Buying advice for an overly cautious switcher

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
I know I am being a little stupid in asking, but being a bit of a novice here goes.



I am looking at making the switch as I am sick of Windows and whilst I would like a 27" iMac, I am looking at making baby steps first by getting a Mac Mini and then when funds allow, upgrading to an iMac in a few years time.



I would imagine the most intensive applications that I would ever run would be one of RipIt http://thelittleappfactory.com/ripit/ Pixelmator or perhaps Adobe Illustrator.



With that said, most of the time I would be using the most basic of functions simultaneously including Office, iTunes, Safari, Mail etc.



So, after all that, would a Mac Mini with the following specifications be sufficient for my requirements or would it still struggle a little from time to time?



Proposed specifications - 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4GB 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM (might stretch to 8GB if funds allow), 500GB Serial ATA Drive.



thanks

thesundowner

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 20
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,195moderator
    The Mac Mini will be fine with those apps and get a cheap IPS display with it. Just get the wired USB keyboard and you can get any wireless mouse (Logitech recommended) with a USB dongle and plug it in - no pairing issues, lag or sleep times.



    You can consider a 13" MBP too but the Mini is the lowest cost option. Also, don't think of it like making a switch, think of it like buying a good PC that doesn't ship with Windows and the decision is easier. If you decide to stick with Windows, the Mac hardware will still be one of the best PCs you've used.
  • Reply 2 of 20
    bbwibbwi Posts: 812member
    You seem like a pretty average user and you didn't mention if you have a monitor already. I would get the entry level iMac. Its a better value with them having just been upgraded to i3 processors
  • Reply 3 of 20
    I have a 22 inch monitor that I only bought some 18 months ago, hence my preference for the Mini at this point.



    p.s. I am looking at the Mini as a filler for a few years as I would then be in a position to upgrade and would appreciate the extra real estate of the 27 inch iMac.



    thanks

    thesundowner
  • Reply 4 of 20
    backtomacbacktomac Posts: 4,579member
    A mini will probably be just fine for trying out OSX. The 2.6 ghz mini with 4 tbs of RAM will perform pretty decently. I have two iMacs with 2.6 ghz C2D CPUs and they are fine. I have 27" iMac at my business and they are outstanding. The display is fantastic and they are a joy to work with.



    If I were you I would just go ahead and get a refurbished 27" iMac. If you end up not liking it and OSX you won't have much trouble selling it on eBay. A 27" iMac with the quad core i5 or i7 is a machine that you will probably feel comfortable keeping for 5 years or perhaps even longer. I think it'll be a long time before those machines feel slow.
  • Reply 5 of 20
    thanks for all of your advice, much appreciated



    thesundowner
  • Reply 6 of 20
    wplj42wplj42 Posts: 439member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    The Mac Mini will be fine with those apps and get a cheap IPS display with it. Just get the wired USB keyboard and you can get any wireless mouse (Logitech recommended) with a USB dongle and plug it in - no pairing issues, lag or sleep times.



    You can consider a 13" MBP too but the Mini is the lowest cost option. Also, don't think of it like making a switch, think of it like buying a good PC that doesn't ship with Windows and the decision is easier. If you decide to stick with Windows, the Mac hardware will still be one of the best PCs you've used.



    1. Marvin ... Can you back up that comment? Do you have statistics showing Apple hardware to be superior to good PC hardware? Parts is parts.



    2. Are you really so sure Windows is such a bad thing? IMHO, it is too close to call. Windows 7 is more pleasing to me than SL. I don't care about the stuff under the hood in either OS, just what I can do with it. There are plenty of times, I cannot do things, because there "isn't" an app for that. Of course, there are many things about Mac OS I like.



    I have to say, the mini is the only choice for me, if I were to get another Mac. I don't like having just one choice.
  • Reply 7 of 20
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,195moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by WPLJ42 View Post


    1. Marvin ... Can you back up that comment? Do you have statistics showing Apple hardware to be superior to good PC hardware? Parts is parts.



    What I said would reflect my own experience. I know what you mean that there shouldn't really be a difference between them if they have the same parts but it's not what I've seen. I have never seen a PC machine carved out of aluminum that lasts in excess of 7 hours on battery. They don't have magnetic power cords, they are made of cheap plastic and the fan kicks into noise mode as soon as you boot up. This isn't old PCs but ones I've bought this year. The display quality is lousy, the trackpads are unresponsive - the slider to the right of the trackpad doesn't work nearly as well as two-finger scrolling. The ports are flimsy and they are covered in horrible stickers.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by WPLJ42 View Post


    2. Are you really so sure Windows is such a bad thing? IMHO, it is too close to call. Windows 7 is more pleasing to me than SL.



