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First-ever Mac for a Switcher...

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
Hi all

This is my first-ever post and I'm totally new to the Apple world, so be gentle with me!

I'm currently using a Wintel box (booo!) but I've always admired the Mac range for years and wanted one when I bought my first computer and the original iMacs were around. Sadly my budget was limited and with the cheapest iMac at £915 British pounds, it was beyond my price range - I got a decent PC for £550 and the rest is history - it's been PCs ever since.

Now all that's changed though - my budget is better and the Mac range is much more affordable. And my 3-year-old PC is getting slower and noisier as the fans get rattly, and I'm getting very very tired of how clunky and annoying Windows XP is getting - I get security alerts, spyware, constant massive file downloads just to fix the latest security holes - you get the picture.

So with moving to my first-ever home of my own, a little studio flat, I'm not taking this rattling heap with me - it's time for a new computer and I'd decided for sure - I'm making the switch!

Now although my budget is quite healthy now, my PC experience has also taught me how little I need a really powerful machine - I word process, surf the web, listen to music via my computer at that's it. I've never even used the CD-burner on my PC so my needs are pretty basic. So I don't want to go crazy. I also don't want to buy anything too big, another reason why the current all-in-one Macs appeal so much.

I don't need power so all PowerMacs are out, and I don't want a laptop - despite the space-saving I just can't get on with laptop keyboards and touchpads.

So it's an eMac, an iMac or the new Mac Mini.

What I need help with is which to choose. My main issue is NOISE - since I leave my computer on most of the time and I'll be in basically a one-room flat, I need as quiet a machine as possible.

Apple seems to boast about how quiet the Mac Mini and iMac are, but don't seem to mention anything about the eMac.

I can cope with SOME noise, but don't want anything more than a very gentle background hum and certainly nowhere near as loud as my multi-fan PC tower.

The iMac is more power than I need but I loved the very compact design and beautiful looks, but I'm worried by some forum posts I've seen which suggests the 17" models may be noisier than advertised and have screen problems. The Mac mini is cute and if it's as quiet as they say would look great if I can find a nice-looking silver TFT monitor to match.

But I'm really tempted by the eMac as it seems the best value even compared to the mini Mac. I've tried "listening" to an eMac in an AppleStore but obviously in a shop it's hard to be objective.

Anyone got any suggestions about which Mac should be my first-ever please? All contributions gratefully received.
post #2 of 33
If noise is an issue, do NOT get an eMac. It sounds as if you're in the airport.

For your needs, Mac mini is perfect. Just up the RAM to 512 and you're set to go.

But you will need an external display, so you need to consider that too.

The iMac is good too, an all-in-one with the screen too. As I see it, your choice is between the Mac mini and iMac. If you have an LCD display already, or even CRT that you don't want to throw out, get the Mac mini. If you don't want to take anything with you and don't want to have to search for compatible cheap LCD displays, get the iMac.

Good luck!
'L'enfer, c'est les autres' - JPS
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post #3 of 33
Get a Mac mini and this Samsung LCD:
http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProduc...001-146&depa=0

Should be "whisper quiet" and take a very small amount of space
What the problem is?
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What the problem is?
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post #4 of 33
Thread Starter 
Wow thanks for such quick replies guys!
I was going to ask why you recommended that particular monitor but having looked closer I think I can see why - it really is a great design - ultra-slim, the cables hidden, it's beautiful! Plus the Samsung logo isn't displayed on the bezel itself so it wouldn't jar with the "Appleness" of my system.

I'm wondering if I could place my Mac Mini on the bottom of the stand, tucked underneath the screen. That could look really nice. Would the Samsung definitely work okay with a Mac Mini - and am I right in thinking the Mac Mini has a DVI output and the Samsung can accept DVI, meaning better picture quality than a standard connection?

It's a little on the expensive side but with the Mac Mini 1.25GHz with 512Mb upgrade and Apple wired keyboard and mouse, that would come in at £427 plus I found the Samsung at £279 so that's £706 total. An eMac with a 512Mb upgrade would be £599, but I think an extra £107 might well be worth it for the nicer display and quietness.

Any more posts still appreciated guys, particularly from eMac owners and suggestions on monitors to team with a Mac Mini - I'd be looking at a 17" display with DVI input which matches the Mac Mini as closely as possible.
post #5 of 33
Quote:
Originally posted by Gene Clean
If noise is an issue, do NOT get an eMac. It sounds as if you're in the airport.


