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Macs The pick of the current crop is...?

#1 User is offline   Andrew C 

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  Posted 16 October 2008 - 08:38 AM

After a day of trauma with several visiting speakers turning up with presentations prepared on Macs, and them only sort of working on PCs, I'm thinking that the best fix may be to get a Mac myself. Never having used one in anger for this sort of stuff, I thought I'd ask here as well as my friendly Geek forum.


1) How hard is it to set up a Mac to run true Powerpoint 2007 and the Mac version?

2) Is it best to set up a dual boot? How hard is that?

3) Any specific Mac laptops to avoid/prefer?

4) Any specific "Gotchas!" apart from not having VGA type outputs as standard...

5) Anything I've missed?
Andrew

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#2 User is offline   gareth 

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Posted 16 October 2008 - 08:48 AM

View PostAndrew C, on 16 Oct 2008, 9:38 AM, said:

1) How hard is it to set up a Mac to run true Powerpoint 2007 and the Mac version?

Easy - see answer to question 2! :)

Quote

2) Is it best to set up a dual boot? How hard is that?

Not at all hard, and you have a couple of options. I have a copy of Parallels Desktop (VMWare Fusion is another very similar solution) which allows me to create a virtual machine within MacOSX in order to run Windows. Sometimes I can notice a small drop in the sort of performance that I'm used to - when doing very resource-intensive things like, for example, dragging around a very big shaded view in WYSIWYG - but most of the time it's negligible. Not being a Powerpoint user, I don't know how much Powerpoint would suffer from this, if at all.

The other option is to set up a Bootcamp partition on your hard drive, so that you can boot into Windows from a cold start. I did consider that, but ended up going down the Parallels route, purely because it gave me the option to fire up a Windows application within OSX without having to reboot, and I don't have cause to use Windows apps on my Macbook very often.

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3) Any specific Mac laptops to avoid/prefer?

Don't think there are any to avoid as such - although the MAcbook Air does seem to be very expensive for what it is. I have a Macbook (the middle-of-the-range model) and am very happy with it.

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4) Any specific "Gotchas!" apart from not having VGA type outputs as standard...

A 'dongle' to turn the video output on a Macbook into a VGA output is quite a cheap option, especially if you can claim an educational discount and buy it at the same time as you buy your computer.

Quote

5) Anything I've missed?

If you get a Mac, you'll soon see what you've been missing up until now :).
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#3 User is offline   Paul_R 

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Posted 16 October 2008 - 12:05 PM

Assuming you are already running a PC then might a solution be to use a VGA Capture card?
Datapath RGB/VGA/DVI Capture Cards
I have a VisionRGB-Pro2 I use to bring real-time visuals from 1 PC into an Arkaos PC, and it works well.
A google search will also reveal that there are USB RGB capture options, but I have no experience of these.

Whilst it might be a cost balance exercise between this or a Mac, you would have the advantage of not having to support a Mac which is obviously a grey area!
A second advantage could be that you can display the output of any Laptop be it PC or Mac using the software it was created on, rather than transferring files and coping with different powerpoint versions, video codecs etc.

The disadvantage I can see would be:

View PostAndrew C, on 16 Oct 2008, 8:38 AM, said:

4) Any specific "Gotchas!" apart from not having VGA type outputs as standard...

Which I cannot comment on, as I am not a Mac user either, but perhaps that just requires you to get the dongle that Gareth references, especially if it does not require software installation and 'fits all macs' ....

Regards,
Paul

This post has been edited by Paul_R: 16 October 2008 - 12:08 PM


#4 User is offline   jimbo7744 

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Posted 16 October 2008 - 12:55 PM

Hi Andrew,

If you have an Apple store near you or the opportunity to pop into one, the guy's in there will be more than happy to sit down and discuss which notebook suits you best for your application. They might even say none, stick to a PC if that's the case!

Personally I've got a MacBook Pro 15.4", 2.2GHz, 2GB memory and 128MB graphics card. I use it daily for work, invoicing, research and on shows to run PP, DVD's and video files. The 15" screen is the most important thing for me, I've found the 13" screen too small when editing detailed presentations and the 15" screen means less scrolling around.

