Which mac to choose for just browsing Internet?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by HLW, Sep 5, 2010.

  1. HLW macrumors newbie

    Aug 8, 2010
    A friend saw my iPhone and iPad and thought they looked like a great idea for him, he wants something simple to use for just Internet/emails. The only problem is, he has no computer at all, and iPhone and iPad need a computer to sync with.

    I don't think he has ever used a computer, he doesn't even know what an operating system is for example. So I thought a mac might be good, I assume they are easy to use? But I don't know anything about them.

    So some questions:
    1. iPhone etc needs a computer to sync with, is there any way of using it eg updating the OS without also having a computer?
    2. Would you recommend a mac for a complete novice who only wants to use Internet and emails?
    3. Is apple care the same price for the mac as for the iPhone, and will they help with things like connecting a mac to the Internet over the phone?
    4. Can you get like a genius bar appointment to show someone the basics of how to use a mac?

    Any answers will be greatly appreciated!
  2. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus


    Jul 24, 2002
    1. No: you cannot update the OS without a computer
    2. Sure: I think Mac OSX may be easier to learn that Windows for a total novice
    3. Perhaps. Although AppleCare is more for hardware issues
    4. Don't think so. Apple stores offer One To One. But it costs money. This is more appropriate than AppleCare for your setting up Internet access too...
  3. ovrlrd macrumors 65816


    Aug 29, 2009
    1. The genius bar will be happy to setup your iPhone/iPad when you buy it, and they will also install new firmware updates for you as well. It might not be the most recommended method (you are screwed if you lose your data because of no backups) but it does work somewhat.

    2. Refurb Mac Mini or a refurb MacBook off the save store. The key is to spend as little money as possible, because they really have learning to do and having the latest and greatest isn't really important.

    3. Applecare is cheaper for the iPhone/iPad than a Mac. If I recall iPhone/iPad is only $99 and Mac is definitely $110+ at the cheapest.

    4. Apple offers two forms of training, they have something called "One to One" training which costs money, but they will teach you anything you want to know. The second form, which is completely free, is in the form of in-store seminars which train people on different things. They post the schedule for these on the Apple retail site. Look up your local store on the site for the full calendar of events.
  4. Alaerian Guest


    Jan 6, 2005
    A barstool, Innis & Gunn in hand
    I'd go with a refurb MacBook. It doesn't sound like anything more than that would be necessary.

    You might check into any authorized Mac retailers in the area that dabble in used Macs. You could probably pick up an iBook for very little that would do exactly what your friend needs - browse the internet, email, light word processing, etc.
  5. iPhone1 macrumors 65816


    Apr 2, 2010
    San Diego, CA
    1-Genius Bar will update your iPhone no problem.
    2-Mac is perfect for this situation.
    3-I would buy the One to One deal for your friend. Applecare for Mac is always more, especially for portables.
    4-Apple stores are always having free workshops. Look here for more info.
  6. vistadude macrumors 65816

    Jan 3, 2010
    On the contrary I would say a pc is easier to learn and use (I learned a mac first btw). Everything on a pc is done by left click and right click. The scroll wheel on a mouse is very intuitive. On the other hand, on a mac, you have to learn gestures, which is fine for people who are used to computers but completely non-intuitive for people who have never used computers. On top of that, the X doesn't close programs. In windows, the X closes programs, and maximize always maximizes programs to the full screen. Also the start menu and taskbar display open program in a much simpler way than the doc, which only shows a tiny light if programs are open.

    The ipad would be the easiest, if you could let him sync to your computers every once in awhile, but there will be too many websites that he won't be able to access, as well as things like setting up a modem or router.
  7. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    the only gesture you "have" to use is two-finger tap.

    if someone had "never used computers," they'd be asking for help anyway, so whether they'd think to use gestures or not by themselves is irrelevant.

    what's it matter if OSX doesn't close programs? if the OS doesn't run out of memory, it doesn't matter...and for the OP's friend, it won't run out of memory, and he benefits from the instant open.

    you do realize the Applications folder is in the dock? it's not like it's hard to read that...and I don't think it's difficult to notice the light, especially with the huge icons that a lot of people use.

    the start menu in Vista/7 is actually much more difficult to use than the Applications folder or the menu pre-Vista.

    but yeah, the "maximize" button can be inconsistent and confusing.
  8. ovrlrd macrumors 65816


    Aug 29, 2009
    Why would they need to sync, other than for backup purposes? Nothing on the iPad requires syncing other than the initial setup and firmware updates.