Good luck!

Thats funny.... we have an eMac and I didn't think it even had a fan.
I had to ask my kids if it made noise just to be sure and they said no
post #6 of 33
Quote:
Originally posted by MagicFingers
Thats funny.... we have an eMac and I didn't think it even had a fan.
I had to ask my kids if it made noise just to be sure and they said no

How's that funny?


It's loud and it does have a fan. Which is fine for whats its built for; computer labs with 150 students working on different computers which pretty much, neutralizes the noise.

On a relatively quiet room it sounds like an airport, and I have no desire to extend this argument any further as I only explained my view of the three computers and their levels of noise.

For me, eMacs make too much noise and thats, simply, it.
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post #7 of 33
Quote:
Originally posted by RSteve
It's a little on the expensive side but with the Mac Mini 1.25GHz with 512Mb upgrade and Apple wired keyboard and mouse, that would come in at £427 plus I found the Samsung at £279 so that's £706 total.

I'd go for the Mac mini + LCD : Smaller, quieter and lower power consumption.

But, I would suggest *not* getting Apple's stupid one-button mouse. An alternative would be this Belkin optical two-button mouse with scroll wheel for £14.13 ex. delivery: belkin mouse

Good luck with your purchase & welcome to the world of Mac!
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post #8 of 33
They're all telling you to get the mini because it's new and they want one.



Get the iMac.
meh
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meh
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post #9 of 33
Quote:
Originally posted by Harald
They're all telling you to get the mini because it's new and they want one.



Get the iMac.

Actually, no, I don't want a Mac mini.

I think a Mac mini would be better for him because he doesn't need the increased power of an iMac and he therefore might as well save himself some money.
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post #10 of 33
Get the mini if you need a cheap computer and already have a screen, speakers, keyboard, and mouse.

Otherwise, get the iMac.

The iMac comes with everything you need and will last significantly longer than the mini. It will also be cheaper to upgrade the ram or hard disk on the iMac a few years from now when you need a little more oomph.

In a one room flat, the simplicity of the iMac can be greatly appreciated. No need for seperate desk speakers or wires to and from the screen. If you need a bit more sound, an iSub can be had for $40. The iSub diverts bass from the built in speakers. This means not only do you get a subwoofer, but the existing speakers can use all of their amplification power for the higher frequencies. This makes them distort less and sound clearer.

I vote: iMac (if you've got the money)
post #11 of 33
Quote:
Originally posted by dfiler
Get the mini if you need a cheap computer and already have a screen, speakers, keyboard, and mouse.

Otherwise, get the iMac.

The iMac comes with everything you need and will last significantly longer than the mini. It will also be cheaper to upgrade the ram or hard disk on the iMac a few years from now when you need a little more oomph.

In a one room flat, the simplicity of the iMac can be greatly appreciated. No need for seperate desk speakers or wires to and from the screen. If you need a bit more sound, an iSub can be had for $40. The iSub diverts bass from the built in speakers. This means not only do you get a subwoofer, but the existing speakers can use all of their amplification power for the higher frequencies. This makes them distort less and sound clearer.

I vote: iMac (if you've got the money)

I agree. Mac Mini is for those who *already* have a keyboard, mouse, and monitor. otherwise, i would definately go for the iMac G5 low-end with mouse, flat panel display, and keyboard.
post #12 of 33
Quote:
Originally posted by Gene Clean
How's that funny?


It's loud and it does have a fan. Which is fine for whats its built for; computer labs with 150 students working on different computers which pretty much, neutralizes the noise.

On a relatively quiet room it sounds like an airport, and I have no desire to extend this argument any further as I only explained my view of the three computers and their levels of noise.

For me, eMacs make too much noise and thats, simply, it.

ok then you are wrong
post #13 of 33
i have an emac and i only hear a faint sound when im not listening to music. it sounds like theres something wrong with the fan in yours Gene Clean. my emac is much quieter than my dads p3 tower...much quieter.
post #14 of 33
Quote:
Originally posted by MagicFingers
ok then you are wrong

Maybe I am, but how does this matter? Its an opinion based on experience with several eMacs, including those in school labs, and is something that can vary from person to person.

