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Switching To Mac: An Inexpensive Way
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Switching to Mac: An Inexpensive Way

There is a lot of debate going on about which is better Mac or PC. Despite all advantages of the Mac platform, it has still a big drawback for many people, which is its price. So, if you're short on money, but you want to start developing for the Apple (iPhone, iPad) platform, this information may be beneficial to you.

Last year after using a Windows machine for many years, I decided to switch to the Mac. It wasn't an easy task, since I live in a country, where no official Apple dealer exists and thus Macs are lot more expensive than in America and even in Europe. But being a fan of computer technology, and paying no attention to ridicule from my friends (“Mac computer? Who do you think you are, millionaire?”), I decided to find a way of acquiring an affordable Mac computer, that wouldn't require much additional expenses. Here I share what I found out.

Let's start with a review what's available on the market right now.

The cheapest Mac computer is Mac Mini with a price of 599$ in Apple Store for the starting configuration. Of course, in other parts of the World it'll be more expensive. In Europe its price starts with about 700$. What are the benefits of Mac Mini:

* Elegant design and small size. For me personally, it was the first computer on which I haven't spent much time, deciding where to set it up.

* Very quiet. I barely hear its humming in the deep of the night.

* Any monitor, keyboard and mouse can be connected. A monitor needs to have VGA, HDMI or (for 2011 model) Thunderbolt port to be connected.

In essence, Mac Mini is pretty quiet and cold computer that you can set up anywhere, it doesn't take much room.

But as usual there is "a fly in the ointment". Some resource consuming applications like Adobe Photoshop and even Apple's own iMovie are lagging severely. So if you're going to use your computer for such things as image or video editing consider buying additional memory and changing the hard drive. Particularly the hard drive is Mini's weak spot. In 2010 model which I have, they installed 320Gb 5400rpm Hitachi there and it's horrible. Not only it squeaks while working, it also hinders overall performance. There is a video on Youtube, where someone compares this Hitachi with 750Gb Western Digital Scorpio Blue. With the latter HDD MacOS loads faster by nearly a half-minute!

Another relatively inexpensive (by Apple standards, of course) computer available is Macbook laptop. Unfortunately it's been discontinued in 2011 in favor of Macbook Air but you still can find it in many stores. It shares all advantages of Mac Mini, plus it's portable. And it lets you to attach an external monitor and a keyboard to it and use it as a desktop computer.

Macbook Air - is a more expensive laptop. The cheapest version costs 999$ in US. It has a 11' display, which I think is not for everyone. I'm personally finding that such a small display makes my eyes straining excessively. There is a 13 inch version which costs 1199$. The greatest advantage of this laptop - its weight. Strictly speaking, it’s designed for people who travel a lot. Of course, as well as Macbook, you can use it as a desktop computer, should you wish to.

And last but not least... If you have very little money, but you’re passionate about technology and really want to enter the world of Apple, then it would be a good idea to buy a used Mac.

Since the release of the OS X Lion operating system, the market of used computers is flooded with older Intel-based Macbooks, iMacs and Mac Minis on which Lion cannot be installed, but Snow Leopard runs perfectly. Sometimes, you can purchase an iMac for as little as 200$. But of course, such offers don’t appear all the time, so you need to wait and regularly review eBay listings to find a good offer.

And if the transportation is too costly, consider looking for the ads in your city. For example, I regularly come across the posts on my city’s forum, where people selling their Macs, iPhones and, recently, iPads for a very affordable price. It’s clear, that purchasing used electronics should be treated with caution.

Anyway, whichever computer you choose, keep in mind that it may require additional expenses.


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