back to article Apple Macs

If you’re considering buying an Apple machine this Christmas but you're not sure which, Register Hardware’s got you covered. We’ve spoken to Apple expert Warren D’Souza, retail manager with independent Mac specialist the Square Group, to help unwrap what’s hot and what’s not in Apple’s current line-up. Reg Hardware Top Five …

COMMENTS

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  1. Shakje

    Yes, but...

    my PC cost £450 and has a quad core that goes up to about 10Ghz.

  2. TeeCee Gold badge
    Happy

    From a mac specialist yet!

    ".....most people buying a MacBook buy on their preference to colour....."

    ROTFLMAO! (accompanied by the sound of blubbing fanbois).

  3. N1AK
    Jobs Halo

    The right forum?

    Theirs nothing wrong with the article and the points made by Warren are valid, but I'm not sure it's an article for Reg readers?

    We can work out for ourselves that the Macbook is the cheaper brother to the Macbook pro and that the Mini is the cheap starter option. As someone who suggests Macs to the majority of people who ask for advice on buying computers I'd like to see a little more meat to the article.

    If I was a semi-pro photographer or wanted to edit HD quality video could I get away with the lower spec iMac or a MacBook Pro?

    How responsive is XP on a Mini? How about Vista? How about Parrellels?

    Which systems would do for someone wanting to play WoW at a decent setting natively (under OSX), which ones would work fine dual booting and running Total Commander?

    That is enough detail it tells people more than they can work out from the price / processor size and memory allowance.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Proof?

    Warren of Square Group said: "... Macs do crash less than Windows-based PCs ... "

    Is there actual evidence to back up this claim, or is this a case of false advertising?

  5. Nick Pettefar

    I love my

    shiny new Blackbook. My WhiteBook really looked grubby after 18 months of hard use. The new machine's keyboard is very nice and the shiny screen isn't a problem in reality. A grips is only having two USB ports and changing the power socket to the left. I opted for 2GB RAM and 250GB HD and it has a 2.2GHz dual core CPU so it really flies along. The old machine looks nice in the Ham shack though.

  6. Peter Johnston
    Pirate

    Better idea

    I have a better idea - don't buy a Mac at all. I speak from experience - I bought two and both broke after 12 months just outside warranty and I couldn't buy replacement parts but had to take them to Apple who wanted to charge more than they were worth. On the money you save you could buy a good computer and all the rest of your christmas presents.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I want the future. Now.

    I thought the article was a little...er.... lightweight, but after reading the comments I've decided to ditch my quad-core Mac Pro... I want Shakje's wormhole-special 10Ghz PC for £450.

  8. Chris Morrison
    Stop

    Apple Top 5

    It's not really fair to call it a top 5. It should just be called 'the 5' and could just as easily be called 'bottom 5' now couldn't it!? How may other mac machines are available?

    Is this going to be a weekly article? Maybe let Asus give their top 5, then Sony, then Dell, then Toshiba, then Lenovo, then..... No thought not.

    It's amazing what a Reg Reporter will try to do to make peace with appl eand get in on their press events. Are the cup cakes really worth it?

    Chris

  9. Tom Jobbins

    Your price comparison feature needs some work..

    Price: £399

    Best online prices: From £430.12 - 1 seller

    Hmm...

  10. Rich Silver badge

    Other things to consider...

    "the best question to ask yourself is 'what do I want to use it for?'"

    Indeed it is, and so you should probably also consider the following (in no particular order) :-

    1/ Do you need to use the "#" character? Yes? Ah, well you've got to find it first! And when you've worked that out, it STILL doesn't work if you're running X within the Apple GUI (for example if you're using Open Office)

    2/ Do you mind if some of the standard Unix utilities get confused because the standard file system is case-insensitive? Makes piping command-line functions an interesting gamble!

    3/ Do you mind that any memory card you plug into your USB will get filled up with "._trash" or "._random_name" files, and you can't stop it happening?

    4/ Do you mind that a simple spell check is often useless because the spell-check box "rolls" down from and is pinned to the top of the window and covers up the text you're trying to spell check, so you have no context in which to decide whether the spelling is correct or not?

    5/ Do you expect really common things to work? (especially audio, video, etc)? if so then you may be rather disappointed

    6/ Would you like to customise your windowing environment at all? Maybe change the colour a bit? Add some flowers? Sorry - you can't.

    7/ Would you like OS-X to keep asking you the same question (like "do you want to connect to this open WiFi router I've found?") even though you've ticked the box a hundred times to tell it to bugger off and not ask again?

    8/ Would you like font rendering to work cleanly? Not much to ask, is it? Sorry...

    9/ Would you like to NOT use the desktop as a /tmp directory despite your best efforts to do otherwise?

    10/ And finally, would you like a colour other than white? :-)

    Yea - Macs! They're great!!!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Well, duhhhh.

    "When you’re thinking of buying a Mac, the best question to ask yourself is 'what do I want to use it for?' and then 'do I need it to be portable?'

    If you read that and thought "wow, what good advice, I'd never have thought of that myself" then don't buy a Mac, or any device that requires electricity.

    You'll just hurt yourself.

  12. Justin Case
    Paris Hilton

    @ Peter Johnston

    Couldn't agree more. My G5 Powermac's peripherals all died one after the other just after guarantee expiry. Screen, keyboard, mouse, DVD.. I would never buy anything Apple made ever again...

    ...unless they brought out a Mac Paris Hilton

  13. yeah, right.

    Not useful.

    As someone who prefers Macs (to some extent), the article was not at all useful. It gives the same details (less, even) as can be found at the Apple Store website.

