Mac Fans Respond To Our Completely Unvarnished, Slightly Biased Apple Buyer's Guide

Readers wrote in to praise the Mac mini, take us to task for advising against buying the iPhone, defend .Mac, and let us know about a couple more free and cheap apps.

Mitch Wagner, California Bureau Chief, Light Reading

September 14, 2007

8 Min Read

We received some interesting reader feedback to our completely unvarnished, slightly biased Apple Buyer's Guide. Readers wrote in to let us know what they liked and didn't like, and to make some additional recommendations. Here are some of their best responses:

Comment On: The Introduction

"Slightly biased," give me a break. You are so fanatical it is sickening. Oh the Apple store is so wonderful, the young, beautiful, superscrubbed, ethnically diverse, people are so helpful, and the lighting is so nice, blah, blah, blah. Sheesh. -- "mjenkins"

Comments On: Macs, MacBooks, And Other Machines

I gave a negative review to the Mac mini, which I said was overpriced and underpowered -- although I did say that the mini is a good unit to build a home multimedia center around.

Sorry to read your review of the Mac mini. I bought one just after the recent upgrade to use as a media server for my HD-TV -- an upgraded Apple TV. An external 320 GB USB drive is more than adequate for my library and the mini video drives the TV at its highest res no problem. Things I really like: less than 10 seconds to power up, about 5 seconds to shut down. And don't forget the way the Apple OS prioritizes the user interface all the time. When you launch anything, the mini never displays those annoying half-drawn windows with the remains of some old application showing through. -- "avemcg"

I have to laugh when I read things like: "But the high-end system still has pretty meager storage: 160 GB." 160GB is "meager"????? I remember when my first PC had a 500MB HD and that was a higher end system. I also remember how blown away I was by a 30GB external HD, just a few years ago. Oh well, that's the technology curve for you. My policy (which I learned long ago) is to not look at any computer ads, Best Buy flyers, etc. for at least 6 months after buying a new system. It's just too painful.... --"Bruce B"

Very true, Bruce, but these days, 160 GB is meager.

Comment On: 4 Ways To Run Windows Apps On Macs

It's worth noting Boot Camp beta will expire when OS X 10.5 is released -- although your Windows volume will remain intact until you upgrade. -- "dyl8n"

Comments On: 14 Free And Cheap Mac Applications

Other good discount applications for the Mac include the Express versions of Toon Boom Studio, which can also be used as a very high quality drawing program, and Freeway, which works like a desktop publishing program but generates Web pages with the power of Dreamweaver and Fireworks combined for hundreds less. -- "bhuot"

Totally agree on using NeoOffice. Like Vista, there is nothing compelling about forking over hundreds of dollars for bloatware for an office suite. Many enterprises overestimate just how much of an application their end users utilize and MS counts on that to maintain its Office monopoly. If you want to be a little more elegant, iWork is the ticket. -- "Uncle Paul"

Comments On: Where To Shop And Get Support

As a longtime satisfied MicroCenter customer, I can't think of a better place to get a good deal on a Mac with face-to-face support. They usually have a room dedicated to Mac with Mac people there. MicroCenter tends to have very knowledgeable techies and policies combined with factory authorizations that allow in-store repair, or immediate exchange while still under factory warranty. -- "federline"

I frequently use Murphy Mac for Mac help. The site has over 100 free screencasts that detail how to do simple tasks and more complicated things you might have done on your PC. The Mac has a better interface, but it's still got a learning curve. Murphy Mac made the switch easier for me. -- "BobbyW"

Comment On: Online Storage And Sharing -- The .Mac Way

If you're looking for simple raw storage, buying a hard disk drive makes much more sense than trying to upload 30 GB to someone's random website. But that's only the bare minimal reason why you'd want .Mac. It is simply the most elegant and best-looking site to post photos, put up a personal website or upload files for someone to copy. For $79 to $99, you have access to about 15 features (including bookmark, calendar & address book access worldwide) without sharing your data with an unknown third party and with ONE login. Like everything else Apple offers, it is more elegant, classy and easy. -- "jbelkin"

Comments On: Apple's Amazing iPhone

Several readers took me to task for advising readers to wait before buying an iPhone, even though I bought mine the day it went on sale, June 29, and am happy with it.

