Help me pick out a Mac for my sister!

Tomorrow my sister comes home from Disney and although she will return until early January, she needs me to help her pick out a Mac laptop tomorrow night!

She is a graphic designer and an amazing person who, although she has several learning disabilities overcame the C’s she was making in early high school and the “stupid” label of unknowing teachers and fellow students to graduate with highest honors from the Savannah College of Art and Design with both an undergraduate and a graduate degree. She is amazing and I admire her so much.

She is returning home where she will teach part time for Savannah College of Art and Design as an adjunct online professor and will freelance. She does everything from Photoshop to Flash to Dreamweaver and more. She’ll need to use her computer wirelessly as well as hooked to a high speed cable modem in our mostly PC based hometown.

Help me! I don’t even know where to start. You can weigh in by posting your comment here! (Others can learn from you too.) Over the summer, I asked you and you helped me create my dream lab and helped others too. So, if you love Macs, now is your time to speak up!

Thanks!

I love students! Best teacher blog winner * Mom * Speaker * author * HOST 10-Minute Teacher Show * @Mashable Top Teacher on Twitter * top #edtech Twitterer

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

16 thoughts on “Help me pick out a Mac for my sister!

  1. Now THIS is a post I want to respond to!!

    I have only been using a Mac since July of 2006 and I would NOT give it up for anything in the world. As the ads say, it just works. I also love my Linux laptop, and would happily run those two and that’s it. Ok, off my soapbox. Here is a good setup I think…

    1. The 2.16 Ghz 15″ MacBook Pro is one of the best choice for the money. It looks to be $1799 in the education store. I have looked at the benchmarks for the higher models and the performance doesn’t seem all too different. You also have a choice between glossy and matte screen, I absolutely recommend glossy, it shines nicely and the glare is only an issue with direct sunlight behind you. Another reason I chose 15″ and not 17″ is because I needed portability over movie watching. Planes are small enough, I needed a mac that would fit on the tray table. Also, there are more cool bags and totes available for 15″.

    You also need some crucial accessories, here are the ones I think are needed..

    1. iPod, but, well, duh.
    2. MagSafe airline adapter, if you plan to fly in some first class neck of the woods where the port is available.
    3. The Huckeleberry is just cool. It turns the iSight camera into a video camera. It’s a small mirror, and looks to be out of stock at the moment. Click here to see it
    4. Parallels – allows you to run Windows, Linux or others from within the Mac environment. Nuff said. They recently came out with an offer of buy soon (i think before 12/23) and you get a year of free upgrades. Street price is $79 plus a license if you choose to run Win XP.
    5. Apple Wireless Mighty Mouse. I absolutely love my little wireless bluetooth mighty mouse. It pairs perfectly, works wonderfully, and offers vertical, horizontal, and diagonal scrolling. Speaking of scrolling, the two finger scrolling ability with the trackpad is unparalleled. You should see my Linux laptop flip out when I try it there!

  2. Vicki,

    Thank you for your kind words! The Lord has his hand here, so we’ll give Him the glory!

    I want to add onto what Jen says a little.

    I don’t actually have Parallels, too expensive right now and I’m on a tight budget. I do have Boot Camp installed but rarely boot into Windows.

    Also the Apple Wireless Mighty Mouse allows for right clicking, it’s based on a balance system. If you’re leaning more to the right, it’s a right click. Rarely does it err.

    You might consider NeoOffice, which is an Aqua-fied port of Open Office. It works nicely.

    If you want to get into bona fide geeky Mac software that is requisite for the new hardware, well, you might want to start a new post!

    I can say this, the lighted keypad has been an absolute lifesaver on dark redeye flights. I like to see my keys as I am not much of a touch typer and it is nice to have backlit keys that I can adjust.

    Oh, and the MB Pro has a tilt meter, so that if someone knocks your baby off a desk and it’s headed for certain death, the machine will detect that and park the disc to hopefully minimize/eliminate damage. Not sure if the MB has that or not, but I don’t think so.