    As someone who has just spent the last few hours having to deal with yet another fucked up Windows machine, the article still does not give any details on why someone might want or not want to purchase one of these. I know why I did, but the article is more a press release than the type of tear it apart article the Reg might do.

    As for the one who got his cheapo PC for 450 quid, do try to compare a system with similar components. So the CPU is faster - there's dozens more areas where that cheapo PC probably cut costs. Apple is a rip-off for their memory upgrades, but I've found the rest to be quite competitive.

    As for the Anonymous Coward: yes, Macs do crash less. My current count for several dozen desktop machines running more-or-less similar applications (typical office applications and CAD mainly) is MS Windows crashing 3 to 4 times more than the Macs. They also take up about 50% more admin time per machine. The server room is not counted in that - it's 95% unix/linux and it's going to stay that way or there will be pain and bloodshed - not mine. The 5% (ish) is one Microshite server running a Windows-only "server" application for one group. I've just given them notice that they either provide their own admin for the box, or it gets turfed. It alone has accounted for 80% of my server room admin time.

    No, I'm not a fan of Microsoft. I rather despise both the company and many of their products actually. Not a huge fan of Apple either, but I have to admit that on the desktop it's still far-and-away better than anything Microsoft has done.

  14. Matthew Coulson
    Jobs Horns

    In the market for a Macbook

    But I want a 13" one, and I'd like it with an ExpressCard slot, a docking station, and a solid state drive.

    Even the 15" Pro is too big. I need compact, digital audio in and out, firewire, bluetooth, wifi, ethernet, DVI, and from what I've found the MacBooks are the only laptop with all of the above.

    Not in a hurry though, fortunately.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Peter Johnston

    Everyone should listen to this man; obviously his personal, bad experience counts far more than the growing number of Macs one sees in the street, on webserver logs, mentioned in articles and listed on forums. I particularly like the way he says 'you should buy a good computer'; if he listened to his own advice he wouldn't have been so stupid as to pick up the dodgy machine in the batch _twice_!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you really want a mac

    Could I suggest that you save your money and get one of these instead - it's just as suitable for the kind of user that buys a mac:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/VTech-65603-Slim-Pad/dp/B0009HBOFY/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=kids&qid=1196258838&sr=1-5

  17. Ivan Headache

    As sales-talk goes..

    that was pretty naff. Much the same as the camera sales talk last week.

    I suspect that beer has been consumed somewhere.r

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    Macbooks aren't that slow

    For the money, you'll find that Macbooks are pretty good value - and at work we don't just use them for email. After all, a 2GHz dual-core is still very fast compared to anything from about 4 years ago. Plenty fast enough for scientific computing, actually. Couple that with the 200Gb disk you can get on them, and you have a portable dual-boot system that lets you do a lot. Can't get that with a Dell.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @N1AK

    Afraid you stumbled & fell at the first... you cant say one is better than the other without benchmarks/figures. Opinions are not valid, you cannot simply say, it is so, or that every one knows, or the points are valid, UNLESS you can back it up with evidence. Afterall that is why benchmarks exist to back up advertised claims, without it is false advertising heresay and rumor. as alueded to by the other AC.

    I think this top 5 is fine, would you prefer that only one or even none featured in the next top 5 lists - "top 5 Office PC's" or "top 5 Gaming PC's" or "Top 5 Home PC's" there'd be an outcry! (is it 1 in 10 by sales? if so wont feature in top 5 at all.)

    Im AC because i dont want to be heckled on other posts by the freak faniboi ranters (thats only the freak ones not the rest of you!).

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    @ Shakje

    "my PC cost £450 and has a quad core that goes up to about 10Ghz"

    no it doesn't, there is a world of difference between 4*2.4ghz and 10Ghz.

  21. Joey

    Re: Better idea

    Peter Johnston writes - "I have a better idea - don't buy a Mac at all. I speak from experience - I bought two and both broke after 12 months just outside warranty and I couldn't buy replacement parts but had to take them to Apple who wanted to charge more than they were worth."

    I have a friend who also had two Macs break on him within a very short space of time - but then so did his Nikon camera, Sony Mobile Phone, Sony Television and Range Rover Freelander. Some people are just jinxed!

    Since 1984, we have had over thirty Macs through our company. In all that time, we have had one power supply replaced (£80) and a graphics card that was faulty out of the box (free).

    In that time, we've also had one benign virus (off a floppy disk that came back from a printer).

    Total support cost in twenty three years - £80. Every machine paid for itself many times over and had a residual value of about 50% after three years.

    I bought a Dell PC in 1995 and had ten call outs in the first year - I've built my own PCs ever since but now run Windows and Ubuntu on a Mac.

  22. James Delaney
    Alert

    @Shakje/Peter

    Shackje: Which mainstream manufacturer did you buy it from? My guess is you built it yourself - which isn't the point of this article. This was a basic comparison of Apple models for those thinking about purchasing a ready-built machine.

    Peter: That sounds like you've been unlucky. I have used macs since the early 90's. In that time I've had four and none ever had a hardware fault. My current iMac G3 will be seven years old in a few short months.

    Although I have a soft spot for Apple's machines I do currently use a Windows PC at work and have one at home (built myself). When I have the cash i'll be seriously looking at an Apple-refurbished MacBook Pro.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo

    Re: Proof?

    "Is there actual evidence to back up this claim, or is this a case of false advertising?"

