Author Topic: Mac appreciation thread  (Read 209687 times)

Offline petetherock

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Mac appreciation thread
« on: January 01, 2010, 09:38 »
I used to use only Macs, but as work forced a change, (SPSS is free for PC users in NUS) I have bought 3 PC based laptops/desktops over the past 5 years.

My old 7300, 5500, and even my original Imac are still with me. Even my SE switches on!

Anyway, I know some of us here are Mac afficiandos. So where is the best place to get a new Imac, the cost, and how I can score Office, a Photoshop (or Elements) software etc and is it possible to retain PC function - plus how?

Lotsa questions but its been a while.

Anyway, I know a good Apple shop - used to go there - SGL in SLS, they are good at sales, but don't know much about the machines themselves.

So here's hoping bros like yellow etc can chip in.
Please post instead of sending a pm, so more can learn.

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francis woo

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Re: Mac appreciation thread
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2010, 09:55 »
I will state this again, Mac stuff in Hkg is the cheapest in the Far East..... 8)

Offline petetherock

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Re: Mac appreciation thread
« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2010, 09:56 »
Well unless you are willing to cart an IMac back for me, that is moot bro...
I will state this again, Mac stuff in Hkg is the cheapest in the Far East..... 8)
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Offline yellowhandman

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Re: Mac appreciation thread
« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2010, 10:01 »
I always go to Multimedia Integrated at Funan. They have some knowledgeable staff (and those who aren't don't try to BS you), their after-sales service is fantastic, and they are always friendly. But as far as getting a good discount goes, the prices are pretty fixed from dealer to dealer. Frankly, their margins (especially on iMacs and the cheaper MacBooks and MacBook Pros) are not that great, so there's a limit to what they can do.

For Office, etc, just buy the original - there should be a good deal when you buy your Mac. Most of the software you would need - iTunes, iPhoto, etc - come bundled with the Mac anyway.

As for maintaining PC compatibility, you have two main options:

(1) Set up a dual-booting system using Boot Camp (included) and your own copy of Windows. This allows you to choose whether to start up your Mac in the Mac OS or Windows. When booted up in Windows, the Mac functions completely as a PC. This is better for playing PC games, because you are running an actual Windows PC basically. But the downside is that you can't flip easily from one OS to the other - you have to reboot.

(2) Use virtualization - either VMware Fusion or Parallels - to run a Windows virtual machine in your Mac OS. That's better if you want to mainly use the Mac OS, but need to run a couple of Windows programs alongside. Both Fusion and Parallels even have modes where your Windows programs essentially run as if they are just another Mac program, i.e. the Windows and Mac apps windows all share the same space.

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Offline petetherock

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Re: Mac appreciation thread
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2010, 10:04 »
Thanks yellow
- what are the costs of these software? esp the virtual one?

- how can you take your copy of windows? I have an old laptop with win XP but I do not have the disc.

I use SPSS and SAS, both highly CPU intensive software.

Will virtual cope?

Also even though the screen of an IMac is Full HD, it is region locked to 3 right? Can I connect a BR drive or player of sorts to view BR on the Mac?

Please post instead of sending a pm, so more can learn.

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Offline yellowhandman

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Re: Mac appreciation thread
« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2010, 10:25 »
Thanks yellow
- what are the costs of these software? esp the virtual one?

The virtualization software should be around S$150 or so - it's hard to say whether Fusion or Parallels is better, because they keep one-upping each other. Occasionally there are some good bundle deals online organised by MacUpdate or MacHeist which may include the virtualization software - these are basically periodic deals where big bundles of Mac software (some useful, some not) are offered at a huge discount. MacUpdate and MacHeist are the two established websites that organise such bundles with the various software developers.

As for Boot Camp dual-booting, that functionality is built into the Mac OS. When you get your Mac, you run the utility already installed and it will walk you through the process.

Quote
- how can you take your copy of windows? I have an old laptop with win XP but I do not have the disc.

As far as I know, you will need a Windows installation disc, either for the virtualization software or Boot Camp. Guess you need to go and buy a cheap OEM one somewhere.

Quote
I use SPSS and SAS, both highly CPU intensive software.

Will virtual cope?

