Mac Thread, Thinking about getting Macs... in Technical; I'm possibly considering a project to get a new media suite in place.
Initially I was thinking gettin 20 PCs ...
30th March 2009, 05:36 PM #1
Thinking about getting Macs...
I'm possibly considering a project to get a new media suite in place.
Initially I was thinking gettin 20 PCs and 10 Macs to pilot it. They would be in a purpose built media area which will also house the radio station.
Some issues come to mind. Firstly, none of us have any experience of Mac products. I've never even used one before. I'm doing some research currently but I doubt I'll have access to any until/if they arrive.
Also, they'd be offsite, there would be no domain access as far as I can tell. They should have internet access but we'd need to consider them to be standalone machines. I doubt we'd be able to look into VPNs.
We have the CS3 suite for both PC and MAC so I'm really struggling to find good reasons to need them.
So I need to know is it worth it? Are these people that say Macs are great for media right?
I have no idea so i'd like to know if getting a suite of macs would actually be beneficial for the students, and how.
30th March 2009, 06:22 PM #2
What exactly makes you think they're worth the extra money in comparison? In my own eyes they're not, school budgets aren't exactly huge in the first place and the difference in cost for essentially the same item will allow you to buy lots more stuff besides. The only real plus is getting the students (and staff!) exposure to more systems outside of the windows they're getting boxed into (sic) which is never a bad thing. I don't want to sound like a mac-basher or anything like that (silly thing to do in a Mac forum!), and also as I spend far too much time sorting the ruddy things out, but I like to see people making informed decisions on what they're buying and not effectively wasting money.
Media wise, there's very little to differ between the average PC and the average Mac. You'll need decent 3rd party software for each to do the job, and you've the same interconnectivity options between them. Mac's are not magically faster or better at video processing - the hardware underneath is just about identical. The only reason many establishments (just take a look at America's education, but let's not use them as a good example!) use Apple hardware is the software involved. A Mac is pretty much what you buy, they're all identical, there's very little to change under the bonnet and as a result the software will just about nearly always work the same way from one day to the next. PC's are very different, because of the millions of combinations of hardware available, there is an element of luck involved as to whether the hardware and software combinations work half sharp. Take a look at CC3 and Sims as good examples of this So, this reason alone may make the Apple kit a worthy buy for your establishment, however of course if you buy something you expect it to work - warranties and guarantees are there for a good reason
Are there any nearby establishments with a setup similar to what you're after? There's always gonna be a couple of places in each lea with a good suite of Mac stuff, universities and colleges definitely a good bet. See if you can meet up with the IT folks there and some of the students, see what they do with them, spend a little time with the kit yourself if you can. And of course see what other information the good folks on here can offer
Last edited by synaesthesia; 30th March 2009 at 06:28 PM.
2 Thanks to synaesthesia:
Crispin (30th March 2009), webman (31st March 2009)
30th March 2009, 06:24 PM #3
See if you can get a mac mini or imac first and have a play around with garageband, iphoto , imovie, idvd etc and see what you think
Thanks to mac_shinobi from:
Crispin (30th March 2009)
30th March 2009, 06:51 PM #4
I don't! They aren't worth the money, this is the problem.
What exactly makes you think they're worth the extra money in comparison?
My original plan was to get 5 so, that would be just about viable.
I do think that they need a little exposure to the way they work and how to use them, mainly because in some working environments, mac knowledge would be a big plus.
Im not a fan of Macs, even though I've never used one, I can tell we wouldn't get on well. This is putting me off a bit to be honest.
One other thing is that an auditor of some kind (and i did verify this) was assessing the media department and a very slight criticism did cite the lack of Mac books.
I personally think its a stupid statement but if they could be used to at least open their eyes to a different operating system, open office etc... that will benefit the students I think.
It's all about money really, I have a meeting about it Thursday to discuss the possibility. I have a feeling it'll get thrown out immediately. Perhaps thats not a bad thing!
Good idea. I'll check this out. I'm sure the local uni would have some we could sniff around.
Are there any nearby establishments with a setup similar to what you're after?
30th March 2009, 07:06 PM #5
lol @ the auditor! Sounds like the same sort of people who tried to expel a pupil in a school in America for using some dodgy piece of software called "linux" thinking it was going to spell doom and gloom!
On top of visiting local establishments, would it be worth trying any suppliers of Mac hardware to see if they'll lend you anything on trial? I know RM and Dell do quite often if it means getting an order of a few more bits of kit in, and it can't hurt to ask That way you can get a few different people to use it, see what they think, get their input. Trouble is, with a new/different platform you often need more than a quick glance to get a real opinion or feel of something :/
30th March 2009, 07:24 PM #6
A couple of bonuses with using Macs in a media suite.