    I will say this, Jen’s has a little better keyboard. There is some space between the keys and that makes for easier typing, which can be a bit of a pain if you type a lot. Naturally, with a bluetooth connection you can easily add a wireless keyboard.

    If this machine is going to be a primary home machine, the Griffin Elevator is a good choice too, to move the machine up off the desk to a more comfortable height to read.

    Remember, the Pro’s get HOT underneath and is not recommended for lap usage much. I don’t mind it, but it can get hot!

    Hope all this helps! Sorry to be so verbose!

  3. You definitely want to a MacBook Pro rather than a MacBook. My beloved 17 in Powerbook is being put out to pasture because the screen died on me, and I should be getting a MacBook Pro from work any day now. One of the things that I just discovered and LOVE is that my Powerbook took a wireless PC card, and even though it’s not cheap ($60 per month from Verizon), I have wireless wherever I go now. Best thing since sliced bread! I am writing this on a loaner MacBook right now, and although I do like it, it doesn’t have the PC card slot and it hangs a lot when I have a few heavy duty apps open. It probably needs more memory, but I just think for my needs, a MacBook Pro will do the job. Also, check out http://macsanta.com/ for a sale on cool Mac apps.

  4. Chris, you are great. You are certainly a shining star in the edublogosphere because of your willingness to share and help others as exemplified by your comment here. I strongly urge my readers to check out your blog.

  5. I, too, am a newbie to my Mac — about 2 months — and I love it.

    I went a bit cheaper and got the Mac Book —

    * 1.83GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
    * 512MB memory
    * 60GB hard drive1
    * Combo drive

    and it does all I wish and more — but I should have saved a bit more and gotten the SuperDrive with more memory.

    I shall add to the list that Chris has given you.

    #1 — You need to have external speakers. Have too!!
    #2 — I would suggest that you load Open Office — I am loving it on my mac and am not missing MS at all. OO will change to PDF’s, takes presentations into Flash, etc etc. All for free.
    #3 — I am NOT going to go PC on my Mac — so I will differ to Chris on that one. I am still wary that a virus on my PC will take out my Mac and no one has yet convinced me that this WON’T happen.
    #4 — Get her a sleeve to carry it in. I know it is FLUFF, but it is so great to not have to grab the entire rolling computer bag when I wish to go work at Starbucks, etc.
    #5 — I went with the MS wireless mouse and love it. It is USB and allows me to keep my PC habit of right mouse clicking.
    #6 — I went with the basic white, however, you can get a black model but the cost is $100 more.

    And finally, spend the money to buy her the adapter to hook to a projector and MAKE sure you get the right one for her computer. She may never need it, but the one time she does need it, she will have it handy!!

    enjoy
    jen

  6. I would echo Chris’ comments. I would try to go with the 17″ screen though, because once you have all of the windows open, especially with an application like Photoshop, you want as much real estate accessible to you as possible.

    Parallels is also a big plus, the power of two operating systems at once… ’nuff said!

    The other issue I always like to encourage with people buying mac’s is that you should try to buy as much memory as you can buy in a single module, leaving the second RAM slot bare when you initially purchase the system. This way when you want to upgrade, and you will quickly after trying to multitask several applications, you can add a module and not have to worry about having to buy RAM to completely replace what you already have.

    e.g.: If you buy a unit with 1GB of RAM in two modules and want to upgrade to 1.5 GB, you have to buy a 1GB module and replace one of the 512MB modules. You end up buying RAM you already paid for. If on the other hand, you spend a little extra and get the initial 1GB on a single module, you only have to buy a single 512 module to get to 1.5GB.

    Hope that helps….

    On another note, we are trying to find connections for our own ‘Flat Classroom’ project. Any leads or ideas.

  7. I would echo Chris’ comments. I would try to go with the 17″ screen though, because once you have all of the windows open, especially with an application like Photoshop, you want as much real estate accessible to you as possible.

    Parallels is also a big plus, the power of two operating systems at once… ’nuff said!