No idea. Obviously it won't be as fast as actual Windows in Boot Camp, 'cuz of the additional overheads of virtualization. But it is still much better than it used to be five years ago, when virtualization was ridiculously sluggish. Because Macs now run on Intel chips, it is easier to do virtualization than when they ran on PowerPC chips.

You should check the respective websites of VMware and Parallels. I think they have lists of compatible Windows applications, so if your apps are mission-critical you should do some checking first.

Quote
Also even though the screen of an IMac is Full HD, it is region locked to 3 right? Can I connect a BR drive or player of sorts to view BR on the Mac?

Apple has been frustratingly unwilling to add Blu-ray support, probably because they want to drive iTunes HD online downloads instead. As for the DVD drive, I'm not sure whether it is already pre-locked to R3, or whether you are allowed to switch regions up to five times before it gets locked. However, there are work arounds, i.e. use other software to defeat region coding and mount discs as region-free.

As for connecting a BD drive - you CANNOT connect a third-party BD drive and play movies, unless you do it in a Windows Boot Camp environment, because the Mac OS has no BD movie playback support. However, a connected third-party BD drive will be able to burn content, etc. Nobody knows if Apple will eventually relent one day and enable BD movie playback, and include BD drives in their Macs - but I'm not hopeful.

With the new iMacs, they have a video input, so you CAN connect a BD player and use the iMac as a monitor. However, in this mode the iMac functions purely as a monitor, i.e. you cannot use the OS at the same time. So it's not very useful. (See posts on page 2...there are currently no adaptors that enable this, although one is supposedly on the way. However, the input may only accept video, not audio.)

The only way - and it's really silly, but I use it - to watch BD on a Mac while running the Mac OS is to buy an external video converter box that converts video inputs to USB digital inputs which you can then view on your Mac. I'm referring to those boxes that allow you to watch TV on your computer. However, there is only one box on the market - Hauppauge HD PVR - that accepts component inputs. The rest of them accept only S-video at best. But you can at least watch BDs in a window on your Mac if you have a spare BD player lying around. I use the Hauppauge HD PVR to watch BDs as well as normal cable TV while on my Mac.

« Last Edit: January 01, 2010, 16:07 by yellowhandman »
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Offline wizardofoz

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Re: Mac appreciation thread
« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2010, 10:47 »
I'm a convert to macs now that the intel platform is there and OSX being very Unix/Linux well BSD actually under the hood!

I use VMWare Fusion, now on V3.

Cheapest place for Adobe stuff is www.mine.com.sg but you need a student pass for each copy ... find a friendly niece or nephew  :o if you dont have kids of study age....

For video USB forget the rest....I have used the Blackmagicdesign unit http://www.blackmagic-design.com/products/videorecorder/(slight plug) and if there is interest I can arrange a MO maybe as the company owner is an old client.. ~US$149 retail and available here at some places.


« Last Edit: January 01, 2010, 10:52 by wizardofoz »
I have a pile of stuff that pushes out squiggly waveforms from smaller squiggly waveforms that sometimes come from 1's and 0's.
It's wonderful to behold as long as you don't let the magic smoke out.

Life is short! Enjoy the music while it plays, when it stops, there might be a chair for you...or  maybe not.

Offline yellowhandman

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Re: Mac appreciation thread
« Reply #7 on: January 01, 2010, 11:15 »
For video USB forget the rest....I have used the Blackmagicdesign unit http://www.blackmagic-design.com/products/videorecorder/(slight plug) and if there is interest I can arrange a MO maybe as the company owner is an old client.. ~US$149 retail and available here at some places.

[/quote]

Was not aware of this product that also handles component inputs. However, from the website I'm unclear about certain things.

- According to the FAQ (under 'Support'), the device cannot handle HD input, despite having component inputs. However, it doesn't state what it considers 'HD input'. So the question is - can the component inputs accept 720p/1080i inputs from a BD player, or are you limited to 480p even over component?

- Does the USB stick have a hardware video encoder, or is the video encoding handled by the Mac's processor? If it is the latter, it will eat up your CPU's processing power. I always prefer devices with hardware encoding built-in, such as the Hauppauge HD PVR.

- The FAQ mentions that it has HDCP-protection and also says that it can't accept inputs from copy-protected sources (sounds like Macrovision is enabled). If so, then again this may not work with an external BD player. The Hauppauge HD PVR doesn't have this limitation.

wizard - what's your experience?
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Offline petetherock

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Re: Mac appreciation thread
« Reply #8 on: January 01, 2010, 11:24 »
Hmm... there are quite a few hidden costs to get this going...
I work in NUS, so I get teacher rates.

