Really switching?

Discussion in 'Product Recommendations/Reviews' started by phybbs, Oct 22, 2004.

  1. phybbs macrumors newbie

    Oct 22, 2004
    I know this is going to be like walking into McDonalds and asking them their favorite hamburger chain… but here goes anyway.

    I’ve been searching for a laptop for my fiancé for Christmas. She’s in her senior year of college and getting ready to student teach. I am currently out of state working (had to take a job where the jobs are) and she’s stuck with using one of my old PC’s. It’s on its last leg. Whatever I buy her will have to be easy to maintain.

    Any way, no matter what I look at, I keep getting drawn back to the 12” apple ibook. Its sleek, small, long battery life and weight make it ideal for her. Plus, it looks cool as hell.

    So, why not just take the plunge and by her one? I’m obviously concerned about restricting her. Are their any good sites about real people’s experiences when “switching”. Is MS office 100% cross platform compatible? How durable are the ibooks? Is it going to take abuse? Is the 12” screen too small? I guess reading cd’s created with PCs isn’t a problem?
  2. brap macrumors 68000

    May 10, 2004
    I'm buying my partner a 12" iBook, as soon as we can afford it. She's also a student teacher. I'm sick of having to fix her HP up when it breaks, and sick of her not being able to take it anywhere when she wants to because it's too damn heavy. The 12" screen will be fine for her as long as she doesn't have serious problems with her vision, I've written dissertations, presentations and generally pulled all-nighters in fron of this little screen. I can still see :)

    I had iBooks until this one, and I can honestly say they are wonderful buys, especially now. She'll have no problems with reading PC-CDs (OS X even reads those nasty UDF formatted ones without a plugin), and most people agree that the new version of Office for Macintosh is actually better than the PC version in most ways. Caveat - I found only one thing that bugs me about this, AFAIK the X version still doesn't ship with a mathematical formula display plugin.

    The iBook is a hardy beast. I've dropped them before, from quite a height, and they've been just fine (though please don't try this yourself!). It's designed to be student-proof, much moreso than this Powerbook which scratches on the smoothest of surfaces. It'll certainly stand being put in a bag and hiked around campus without a problem, though you may want to invest in a 'ScreenSavrz' cloth to stop the keys from scratching the LCD. It is made of polycarbonate, after all...

    I'm trying to come aross as unbiased as possible; you'll probably have to teach her the basics of OS X. It's not fundamentally different, but it's a much cleaner, simpler way of doing things. She'll probably need to adjust to thinking the things which should happen (example - type in finder, straight to filename), do happen!
    This is why I'm switching my other half over. Generally, it's better all round... you don't screw around fixing broken windows, she has a small computer she can take anywhere and will do what she asks.
  3. James Craner macrumors 68000

    James Craner

    Sep 13, 2002
    Bristol, UK
    Web Switch Sites, I am sure other people will post some other links, but I would start with Apple's

    In terms of restricting her, it depends on what software she is going to run, office 2004 is pretty much fully compatible with the windows version. I am the only Mac user in a Windows based office environment and I have not run into an issue yet with Word or Excel. Apple Mail is a good mail client ( or you could use entourage with is Microsoft's Mac version of outlook.)

    The iBook is an excellent notebook for the price, although I would up the memory to at least 512MB, and up the hard disk space to as much as you can afford.

    Finally I suggest you put her in front on one at an Apple store or reseller, as although OS X is a better OS than Win XP at the moment, it is a different way of working, and she needs to be comfortable with that. It does take a couple of weeks to get used to, but after that most users never look back.

    Also check that she does not need to run any specific windows programs that do not have a Mac equivalent, although you can get Windows emulators (Virtual PC), they can be quite painful as Windows Apps will be running a lot slower running under a software emulator.
  4. bubbamac macrumors 6502

    Dec 24, 2003
    MS Office is compatible.

    She may have some teething pains if she's used to ordering the file system in Windows to her liking - if she's used to leaving things where Windows wants them, it'll go much easier. The file system is substantially different, organization wise.