I hope you're wearing a flame retardant suit, because you are certainly going to catch hell from this article. (It has shown up on Macsurfer. Many Apple fans go there for their daily dose of news.) You've got it coming though because your logic begs for it.

Even though you clearly support the iPhone, you make the most idiotic reason for not purchasing one now. Your points are as logical as telling anyone wanting to purchase a PC to wait because a better one is coming. As anyone who writes a tech column on a tech site knows, there's always a better one coming. If you always wait until the better one gets here, you'll always be waiting.

Also, you point out all the enjoyment you're getting from the device, but tell the buying masses to wait as if to say, I get it but you guys aren't going to like it because of the perceived shortcomings I've listed.

Not only that, all of the perceived shortcomings are all the same rehashed complaints that tech heads have been making since the device was announced in Jan. With over 1 million sold since June, clearly it's only the geeks that perceive those complaints as "shortcomings". -- "Darryl365"

I agree with Darryl365. I think you missed the boat on the iPhone. Maybe techheads that have used a Palm/Treo/Nokia/Blackberry itty-bitty keyboard phone for years will consider this a step backward, you must admit they are in the minority here. Also you bypass that the iPhone is a consumer device that can be used as a business phone if need be.... It bypasses the completely the ease of updates that Apple can provide over iTunes as new features are developed -- as well as the ongoing improvements that will be possible as more OSX updates occur. When was the last time that you saw anyone other than an iPhone owner get an update on their cell OS for fixes or features?

Much talk goes on about network perf of EDGE. Yes it sucks now - but improvements are coming. Did your BlackBerry work on Wi-Fi when RIM's systems went down - twice?

Lastly the one thing that is harped on is cost. Yes, iPhone is costlier than many. So go out and compare a similar smartphone that has the same RAM capacity as iPhone for those 3rd party apps that you think are needed. Currently the Nokia N95 is touted as a winner -- at $750. Gee, that is higher than an iPhone, I think. Plan costs need to be considered as well in the final mix. I think you will find that data fees that are required for many "smart phones" far exceed the $20 flat fee that AT&T has for the iPhone.

So at least look at the TCO of the iPhone and the TCO of the others before you wave the "too expensive" flag in this arena. -- "Jim888"

Darryl365 and Jim888 miss my point. Only early adopters should be buying the iPhone now-- it's still new, expensive, and underpowered compared to where it will be in a year. Yes, technology is always coming down in price and improving in performance, but that curve is especially sharp in the first year of a new product's introduction.

Most people should not buy an iPhone yet. The kind of people who should buy the iPhone are people like Darryl365 and Jim888 -- who aren't going to listen to my advice anyway.

The study you cite on speed of typing is flawed. It did not involve experienced iPhone users. I have used a Treo 700P for as long as it has been out, and have used the iPhone since early July. The iPhone keyboard is much faster. It allows your fingers to "float" over the keyboard, and when you learn to trust the keyboard, the correction program is amazing. The Treo requires a definitive push on a smaller key and actually slows you down. The numeric keypad on the Treo often resulted in mistakes, either the soft one or the hard keys, however on the iPhone the size of the numeric keypad makes mistakes a rarity. I did test-typing with standard sentences used to determine speed, against an experienced user on the Treo and easily beat them with no mistakes. Of note, I am over 60 and have arthritic fingers, and I was competing against a 25-year-old MBA. -- "takasden"

Well, if he had an MBA he was obviously mentally handicapped, so it was hardly a fair trial.

About the Author(s)

Mitch Wagner

California Bureau Chief, Light Reading

Mitch Wagner is California bureau chief for Light Reading.

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