Taking the plunge after September's media event

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Sissacot, Aug 30, 2009.

  1. Sissacot macrumors newbie


    Aug 30, 2009
    Northwestern CT
    Hey Everyone,

    This is my first post, so let me start by saying that you guys/gals are an absolute treasure trove of information. I've been entertained/informed in these forums for several hours over the past couple of weeks and it's affirmed my decision to (finally) make the move from PC to Mac.

    Instead of purchasing my 4th PC in 12 years (disgusting...I know), I've decided to purchase an iMac after the September media event (hopeful of an announcement of that 7-10% price cut some of you are talking about). To show you the depth of my Mac ignorance (and to be clear, it's deep!), I wanted to ask a couple of questions so I can, in turn, provide "the boss" with the 411 and sound like I know what I'm talking about. Thanks in advance for your information and patience.

    My computer usage is about 90% entertainment, consisting of web browsing, digital photo editing (and I mean nothing more than red eye reduction and factory auto picture enhancing), video editing (nothing more than capturing video from a mini-dv camcorder and burning a dvd) and music through iTunes. We won't be watching DVD's or doing ANY gaming whatsoever. The other 10% of usage is with simple MS Word documents that my wife (aka "the boss"...see above) and I bring home / e-mail back & forth from work. Now that you know how the machine will be used, here are my questions:

    1. I'm leaning towards the 20" iMac and was wondering if you thought the standard configuration will suit my needs or should I upgrade the RAM (from 2GB to 4GB). I think the standard 320GB hard drive will suit my needs (FYI, my current PC is a 220GB hard drive and, after 3 1/2 years of use, I still have 180GB of space left). Money's not an issue...I'll gladly drop the $100 for upgraded RAM if you think I'll benefit from it (same goes for the hard drive).

    2. My wife teaches and is eligible for the education discount. If we upgrade the RAM & hard drive on the 20", there's only about a $120 difference between that and the entry level 24" iMac (comparable to an upgraded 20"). That being the case, I guess I'd have to have my head examined for not jumping on the 24", right?! (Forgive me...I'm more or less thinking out loud right now...practicing my argument for the boss!).

    3. Regarding running Windows on a Mac; I do use a couple of Windows based software packages (logo design & business card program for my band). Does this mean I have to install XP or Vista AND Parallels or just Parallels?

    4. Speaking of VM software, for my basic needs which would you recommend, Parallels, Fusion, something else? Why?

    5. We'll definitely need Word & Excel; the clear consensus here on the MacRumor forums is that Office Mac 2008 sucks. As stated, my needs are basic (Word & Excel). Do you recommend Office Mac 2008 or running Office 2007 w/ the VM software? And if I went with Office 2007, would I need to install XP or Vista or just the VM software?

    All in all, I really can't wait to get an iMac in the house and get familiar with it. Thanks again...I'll be waiting to read your replies!

  2. mark2288 macrumors regular

    Jan 11, 2006
    Hey Scott,
    Glad to hear you've decided to jump on board! Here's what I think:

    1. The more RAM you have, the better. I would go with 4 GB over 2 GB. The system will just run smoother and better.

    2. Going to 24" is your call. You may want to go to an Apple Store and see if you enjoy all the real estate a 24" offers over 20". But for only $120, it sounds like a bad idea not to go to 24".

    3. Regarding running Windows, Leopard and Snow Leopard come with Boot Camp which lets you dual-boot, which means you need to reboot into the Windows partition. With VMWare Fusion or Parallels you can run the Windows partition alongside your Mac OS. I personally use VMWare Fusion, but I've heard Parallels has gotten better. Fusion integrates nicely with a Boot Camp partition too (not sure if Parallels does this yet....anyone?).

    4. See above. Boot Camp and/or Fusion.

    5. If you're going to be using the Mac OS predominantly, I would go with either Office 2008 or Office 2004. It may get annoying to boot into your VM just to open a Word or Excel doc. I personally use 2004, although 2008 isn't that horrible once you figure out where everything is!

    Hope that helps....good luck Scott!

  3. greg555 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 24, 2005
    As far as I know the 24" iMacs have better LCDs in them than the 20" ones (IPS versus TN panels). Some people don't see much difference but many do. If you have a chance to see them before buying you can decide if the difference is visible to you.

  4. queshy macrumors 68040


    Apr 2, 2005
    I'll just chime in, but first I'd like to welcome you to MacRumors!

    The 24" is absolutely worth the price difference, especially for you, someone who will be using their computer for photos and video but ALSO for work purposes. On a 24" screen, you'll be able to fit more Excel cells in there, view 2 spreadsheets side by side, etc., all much more easily because the 24" screen has a higher resolution. To add to that, the 24" panel is superior to the 20" panel in quality as well. As far as I know, the 20" uses a TN panel, which is just not as good as the S-IPS panel used by the iMac. The quality of the 24" screen is much better. The extra ram will go a long way, and you can get it really cheaply online and upgrade it yourself (it literally takes 5 minutes...one screw!).