    The other issue I always like to encourage with people buying mac’s is that you should try to buy as much memory as you can buy in a single module, leaving the second RAM slot bare when you initially purchase the system. This way when you want to upgrade, and you will quickly after trying to multitask several applications, you can add a module and not have to worry about having to buy RAM to completely replace what you already have.

    e.g.: If you buy a unit with 1GB of RAM in two modules and want to upgrade to 1.5 GB, you have to buy a 1GB module and replace one of the 512MB modules. You end up buying RAM you already paid for. If on the other hand, you spend a little extra and get the initial 1GB on a single module, you only have to buy a single 512 module to get to 1.5GB.

    Hope that helps….

    On another note, we are trying to find connections for our own ‘Flat Classroom’ project. Any leads or ideas.

  8. I have several Macs at school and I used to be only PC but I love my Macs. Have a MacBook Pro and installed Windows but have found I haven’t been using the Windows side. Installed Office on the Mac side and found I could do most of what I wanted on the Mac side. Got the 17 inch but wished I would have went with the 15 inch.

    I would recommend no less than 1Gb of memory, especially if she is working with Photoshop, Flash, Dreamweaver, etc.

    If she is going to work with iMovie might want to look at the hard drive size because movies consume hard drive space. I am now up to 5 external hard drives for my movies.

    Definitely want to go with the Super Drive so she can burn DVD’s, especially if she is going to do movie making.

    You can go to the Apple Store online and check out your choices. The nice thing about a Mac is that so much is already included and you don’t have that many choices.

    Good luck — she will absolutely love it.

  9. MacBook Pro!!! For all the reasons already mentioned.

    It’s a little more expensive than the standard MacBook (I have the 15″) but I love the speed, especially when running Windows or Linux at the same time using Parallels.

    Speaking of which, that software is completely worth the extra $80 if you already have a Windows install CD or can get it cheap/free.

  10. One plus for the MacBook Pro is that it has a dedicated graphics card. This will probably be an important consideration given her proposed usage.

    Superdrive’s are good, but unnecessary if you already have access to an external DVD burner.

    Get as much RAM as yu possibly can afford!… And for the first time I can ever remember, you are actually cheaper buying it from Apple than getting it from a third party afterwards…

    Don’t be fooled into thinking that the cost looks prohiitive when compared to a PC… the bundled software makes up for this several times over (honest!).

    Finally, I’d look to budget for Office for Macs at some point. Once you have that, you don’t have any compatibility problems with the beige boxes (well, about 95% of the time!).

    Finally… it’s worth springing for the AppleCare cover if you can afford it. Piece of mind in case of accidents!

  11. Oh, I am so overjoyed at the feedback. I know I can always count on the generous readers out there who bless me with their feedback like this. I truly LIVE for comments. Thank you for your feedback!

  12. MACBook Pro. As much RAM as you can afford and more. If you are thinking about running Parallels then you might as well go ahead and get the three gig. MBP also has dedicated video card with Dual Link DVI out which can power even the huge 30″ monitor that apple sales (which by the way is absolutely unreal with the colors). I would not worry about a larger hard drive. Your sister will need to get an external hard drive as Adobe files can get rather large and she will need a place to back them up.

    AppleCare is a must.

    And if you have not seen coherence in the parallels beta, it is really worth seeing.

    dp

  13. A speedy Intel G5Mac with a 19 inch screen! Extended AppleCare (3 years) with home service is a must since my other G5 broke down 4 times from the power supply to the hard drive to various other components. Apple has since replaced the computer with the current model. Acessories such as radioshark and logitech headset completes the picture of the ideal Mac. et voila
    And of course a Mac is not complete without an iPod!

    My next move is to acquire a Mac Laptop!

  14. I agree with Chris. Macs are great! I have used one in my classroom since they came out in the 80s. I have a laptop and a flat screen with a wireless mouse. This frees up a port. As has always been said, “Get as much memory as you can afford!” You will love the Mac.

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