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Old 08-26-2007, 08:13 PM
 
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Let me say that we have always been a PC family. So, while I feel that we have moderate experience with computers; we have absolutely zero experience or knowledge with Apple computers. My sons love their iPods and that is the extent of our affiliation. For lots of reasons we are looking at getting our son a Mac laptop. My questions are these:

1. I had heard a couple of months ago that Apple was going to come out with a new operating platform or upgrade with their Mac computers. Has this happened yet? If not, does anyone know when it will happen?

2. Which is the best laptop to purchase for longterm? Should I get the regular MacBook or the MacBrook Pro? The son is a junior in high school and I want this to last him to take to college.

3. Please tell me anything and everything good and bad that I need to know prior to purchasing. What packages do I need to make sure are on the computer at purchase?

Thanks much in advance. I really appreciate honest replies from people with real life experience. I do ask that you talk in kindergarten language as I am not Mac savvy at all. ~ I do give out rep points ~ Thanks again!
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Old 08-26-2007, 08:37 PM
 
Location: Home is where we park it.
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Quote:
2. Which is the best laptop to purchase for longterm? Should I get the regular MacBook or the MacBrook Pro? The son is a junior in high school and I want this to last him to take to college.
Which college?

That makes a BIG difference. They may have a specific laptop model they support. Some will even supply the laptop as part of their tuition. Liz

Last edited by southernlady5464; 08-26-2007 at 08:38 PM.. Reason: add info
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Old 08-26-2007, 09:26 PM
 
Location: The Hive
159 posts, read 326,225 times
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Cool Once you go Mac you will never go back

Hey SmokyMtnGal. My wife and I switched to Macs from PCs about four years ago so I will try to give you as much information as I can to help you with your decision.

First, I will try to answer each of your questions from your original post.

Quote:
1. I had heard a couple of months ago that Apple was going to come out with a new operating platform or upgrade with their Mac computers. Has this happened yet? If not, does anyone know when it will happen?
Apple's next major update to the Mac operating system, OS X Leopard (current version is OS X Tiger) is due out in October 2007. If you can wait until October before purchasing your son the new laptop that would be best since the laptop will come with OS X Leopard already installed. If you can't wait until October, you can upgrade from Tiger to Leopard and the cost should be about $129. Don't be afraid to do the upgrade yourself, Mac software updates are much easier than Windows and usually are problem free.

Quote:
2. Which is the best laptop to purchase for longterm? Should I get the regular MacBook or the MacBrook Pro? The son is a junior in high school and I want this to last him to take to college.
The MacBook should be more than adequate for your son's college and home needs unless he is taking photo or video editing classes, in which case you may want to consider the entry-level MacBook Pro.

I would recommend getting your son a MacBook rather than a MacBook Pro. More specifically I would get the middle model which includes a CD/DVD burner and a 120GB hard disk. While the MacBook comes with 1GB of memory installed, I would purchase the extra memory they offer to bring the total system memory to 2GB.

The MacBook Pros are really aimed more at professional photographers and video editors that do a significant amount of graphic intense functions. The major differences between the two is that the MacBook Pros have slightly faster processors and dedicated graphic processors.

Quote:
3. Please tell me anything and everything good and bad that I need to know prior to purchasing. What packages do I need to make sure are on the computer at purchase?
The only other software I would recommend getting is Microsoft Office Mac 2004. This is Microsoft's Mac version of MS Office and includes MS Word, MS Excel and MS PowerPoint. Apple has their own office software called iWork, but I would stick with MS Office for Mac for guaranteed compatibility with the Windows version of MS Office.

You could also check with the college or colleges he is considering to see if they have any specific requirements for Anti-Virus software, although many do not require it for Macs.

I would also recommend going to an apple store if there is one in your area and playing with the MacBook and MacBook Pros. You can go to Apple Retail Store to see if there is a store in your local area.

I have found the staff at the Apple store to be really good about answering questions and not trying to sell you more computer than you actually need. They stores also have all of the Mac models out and available for you to play with so you can get a feel for them before you buy.

A lot of the Apple stores also offer classes for people who are new to the Mac to help you get started and point out the main differences between OS X and Windows.

You can also check Apple's Store for Education to see if your son is eligible for a discount. That will save you some money on not only the notebook, but also on the software. Here is a link to Apple's Store for Education Apple Store for Education

I really can't think of anything else right now other than I think your son will be very happy with his Mac. After using Macs for the past four years, my wife and I have absolutely no regrets and no plans to ever go back to using a PC.

I hope all of this information is helpful, but if you have any other questions, feel free to post them here or DM me.

Last edited by MacFan; 08-26-2007 at 09:39 PM..
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Old 08-26-2007, 09:37 PM
 
Location: Home is where we park it.
3,098 posts, read 8,405,209 times
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College PC FAQ - Network World

Most colleges still use PC's...and a vast majority of them request that they use a certain brand. That's why I asked the question *I* did. SMG needs to find out what the college her son plans to attend uses before buying a mac laptop only to find out that it requires he buy a Dell for classes. Liz
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Old 08-26-2007, 10:28 PM
 
Location: The Hive
159 posts, read 326,225 times
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Question Huh?

