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View Full Version : I'm very torn (Mini vs. iBook vs. wait for Mactels)


pkatzman
2005-11-25, 11:11
Well, I'm really torn right now between a Mini (seems somewhat underpowered, but love the size and semi-portability), iBook (cheap and portable, but terrible screen res. and no mic or line-in inputs) or waiting for the fabled "Mactels" (iBook? Mini?)

I want a computer soon, and was thinking of buying the Mini around Christmas/Hanukkah as - being halfway through high school - I'll probably end up getting a laptop anyway in 1.5, 2 years. However, I'm concerned that the Mini is grossly underpowered for what I'd be doing: probably 2-4 OpenOffice windows open at once, Firefox with 5 or 6 tabs, video encoding (I'm really looking forward to Handbrake, by the way), iTunes open and playing music (maybe ripping a CD, too) and probably Instant Messenger. My current PC chokes sometimes, and often causes iTunes to skip with that much stuff going on, and the video I'm encoding often gets artifacts in it.

So, I'm thinking maybe it'd be better to wait for an Intel Mini with 1 GB RAM and a nice Yonah CPU. I'm not sure if I'm patient enough, though....

Opinions? Thanks in advance, this forum has been a great resource over the 4 months I've been lurking here.

MCQ
2005-11-25, 11:25
Unless you have an immediate need to get something now, waiting a few months is probably the most prudent thing to do. I think that the mini or iBook would handle the items you listed pretty well, although the video encoding may be a bit slow. However, the smoothness of the multitasking should be just fine, and probably a bit better than your current PC.

The iBook is on sale today only though, $101 off. :) And if you had an external monitor you could hook it up to it and use that if you wanted, along with one of the screen spanning utilities.

Franz Josef
2005-11-25, 12:09
It's probably tempting to wait for an Intel Mac and you might have only 2 months to wait if the rumours are true. In your place though I'd be tempted to buy a Mini now and just enjoy it.

Both the iBook and Mini will be OK for light to moderate Handbrake use - but I would recommend getting 1GB of RAM now.

torifile
2005-11-25, 12:27
The mini won't have trouble handling that. I do that and much more on my (lower spec'ed) eMac. The key is RAM. If that's all you're going to be doing, I wouldn't worry about overburdening the mini.

chucker
2005-11-25, 14:40
no mic or line-in inputs

It does have a mic (it's in the screen bezel), and as for line-in, you're better off getting something USB-based anyway. The kind of line-in you can get in a laptop of that price class is bound to suck.

Get a USB mic, a USB line-in, something like that.

pkatzman
2005-11-25, 15:41
First off, thank you all for your very helpful comments. What a great site.

Anyway, the other thing I forgot to mention is the issue of price. While not quite a starving college student, I still don't have much of a budget excepting what I get from relatives for Christmas. I think, therefore that a Mini probably makes the most sense, along with a USB input thing and nice monitor.

The only remaining conflict in my mind is instant gratification (Mini now, decent power, good price) vs. waiting. From reading around here and other sites, the prospect of buying a Rev. A Mac frightens me ( :lol: ), especially as this'll be my first one. So I suppose a Midrange Mini with maxed out Apple RAM is good.

One more question, though. I have a DVD burner in my PC now that I'm perfectly pleased with that uses a regular ATA bus. Can I make this external somehow? The 150 bucks (or whatever) isn't gonna be worth it to me, as I could probably find an external that's cheaper. Unless I'd be getting a Dual-Layer 8x drive. Are the chances of me getting the "secretly upgraded" ones better if I get the highest end one? Guess I'll have to dig through some threads to find the specific advice on serial numbers. Geez I ramble sometimes.

Search button, ho!!

torifile
2005-11-25, 15:43
You should be able to slap that dvd burner in an external enclosure without a problem. Now, whether it'll work with the mini is a different story. You'd have to post the model for us to give you a definitive answer.

pkatzman
2005-11-25, 15:47
Hmmm....it's a Memorex something or other. I'm actually out of town for Thanksgiving, so I don't know the actual model...lemme poke around on their site.

