Imminent purchase - iMac & Mini

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by rscott4563, Jul 2, 2008.

  1. rscott4563 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2007
    Location:
    Cumbria
    #1
    Help/Advice is definitely needed, I'm on the verge of making the leap over to Apple after 17 years of Mr Gates ruling my computer life.

    I'm all set to go on the purchase of an iMac for all my day to day computer use (Web, Email, Word, Excel, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gaming etc etc..) and a Mac Mini for the living room media centre (Front Row, Ripped DVD's, iTunes, some web browsing from the sofa and possibly iplayer, 4on demand etc). I'll also be picking up a number of extras such as Airport Extreme or TimeCapsule, Airport Express's (for airtunes), External Storage for my media... So you get the picture, I'll be jumping in with both feet!

    Now I've been on the fence looking in at the world of Mac's for some months now and waiting and waiting for the right time to buy, well the waiting is over (almost).

    The big thing I was waiting for was the Mini update but still it hasn't come and so now I think I'll just have to go for it regardless of the fact that it is well out of date as it's still the only device I can find that meets my needs. Is there any possibility that it will be getting replaced in the next 3-6 weeks (is there some upcoming Apple event that you would expect a new bit of kit to be announced)?

    On the iMac front I'm thinking the 2.8Ghz with the Nvidia and 4Gigs (not from Apple). But when is the back to school promo going to hit the UK as I would very much like a ipod touch for use as a remote control for itunes round the whole house so I don't want to buy the mac on Sat only for the promo to start on the Monday!

    So:
    - Is the Mini going to be updated in the next 3-6wks
    - When is the UK back to school promo going to start
    - Is there anything wrong with my prospective purchase plan?

    Cheers :D
     
  2. teflon macrumors 6502a

    teflon

    Joined:
    May 28, 2007
    #2
    Apple often do quiet updates if there are no significant redesigns. The Mac Mini is at the end of their product cycle, so I would suggest you to wait if you can. You can always get the iMac first, then get the mini when it gets updated.
    However, if you can do without the surfing from the couch, an Apple TV would fit your living room multimedia needs quite nicely.
     
  3. Aroot macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 7, 2008
    #3
    Hi im not an expert on these things but as far as i know there arent any events in there near future, i think the next big one is january. but apple dont have to wait till then to update a product. and as for the back to school promotion i thought it had allready started? or if not should be soon. Other things you could look into instead of the mac mini could be an apple tv? sounds like it would handle most of your needs.
    hope this helped a lil bit.
     
  4. rscott4563 thread starter macrumors member

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    Jun 19, 2007
    Location:
    Cumbria
    #4
    I had considered an AppleTV but the lack of flexibilty really put me off as unless I'm wrong, with AppleTV I'd be stuck with only being able to view media that I can or have imported into iTunes and that's it? So no DVD TS rips, no torrent downloads, no streamed media (except what Apple will sell me £££) and a very limited range of compatible codecs (which means the slow and laborious task of converting everything to a quicktime format?).

    Also the issue of most of the media having to be stored elsewhere and streamed to the ATV, or can the ATV now have attached external storage??

    Does that sound about right or have things changed with the AppleTV, as I have to admit I haven't looked into it since about a year ago?
     
  5. teflon macrumors 6502a

    teflon

    Joined:
    May 28, 2007
    #5
    :apple:TV have a 40gb or 160gb hard drive that you can store things on locally. It does have a USB port but you can't attach external storage although there is a hack that gets around that. You can access Youtube but that's about it for online content. You do need to import your movies into iTunes, but it accepts .mp4, .mov, .m4v and h.264.
     
  6. ihabime macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2005
    #6
    I think most people would say wait on the Mini if you can. There are a few dozen threads on here with thousands of posts speculating about it if you're interested in a long read you can search, but they're all just guessing. The last update took almost a year, 334 days, this mini is at 330 days, so most people think it will come within the next month or so.

    You're pretty much spot on regarding the AppleTV, of course it can be hacked to do the things you mention, but that kind of ruins the 'It just works' idea.

    As to your overall plan, you might want to take it slowly, depending on your flexibility and experience with other operating systems there can be an adjustment period, especially if you come to it with the impression that Macs are somehow flawless, they certainly aren't. All computers an OSs have their annoyances and quirks. I've known some switchers who can't seem to get over that.

    Other than that it sounds like a nice set up, I hope you enjoy your new Macs :)
     
  7. rscott4563 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2007
    Location:
    Cumbria
    #7
    Ah thats where [​IMG]TV falls down for me, the fact that I have to go around converting everything to either quicktime (.mov or m4) or h.264 would just drive me crazy, why on earth don't they just let you play TS rips?? So annoying... :mad:

    And the lack of external storage options is just crazy, whats the point of having a small low powered media device which then needs to have another computer in your house permanently turned on just to be able to play your files?? Even the 160gb version just wouldn't cut it, I already have around 60gb just in music in itunes and once you start factoring in DVD rips, downloaded content and pics....no chance...

    So it looks like I'll either have to just lump it and buy some old old technology in a mini or wait till the end of time for an updated model to buy...:(

    On the UK "Back to School" promotion, well I've looked on the website and there's no mention anywhere. I know the American promotion has started but does anyone know when the UK one will happen??

