Apple Buyer's Guide: Macs, MacBooks, And Other Machines - InformationWeek

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Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner

Apple Buyer's Guide: Macs, MacBooks, And Other Machines

While Apple users don't have as much choice in notebooks and desktops as their PC-using counterparts, there are still plenty of options to choose from. Here's one take on what's best.

Compared with Window and Linux users, Mac users have a limited range of choices when buying a desktop or notebook.

The Complete
Apple Buyer's Guide

•  Desktops & Notebooks

•  Apple iPhone

•  iPod & iTunes

•  Windows Apps On Macs

•  14 Free/Cheap Mac Apps

•  Shopping & Support

•  .Mac Online Service

•  Apple & The Enterprise

•  Image Gallery

•  Desktop/Notebook Specs

•  Reader Poll: Apple's Role
   In Business

Windows and Linux users have a wealth of manufacturers to choose from when buying PCs: A half-dozen major international vendors, dozens of smaller vendors, little neighborhood computer shops -- or you can buy a box of components and build something yourself.

Macs are made by one, and only one, company: Apple.

Likewise, form factors for Windows and Linux are many and various. They include Ultra-Mobile PCs (UMPCs) that fit in your pocket, lightweight notebooks, and traditional PCs, all in a variety of sizes and shapes.

With the Mac, you have four choices: The Mac Pro, which has a traditional box-and-monitor form factor; the all-in-one iMac, which combines the monitor and computer in a single, aesthetic unit; the space-age cigar-box Mac Mini; or a MacBook notebook.

Likewise, Mac users have fewer choices in price-performance than their PC-using counterparts. PCs start at a couple of hundred dollars and go up from there, depending on what you want to put in the box. But the least expensive Mac available, the Mac Mini, starts at $599, and it's a pretty weak offering; the real low-end price for a Mac is a relatively expensive $1,200 for the starter iMac.

Despite all this, Apple computers -- desktops and notebooks -- are fast gaining in popularity. Formerly dedicated PC users (myself, for instance) are not only moving to Apple products, but becoming dedicated and loyal advocates.

One reason that Apple is becoming more accepted -- especially in business circles -- is its transition to Intel processors. The company introduced its first Intel Mac in January, 2006, and now the entire product line is Intel-based. As a result, with the help of software such as Boot Camp and Parallels, Macs can now run Windows and Windows apps, providing a transition for Windows users looking to switch platforms.

If you're thinking about moving to a Mac, or are just curious what Apple is offering to its customers these days, the following pages offer an opinionated rundown of the different computer options available for Mac OS users.

The Complete Guide To Apple Desktops & Notebooks

Still confused? If you want a concise visual comparison of all the features and specs for the different available models of Apple desktops and notebooks, check out our features chart: The Complete Guide To Apple Desktops & Notebooks. It shows you exactly what you will get -- and how much you will pay for it.

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