I simply stated my opinion on the eMac and I frankly find it loud. Maybe something's wrong with my fan, or maybe something's wrong with 200 other fans in my local high school where I perform volunteer work in their computer lab, but sure as hell I didn't ask you to clarify how your eMac sounded and sure as hell will not make this topic 'oh my eMac is quiet as a whisper, oh yours sucks' kind of topic by continuing this conversation with you.

The eMac is loud, in my opinion, and lets agree to disagree shall we?
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post #15 of 33
I work with eMacs, iMacs, G4s and G5s at work (school). The eMac doesn't seem to be any noisier than our G4s. The iMacs are quieter.
post #16 of 33
Well I am also a recent switcher. But I ordered an iBook. Reasons are for one that I mostly needed a notebook and for two that I did not want to bother with buying monitor, kboard etc.. Just plug it in and go.

All in all I do agree that MiniMac IS a good switcher machine. Build for that task and it will surely do the job that Apple intended it to do.
post #17 of 33
Thread Starter 
Sincere thanks to all who've posted so far... it's really kind of you to post such well-researched and thoughtful replies... I can see I'm going to enjoy the Mac world if people are so keen to help a poor newbie like me.

Please don't argue on my account, I'm happy for everyone just to express their own experiences and then I have a range of opinions to guide me. I think the trouble with the eMac is it obviously does have a fan - I noticed that in the store - but I think maybe fans just vary a little in how much noise they make and it depends on the particular machine you get so it's kind of pot luck. Also I think fans get noisier as the machine gets older - my PC fan certainly did. The one in the store seems quiet but as I say it's difficult to tell and it doesn't guarantee I'd get a quiet one, or that it wouldn't get noisy over time.

I think the iMac is more power than I need but it's true I guess that it might last longer before I might have to upgrade it - and the all-in-one design is neater than the Mac mini would be. It's also not that much more than the £700-odd I'd spend on a Mac mini with a nice LCD - the iMac starts at £899 though I'd want a memory upgrade so I guess that's £950, so the Mac Mini could give me a useful saving.

Regarding the comment about the Apple mouse, Mr. H, I think it looks nice but I agree it doesn't seem the best to use. I was thinking about getting the Apple keyboard/mouse combo though because obviously the keyboard is mapped specifically for the Mac with the Apple key etc. but if there's a 3rd-party keyboard that is better I'd consider it.

I also kind of assumed it wouldn't be worth getting a two-button mouse because although I'm used to two-button as a Windows user, I assumed OSX would be designed around a one-button system, rendering the second button unnecessary, is this not so? I do like my Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer because it has two extra buttons either side which I have got used to using as "back" and "forward" in my web browser, and it's a USB mouse so I guess I could use it - it's white and grey wouldn't look too out of place, though I suppose the Microsoft logo might! I would also miss a scroll wheel but again I kind of assumed OSX wouldn't be set up to support anything other than a one-button Apple mouse.

One thing no-one has mentioned so far is the posts I've seen elsewhere on this forum which suggests the screen quality of 17" iMacs isn't very good compared to the 20" iMac (which really WOULD be an extravagance for me!) and also that some 17" iMacs have actually been quite noisy despite Apple's "whisper-quiet" claims? Any comments/experiences there?

It's either a Mac mini with 512Mb upgrade and nice 17" silver TFT or a iMac 17" 1.6GHz with a 512Mb upgrade I guess, just wonder if the iMac is worth £200-250 extra for my needs.... probably not....

I do wonder about waiting under the new OSX is released - is it called Tiger? But I really wanted it ASAP as I'm moving into my new place any day now and could really miss having a computer. Is it worth waiting?

Sorry to ramble on! One I begin the type I can't stop!
post #18 of 33
Thread Starter 
One last thing - if the Mac Mini and iMac are so much quieter, I presume it's because they don't have fans - but with the components all so close together how to they cool them without fans?
post #19 of 33
Quote:
Originally posted by RSteve
One last thing - if the Mac Mini and iMac are so much quieter, I presume it's because they don't have fans - but with the components all so close together how to they cool them without fans?

They have fans, they're just quieter. It might have something to do with the fact that the eMac has to deal with a CRT (massive heat generator) and a built-in amplifier much larger than either the mini's or the iMac's.

The 17" iMac's LCD isn't as good as the 20"'s, but monitor and keyboard and mouse quality are pretty subjective, so take them for a spin and decide for yourself if you like them. I use the Apple keyboard and mouse, and I prefer them to most third-party solutions, but you might prefer something else. They're solidly built, at least. My major gripe with the keyboard is that there are no feet in the back that I can lower to flatten it, but I can deal with that.