But I am not keen on buying a whole bunch of stuff which I already own on a PC...

If I get the simple box and add a monitor (cannot remember the name of that unit, will be also be few for office, Photoshop & emails)?

PS: don't want to sound ungrateful, appreciate all the help, but it seems I need at least 2.5k to get this up to speed?

This project might have to wait until my current desk top dies...
« Last Edit: January 01, 2010, 11:32 by petetherock »
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Offline wizardofoz

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Re: Mac appreciation thread
« Reply #9 on: January 01, 2010, 11:54 »
"For legal reasons, capture devices from Blackmagic Design are designed not to capture, convert or transmit video or audio from copy-protected sources, e.g. video devices using HDCP."

I just checked mine and 720x576 is full res....its main use is analogue to digital formats so SD would be the max I guess... they do have other products that do HD but they are mostly more commercial devices for post production houses http://www.blackmagic-design.com/products/intensity/ but again these are not for HDCP media ... ie they will only work if you unprotected sources like HD video camera

 
I have a pile of stuff that pushes out squiggly waveforms from smaller squiggly waveforms that sometimes come from 1's and 0's.
It's wonderful to behold as long as you don't let the magic smoke out.

Life is short! Enjoy the music while it plays, when it stops, there might be a chair for you...or  maybe not.

Offline yellowhandman

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Re: Mac appreciation thread
« Reply #10 on: January 01, 2010, 11:54 »
I think you're referring to the Mac mini? That's fine, but I suggest you go all the way and just get an iMac.

The 'hidden costs' aren't really that much. All you really need is Office, one of the virtualization softwares and a copy of Windows. Watching TV/BD on your Mac is really an optional extra, isn't it?

You should be able to get educational pricing on Office and Windows, and maybe even the virtualization software (check around). I'd say all of that should cost less than $500.

As for Photoshop, dunno how heavy-duty your photo editing needs are, but iPhoto is fine for basic image correction. If not, there are cheaper photo editing packages like Pixelmator and Acorn - will take you awhile to get used to the change from Photoshop, but they basically have many of the essential functions.
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Offline yellowhandman

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Re: Mac appreciation thread
« Reply #11 on: January 01, 2010, 11:56 »
"For legal reasons, capture devices from Blackmagic Design are designed not to capture, convert or transmit video or audio from copy-protected sources, e.g. video devices using HDCP."

I just checked mine and 720x576 is full res....its main use is analogue to digital formats so SD would be the max I guess... they do have other products that do HD but they are mostly more commercial devices for post production houses http://www.blackmagic-design.com/products/intensity/ but again these are not for HDCP media ... ie they will only work if you unprotected sources like HD video camera


Thanks. So the Hauppauge HD PVR remains the only option for copy-protection free, full HD video conversion.

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Offline Doggie Howser

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Re: Mac appreciation thread
« Reply #12 on: January 01, 2010, 12:18 »
There's a weird problem with Excel on the Mac. My friend said that all his complex spreadsheets (macros/pivot tables etc) that ran fine on the PC just created weird bugs on the Mac version.

This was circa 2007 so dunno if any bugfixes have been released, but he's keeping the mac these days for photo/video editing and his PC for his work related stuff.

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Offline meatballz

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Re: Mac appreciation thread
« Reply #13 on: January 01, 2010, 13:27 »
can you buy a mini display port to hdmi cable so that a br player can be connected to the imac.

see the link below.


http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=104&cp_id=10428&cs_id=1042802&p_id=5311&seq=1&format=2
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Offline Doggie Howser

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Re: Mac appreciation thread
« Reply #14 on: January 01, 2010, 13:49 »
can you buy a mini display port to hdmi cable so that a br player can be connected to the imac.

see the link below.


http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=104&cp_id=10428&cs_id=1042802&p_id=5311&seq=1&format=2

From what I recall, no.

The main issue is that these converters are uni-directional, ie they take a displayport FROM a computer source and then converts it TO HDMI on a display.

For the new iMacs, what you want to do is the reverse, ie take HDMI FROM source and convert it to displayport on monitor.

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