8. derbothaus macrumors 601

    derbothaus

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2010
    #8
    Except for it's nasty, nasty interface. So not better in "every" way. Just the ways that count most to nerds. Only thing I found that it does better is Exchange server communication. EWS sucks to deal with in Outlook 2011. Just give us straight support MS business unit, c'mon? Maybe they are too worried it would cannibalize their suite for all the switchers.
     
  9. wolverines thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2008
    #9
    Thank you guys all for the advice. As for pages vs. ms office I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. For work I'll be logging in remotely so it won't matter. For home use I can probably get by with either. It'll be used for basic things, kids homework, etc. And it can all be saved as ms office if needed.

    I'm still debating the size. I know the benefits of the bigger screen, it's just a question of whether it's too big for the space. I was out earlier and played with both at the store. Sitting up close, the 27 almost feels too big and the 21 too small. I know that if I sit a little further back the 27 is probably better so that I can have more open at once on the screen (while remoting into work).
     
  10. wolverines thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2008
    #10
    Jim, I was wondering if you could perhaps expand on this a little more. I don't know how many TB of data I have on the WHS, but it's a lot (not as much as you had though). It backs up the other PCs in the house and stores all of our music, photos, home videos and dvds as well. I would imagine occasionally editing the photos or videos. In doing so I would think it'd be best to copy the file(s) to the iMac, edit them, then save the edited version back on the WHS. That way they are backed up regularly and the laptops have access to everything. I would imagine that iPhoto or iMovie could see the whole library on the WHS (like I can do now with Picassa or Windows Live Photo). Are you saying this wouldn't be a good scenario?
     
  11. flynz4, Dec 10, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2011

    flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2009
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #11
    If it is too big for the space... then you have to go with what fits.

    As far as the 27" looking too big... I do not find that to be the case at all. It is not like you will be expanding a text document to the width of the screen and turning your neck to read it. Instead... the angular dimensions of any single item will be the same as if it was on a smaller screen... except that you will be able to fit multiple such pages on the screen. The ability to have several "normal" sized items on the screen is the benefit. As I tried to mention in a previous post... it ends up being very useful even for simple things you never would have imagined.

    At work, I used to have a 24" 1920X1024 display for my work laptop. After getting used to the iMac... I became really annoyed to only have ~1/2 the number of pixels... so I got a 27" 2560X1440 display to match my iMac. Having the extra pixels makes a huge difference.

    /Jim
     
  12. flynz4, Dec 10, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2011

    flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2009
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #12
    I bought my WHS boxes back when we were all using PCs. At the time our family of 4 had two desktops and 4 laptops. All 6 machines were being backed up nightly to the WHS. We also kept our "family collection" of music, pictures and videos on the WHS.

    Now, we have all have iPhones, iPads, MacBook Airs, and iMacs. We have a single PC left in the house (a 5 year old W7 machine with a gorgeous 30" 2560X1600 monitor). Nobody even bothers using it anymore. It still is backed up to the WHS, but it is a moot point because the data has all been migrated over to Macs.

    The concept of "moving files to the Mac" to edit... then moving back to the WHS seems barbaric to me. Let's take a look a photos as an example. Back when we were using PCs, we would keep our pictures organized in windows folders by "year"... and then further categorized by "event". So for example we might have a 2011 folder containing the following sub-folders:

    2011-01-01 New Years day
    2011-02-15 Ski Trip
    2011-03-17 St Patricks Day Parade
    ...
    2011-12-25 Chritmas
    2011-12-31 New Years Eve

    Now, with the Mac, my 10's or 100's of thousands of pictures live inside of Aperture 3. They are still organized... but they are also 1* - 5* rated, event tagged, people tagged, GPS location geotagged, etc. Let's say someone comes over our house and we want to show some slides. Within lieterally seconds, I can create an A3 "smart album" that (for example) contains pictures rated 3 stars or greater, containing pictures of our friends, filtered by the location being our beach condo only during the years from 2000 through 2011. Seconds later, the new slideshow will be playing on the iMac screen... or shipped to any of the TVs in the house through that Apple TV. This would be impossible to do in the past when our pictures were globbed together in funky windows folders.

    Now A3 does allow the pictures to live "outside" of A3... using a technique called "referenced masters". The interface to the WHS is clunky enough that I would not trust using the WHS as the repository for any referenced masters. Instead, at a minimum I would be looking for some better direct attached storage solution such as Firewire or Thunderbolt drives. Still, it is easiest if the entire library lives on the main hard drive of the iMac... as long as your HDD is large enough to contain it all.

    Currently, with fairly extensive library... everything fits comfortably inside of my 2TB iMac. I have about 1.2 TB of data between my music, photos, camcorder videos, documents, and ripped DVD movies. Of those... my ripped DVDs are my lowest priority thing on my iMac. In fact, when I rip a DVD... I keep the "full MGEG-2" copy on my WHS, and I keep the smaller MGEG-4 (H.264) within my iTunes library. I really do not care about the original ripped versions that I keep on my WHS. I could easily re-rip them again if needed... and to be honest, I am not too sure why I even want to keep a video library collection anymore. As the world moves to "any movie in the world" available for streaming... why do I even want a video collection, rather than just stream on demand?