    I have used both OS X and Windows every day for the last 3 years. Of course this is anecdotal, but my experience that OS X does crash less than Windows, and I've got the scars to prove it (much better to kick HP boxes when they BSOD - punching them just bruises the knuckles)

  24. Dabooka Silver badge
    Stop

    Peter Johnston, what went wrong?

    "...couldn't buy replacement parts but had to take them to Apple who wanted to charge more than they were worth."

    Come on speill the beans. If you want your comment to carry some weight, say what it was, and why a Dell / Acer / Toshiba etc would've been better.

  25. Spleen

    You forgot the very best

    The iBox 5000 is by far the best Mac. It's a cardboard box (environmentally friendly) with "iNternetS" written on it in crayon (note the rADICAL capitalisation) and a felt tip keyboard (currently the letter 'Q' is spelt incorrectly, Apple are figuring out how to rectify this as we speak). It costs $5000 and it's by far the fastest Macintosh available. It's also the most reliable, as it will only catch on fire if exposed to naked flames, as compared with other Macintoshes whose power supply will catch on fire within two months, requiring you to wait two weeks for another power supply which will then catch on fire within two months.

    Those of you who aren't keeping up, the satire stopped a sentence ago, Apple power supplies do actually overheat and self-combust within two months. Ok, so I'm purely going on my own anecdotal experience. You're free to disregard as I'm sure some fanboys will tell me that theirs is three months old and perfectly fine. They can say what they like, but if I had a friend visting and he brought an Apple laptop into my flat, I wouldn't let him leave it on any soft or wooden furnishings and would make him turn it off if we were leaving the building.

  26. Rich Silver badge

    Re "Not useful" by "yeah, right"

    Completely and utterly agree with you sir.

    If you want something reliable then get a standard PC and stick BSD or Solaris or (if you must) Linux or something like that on it.

    In fact, that highlights an interesting point! I don't go along with it, but I can ALMOST see the argument for buying into Windows because it runs such-and-such piece of software.

    But I can't think of anything of any worth that a Mac runs that you can't run on (say) BSD or LInux, or that doesn't have a good (almost always free) alternative. I'm sure there IS software that's only available on a Mac, but that's probably because Apple choose it to be that way (in which case I don't want it anyway - iTunes anyone?), or it's also available on Wonkidoze.

    So no - however I look at it, I see no compelling reason to buy into the Apple Mac.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    mac attack

    Great list, assuming you NEED a 2GHz machine to read email and browse the web, if thats ALL you do with a computer, get on eBay and buy an older Mac, it WILL run OS X 10.4, certainly faster than most old machines could ever run XP or Vista, for less money and its easier to support.

    OS X does crash less, it does smart things properly like detect a camera it has never seen or had drivers installed without asking for a reboot. As for dying peripherals, they are ALL standard components and have been for a long time, a friend of mine bought a Dell with a Raid controller, one of the drives has died for the second time and with it ALL his data, AGAIN.

    With a tiny amount of work pretty much any 8 year old Mac can still be usable, just don't expect to process pictures from a 10megapixel camera or create DVD's, multimedia needs MIPS!

  28. Toxteth O'Grady
    Boffin

    @All Complainers

    Strewth, folks, this is a feature for consumer types not BSD geeks and their beardy ilk.

    Why shouldn't El Reg run something like this to attract a broader range of reader?

    Or are non-techies not welcome because they're not trainspottery enough?

    Heck, next you'll be telling us we can't read and the Reg shouldn't publish the Hardware Widow's column because we're all blokes here...

  29. Bill Coleman

    why buy mac?

    Let's leave the matter of OS quality and software compatibility aside for the moment and just look at the hardware. Now that Apple have gone Intel, it's easier to do direct comparisons.

    If you buy purely on advertised specs, Apple will invariably lose out on paper. While a Dell may have a higher rated processor and cram in more HDD space and memory - it's all from different suppliers. Bargin basement parts from whatever is available on the market at the time. There is little thought given to quality or interop between parts. So what you are going to wind up with is a bit of a gamble. Also, they are prone to cutting corners on other parts in order to offer higher specs at lower costs.

    So you wind up a 4ghz PC with 500 gig HDD and 2gig memory. But it is underpowered. The fan is screaming for mercy. It's running too hot. It's noisy. The case is cheap and rattles with the fan. There's no separate video card, so despite the stats it cant run any serious graphics applications. The hard drive fetch time is appalling and it takes 10 mins to boot to a usable state. The USB ports only work with some peripherals. And after a few weeks of use, the on-button develops a short and it keeps randomly re-booting.

    By comparison, a mac is designed from the ground up with parts and suppliers carefully selected, and the integration of the parts is seamless. In ten years time, despite being out of date, it will still operate like new. So even if you are just buying it to run windows via boot camp, it's still a good investment.

    However - Apple are control freaks who like to think they know what their customers want more then they do. It's a price you have to put up with if you want to join the mac world. Random feature drops, locked down platforms, very little native customisation. More expensive add-ons due to onerous licencing practices. But worst of all, being represented by the smug git in the "hello-I'm-a-mac" adds.

  30. Hywel Thomas

    Need a new icon.

    Can we have a new icon to warn of anecdotal comments ?

    About 10 years ago, I had a Rover 214 that was marvellously reliable and pleasant and reasonably zoomy. Two years later, not bothering to actually see if I'd merely been lucky by looking at JD Power or whatever, I swapped it for a Rover 214 that turned out to be a pile of shit.

    If you buy a windows machine and have no problems, you're lucky. If you buy a Mac and have problems, you're unlucky. At least in my experience, which happens to count for bugger all.

