Mac 4 cheap.

Reader Casey writes
Hey Tam,

I read your other blogs, and just saw this one. How easy(and cheap) is it to convert from Win to Mac? I currently use XP on a box cobbled together from hand me down parts from friends who have money for "upgrades" .

I've been thinking about experimenting with Macs, something portable/laptopish, but don't want to invest a lot of money for something I may not go any further with.

Any recommendations(and expected prices) for something that would help give me a feel for Macs without breaking the bank? I have no problem with used or refurbished equipment.
...and I thought it rated a post of its own in response. I know he asked specifically about portables, but I'll touch on desktops, too, as we're in a fairly propitious time for scoring good deals on those.

For both desktops and laptops, Macs newest OS release ("Leopard", or 10.5) has effectively orphaned a slew of machines that have been in use for years. Although individual Mac fans will perform heroic work-arounds and hacks to let them install Leopard on systems on which it was never intended to run, the used market is currently seeing a slew of late G3 and early G4 machines being dumped for a song. I have seen older iMacs sold by the flat (six or seven computers) on eBay for less than you would pay for even a minimal new computer.

As far as notebooks go, the clamshell (or "toilet seat") iBooks are bottoming out in the depreciation curve. Even late models are bringing less than $200 for the most part. Some of these later iBooks have DVD players and FireWire ports. I still use one as my main notebook; it has built-in WiFi and makes a great traveling computer.

For all-in-one desktops, iMacs are getting stupid cheap. As the last schools using them are forced to upgrade, they can be snagged for next to nothing from resellers. Mine is an early slot-loading model with DVD and a 400MHz G3 and came with a (mismatched) keyboard and mouse for a bit under $100.

The biggest effect lately has been that all the early Power Mac G4 towers that have been used as servers and production machines lo these many years are having their hard drive pulled or wiped and being shipped off to resellers. I've got a G4/500 tower here with half a gig of RAM and DVD drive and a Zip drive and the works; I won it for seventy-four dollars and some-odd cents, shipping included. It had a wiped 27GB hard disk and came with nothing but a power cord. That's okay, though, because it hooked right up to my existing monitor and USB keyboard and mouse. All I had to do was disconnect my Pentium 4 box and plug the Mac right into the exact same cables. It didn't even need a driver installed to make use of the eleventy-jillion key Logitech keyboard.

So, yes, if you want to get into just playing around with Macs to see if you like them, now's a good time to score an old one cheap. Just don't plan on doing a lot of gaming with it, unless you like older games.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Tam!!

That's the kind of info I was looking for!

Now I just have to scrape together some cash, find one of these clamshell thingies, and start experimenting :)

Casey in Carolina