PC Switcher with Questions. Thanks!

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by jobberphoto, Mar 3, 2007.

  1. jobberphoto macrumors newbie

    Mar 3, 2007
    Hi all,
    I've enjoyed reading these forums and getting to know the Mac discussions better. I plan to switch to an iMac 24-inch once Leopard (and any other new updates) are released. I've been using a desktop PC for 15+ years, often time building them myself (from the case, motherboard, and components up). I love the integrated design of the iMac, but it will take some getting use to the fact that I can't open it up and tinker with it. However, I'm looking forward to not having to tinker with it in the first place!

    Anyway, I have a few questions about peripherals, since I have so many already at my disposal I'm hoping to reuse some where it makes sense. Any guidance you can provide is appreciated.

    (1) Speakers. I have some older Cambridge Soundworks FPS2000 speakers (4.1, meaning 4 satellites and a sub). They sound great and I would love to keep them. In my current config, there is a mini-jack that plugs into the "Front L/R" output on my PC sound card, and a 2nd mini-jack that plugs into the "Rear L/R" output on my PC sound card. Each of those then go into the Front or Rear mini-jack input on the sub. I see the iMac has a headphone out and a optical digital out. How will I get both plugs into the Mac and retain the true Front vs. Rear distinction? I'm envisioning some sort of Y cable as it comes from the iMac and splits to two inputs of the sub. But not sure what, exactly, the jack format is for the iMac output and if it can be split like that.

    (2) Keyboard. I have the old Logitech Comfort Keyboard (wireless) which is currently going into my PC's keyboard-in jack (PS2 format). I have a PS2 to USB converter, so I think I can still use this keyboard. However, I'm not sure about drivers (called Logitech iTouch) for the Mac. It's an older keyboard, but I like the "natural" (split) keyboard design and must have wireless. I'd like to keep this one, but am open to switching of I absolutely must. Are there any real advantages that would compel me to use the Apple wireless keyboard or should I shop for a different one (with natural ergo layout) if I have switch?

    (3) Mouse. Currently using the Logitech MX700 cordless laser optical mouse. Again, this is a bit old but I just love the comfort of it as it rests in my hand. I know the wireless Might Mouse may offer nearly the same options, but I just don't find it all that comfortable. Again, not sure about drivers here and if I'll even be able to use the full features of this mouse with the Mac. I've heard the Bluetooth Mighty Mouse is a bit flaky, and I think that would drive me bonkers.

    (4) Printer. I'm using an HP Laser Jet 3150. Again, an older device but it works fine and does everything I need. Never any issues with it. However, it connects to my PC via parallel cable and I understand iMac only has USB connections for printers. So, this is the one device I may definitely have to replace. Which kind of irks me, because it does everything I need right now. Is there a way to convert a parallel connection to a USB connection? Even if there was, would I end up in "driver hell" since it's so old and not intended for use on a Mac?

    (5) LCD screens. I running a dual display (extended desktop) on my primary PC. I'm not sure if I'll still need an extended desktop when I go to the 24" iMac, but may want to attach my 19" Samsung (non-widescreen) just to add more real estate. It has DVI and VGA inputs, so I don't think this will be an issue as long as I get the mini-DVI to DVI or VGA cable. Are iMac's optimized for wide-screen display, meaning that if I hook this non-widescreen up next to the 24" wide screen it will look wierd or distorted with the extended desktop. Does the desktop truly extend so that the dock goes across both screens (I don't think I'd like that).

    (6) External HDD. I have a WD 250GB external drive that I use for backups between two systems on my network. It's USB. It's formatted in NTFS. Is that compatible with the iMac so I can just unplug it from the PC and plug it into the iMac and viola, everything is fine? Or will I need to move everything off to a PC, reformat the HDD in something Apple will recognize, and then move everything back over? What format will Mac recognize on external drives? I plan to use my other internal PC drives as external drives down the road (but putting them in external HDD enclosures) -- just for extra archiving & backup when necessary.

    (7) Scanner. I have an older Epson Perfection (1240U) scanner that I still use from time to time. Would like to keep using it if possible. It's USB.

    (8) USB. With iMac only having a few USB ports, are there any issues using a USB hub? Some of my devices (scanner, camera cradles, printer, card readers, etc.) are on a separate desk behind me. I currently have a long USB cable (maybe 12-15') running around to that desk where I have a USB hub that branches off to all those devices. Any issues with a setup like that?

    (9) CD/DVD Burners. I have two (NEC DVDRW ND-2500A, and NEC DVDRW ND-3550 dual-layer). I really like having two, especially when copying DVDs. Put the original in one and a blank in the other and let it roar. I'd like to take the faster one (3550) out of the PC and put it into an external enclosure and hook up via USB or Firewire to the iMac. Not sure if this is possible (due to drivers maybe?) or if I'm better off just buying a second external CD/DVD drive for the iMac. Again, just trying to use what I have.

