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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Buying The Right Mac

I have always been of the opinion that you get what you pay for, especially when it comes to technology. If you buy a $200 computer, you will have problems. There's a reason it's so cheap - it uses cheap parts. Although Macs can seem more expensive than Windows based machines, this only holds true when comparing them to poorly designed budget computers - in other words, when comparing Apples to Oranges (or lemons, as the case may be). When you look at similarly equipped Windows based machines, Macs are competitively priced and often cheaper.

So which Mac is right for you? Apple has a full line of computers developed with all levels of users in mind.

G4 Desktops

eMac (starts at $799) - if Apple made a budget machine, this would be it. Originally developed for, and only available to the education sector, Apple later released the eMac to the public as the most affordable Mac you can buy. But in this case, affordable does not mean cheap, this is a quality machine and it's all-in-one design means you won't have to buy a separate monitor. This is the only, and probably the last, Mac with a CRT monitor, which is part of what makes it so affordable. This is a good machine for a beginner, a home user who is only going to be surfing the internet, emailing, and playing a few lower end games.

Mac mini (starts at $499) - The Mac mini was designed with current computer owners in mind, particularly switchers -people who already own a mouse, keyboard and monitor. This helps to keep the price down making this Mac even more affordable then the eMac, as long as you don't buy a monitor. Again, a very nice computer for the beginner, or light home user. This computer has no user serviceable parts, so make sure you order wisely - you can't even upgrade the RAM yourself, according to Apple.

G5 Desktops

iMac G5 (starts at $1299)- One of the most well designed computers ever, the iMac G5 is a powerful all-in-one machine with Bluetooth and Airport Extreme already installed, unlike the G4 desktops in which they are available as options at an additional price. The iMac G5 has more than enough power for the beginning home user, with enough to spare for even a higher end user who wants to make home movies, music or play some higher end games.

Power Mac G5 (starts at $1499) - The most powerful computer Apple has ever made comes in four configurations ranging from "Wow" to "Holy *$#% that's fast". This machine is best suited to users who do a lot of designing, developing, and creating with their computer. It was also built to last, being the most upgradable machine Apple produces at the moment. If you are serious about what you do with your Mac, whether it's gaming, creating, or just getting your work done before anyone else even thinks of starting, this is the machine for you.

G4 Portables

iBook G4 (starts at $999) - if affordable portability is what you need, the iBook G4 is your machine. This is the notebook computer for the beginning to middle of the road user. Honestly, the new iBooks are more powerful than my current first generation 12 inch Powerbook, I would have to give these serious consideration when it comes time for me to buy a new computer. The iBooks come in two sizes - a 12 inch and a 14 inch screen. The smaller iBook is a little more portable, but the 14 inch is a little more powerful.

PowerBook G4 (starts at $1499) - All that power and portable too? The PowerBooks are the portable equivalent to the PowerMacs, top of the line notebook computers for users who need to get things done.

There are several things to consider when deciding on a new Mac: budget, primary function, importance of being able to take your work with you when you're on the move, and budget.

First take a look at how much you are willing and/or are able to spend. Be realistic - you may have a killer computer, but you'll get tired of PB&Js and ramen for dinner every night for the next three months. Decide on a budget first, then you won't be as tempted to look at something that you can't afford.

Next, look at what you want to be able to do with your computer. If you only need to access email and the internet and play the occasional game, you simply don't need the power available in a G5. On the other hand, if you plan on producing a lot of home movies, or are a professional designer, a G5 is almost a necessity, for you, time equals money and the G5 can render movies and images in a lot less money, er... time.

If you travel frequently, or you visit clients, it makes sense to look at a portable computer. If you are going to just set it on your desk and leave it there, get a desktop.

Most of these suggestions might seem like common sense, but once you get to the store, all that cool technology can overwhelm you. Just make sure you put a little thought into what you want before you go to the store, and you will have a much easier time getting the machine that best fits your needs, and desires.

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