  31. Webster Phreaky
    Jobs Horns

    DANGER!! MACS ARE BUGGY AND FLAWED!!

    Perhaps before ANYONE considers buying a piece of sh!t Apple computer, you juist might check ALL THE COMPLAINTS that the media BURIES (after being paid off by Apple), but none the less are reported on Mac sites like www.macfixit.com and www.appledefects.com as well as other sites that report the myriad of defective Macs and iPhones problems which Apple pimps like this reporter blithely ignores.

    Here, enjoy this -

    "A Year of MacBook Troubles"

    http://www.appledefects.com/?cat=19

  32. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Cheap and nasty...

    >my PC cost £450 and has a quad core that goes up to about 10Ghz.

    What do you do with it?

    Compose music using soft synths?

    Edit films?

    Develop RAW SLR camera files?

    No, didn't think so.

    Your PC is probably a pressed steel case, wires all over the place, noisy PSU, butt ugly.

    My Mac Pro is quiet, no unsightly cables (the drives slide into connectors on the mainboard), it's brushed 3mm aluminium. So what if it cost £1600 or so. I sold about 3-4 annoying PCs to pay for it, it does the job of all of these machines in one.

    I compose music, edit my digital photos etc on mine. It's the perfect productivity tool.

    PCs are cheap and fast, but they run an unproductive OS. Windows is a pain in the behind for anyone wanting a computer they can use on a daily basis and also for low latency audio.

    With Windows I had to have a dedicated install of Windows with pretty much everything switched off to get reliable stable audio timing. Even with ASIO drivers. Mac OS does this out of the box with no fuss.

    I suggest if you do any audio editing you should check out the Audio and MIDI control panel in OSX. It has very professional features, you can tell Apple care more about home users and professional users instead of pandering to the business world.

  33. Ivan Headache

    I wondered how long the phreaky would stay away.

    As someone who spends his working day looking after consumers who have bought macs - and who has been doing this for the last 10 years or more - I think my anecdotal evidence is pretty strong.

    In my experience Macs, as peices of hardware, fail rarely. What does fail is the hard drive. I've replaced more HDs than I can remember - but mostly in the mid-range fruit coloured iMac G3s. The optical drives fail on some of the plastic G4 towers. And in the last 12 months I've replaced 2 PSUs in plastic G4s (why they cost so much is beyond me though, when a comparable PC one is a third of the price!)

    What is noticeable is that all of the parts that regularly fail are not made by Apple.

    Most of the calls I get are generally related to either softwre issues (mostly MS software by the way) or user issues.

    In fact the call I am on now is to do with Powerpoint refusing to start up!

    As other posters have said earlier. Macs go on and on.

  34. Eric

    @Rich

    There are a few points of Rich's i wouldn't mind addressing:

    2.) case insensitive file system - if you're "advanced" enough to use unix utils and heavy console work you *should* have the knowledge to format a drive case sensitively. and if you're a user who doesn't give a shit about that, you'll appreciate the default lack of case sensitivity. (side question - if you were to design this aspect of an OS - what would YOU do?)

    4.) spellcheck box in front of text - as far as i'm aware osx is the only environment with system-wide spell checking. so you're options to resolve this is to be happy with the in-line spell check, or go to any other OS where you'll have no spell check. your call.

    5.) Disappointment in multimedia usage - Yep, absolutely nothing works reliably, particularly multimedia usage is terrible, that's why you'll never find mac's in media-intensive departments - they're still sticking with the Atari for now.

    7.) constant wifi asking - i can't say i've come across the same thing ever but i've only ever owned 2 macs and touched a grand total of 3 so not sure what the story is.

    8.) font rendering to work cleanly - what does that even mean? And must i point out the heavy usage of the mac in desktop publishing in some lame sarcastic way?

    9.) Do you want to not use Desktop as tmp - No i don't, so umm... i don't. i think most people do the same. Granted all drives and mounted dmg's show up on the desktop, but c'mon - for god's sake. everything else you can stick it wherever you like (i have some suggestions, if you're can't think of any places... :) )

    10.) colour must be white - yeah the colour options are limited. and i can't wait for the day when they bring out more colours just so you can go on some forum and bitch about how macs are just toy computers and use the new choice of colours as evidence.

    as for the other points, yeah fair call; and a potential buyer should read those and ponder whether they'll be show-stoppers.

    Oh and my $0.02 on the "what crashes more" debate - there is no accurate and fair way to prove whether windows or osx crashes more so don't choose a mac based on that merit.

    I'd be really keen to hear other ppls opinion on all that stuff...

  35. David Glasgow
    Stop

    Oh my goodness! Shut me down.

    Maybe this article was destined for a new computer mag "My first computer" which builds week by week into an invaluable family reference. But then that got canned, and the copy was recycled here.

    But do the comments compensate for the poverty of the original article? Hmm. Let's see. As far as I can make out, I'll need to stop buying Macs. Because someone else had a wrong-un. Shame, because mine have allways worked good and make me lots of money. I'll also need to ditch the Windows machines because they are ugly and get their pants up their crack more often. Shame really, because they're cheap as chips and as long as I don't ask too much, they just sit in the ugly corner and do what I want them to most of the time too.

    And then I'll have to get really passionate about a single OS choice, and scathing to the same measure about anyone who finds a use for something different. "Oh, Grrrrrr. What are you *thinking*. Why don't you get a *proper* computer. You are all 'boise, 'boise, 'boise."