    The screen is a bit small - but then I went from a 12" iBook to a 15" PowerBook. I'm spoiled. The only thing that the 12" will limit is the usefulness of having a bunch of windows open with various things going on in them. Expose helps with that, but it's nice to be able to see what's going on in another window. If she's like most of us, the 12" will be just fine.

    If she does much work with pictures, the screens on the PowerBooks are much better.

    Make sure you get her to 768 MB of RAM. That seems to be the sweet spot. See if you can get an education discount on any of the system. Don't order from Apple - buy it from , , or . Frequently they'll bundle RAM with the system, and the memory is cheaper there if you have to buy more.

    Good luck!
  5. brap macrumors 68000

    May 10, 2004
    Substantially different?
    So folders appear alphabetically :confused:

    Also, if you don't buy from Apple, you won't be able to get a BTO (built-to-order) specification on the HD, or Bluetooth wihout having to wait for the reseller to order the same machine from Apple; thus doubling your shipping time. IMHO you're better getting a custom built education discounted mac from the Apple store (they're kept similairly priced everywhere), and adding your own memory from
  6. johnnyjibbs macrumors 68030


    Sep 18, 2003
    London, UK
    Get the iBook it is a good choice and is currently the best value Mac out there. Get the 12" as you say.

    The file system is similar to Windows in terms of useability. You have the same folders and everything, it's just that you don't get My Computer - it's called Macintosh HD, and you have "Documents" instead of "My Documents", etc. ;) It's very intuitive and similar to windows. Just think of the Finder as Windows Explorer, and you'll be fine.

    Macs can read CDs and DVDs created on PCs and PCs can read Mac-written CDs/DVDs. Just beware that the Mac file system is known as HFS+, while Windows uses NTFS, but that won't matter, except if you're using external hard drives (which you could format into FAT32 to make them inter-compatible).

    MS Office is worth getting and is completely compatible with Windows. All your MP3, JPEG files, etc., will all work, just make sure you have the 3 letter extension on the end of the file name or Windows won't recognise it! Macs are sophistacated enough not to need to use these :D

    You'll be surprised how compatible everything is! Just remember that you need Mac-compatible software - Windows software will not work!

    Oh and networking with a PC or other Macs is a dream. And you can get MSN Messenger, etc all on a Mac.

    Mac OS X is simple and works very much like Windows so there should be no problems there.

    Good luck with the switch :)
  7. rueyeet macrumors 65816


    Jun 10, 2003
    There's your biggest reason to get her a Mac, right there. Firewall and pop-up blocker protection are built-in, you can still get away with no anti-virus program, and Apple's Software Update (for patches and security updates) is brain-dead easy.

    I'm a switcher, and I found there to be almost NO learning curve in moving to the Mac. The biggest things to get used to, for me, were:
    • An application doesn't stop running when its last window is closed, as in Windows. On a Mac you must explicitly Quit the program (either from the File menu, or using the Command-Q key combination).
    • Instead of drives showing up with letters as in Windows (regardless of whether there's anything IN the drive) a Mac only mounts a volume when there is media there to be accessed. A Mac doesn't show the CD drive, it shows the inserted CD.
    • Installation of software on Windows always involves an installer program with a setup.exe; on the Mac, often you just drag and drop the app in your Applications folder and ta-daa! it's installed. This was so utterly simple that I completely missed it the first time. :)
    Windows users are also sometimes a bit unused to the Menubar always being at the top of the screen instead of in every window; I didn't find that much of a showstopper, but some do. Some people also have trouble getting used to the Dock, but I find that it does the work of the Start Menu and Taskbar far more intuitively and elegantly--and in less space.

    Screen space: Just a matter of personal preference. Take your gal to check out a 12" iBook, and let her see for herself whether it feels cramped.

    As to the filesystem: It's not different, in the sense that it's still basically files-in-folders. The only difference is the structure of the system directories and where the components of the system are. Like Windows, simply stay away from whatever you don't understand and you'll be fine. You should no more mess around in the System folder than in C:\WIN\System, but you can create folders to your heart's content in your own user folder.