If the notebook is only going to be used for displaying and quick editing of PP or Keynote then either of the MacBook's will do the job easily. The Mac version of Office is only 55 and Keynote will show "most" PP presentations seamlessly.

The MacBook Air is a lot of money, but that's due to its size and weight. I personally would avoid this model from what you have told us, as portability isn't a real issue, the lack of an onboard optical drive and only 1 USB port means its less flexible if you need to plug more than 1 USB device in (I.e remote presenter mouse and a USB thumb drive)

If you might want to use the notebook for video editing, the MacBook Pro is a more competent machine to undertake these tasks and can be customised to your specification, but obviously more expensive.

The VGA/DVI dongles have just changed with the release of the new MacBook's and MacBook Pro's. Now utilising the Mini Display Port. A dongle to VGA or DVI retail at 20 each. I always carry 2 as they seem to get lost or walk off on their own.

No Gotcha's spring to mind, you will just need to play around with it to get used to the way OSX works and how it can work best for you.

If your not worried about having the latest models, the old stock of all these models will probably be sold off slightly cheaper to make way for the new releases. If your buying it personally, Dixons Tax Free at the airport is a good way to save a couple of hundred quid if you happen to be flying somewhere.

And to quote Gareth;

Quote

If you get a Mac, you'll soon see what you've been missing up until now .

I couldn't agree more :rolleyes:

Jimbo

#5 User is offline   MrPete 

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Posted 16 October 2008 - 01:12 PM

1) How hard is it to set up a Mac to run true Powerpoint 2007 and the Mac version?
If by "true" PP2007, I'm assuming you mean the Windows version? The easiest way* would be to install WinXP in a virtual machine using Parallels or VMWare (I use Parallels personally) which leaves you still able to run your Windows bits as well as Mac bits but with complete interconnectivity.
As for the Mac version of the Office Suite it's now up to Office 2008 but having received a few .pptx files from Powerpoint 2007 (I only have 2004) they do successfully open in Keynote (Apple's presentation software). I've found the biggest problem between PC & Mac in the presentation line is the fonts not being installed on the opposite machine (works both ways!) as opposed to anything else.

2) Is it best to set up a dual boot? How hard is that?
See here *
The main thinking in dual boot or virtual machine (VM) use is, how often do you use Windows based software that you can't use on a Mac? With the latest version of Powerpoint/Office 2008 for Mac, it may only be WYSIWYG or LX/Sound desk offline editors that you might need to run in Windows, making the VM option more inviting.

3) Any specific Mac laptops to avoid/prefer?
As with any computing system you need to bear in mind what you do now with computers and what you envisage doing in the future. I think that for any of the Mac laptop range you will not have any problems, but if you're wanting to display HD output at maximum resolutions or do a lot of video or CPU intensive work then you'd probably be better off with the Macbook Pro range.

4) Any specific "Gotchas!" apart from not having VGA type outputs as standard...

On the older style Macbook the output is a mini-DVI socket, on the Macbook Pro it's full size DVI - as far as I know you got the DVI/miniDVI -> VGA adaptor with the laptop (at least I did!). On the new style Macbook & Macbook Pro they have a mini displayport which you do need to buy the dongle seperately - 20 each in the Apple Store UK or 17.63 in the UK Educ store. Chances are, you'll be able to them from the internet (read "eBay") soon cheaply anyway.

Also, the Macbook Air is good for the travelling presenter, but they still only have 1x USB socket which does your wired networking, optical drive, memory sticks, etc. and need the dongle to connect to VGA or DVI which is the biggest issue I'd say.

5) Anything I've missed?
Not that I can think of! I've had my Macbook Pro (1st edition, so the original Intel Core Duo cpu) since May 2006 and the only major issues I've had with it was the battery swelling up which was replaced free of charge and also the original power supply lead broke near the laptop end connector which was also replaced free of charge. Both resolved quickly and efficiently.

And like PCs, there's plenty of open source products available for use on Macs. But unlike PCs, once you get working on a Mac everything just works and is aesthetically pleasing to work with. Having used mine for both video, audio and presentations in examination circumstances I've never had any issues. Oh yeah, also the remote control you get with macs now works with both Powerpoint, Keynote, VLC and many others but I don't think it works when using Windows programs. Having never used Bootcamp to dualboot into XP it may or may not work in that mode. Mind you, if you have a bluetooth presentation remote then that should work in OS X or XP (no guarantee from me tho!).