    Windows 7 still acts like Windows. I agree that it's more pleasant to use than XP but it's still not that good. The UI is nowhere near as nice with bizarre color scheme mixes, glows and oddly shaped buttons. The window zooming and transparency is just irritating. I know you can turn these things off but then you are left with huge bezels around every window.



    It still has random slow-downs that don't really relate to what you are doing, the system does things without you asking it to. You get security notifications too often. I spent ages laying out the taskbar and installed Chrome and Windows informed me of a critical update so I installed it and it wiped all my setup and removed Chrome. No seamless 32-bit/64-bit transition. Font rendering isn't as nice as OS X - same with graphical transitions.



    Having to access drives by letter is archaic. The settings panels are still not intuitive - for example, to turn off UI animation, you go into the system control panel and not appearance. Program files are still listed by company name. You still have a registry that gets clogged up. Bundled software is poor quality. You still have to deal with virus/malware scanners.



    To me it's a headache I don't need. I know that some of it takes getting used to it but most of it is stuff I just plain don't like.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by WPLJ42 View Post


    I have to say, the mini is the only choice for me, if I were to get another Mac. I don't like having just one choice.



    I used to be all about the desktop but I like laptops now that they are fast enough. I don't like the iMac as it's hard to get to the hard drive and I like to upgrade my own when better parts become available or it breaks but laptops are easy to open.
  • Reply 8 of 20
    wplj42wplj42 Posts: 439member
    Marvin ... As a low vision individual, Apple does not make a portable computer I can see. My iMac is no longer good enough. Windows has more features for visually impaired users. I could get a PC and a 22 inch HDTV, and connect them with HDMI. On the other hand, since DPI is not flexible in Mac OS X, the way it is with Windows, I would be forced to using a Mac mini and a 26 inch HDTV. Fortunately, the mini now supports HDMI. To put this all into perspective, don't be fooled, I am not talking about 1080 resolution, but a 22 or 26 inch HDTV running at 720.



    The original poster should be very pleased with the mini. It is still unfortunate the HD is not more accessible. I suspect getting to the HD on a MacBook is easier.



    I know it doesn't belong in this thread, but I have the attention of an intelligent moderator. If the new iMac 27 could support the resolutions claimed by the new 27 inch stand alone monitor, I could be interested. I could use a 27 inch iMac if the 1280 X 720 resolution was as good as the "native" resolution. Since the resolution is exactly half of the native resolution, rumor is the pixels should be happy to make the change.



    I do think the OP should go for the iMac if it is viewable, and funds permit. The "baby-steps" are nice, but will just cost more in the long run. An HD failure in either the mini or the iMac will be just as difficult (I think) to deal with.



    Aside from bad vision getting worse, I enjoy my 20 inch iMac.
  • Reply 9 of 20
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,195moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by WPLJ42 View Post


    Marvin ... As a low vision individual, Apple does not make a portable computer I can see. My iMac is no longer good enough. Windows has more features for visually impaired users.



    Yeah, I don't like their move to high resolution desktop displays. Everything is far too small. A few years ago, I would have loved the highest resolution possible but when you actually use it every day for hours, you just get bad eye strain. 1080p on 21.5" is not good for reading text and the glare doesn't help.



    I simply wouldn't buy an iMac and be stuck with a display I wasn't content with.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by WPLJ42 View Post


    If the new iMac 27 could support the resolutions claimed by the new 27 inch stand alone monitor, I could be interested. I could use a 27 inch iMac if the 1280 X 720 resolution was as good as the "native" resolution. Since the resolution is exactly half of the native resolution, rumor is the pixels should be happy to make the change.



    This thread here has a screenshot of the two resolutions:



    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=836421



    They don't look much different to me - as you say, due to the uniform scale, 720p should look fine.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by WPLJ42 View Post


    I do think the OP should go for the iMac if it is viewable, and funds permit. The "baby-steps" are nice, but will just cost more in the long run. An HD failure in either the mini or the iMac will be just as difficult (I think) to deal with.



    The new iMac performance is pretty good. I was surprised by it. The dual core i3 almost matches the last quad core i5. It's very telling that Apple needs to find a way to let go of the Core 2 Duo chips without giving in to Intel.



    Then new entry iMac CPU is about double the speed of the entry Mini and it's not twice the price when you factor in the screen. A Mini + IPS would be $1000. The extra $200 for the iMac now gets you nearly double performance whereas on the last generation, you didn't even get 50%.
  • Reply 10 of 20
    I think the mini would be quite sufficient for your needs. A faster processor would shorten encoding times with that RipIt program, but you should have no problems with the base mini (and I wouldn't pay for the higher level mini... it's not worth the extra $$$).
  • Reply 11 of 20
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by WPLJ42 View Post


    I could get a PC and a 22 inch HDTV, and connect them with HDMI. On the other hand, since DPI is not flexible in Mac OS X, the way it is with Windows, I would be forced to using a Mac mini and a 26 inch HDTV.



    What? Perhaps the iMac supported resolutions are not as flexible (I don't know, I don't have an iMac), but you can most CERTAINLY get a Mini and a 22" monitor or HDTV and output at 720. How in any way is Windows more flexible?



    These are the output options I get to my 24" HDTV from my MacBook Pro:









    Are there any more choices available fore Windows than that? And if so, do you need them?



    Not to mention, that for visually impaired, I would think that the built-in Mac OS X Screen Zoom function would be Godsend. If you've got a portable or a Magic Trackpad, all you have to do is hold the option key (or whatever modifier key combination you specify) and drag two fingers up and your screen immediately and without hesitation zooms to however low a pixel resolution you want. Does Windows have anything at all approaching that level of function with such simple and fast control for the vision impaired? I honestly doubt it.



    I use this functionality whenever I use my MacBook plugged into my HDTV from across the living room. I don't have a Magic Trackpad, but I use my Magic Mouse with Better Touch Tool to do the same thing.



    I think there are some vision impaired folk who simply don't know how to use Mac OS, but who would benefit greatly from it.



    Quote:

    ...Apple does not make a portable computer I can see.



    Bull. You can set the 17" MacBook Pro to 640x480, for God's sake! And on top of that, you have screen zoom, and negative display, if you need that. As a vision impaired person I would think you would be more knowledgeable than you are about your options. You seem to think you can't decrease the pixel density on any Mac, just because (I guess) you can't do it on your iMac. Though I honestly think you CAN do it on your iMac, you just don't know how.
  • Reply 12 of 20
    wplj42wplj42 Posts: 439member
    I get sick and tired of people who think they know what other people can or can't see. Virtually all of my vision is gently out of focus. It is a brain processing problem, not just a poor sight thing. Altering the resolution is not going to remain as sharp on ANY non CRT screen, PERIOD! I can't use something that starts out blurry, and then gets magnified.



    Changing DPI has been a part of Windows for quite some time. Windows 7 makes it easier. You want pretty pictures, go look at the Windows 7 site. Changing the DPI is different from switching resolution or using zoom. I have messed with all the options in Universal Access. None are helpful for ME! I use the enlarged mouse pointer, and it looks like a kindergarten drawing. Also makes the mouse a little less accurate.



    Don't be telling me what I can or can't see. And don't start with me about technology for the visually impaired. VoiceOver CAN'T be used with Firefox. Get real! If either of the screen reader companies for the Windows platform did that, they would be out of business.



    Windows 7 has full-screen zoom, and a bare-bones screen reader. Hell, so does Ubuntu.



    Don't get in my face tonton. Not all visually situations are the same. You don't have a clue!



    I followed your zoom link. The entire movie is grossly out of focus.
  • Reply 13 of 20
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by WPLJ42 View Post


    Changing the DPI is different from switching resolution or using zoom.



    Please explain. How on earth can you change DPI without changing screen resolution?



    Your original post where you said "I am not talking about 1080 resolution, but a 22 or 26 inch HDTV running at 720,"clearly implied that Mac OS X couldn't do this. That's resolution. Or you said what you meant so poorly that someone reading what you wrote could easily have been misled to believe false information.



    Ok, I've looked it up and I see you can set font and icon sizes according to your DPI, so in fact, a higher DPI would result in the size of elements being increased. You're not changing DPI, which your post made it sound like you were doing.



    As far as I know, in OS X you need to change font and graphic element settings for each program individually, so indeed, the Windows method is better for this aspect of resolution independence, but it still depends on the application recognizing that setting in Windows.



    As a workaround, in Mac OS X, you can set font and graphics sizes in each of the applications you use, including the Finder.



