Mac Buyer's Guide [Late 2013]

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As a guy who is in the market for a new Mac myself, I figured I would do a no-nonsense, easy to understand buyers guide for all those who may be contemplating getting a Mac. And also, since Apple came out with a slew of new stuff including new Mac and software, there's never been a better time to buy a Mac. 

If you've never used a Mac as your personal computer, you're in for a treat. You get a clean desktop experience with a great Mac App Store ecosystem to play with. Best of all, Apple said yesterday that all their apps (for both Mac and iOS, excluding the pro apps like Final Cut and Logic) are going to be free with the purchase of any new Mac or iOS device. 

That being said, if you go to an Apple Store, the clerk is going to be honest with you. They're not going to sell you a pro machine just because they want to make money. One big difference about Apple is not just their products, but the way they sell them. Sure, you could get a maxed out MacBook Pro with all the bells and whistles, but do you really need that, and do you want to spend that much money. Apple customer care is all about getting you, the customer, the right product, not the product that will help inflate profits. 

So if you've never bought or used a Mac before, you'll need to know that as of yesterday, the entire iWork suite (Apple's much better version of Office, which includes Pages for word processing, Keynote for presentations, and Numbers for spreadsheets) is now included for free. You can download them for free using your new Mac. No more buying $200 worth of software, keeping up with product keys and all that junk. You just need an Apple account - the same one you use to download apps on your iPhone or iPad - and you're good to go. 


Give Up Microsoft Office

These Office-like apps are a huge deal - the main complaint I get from users who want to switch to a Mac tell me, "Well, I just can't give up Office." Yes, you can. Apples iWork apps export to all Word, Powerpoint, and Excel formats. I use Pages every single day and everyone else in my office uses PCs with MS Word. I've had no problems in 4 years using nothing but Pages. People also tell me, "Well I have to use MS Word for work." Again, you can export any Pages document into MS Word format, to PDF, or into plain text, or even ePub. It's simple. 

While there is a learning curve with these apps, as there is with anything new and unfamiliar, I would venture to say that you'll have iWork apps figured out inside of 3 days. You'll wonder why you wasted so much time with Word and Powerpoint when you can use the elegant and simple Pages and Keynote. 

Below is a chart explaining some things about what machine you might get if you were buying a Mac today. 

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1. The only machines on this chart that are desktops are the Mac Mini, iMac, and Mac Pro. I put a 'maybe' here for the Mac Mini and Mac Pro because they are such small devices, especially the Mac Mini. You could fit a Mini in a small backpack and carry it around and hook it up to your different monitors if you so choose. The new Mac Pro is a great deal smaller than the aluminum monstrosities Apple has been selling for the past several years. 

2. The speed of your processor seems to matter less and less these days with dual- and quad- cores (literally extra processors to crunch your data) and RAM, SSDs and OS management have made processor speeds not so important. So don't harp on this number too much, especially with the MacBook Air. The Air was the first Apple laptop to incorporate Solid State Drives (SSDs), i.e. drives with no moving parts. This greatly speeds up your computer. All Macs now have the option for SSDs now. 

I'm going to be spending a lot of time over the next month giving you snippets of my new eBook, A Minister's Guide to the Mac, due out on November 26. The first half of the book will help any minister or professional transition to a Mac for the first time, while the second half with give you helpful apps, tips and tricks to help you make the most out of your Mac and can help even the most advanced Mac user.