If you can, try and get to either a Mac store, Reseller or ask someone you know with one if you can have a look and play with it. That way you'll have more of an idea what to go for :up:
Apologies for the long reply but that's the easiest way!
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#6 User is offline   andy jackson 

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Posted 16 October 2008 - 03:05 PM

If I remember correctly you work in education? if so you can get a pretty good discount on them, iirc about 15%, I did with my mac book and it is the best thing I have ever bought! If you call your local apple store you can book an hour with one of their 'geniuses'(SP?) who will talk through any queries you might have, this was a winner with the wife who is now a convert!

Andy

#7 User is offline   Wysiwyg101 

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Posted 16 October 2008 - 05:59 PM

Let me preface this, I am not currently a Mac user or owner. But, I want one badly. I just can't afford one right now. I have done quite a bit of research into Macs by talking to Mac owners, searching online for comparisons, and checking out technical specs on a regular basis. Here are just a few things I have found in my searching.

Macs seem to have a longevity that Windows based machines lack. Not only that, but when you decide to upgrade and buy a new one, you can sell the one you have for about half (or more) what you paid for it. Try that with a Windows machine. That's just one indication of just how good the Mac machines are.

Microsoft made a deal with Apple to give them first dibs on any new Office Products. Which is why PC is using Office 2007 version and Mac has Office 2008. Plus, something they discovered a few years ago, Office works better on a mac and has a few more features that you won't find on Windows machines.

The new MacBookPro's are out. Two brand new 15" offers are on the table (go to the Apple site http://www.apple.com). I personally, if I had the money that is, would go with slightly more expensive one just to get the discrete graphics card it has. While you are at it, get the mini display port to VGA and the one to DVI and the one to DVI Dual Link in case you need to have those higher end graphics.

It only has two USB ports so get a powered (not self bus powered) USB hub.

Everyone else already covered using Parallels to run Windows at the same time, so I won't get into that.

I would recommend against getting the Mac Air. Sure, it's extremely light and portable, but you have to add the optical drive. So just how portable is something that have to carry several pieces for?

Anyways, good luck.

Rick (from the US)

#8 User is offline   Andrew C 

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Posted 16 October 2008 - 06:19 PM

View PostWysiwyg101, on 16 Oct 2008, 6:59 PM, said:

Let me preface this, I am not currently a Mac user or owner. But, I want one badly. I just can't afford one right now.

<SNIP>

Rick (from the US)
Grrr, says he who will pay in $ what I will have to pay in !

But thanks for the thoughts anyway!
Andrew

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#9 User is offline   soundiesam 

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Posted 16 October 2008 - 07:21 PM

you might wanna check the apple website the mac book and the mac book pro have been superseeded as of yesterday
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#10 User is offline   gareth 

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Posted 16 October 2008 - 07:34 PM

Blimey, the new ones are expensive! I've got a 2.4GHz white one, with 160Gb HDD and 2Gb RAM, and it cost me quite a bit less than the new 2.0GHz model. And the firewire port seems to have disappeared off the new model, too.
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#11 User is offline   jimbo7744 

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Posted 16 October 2008 - 07:58 PM

Yep, the "Geniuses" have removed the Firewire 400 port from the latest MacBooks (barely a difference from USB 2.0 afaik) and only provide a Firewire 800 now on the MacBook Pro's. That coupled with the loss of the only Click button makes me nervous, but I'm sure they have tried and tested it.

The lack of Firewire 400 has p*ssed me off as I planned to upgrade but I'm not willing to upgrade my external drives as well as put up with a STUPID glossy screen option only!!!!! Big mistake but I hope they will re-assess that and offer a matte version when they realise that the majority of their sales are to journalists and photographers who cant use glossy screens or just Joe public that dont need to or want to see themselves typing?

I hope this is just a glitch in my otherwise seamless and oh my god, thank you Apple for making using a computer a pleasure, rather than a chore experience since switching last October.