    Nah. Doesn't work. Can't get any real feeling into it, and it comes out all C-3PO. You know what? I think I'll carry on buying what works for me. What shall I get next? A small Windows box to test stuff on, or a 24 inch iMac for my desk? What the heck, I might even get both at the same time.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    @Bill Coleman

    'If you buy purely on advertised specs, Apple will invariably lose out on paper. While a Dell may have a higher rated processor and cram in more HDD space and memory - it's all from different suppliers'

    And who has the contract to build the Mac mini, the iPod and the iPhone? Foxconn

    Who builds Macbooks?

    Quanta and Asustek

    Who has the contract to build Dell products?

    Foxconn and Quanta

    What makes you think that Apple build quality is any better as they come from the same manufacturers? Truth is, they aren't. They just like to make you think they are. The only reason that Apple hardware is so limited on choice is because Apple know it is easier to maintain OSX on a limited range.

    As Webster posted, there are sites dedicated to all the faults and problems that Apple have had, some of them due to nothing else but poor design - nothing to do with the manufacturing process. That's why people have taken class actions against them and won.

    Apples real talent lies in taking existing stuff, making it look shiny and sticking a logo on it. They don't innovate, they don't manufacture, they do design - nothing more and as proven, half the time they can't even get that right but are still happy to make you pay through the nose for something you could get for far less if it didn't have the Apple logo on it.

  37. Nick Dyer

    why bother

    ....when you can run OSX x86!

  38. Carl Williams
    Alert

    Windows, all down to users............

    It is possible to have a fast reliable Windows PC 'if' you don't load it with every piece of random shite on the web. Here is a couple of cases in point.

    My friends daughters PC I built for her 2 years ago and gave her admin rights and at least every month there was something wrong until after about 8 months she finally goosed it with a dodgy messenger install. So I re-built it and gave her only guest rights. 14 months or so on all i have had to do is update messenger once and plug the USB wireless card back into the right port after it was moved.

    The wifes laptop is never installed with anything unless I say so, running faultlessly for 2 years.

    Could this be because I have a clue as to what I am doing?????

    Could this also be due to the fact that in comparision to Windows there is very little 'random shite' software to download for OSX?

  39. Christian Berger

    Apple's biggest problem with Intel Macs

    Apple's biggest problem with Intel Macs is that they now have preety much the same product as everybody else. The only advantage they still have over many competitors is that they sell a "not as bad as Windows" operating system.

  40. J
    Alert

    @Rich @Eric

    I want a REAL answer to this one!

    "9/ Would you like to NOT use the desktop as a /tmp directory despite your best efforts to do otherwise?"

    To which Eric answered: "9.) Do you want to not use Desktop as tmp - No i don't, so umm... i don't."

    It's not that simple. What I see happening in the three Macs here in the lab, all running 10.4, is that whenever you click on something on a web page (using Firefox or Safari, does not matter), like a PDF or DOC, the file is opened by whatever software handles it... And a damn file is saved on the desktop! (no, it has nothing to do with the browser's "save to" settings) After the application is closed, the file stays there. After a few short meetings (we have the Mini hooked up to a projector), the desktop is a mess. It's always a pain to check whether the files are legitimate things we downloaded to keep or something automatically saved, so they accumulate... After a while, you can't find a clean surface in the stupid desktop.

    We've searched a lot in these machines, but could not find where the hell it is set to do this stupid "save to desktop" of what are *temporary files*.

    Does anyone have an idea what is going on here? I myself use a system that does things as I tell it to, and not as it thinks is better, so I don't know how Macs work -- and the Mac-only guys here can't figure this one out either. Help! :-)

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Christian Berger

    "Apple's biggest problem with Intel Macs is that they now have preety much the same product as everybody else."

    Somewhat true, but the advantage I find with Mac hardware is that it's small, quiet, and well-designed. I've thrown together enough cheaper PC's over the years that are just as capable, but none of them have been as small or as quiet. But, horses for courses.

  42. Moo

    Games?

    No games in a Mac. No fun in a Mac.

    Gonna lick the pretty design though. Aaaahh!... You make me drool baby.

  43. Frank Bough
    Go

    Apple Top 5

    "It's not really fair to call it a top 5. It should just be called 'the 5' and could just as easily be called 'bottom 5' now couldn't it!? How may other mac machines are available?"

    Errr... the Xserve family, perhaps?

  44. Eric

    Re: Windows, all down to users..

    Hi Carl,

    I couldn't agree more. As someone who admins windows networks by day, and loves his macbook pro by night it's very true that Windows minus craplets will be stable.

    Particularly when user's aren't given admin rights support time drops quite a bit. Even better; with Vista it's easier to take admin rights away in a business setting and actually make it workable.

    The only thing I'd add is that on OSX, applications are GENERALLY more isolated than on Windows and that does have a fair bit to do with the architecture of Windows and OSX. That i imagine does have an impact to stability, but might not be significant enough to matter - who knows.

    Going back to all the posts of my gawwwd don't get a mac - if anyone is trying to decide, based on this message thread (ha!) i have a few suggestions:

    .) Don't use stability and lack of viruses as a deciding factor, because with every update on every OS the stability can change just like that. And what the mac lacks in viruses it gains in people getting phished because they think they're invulnerable because they use a mac - don't be one of them!

    .) Also don't use perceived consumer/home-user application availability as a criterion, because while the brand-names in OSX-land won't be known to someone who lived in windows so far, there is a lot of choice around and the quality is generally quite high. PS. if it's not obvious - if you need a specific app rather than app type, i'd question if you're really a consumer.

