is it wise to buy a Mac now?

f_h_petrone

Mac User
I know that the Intel macs wil be available luckily in 2007, but it's a year and a half from now.... i'm worried that i will be buying brand new obsolete hardware.....

I'm currently using a Beige G3..... anything is better than this... i know.... but it still runs fine after, i don't know, 8 or 9 years, and even if it goes slowly i can still get some juice out of it even with recent OSes. So, I feel that it is too much money (for an iMac for example) for it to go unsupported in 2 or 3 years time.....
 
Apple will still support the PowerPC processors even after they move to Intel. Programmers will still make programs that are capable of running on both Intel Macs and PPC Macs.
 

fryke

Moderator
Staff member
Mod
The iMac is probably not what you should buy. You could, for example, get a Mac mini and a 20" Apple display. The mini doesn't cost much, and once the intel machines start rolling in, you could simply replace the mini with a newer one. That's what I probably would do... A decent display (and the 20" certainly is one decent display!) feels "new" a lot longer than the CPU inside any Mac.

iMac 20": 1800 USD.
Mac mini 1.42: 600 USD, 20": 800 USD -> 1400 USD.

You could even choose some LG or Sony 17 or 19 inch display. They can be nice, too and cheaper.
 

fjdouse

UNIX - Live Free or Die
I've just been chatting to someone about this very thing, I said the same, 2x Mac minis come out to a reasonable price, get one now (if you want to upgrade now) and one in a year. It will give you a nice smooth transition. Never know, it may be a lot less than a year before we see Intel minis and they may be a little cheaper.
 

Lt Major Burns

"Dicky" Charlteston-Burns
i have a 20" display. it's so lovely. it's just a wonderful design, and so much space. the differences between a 19" lcd and this 20" are just phenomenal. so much space! so little box!

i stroke this thing. seriously. it's so smooth and it's sometimes warm, and inviting, other times it's like touching cold steel.


/takes cold shower


and the mini would give you the speed boost you crave, and is completely replacable when ever you want.
 

fjdouse

UNIX - Live Free or Die
Deviant

Actually I do the same with my mini, it... feels.... oh... oh.. OH MY!!!
 

Timotheos100

Registered
In my opinion the current Imacs, Emacs, all laptops and other current hardware are a piece of engineering brilliance and it would be hard for anyone to beat what apple has right now, i even doubt apple can extend their own design much further, get a new apple for your own needs and for a historical perspective.

Thank you
 

Scottfab

Helpless Mac Newbie
depends on what you're getting. I'd say yes for Powerbook and Mini, no for iBook and Power Mac, and just dont get an iMac or eMac.
 

Mikuro

Crotchety UI Nitpicker
There are a lot of factors. Everyone said this transition would be at best a big fat pain, and that hasn't changed. Granted, Apple's Rosetta emulation layer is a bit more than I expected, but it doesn't change all that much. For the next few years, I think PPC Macs will be hands-down better (hardware speed aside; obviously the Intel Macs released two years from now will be faster). But it won't be a perfect transition. There will be a very large "awkward stage" where the PPC has advantages AND the x86 has advantages. It could be a mess. Here are a few pros and cons to buying PPC hardware:

Pro: Classic support. From what we know now, it seems likely OS X on Intel will NOT support Classic. And if it does, it will probably not be as good. If you need Classic, get a new Mac now.

Con: The Intel systems are bound to offer much greater Windows compatibility. Even if they can't dual boot, a new version of Virtual PC is bound to surface that will run at nearly full speed.

Pro: All current software is written for PPC. It will take time for developers to port their software to Intel (especially shareware and freeware developers), and while much of it will run under Rosetta, it won't be fast. Also, Rosetta cannot run programs built for the G4 or G5 — it can only emulate G3s. AND it can only emulate self-contained programs — no preference panes, system extensions, and I assume things like QuickTime Codecs will need to be rewritten to work (and we still have QT codecs that only work in Classic! Ahhhh!). And, of course, some software will never get ported at all.

Con: Some developers, especially game developers, are likely to drop PPC support as soon as they can reasonably justify it. Heck, Doom 3 requires a G5; these guys aren't shy about extending the friendly finger to people on old hardware. Despite what Apple's hype would have you believe, maintaining support for two platforms is WORK, especially for anything that requires major optimization, like games and multimedia apps. Developers' support for the PPC can only wane at this point.

Pro: Even after developers start porting, optimizing will be a whole other matter. A lot of companies have invested a lot of time in AltiVec. Rewriting code for Intel's SSE will take time.

