The new iMacs are here, I've been waiting for months for these babies to come out. They look fantastic, although I've only seen them on the web so far and not in person but best I can tell, Apple really hit this one out of the park. And they packed more punch into it at a lower price, too. I sent an email to a friend who is in the market for a new Mac but doesn't know what to get so I gave her a run down on types and prices. One of her concerns is how easy it is to move. Since it's pretty comprehensive I see no need to reproduce it when I can just copy and paste.
You don't want the Mac Mini unless you already have a monitor and keyboard to hook up to it.
The iMac is the best buy, for $1199 you will have a machine far faster than you need, a new 20“ glossy monitor (which I hear is very good but I've never seen it) and a new slim keyboard. Weighs 20 lbs, though, only 2 lbs lighter than the last one.
If you go for the 15“ MacBook Pro it weighs 5.4 lbs but is $1999. It's actually got more power and ram than the iMac. The 17“ is 6.8 lbs and $2799. Either is available with a glossy screen.
Or you can go cheaper and get the 13“ MacBook, also available with a glossy screen and weighing in at 5.1 lbs. Price is either $1099 with an 80 GB HD, $1299 with a 120 GB HD or $1499 with a 160 BG HD and black instead of white.
The 13“ MacBook has just about the same specs for speed & power as the iMac, the main difference is the much smaller screen and much more portable.
So it's up to you if price, screen size or mobility is most important and in what combo. As far as power any of them would be plenty for you. The MacBook Pro's would probably be more than you need but that's the only way to get bigger than a 13“ screen.
Also, with all of them you will get a free trial of iWork which is a word processor and now also has a spreadsheet app with it like Appleworks did. Look around on Apple's site and you can see screenshots of it. You can use it for 30 days for free before buying it for $79.
If you buy directly from Apple you will get free shipping for any of them and I don't think you would have to pay sales tax, since you aren't in California. You should get Apple Care for 3 years which is $249 for the laptops and $169 for the iMac, but there should be no other costs.
Her needs are simple, just basic computing, email, web surfing and other such things. For me, as a graphic artist, it's much more difficult. First of all, I need the bigger screen, I also need more ram for Photoshop work. I really need a Mac Pro but just can't afford it right now, even the iMac will be a problem. I need 2, one for work and one for at home, which makes things difficult. If I go for the 20” 2.4 Ghz with 2 GB of ram, which is really what I need, then 2 of them is going to cost around $4,000 by the time all the extras get added in like extended warranty, the extra gig of ram, taxes, etc. I'm thinking of going for the 2 Ghz which will only be around $3,000 for 2. That's actually pretty amazing when you figure I spent $2,000 for 64 MB of ram alone for my Quadra back in '95. close to $10 grand for the whole computer for a mere fraction of the power. Damn thing had a 80 MB hard drive in it!
No point in worrying too much about power, more is always good but I've been using a 2002 Quicksilver with a 1 Ghz dual processor and 1.5 GB of ram on the old PPC G4 architecture for 5 years and that has been fine for 90% of what I do. For the other 10% I just have to wait a bit for it to finish. Even the 2 Ghz iMac is going to be 3 or 4 times faster than that and I'll be in the new Intel technology. And if I have more money later I may be able to upgrade to 4 GB of ram and maybe a more powerful processor, I'm thinking 2 or three years from now. I usually use my Macs for 5 years. I'll be able to hook up my old 20” Apple displays to run 2 monitors on each, which helps a whole lot. That way I can put all my tools in Photoshop and Illustrator on the second monitor and have the main one free to be just working image.
I might have to settle for one now and the second one in a few months since my credit is maxed out too. But, I'm busy writing out invoices and trying to get them collected so it's possible I can pull in the $4,000 needed in 2 or 3 weeks.