    And I may have come off as argumentative and uninformed, but your response was plain rude.
  • Reply 14 of 20
    wplj42wplj42 Posts: 439member
    My point about 720p, is that 1080p "native resolution" would require me to have a huge screen, and I could swear I said so. I don't exactly write well. Among other things, I am dyslexic. Windows has many more tools for changing fonts and colors. The call changing the scale of fonts, changing the DPI, so I do as well.



    If there is a way to alter fonts sizes in applications, I am not aware of it. Changing graphic and text sizes in Finder, is all I am aware of. Too bad if I was rude. You started it by being a know-it-all, when it comes to being visually impaired, and second-guessing what will work for me.



    Here is what I am talking about:

  • Reply 15 of 20
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by WPLJ42 View Post


    My point about 720p, is that 1080p "native resolution" would require me to have a huge screen, and I could swear I said so. I don't exactly write well. Among other things, I am dyslexic. Windows has many more tools for changing fonts and colors. The call changing the scale of fonts, changing the DPI, so I do as well.



    If there is a way to alter fonts sizes in applications, I am not aware of it. Changing graphic and text sizes in Finder, is all I am aware of. Too bad if I was rude. You started it by being a know-it-all, when it comes to being visually impaired, and second-guessing what will work for me.



    Here is what I am talking about:





    Yes, this seems to be the right way to deal with resolution independence. The OS X rumor mill has been talking about resolution independence for ten years, but nothing has come to the surface in a public build.



    Changing font and graphic sizes depends on the particular program you're using. Unfortunately, though many programs allow you to choose a smaller than default size, there are few that offer the option of using a larger than default size. Perhaps all the developers have also heard of Apple's plans to introduce resolution independence features in the OS and they're waiting for those features before they spend money implementing a workaround.
  • Reply 16 of 20
    wplj42wplj42 Posts: 439member
    Windows has had the availability to scale font DPI since Windows 95. If Apple has been working on RI for 10 years, and it still isn't ready, I guess the process must be huge. For me, Microsoft is ready now, and Apple isn't. Nothing can make my vision clear, but the DPI switch from Windows is the most compatible.



    As for the OP, I have only dabbled with Handbrake. I have an iMac with a 2 GHz Core 2 Duo and 2 GB of DDR2 RAM. Handbrake works fine, but seems to take a really long time, like an hour or more.



    A drawback with Apple, for the OP, is once you get to that powerful iMac, you will be required to buy another one, when the life cycle is over. Not just a new computer, but a new screen too, each and every time. There is nothing between the entry level mini and the costly Pro, without a screen.



    thesundowner .... Assuming you would be paying Apple for a pre-configured mini with 8GB, by the time you add keyboard and mouse, and all the other goodies on your list, you are neck and neck with the base iMac 27. If you are also looking for a monitor to go with your new mini, Dude, get the iMac!!!
  • Reply 17 of 20
    nofeernofeer Posts: 2,422member
    get a refurbished mini from apple, get apple care use your monitor and keyboard bingo

    mac on the cheap
  • Reply 18 of 20
    nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by thesundowner View Post


    I know I am being a little stupid in asking, but being a bit of a novice here goes.



    I am looking at making the switch as I am sick of Windows and whilst I would like a 27" iMac, I am looking at making baby steps first by getting a Mac Mini and then when funds allow, upgrading to an iMac in a few years time.



    I would imagine the most intensive applications that I would ever run would be one of RipIt http://thelittleappfactory.com/ripit/ Pixelmator or perhaps Adobe Illustrator.



    With that said, most of the time I would be using the most basic of functions simultaneously including Office, iTunes, Safari, Mail etc.



    So, after all that, would a Mac Mini with the following specifications be sufficient for my requirements or would it still struggle a little from time to time?



    Proposed specifications - 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4GB 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM (might stretch to 8GB if funds allow), 500GB Serial ATA Drive.



    thanks

    thesundowner



    The specification you mentioned is just nice. Get a refurbished unit plus 3 year AppleCare.
  • Reply 19 of 20
    Just get the powerful mac book pro instead that way you can bring all of your important programs with you.. Who buys towers and table tops computers anymore.
  • Reply 20 of 20
    wplj42wplj42 Posts: 439member
    The mini is seldom available as refurbished. As I type this, there is a single model in the Apple Store, the Server. Looks like the previous model as well. If you want to think refurbished, consider (once again) getting the iMac. Do the RAM upgrade yourself. It couldn't be easier.
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