My o[l]d man’s not a dustman. He’s a very clever man. And the biggest PC whore I know but if the rumours are true he’s about to buy a Mac!?! [Hello Pops!].
Here’s my thoughts for him…
Have a couple of longish chats with the sales reps at the local Apple Store or authorised dealer. Sales reps will always try to sell you – but they can be a very good source of up to date information. Don’t rush.
Anti virus: Since OS X came out five-ish years ago there have been no serious (or perhaps even half serious) virus threats to the Mac platform. Not to say there won’t be tomorrow. There are good antivirus products from Norton, McAfee & Intego. Even good free Open Source options. I’ve never bothered. But I’m living fast and loose. Even if there are no viruses for the Mac – it’s still possible to receive and forward them in emails. Generally you can see them a mile off (anything ending in .exe from firstname.lastname@example.org).
If there’s an need to keep a toe in the Windows world any new Mac (they all have Intel chips) can run Windows (as long there is a PC formatted disk or partition with Windows on). If rebooting every time the need arises doesn’t float one’s boat I’d advise Parallels to avoid the this nonsense: Mac OS & Windows at the same time. (http://www.parallels.com/). There’s also VMWare – long term “visualisation” people – coming to Mac. Parallels will allow use of Windows: 3.1 3.11 95 98 NT 2000 XP 2003 Vistas (Business, Ultimate, & Enterprise – NOT HOME EDITION). You can probably run any combination of these.
Obviously any PC issues (viruses etc) will occur on Apple hardware as they would a Dell PC.
Utilities – not really necessary – as long as there’s plenty of spare disk space (at least 30% free is great). The file system is self optimising and journalled: any sudden system freak outs / power cuts and the disk reverts to its last stable state. You may still lose some stuff you were working on – but the system is still reliable and stable as is the rest of your stuff. Mac OS 9 was shite in this regard – Norton Disk Doctor was always necessary as they always crashed and more often than not corrupted the file system. Now NDD is crap or dead. And the file system is very robust. There are still decent utilities about – just not very necessary.
RAM: Mac OS loves RAM and feels neglected with anything less than a Gig. That’s the minimum on any current machine. If anything heavy lifting is to be done then get more. Two Gig is an option on any new Mac. Which is better than the 1.25Gig max on my PowerBook.
For most things any new Mac should be a dream. They’re beautifully built machines and the OS is good. But, there’s always a but – somethings are frustrating: having to open up the Print Setup separately to the Print dialogue still gets me, and the lack of scroll bars in many drop down menus is a terrible “oversight”: filtering very long lists in Excel is a royal pain. And not all software is available on it (Virtual Windows options aside – they may not seamlessly integrate).
Mac OS: the next update to the OS is just around the corner – so get a Mac now for assured stability and family support – or hold off for a couple of weeks to get the next upa-da-date. Next System update (10.5) is not a massive change – just adds more features (some clever) should be fine. But there’s always some teething issues…
Hardware: unless buying a Workstation MacPro or a server all models are currently new or mid product cycle. iMac and Mac Mini have just been updated, MacBook and MacBook Pro may get updated in a couple of months. They may not. Me I’d love a big iMac – but a MacBook is great and these days can run a large external DVI-D monitor for when at the home-office. Just like me with my venereal PowerBook. Er, I mean venerable. I’m a real believer that a portable should be portable and so like the smaller ones – as long as they can play big when needed.
Last point. An Apple Mac is still a computer and no computer is 100% guaranteed not to fuck up.