    Too many websites? Considering it is their first computer, it will probably take awhile before they begin to encounter those. At the end of the day any important website won't use Flash so it won't matter.

    Modem and router? That's why you have them get the 3G iPad and skip paying for internet from some ISP and having to deal with routers and all that crap.

    Honestly I think an iPad is great, there are limitations for people like you and me, but for the average person they won't really encounter that. As long as they don't use computers at all right now, then they aren't really going to understand how to copy/manage files and folders, which is something difficult to learn for beginners.

    My suggestion though is that the iPad is still a little too new. It would be fine for their needs, but they can still potentially do a lot more with a real computer.

    Mac is better than a PC for learning because everything you need to do can be done with a single mouse button. There is no need to learn gestures or "right click" at all. Every single function of OS X can be accessed from the menus. You don't need to teach someone how to "quit" an app because the OS can handle having tons of apps open at once if you aren't doing anything serious with your computer (which this person won't be).

    The automatic updates system is also way less confusing than Windows. It prompts you for updates and gives you the option to install or ignore. With Windows (by default) it just installs without asking and then irritates you until you reboot. People get confused when an OS does things without them specifically telling it "yes, that is okay."

    Also your point about maximizing is dumb, most people don't know what any of the buttons do when they start out really. But one thing is pretty universal, the X button gets rid of the open app (notice I didn't say quit). The other two buttons take time to understand, and you can't expect either of those two to be easier in windows, even if one of them is more "consistent" in windows.
  9. vistadude macrumors 65816

    Jan 3, 2010
    Dude chill out. I'm saying windows is easier and more consistent for beginners. I'm not a pc or mac fanboy, I use both.

    For the ipad, yes, you only need a few syncs, for initial setup and OS updates. Not bad at all.

    A lot of websites don't work correctly, for example, ones that have popups like bank websites. Even many websites are a mobile version like espn, etc.

    Like the OP mentioned, it's for internet browsing, email.. Most people would buy home internet, not just ipad 3g internet.

    And Mac isn't easier because you have to go through a menu every time to quite an application, whereas in windows, you click X. That's much simpler and is faster.

    Even installing applications is inconsistent, sometimes you double click the installer, other times you have to drag it to the dock. On windows, you always double click the installer or click install after inserting the cd.

    You do need to teach people to quit apps or else os x hangs when you shut down. This is real and happens all the time.

    The automatic updates can be disabled. When you start a windows pc for the first time, it even asks if you want updates on or off and gives you a big green or red icon to make it obvious.

    Other things are easier in windows, for example you have only a few icons on the taskbar vs many on the dock. When you open up a program, it shows you the title and first few words of the program unlike mac os x where the icon looks the same except for a small light. If you open multiple web browsing windows, it gives you an icon for each window, where as mac, you have to press and hold the icon to see how many windows are open and which will open first.

  10. LizKat macrumors 601


    Aug 5, 2004
    Catskill Mountains
    Refurb MacBook Pro, 13". They will be in love with the portability, and the machine has enough capability to meet their future needs if they move past just surfing and mail, like streaming entertainment, spreadsheeting their budgets, etc.
  11. Alaerian Guest


    Jan 6, 2005
    A barstool, Innis & Gunn in hand
    Just as an FYI, you can quit any Mac Application with :apple:+Q (Command+Q). Ergo, no menu and just as fast (if not faster than other other method, PC or Windows)
  12. THX1139 macrumors 68000


    Mar 4, 2006
    What a load of crap. You shouldn't give advice when you don't know what you are talking about.
  13. ovrlrd macrumors 65816


    Aug 29, 2009
    Oh really? Then name one important website that someone uses that requires Flash. You want to really get into this debate then at least bring a decent counter argument instead of just saying I don't know what I am talking about.