    (10) iMac configuration. Lastly, my current rig is a AMD Athlon64 2.04GHZ with 1GB RAM, ATI Radeon 9550 (256MB) dual video, dual CD/DVD burners. It's running great and handles pretty much everything throw at it. I'm not a gamer anymore, I do some minor video editing & DVD burning, frequent DVD copying, and lots of photo work (relatively minor, not Professional or multi-layer Photoshop stuff). I'm thinking the iMac I build (again, pending any upcoming updates) would be the 24-inch, standard (2.16) CPU, 2GB memory, and maybe 256MB Graphics. With the way the iMac operates, would a Mac like this be a step up in power, a step down, or about on par with what I have today? How long can I expect to operation the new Mac before getting to point of needing to replace it? (Again, I'm used to just updating a CPU chip, or a HDD, soundcard, power supply, or a display, etc. depending on the need -- not replacing the entire system).

    Thank you very much for taking the time to read all this and for any input you can provide. I'm very excited about moving back to the Mac (it's been about 15 years when I had a Mac LC II) and can't wait to make the switch!

    PS --- 1 PC for sale.

  2. apfhex macrumors 68030


    Aug 8, 2006
    Northern California
    I'll just address the points that I know about, since you talk about a lot of specific devices that I don't have experience with and wouldn't know how good driver support is.

    1. It's impossible to get analog surround sound with one stereo minijack like the iMac has. You can get something like the Firewave which gives you all the ports you need.

    2. I don't know if it would work, but it's worth a try if you want to keep it. Obviously need to use the PS2->USB adapter. Might want to download the Logitech Control Center to configure it.

    3. Should work with basic functionality "out of the box" and to configure the buttons use the Logitech Control Center or get another mouse driver like SteerMouse (I love it) or USBOverdrive.

    4. I don't know if there are Parallel->USB converters. I don't know if the driver support is there or not, but if it's older, chances are there isn't. OS X does come with a generic printer driver that you could try, but you might want to look into a new printer.

    5. You'll be able to utilize the full native resolution of an external display with the extended desktop. The resolution would only be limited in Mirror mode. The Dock and Menubar stay on the primary screen (you can choose which is the primary) and don't get extended.

    6. OS X can read but not write NTFS. If you want to just use it with Macs, format it as HFS+. If you want cross-platform compatibility, you have to use FAT32, or else install something that lets Windows read HFS+, like MacDrive.

    8. USB hub is no problem. If you have devices that are powered by USB only, you want to get a powered hub.
  3. jobberphoto thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 3, 2007
    Thanks for the reply. Guess I'll try the mouse/keyboard first and see if I can get it working, then opt for a replacement if necessary. I, too, am guessing the printer is a no-win situation. Shame, as I really like it for what I do (mostly simple B&W printing, copying, and some faxing). The surround sound isn't that important to me. Sounds like I can still use the front speakers & sub only by just utilizing the one mini-jack plug. That's fine, at least I don't have to go by new speakers all together.

    Anyone else have thoughts on #9 and #10, or anything to supplement apfhex's reply above?

    This is very helpful, thanks!
  4. gudbjargarson macrumors newbie

    Feb 22, 2007
    Hello Jobberphoto.

    I'm in the same boat as you - going to switch to Mac soon after being a deticated PC user for the last 15 years. It has made me interested in computers again after almost losing interest alltogheter by Windows and Vista.

    Regarding the question number 6 about reading/writing NTFS file format you might be interested in this (I think it is a way to read and write NTFS on a mac): http://code.google.com/p/macfuse/

  5. rogersmj macrumors 68020


    Sep 10, 2006
    Indianapolis, IN
    9. That should work as long as it's a newer drive, but you might want to search around the net for your specific model's compatibility with Macs first.

    10. The iMac will definitely be a step up. I had a machine similar to your PC before I switched to my 20" iMac C2D, and it is faster than the Athlon64 with 1GB of RAM. I like to upgrade a lot too, but I think I could probably do two years easy before I start itching to get a new machine (that's a long time for me, a compulsive upgrader). I've already had this one over 5 months and I'm not even beginning to tire of it at all. It's always a joy to use. I guess it really just depends on what Apple has out and what pushes my buttons. But the hardware in the iMac will serve you well for a good long while.
  6. jobberphoto thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 3, 2007
    Can anyone recommend a reliable CDDVD enclosure for a Mac? I've heard that the enclosure itself is just as much of a factor as the drive when it comes to working well with the system. I haven't used enclosures before, but like the idea.

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