    And lastly, CDs: The Mac will have no problems reading data CDs created on the PC. Sadly, the reverse is not true. PCs will read a Mac-created data CD, but won't see beyond the first level of the folder structure (i.e. beyond the root directory). I think you have to specify ISO format to get a truly compatible data CD. Audio CDs will be fine, though I'm not sure about MP3 CDs.
  8. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004
    Except for Powerpoint, it seems.

    This has been the only Office app with which we've had a few problems.
    Taking PP files created on the Mac back onto the Win 2000 PC...
  9. blodwyn macrumors 65816

    Jul 28, 2004
    Portland, Oregon
    I've been using MS Office 2004 Mac at work for several months, and have exchanged hundreds of word, excel and powerpoint files with windows users. So far nobody has reported any problems with my files.
  10. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004
    Maybe it's an issue with the versions of PP we have on the work PCs. I'm not in the office at the mo so can't provide more info.

    Apparently, some of the slide transitions didn't work properly... but it's not a major issue with us. We tend to take files from the PCs onto the Macs for DTP purposes... and PDFs back the other way.
  11. Windowlicker macrumors 6502a


    Feb 17, 2003
    That depends a bit on the PC version of office. I'm on 2004 and we have 98 or 97 at school (PC). the docs work fine, but xls's don't. I solved all the problems by printing everything that's ready to pdf. I just love it :) One of the best things about OSX.

    oh, and to stay on topic, the iBook has never been such good product. now that the price is just great and you get Airport built in, I would definitely give it a go. If I had money, I would buy my gf one, even though she couldn't care less hehe ;) I'm sometimes making her crazy with my apple enthusiasm! :)
  12. phybbs thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 22, 2004
    really switching?

    Thank you everyone for your advice. After some hinting around, and asking her how she liked the Mac lab at the college I decided to make the switch. This morning I afternoon I made the purchase. For Christmas she’s getting a 12” iBook with a gig of memory, 60g hd and Ms Office. WOW, I’m envious… my laptop is on it’s last leg. If I weren’t financially drained, I’d make the switch too!!! It’s funny how you always put the ones you love first. :eek:

    Again, I wanted to thank everyone for your honest opinions and courtesy. This is one of the only forums that I’ve ever posted in where someone didn’t troll.

    Thanks again!
  13. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004
    Nice machine & fab Xmas present!
    Hope to see you around here more often -- its a good forum.

    (Now you have to save up and get yourself a new machine...)
  14. kjgnola macrumors regular

    Aug 17, 2004
    New Orleans
    The 12" is a little small, but you get used to it very quickly. I have been using a PB 12" since April and have loved the switch from my old IBM A 41 15". The thing was a true lemon! Had to replace the MB 3 times finally on the forth IBM broke down and replaced the whole machine with a T-42 loaded. Sold it on eBay and immediately bought the PB.

    The 12" is so light it hardly feels like it is in my backpack.

    Get it for her. She will love it.
  15. Vanilla macrumors 6502a

    Mar 19, 2002
    Atlanta, GA
    Just a note re: comments on PowerPoint Office 2004 compatibility with PC's.

    1. Certain transitions and effects (e.g. customisable transparancy) are unique to Office 2004 and will not therefore transfer over to a PC. If you require the presentation to be presented via a PC then the best option is keep the presentation "simple", i.e. utilise slide transition and animation effects that you would have used on a PC version, you will then be fine.

    2. If you are unsure, there is a built-in compatibility check in the software. Click the relevant icon and it will tell you areas it feels may cause compatibility problems.

    I really like this version of PowerPoint and always try to ensure I am able to present from my PowerBook, which then enables me to fully utilise the cool transitions etc. available on the Mac version. On the occasions where I have to use a PC I always restrict myself to transitions and effects I would normally use when building on a PC. I suspect that the next release of the Windows version will catch up with the cool mac only features, which will make life somewhat easier.


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