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Can you point a newbie in the right direction..


Active Member

I'm looking for a new laptop and fancy getting a mac. People at work rave about them so I'm thinking of switching but have no idea what to look for where to start!

I've always had windows but I'm fed up with my current one being so unreliable and slow.

I've been browsing the classifieds as a second hand one might be the route for me due to them being so dam expensive..

Is there different operatings systems? I've seen snow leopard and tiger?

The main difference I can see between the standard and the pro are the pro has a backlit keyboard and SD card reader? Is that the same for the older models also? SD reader is a must as I import a lot of photos that way.

What is the ideal spec in terms of RAM and speed? I have always worked under the assumption the higher the better..?

Any advice would be much appreciated, my sister is at uni is the discount quite significant or is second hand still probably best?



Distinguished Member
well before you switch, have you tried mac os x? try popping to your local apple store and have a quick play

Anyway, some quick points, macs are pricey, there are a couple of reasons for that, mainly that mac cater to the luxury end of the market and as the sole producer, Apple can afford to have the high margins as people are willing to pay the premium for the integrated product, service and experience.

Snow Leopard is the latest version of Mac OS X, Tiger is a much older release (2005-2007) I think and was replaced by Leopard which in turn was replaced by Snow Leopard

I think it's the 2009 models onwards that the macbook pros had SD cards as standards so if that's must and coupled with the backlit keyboard and generally better specs, the mb pro is definitely worth the money in comparison to the macbook.

Depends on what your needs are? if it's not heavy than the older macbook pros with 2GB memory will be fine but I would opt for 4GB personally. and so yes, in generally, the higher the better

If you are lucky, they are good deals to be had on the forums classifieds but if you want a brand new machine than the Higher Education discount is a godsend as not only do you get a heft discount, the extended Apple Care (warranty) for 3 years is also heavily discounted (I think from £54 [someone please confirm] for the macbook pro versus the usual price of of £199 for the 13inch macbook pro or £279 for the 15 and 17 inch macbook pro.

To prempt any other questions, office is compatible and the mac version is brilliant but you can also get open office/neo office for free and you should be able to get mac versions of most stuff you have, for anything you don't you can use programmes like VirtualBox or parallels to run a virtual machine of windows or have boot camp and install a windows partition

I hope that at least initially points you in the right direction :thumbsup:


Active Member
Thanks for taking the time to write all that it helps a lot.

Never had a go on one, unfortunately my nearest apple store is a good hour away. I wonder if I go down to comet etc they might have one out that I can snoop about on. I'm sure I'll pick it up, didn't know office was compatible though thanks for that so if I dont like the mac version at least I know I'll be able to use that for familiarity.

It'll definetly have to be a pro then as the SD card is a must. I'm not a heavy user at all, just web browsing and a bit of football manager. I've heard great things about the photo editing apps on the mac though so I think may need the 4GB when tinkering with that?

Appreciate the reply, think I'll keep an eye out on the classifieds and if nothing comes up I'll go down the discounted new route, the cheaper extended warranty sounds good!


Distinguished Member
no worries, that's what these forums are for :smashin:

Yeah, photo editing is a pretty nice experience on mac os x. All new macs are bundled with iphoto (as part of ilife and generally a second hand mac should have it as well) and that's pretty excellent. For most users, iphoto maybe all you need

For more heavy powered users, I would recommend Aperture (Apple (United Kingdom) - Aperture - Pro performance with iPhoto simplicity.) which has been highly rated.

With iphoto, 2GB will be fine but with more heavy duty stuff for aperture or if you are multi tasking, for me the 4Gb really helps.

If you any more questions, fire away :thumbsup:


Active Member
One thing I did forget to ask is the different os, tiger and snow leopard etc are the differences major? Such as from XP to Vista there was quite a big difference, is snow leopard significantly better or if I do go for an older model is tiger perfectly good?



Well-known Member
One thing I did forget to ask is the different os, tiger and snow leopard etc are the differences major? Such as from XP to Vista there was quite a big difference, is snow leopard significantly better or if I do go for an older model is tiger perfectly good?


Personally I would try for a machine with at least Leopard, but you can of course upgrade if the specs are right. The jump to leopard was pretty big, but the jump to snow leopard was more under the skin, with very few new features, hence the small upgrade price.



Distinguished Member
Just to add to Gazza, the model you are after (macbook pro unibody) will be available with Leopard/Snow Leopard

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