Last week in To buy a Mac or not to buy a Mac?, I discussed how to decide if a Mac® would be a good main computer for you. If you answered yes, what’s next?
Apple® has four main lines of computers: iMac® (desktop), Mac Pro® (professional desktop), MacBook® (laptop), and MacBook Pro® (professional laptop). Most home users don’t need the professional versions of the desktop or laptop unless they are also using it for work or Mac gaming. Even if you want to make movies, a power hungry process, one of Apple’s lower-end consumer models will do the trick.
Deciding to purchase a desktop or a laptop depends on whether you need a large screen or to take your computer on the road. If you’re going to edit video and view pictures regularly at home, then you will want a large monitor and thus the iMac is a good choice. However, if mobility is very important and you are mostly writing, emailing, and surfing the Internet, then the MacBook is a good choice even with its 13-inch screen size. If a 13-inch screen is too small, but you require mobility you can also hook your MacBook to an external monitor when you’re at home.
Whatever Mac you decide to purchase, you’ll want to increase the memory in the computer. Apple never seems to put enough memory in their standard configurations. My rule of thumb is to double the amount of memory they start out with (at the very least you’ll want 2GB of memory because today’s software takes significant resources to work well). Increasing the memory improves the performance and speed of your Mac.
Apple has never come up with a decent mouse either, so count on getting a new one. I’ve used many Macs over the past 8 years and have never used any mouse that came with them.
Once you decide what it will take in the hardware department, you need to consider how to make your life happy in the data department. If you can’t be without what ever is on your computer—pictures of your kids/grandkids, financial information, schoolwork, etc., you’ll want to take advantage of Apple’s built-in backup software called Time Machine®. To do that, all you need is an external hard drive large enough to store at least twice the data you want to back up. Say you have 150GB of files you want to back up. You need an external hard drive of at least 300GB.
When you think budget, don’t forget to factor in the cost of buying Mac versions of the software you need along with anti-virus software. Although Macs don’t get viruses right now, you need to have anti-virus software that scans for Windows® viruses if you will ever trade files with a PC user. You can have a virus infected Word® document on your Mac and nothing will happen to you. When you email that document to your sister in Albuquerque, you run the risk of infecting her Windows computer. Do the reputation math. A little protection goes a long way in the goodwill department. Unwittingly spreading viruses just brings unhappiness all around.
Another great thing about Macs is the level of support you can get from any Apple store, or the Apple store on the Web. Since Apple keeps a tight reign on quality control, they have every reason to provide good support and to train their salespeople. You never need to order alone. Call them up and ask your questions. It’s true that they have an incentive to make sales, but if you let them know you are just looking you are likely to get an honest opinion. You can always call again later, talk to someone else and verify the information you are getting.
If you prefer to work with someone who puts your needs first and spend as little of your time on it as possible, Chaos To Clarity offers a Get a New Computer service package. For a flat rate, we will assess your needs, consider your future plans, and configure a system that meets your needs and budget. We are not affiliated with Apple or Microsoft. We are dedicated to supporting you the best way we know how by helping you choose the system that makes sense for you.