    I am open to being wrong, I am not even saying I am right. Just that in practice I have not seen this to be the case.
  14. vistadude macrumors 65816

    Jan 3, 2010
    http://www.etcc.il.gov/ --> Ethics test website that all Illinois State employees have to take requires flash.

    espn.com and hulu.com require flash to see videos

    A lot of company training websites require flash too. Flash is necessary in today's web. You probably don't even notice unless you disable flash, then you'll see the web just doesn't work.
  15. ovrlrd macrumors 65816


    Aug 29, 2009
    Thank you, those are good examples, except ESPN and Hulu both have iPad apps which are horrible examples. Training/work related sites are a very good point, and I stand corrected.

    However, I think people who don't currently have a computer have probably already learned ways around those, certainly they would probably be looking to buy a computer so they didn't have to, but a little lack of Flash isn't going to be the end of the world to every person. I think it varies depending on someones needs.

    Oh and regards to Flash being necessary, I use "Click to Flash" or whatever it's called so that Flash doesn't load on any sites I visit because I hate how much resources it takes up (even on a Quad core Mac Pro!!). I very rarely run into websites where I actually use it. With YouTube I use HTML5, same with Vimeo. Hulu I don't even use because of the advertisements, and never used ESPN's flash stuff. In general everything that I run into that uses Flash I could live without.

    Still you make some great examples with the work stuff, so I will concede I was wrong about that, but only that.
  16. MacHamster68 macrumors 68040


    Sep 17, 2009
    i do not have problems with flashplayer at all on my G4 Mac's its disabled anyway

    and a G4 Mac with usb 2.0 thats all his mate needs really

    so it is not only a matter of windows 7 or OSX and which of them is easier to use ,obviously OSX ;),
    his mates budget or how much is he willing to spend on something thats only meant for syncing the iphone or ipod and some surfing
    and as someone who never had a computer before he could be happy with a used Mac Mini G4 , getting the experience of OSX and then he can still decide "i need youtube in HD" and a MacBook PRO with i7 processor
    i mean if someone never had a computer before ,he is less biased towards one and the other Operating system or platform and the mini G4 would offer him a cheap way of experiencing OSX , and not everyone sees youtube HD and hulu HD as the only reason to buy a computer ,
    dont forget he needs the computer to sync the iphone and ipod and a bit surfing
    there had been no other minimum requirements made ,so nothing a Mac mini or a iBook G4 or powerbook G4 or even a eMac 1.42 could not handle and they are a lot cheaper and can all run leopard (needed for iphone 4 syncing ) , so not really the need for him to buy a used MacBook for 3 times+(if its in working condition with a battery that still lasts 30min +), of what a used g4 mini would cost him , if he does not buy a new one ,which would cost about 5 times+ , not to mention what a MacBook Pro would cost
  17. HLW thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 8, 2010
    Thanks for all the replys, if genius bar will activate iphone or ipad and update the OS, that might be the best way to go. I don't think my friend will have any data on the device to lose (I doubt he will be typing anything, he might buy from app store or itunes I guess but he could just redownload if something goes wrong) so won't need a backup. He knows loads of people with PCs including me so if he couldn't get to an app store I'm sure he could update the OS at someone elses house if needed.

    My grandparents were asking me about iPads the other day too, they're also thinking of buying one! I think maybe an iPad is less 'threatening' than a computer for someone not used to computing, no wires etc to have to plug in and you can just pick it up and use it. I'm surprised how many people have them or are thinking of getting one, I've seen quite a few people with one on the train so far.
  18. Jayomat macrumors 6502a


    Jan 10, 2009
    Buy a cheap PC laptop and you're good.. or even go linux (malware).. you'll save him €€€... no need to buy expensive apple hardware to browse and email.. even a 12" netbook will do..

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