Preparing to buy a Mac. A few questions....

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by SuperDaddy, May 21, 2007.

  1. SuperDaddy macrumors member

    May 21, 2007
    Middle Earth
    Hello all,

    I am finally taking the plunge into the Mac world, and have a few questions before I order a new MacBook. A good friend of mine bought a Mac about a year ago, and has convinced me that a Mac is the way to go.

    I am somewhat nervous, though, because I know nothing about the Mac OS (of course). Also, I am unsure about any of the possible software and hardware constraints that may come with using a Mac, as far as my uses are concerned.

    1. Will my USB external hard drive (Western Digital 250 gb) work seemlessly with a MacBook? The plug-n-play (so to speak) ability with my Dell laptop is very nice. Will a MacBook accept and recognize the hard drive, too?

    2. Could I use an external USB DVD burner with a MacBook? Are there only certain "Mac compatible" DVD burners, or would any of them work? I am thinking about getting a MacBook with a Combo, and hooking up an external burner for the few time I actually need one. I can get one on for the $60-$70 range.

    3. I use my Microsoft Streets and Trips mapping program A LOT. I have read about using Microsoft software on Macs, but wonder if Mac has map software of their own. I haven't been able to find very many (1, actually---Delorme Street Atlas, I think). The GPS antennae that came with my Microsoft Street and Trips 2006 turns my Dell into a great navigation tool on long trips. I hope I can find the same type of software for a MacBook. Any thoughts?

    4. Will there be any issues with connecting my Nikon D50 digital SLR camera to a MacBook? My Dell recognizes it and asigns it a drive letter. I can pull pictures off it very easily. Any issues with a MacBook?

    (sorry if these questions seem ridiculous)

    5. If I order a MacBook and it doesnt come with the absolute latest version of Tiger (10.4.9 I think???), is there any easy way to download the update? Does it cost anything to update to the latest Tiger version? I understand the cost associated with an entirely new OS (Leopard, when it comes out), but just wonder about the latest version of the Tiger OS.

    6. I have a Linksys wireless internet router. Obviosuly, my Dell is configured to pick up the signal as soon as it is powered up, and I am cruising the net very quickly. Will a MacBook pick up the router's sigal as well, or do I need to get an Apple router? My Linksys router isnt currently encrypted (not an issue where I live), so does that help my situation?

    Hey, I have a lot more thoughts and questions, but I will end it here. If anyone could help, I would truly appreciate it.

    Thanks again!!!
  2. amacgenius macrumors 68000


    Aug 3, 2005
    Buffalo, NY
    Your MacBook should have no problem with that, I use a LaCie d2 160gb HD with mine and I didn't have to install any software the Mac just found it right away.

    As far as I know as long as it uses a port that your MacBook has, I see no problem with it, I've never used an external DVD burner as all my Macs that I've used had DVD burners so don't quote me on that one.

    I've never seen any program(s) like this for the Mac so you might be hardpressed here, but I've always used Google Maps and Mapquest if I needed directions on how to get somewhere.

    Assuming your D50 uses USB to connect to your Dell then yes iPhoto (if installed) will see your D50 and then you can put your pictures into iPhoto with the click of a button, or seeing as you use a D50 you might want to invest in Aperture.

    Your MacBook will come with some version 10.4 - 10.4.9 installed on it already, if it's not the latest, just click on the :apple: in the upper left corner of your screen, click Software Update and it should pop up there, free download.

    Macs will work with almost any router, I used to use a D-Link DI 524 with mine and that worked fine, I actually prefer other brands to Apple's, I used to use an Airport Extreme and I hated it, so your Linksys router should work fine.
  3. mad jew Moderator emeritus

    mad jew

    Apr 3, 2004
    Adelaide, Australia
    Welcome to Macs mate. That's quite a few questions you have there, but I'll try to answer some of them as best I can. :)

    It should be fine. However, if it is formatted as NTFS you may struggle with it. If you're wanting to use it purely with Macs then reformat it as HFS but if you're wanting something more universal, then format it as FAT32. There are a few limitations, but this is probably the best compromise and means you can seamlessly plug it into pretty much any machine and have it work. Format it on the Mac though, because the PC will only give you a maximum 128GB partition by default.

    It should be fine. Ideally, go for a company that supports Macs. However, even if you get one that doesn't PatchBurn will probably be able to help you out.

    I don't know mate. One a slightly related topic, your MacBook will be able to run Windows via a few different methods. At worst you'll be able to boot into Windows and run your map program, or have Parallels run it from within OSX. Hopefully someone else can give you a better solution though.

    It should be fine.

    They're not mate. Feel free to keep 'em coming. :cool:

    It's a free download that comes via Software Update. I'd be surprised if you didn't get 10.4.9, but nevertheless, upgrading to it is as easy as installing a security patch on Windows.

