"Switcher" pondering what, and when, to buy

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by rnb2, Jan 23, 2006.

  1. rnb2 macrumors regular

    Jan 23, 2006
    West Haven, CT, USA
    After thinking about it many times in the past, I've finally decided that this year, I'm switching. It will be a big change for me - I've built my own machines for the last decade or so - but as my primary use has migrated to photography, the Mac makes more and more sense every day.

    So, I'm itching to pick something up in the near term. While an Intel iMac or MacBook Pro seems like the obvious choice, I'm hesitant - I'd really like to see what the complete Intel line is going to look like in 9 months or so before I make the real plunge, especially because I don't have the $2k+ that would be necessary to pull the trigger right now.

    My current system is a 3GHz P4 with 1GB of RAM and a couple internal and 2 external drives (both with FW400 and USB2 connections). I have a Viewsonic 20" flat panel with a built-in 4-port USB hub. As I said, my primary use is photography, processing RAW photos from a Canon 20D and 350D (8.2 and 8megapixels) - naturally, I have PSCS2 and several other apps for this. I can switch my PS license to Mac for a minimal charge, and some of my other apps are dual-platform already (the license is good for both PC and Mac).

    So, given all that, here's my idea - buy a Mac Mini now, max out the RAM, and share all of my peripherals via the monitor's hub (mouse, keyboard, Wacom tablet, etc). Play with that for a few months, get used to OSX, play with the Adobe Lightroom betas, do light PSCS2 work, and gradually migrate over. In the later part of the year (August-October), see where the MacIntel line is, and pick the best machine for my real needs at that point.

    I'm leaning towards a laptop, long-term, as it's nice to have one for processing photos on vacation, and the Core Duos/Merom should give me enough horsepower for what I do. While the MacBook Pro is intriguing, I can't help feeling that it's a stop-gap machine right now, and I'd really like to see what the rest of the line is going to look like, rather than dropping $3k right now (which I really can't do).

    Since none of the apps that I would be migrating over from the PC are UB at this point, and who knows when they will be, it just seems like the mini is the best choice for current circumstances. Plus, once my fiancee sees how much easier/more enjoyable the Mac is, she'll decide to inherit the mini rather than my current PC, getting me out of managing Windows headaches at home for good (I do that for a living, so work is another story entirely).

    Does my reasoning seem sound? Anything I'm not thinking of that I should be?

    Also, as you might imagine, I'm pretty keen to make sure that I get one of the 1.5GHz minis with the 64mb VRAM, since I'm pretty used to running 1600x1200 - any pointers on how to increase my odds of getting one?

    Thanks for any pointers/info.

  2. Bastich macrumors regular

    Jul 22, 2002
    As long as you have access to PowerPC native apps right now, your strategy is right on the money. But if you're buying all that Mac software just to run on the Mini, you'll likely spend even more upgrading to Universal Binaries in just a few months.

    Not sure how to tell the upgraded minis from the rest, but chances are most of them will be by now, unless you're buying from some hole in the wall retailer with dusty old stock.

  3. rnb2 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 23, 2006
    West Haven, CT, USA
    Thanks! Most of the non iApp stuff that I'd be running are things that I already have or can get relatively inexpensively, so I don't think I'm looking at spending too much on software right now.

    The more I think about it, the more it seems like the best idea right now - nice to know my logic doesn't seem too crazy ;)

  4. tweakers_suck macrumors regular

    Feb 7, 2005
    Los Angeles, CA
    Wow. You've really thought long and hard about your choices. I can't disagree with or add anything to your post. Sounds like a great plan and goodluck.
  5. mrichmon macrumors 6502a

    Jun 17, 2003
    All of your plan sounds sensible. If you are doing photographic work then you may find the need for an external drive hooked up to the mini for data storage. However, if you have plenty of space on your PC you can always set up a shared folder(s) to make that space available from the mini.

    However, your plan of using the USB hub on your monitor to share the keyboard/mouse/etc is not going to work. The USB hub on your monitor only acts as a spliter so that you can plug 4 USB devices into the monitor and then only use up a single usb port on your computer. A USB device chain can only have one computer attached to the chain.

    I think you want to be able to use one keyboard, mouse and monitor but have them hooked up to two (or more) computers. If this is the case then you will need a KVM switch. this is a switchbox that you connect to the usb port and monitor port on each computer then you connect your keyboard, mouse and monitor to the KVM. The KVM then lets you switch the monitor and keyboard/mouse between each computer.

    Personally I use this belkin KVM to switch between my Mini and a Linux/Windows box and haven't had any problems with it. I only use the KVM to switch the video and audio between the computers. I have separate keyboards and mice hooked up to the computers since I prefer using an Apple keyboard under OS X.

    My Belkin KVM is one of the few cheap KVMs out there that have a physical button to press to switch displays. Many of the other KVMs rely on a keyboard hotkey combination that can be difficult (or sometimes) impossible to type on an Apple keyboard. Also, I wanted to use separate keyboards which necessitated switching without use of hotkeys. Another nice option is the Belkin Flip KVM which sits under a mini.
  6. rnb2 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 23, 2006
    West Haven, CT, USA
    Oops, should have been a bit more specific - I know that the USB hub on the monitor won't let me share the devices without some intervention on my part. I was just going to swap (CPU to monitor, USB A to B) cables, but I found a cheap manual switchbox at NewEgg today for $12 that reviews mentioned being used in exactly the application I have in mind.

    Thanks again to everybody for their input - I honestly expected more "you're insane to buy a mini NOW" replies, so it's gratifying to hear that my reasoning seems sound.

  7. GimmeSlack12 macrumors 603


    Apr 29, 2005
    San Francisco
    I actually like your Mac Mini idea. Go with that and wait for a 17" Macbook to be introduced, and then you'll be set. Those 17 inchers are really really something to see, they are really really thin. If financially you're able to.
  8. bugfaceuk macrumors 6502


    Nov 10, 2005
    That's pretty much what I did, without quite as much forethought. I bought the mini to fiddle (maxed out memory), and then quite by accident ended up using it as my primary machine. I'm also the same as you, reluctant to buy an Intel Mac until I've seen the full line up....

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