1) you get both windows and MacOSX, so students can choose which they use and part of their work can be justifying why they used the different OS or video / audio editing software.
2) If they go on to a media based course at Uni they may use Macs, they may use windows based systems. By giving them access to both now they can develop the skills to adapt to different systems. Transferable skills are more important than students realise. What they are using now may not be what they use at uni or in the workplace!
3) (buzzword alert) Engagement. If your Media Students are using something different and 'creative' it fosters a creative atmosphere ... but that has to be backed up by the teachers. If the teachers are frightened by the change then you lose this benefit.
4) Basic 'included' apps (iLife, etc) can be a good lead into media related courses. These tools are way more powerful than MovieMaker or PhotoStory (which do have their place though) and are good stepping stones to the mid range apps (Logic / Final Cut Express) before moving onto high end apps.
The down side ...
1) The learning curve for adapting lessons and skills can be quite large for some staff and this change needs to be managed well.
2) If you are using cross platform apps then there is not much point ... stick with what you know and are happy with.
3) There is a learning curve for you to administer them. Plenty of useful help out there but be prepared to work to get things sorted ... there *will* be a few strange things that will annoy you!
4) The cost is more and the quality is not as good as it used to be. You used to get a good 7 years out of kit but you are down to 5 years now (3 in warranty).
Personally I prefer a Mac and like Mac networks, but they are not for everyone and sometimes can turn people off media if done badly.
30th March 2009, 07:31 PM #7
Don't thank him for this post, crispin.
Originally Posted by synaesthesia
He like many is wrong on so many fronts, imho.
I can think of one reason straight away why macs make financial sense. resale value. there is a strong second hand market which help to prop up prices for used macs, there is also a lot of demand in educational establishments where the budget might not be there for new macs.
try and get some money for a 4-year old PC suite, you'd struggle to give the stuff away because the age of the machines coincide with many schools are now considering a PC refresh cycle. You'd have no problems getting decent money for 4-year old imac g5's. And they don't run windows either!!!!
the value in buying an intel imac today is in investing in a machine with little effort can accomodate both windows and an alternative windows in the form of osx. putting linux on is a little more work
but certainly doable if the will is there. As time goes by the perceived advantage of countless hardware options in the pc world is less of an advantage....pretty much most things are going towards usb interfaces or in the case of audio interfaces firewire and usb. Sure it's handy to have a pc with a serial port hanging around, but for a modern suite there are very few disadvantages with going with mac from an INVESTMENT PROTECTION point of view.
It's not all good news, i'm annoyed that apple decided to up the prices of the new imac and mini, the previous prices were a no-brainer, now it is less so. And i wouldn't personally waste money on applecare...so it requires having a good relationship with applre reseller. But the resale potential hasn't changed.
30th March 2009, 08:16 PM #8
My experience would be to make sure apple care is included. Before we came to an agreement with apple about repairs we would have spent around £6500 over 3 years on 35 Desktops and 3 Laptops.
30th March 2009, 08:23 PM #9
Yep, Applecare is a must for me too. Whilst the failure rate (in my experience) is low there are others (including DMcCoy) who have had it high.
There is always a risk with this (had the same with Dell, IBM, Stone and HP so it is across the board really) where you get a random batch that has a problem.
I would also say that you should work with a reseller rather than Apple direct. You may get a wonderful one-off deal from Apple but by dealing with an ASE you get a heap more support.
30th March 2009, 08:30 PM #10
Thanks Torledo, but I was only offering an opinion and some very sage advice. I didn't say it was all fact, merely opinion. Why otherwise would I have continued and suggested trying to find users of them, getting them on trial if I was just "wrong" on all counts. Yeah, I'm not a huge fan of Mac kit, and Apple need to be knocked down several pegs for sales tactics and bullsh^H^H^H^H^H^Hmarketing methods that are worthy of satan himself. Despite all of that, I'm all up for getting the best deal, making sure people aren't getting ripped off and seeing that people *get what they need*.
It's comments like yours that put me off posting on such forums as a "newbie" in the first place. Get on just fine in my regular ones however thats only because they're already aware of my condition and I really, really hate pulling that out as an "excuse" for sometimes being blunt.
Please, put a bit more thought into posts like that.
31st March 2009, 09:29 AM #11
I had a really bad experience of Performa 630's on an NT4 network initially which put me off Macs for about 3 years.
The first "proper" mac network I set up was with G3 snow iMacs and a nice dual processor mirror door G4 powermac. From the point on I was a convert.
I've since put in other labs and equipment and have started to move from standard PC platforms to macs with virtualisation for windows if and when I need it.
I had a lovely lab of 30 x 20" iMacs when I was teaching - I had to set it up as the county were utterly useless at supporting it. I got applecare with it and they're still looking and working beautifully I'm told by the network manager, 2 years on from when I left the school.
