Need Feedback Re Mac Purchase

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by terifc, Apr 26, 2008.

  1. terifc macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2008
    #1
    I've had a Dell for several years, which crashed recently (have never had problems up until now, though know that many others have) and I'm searching a new computer. For my budget, I'd be purchasing the iMac, probably 20", but if it made a big enough difference would consider the 24".

    I will be using the computer for basic stuff (word processing, spreadsheets, accounting, powerpoint, etc.- nothing heavy duty) and more importantly for photography and want specs that will provide enough speed and hard drive space. I'm thinking of upping the Ram to 4 GB, the 20" comes with 250 HD. It also comes with 128 media card - do you think this is enough? I'm just getting into digital photography, and not into editing my photos yet, but will be.

    Here are my questions / concerns. Would love to have your feedback:

    - Are the specs I listed above sufficient? And is it worth it to spend the extra $ on the 24" screen? (It did look quite beautiful in the store.)

    - Is the 128 media card sufficent for working with photos? If not, can I upgrade it?

    - Is this a good time to buy? I read a couple of things on this site that alluded to Mac coming out with something new (new model? update? revisions? Don't know if this was old or new news).

    - The screen glare: I could see my face reflected back to me when I was in front of and found it somewhat annoying. Is this something you get used to or does it remain an annoyance? (I saw something posted on this site about a Matte option for the screen. Does one truly exist?)

    - Is it worth it to spend the extra $ on a wireless keyboard and mouse when buying a desktop? I just called Time Warner for pricing and was told it would cost $80 to install and $5.95 a month thereafter. When I asked about getting a router, (which I know nothing about), I was told if I buy my one and have problems they wouldn't be able to help me, as they only service their products.

    - I've heard mixed stories about Apple support. If you've had experience using it, how did it go? I'd probably go for the 3 year Apple Care program and likely buy the $99 a year training service to help me transition from a PC to a Mac. $$ are adding up! Is it worth it?

    I have to admit, I'm feeling pretty overwhelmed with all of this, as it's a major purchase and involves learning a new system.

    Thank you SO much in advance for your suggestions and feedback.:)

    terifc







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  2. mackindergarten macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2008
    #2
  3. Morod macrumors 68000

    Morod

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    Location:
    On The Nickel, over there....
    #3
    Hi,
    Good to hear you are considering an iMac!
    I just bought a 24" 2.4 GHz iMac in January 08. Best decision I ever made!
    If you can afford the 24" model, please consider going for it. The monitor is 8 bit (compared to the 6 bit 20" model) which means it is much better. The 24" also comes with a 256 MB video card, and it is nice for the video I work with (amateur photog/YouTube viewer).
    The glossy screen does not affect me at all, except for showing me the vibrant colors I want to see. Glare is not a problem.
    Wireless KB and mouse will have no effect on your TW bill as they are bluetooth and the iMac comes with that installed. I use the wired KB mostly to have the two additional USB ports handy, but have the wireless Mighty Mouse and it works fine. I'm very glad I got it! My TW Roadrunner is $20/month for 7 MB with the Double Play package. ($70/month for RR and standard cable).
    I did buy the Apple Care but not the One On One Training. I got my iMac at the local Apple Store who wanted to sell me Apple Care for $169. I told them I could buy Apple Care online at the LA Computer web site for $119 (which is true), but I would buy from them if they could match the price. They did. As for One On One, my spending time here for free has had far greater benefits than any One On One. I admit I will be buying the "Cool Mac Apps" book by Robin Williams (not that Robin Williams) once it comes out in May from Amazon.com. It covers iLife 08 and .Mac
    Buy now? I'd wait till Monday or Tuesday as the Penryn iMacs are supposed to be available then. Minor speed bump and HDD storage size increase is all I've heard about, but still wait a day or three.

    Again, congrats! :)
    Morod
     
  4. terifc thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2008
    #4
    Dear Rupert & Morod,

    First of all, thanks so much for the advice & replies!

    This (the technical language, processors, etc.) is all new to me, but it sounds like it's worth the wait. I'm assuming I should call the Apple store to find out if they've gotten the upgraded models in? Also, to clarify, did you mean they will likely come out this Monday or Tuesday or the week of May 5? I could squeak by for a few more days with my current set up if needed.