    Regarding office, yes it does suck on the Mac. I'd recommend Open Office ( a free download, and it pretty much does everything office does!), or iWork 09. iWork 09 is usually very compatible with Office documents, and in Pages (Apple's equivalent of Word), you can open up .docs as well as convert/export/save as .doc, and usually this works quite well. iWork runs very nicely and is easier to use (or at least the features are easier to use!). Office: mac 2008 (and 2004) are both cows, and I hate using them.
  5. voltare macrumors member

    May 26, 2008
    If money is no option, I would definitely recommend getting the 24". Nicer screen, double memory and double hard drive for $120 more? You can't beat that. And the computer will last you that much longer.

    To run your Windows programs, you need Windows (I got XP for $90 on Amazon), of course. You only need Fusion or Parallels if you want to be able to run the Windows programs in Mac OS. If you only run the Windows programs very occasionally, you can just use Boot Camp (included in Leopard) and just boot into Windows when you need to use them. Also, you may find that there are Mac programs that can perform the same functions as your Windows programs.

    For documents, I would recommend trying iWork 09. Your iMac should come with a free trial and you can send some test files to your work to see if they can open them.
  6. Buzz Bumble Guest

    Oct 19, 2008
    New Zealand
    The "September Media Event" (rumoured as 9 September) is almost certainly going to be only about updated iPods. Apple rarely mixes announcements of its product lines. If there is going to be any iMac price drop, the announcement will be made later in September, but is more likely to be October (or even November). Plus since it's unlikely to be any huge improvement in the iMac, any such "announcement" will probably be done quietly rather than with a big event.
  7. Sissacot thread starter macrumors newbie


    Aug 30, 2009
    Northwestern CT
    Thanks for the input everyone; the 24" it shall be! I hope we'll know by the beginning of November whether or not an iMac price cut is in the offing, because I won't be able to wait much longer than that. I GOTTA' HAVE ONE!
  8. bumzo1 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 31, 2009
    Dallas, TX
  9. farmermac macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2009
    To the OP...I did the same thing you did about a month ago. First started looking at the 20", then decided the 24" was a better deal since it comes with upgraded memory and hard drive stock. I opted to add a 1tb hd to mine cause thats my priority, hd space.

    I'd buy before 9/8 if you're on the fence so you can get the free ipod. That's easily $150 off if you want to list that on craigslist and sell in one day. Free printer, free ipod makes it a no brainer.

    Or you can give the "boss" the ipod as a surprise.

    Im one month in and love my mac. Im using VMware fusion and winxp and its great for the one program that has no equivalent. It has unity mode so you can run the program literally in Mac OS and minimize it to the dock like any mac app.
  10. mahen macrumors member

    Jan 19, 2009
    Alpharetta, GA
    I use MS Office extensively at work (Dell running Win XP) and so far I have been able to open up excel documents using iWork. If you use macros in excel or word then you will not be able to open/execute the macros in iWork or Office 2008 for Mac (I think the earlier Office for Mac version supports Macros).
    As the earlier poster said...24" is great to work with multiple applications.
  11. relativist macrumors regular

    Jan 13, 2009
    It's always a good idea to spend money on things you can't upgrade yourself, and do upgrades you can do later. In this case Ram and HD upgrades would could be done later I believe. The cpu and gpu are not upgradeable. Some would argue that the screen size is also not upgradeable, I'm in that camp. Good call waiting after the Sept. event btw.
  12. farmermac macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2009
    Hard drive upgrade involves removing the glass screen out of the machine with a glass plunger. Not exactly "easy" for the DYI. Memory, absolutely
  13. LotusLord macrumors 6502a


    Apr 28, 2008
    The Capital of the Land of Cheese and Beer
    You can also run Neo Office which supports Office documents quite nicely. At least try it out before you jump on Office for Mac.
  14. Maccleduff macrumors regular

    Jun 26, 2007
    I use Office 2008 for Mac, and I actually find it quite good to use, certainly Word and Excel anyway. Mainly I like the citations manager in Word 2008, imo its better to use than Pages.

    I also use Fusion, which works well for me, you basically install Fusion then from within Fusion you can install a windows image. Its all very straightforward and step by step. Can't tell you if its any better than Parallels as I have not used parallels very much, I just stick with what I know.:)
  15. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6


    Aug 17, 2007
    Another vote for the 24" model. It is well worth the difference in price.
  16. londonmystery macrumors 6502


    Jun 1, 2009
    London, UK
    Am in similar position to you. Want an imac wasn't sure which one for a while. have now decided on 24" but just waiting and hoping for this rumoured price drop/bump. :):)
  17. acorder macrumors newbie

    Sep 2, 2009
    I agree with the earlier poster who suggested buying BEFORE the media event. The iPod can be flipped for 10% of the computer's price, so you're nto losing anything. Worst case scenario is Apple drops the prices 10% and you have to spend an hour's work selling the iPod. Best case scenario is they don't change the prices and you've made $150 (or you've got a free iPod). There's really no reason whatsoever to wait until after the event; in fact it would not be very bright, in my opinion.


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