EDIT: Well that wasn't helpful. Shoot. Well, I know it's a Memorex and it does 8X Single-Layer +/-, R/RW. Black Bezel with Silver Tray, if that helps. Also, it uses E/IDE. Too many acronyms in my head. :D

Also, while we're here, my entire iTunes and DivX video library is on an internal 120 gig hard drive. Should I just get a housing and continue using it that way? Or maybe put the iTunes music (around 10 Gigs) on the internal while leaving the videos/movies (around....40 Gigs..?) on the converted external?

I can't wait. :)

Dorian Gray
2005-11-25, 21:19
I think the mini is a simply fantastic computer. It feels and looks so right, and the quality has to be seen to be believed. I imagined it would feel cheap because it is cheap, but it is rock solid and very nicely finished. Vastly better than my iBook (which is okay too). I know a system administrator who is a hardcore Linux geek and he was so impressed with the mini that one of them became his first Mac. He has since become quite enamoured with the whole OS X thing!

Performance-wise, the mini is quite good. Coming from Windows you will probably feel a general hesitancy in the response of the GUI, which is due to the modern underlying technologies of Mac OS X sucking up a few CPU cycles (Microsoft Vista will also introduce a similar sluggishness). However, one of the greatest things about OS X over XP is the ability to work with a responsive GUI no matter how much the processor is being taxed by an app in the background. For example, the scenario you described:

However, I'm concerned that the Mini is grossly underpowered for what I'd be doing: probably 2-4 OpenOffice windows open at once, Firefox with 5 or 6 tabs, video encoding (I'm really looking forward to Handbrake, by the way), iTunes open and playing music (maybe ripping a CD, too) and probably Instant Messenger. My current PC chokes sometimes, and often causes iTunes to skip with that much stuff going on, and the video I'm encoding often gets artifacts in it.

This is the stuff that OS X thrives on. A Mac mini with 1 GB of memory wouldn't even break stride with literally three times that much going on, and as for iTunes skipping?! Your mini will laugh at you as you try to make iTunes skip! :) Likewise, HandBrake is a rock solid app that I've never had misbehave even under extreme competition for memory and CPU time. The ability of OS X to keep going smoothly under this sort of pressure is in my experience the greatest advantage it holds over XP.

In addition, if there is one thing the G4 processor does well even today, it is encoding, both video and audio. Performance with HandBrake (a brilliant app for what it does with nothing comparable in the Windows world) will be pretty good even compared to otherwise much more powerful Pentium-based systems. Another good thing about the mini as a video encoder is that the fan is as close to silent as anything I've ever heard. The little thing can sit there grinding away at 100% CPU for hours with nothing but the softest whisper of air to remind you it's doing its work. Nice if your computer lives in your bedroom. As you can probably see, I have had serious mini lust ever since it came out but unfortunately I am a starving student... :(

torifile
2005-11-25, 21:29
What Dorian said. :) Seriously, you won't have any problems with a mini. I've lost count of how many apps my computer has going at once. I don't remember the last time iTunes skipped. I regularly rip DVDs with handbrake without a hitch. (I know I said this above as well, but it seemed fitting to re-state it.)

torifile
2005-11-25, 21:32
Also, while we're here, my entire iTunes and DivX video library is on an internal 120 gig hard drive. Should I just get a housing and continue using it that way
You can do either without a problem. Personally, if you're never going to use the computer without having the external drive, I'd leave it on the external. If you're going to be using the computer without the external, I'd put it on the internal drive. I hate not having my music with me when I want it (and it simplifies the process if your drive is always there.)

pkatzman
2005-11-25, 23:14
First of, thanks so much for that testimonial, Dorian. It's things like that which remind me (at least part of) why I'm switching. :D

You can do either without a problem. Personally, if you're never going to use the computer without having the external drive, I'd leave it on the external. If you're going to be using the computer without the external, I'd put it on the internal drive. I hate not having my music with me when I want it (and it simplifies the process if your drive is always there.)

Yeah, I think maybe all the music on the internal and movies external is a good idea. Also, will I need to reformat it (it's NTFS now) because it won't be read by a Mac? I think I remember something about them reading FAT and FAT32, but not NTFS? If not, then what's the best way to transfer all of my music?