    Cheers
     
  8. iknowyourider macrumors 6502a

    iknowyourider

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    onanorthboundtrain
    #8
    What is a TS rip? I think you will get more value and performance from a mini, even with dated tech/specs. Maybe you can get a nice used one for 2/3 cost of a new one. Something I found really cool (to me); of course any movies in itunes is listed in Front Row, but my divX and .avi movies are in Front Row too. You're in for so much fun. I switched 13 months ago and I am still hyped.
     
  9. DaveF macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2007
    Location:
    NoVA
    #9
    DVD files are in a VIDEO_TS folder, what the OP is calling "TS". Ripping a DVD copies the VIDEO_TS folder to the computer. This folder can be played as a physical DVD by DVD player applications like Apple's DVD software and VLC.

    And ripping a DVD is much easier and faster than converting just the movie portion to an mp4. It also preserves the entire DVD, including subs and dubs, and special features. And the full quality is preserved; re-encoding is lossy and some quality is lost.

    Inexplicably, AppleTV cannot play VIDEO_TS folders.
     
  10. iknowyourider macrumors 6502a

    iknowyourider

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    onanorthboundtrain
    #10
    ^^^ How can I rip my dvd's. I have an intel mac and I use handbrake to rip/convert for my ipod. I would like to rip a dvd to watch on my computer at will.
     
  11. bytefire macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2008
    #11
    It always starts later than the American promotion. Last year it was so late that it looked like it wasn't happening at all. You won't get anything out of Apple so all you have to go on really is it should be during August/September. It was September last year.

    Just so you are aware you will only be able to get Student Discount on one of the machines as they restrict you to 1 Desktop and 1 Laptop Machine.
     
  12. dmelgar macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2005
    #12
    Based on your description I would NOT get an Apple TV. Way too limiting.

    Mini is the way to go.

    I've been waiting myself to get a Mini for the very same reason. I figure I can also use it as a computer for the kids to surf where we can see what they see. I don't like the idea of them surfing behind closed doors.

    On the one hand... an update is imminent, but no one knows the timing. I don't think it will be before the iPhone launch, they don't like muddled messages. No events on the horizon, it will be a quiet update. Could be July, August, maybe as late as September.

    On the other hand... I've been waiting for 3 years for Apple to update the Mini to be a competitive machine. They ALWAYS manage to leave something out. I don't understand why they treat the Mini like an unwanted child. Either ditch it and get over it, or embrace it and make it as good as it can be. I'm sure this update will be no different and something will be obviously missing for no good reason. My current complaint with the Mini is that its the ONLY machine (other than the iPhone/iPod touch) that supports WiFi that isn't 802.11n. Just plain silly.
     
  13. jnc macrumors 68020

    jnc

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2007
    Location:
    Nunya, Business TX
    #13
    Have you considered a MacBook Pro rather than two separate devices?

    Handbrake will handle that just fine. :confused:
     
  14. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #14
    Just to be clear, there's more to it than this. H.264 is an encoding algorithm and can be used in more than one codec. For instance, you can have MPEG-4 videos encoded in H.264 or MKVs encoded in H.264 and they are not interchangeable. Moreover, there are other restrictions, including video dimensions and bit rate (and for the Apple TV, file size).
     
  15. teflon macrumors 6502a

    teflon

    Joined:
    May 28, 2007
    #15
    I use MacTheRipper. It has more features than handbrake.
     
  16. mBurns macrumors 6502

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    Oct 3, 2006
    Location:
    USA
    #16
    Good luck with your choice. I'd suggest a laptop and desktop though!
     
  17. rscott4563 thread starter macrumors member

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    Location:
    Cumbria
    #17
    No I really don't think that would meet my requirements at all. A macbook pro would fit the bill (albeit with an external display) for the main home computer but then again why pay extra for a laptop when it wont move from the desk...?

    Also I want a permanent home media centre and with only 1 device then I'd be constantly moving the laptop from the office to the living room every day back and forth and then theres the issue of only being able to either work on the laptop OR use it as a media centre, what about when one person wants to watch a movie and someone else wants to do some work or check their email?

    No I definitely need both a work computer and a media computer.
     
  18. rscott4563 thread starter macrumors member

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    Jun 19, 2007
    Location:
    Cumbria
    #18
    I'm not so sure, it would cost me an extra £300 or $600 for a base model macbook compared to the mini and the extra power would be wasted as I would already have a work computer and I don't need the portability. Also a laptop below the plasma wouldn't be quite as tidy.
     
  19. neiltc13 macrumors 68040

    neiltc13

    Joined:
    May 27, 2006
    #19
    On the living room media centre front I believe there is no better device to have than a Sony PlayStation 3. Yes, it's a games console but its media functions are absolutely incredible.

    Firstly, it's a DVD and Blu Ray player, meaning you can just stick your discs in the front and not bother about the hassle of ripping them. Plenty of Blu Ray movies are region free too, so you'll have opportunities to import.

