muchabstracted: (Default)
[personal profile] muchabstracted
So I need to replace my computer. Hopefully quickly, as I currently have no access outside of the public library, despite my brother's and [livejournal.com profile] chanaleh's help and suggestions in that department. I am having lots of trouble making decisions, and my usual first source for information about computers is out of the state at the moment, so I throw myself on your mercy.

The big question:
I use the computer for word processing and internet, and the occasional use of listening to music. I found it helpful to record my voice, as that has a very occasional use at work, but even that is not too important. Is there any real reason for me to spend the extra several hundred dollars on a Mac, given my salary?

And, uh, are there any extras I should consider?

All thoughts appreciated.

Date: 2008-05-16 01:07 am (UTC)
ext_27060: Sumer is icomen in; llude sing cucu! (Default)
From: [identity profile] rymenhild.livejournal.com
My new PC's quite friendly. I understand there are reasons to change to Macs, but I haven't bothered and it's all right so far.

Date: 2008-05-16 01:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] muchabstracted.livejournal.com
What kind do you have? Did you need to get extra memory or anything like that?

Date: 2008-05-16 01:43 am (UTC)
gilana: (Default)
From: [personal profile] gilana
I'm a die-hard Mac user, so not really the person to ask. But as much as I love them, they are pretty expensive. You might consider looking at refurbished machines -- the Apple Store and Small Dog Elecronics carry some.

Date: 2008-05-19 12:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] muchabstracted.livejournal.com
Refurbished machines do seem to be a good option. (I ended up with a MacBook anyway, apparently, but I'm not sure why.)

Date: 2008-05-16 02:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elfsdh.livejournal.com
One thing to consider is how portable you want the machine to be. If you're looking for a desktop, you can get away with more technology a lot cheaper than a laptop. Of course, you can't lug it on vacation.

Personally, I would buy a PC without an operating system, avoid the Microsoft tax and install Linux (if you do this, it's always a good idea to take someone with you who can make sure the hardware you're buying is compatible). The only use you list there that I'd be worried about is "listening to music." If it's just ripped CDs and mp3's, that's OK. If you need iTunes or another proprietary store, that changes things.

If you avoid Windows Vista (even if it's for XP), you can get the same level of performance out of an older (and cheaper) PC that you would get out of a much pricer machine. With any Windows system, you'll still need to maintain subscriptions to antivirus/antispyware software, which adds to the cost of the machine over time and decreases performance.

As for online retailers (if you do go the PC route), I've had good buying experiences from TigerDirect (although mostly that was buying computer components for my lab, not whole systems).

Date: 2008-05-18 11:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] muchabstracted.livejournal.com
Hmm, I will keep all this in mind for when I feel more adventurous. I don't really listen to music on the computer very much, so I don't think I would miss iTunes that much. There are places to buy mp3s via the web, anyway.

But I did end up with a Mac, this time, after all. It's very nice to be connected online again.

I've heard awful things about Windows Vista, so I'd have definitely wanted to avoid that anyway.

Date: 2008-05-16 04:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mbarr.livejournal.com
The major benefit to the mac is the not worrying about it. Also, the ease of use, but that's generally easier on folks that aren't familar with an OS. I wouldn't go linux on the desktop right yet, I suspect it'll drive you batty. That is, unless you have a tame Linux geek in your near environs.

(In this case, I am said linux geek, and *I* don't run it at home or work. I just use a Mac at both, to run 300 linux servers. )


But, Mac / PC? Some nice, cheap, PC laptops out there. Get a good warranty, they break. All of them. Plus, the dropping.

However, if you don't spend too much, it might not be worth the more than 1-2 yr warranty. It might just be cheaper to replace in 2 years than the cost of the warranty

Date: 2008-05-18 02:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elfsdh.livejournal.com
The major benefit to the mac is the not worrying about it. Also, the ease of use, but that's generally easier on folks that aren't familar with an OS.

Macs do have a learning curve for PC users (who would have ever thought to unmount a disk by *dragging it into the trash*?). Same goes for the reverse.

I wouldn't go linux on the desktop right yet, I suspect it'll drive you batty. That is, unless you have a tame Linux geek in your near environs.

I switched my parents over to Kubuntu. The reason: they had a Windows machine, and needed a Windows geek to support it. Now, they have a Linux machine and need a Linux geek to support it. There was a very short learning curve, but, it didn't change anything about the way they use the computer. A good number of their problems are between computer and keyboard. For example, they still don't know the difference between an application and the data it reads. The difference: Now, I actually have a chance of solving problems, when they're really system issues, or to see what's happening under the hood when they aren't.

It really depends on what the user will actually do. Desktop Linux is the wrong choice for a gamer, or for a graphic designer. For a general purpose computing user, it works at least as well as a Mac, and better than Windows. (I've been a desktop Linux user for at least 5 years now, use some Windows machines at work, and support a Mac in the house).

Date: 2008-05-18 11:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] muchabstracted.livejournal.com
Interesting that it worked to set up Linux with your parents. I am picturing my parents, and assuming that yours react similarly to computers, so that goes a long way to convincing me that at some point other than now Linux would be something I could use, assuming I decide to take the time to go through with the learning curve...

