Mac or Bust?

I think I am going to have to break down and buy a new PC, but I keep looking at the iMac solution. I think this would work for most of the things my family needs – but I would hate to give up Windows software (Word, Excel, Outlook, OOTP6.5, FM2005, and a few others). I am pretty much Mac ignorant; I know there is software to run/emulate Windows software on a Mac, but I have no idea what I should get, how well it works, etc.

Suggestions from the Mac faithful (if any)?


6 thoughts on “Mac or Bust?”

  1. You wouldn’t have to give up Microsoft Office. You would be kissing PC gaming good-bye for the most part. There are some text games that run on the Mac (FM may even be one, I can’t remember). If you’re just using the Mac for internet, email, office stuff, or running number crunching programs where the Mac can be superior, then get a Mac. Be prepared to pay a premium for hardware upgrades and software.

  2. You have to think of the Mac as an appliance. A lot of their models are closed boxes, not really set up for upgrades. Jobs for years ignored pleas from people for more buses on their towers for instance. And when people started putting better video cards in the original iMacs, he made sure the next iteration had that shut out.

    You can get Office for Mac but it’s not cheap and I don’t know if there’s a cross-platform upgrade price. I know the educational price is suppose to be pretty good.

    As for gaming, no you won’t get to play a lot of PC games. They port some of the bigger titles but sometimes a year later.

    The emulation software is called Virtual PC and it really can’t be used for any graphics-intensive programs. It’s like $200 I believe and you have to supply your own version of Windows to run in the virtual environment.

    I would say if you’re looking at Mac to get away from the viruses and security problems in Windows, that may not be a good approach. Do it if the virtues of the platform appeal to you, like the industrial design (after all you’re paying a premium for it) and if you’re interested in the bundled multimedia apps. (iLife which lets you do photo and video editing, and DVD authoring) and you are interested in the UI of OS X.

    As for specific choices, I would not buy an eMac. That is something designed for the educational market with the integrated CRT. A lot of people get their feet wet with the Mac Mini, which start at $500 without monitor and keyboard. Not much power but you could surf and do productivity applications and some multimedia on it.

    The iBooks are probably big volume sellers but it is a slow laptop. The iMacs have the G5 processor, which is a more advanced PowerPC CPU than the G4 used in the laptops, eMacs and the Mac Minis. They have an integrated 17 or 20-inch LCD which is about 2-3 inches thick. The logic board is inside that LCD enclosure.

    The other choices are the professional Power Mac G5 towers but they’re very pricey.

    Apple announced in June that they are migrating from the PowerPC to the Intel processor. What does that mean? Within 2 years, all Macs will run on Intel chips.

    Now, Apple doesn’t plan to release Mac OS X for any PC running Intel or AMD chips. But there are people working very hard to try to get the Developer release of Mac OS X Tiger running on PCs with VMware and other hacks to get around the DRM.

    Otherwise, you figure some time next year, they will roll out Macs running on the Intel chips. One possibility is that you can install Windows on these. Apple said they won’t support it but won’t prevent users from installing Windows on their Intel Macs. So conceivably, you could have dual-booting computers.

    That’s not to say you can’t get good use out of something you buy today, if you can’t wait. Just depends on what you plan to do and what your expectations are.

  3. Chris – I really am not much of a PC gamer. I play OOTP, FM/CM, and a few other older games. I just do not enjoy most PC games because I am in front of a PC all day (that is my excuse anyway).

    wco81 – thanks for the feedbak. I have looked at the Mac Mini (was real excited when they first came out), but by the time I buy the more powerful version and get the options I want, I am close to (if not over) $1K.

    The $1K version of the eMac looks very nice. I think it could do what my family needs in a home computer – web/email, apps (Word – but I do not want to pay to upgrade my PC 2000 version of Office), educational software, and tax software (I have used Turbo Tax for 10+ years).

    The other versions of Macs look nice, and I would love a notebook, but I really do not want to spend much over $1K – I am already have to spend a crap load on my new house.

    I may end up getting another Dell (or maybe a Gateway) Laptop for around $1K, and then going for some sort of Mac later. To be honest, I have always wanted a Mac … now may be the time.

    While I wait I am having to reload the OS on the home PC – due to the virus attack that ruined my week.

  4. If you are going to buy a Dell, there are some crazy coupons being offered on the bargain sites these days. You missed some amamzing sales already, and I’m not sure how long they will keep discounting their computers this deeply. End of quarter/back to school sales.

  5. If all you use is Word (but not Excel or PowerPoint), then you can just get Word 2004 for the Mac for $99 at the upgrade price.

    The upgrade price for the Standard Edition of Office is $209.

    Not sure what it would take to qualify for the upgrade though.

    TurboTax is available for the Mac. For some reason, they charge slightly more but typically, you could buy the Deluxe version, which gives you rebates for the State return and a free electronic filing for the federal return for around $40 after rebates.

    I use Tax Cut myself, which is a bit less. First year I tried it, Tax Cut found a couple hundred more in my tax return. :)

    Yeah it’s hard to justify spending more than $1k on a computer these days, especially if all you’re doing is surfing and some word processing.

    Who knows, maybe after you get the PC laptop, there will be hacks to load Mac OS X on it anyways.

    It’ll be interesting to see what happens to Mac pricing if they’re using the same chipset as PCs. Will they try to charge a several hundred dollar premium for industrial design and Mac OS X? Will people pay it?

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