I'd also recommend the iMac over the mini, if you can swing the extra cost, but the mini should be a good little soldier.
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post #20 of 33
What you really need to do is go to an Apple retailer, and spec out what your ideal machine would be in each segment of the whole product line, and then try each one individually. You might find that a far more expensive machine on your initial purchase could serve your need for a much longer time, than just a computer that satisfies your immediate needs today.
post #21 of 33
Quote:
Originally posted by RSteve

Regarding the comment about the Apple mouse, Mr. H, I think it looks nice but I agree it doesn't seem the best to use. I was thinking about getting the Apple keyboard/mouse combo though because obviously the keyboard is mapped specifically for the Mac with the Apple key etc. but if there's a 3rd-party keyboard that is better I'd consider it.

I also kind of assumed it wouldn't be worth getting a two-button mouse because although I'm used to two-button as a Windows user, I assumed OSX would be designed around a one-button system, rendering the second button unnecessary, is this not so? I do like my Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer because it has two extra buttons either side which I have got used to using as "back" and "forward" in my web browser, and it's a USB mouse so I guess I could use it - it's white and grey wouldn't look too out of place, though I suppose the Microsoft logo might! I would also miss a scroll wheel but again I kind of assumed OSX wouldn't be set up to support anything other than a one-button Apple mouse.

Nah, Mac OS X is designed around multi-button mice, it's just that ctrl-click can be used as right click if you only have a one button mouse or have a laptop.

The Apple mouse is nice and all, but a lot of people prefer more buttons. Your Intellimouse would work fine, as would any other USB/BT mice. The Logitech MX-510 works for me.

As for keyboards, it depends. The Apple one is ok, and with the price drop a decent price. There are nicer ones out there though, like the Tactile Pro or the Studioboard.
post #22 of 33
Macintouch has reports nearly every day about people having problems with iMac noise.
post #23 of 33
Thread Starter 
Oh dear, does it? I'll have to check that out. I'd be pissed if I sprang the extra money for an iMac and got a noisy one. If it was noisy, would I get a replacement under warrant or would Apple claim it wasn't a fault?
post #24 of 33
Quote:
Originally posted by RSteve
Regarding the comment about the Apple mouse, Mr. H, I think it looks nice but I agree it doesn't seem the best to use. I was thinking about getting the Apple keyboard/mouse combo though because obviously the keyboard is mapped specifically for the Mac with the Apple key etc. but if there's a 3rd-party keyboard that is better I'd consider it.

I also kind of assumed it wouldn't be worth getting a two-button mouse because although I'm used to two-button as a Windows user, I assumed OSX would be designed around a one-button system, rendering the second button unnecessary, is this not so? I do like my Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer because it has two extra buttons either side which I have got used to using as "back" and "forward" in my web browser, and it's a USB mouse so I guess I could use it - it's white and grey wouldn't look too out of place, though I suppose the Microsoft logo might! I would also miss a scroll wheel but again I kind of assumed OSX wouldn't be set up to support anything other than a one-button Apple mouse.

Well, RSteve, that's the strange thing. OS X has full native (no extra drivers needed) support for two button mice and scroll wheels, despite Apple only shipping a one-button mouse. If you want to use more than two buttons, your mouse will have to have specific OS X drivers available. If your mouse has more than two buttons but no drivers, the extra buttons will be redundant.

On the keyboard front - yes, definitely get a keyboard specifically designed for an Apple system. Apple's is fine and with the recent price cut not too expensive either. The keyboards that Electric Monk suggested look good too but even in America they look pretty pricey so I dread to think what they must cost in the UK!


Quote:
Originally posted by RSteve
I do wonder about waiting under the new OSX is released - is it called Tiger? But I really wanted it ASAP as I'm moving into my new place any day now and could really miss having a computer. Is it worth waiting?

If you can cope with waiting, then do. However, I'm not expecting to see Tiger until the WWDC in June.