Date: 2008-05-19 12:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] muchabstracted.livejournal.com
*nods* Thanks for the information; I admit the "not worrying about it" is a major plus and ended up selling me on the Mac. That, and that I suppose I don't really want to replace it in two years...

Date: 2008-05-16 06:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] loveablebaruch.livejournal.com
Mac. I have been using them for years and even had a job for several years professionally fixing them. I also professionally fixed Windows PCs. One job was in a building of 200 computers. 120 Macs and 80 PCs. The ran the same programs (MS Office, Firefox, Thunderbird email and printed). The PCs were 80% of the calls for technical support. Viruses, spyware, hacks, breaking, hardware failures. Just endless. Kept me well employed until I decided I hated working on people's computers and would rather work on people.

I'll gladly go with you to the Apple Store at the Cambridgeside Galleria. As well, I'd be happy to let you play with my MacBook. You can get a nice iMac for a real competitive price these days. Or a Mac Mini, in which you reuse your PC's monitor, keyboard and mouse. They are very very inexpensive, totally silent and SOOO cute!

Date: 2008-05-18 11:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] muchabstracted.livejournal.com
Hey, thanks so much for letting me pick your brain this week. After we talked last night, I borrowed some Internet and looked at the web site you sent, and -- while it was weird to feel like a bona-fide, uh, fuddy-duddy -- I decided I just wasn't comfortable with a non-Apple retailer. Fortunately, at that point, I felt like I had gathered enough information from y'all that I could actually go ahead and buy a computer, so I went to the store.

Am so excited to be online again. My hands are no longer twitching from withdrawal.

Date: 2008-05-16 02:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kraada.livejournal.com
The Mac will cost you more in up front $$ and save you tsuris and problems down the road. It will last you longer, as well.

I got a refurbished iBook in 2004 for word processing/basic internet use, and that's about it. It still works great for those purposes, and still gets 3-4 hours use out of the same battery (so long as the wireless is turned off).

I'd consider it like this: How much is your time worth to you? The more your time is worth, the more you should consider going Mac. With your computing needs, would you prefer to get one computer and keep it for 3-4 years or 5-6 years? A friend ([livejournal.com profile] captainbutler to be precise) just had to figure out whether it was better to replace an old laptop cord or get a new laptop . . . my iBook power cord is still doing fine, and they've made significant strides in power cords to make them less likely to break.

In short: I think the Mac is a better buy b/c the time and effort saved is worth it in the long run. But if money is tight, and will be less tight in the future, and your time is not being used up completely, a PC is a reasonable solution.

Date: 2008-05-16 08:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] loveablebaruch.livejournal.com
A PC is never a reasonable solution. There are Macs to fit every budget. A PC is simply a poor choice. Getting a PC means you support a convicted, illegal monopoly (Microsoft.)

Hehe. Can you tell I dislike M$?

Date: 2008-05-16 08:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kraada.livejournal.com
Sorry, that's not true. For some people, getting a livecd of Knoppix and a crappy Dell is a better idea. If money is really tight you can get used PCs a lot easier than used Macs that are still in better shape (see: supply and demand curves).

It's not about liking or disliking Microsoft, it's about making a proper recommendation for the situation. My main computer is a PC that I bought and put together myself. Because at the time Macs didn't come on i386 processors. You can buy a PC without having to put Windows on it. Not to mention transferring older versions of Windows with less draconian EULAs.

Date: 2008-05-16 09:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] loveablebaruch.livejournal.com
Let me qualify- there is no reason to buy a Windows PC. If you really want to save money then you can pick up a $100 PC with no OS and install Gentoo on it. Compiling everything from source would be a way to get eek out every bit of power ever possible.

At the same time you can get an old iMac for $100 and do the same. So it's not much of a difference these days if you can get an old computer. It's all about wisely investing money in, arguably, the most important piece of technology you use daily.

Date: 2008-05-18 02:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elfsdh.livejournal.com
If money is really tight you can get used PCs a lot easier than used Macs that are still in better shape (see: supply and demand curves).

That, and, people throw away perfectly good PC hardware because of software problems.

older versions of Windows with less draconian EULAs.
"Less draconian" is surely a very relative term :-)

The problem with this solution is that you can never keep the system secure on really old Windows versions - they're not supported anymore. The most workable version of Windows now is XP. Whether you have a copy would depend on how old your last PC was. And, whatever you do, you'll have to get on the phone and beg Microsoft to let you install it.

Date: 2008-05-18 11:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] muchabstracted.livejournal.com
Hey! I meant to comment to congratulate you on your engagement -- I remember you mentioning Becky years ago. It's really neat how things work out, sometime. Anyway, I'm very happy to hear about it.

Thanks for your analysis. I appreciate the break down of when you've found it makes sense to get a Mac v. a PC. (I did go with a MacBook. It is so nice to be online again.)

Date: 2008-05-20 09:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kraada.livejournal.com
Thanks, we're very happy too!

And you're welcome, enjoy the computer :)

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