Pro/Con (depending on your outlook; I personally lean more toward "pro"): The PPC systems aren't new. They've been refined, and so has the software they run. Every major new product release has some kinks to be worked out. You might want to step back and let the early adopters suffer the switch and move in a couple years later when the waters are calm. On the other hand....z0mg it wi11 be liek newzorz!!!11!! But if you're not obsessed with the latest and greatest, you'll probably be more interested in waiting it out.


So...what to do? Well, I bought this Mac mini just a couple months ago, and I'm really not kicking myself for the purchase. I probably won't buy an Intel machine for a few years, and I don't think it's so unreasonable to spend $500 on a machine that will last a few years (and it's not like it'll crumble to dust after I get an Intel machine, either; I still have an 8-year-old Power Mac 9600 that's used on a daily basis).
 

jh2112

Registered
in my opinion, the question should be: is there ever a good time to buy a computer?
the answer is no.
Technology moves on too fast. there is always some great new piece of kit that'll do this and that and is much better and faster.

A valid question would be:

Will the computer that I want to buy:
a) run the software that I want?
b) have the hardware that i want to use?
c) perform for the time period that I want? (ie if you consider retiring age to be 3 yrs from purchase, will it do its job well for that time?)

These are choices we all make. PPC/Intel, whatever
My advice is, if it suits your purpose then buy it.
 

fryke

Moderator
Staff member
Mod
Mikuro said: "It will take time for developers to port their software to Intel (especially shareware and freeware developers)"

Actually, most shareware/freeware programmers I know of either use Xcode or RealBasic. First RealBasic: They've promised they'll have a new version of RB ready before the first intel Mac hits the streets. Developers using RB will not need to change their source code, only recompile. Problem solved. Then Xcode: According to Apple, this is _really_ going to be simple. I expect most shareware and freeware coders to actually be quite quick with supporting the new platform.

Then, Rosetta. Mikuro said: "and while much of it will run under Rosetta, it won't be fast. Also, Rosetta cannot run programs built for the G4 or G5 — it can only emulate G3s."

My girlfriend's using an iBook G3/800. It runs all software, it seems. So that's really a non-issue. Emulating a G3 is probably simply faster than trying to emulate an AltiVec engine on SSE2/SSE3. Sure, it'll be no speed demon, but the intel architecture can make up for some of it via raw processing power. I'm sure we'll have to wait and see here. This is not like PPC emulating 68K code (and remember, there too, PPC only emulated 68020 without FPU, although 68K had long gone to 68040 _with_ FPU). Back then, even Apple's disk drivers were emulated in System 7.1 to 7.5 AFAIK, whereas with the intel Macs, we'll at least have native code for the whole system and all Apple applications. (Every project was simultaneously also developed for the intel architecture according to Steve Jobs, so iWork, iLife, the Pro apps, they'll all be ready!)
If one of the apps I'm using when I buy my first intel Mac isn't native yet, I'll probably test it on an intel Mac before actually buying the Mac. But we've already heard from Adobe and Microsoft that they'll be ready. We've heard of Mathematica's 2h "rewrite" of 20 lines of code.

To me, this sounds like a far easier transition than earlier transitions. Because Mac OS X has been ready for such transitions, whereas System 7 certainly _wasn't_ intended to become PowerPC code (even OS 8.x partly ran in emulation!) and OS 9 to OS X was similarly 'expensive'.
 

lilbandit

I hate Meath
Might spring for a new 12" powerbook later in the Summer, I'm not too bothered about intel/ppc as it's just a laptop. The battery life is good, I love os x and the powerbook will fit nicely into my bag. Bought a new dp powermac last September, probably won't spring for a new one until the early problems have been worked out with intel pmacs. That gives about 3-4 years of use from my existing system and I can live with that. Even beyond that time it won't turn to dust. By then I'm sure Apple will have some seriously powerful machines to tempt me again!!
 

chornbe

Who, me?
fjdouse said:
Deviant

Actually I do the same with my mini, it... feels.... oh... oh.. OH MY!!!
Whew!! I don't feel so bad about licking the light-up apple on my iBook, now. Thank you, kindred souls, for allowing such behavior without judgement.

Sick bastards!! :p

PS... I concur on the Mini. I'll be replacing my Dell with one, soon.
 

Oscar Castillo

Registered
I plan on upgrading to a dual 2GHz just for the added speed. I know I will get 2 solid years of use out of it before I actually upgrade again which puts me at summer of 2007 when I think we'll see the Intel Macs will really start to take off. Keep in mind though whichever Mac you decide to buy, if you decide to sell it, the resale value 2 years from now when the new Intel Macs are well into the retail channel will probably be considerably less than what a used Power based Mac would typically fetch on eBay.
 