    Now, most of my 1.2 TB data collection is VERY important to me because they contain all content that cannot be re-created (except the MPEG-4 movies and music). Our photo collection, 25 years of camcorder videos, and our documents can never be replaced. The entire data collection is backed up every hour to a Time Capsule in my house. This gives me the option of completely rebuilding any of our Macs (iMacs or MBA's) within minutes (MBAs) to overnight (iMacs). More importantly... all 1.2 TB of data is backed up the the cloud using a secure cloud backup vendor. I am currently using Crashplan+... which is an incredible deal at unlimited backup for just $3/month (single machine) or $6/month (unlimited family computers). I am on the family plan, and all of our computers... including my college students living away from home (even outside of the country), are all backed up to the cloud every 15 minutes. Even the old PC that mentioned earlier is backed up. The only thing that is not backed up is the WHS... so if my house burns down, then poof. As I said... I really do not care about the WHS anymore... so it would not be a big loss.

    The situation is ideal. All of our data lives on iMac which is on 24/7. All of our MBAs synchronize to the iMacs so we have all the data we would possibly want with us during travel local on the MBAs, and cloud synchronized back to the iMacs. All of our data is backed up twice... once locally inside the house (for ease of recovery), and secondly to the cloud (for disaster recovery).

    At this point... I am scratching my head wondering what I need to WHS for anymore. It had value when it was backing up 6 PCs... but those days are behind me as I have moved to Macs and Time Capsules.

    Hope this helps.

    /Jim
     
  13. MendotaMike macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2011
    Location:
    Twin Cities, MN
    #13
    Jim - what a great and helpful post. I am a little more than a week into my first Mac, a new 27" iMac. My household sounds quite a bit like yours (other than the fact that my kids are 6 and 10 instead of off at college) with 3 Windows 7 desktops, 2 Windows 7 laptops, and a very large (19TB) Windows Home Server (v1). Even my photo libraries are organized the same way (on the WHS, folder for each year, sub-folder for each event, etc.). I'm slowly figuring out that I'm heading to where you already find yourself - storing almost everything right on the iMac with the WHS relegated to nothing more than DVD and Bluray storage and playback (the WHS is actually pretty important to us in this regard, as we use 2 Dune Players for DVD and Bluray playback - we really like the MyMovies movie wall interface and the full DVD and Bluray menu fuctionality).

    Unfortunately, even though I bought the top of the line iMac, including the SSD and a 16GB memory bump before I even powered it on, I went with the 1TB hard drive because (1) I thought I'd still be storing pictures, home movies, iTunes libraries, etc. on the WHS, and (2) Apple's hard disk pricing just plain annoyed me (really? $150 to upgrade from 1TB to 2TB when you could buy an entire 2TB hard disk for about 70 or 80 bucks before the flooding in Thailand?). Now I'm kicking myself in the backside for skimping on the extra $150 on a $3,000 computer - pretty stupid.

    After relocating my iTunes music and mp4 libraries over to the iMac, I've already chewed up a good chunk of the 1TB hard drive. Moving my home movie and photo libraries over, which seems to be pretty essential for proper iPhoto and iMovie integration, would push me over the falls.

    Uggh. I'm not thrilled with the notion of hooking up a USB or fire wire external drive, but it looks like I'll have to. FYI, I've already set up a 2TB Time Capsule for backups, and am looking into Crashplan.

    Thoughts?
     
  14. doktordoris macrumors 6502a

    doktordoris

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2009
    #14
    I know that they aren't exactly inexpensive, but have you looked at external thunderbolt drives? The speeds TB can attain are mind boggling.
     
  15. MendotaMike macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2011
    Location:
    Twin Cities, MN
    #15
    Fast, yes, but $600 for 2TB? Those kinds of prices would make Apple blush.
     
  16. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2009
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #16
    Mike (I assume that is your name),

    Yes... it looks like our progression in home IT equipment is similar. I've done less in the area of home theater than you... at this point, we either watch ripped movies on ATVs, or we stream Netflix videos.

    Assuming that you tend toward more Macs and away from PCs... then I predict that it will not be too long before you buy another iMac. At that point, you can can get one with a larger internal drive. As you probably realize... it just makes everything so much easier to manage, backup, etc if everything you need is on one machine. I am a firm believer in keeping just one "master copy" of everything... and then just replicate it to other devices as needed. That way you always know where the "original" is located. For me that is on my iMac. When the new machines are released next year, I'll replace my current iMac... and let my wife keep the existing iMac as her personal machine. At that time, I'll buy the largerst HDD and SSD combo available. Worst case, if the largest is still 2TB... I'll buy that and offload all of my commercially available video to another machine.

    Enjoy the ride.

    /Jim
     
  17. wolverines thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2008
    #17
    Jim - thanks so much for all the detail. As mendotamike said, it's very helpful. As much as I may resist it's entirely possible that I end up down a similar path as both of you. For the longest time I didn't have an iPod. Now we have 2 iPods, an iPod touch and 2 iPhones to go along with an iPad.

    I went back to check to see how much space I was using on the WHS. My pictures only take up something like 50-60gb (could grow as we take more in RAW now). My home videos are maybe another 150-200gb. So a 1TB HDD should work for me for some time. In another year or two I can always add either a USB drive or thunderbolt drive for more storage if needed.

    Right now the WHS has all of the pictures, videos, music and dvds on it. The music (itunes library stored there) serves up the Sonos system. The videos and dvds are served up on SageTV. So it will be a while before we transition off WHS but it's certainly a possibility over the next several years. The ability to backup online now certainly diminishes the need for the WHS in the future. Too bad Apple doesn't make a Time Capsule that you can easily add additional HDDs too like you can with the HP Mediasmart server.
     
  18. wolverines thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2008
    #18
    just ordered!

    Guys, thanks again for the insights. Just ordered a 27" iMac refurb. It shipped today and should be here by Wednesday. Just in time to go under the tree this weekend :). Looking forward to it!
     

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