    Re TW, the 7 MG package, etc. is way over my head. Would you mind breaking this down a little more (like you would for a kindergartner)? as this is about where my understanding is at the moment? I've had several people tell me to buy a router if I go wireless, but not sure if you're saying something different, Morod. Had does bluetooth fit into all of this?

    Thanks for the help & advice! I just got off the phone with a friend who purchased an HP recently. She is pulling her hair out trying to figure out Vista and trying to find a compatible printer. Who would have thought? Not me. But I guess I better! Mac or not! I need a 3 in 1.

    Thanks again!
    Theresa
     
  5. mackindergarten macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2008
    #5
  6. Morod macrumors 68000

    Morod

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    Location:
    On The Nickel, over there....
    #6
    Hi again,
    In your original post you mentioned having the wireless keyboard and mouse. Then you mentioned TW wireless. I was just pointing out that the wireless KB and mouse will communicate with the iMac without need of a wireless router. To keep mine simple, I have the TW going through a cable modem (which TW provides), and a gigabit wire/connector from the cable modem to the back of my iMac. You only need a wireless router if you want the computer to not have the gigabit wire in the back of it. You do not need a wireless router just to use a wireless KB and mouse. The computer, mouse and KB communicate via a protocol called "Bluetooth", which the iMac already comes with.
    As for the pricing, my TW standard TV cable is around $50/month. By getting the so-called "Double Play" package from TW, I get the 7 MB internet connection for an extra $20/month.

    Let me know if you have any more questions or need more clarification. :)
    Now get out there and spend some money. The iMac updates just came out today!
    Morod

     
  7. Sky Blue Guest

    Sky Blue

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2005
    #7
    - Are the specs I listed above sufficient? And is it worth it to spend the extra $ on the 24" screen? (It did look quite beautiful in the store.)

    If you think you have use for the extra inches, sure. The 20inch is pretty roomy.


    - Is the 128 media card sufficent for working with photos? If not, can I upgrade it?

    Not sure what you're referring to..


    - Is this a good time to buy? I read a couple of things on this site that alluded to Mac coming out with something new (new model? update? revisions? Don't know if this was old or new news).

    New models today, as you know.



    - Is it worth it to spend the extra $ on a wireless keyboard and mouse when buying a desktop? I just called Time Warner for pricing and was told it would cost $80 to install and $5.95 a month thereafter. When I asked about getting a router, (which I know nothing about), I was told if I buy my one and have problems they wouldn't be able to help me, as they only service their products.

    Wireless K&M has no bearing on wireless Internet. Don't let TW scare you into renting their equipment, its a lot cheaper to buy your own


    - I've heard mixed stories about Apple support. If you've had experience using it, how did it go? I'd probably go for the 3 year Apple Care program and likely buy the $99 a year training service to help me transition from a PC to a Mac. $$ are adding up! Is it worth it?

    Don't bother with the training. It's very straightforward. Buy a book, like this one:

    http://www.amazon.com/Switching-Mac...d_bbs_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1209413255&sr=8-1
     
  8. Morod macrumors 68000

    Morod

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    Location:
    On The Nickel, over there....
    #8
    The Apple Care is either a good buy (if you ever need to use it), or a waste of money (if you never need it). I got mine at the Apple Store when I bought my iMac. They were charging $169. I told them I could buy it online for $119, and that I would buy it from them if they could meet that same price. They did. (NOTE: You can buy Apple Care online at LA Computers for $119.
    As for the training, skip it.
    Here are some good training videos:

    http://www.apple.com/findouthow/mac/

    And here is some good text-based training sites:

    http://www.apple.com/support/mac101/

    http://www.apple.com/support/switch101/

    A book for beginners (new to OS X) is by Robin Williams (not that Robin Williams). Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard: Peachpit Learninf Series:

    http://www.amazon.com/Mac-OS-10-5-L...=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1209414207&sr=8-1

    But the best advice/help I've ever received for my iMac is right here on this site! Great people here.
    Congrats again!
    Morod
     
  9. Roquefort macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2005
    Location:
    U.S. west coast
    #9
    My answers to your questions:

    * The 20" model is fine for the work you describe. The 24" model would be really nice, but consider it a luxury. Perhaps the question should be what you'd otherwise spend that money on. If you are budget conscious, you might better spend that money on extra RAM, software, or an external Firewire drive for backup. But if you can afford these items and a larger display, great! Of course, you can add these items on later, but you have to make the screen size decision up front.