I'll post the model # of the DVD burner when I get home tomorrow, and maybe have a few more questions, too.

pkatzman
2005-11-26, 18:37
The burner is a Memorex +/- RW True 8x Burner.Would it be compatibile?

torifile
2005-11-26, 18:54
The burner is a Memorex +/- RW True 8x Burner.Would it be compatibile?
Do you have a model number?

pkatzman
2005-11-27, 13:26
Do you have a model number?

There is no model number. Apparently, Memorex doesn't like to use them. link (http://www.memorex.com/html/download_manual_now.php?CID=11&PID=688)

torifile
2005-11-27, 14:45
There is no model number. Apparently, Memorex doesn't like to use them. link (http://www.memorex.com/html/download_manual_now.php?CID=11&PID=688)
Well, someone (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0001EKGG8/104-5464827-9351139?v=glance&n=172282&v=glance&vi=reviews) has had success using it with his Mac. Scroll down the page for the review. Since it seems to be recognized by the OS, I think slapping it into an external firewire enclosure should work just fine. :)

pkatzman
2005-11-27, 20:56
Awesome. Thanks for the help, torifile. Now I just gotta find a good housing, plus a firewire/usb hub...maybe one of those that fits under the mini itself. So that's taken care of, now onto other stuff.

RAM. I definitely want 1GB. The question is to have Apple install it, or buy the RAM myself and slap it in. I recall (probably from this board) that the mini is kinda tough to open, as well as Macs being picky about RAM (I think it was the timings?) Maybe its worth 100 bucks for the peace of mind and warranty coverage?

Then I need to get a good financing program (maybe could do it "through" one of my relatives who have credit unlike me!) cause I'm basically adding at least 250 bucks to the price right there (Applecare + RAM), plus maybe a Logitech MX1000, USB/Firewire Hub, 2 enclosures and some kind of carrying case.

Damn, wasn't this supposed to be the "cheap" Mac?

torifile
2005-11-27, 21:44
:lol: Yeah, it's supposed to be the "cheap" one. You know, you don't have to buy the Applecare right away. You can buy it any time during the first year you have it. That may make it slightly less of a burden.

I can't comment on installing the RAM, but I can say from personal experience that of all the RAM I've bought for my Macs over the years, I've only ever had a problem with one chip (and I think that one was defective because a replacement of the same type worked fine). So, it may be not be so hard. (Currently I've got el-cheapo RAM in my powerbook and it's fine.) And you don't HAVE to buy that Mx1000. ;)

pkatzman
2005-11-28, 21:54
:lol: Yeah, it's supposed to be the "cheap" one. You know, you don't have to buy the Applecare right away. You can buy it any time during the first year you have it. That may make it slightly less of a burden.

I can't comment on installing the RAM, but I can say from personal experience that of all the RAM I've bought for my Macs over the years, I've only ever had a problem with one chip (and I think that one was defective because a replacement of the same type worked fine). So, it may be not be so hard. (Currently I've got el-cheapo RAM in my powerbook and it's fine.) And you don't HAVE to buy that Mx1000. ;)

Buying the Applecare later might indeed help. Good idea.

I think the deciding factor on the RAM will be how its covered by the warranty. I know getting Apple to install it will be, but would the esame apply if I do it myself?

scrouds
2005-11-28, 22:00
yes, your warranty will be fine if you install it yourself or have someone (apple certified or not) install it for you.

Provided you don't break anything, that is.


Also, get a RAM sick with a lifetime warranty. Any good ram manufacturer is willing to back their products.

pkatzman
2005-11-29, 17:58
yes, your warranty will be fine if you install it yourself or have someone (apple certified or not) install it for you.

Provided you don't break anything, that is.


Also, get a RAM sick with a lifetime warranty. Any good ram manufacturer is willing to back their products.

Cool. Now I'm off to find the best price I can that's under 100 bucks.

That said, I think I may wait until January to pull the trigger on this one. With these latest rumors, a Mac Mini DVR would be perfect for me, I don't think I could take it if I bought something that'd be replaced by my ideal model shortly afterwards... Curse you, Apple!! :devil: