Buying a computer system/Mac

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Question
Hello Bobbert,

I'm by no means a computer expert, but I've had so many problems with pc's throughout the years.  Everyone at my place of employment uses Mac products, so I've been thinking of making the switch.  I don't use a laptop for anything business related, so I'm not huge on any of the fancy features, but would like something reliable, simple to maintain and update.  I have a ton of pics and video clips I'd like to create to dvd and have heard good things about I movies.  

First, could you recommend some macs a step above basic to look at.  Secondly, is buying off of ebay through an authorized reseller not recommended?  People at work say to only go through Apples website but there are good deals on ebay.  Thanks for any help.

Answer
Generally I disagree with the popular myth/idea that "Macs don't break" or "Macs just work" or what-have-you. That isn't to say Apple does not make good hardware, or that Apple computers can't be reliable, but it also isn't to say that Windows is a bad platform. Both can produce a good PC (broadly speaking, "PC" defines "Personal Computer" with no real discrimination between Windows, OS X, Linux; for close to ten years now Windows and OS X both run on x86 CPUs as well, so there isn't any significant difference in the underlying hardware between an Apple and say a Dell). My point here is that maintenance and service are a normal and continuous part of PC ownership, and this will not change with an Apple or a non-Apple computer (e.g. a Dell).

As far as something that's easy to maintain and update, Apple may not be the best choice for hardware, as their equipment tends not to be readily upgradable or user-serviceable as it tends to be heavily proprietary. If this is a concern long-term it is certainly something to think about.

As far as buying an Apple computer, if you aren't needing significant graphics capabilities (e.g. 3D gaming), the Mac Mini and iMac are perfectly suitable choices. This will include working with pictures and home video authoring, although you may need to purchase the SuperDrive (or a similar third-party part) if you don't currently have a disc burner.

As far as buying used, I would agree with your coworkers and steer you towards Apple and the Apple Store, especially for a first-time purchase, as you will receive much more thorough support from Apple directly than via an ebay seller. Apple Stores can also provide (at additional cost) training and other services if you require them.

If you have any further questions or need further clarification, feel free to ask.

-bob

Buying a computer system

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Bobbert

Expertise

I have nearly two decades of experience in IT, computer repair, and related fields and will attempt to provide the most solid, brand-agnostic advice when it comes time to purchase a new computer, or upgrade an existing machine. I can answer anything from the seemingly basic to the downright complicated - and will do my best to provide this information in a clear and concise manner.

Experience

I have been an enthusiast of PC's for many years, and can answer questions about the purchase/use of a new computer or the purchase, installation, and use of upgrades for existing computers. There probably isn't a whole lot related to the home computer that I haven't seen over the years.

Education/Credentials
15+ years of experience

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