The purpose of this article, filed under the Education section of XBOP, is to help provide some guidance for the consideration of migrating from PC to Mac. The reference to PCs covers all variants of desktops, laptops and netbooks where Microsoft Windows is the operating system of these machines, and invariably the processor is one of Intel or AMD.
Since the mid 2000s when IBM and Motorola ceased supplying Apple with processor cores, Intel processors have become the norm for Apple Macs. To further clarify, the term “Macs” encompasses all machines that operate OS X (Mountain Lion/soon to be Mavericks):
- iMac models
- Mac Mini models
- Mac Pro models
- MacBook (Air/Pro) laptop models
The structure for this page is intended to support the Why You’ll Love a Mac page on the Apple website, in that I describe the functions and practical use cases that each model is designed for.
Having been refreshed most recently, as of June 2013, the latest MacBook Air takes advantage of the newest 802.11ac Wireless networking standard. This model offers the greatest mobility and flexibility of the Mac product family. It is ideal for individuals who commute regularly via public transport. Business people will find the light weight beneficial for operating it on a train, bus, plane or even taxi.
A MacBook Air improves on the experience of an iPad in that the user would typically be generating basic, text-based content (word processing, typing emails) in addition to consuming content (internet browsing).
As of 2012, the previous MacBook product line has been merged into the single MacBook Pro product line – offering Apple’s staple notebook/laptop offering. By increasing the overall technical capabilities, the MacBook Pro range offers an ideal computer for content generation which may be more involved – both for the user as well as machine. By “levelling up” each of the technical specification options, greater capacity and handling is released to the user for more advanced and intense processor-driven functions. Photo editing, video editing, music editing and gaming are all general use cases that can combine to put the top-end MacBook Pro units to the test.
MacBook Pro with Retina Display (MBPRD) models were first introduced to market in June 2012. The higher screen resolution and supporting graphics cards makes this line of notebooks appealing to individuals seeking a superior graphics experience. In time, I foresee Apple making this the norm for the entire MacBook Pro product range, thus making the current distinct moot, and further simplifying the product portfolio. Interestingly, the 13-inch unit jams so much function into such a small form factor that arguably, it encroaches, if not cannibalises the MacBook Air. The price differential of $500 between the base Air and MBPRD is really a choice between increased processing power (RAM, storage, graphics). One important difference lies in the additional port/connectivity capabilities that the Pro (Retina Display) offers, not to mention the superior graphics experience. Small business and office users would also find any of the MacBook Pros a treat, particularly with the thinner form factor helping to further reduce the overall weight factor. Software developers would also be a main user group targeted for utilising MacBooks, with at least one extra display/screen added to extend desktop area.
The most obvious reason for selecting an iMac is the need for a fixed computer solution, where general functionality drivers rate/rank more highly for a user over mobility. Certain office environments definitely would fit this use case – churches, and retail businesses where the need for a fixed computer address the element of security and lock-down. For more traditional office users, the iMac offers two large screen sizes. With the hardware refresh in late 2012 providing the market with a super-thin model, the ability to move the iMac around increased considerably, although too much movement of a desktop unit is probably asking for trouble. The increased data access/transfer speeds released by the use of Flash memory, coupled with the max 32GB RAM further addresses video editing use cases where the processing and finalisation of video clips benefits greatly from this technology.
As part of my research and reading into church worship technology/presentation software set-ups, a big use for Mac Mini devices is for connecting up multiple output/displays in an events/multimedia driven environment. Big churches and venues that host music concerts all invariable rely on the trusty Mac Mini to deliver graphics processing whilst being small enough to tuck away under stages in an auditorium environment.
Another use for a Mac Mini is in the home theatre environment, as a high-end substitute of an AppleTV. In this situation, the Mac Mini provides the capability of a media server – where the OS X operating system offers a full interactive experience with users for delivering downloaded/streamed content to the home theatre projection/display screen TVs.
These scenarios are in addition to the basic use case/set-up whereby a Mac Mini is simply sought after because of limited desk space. The assumption here is that the user would leverage their existing display screens and save on that cost. The alternative is to purchase the Apple Thunderbolt Display which then pushes the total package of an entry Mac Mini to just under AUD $1600, which then creates the tension of having a less spec-ed up solution when compared to the cheaper basic iMac model…
The Mac Mini with OS X Server variant of this product line is naturally tailored for a small business user looking to deliver a client-server architecture whilst minimising need for storage space. To date (August 2013) I am yet to get hands on experience with OS X Server, but as of mid August, an opportunity may yet present itself in the near future.
As the current model is barely a month away from being superseded, I will hold off on detailed commentary for now. The processing power and graphics capabilities continue to offer a premium experience for high-end graphics and video processing. Whilst gaming may prove to be a pleasurable experience, given the high price tag, that use case lacks practicality or financial feasibility.