Mac newbie seeking mini & monitor advice

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by speedythecat, Oct 13, 2010.

  1. speedythecat macrumors newbie

    Oct 6, 2010
    I have always wanted a mac and for the most part it has been money in past years that have kept me away. Aside from tutorials and playing around a few times at my local BestBuy I know very little about using them (or any computer for that matter). Between this forum, available books, and ease of use I figure it'll all work out. I do have a couple of specific questions and would greatly appreciate some advice.

    For me I have to go mini because I have an eye disease, and some other eye related issues that make me extremely sensitive to the LED backlit glossy displays that the imac and macbooks use. Even when dimmed. So I have no choice if I am to own a mac now, it's mac mini or nothing.

    1.) I mainly need it for internet surfing, e-mail, handling my photos and my music. I would rather not have to mess with any external drives right now, but The 320GB storage is adequate for my needs. I know it will handle all of this stuff fine but I am mostly concerned about the superdrive I guess.

    I've read all sorts of reviews and other info about the mini but I've not come across much talk about using the mini to rip CDs and what little I have read about the superdrive in general has not been flattering as far as durability. I do have about 500 CDs I want to rip with itunes. Does anyone see that being a problem? I don't want to have to buy an external drive as this is already got my budget maxxed out. I do plan on purchasing the applecare. I apologize if that's a dumb question. I have no idea what sort of lifespan a drive has when it comes to ripping CDs and performing other tasks as well.

    2. ) My other main worry/concern is that I am terrible with electronics (especially computers) and I hate this isn't a all in one box solution for me. Not worried about the keyboard and mouse, but I am the monitor. Because of my forementioned eye issues and space limitations I am basically looking for a 20" LCD (not LED backlit) monitor with a matte screen finish.

    I know next to nothing about the resolutions, connector types, or any type of settings adjustments on monitors other than I typically do them dim them quite a bit due to my eye issues. I'm looking to spend no more than $150 unless absolutely necessary.

    The point to this I guess I skipped is that I want to buy one that you guys can recommend that will hook up like a champ and not cause any wonky video issues that I have read about with some particular monitors during my research. So a recommendation would be great! I'm foggy on the connector terminology, but recommend a monitor and I'll cross the "what cables do I need" bridge when I get to it.

    3.) Thanks and looking forward to making the switch! Like I said I am planning on purchasing the applecare, and also the apple bluetooth keyboard and magic mouse. I have a netgear wireless router for my cable internet. Just going to purchase a book to help me learn the OS and the new way of doing things. Feel free to throw in a book recommendation too if you would.

    If you don't see the superdrive being a problem for my needs, and I get a monitor recommendation, I'm all ready to order.

  2. ahankinson macrumors member

    Feb 1, 2010
    I've never had any problems with my Mini's superdrive, but if you get Applecare with your mini (it extends the warranty from 1 year to 3 years), if it does go wonky you can get it repaired with little hassle.

    For LCDs, the Mini has HDMI or Mini Displayport.

    This monitor looks like a good deal, and has pretty good reviews. I haven't used it at all, though.

    You would need a Displayport to DVI adapter, which you can get from Monoprice for pretty cheap.
  3. old-wiz macrumors G3

    Mar 26, 2008
    West Suburban Boston Ma
    For every person who has trouble with Superdrives ( or any other component), there are many many others who have no problem at all. A mini is an excellent choice for a beginner on OSx if you have a monitor,keyboard and mouse. You can also upgrade the monitor yourself anytime you want, which you can't do with an iMac.
  4. dh2005 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 25, 2010
    Welcome to the forum, Eric.

    I've owned a 2009 Mini, and my father owns one from this current generation. Ripping discs with a Superdrive is rather noisy... but, once your discs are ripped and you're running your music from the hard drive, the machine will operate in near total silence.

    So, while the actual ripping process might be slightly irritating, it won't take long. I wouldn't let that prevent you from buying a Mini, if your heart is set on a Mac.
  5. speedythecat thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 6, 2010
    I was wondering if the applecare would cover that or consider it excessive wear and tear. Sounds like they will cover it so that's great!