    * Upping the RAM helps performance, and it's not expensive if you buy it from crucial.com or another reputable third-party RAM vendor. Apple overcharges for RAM; you pay a lot for the convenience of having Apple pre-install the RAM.

    * Any size disk will probably suit you fine for the next couple of years. If you expect to upgrade again a few years down the road, you probably don't need to consider buying a more expensive computer just to get more disk space. If you want this computer to last you 5 or more years (even though computers will have much faster processors by then), there's more reason to plan for more disk space from the start.

    * Video card differences won't matter for what you have in mind.

    * As people have pointed out, it is now an excellent time to buy an iMac.

    * Apple offers a choice of glossy and matte displays for the MacBook Pro, and some people claim matte screens represent colors more accurately for serious imaging work. But iMacs are all glossy now. Glare can be a problem with a glossy display if you work with lights behind you, but most people like the better-looking colors on the glossy displays. Try to arrange your workspace so you don't have strong reflections of lights (lamps or windows) behind you. Some people say they get used to reflections, but I think that's like getting used to a smudge on your glasses - getting used to it isn't as good as avoiding the problem.

    * A wireless keyboard and mouse is a minor convenience. Less clutter, but how often will you really move them away from the computer? The choice has little consequence, so you can't go very wrong either way.

    * I think most people needn't bother with AppleCare on an iMac if the computer will have an easy life sitting on a desk in a home or office.

    Feel free to ask more questions until you feel comfortable about the advice you are getting. And don't take a single person's advice as gospel. You're asking random people (like me), so collect a few opinions.
     
  10. terifc thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2008
    #10
    You guys are great! I just made my computer purchase, though am gasping at the price. I went for the 24" (it is BEAUTIFUL), and did buy the extra 2GB of RAM from them, as I wouldn't have felt comfortable installing it myself or lugging it to a store to save the extra $.

    Thanks a bunch for the feedback re Apple Care - I asked for the same price as you Morod - $119. They initially said they couldn't do it, then towards the end of the conversation said if I bought it from them they could give me $50 off, which would essentially make it $119. Sounds goofy now that I'm writing it, but went with it.

    Now, for software...I'm wondering if there are any free software trials? I've read mixed reviews about MS Office, but not sure how it compares to Mac's Pages (don't know if I have the name right). I'm also looking for a compatible all-in-one, as I need to replace the one I have. Any good suggestions?

    Re the One-on-One, I'm not a big fan of sitting in front of the computer for hours and figuring things out, though maybe I'll enjoy it more and it will be easier on the Mac; won't know until I get it. I have heard they will help me build a website, learn Adobe Elements, etc., so might be worth the $. That will come later.

    Thanks again to all of you for your feedback and advice!

    You're awesome!
    Theresa
     
  11. terifc thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2008
    #11
    Oh...one more question: why would I need a Firewall? I thought they were just for PC's?

    Thanks again!
     
