Switch Now Or Wait?
by Alex Raiano
Ever since Apple came out with OS X I've thought about switching over to the Mac platform. I'm not sure that I would do a complete switch however, I definitely would like to have a Mac in my house mainly because I am interested in working with OS X. That being said, I'm not sure if I should switch now or if I should wait for the Intel based Macs to come out? According to an article on Thinksecret
, this might happen in January at the Macworld Expo. If I do wait, would it be smart for me to jump right into the Intel Mac or should I wait for some bugs to be worked out? Help!
It depends on your intentions
I guess the answer depends on what you expect from the switch. If you main interest lies in the operating system, then a Mac of today will not feel any different from an Intel Mac -- at least, from what we know. In that, a current Mac mini, PowerBook or G5 Tower, in other words any time-tested configuration, may be the best choice.
Should you be more after good resell value once you wish to upgrade to a better Mac or interested in Apple's upcoming rumored developments, then, waiting may be a better idea. There is however always a chance what you are waiting will never arrive or will arrive much later than everybody thinks, which makes waiting for an Apple product a most inexact, and emotionally tiring science.
Whatever your decision, it is however a pleasure to welcome you in our ranks!
You have two options
One question is how many computers do you want to own? My personal gut call is that more than one desktop and one portable is too many, but I just can't seem to keep the number down to that.
If you just want to play around and see what OS X can do, go grab a Mini for $500 and have at it.
If you think you're going to get serious about it, you *may* want to wait until the Intel PowerMacs come out, and someone has validated that you can dual-boot a windows OS on the box as well. That is my long-term hope, so I can get back to having just one desktop in my office which is severely cramped for space. (Since the Mini won't run Aperture, that is not an option for me!)
Seems like this question is being asked every week now....
I know many believe the answer to be as simple as:
If you need a computer today, then there is no harm on buying any of the offerings, ibook, iMac, etc. All the mac software you need today will run beautifully.
As arbatrary as one's perspective can be, i'll pass on what my personal opinion is. Starting with regardless of switching to Mac from PC or upgrading our current Mac, i think the decision process is the same.
Are you looking at buying an entry-level desktop (Mac Mini), the consumer level (iMac) or a laptop?
The iMac looks like a sweet machine even as a PowerPC. It's G5 CPU easily plays with the big boys.
The Mac mini and apple laptops (the ones suspected at being announced as MacTels in Jan), currently use G4 CPUs that are simply outdated. As a geek i would have a hard time convincing myself to buy another G4 based apple. It would bother my geek soul. My current G4 laptop gets a little bogged down at times and it takes a piece of me every time it does. :)
As well, something that simply shouldnt' be an issue in my decision but seems to seap into my brain is that i really am excited about the mactels. I want to see Rosetta (Apple Powerpc emulation) working, i want to test it's limits. I want to see what happens in working with the Virtualization stuff in Yonah and the Xen software (i know there is no mac port yet...) and Darwine.... how far will it go? Can i get rid of Virtual PC and be able to run that 1 windows 95 program i need for my business?
Hopefully my ramblings helps you in your decision.
I'm hanging on until the jan revs. patience is usually rewarded, but I know its hard to resist just going to buying one!
Depends on the Model
I would suggest that the answer to your question depends on the model of Mac that you are interested in. If you are interested in either a Mini or a portable (i.e. a model currently powered by a G4 processor), then my advice would be to wait for the Intel processor versions that will undoubtedly thrash the performance available in the current systems. I am presently in this camp waiting for the Intel-based PowerBooks because my 1GHz version is getting a bit long in the tooth and the current selection are definitely under powered when compared to a Windows-based Intel or AMD machine.
If you are interested in a G5-based system (i.e. iMac or Power Mac) then you can buy now with confidence. The G5 is a capable processor and the Intel-based versions are unlikely to appear for some time so you may end up waiting too long for little gain.
The only additional question is whether to buy an Intel-based machine as soon as it appears on the market. I'm planning to wait until the end of next year before buying (mostly due to financial constraints) but it would be prudent to delay a little in order to ensure that the transition has been performed successfully and to give the Universal Binary versions of your required applications enough time to appear. The Rossetta PowerPC emulation software for the Intel-based OS X systems sounds promising at the moment but if you can directly buy an Intel-version of your software then it'll save hassle later.
Best of luck in your decision.
Since it's just 3 weeks, I'd say wait :-)
I think you might as well wait and see what January brings. The Intel Macs could bring some nice benefits for you, like the possibility to dual-boot or install Windows should you not take to the Mac. (Though I honestly doubt that will happen if you seriously give it a chance.) Also, I think within a year of the release of the Intel Macs, if not sooner, you will see products like Virtual PC and VMWare coming out with Mac versions that are optimized for Intel processors and give much better performance for emulation. There will very possibly be the performance benefits, too.
Even if you do decide to go with a PPC Mac, you should do so knowing what the alternatives are, IMHO. Otherwise, you may end up thinking "I should have waited!", a common complaint among people who bought their Macs a couple weeks before a new announcement.
Of course, as you mention, there is the 'early adopter' factor of possible glitches. Whether or not you're okay with that is a question you'll have to answer for yourself. Either way (Intel or PPC), I'd recommend you get the extended hardware support, which should cover you from any hardware glitches you run into now or in the future.
Enjoy your new Mac! :-)
Thanks for all the replies. I think that I've decided that waiting for an Intel Mac is the best option for me. I don't need a new computer now so waiting for the Intel Mac would probably be a good idea. I would more or less be getting a Mac because I am interesting in working with OS X.
My point of opinion
Basically you half to ask a few questions
Are you interested in using a bata system with lodes of cool execs gismos (then wait).
Do you do lots of video conversion (e.g. MPEG to MPEG-4 for iPod)? then white.
If you wand a relabel system bay one today or 2007 their is just to much in the pipeline to get a first generation intel mac.
I bought a Mini in June last year with similar aims (wanting to learn OS/X, try out iLife) but without making a commitment to switch. I'd actually categorise myself as a returnee having used Macs in the 80s and very early 90s.
After 6 months, the desktop PC is about to disappear (it's not been booted up for months) - we (my wife and I) only need 1 PC around, and that's mostly for playing games and my wife has a lot of school documents in MS Publisher (for which there are equivalent programs but no convertor).
Personally, if you just want to play around with OS/X then I'd go for an iBook or Mini today. It's not really the CPU that's holding these machines back so much as the disc and graphics cards. Now maybe these will be upgraded along with the CPU, but maybe not. At the end of the day, the bottom end Macs are never going to be great performers (Apple prize size and silence over speed), but they are - even today - more than adequate.
Equally, if it's OS/X you're interested in, the CPU shouldn't really be an issue - the OS is going to be the same on both platforms at least until Leopard comes out (which I suspect will be the last PPC upgrade to the OS). Ditto the development tools - if you want to play with Ruby and XCode2 then the CPU is kind of irrelevant.
All that said, I'd probably still wait until January and see what happens! (At worst you'll be able to pick up a PPC Mini far cheaper than they are now).