    I am a huge fan of monoprice and you can believe any cable I need comes from there. Never had any trouble at all with anything I've bought there.

    Thanks for listing that monitor. I will look into it. What I am really looking for is a display with not only a LCD backlight and matte finish, but one that someone can confirm 100% they have used it with the mac mini 2010 with no issues whatsoever. Hate to be paranoid about it, but I've just read too much. LOL

  6. speedythecat thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 6, 2010
    I agree and that's what I've been trying to keep in mind. So many people come on forums to share their displeasure with certain products and for the money we spend, rightfully so. At the same time I realize there are many people home with superdrives working like a champ that have no need to post about it.

    Because of my eye issues with LED backlit and glossy screens, the mac mini is my only current mac option. Just want to make sure I get an appropriate monitor that will be compatible. I know in theory they all are, but i've read too much to the contrary. I guess I'm looking for someone who has had good success with a certain make and model monitor with the mac mini 2010 to come forward and post that info, and I'm ready to roll. :)

  7. speedythecat thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 6, 2010
    Thanks for the welcome! Glad I found this place and it does factor in to me being comfortable with making the change since the nearest apple store is almost 2 hours away and my local BestBuy is very PC biased in both knowledge and what they push.

    Ripping discs is noisey huh? My current PC laptop is quiet when ripping discs other than the fan gets much louder, except for once in awhile you get a disc that sounds out of balance or something and it can really raise h3ll. so you are saying the drive itself is noisy? I guess as long as I can get accurate rips that's ok.

    Anyone have any idea roughly how many CDs you could rip in a superdrives lifetime? I've never wore a drive out. My cheap compaq laptop actuallu has 3000 full CD rips with it and still going strong. Didn't know if that was unusual or not.

  8. speedythecat thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 6, 2010
    Thanks for the replies guys I was beginning to wonder if they were going to come. :)

    Please don't hold out on me. If anyone knows for sure a current model of monitor that is 100% compatible with the 2010 mac mini, please let me know. I guess in theory they should all be but from what I've read there have been some compatibility issues and I just don't want to blindly pick one. I don't feel that lucky. and please remember it has to be 20", matte screen, and most of all NOT LED backlit.

  9. ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    Most of the problems seem related to the display port and its adapters. I would use the HDMI port to an HDMI or DVI monitor.
  10. X42-Negative macrumors newbie

    Oct 14, 2010
    Most if not all monitors are guaranteed to work with Mac mini.

    Plus, most newer monitors come with DVI in or HDMI in, so that solves the connection problems. I also have the new Mac mini and it's great.
  11. dh2005 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 25, 2010
    Sure, it could be the fan rather than the drive itself. I'm really not sure.

    500 discs is nothing much. I've ripped in excess of 1,500 DVDs and Blu-rays with my current external drive, and they take between fifteen minutes and two hours per rip. If that's not burned out, a Superdrive ripping CDs should be fine.

    When it comes to the Mini and its longevity, AppleCare's a kinda tricky proposition. In the UK, AppleCare costs £139, regardless of the Mac that you're buying. So, if it's a Mini for £649, or a 27" iMac for £1,649 then the price of AppleCare is the same. For the iMac, you'd be crazy not to spend £139 on the extended warranty. But for the Mini...?

    You see my point. Something to think about.
  12. speedythecat thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 6, 2010
    I saw a couple of matte LCD monitors in Wal-Mart tonight. One was 18.5" and the other was 21.5" They were both made by Acer but i'm not sure what type of connections they had. I noticed that atleast the larger one said it was "1600x900" resolution.

    Is there any particular resolution that would mate best with the mac mini? Also what is the preferred connection? I thought I read that DVI was HDMI without the audio? If the monitor had speakers I assume you would want the HDMI over the DVI? I don't think either of these monitors had speakers.. I am familiar with HDMI cables, but the VGA and DVI stuff I have no idea what it is or looks like though I'm assuming VGA is that gigantic plug that screws in??