  12. Morod macrumors 68000

    Morod

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    Jan 1, 2008
    Location:
    On The Nickel, over there....
    #12
    Wow, terific,
    Again, congratulations on your purchase. You did indeed get a beautiful machine! As for the price, at first it does sound steep. But as many others on here have done, if you outfit a comparable PC with what the iMac comes with, the final price comes out in the iMac's favor, with the added plus of having OS X.
    Yeah, the Apple Store gave me the same spiel re Apple Care, saying at first no, then towards the end reducing the price for me.
    Software... At the time I got my iMac (24") I vowed to stay away from Microsoft if at all possible. I went with Apple's iWork 08 (comprised of Pages, Numbers and Keynote). Pages works fine for me. I don't use spreadsheets (Numbers) much. I've heard Keynote beats Power Point hands down, but again I don't use it much. There is a personal database I bought at amazon.com (saved $5) by Filemaker called Bento. It has a free trial at its website (http://www.bentotrial.com/trial/for...BFE&WT.mc_id=10EE81C8ED6B491AB2739127FD129BFE). I really like it for home inventory and vehicle maintenance records.
    Firewall... A firewall is always a good idea, no matter what kind of computer you have, to protect personal data. The iMac comes with a good one. It's easy to use, but make sure the correct setting is chosen. There are 3 available, and you want to use the 3rd choice. It's called, "Set access for specific services and applications".
    You don't need anti-virus, spyware or malware software, but again the Firewall is your friend. Lots of creeps out there.
    So, when do you receive your wonderful new machine? Soon, I hope.
    I've had mine for almost 4 months and it still brings a smile to my face when I sit down to use it. I know I'm going to get things done and not have to play computer tech for an hour first.
    Good luck to you and feel free to ask any questions here. There are a lot of good people here with a lot of knowledge. And, as Roquefort wisely pointed out, collect several opinions before making a decision.
    Morod
     
  13. Morod macrumors 68000

    Morod

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
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    On The Nickel, over there....
    #13
    Last thing: External Hard Drive

    Your new iMac will come with Time Machine, a great backup application for your iMac's internal hard drive. If something ever happens to your internal hard drive, you may not be able to save and retrieve your data (pictures, music, anything). So, consider an external hard drive for backup purposes. I would recommend a Firewire drive over a USB drive for speed. The iMac will have both a Firewire 400 and Firewire 800 connection. The 800 is faster. My external has both the 400 and 800 and I use the 800 connection. You can find external drives with all sorts of connection options.
    Do you know the size of your iMac's internal drive. For an external, get one at least the same size as your internal, but I have heard to get one that's 1.5 times larger.
    Again, my situation: My iMac has a 320 GB internal drive, so I bought a 500 GB external drive.
    It's very easy to hook up and install, by the way, and it's good insurance too!
    Morod
     
  14. SmurfBoxMasta macrumors 65816

    SmurfBoxMasta

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    #14


    1) FYI......Macs ARE pc's, as in "personal computers" :eek:

    2) Firewalls are for EVERYONE, not just windblows machines. Which BTW, you can run windblows on your new mac too, but even if you don't, having a firewall is ALWAYS an excellent idea. The more protection you have, the better :p

    OS X has a software firewall built-in, although you have to turn it on in System preferences, but if you buy a router, you can also have a HARDWARE one too, which is much, much better, when properly configured.
     
  15. mackindergarten macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2008
    #15
    Hi again,

    iWork is good for the most stuff and I like it much more then MS Office; it's simpler, faster and has less errors. I can do most of the stuff using iWork. Keynote is just superior to Powerpoint. No doubt about it.
    Your Mac should come with a trial of iWork, so you can see for yourself.

    For all the rest I have NeoOffice (which is OpenOffice for Mac).

    Hope this was helpful.
    /Rupert
     
  16. terifc thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2008
    #16
    Hi. I am feeling more and more excited about my purchase and am looking forward to receiving it. It will be shipped sometime between today and next Tuesday, so will look for a printer, etc. between now and then. Thanks for the tip @ iWorks & Firewall. As usual, fabulous information.
    Some of the other info is still a bit over my head, but will catch on with help!

    Theresa
     
  17. GoKyu macrumors 65816

    GoKyu

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2007
    Location:
    New Orleans
    #17
    Congrats on the purchase! I'm a recent switcher myself (got mine in mid-January), and couldn't be happier - I'm so glad to be done with windows :)

    About the printer, do you want to be able to print good photos? Do you want an all-in-one? If so, I'd recommend one of the Epson all-in-ones with the 6 ink cartridges - can't go wrong with one of those. You can get them for anywhere from $150-200, depending on the model.

    Have fun with the new system! :)

    -Bryan
     
  18. terifc thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2008
    #18
    Hey Brian,

    I'm looking for an all in one laser printer. I use the printing/fax functions for work, and would like the use of a scanner. I have an HP Officejet now, and the scanner was a bust. Actually, the whole machine was a disappointment. I thought I might have to purchase a second printer for photos, but perhaps not?

    Be well.
    Theresa
     

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