Quote:
Originally Posted by southernlady5464 View Post
College PC FAQ - Network World

Most colleges still use PC's...and a vast majority of them request that they use a certain brand. That's why I asked the question *I* did. SMG needs to find out what the college her son plans to attend uses before buying a mac laptop only to find out that it requires he buy a Dell for classes. Liz
The article you linked to doesn't support either of the points you made in your post. The article is focused on getting help desk support through the college, not whether or not you would be allowed to use a Mac.

I personally have not heard of any colleges that require only one brand of PC unless the PC is being provided by the school as part of your tuition. If they are it's probably so that their help desk only needs to be familiar with one brand of hardware for troubleshooting. That shouldn't be an issue for their Mac users since there are far less problems with networking, software and hardware than there are on PCs.

In all of the research I have done on the internet and looking at college web sites, I have not found a single one that forbids or doesn't support the use of Macs.

I have seen some colleges that state you will need Windows to run some of the software required for specific degree programs (ie.e Florida State University's Law Program), however that is still not a reason not to buy her son a Mac.

All of the current Macs run on Intel processors and are capable of running not only OS X, but Windows as well.

I actually have Windows XP installed on my Mac notebook through Parallels software which allows me to actually run Windows inside OS X. I only did this after purchasing a GPS unit that requires Windows in order to upload updates. You can also boot directly into Windows using Apple's BootCamp software (which is a free download and will be included as part OS X Leopard) which allows you to choose at boot whether start OS X or Windows.
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Old 08-26-2007, 10:30 PM
 
Location: Home is where we park it.
3,098 posts, read 8,405,209 times
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Quote:
I personally have not heard of any colleges that require only one brand of PC unless the PC is being provided by the school as part of your tuition.
Right there is reason for her to check with the college her son plans on attending. Liz
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Old 08-26-2007, 10:49 PM
 
Location: South Central PA
1,562 posts, read 3,932,717 times
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Generally speaking, about 3-4 years computers become outdated and if using new software need to be upgraded by either upgrading components (CPU, RAM) or just getting a new computer. Best bet would be to tell your son to wait and get him the better laptop when he goes to college, since it would most likely last him the entire time.

Also, it depends on what your son wants to do in college. Higher powered computers are needed for video and audio. If he wants to go into engineering for example, I know PSU requires a programming class (C++) and some of the people with Mac's had issues installing it at first.
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Old 08-27-2007, 04:20 PM
 
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A HUGE Thank You for the wonderful help. My son is a junior this year so this is the decision year for college; right now he is vacillating between three of them! We do have the luxury of waiting a bit so we can certainly wait until October. That makes sense that they will have their new upgrade rolled out prior to the Christmas holiday.

We were thinking of the MacBook and not the Pro; so your post certainly helps confirm our thoughts.

I realize that computers don't last for very many years. I neglected to also mention that another reason for getting my son a laptop now is that his dad and I are divorced and it would be much easier for him to be able to take his laptop with him to Dad's for homework purposes, etc. He has trouble accessing the one computer at his Dad's house.

Thank you all again for your help!!!
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Old 08-29-2007, 02:11 PM
 
Location: MO Ozarkian in NE Hoosierana
4,679 posts, read 10,953,110 times
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SmokyMtnGal - I have a mid-level MB and 24" iMac, bought fall of last year, and both are great computers. I agree 100% w/ the excellent advice that SharPit has provided so far. If interested, I would recommend at least contemplating looking at the refurbed models - my iMac is such, and I've had no problem w/ it. In fact, IMHO refurbs are 'better', as they are 100% inspected, vs. normal production models are spot/random checked; plus some times a refurb will come w/ 'extras/bonuses' .

Check out the apple.com store, and then go to bottom right, click on the refurb box. These carry the same exact warranty as new, and you save potentially hundreds of dollars - only neg is that its not the 'latest and greatest', which in the world of electronics, what is?
The Apple Store (U.S.)

Some potential help also here:
Apple - Mac OS X - Windows (http://www.apple.com/macosx/features/windows/ - broken link)
Apple - Support - Switch 101

A new Intel-based Mac can do for the most part all that a Wintel PC can do (when using BootCamp or Parallels), plus more [all of the Apple s/w offerings] - and, when using common sense, offers more security [when on the Mac side]. The main benefits to the MBP over the MB, for me, would be the dedicated graphics card and the backlit keyboard - but besides that, my MB has been great. I too have MS Office on both, and am able to run all my work related applications w/o any issues.


ps: confession... yes, I am an Apple geek
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Old 08-29-2007, 02:19 PM
 
Location: Home is where we park it.
3,098 posts, read 8,405,209 times
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We have an iMac as well...I'm just advocating caution. She doesn't want to get too far ahead of herself. Her son has two years (he's a junior right now, remember?) to go before he heads off to college.

1) He may go to a college that provides the laptop.

2) A LOT can change on the technology front in 2 years.

Liz
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