  45. Eric

    @J re. Desktop temp stuff

    Sorry man,

    I can't reproduce the problem for the life of me. What's the name of an example file that's created inc extension if any, that might point towards an answer; but with the info given, Rich is probably going to be able to tell you more about it.

    If you give me a specific step-by-step scenario i'd be happy to try and troubleshoot...

    BTW, sorry for my inaccuracy on that one - i just simply have never seen that happen or heard from someone that has that problem...

    Oh and @Christian Berger; it's funny that the things where the mac generally has an edge can't be summed up with simple GHz/$ ratio's but conversely the more tech savvy someone is the more all those many small improvements are ignored - not everyone cares about stuff like that, but quite a few people do care. Example - the macmini desktop-pc has wireless, bluetooth, silent, tiny of course, remote control. These things aren't generally in other PC's but all add up in terms of cost as well as in terms of usability.

  46. Ivan Headache

    @ J and a few others

    "Does anyone have an idea what is going on here? I myself use a system that does things as I tell it to, and not as it thinks is better, so I don't know how Macs work -- and the Mac-only guys here can't figure this one out either. Help! :-)"

    So easy this - they can't be that expert. Safari preferences might help as the files are being download by safari. The only things that should end up on the desktop should be self-mounting disk images.

    I don't see temp files anywhere on my desktop - and haven't done for a long long time.

    the the anon Cow commenting on Bill Coleman

    "And who has the contract to build the Mac mini, the iPod and the iPhone? Foxconn

    Who builds Macbooks?

    Quanta and Asustek

    Who has the contract to build Dell products?

    Foxconn and Quanta

    What makes you think that Apple build quality is any better as they come from the same manufacturers? Truth is, they aren't. "

    And who specs the build?

    Have you ever looked inside a mac and compared it to the build of a typical PC? I seriously doubt it as there is no comparison. The inside of a Mac is a work of art compared to the inside of a Dell and almost every other brand.

    Apple don't innovate. Depends what you mean by innovation. The only thing I can think of that wasn't done first by Apple (if that's what you mean) was putting CDR drives as standard. Apple decided to put DVD-ROM drives until they realised that customers wanted recorders.

    Who first made CDROM a standard fit? Who had networking as a standard fit a good 10 years before anyone else? Who had ethernet as a standard fit before anyone else? who fitted modems as standard first? Who made USB a mainstream product? (In know Apple didn't invent it - but it was just languishing as a product until Apple made it the only peripheral interface on the first iMac). Who invented Firewire and made it a standard hi-data-rate interface? who had audio in and out without needing additional cards? Who first put DVI as a standard fit? Who made the first desktop computer with a flat screen?

    There are more, and with the exception of the CDR, I can't think of a single thing where Apple has not been in the lead when it comes to making things mainstream.

    @ Eric's response to Rich.

    I quite agree, I'm using the system-wide spellcheck right now (I have to my typing is getting worse)

    I have absolutely no idea what this spellchecker that roles down from the top of the screen is. Mine roles up from the bottom but it doesn't hide anything because it shows me what it is checking.

    5/ Do you expect really common things to work? (especially audio, video, etc)? if so then you may be rather disappointed

    What a farcical comment.

    6/ Would you like to customise your windowing environment at all? Maybe change the colour a bit? Add some flowers? Sorry - you can't.

    In the words of the great pantomime audiences - "Oh yes you can!"

    And the Multimedia, well I couldn't believe what Rich wrote. My wife's cousin makes wedding videos. He has sunk a lot of money into it and has bought a lot of windows kit (much as I tried to convince him that it was a folly). His output is abysmally slow. When I go see him he is invariably trying to find out why Premier has crashed, why his PC won't get past the bios splash or any one of a multitude of other issues. If I see him get 10 minutes work done in an hour it's been a good day.

    What problems do I get - peripherals and hard-drives.

    I get the impression Rich has played with a Mac in PC world for a few minutes and that's about it.

    Anyway, I think the whole point of this story was just to stir up another MAC vs PC thrash - to which end it has been singularly successful (put it would have probably crashed on the wife's cousin's PC)

  47. Bruce Leyden
    Paris Hilton

    @ David Glasgow

    Hear hear!

    And poor old Ivan Headache - 700 word comment on a "My First Mac" story at ten to midnight? Who on earth do you think is actually going to read it/care?

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Something in between, please?

    Can't we have a Mac desktop machine that's in between a MacMini and a MacPro that *doesn't* have a builtin monitor?

    I don't want (and can't afford) a thumping great MacPro, and the price is maintained unnecessarily high by its use of Xeon processors. Something with a Core2 Q6600 (about £150 retail now) and a couple of PCIe slots would do me very nicely.

  49. sleepy

    Hah!

    el Reg provokes another skirmish amongst the ignorant hoardes in the thrall of the Beast of Redmond, as they squabble to harm us Mac-heads and our retained child-like wonder.

    After decades cowering in our caves, concealing our Macs, we now have our Intel CPUs and shiny OS X with its open source, Unix standard compliant foundation, and magical UI. The Beast's hoardes are powerless to harm us, and we stroll like gods amongst them as they spit and curse at our sight, while their master the Beast dissipates his power and wealth trying to build new weapons. But the knowledge, and the talent are all with us now, and his efforts merely sap his own strength, and confuse his supporters (Xbox, Zune, Vista, Windows Mobile, mustn't mention Microsoft Surface - oops!)

  50. Michael Warburton

    Well...

    At least they've enabled comments on this article unlike the crappy "Register Top 5 Digital SLR's". Of which only 4 are SLR's, and it also incorrectly states that for the Nikon you have to use their own brand lenses.