Apple products just *work* out of the box - I know I'm probably going to get flamed for that statement, but look seriously at the applications that are built into the OS... it's true! I had kids that had never used video editing software or music creation software knocking out music and films in five minutes of sitting down at the machines. They are more "friendly" and less "business" to kids and that instantly puts you at an advantage due to their mental decision to "like" the machine.
Industry uses macs for editing ... Industry uses PC's for editing... it's a decision call that you're going to have to look at seriously and sensibly - do you want to expose your kids and staff to what they will potentially be using when they leave school or do you want them to just find out when they get to the next stage?
Ultimately, you've got to consider your budget, what you want to achieve, what packages are available for the machines and if you want to recoup the costs a few years down the line. My predecessor leased PC's three years ago, this year I just bought the lab for utter peanuts - the machines are "worthless".
We're looking to put in some macs in the next year and I'm excited by the opportunities this will bring for the staff and students. Yes they cost more, but consider what applications you get BY DEFAULT compared to those on Windows XP. Forget Vista, no one is going to use that on their networks, so your only comparison is what is on XP as default.
Bottom line, get some gear on loan and find out what it can do - I'm trying to get eval units for the staff to reduce their fear over having another operating system. In my experience, once you guide them through a few things they're off and away and loving the experience.
There are plenty of mac users here on edugeek that will offer help and support if you're concerned with the technical aspects, so don't panic!
31st March 2009, 10:06 AM #12
that's a 10%+ premium for a rare problem that the resellers/apple should rectify irrespective of having the 3-year extended warranty.
Originally Posted by GrumbleDook
We've bought dozens of macs over the years, and we've had technical niggles and hardware issues, and been fortunate in not having a dodgy batch. But i have to say the new silver imacs appear to be giving us the fewest hassles, infact no hardware issues to date. same with the new laptop range....it's why i'm fairly confident about eschewing applecare. For the rare odd machine failure we keep a spare or two, and the spares are not sitting idle.
ofcourse applecare may be a premium worth paying for peace of mind, it's something to weigh up. But it certainly doesn't add to the main bugbear of people about upfront costs.
31st March 2009, 10:25 AM #13
Thanks for all the responses.
I honestly have trouble seeing how you guys could afford Macs in the quantities you speak of. After just a little browsing, it seems I'd be able to get 4 PCs for 1 decent iMac. That's a hard argument to contend with.
I'll most likely be looking at purchasing mac mini's if anything, but obviously peripherals/monitors may be a problem.
Another worry is that we won't be able to fix any of the gear if it breaks. If a HDD or a memory stick fails, I'd really be annoyed if I couldn't change them.
I think I would have to find a very decent reseller with a discount or perhaps invest in some refurb machines to offset the cost. Although that would obviously effect aftercare/warranty.
Can't we all just agree to use PCs? ..please?
31st March 2009, 11:18 AM #14
Speak to a reseller. I am talkign to one for a personal matter and in one of the first emails after mentioning I was school staff they wanted to know if the kit was for me personally or for the school as the discount is different. So the prices you are looking at could well be over and above what you could be paying.
On a work related point I am looking at convincing TPTB to possibly get a few macs to try out in our music department. The teachers are neither mac or PC (or technology) orientated & keep being pointed at macs by outside advice. We went through with them what they wanted and specced up PCs and software and all was fine but now they are having constant problems from expectations. Everything works but things like the configuration of the software they chose, not knowing how to do things on the software or if it is possible, when software crashes (no idea why, not the computer just the software) the license server won't immeadiately give out a new license etc all is making them hesitant to use the resources. Of course all their 'advisors' are saying "Wouldn't have this problem with a mac". So may use it as a learning experience. Set them up and say off they go. If it is all fine and dandy then we can get more in & expand, if they have the same kind of problems then they will know themselves that the advice wasn't all that great.
Last edited by TechMonkey; 31st March 2009 at 11:25 AM.
31st March 2009, 11:25 AM #15
It's a fairly easy job to take them apart and fit new memory / drives if you have a few moments spare - a lot of the new kit has a couple of screws then a lever to eject memory or drives.
Plenty of sites on the 'net that show you how to take apart the macs that are sealed.
Depending what you throw in the spec you'll be two to three times the cost of a PC yes, but then again... if you just spec the lower end of the mac range it still has really good innards. I'm getting cheapest nastiest PC quotes of around the 480 bracket for PC's... and ideally I want a bit more inside them. Get memory from Crucial or Kingston instead of from Apple and it's cheaper, just like with Dell machines and their overpriced RAM updates.
Don't forget the cost of the large high res screens are adding cost on the macs - it's not just about the motherboard/processor/drive.
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