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#12 User is offline   Pete McCrea 

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Posted 16 October 2008 - 09:24 PM

View PostAndrew C, on 16 Oct 2008, 9:38 AM, said:

1) How hard is it to set up a Mac to run true Powerpoint 2007 and the Mac version?

We run PowerPoints in Keynote. 99% of the time it's fine. Only issues so far have been missing fonts. Copy it off the PC, open Font book and select the font's location to install it. To run PowerPoint proper I'd go Virtual.

View PostAndrew C, on 16 Oct 2008, 9:38 AM, said:

2) Is it best to set up a dual boot? How hard is that?

Depends if you want to have it as a seperate boot or available for use as a virtual machine. I'd probably go Virtual.

View PostAndrew C, on 16 Oct 2008, 9:38 AM, said:

3) Any specific Mac laptops to avoid/prefer?

The macbook is designed as a general purpose machine, the Pro for those who need a Photoshop/Final Cut mobile suite. You need to decide if you need the extra grunt.

View PostAndrew C, on 16 Oct 2008, 9:38 AM, said:

4) Any specific "Gotchas!" apart from not having VGA type outputs as standard...

Not to sure of any.

View PostAndrew C, on 16 Oct 2008, 9:38 AM, said:

5) Anything I've missed?

Possibly. Try the refurb store, linked off the main store website bottom right of the page. You can save upto 30% off machines if your prepared to buy with out any customisation.


View Postjimbo7744, on 16 Oct 2008, 8:58 PM, said:

The lack of Firewire 400 has p*ssed me off as I planned to upgrade

Jimbo

Buy a Firewire 800 to 400 adaptor lead. The Geniuses at Apple made the Firewire standard backwards compatible. Method to their madness.
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#13 User is offline   bjkered 

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Posted 16 October 2008 - 09:44 PM

View Postgareth, on 16 Oct 2008, 7:34 PM, said:

Blimey, the new ones are expensive! I've got a 2.4GHz white one, with 160Gb HDD and 2Gb RAM, and it cost me quite a bit less than the new 2.0GHz model. And the firewire port seems to have disappeared off the new model, too.



Have to agree with Gareth on this and I have three Mac's in the House. But this seems a hell of a leap in Price for the new MACBook., Yes better Graphics Spec but the loss of Firewire is annoying when you use it to transfer Video to the MAC and now you have better graphics but slower interfaces "DOH"

Even with Exchange rates dropping the price between US and UK is still very BIG ( Yes I Know about VAT rates ) on the new MAC Book.

#14 User is offline   jimbo7744 

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Posted 16 October 2008 - 09:51 PM

View Postjimbo7744, on 16 Oct 2008, 8:58 PM, said:

The lack of Firewire 400 has p*ssed me off as I planned to upgrade

Quote


Jimbo

Buy a Firewire 800 to 400 adaptor lead. The Geniuses at Apple made the Firewire standard backwards compatible. Method to their madness.


Yes it's possible to go backwards, but that adaptor should be in the box! Same as a Mini DisplayPort. The DVI-VGA adaptor WAS standard with the old MBP and IMO should be standard with the new 1400 lappy. Ok 20 isn't that much, but then include it! Its a basic connector that is needed unless you buy a brand new Apple display and I know of no display's or projectors that support it yet or have even heard of it until yesterday.

Maybe they are moving too fast for the market now? The product is great, but will you Pete, be buying glossy display's to use on shows where the reflection will totally screw the ability to see a display?

I love OSX and Apple machines, but this seems to take away the ability to choose what is right for that individual, for their purpose? Hopefully they wil see there is a market for Matte displays and include a 800-400 and Mini DisplayPort adaptor as standard, not get complacent and expect people to spend more than they have done in the past to buy something that should be standard in a Top Spec Machine.

Jimbo

#15 User is offline   peternewman 

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Posted 24 October 2008 - 09:42 PM

A bit of an unusual suggestion, but have you considered the Mac Mini Andrew, they're about a quarter of the price of the laptops (depending on models) but if you're only using it for presentations in your venue, the fact its not a laptop may not be a major issue. Build it into the podium perhaps?

Something to consider at least, if only briefly.

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