    The MacBook'l be fine. If you have encryption you'll need to enter your password once, but then it'll automatically reconnect each time you turn your machine on or wake it from sleep by default. :)

    Woah, beaten by amacgenius. Nice work mate. :p
  4. SuperDaddy thread starter macrumors member

    May 21, 2007
    Middle Earth
    Wow. Thanks guys!!!

    I appreciate your repsonses. They have helped me out greatly!!

    I look forward to further discussions.

    Hopefully I will get the new MacBook soon. I am still trying to decide whether or not to get a SuperDrive, or just a ComboDrive (and then supplement the system with an external burner). But, we'll see.

    Thanks again.
  5. amacgenius macrumors 68000


    Aug 3, 2005
    Buffalo, NY
    My personal opinion, just splurge for the Superdrive, I always get DVD burners in my Macs eventhough I've only burned 2 DVD's in the 3 years I've been a Mac user, but I still think it's worth it. Plus it prevents clutter on your desk/workspace with the external.
  6. BlackDan macrumors 6502

    Aug 20, 2004
    Do yourself a favour, get the superdrive...
  7. acidboot macrumors newbie

    May 21, 2007
    GPS mapping software

    Just found a program called RouteBuddy. Runs on OSX and uses GPS. Will work with alot of GPS receivers.
  8. lil' brudder macrumors 6502

    Jan 14, 2007
    Minneapolis, MN
    I have on piece of advice, about the GPS thing. 1. DO NOT get delorme! My dad got one with 2006 software and it didn't even have an interstate that was put in 20+ years ago. Unless you are only navigating around big cities, stay away from that. Microsoft streets and trips works great, just use parallels or boot camp to set up a copy of windows xp and you will be up and running just fine.
  9. richard4339 macrumors 6502a


    Sep 6, 2006
    Keep in mind if MS Streets and Maps is that important, there's always boot camp/parallels to run Windows as well...

    Edit: Guess I got beaten as well. I let this page sit too long
  10. daze macrumors 6502


    Mar 11, 2006
    San Jose, California
    Interesting program. Thanks for the mention. I was looking for something like that.
  11. plinden macrumors 68040


    Apr 8, 2004
    True enough, FAT32 is the only way to go if you are planning to share an external HD (although MacFUSE and ntfs-3g is slowly getting to a point that is usable for those not comfortable with Terminal).

    However, Macs have major data transfer speed issues with FAT32. I find FAT32+USB2 is about a third/half the speed of a PC accessing the same drive. It may be ok if all you're doing is a weekly, off-peak backup, but if speed is an issue and you don't need to access it from a PC, reformat the drive as HFS. Or partition the drive into HFS and FAT32. Or buy a dedicated Firewire drive for the Mac.

    I have a 500GB external Firewire/USB2 drive that I partitioned into three. One contains a backup OS install (yes, you can do that with no authorization issues), just in case my Mac's drive fails (as happened to my wife's MacBook), one is a 40 GB FAT32 partition for whatever I need to share onto a PC, and one for backing up data from our Macs. I use the Firewire connection to the Mac (much faster than USB), and unmount and attach it to the PC laptop via USB (no firewire socket on the PC) if I need to transfer and data to or from it.
  12. SuperDaddy thread starter macrumors member

    May 21, 2007
    Middle Earth
    Thanks, everybody!!

    These responses are helping me a lot. I truly appreciate it.

    I have been looking into the boot camp/parallels options for running my GPS enabled MS Streets and Trips. I absolutely love that need for a $400-$500 dollar Garmin or Magellan stand-alone vehicle GPS unit....just plug in the included USB GPS antennae you are driving down the seen on your screen. For those that have a notebook and boot camp or parallels already, look into getting a copy of MS S&T 2006 or 2007 with the included USB GPS antennae.

    I will also look into the mentioned RouteBuddy program.

    I just can't believe that Apple doesn't make it's own "iMap" program. I hope they do it someday soon, and include a USB GPS antennae. (do I seem manic about this or what???)

    Also, as for the external hard drive issues, I discovered my WD 250 gb is set to FAT32 right now. So I will at least be able to use it right away. Then, later, when my Dell has finally departed (either to the garbage can or to some lucky person on eBay) I will reformat it to HFS for sole use with my new MacBook.

    Thanks again. If anyone has any other ideas or comments I look forward to reading them.
  13. notsofatjames macrumors 6502a


    Jan 11, 2007
    Wales, UK
    on the external harddrive, everyone suggests formatting the drive as FAT, but then the mac gets slow access. But if your format it as HFS+ then install MacDrive (MediaFour) on your PC, they can both read and write to it. If your mac's going to be your main machine, then just occasionally acccessed by the PC, this might be easier for you.

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