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.
Leopard -- The New OS

If you can wait until October to buy your new Mac, then do -- you'll save yourself some money, and a bit of hassle, too. That's because Apple plans to introduce an upgrade to its OS X operating system: Mac OS X 10.5, code-named Leopard. Leopard will be standard on new Macs; the upgrade alone will cost $129.

Leopard will offer new tools for organizing, browsing, and navigating files, as well as a new way to back up your data.

  • Stacks is a new way of organizing files on the desktop.

  • Finder will include Cover Flow, a user interface for browsing albums on the iPhone and iPod Touch; Cover Flow will display the first page of each file, and allows the user to flip through the pages quickly.

  • Remote-control software will let authorized users easily navigate other computers on a local network, while "Back to My Mac," a remote-access program offered in conjunction with the .Mac service, will allow authorized users to remotely connect to a Mac over the Internet.

  • Time Machine will back up all the data on a Mac, and keep snapshots of system status, so users can roll their system's status back to any given date, or search by date for old versions of files and deleted files.

  • Spaces will let users group application windows for different tasks into separate "virtual desktops."

  • Mail will now include built-in stationery, the ability to automatically convert mail messages to to-do items, and RSS support. Automatic data type detection in e-mail will, for example, allow users to convert street addresses in an e-mail to an Internet map, or automatically schedule appointments based on e-mail text.

  • iCal will have user interface improvements and group calendaring.

  • Boot Camp, which is currently beta software and a separate download, will be included in the OS. Boot Camp lets users run Microsoft Windows as a native operating system on the Mac hardware, dual-booting between Windows and the Mac OS.

  • The Safari 3.0 browser will include improved tabs and other user interface upgrades.
  • Conclusions

    Apple users have less variety to choose from than their PC cousins. They can only buy from one vendor: Apple. And Apple doesn't provide the range of price-performance that PC vendors offer. Still, within those constraints, Apple provides a broad array of choices for desktop and notebook computers.
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