    Where do they dig up these "experts"

  51. Stephen Jenner
    Unhappy

    Mac OSX, XP, Vista, Unix....... Toytown Operating Systems.

    Apple hardware is stylish, but overpriced, overhyped and underpowered, from a company with a communist mindset.

    PCs are whatever you want, from something as stylish but cheaper than a Mac, to something that works for about 50p (slight exaggeration).

    Windows – all flavours, very unstable, but also much more user friendly than any of the others, it’s a pity it uses all of your memory and processor power just to keep itself going.

    Mac OSX – stable with a good looking GUI, unfortunately it is clunky and unfriendly.

    Unix and flavours – as with Mac, but without the good looks.

    Over 30 years ago, when I started in IT (or EDP as it was known), we had three computers that occupied about a quarter of an acre of floor-space, these machines had 3mb of core memory between them and their 16bit processors ran at clock speeds that you could count as they ticked, they cost several £ million. However, they managed to run upwards of 20 applications at a time and keep 15 computer operators running for 24/365. As a data centre, we managed to fulfil about 50 large company’s data processing needs. I realise that 12 of those operators were attending to the prehistoric peripherals, and another 2 were trying to keep up with the printing, but the point is still relevant.

    Whatever the OS, Windows or Unix flavours, they are all inefficient and crap, by comparison to the above, which was actually called IBM OS/MVT/ASP.

    Compare this to the fantastic modern-day x86 machines, one porn and spyware filled broken machine per desk, and one wonders who ate all the pies (clock cycles). God bless all the accountants who thought that this sort of thing was cost efficient!

    What we need, and who knows we may get one day, is a way of utilizing the massive and growing, power that is available to x86 users; how about application centric software (?) where you only run the software and drivers that you actually need, as opposed to the current one-size-fits-all solutions.

    Imagine the potential of something that is really hundreds of thousands times more powerful than the kit I mentioned above, TODAY, and all for less than a grand!

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Mac Pros have useless keyboards

    Anyone thinking of buying a Mac Book Pro needs to be aware that the keyboards are pathetic. The enter key is way way to small. I guess they were designed with dainty receptionists fingers in mind.

  53. Ivan Headache

    @ Bruce Leyden

    Someone else has time on their hands.

    Someone counted how many words I wrote - at quarter past six in the morning!

    He obviously didn't read it though as it's not a "My first Mac story" as he claims.

  54. Bruce Leyden
    Jobs Halo

    @ Poor old Ivan

    Yeah - you should have seen me - it took three whole goes to count all the words, through my sleepy eyes, using nothing but my index finger and a finely-honed sense of my own superiority, yet still I managed to read not a single one of them. I really should be a Mac user!

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Proof?

    Still waiting for someone to provide the (non-anecdotal) evidence that "... Macs do crash less than Windows-based PCs ... " .

    So, Mac fanboys, it's time to put-up or shut-up!

  56. Eric
    Happy

    @stephen jenner

    Well there we have it, straight from the guy who has been in IT for 30 years no less!

    OSX == pretty but user hostile; Windows == unstable, a UI dream, but slow; UNIX == like OSX but uglier;

    Oh! And hey what a surprise IBM mainframes are best and always will be for ever more for well... anything... from multimedia, over 3d games to web browsing; your trusty friend in blue has got you covered! Anything else, absolute amateur hour in Toytown!! Besides who here would know enough about mainframes to refute that if it weren't true... well done good sir you really nailed it!

    Funny, when i first started in IT I also used to hide behind IBM for just about any statement or argument because i thought it gives me credibility... shit i hope in another 22 years i won't still be doing that sorta thing...

  57. Ivan Headache

    @ Proof?

    OK AC - can you prove the other way? - non-anecdotally of course.

    If you can then you will prove your point.

    My own observations after supporting Macs for for well over 10 years is that they don't crash very often - This one has crashed once in the month I have had it. The one behind me has crashed 2 or 3 times in the last 4 or 5 years.

    What I do find (mentioned above in my 700 word (thrice verified) earlier posting) is that most of the crashes I attend to are not the computer but the software - principally MS Office (any incarnation) and web browsers (Particularly the one with a blue e) - and I would suspect that the same applies to PCs. I only come into regular contact with 2 PCs, my wife's work-provided Tosh - which has only crashed once as far as I can remember, and the previously mentioned wedding vid maker's - which is crashed more than it's working.

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Ivan Headache / Re: Proof?

    Hey, I don't need to prove anything. I'm not the one bouncing unsubstantiated 'facts' about.

    Anecdotally, none of the Windows systems I have used in the last 15 or-so years has had any stability issues. Of the 3 times I've sat down in front of Macs belonging to a mate, I've seen them crash once.

  59. Ivan Headache

    @ Re; Proof

    Please don't turn my personal "observations" into "facts".

    Your statement equates to mine. My side is fine and the other side crashes - based on personal observation - NOT fact.

    Without strict lab tests on a completely level playing field it is impossible to prove one way or the other.

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Ivan Headache / Facts

    I was referring to the 'facts' given by the Apple dealer, not your (or any other user's) observations.

  61. Ivan Headache

    @ facts

    OK. All's forgiven. Come here and have a cuddle.

    Oh sorry. Not tonight, ivan headache.

  62. Stephen Jenner
    Coat

    @eric

    It's a pity "eric" did not learn to read, before he commented.

    I was not suggesting that "IBM mainframes are best and always will be for ever more for well... etc."

