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shilolo's avatar

What Mac setup should I recommend for my friend?

Asked by shilolo (18038points) March 3rd, 2010

My friend has always used PCs, though is willing and eager to switch to Mac. Everyone he knows (including me) uses one, and he needs a new (virus free) computer desperately. He’s asked me to help him get set-up, and I can’t really decide between a Mac Mini with a Cinema display or an iMac (my favorite setup is a MacBook Pro with a Cinema display, but that might be too much for what he needs/wants).

He basically just wants to surf the web but added that his requirements are a nice (big) screen and a fast computer. Also, he doesn’t really take his computer out and about, so he probably doesn’t need a laptop. Suggested setups are most welcome.

Please don’t say, “Get a PC”. You’ll be wasting my time.

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18 Answers

aidje's avatar

He says he wants a fast computer, but it doesn’t sound like he actually needs one. Anything in the current Apple line up should be plenty fast for him.

If he already has a monitor then why not use it with a Mini? That would drastically reduce the initial price. He could also upgrade the monitor later if he feels the need.

The iMacs are pretty cool, but it’s just a question of how much money he wants to spend. A Mini will have plenty of power for basic use.

shilolo's avatar

I should add that he currently owns a PC laptop (not sure which, but it is old and riddled with viruses). Initially he said “I want wireless”, but when directed to the fact that he always sits at his desk using his computer, realized that a desktop is what he needs. Also, I think by “fast” he meant “blazing fast web surfing”, not “I need to run multiple memory-intense apps fast.”

eponymoushipster's avatar

I would suggest a 21.5” iMac (the $1199 500gb model), and a One to One membership, so he gets his data transferred and can learn about the Mac and the various iLife apps that it comes with.

A Cinema Display + Mac Mini setup would run well over $1200 (Cinema ~$800 + Mac Mini (base config) $600 + Mouse/Keybord $140 = $1540) and it’s not as concise. Also not as “fast” as the current iMac configurations.

gggritso's avatar

@eponymoushipster Or, he could do all of that, but with a cheaper monitor. Cinema displays are nice, but there’s not distinct need for one in his situation.

andrew's avatar

I agree with @eponymoushipster. But you may want to look into the laptop, though—if he travels at all. The new MacBooks are great!

Buttonstc's avatar

I think the Mac Mini would give him much more versatility in terms of monitor choices.

Let’s face it, apple charges a premium for their monitors whether built in or purchased separately.

The primary reason I’m planning to get a mini rather than another Macbook is because they have changed to only the shiny surface screens on ALL their notebooks.

I don’t know whether that also applies to the iMacs but if it does, that would be a deal breaker.

Anyhow, that’s my two cents fwiw.

shilolo's avatar

@Buttonstc You are right about the premium, but I think it is worth it. I bought a 24 inch cinema display for work (with work money), and, to save money at home, bought a 24 inch HP monitor that was rated one of the top 2 for Macs for use with my MBP. Saved ~$250, but now I regret it because the quality of the Apple screen is vastly superior to the home screen.

Buttonstc's avatar

PS in case you’re wondering why I’m torqued off about the shiny screen trend: much more reflective glare to deal with.

It looks all shiny and pretty until you actually have to use the darn things.

Consumer Reports did a little blurb which referenced the fact that preliminary studies have turned up higher incident of back problems reported by those using shiny screens due to the odd angles needed to avoid glare interference and subtle awkward shifts in sitting positions to accomodate that.

Makes sense to me. Other than trendiness, I see no reason for the switch to shiny screens.

I’m very disappointed in Apple for their decision in this regard. They usually set the trends, not blindly follow them for no reason.

gggritso's avatar

@shilolo Apple Cinema displays use IPS panels which have superior colour reproduction. You can still get IPS monitors that will look great for under $800. I know for a fact Dell makes them.

Buttonstc's avatar


Well, I see your point. So if money isn’t a problem for him and as long as it’s not one of the aforementioned shiny screens he may as well go Apple.

I still love Apple despite their appalling lapse of judgement in that one area:)

shilolo's avatar

@gggritso Perhaps. At the time, this monitor got good reviews, and had 1920×1200 resolution (same as the cinema display). However, it simply isn’t as crisp and clear as the Apple product. My wife, who has to do a lot of very precise graphics, refuses to use it, though she sits in front of it with her MBP.

mrrich724's avatar

If it’s just for web-surfing, I would get the Mac Mini, and then use the money I saved on a big Flatscreen/wireless keyboard/ magic mouse

coogan's avatar

I would suggest the macbook, it has better wifi signal since there’s less interference from the case. If they’re a student/teacher, Apple offers a free ipod in the Fall with purchase. If not, buy it online and avoid the taxes. The regular macbook also offers the same ridiculous 6+ hr battery life as well.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@coogan apple often offers a free ipod in the fall. there’s been no announcement that that program will be offered this year.

as regards those that are suggestion the MacBook, notice what @shilolo said: He wants a nice big screen and doesn’t take it out and about. That rules out the MacBook, since a 13” isn’t big for most people, and he’s paying a premium for portability. It’s a nice computer, but doesn’t meet his requested parameters.

and @gggritso, yes, he could buy a 3rd party monitor, however, i was working within the parameters of what was offered. to that end, too, the end user might simply want a completely fresh setup, PC-free. You can laugh and balk at that all you want, but you’d be surprised at how many people come in and want nothing to do with anything PC-related, given their disgust at the viruses, etc. This gentleman seems to fall into that category.

gggritso's avatar

@eponymoushipster Holy crap, I think I will balk at people who are afraid of viruses caused by their “PC Monitor”. That said, I just felt I should bring it up, since going the “third-party” route will let him have his giant monitor and save a bit of cash too.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@gggritso feel free to. you and i might know that the monitor has nothing to do with it, but for some people, they know no difference, or don’t care to learn. and while you’re up in an office diddling with android, im spending the day actually talking to people in these same situations.

aidje's avatar

@Buttonstc Regarding Apple’s move to glossy screens across the board: I completely agree with you, and I cling fast to my Rev A MacBook Pro with its matte screen.

Buttonstc's avatar

So it’s on desktop iMacs as well? Paahh. Horrible. How stupid !

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