Mikuro

Crotchety UI Nitpicker
fryke said:
Actually, most shareware/freeware programmers I know of either use Xcode or RealBasic. First RealBasic: They've promised they'll have a new version of RB ready before the first intel Mac hits the streets. Developers using RB will not need to change their source code, only recompile. Problem solved. Then Xcode: According to Apple, this is _really_ going to be simple. I expect most shareware and freeware coders to actually be quite quick with supporting the new platform.
Well, I'm speaking as a shareware/freeware developer myself, who uses REALbasic (for about 7 years) and Cocoa/Xcode (for a few months). In theory, I should have it easier than anyone. But I'm already getting headaches.

Don't get me wrong, it won't kill me to port my apps....but it's not going to be as easy as a simple recompile in many cases. Not by a long shot. I can think of a few REALbasic projects of mine which will require extensive reworking to run on Intel (well, not so much to run on Intel, but to run on both Intel and PPC; and since I'm on PPC, if I have to pick just one, it won't be Intel).

These things are always easier in theory than in practice. In theory, I should be able to take any REALbasic project I have and make a Windows version just by checking a box. In practice...well, it may not be so hard to make the program itself (usually), but the testing and debugging makes it very time-consuming. I can't release Windows programs without a helluva lot of testing, and I can't test them on my Mac (well, there's VPC, but...) so I just can't release them.

Similarly, if I don't have an Intel-based Mac to work with, then I simply won't be able to deploy any x86 programs with confidence, even if they compile just fine. So what am I going to do? I honestly don't know. I guess either A) Release potentially-bug-ridden x86 programs as "public betas", or B) Not bother working on x86 programs until I get my own Intel-based Mac and can test them myself. Right now, I'm leaning towards B, and relying on Rosetta to keep my programs useful. I'm not happy about that, but that's the way things are.

I'm sure many shareware/freeware developers WILL deploy their products as "public betas" (whether they call them that or not) — which is really not a good thing. Nobody wants untested software. The problems may be small and easy to fix, but if you can't test it, then nothing's easy. So I think we'll either see a lot LESS shareware/freeware, or a lot WORSE shareware/freeware.

Also, not all software is actively supported to begin with. That doesn't make it any less useful/necessary, though, despite what many apologists will so quickly insinuate (you know the type...). I mean, there are plenty of Classic apps out there with no perfect X-native substitute even today. I only recently finally resigned myself to the fact that Color It is just never coming over; I've used that same program for over a decade, from System 7.1 on my 25MHz Performa to OS X in Classic on my current 1.25GHz Mac mini, and to this day there's no other graphics program out there I'd rather be using.

So it's not unreasonable to think a lot of people want/need to use a lot of OS X programs that will never, ever be updated at all.

[Edit: ....holy cow, that was longer than I expected.....]
 

Lt Major Burns

"Dicky" Charlteston-Burns
mine is 6 months old. i'll still be using it in 4 years. i'm going to run this one into the ground - i need to....

at which point, ANY mac is going to be better.
 

fryke

Moderator
Staff member
Mod
Well, sure: It's the developer's choice whether he _wants_ to support the new platform. But if I have a shareware product that "does fine" (i.e. I make some money off it) and see that people are buying intel/Macs in droves, I would certainly want to be on that market, too. And all it'll take would be a newer Mac mini with an intel processor.

I mean: With your Mac mini, you ain't testing much against dual processors or G5, either, right? You count on "that it compiles" and then have to go after user feedback, too.

Or what if your app has specific problems with notebooks? Same thing. So I can't completely agree with you...
 

Scottfab

Helpless Mac Newbie
I chose a great time to get this Powerbook. There's a decent chance its the last PPC version of it. So, this great book will last for a few years. And when I need an upgrade like 3 years from now, there'll be a new Intel Powerbook (as I think the books will make the change first) already, and out long enough for some kinks to work out. So all of you who want a laptop, I'd suggest now rather than waiting for new Intels to come out in 1-2 years, then being on a buggy first wave.
 

fjdouse

UNIX - Live Free or Die
Scottfab said:
as I think the books will make the change first
I was under the impression that the Mac mini will be first, then iBooks.

Scottfab said:
I'd suggest now rather than waiting for new Intels to come out in 1-2 years, then being on a buggy first wave.
What makes you think it will be buggy? People warned about jumping in with a Mac mini as soon as they came out because of potential problems, I've run mine virtually constantly since I got it without a single problem. Unless you mean software? Updates and bugfixes will fix that won't they?

Unless I have a major dislike of the Intel Mac mini, I will place my order as soon as I can after it's announced.
 
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