    In essence, if "eric" cannot understand, I was asserting that the x86 platform, which is very powerful by comparison to the IBM stuff of yesteryear, seems to be hogged by it's various OS's, and if the Apples and Microsofts of this world stopped trying to be everything to everyman, we would all be a bit better off. I suggested that there is room for application centric software, with just enough OS functionality to run. The implication being that if one wanted to run a game (for instance), without Windows or Mac running loads of stuff that is not being used at the same time, the said game would be faster, bigger, better, and more stable.

    What you will realise in another 22 years, young eric (whippersnapper), is that there is nothing new under the sun, and that sometimes taking a look at how things used to be done, can be quite informative.

    In 22 years time, I won't care anymore, as I will probably be wearing my wooden overcoat.

  63. Eric

    @Stephen Jenner

    right, sorry i guess it's the whole toytown and "this-os-is-this, and this-os-is that and that's that" thing threw me off the fact that you were merely saying we can all learn from the past... :)

    FWIW i think today's general-purpose OSs are hugely impressive compared to what we had just 10 years ago. Can't wait to see what's next to come out the toytown factory!

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Stephen Jenner

    "I suggested that there is room for application centric software, with just enough OS functionality to run. The implication being that if one wanted to run a game (for instance), without Windows or Mac running loads of stuff that is not being used at the same time, the said game would be faster, bigger, better, and more stable."

    So, DOS then?

    Wow, retro.

  65. 4.1.3_U1
    Coat

    Mac Mini

    "Customers do have to buy a display, mouse and keyboard if they don’t have spare ones already though” says the article.

    I interpret this with the following caveat: "However, if they do NOT have a display, mouse OR keyboard (AND they can prove it (terms and conditions apply)) they are exempted from this compulsion to purchase.

  66. Stephen Jenner
    Thumb Up

    @Anonymous Coward • Thursday 29th November 2007 23:12

    So, DOS then? No not quite!

    In my first post on this concept, I suggested that the "old stuff" would run 20 or so applications concurrently, as far as I know Dos only ever ran one..... and very crudely at that, but if your requirement was to run just one game in a 16bit real mode environment, then why not? I am suggesting that we could have 16 or 32bit real mode, or escape from that and call 16, 32 and 64 bit protected mode apps, in their own genuinely isolated environments.

    More like this: You are analysing a database containing highly sensitive data which it would be very dangerous to compromise. You are doing this, one record at a time (batch processing), removing for instance, bank account records, before you send the file to the auditor. Inadvertently publishing or losing this sort of data could lose you your job (unless you are a politician!). This application, does not have any networking/internetworking capability, because for the reason stated, you did not load it. It does not have any gui, you did not need it.

    It is your lunch break, you decide to check your email and surf the web for a while. Easy... start a child window loaded with the tools you need for this, assign a different area of memory and a separate core if you want to.... any crapware that gets into this environment is completely isolated from the first, "highly sensitive" one. There is so little loaded overall, that there is nowhere to hide for any little viral monsters, or spyware.

    Back from lunch you decide that while the batch process is still running (you only gave it a small piece of the available system), you are going to compress a full motion video that you promised a friend. Start up another child window, load the data, and set the compression running, this might require 64bit addressing, again, this runs completely independently from the other two apps that are running.

    In other words the user is in control, not the OS, or some script kiddie hacker in a cyber cafe in Timbuktoo or Lagos.

    As I said, this concept is not supposed to be a replacement for the MacWindows model, just an alternative. The biggest problem with these, is that they make your hardware a prisoner of the OS, they make themselves into a piece of virtual hardware.

    This modular approach to system management is actually under development at the moment. Probably, in my old blokish and amateur way, and due to lack of space, I have not done justice to it either.

    I have wittered on, completely off topic, from what really just started as an aside, for far too long now. So back on topic, the choice as to whether to buy a PC or a Mac, and which Mac, etc. really must be up to the individual. I was merely saying, I have owned/used all of them, and they are all equally poor, and it is not due to the hardware, which by any standard, is fantastic.

  67. Eric
    Happy

    Re: Jenner

    I agree that isolating applications for simplicity, management and security is definitely the way forward for business apps.

    I work mainly with Citrix and Vmware and the reason is that for business i generally strongy recommend those kind of environments. Once all business apps are running on pristine citrix boxes or app servers on vm's that are configured to drop all changes to the virtual-hdd upon reboot and software roll-outs are no longer an issue it's amazing how responsive IT can really be.

    Plus, the user can start his usual collection of craplets on the PC with not impact to the business systems and the two environments shall never meet apart from the craplet ridden PC displaying whatever's going on in the citrix/vm env. To me and most clients i deal with the flexibility and security provided by this is plenty.

    And as a bonus, if it's Citrix i get to recommend staff to buy macs for home use, knowing that everything will work just as nicely for remote work, while still letting me play with macs to learn more about them in my spare time... :)

    BTW Jenner, apologies about before, didn't mean to come across so deriding...

  68. Rob McDougall
    Jobs Halo

    -Pro?

    Hmm...

    two points:

    1. Apple Top 5... that may as well say Apple Current Lineup... And including the Mac Mini that will soon be discontinued in a Top anything is bad advertising!

    2. I just got a MacBook. I also have an iMac. These are both aimed at "home" users. I use Pro apps every day. I've had a PowerMac G5 and found it to be too big. The intel iMac was basically the same machine in an all-in-one enclosure. I do miss the lack of upgradeability, but I don't have much space!

    Same goes for the Macbook. 13" vs. 15" is quite a lot! I prefer them small. It does mini-dvi and has (albeit analogue) audio in+out... Keeps me happy :)

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