    Secondly, you can use a piece of software called MediaLink to stream all of your iTunes content plus much, much more to your PS3. The great thing too is that with PS3 you also get a copy option which will move things over the network or from USB to the PS3 hard drive itself.

    Speaking of the hard drive, the standard drive in a PS3 is 40GB. You can upgrade this by removing a flap and a screw and I personally changed it to a 250GB drive. It takes standard SATA laptop drives and mine cost me about £50.

    Remember, you can't use 4OD on anything except a Windows PC, but iPlayer will work on PS3 through its built in web browser.

    In a month or two Sony is also launching an add on for PS3 called PlayTV. It connects to the USB port of the PS3 and allows you to pause/rewind/record Freeview TV stations in a similar fashion to how Sky+ works.

    The reason I recommend PS3 is very simple - it's designed for use on a TV, whereas the Mac mini is not. You have to put up with Front Row, which in my opinion is clunky and is a huge disappointment. You also gain access to a big library of great games too, which will be a bonus.

    If you're going to buy one of Apple's routers, you need to keep in mind that they do not include a modem. If you use ADSL (broadband through your phone line) then it's unlikely that you'll have a modem already. Try looking at alternative routers from the likes of Linksys because many of those have the modem built in.
     
  20. rscott4563 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2007
    Location:
    Cumbria
    #20
    Well D-day (or should that be MAC-day) is only 48 hours away! And I still don't know what to do?? :confused:

    I think if theres a possibility that the ipod promotion won't be till September then I'll just have to bite the bullet and buy a mac now because thats just too long to wait.

    Also I think I could be wainting till the cows come in for the mini update. But then knowing my luck as soon as I buy one Apple will announce the replacement with completely new specs and I'll most annoyed! :mad:

    On the subject of the iMac purchase I'm thinking:
    2.8Ghz
    2GB
    8800 Nvidia
    500GB HD
    Wireless Mouse

    Is there much reason to go for the top of the line 3.06Ghz instead or is it small returns for a fair bit more money which I could instead use for 4GB of memory?

    Thanks
     
  21. neiltc13 macrumors 68040

    neiltc13

    Joined:
    May 27, 2006
    #21
    Very much small returns for a lot of money with the fastest processor. Buy the 2.8GHz model you specified and then wait a while before you buy the other items. I don't think you've thought them through properly from what you've said in this thread.
     
  22. rscott4563 thread starter macrumors member

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    Jun 19, 2007
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    Cumbria
    #22
    Mmmm...PS3 Well now you've got me thinking as I was toying with the idea of a PS3 for the odd game and as a pretty future proof Blu-Ray player. I didn't know it was usefull as a media centre device.

    How is it for ease of use as this is one of the main things that drew me to the mini as FrontRow/iTunes is soo easy to use I can be confident that once setup my other half will be ok to use it when I'm not around. Can the same be said of the PS3??

    Also didn't know that iPlayer/4OD/ITV/SKY on-demand type streaming software couldn't be used on the Mac, thats a big dissapointment!

    As for a modem, I've already got a Netgear and a Sagem ADSL modem/router so I figured I'd hardwire one of them to the Airport Extreme/TimeCapsule and use the Apple wireless router for ease of use and compatibilty.
     
  23. rscott4563 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2007
    Location:
    Cumbria
    #23
    Which other items do you mean? The only other purchase in question is the Mini and whether to buy now or wait or is there an alternative product such as the PS3 the previous poster mentioned?

    The only other things mentioned were the airport extreme or timecapsule, express and some external storage?
     
  24. neiltc13 macrumors 68040

    neiltc13

    Joined:
    May 27, 2006
    #24
    ITV's VOD system does work on Mac because it uses Silverlight and BBC iPlayer also works on Mac too, but is streaming only. The BBC has said it plans to have a download version for Mac available by the end of this year. 4OD, Demand Five and Sky Player are unfortunately completely Windows only though.

    By other items I mean the Apple routers etc. I think they're completely overpriced for what they are and the fact that they don't include a modem is a deal killer for me. Is there anything actually wrong with your current router?

    If you're only going to have one computer, you should really just stick to a regular external hard drive. For one thing, you'll get much, much better data transfer speeds and if you're going with the iMac you can get a drive with Firewire 800 and get up to 800mbps compared with <100mbps you'll get over WiFi.

    PS3's interface is extremely easy to use. You can either buy a remote control for it but I personally find using the standard gamepad is just fine. You can plug a keyboard into the USB port on PS3 and use that to enter any sort of text.

    I don't know the complete list of formats PS3 supports in terms of video, but it definitely works with DivX/Xvid and MP4 and it does work with MPEG2 program streams too. It definitely DOESN'T do MKV, but I'm yet to find a reason to use that format anyway :)
     
  25. jnc macrumors 68020

    jnc

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2007
    Location:
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    #25
    Well I had no idea who you live with for starters or I'd have made a different call. I wouldn't normally recommend two computers, I'd still probably recommend an iMac if you absolutely don't need portability, and then perhaps a PS3 for the living room which has 40GB onboard storage, browser, will accept external media storage, and has a Blu Ray player and Wifi... for under £300 (though a used Mini might cost about the same, juggling files between the two Macs may become irritating, well it did for me at least)
     

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