Yet another thing for you to consider that people haven't mentioned yet is this: Macs hold their value pretty well. I reckon that if you bought a Mac mini now, you could expect to sell it in three year's time for around 50% of the price you'll pay now. Screens, keyboards and mice tend to last much longer than the computer itself, so if you go with the Mac mini, when you get the upgrade itch, you can keep your monitor, keyboard and mouse, sell your Mac mini and buy the latest version. I reckon that the "upgrade cost" (the difference between what you'd sell your old Mac mini for and the cost of a new one) would be little more than the cost of upgrading the RAM and HD in an iMac, but you'd get faster/bigger everything: CPU, GPU, HD, RAM etc...
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post #25 of 33
Re noise/any other flaws: if the worst comes to the worst you can always return the item for a full refund. European incl. UK customer protection laws are your friend. (Indeed, it has occured to me that the reason I have never seen a dead TFT pixel, etc., in the UK is because the poorer products are shipped to the US instead.)

If you're really concerned then buy from a local retailer and open the box in the shop to check there and then. That said I've always ordered directly from Apple as I've have always been satisfied with service.
post #26 of 33
I am absolutely in love with my MS Natural keyboard. I hate typing on the flat ones.

These won't work with OSX properly? I just assumed the windows key would function as the apple key.
post #27 of 33
Quote:
Originally posted by SkimKlaw
I am absolutely in love with my MS Natural keyboard. I hate typing on the flat ones.

These won't work with OSX properly? I just assumed the windows key would function as the apple key.

That's what I would assume, but I don't know for sure. Anyone out there have experience with this?

It's not just the Apple key though, there's the Option key and the fact that PC keyboard layouts are different; the @ and " symbols are transposed, for example. Presumably you can get a keyboard layout for OS X so that using a PC-layout keyboard is less jarring?
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post #28 of 33
I guess we need to know where the person is posting from.

The US Mac and PC keyboards are identical except for the label on one key (command or windows button).

I'm assuming it will work with non US keyboards even though the pictures on the keys are different.

EDIT: Woops, i forgot that about the backspace/delete and enter/return labeling difference between US PC and Mac keyboards. Still, just a difference in the picture printed on the plastic button.
post #29 of 33
Quote:
Originally posted by dfiler
I guess we need to know where the person is posting from.

I've been assuming, since he mentioned British pounds in the first post, that RSteve is from somewhere in the U.K.
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post #30 of 33
Thread Starter 
Can confirm from the UK.
post #31 of 33
Thread Starter 
Some other Mac sites seem to be implying that the PowerBooks and eMacs are due to be updated any day now, mainly due to the PowerBooks saying they'll take a long time to deliver even for standards specs at the AppleStore, and some French Mac website saying that the eMac is "EOL".
But the eMac is still 24-hour shipping for standard spec at AppleStore UK and AppleStore USA has it as same business day.

So if long delivery estimates are a time of a soon-to-be replaced or updated product, does this mean the eMac isn't due to be updated or even discontinued completely yet?
post #32 of 33
Quote:
Originally posted by RSteve
Some other Mac sites seem to be implying that the PowerBooks and eMacs are due to be updated any day now, mainly due to the PowerBooks saying they'll take a long time to deliver even for standards specs at the AppleStore, and some French Mac website saying that the eMac is "EOL".
But the eMac is still 24-hour shipping for standard spec at AppleStore UK and AppleStore USA has it as same business day.

Only the SuperDrive eMac (i.e., the top of the line model) is reportedly EOL.

Quote:
So if long delivery estimates are a time of a soon-to-be replaced or updated product, does this mean the eMac isn't due to be updated or even discontinued completely yet?

Any product that's shipping in 1-2 business days is almost certainly still in production, yes.
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post #33 of 33
Quote:
Originally posted by RSteve
Oh dear, does it? I'll have to check that out. I'd be pissed if I sprang the extra money for an iMac and got a noisy one. If it was noisy, would I get a replacement under warrant or would Apple claim it wasn't a fault?

Even when the fans are on, they're not THAT loud, just louder than advertised - it's nothing compared to an old G4 or a PC - probably less than an eMac. FWIW, the couple of iMacs we have at work have all been whisper quiet, no noise at all. I'd definitely recommend one if you can stretch to it over the mini - not that the mini isn't a great machine, but the iMac is superb. Also, whilst the apple mouse is not great if you're used to 2 buttons, the apple keyboard is really nice, so if you were to go for the mini, I'd recommend just ordering an apple keyboard - it's£19.99 i think, rather than paying the full £39 for mouse and keyboard - you'll almost certainly not use the mouse if you have an intellimouse on hand
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