    I do know I saw one monitor which proudly advertised on the sticker "DVD-I" which I have zero idea what that is?? then I also notice the mac mini has some sort of "mini dvi" port? Or mini display port or whatever it's called. I mean technically what is the best? Did I read some are digital and some are analog and what does that mean/do? Confusing to me, but I'm sure most of you it's elementary.

    Not trying to make this hard but honestly it is hard to make an educated decision on what I'm looking for when you have no idea what is better than what and why. :)
  13. speedythecat thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 6, 2010
    They all may work, but I have read that some end up plugging in and all is good, and some make the display all wonky looking which I would have no idea how to fix. Just figured someone out there must be able to confirm one that works without having to fiddle with it. Then again I think my problem is so many folks are buying these for HDTVs and not desktop monitors.

    Glad to hear you like your new Mac Mini. I can never hear too much good news before melting my credit card 18 months deferred or not. LOL
  14. speedythecat thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 6, 2010
    That certainly makes me feel better. If I've read correctly, this is the same superdrive in the mac mini that is in the macbook and macbook pros? They just seem so nice that I can't believe they would machine a laptop out of a solid piece of aluminum, then drop a junky drive in it, but I have read plenty of things about the superdrive being subpar. However, if applecare is going to cover it, I guess there's no need for worry.

    The applecar is going to be $149. The bad news is the closest apple store is 2 hours away like I said earlier, but the good news I found out today is that the nearest apple authorized repair shop is belive it or not a place that is the entire floor under the floor my wife works on in the same business building. That was just crazy to find that out. I had no idea what the business was under them or what they did. My wife is going downstairs to check tomorrow, but I think it will be a place I can carry it right in for warranty service if needed.

    I could also do the BestBuy warranty, but don't waste your time trying to convince me as I have heard way way too many geek squad horror stories. I don't know if applecare is even what it once was though from what I'm reading. Sounds like I'm reading a lot huh? Well I admit anything that cost over $100 I do tend to go into research mode for better or worse. LOL
  15. speedythecat thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 6, 2010
    Forgot to say.. Not sure of this is true but it sounds logical, that you should try to buy your monitor from a place nearby that you can just walk in because of the possibility of getting one that either doesn't suit you or bad pixels or whatever. I suppose i'll get some sort of warranty on that too. I gotta say in general I'm not a big believer in extended warranties except for flat screen HDTVs and computers. Everything else I take my chances with.

    Looks like my next chance to go to bestbuy is going to be Saturday. I'm going to pick up the mac mini, apple wireless keyboard, and the apple magic mouse all from them and get the 18 months 0% interest they are offering. Then I'm just going to pay cash for the applecare (which bestbuy doesn't sell) and I'm not sure where i'm getting the monitor from yet, but going cash on that too.. If I need any caqbles I'll get them from monoprice.

    Now, back on that book recommendation I needed.. I was in Barnes & Noble tonight and I saw they don't have a mac mini book like they do for the macbooks and imac, but they do have a ton of books for macs in general and for people switching over. However I'm not sure I consider myself switching over since I knew so very little about PCs and how they work in the first place despite using them for years and years. I would like to have a book that kinda walks you through the different things you can do with the operating system and maybe even the ilife stuff that comes with the mac mini. Anyone able to recommend anything in particular? If not I guess I'll look at some amazon reviews or something.

    I really appreciate everyones help and patience with the noob. I don't want to seem like a pest but I just want to know what I'm getting into before I drop all this coin. just really concerned about the monitor, learning about the different monitor hookup and connector types so I can make an educated decision, and the book recommendation.. The rest I think I'm good to go. :)
  16. SnowLeopard2008 macrumors 604


    Jul 4, 2008
    Silicon Valley
    Any monitor with DVI will work. Most if not all monitors come with both VGA and DVI cables. DVI is usually white and VGA is blue. Use DVI because its newer and supports higher resolutions. Pretty much any monitor works, just make sure it says matte on the box. You don't need to install any drivers either. I would also buy from Amazon because it's cheaper than retail price AND free shipping. And there's no tax. I never buy from Best Buy because they have horrible customer service, fail employees, high prices and the employees rarely know what is going on. One of them told me that iPhones come with Android 2.2 preinstalled. Fail.

