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Buying a Mac can be a lot easier than buying a PC since Apple builds every computer and writes the software that runs them. This gives them an unprecedented level of control over the quality of both aspects of the machine. Finding out which computer you need is a simple task of making a list of the things that you want to do and matching them up with the features available.
Apple has four easily identifiable types of computer. The desktop line includes the Mac Pro, iMac, and Mac mini while the portable line includes the MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air.
The Mac Pro is an industrial grade desktop. It offers a lot of upgradability as well as giving you the choice of your own monitor.
The iMac is a well equipped desktop that does limit some upgrade options, but most consumers will find that an iMac will fit their current needs as well as those going forwards.
The Mac Mini is a great entry level desktop - perfect as a second computer, a media PC for your home theatre, or for those interested in switching from Mac to PC.
The MacBook Air line is an ultra portable laptop; it’s light and has long battery life as well as excellent speed and performance.
The MacBook Pro line offers a host of excellent features: LED backlit screens provide brilliant colour and great battery life. The processors and video chips in the MacBook Pro are great for media and games as well as browsing and word processing. Both the MacBook Pro and Air lines are equipped with Bluetooth and wireless N, making communicating with your gear and your networks simple.
Every Mac comes with the killer applications that make them Mac computers - OS X and iLife. iLife makes it simple to manage your media, from music (iTunes), to photos (iPhoto), to movies (iMovie and iDVD). OS X is one of the most robust operating systems on the market, offering speed, security, and an easy to use interface that almost anyone can pick up right away.
One element that concerns many users is software compatibility. It’s extremely rare that you’ll find a popular piece of software for Windows that doesn’t have an Apple counterpart, but if that happens you do also have the ability to run Windows as an application inside OS X with virtualization software. Having a computer that looks this good and does more feels great!
Laptop or Desktop
This can be a simple decision. The tradeoff between a laptop and desktop is balance by cost and power: desktops can offer more power for less (components can be larger and don’t need to conform to space or power requirements as strictly as portable computer components).
Every Mac features an Ethernet network jack, making it simple to plug into wired high speed internet. Wi-Fi is a base feature on all models as well, eliminating another cable.
All Apple laptops and desktops are currently powered by processors from Intel. You’ll usually find a dual-core or quad-core processor at the heart of your new Mac; these high speed processors consume less energy and perform extremely well on all sorts of tasks from surfing the web to organizing your photos and music to editing HD video.
Hard drive space has become a commodity. Your Mac will ship with a sizable hard drive as well as the option to add additional hard drives with USB 2.0, USB 3.0, or the incredibly fast Thunderbolt port. The MacBook Pro comes with either standard hard drives or solid state drives, while the MacBook Air is solid state drive only. The iMac comes loaded with your choice of a hard drive or Fusion Drive, which combines the storage of a hard drive with the speed and performance of a solid state drive.
The MacBook Pro and Mac Pro contain SuperDrive optical drives (for reading and writing to DVDs and CDs), while the iMac, MacBook Pro with Retina display, MacBook Air, and Mac mini are not equipped with an optical drive. If you need the ability to read and write to discs you can purchase an Apple USB SuperDrive or, if you have another Mac with an optical drive, you can access its disc drive functionality over your wireless network.
Every Mac comes well equipped with between 4-8GB of RAM. Some systems (like the Mac Pro) are upgradeable up to 64GB of RAM. If you’re doing heavy lifting (HD rendering, serious gaming) you may want to upgrade your RAM, but most Macs come well equipped out of the box.
Battery life isn’t an issue for Apple desktops, but the portables have phenomenal battery life - up to seven hours on some models, depending on usage. Keep in mind that Apple laptops feature an integrated battery, which makes them lighter and store more power, but eliminates the ability to swap the battery out when it’s dead. Plan accordingly!
The MacBook Pro with Retina display, available in 13-inch and 15-inch sizes, includes a screen with ground-breakingly sharp resolution. The 15-inch model’s Retina display features over 5 million pixels and the 13-inch model has over 4 million pixels for absolutely stunning visuals. All of the MacBook Pro models and the MacBook Air feature Apple’s revolutionary glass multi-touch trackpad. This intuitive design lets you use gestures similar to those you’d use on an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad (pinch to zoom, twist to rotate, etc).
The iMac comes equipped with a big, beautiful display that has 75% less reflection than the previous model, and the sleek, sexy design features edges that are only an amazing 5mm thin, taking up 40% less volume.
Solid State Drive and Fusion Drive
Solid state drives can now be found in the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. This new technology powers a storage drive with flash memory - that means no moving parts. Not only is SSD faster than a traditional hard drive, but it consumes less power, letting you run all day.
The iMac comes with the option of the Fusion Drive, which combines the benefits of hard drive and solid state technology. You’ll get the large capacity of a standard hard drive, as well as the faster performance and shorter boot times of a solid state drive.
Apple computers feature wireless N networking. This networking protocol gives you wider range and faster speeds. Ensure you’re getting the most out of your network with a wireless N router like the Airport Extreme.
The OS X operating system found on all Macs is closely integrated with Apple’s iCloud service, which syncs data across your desktop, laptop, iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad through the Internet.
Virtualization Software and Windows
If you find yourself in need of Windows compatibility, don’t hesitate to add a virtualizing package like Parallels Desktop or VM Ware Fusion and run Windows right inside OS X!
Adding a wireless keyboard and mouse is a great way to cut the cords even further. Some models will already include this in the box, so be sure to ask a Product Expert for details.
External / Additional Monitor
Even if you’re purchasing an iMac, an additional monitor is a great choice to help expand your desktop real estate. Studies have shown that users can be up to 30% more productive when a second monitor is used. Keep work and play separate, or stretch out a project to take full advantage of the space!
Time Capsule / Airport Extreme
An Airport Extreme is a great way to connect your Mac to high speed Internet. Time Capsule goes even further, connecting all your computers (and gaming devices, and home theatre components) as well as backing up your data automatically to the on-board hard drive.
The most difficult decision you’ll make when picking a Mac is deciding which type you want. Apple’s made it very easy to differentiate between the choices available - however, if you need more assistance deciding what option is best for you, Future Shop’s Product Experts are always there to help.
The Future Shop Difference
Why buy a Mac from Future Shop? It’s easy: price, convenience, and support. We guarantee the lowest price on the market, so you can be sure you’re getting the best deal on your Mac from us. The convenience of many locations across Canada means you can pick up the Mac you want today, and you know you’ll have the support both in-store and online with our Tech Forum, which is filled with thousands of helpful users and Product Experts, ready to answer the questions you have. Get your Mac today online at www.futureshop.ca or at any of our Future Shop locations across Canada.
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