    Get a Mac for Dummies book if you really must have a book. I'd say just use it and learn by yourself. It's really easy to pick up and learn new things when you don't have to worry about crappy hardware/software and antivirus software slowing down your computer. Especially with iLife. You can always ask questions on the forum if you are really stuck.

    Oh, and buy AppleCare from eBay. I saved a lot of money that way and it was all legit.
  17. btbrossard macrumors 6502a

    Oct 25, 2008
    We have a few Viewsonic monitors at work hooked up to Mac minis. VA2223wm is the model number. They are pretty cheap (about $150), but they look decent hooked up to the minis and are matte finish. They use DVI.

    At home I have a 22" HP monitor hooked up to my mini and it works great, as well. My HP uses hdmi.

    I would avoid, at all costs, the Best Buy warranty. I shop at Best Buy because it's close, but everyone who works there seem like they huff paint on their lunch hour. I'm sure Best Buy has good employees, I just haven't ever met one.

    Taking anything to the GeekSquad is just asking for something horrible to happen.

    If you want an extended warranty, go with AppleCare. You don't have to buy it right away, if you want. As long as you get it before the standard warranty is up, you're good.
  18. speedythecat thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 6, 2010
    Okay thanks, but just incase I buy a monitor that has HDMI, would you still suggest I use the mac mini included adaptor and a DVI cable? I only ask because I have extra HDMI cables here. I mean, is it true that DVI is HDMI without carrying the audio, or is it not that simple?

    I will probably buy a monitor from Bestbuy. Not because I disagree with you at all on their average employees attitude, lack of knowledge of what they sell and many other small gripes. Have had both good and bad experiences there. what I will give BB credit for though is they will match amazon's or anyone elses price without hassle and we don't pay sales tax in Delaware (The Dover Delaware store is my second closest BB). Not to mention the fact that if I buy it Saturday, I'm going to want to fire it up saturday. :)

    I have no doubt I can make due without a book just based on playing around with one a few times in BestBuy. I'd still like to have one though. I totally get your point though and it sounds like a better life awaits me in macland :)
  19. speedythecat thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 6, 2010
    Thanks! Yes BestBuy has it's fair share of goofballs. You do get the occasional worthwhile sales person to help you but I would never ever go in there and buy a product I hadn't researched to death on my own instead of reley on them knowing what they are talking about. Some of them do.. i've never heard anything about geeksquad but horror stories.

    Yes, I remember reading I had until the initial warranty went up to purchase applecare, just figured I'd do it now while I had the cash since no matter when you get it, it goes back to the purchase date to start coverage.

    Thanks for listing those monitors too! I will look into them.
  20. speedythecat thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 6, 2010
    While I keep checking back to this thread I have been working google like a mule trying to learn about what these different cables mean and have been going over the BestBuy, WalMart, and Amazon sites for monitor info and reviews.

    This has brought me to yet another question. I know I originally told you guys I wanted a 20" monitor. That was mainly because I am use to a 15" laptop, and have had a couple of bad HDTV buying experiences where I got a tv home and it was just 10x bigger in my little apartment, than in BestBuy. I'm sure some of you have gotten that t-shirt yourself..

    One thing about these eye problems I have, they don't like a whole lot of "inyourfacedness". :) Seriously. I am the kinda guy that watching a 32" LCD from 7-8 feet is too small especially with letterboxing, but 50" plasma is overwhelming and motionsickness city from that distance. I have found I can see, and am comfortable with a 40" LCD.

    So with that little story I am a wee bit apprehensive about going too big as I know they all look little in the store. BUT.. In my research tonight I have found that a vast majority of the really nice monitors with HDMI and high resolutions (and good ratings) end up being 23" like the Acer H233H for example.

    My computer desk is only 24" deep and I normally sit right up to it. Do you thinbk that 23" LCD will be too big? How far does a person normaly sit from a 23" monitor when surfing the net and such? Just thought I'd ask..

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