Should You Buy A Mac Now?

by Chris Howard Dec 07, 2005

Apple is starting to slide into difficult territory where they risk losing sales of current Macs as the Intel Macs draw near.

The first of the Intel Macs seem certain to be announced at MacWorld San Francisco in a month. Rumors are Mac minis and/or iMacs and/or iBooks. I’m leaning towards Mac minis as the most likely first up. With the Mac minis sporting similar technology to the iBooks, it is possible the iBooks will be announced but releasing Intel iBooks too far ahead of Intel Powerbooks would hurt the current Powerbook’s sales. That said, I do expect Apple to “trial” their new Intel based Macs on consumers first, so there is going to be some gap between the iBooks and the Powerbooks anyway. I’m sure Steve will be chomping at the bit to get the Powerbooks out. I would be surprised to see an Intel iMac given it has recently been significantly upgraded.

To counter any possible fall off of sales before the machines are released, Apple have a promo on Microsoft Office at the moment through to 31st January (28th February in Australia). As I posted in my Apple Matters blog, I consider this strong evidence of the Intel Macs becoming available in early February in the US and early March in Australia.

Should I wait?
I am in the market for a new Mac for the kids. A few months ago I would have happily bought a mini or an iMac. And I might even now if there wasn’t so much rumors about the next Mac mini getting really serious about being a real media centre.

And then you throw in the Intel switch. Should I stick to a PowerPC Mac happily knowing that the apps I currently own will run fine on it and any I buy in the next couple of years - because of universal binaries - run fine on either a PowerPC or Intel Mac? That’s a big advantage of buying a PowerPC Mac.

Whereas the downside of buying an Intel Mac is that my old non-universal-binary apps (i.e. anything I already own) will have to be run under Rosetta. At the Intel announcement that was to be equivalent to running them on a G3. Fortunately the latest rumors doing the rounds suggest that Rosetta now has full G4 support, which wouldn’t be much of dent on what I’m already running.

The downside of a current Mac mini is the Intel version will make it two generations old. Some people won’t care, but that niggles me a little because I do like to have the latest.

Now I better take this all somewhere and not keep it to my own buying decision. Otherwise it leaves you wandering around the vacant landscape of my cerebrum.

Should you wait?
How many people have put off buying a Mac for Christmas because of the impending Intel Macs? Probably not as many as we who live and breath Mac news would like to think but if you are wondering, I’d suggest that unless you like to live on the leading edge, unless you want a real media centre Mac, then buying now is fine. Your apps will run on it as will the apps you buy for the next few years - which will correspond nicely with life of the computer. Also, it’s probable the first Intel Macs won’t contain all the bells and whistles as Apple’s track record with first versions demonstrates. They always seem to leave room for improvement. A good thing though, because those first versions tend to be more reliable as a consequence.

It’s really hard to predict the future and what your computing needs will be - for example, digital camera owners were in the minority three years ago - so, when buying a computer you should always buy for what you need now - plus more memory than you think you need.

If you are hoping for a real media centre Mac or like the latest of everything - yeah wait and see what MacWorld brings.

Otherwise, in context of the Intel switch, there’s no significant downside to buying a current Mac now, especially the G5 ones.


  • I’m putting off an iMac purchase personally.  My current mac is a 1Ghz powerbook, and for 90% of what I do, it performs fine.  However, the HD is starting to feel cramped, more ram would be nice (even though I have it at 1.25gb), and I would like to be able to burn dvd’s and make garageband, imovie and batch processing in photoshop faster. 

    If I truly needed the machine now, I’d buy.  But the more I think about it, front row has intrigued me to wait for a more capable media center mac, and I might as well hold off on ilife ‘06 (unless there’s a new killer app) and the imac until the intel rev to future proof it.

    If my current computer was a little older, or if I NEEDED the speed NOW, I’d upgrade.  But personally, I’m going to wait.

    sworthy had this to say on Dec 07, 2005 Posts: 10
  • If you want the latest you have to buy later.

    I don’t have to worry as the oldest Mac I have is less than 2 years old.  In terms of something to buy after the MWSF Keynote I’m looking for iWorks 06 to be a full suite replacing AppleWorks and iLife 06 to include Front Row (with an optional remote) and (with a lot of luck) Aperture Express.  OK, I know Aperture Express is just a dream this year . . .

    There is another interesting option for a lot of users.  Wait until the Mactel version is released and then get a PPC version at a good discount.  In all lines you’ll get a Mac that is probably similar in performance to the Intel versions and you can spend the money you save on software.

    Actually, the Keynote is only about a month away.  Unless your computer is almost dead I’d wait to see what’s announced and make a decision at that time.

    MacKen had this to say on Dec 07, 2005 Posts: 88
  • After my original powerbook 15” disaster, I have been playing the waiting game trying to figure out what to do. Finally after seeing some deals on refurbs on Apple’s site, I went with a refurb 17” 1.8Ghz iMac. It meets all my needs, was at a considerable discount ($850), and will do everything I need immediately, while not breaking my budget.

    And actually, since I have the $2100 from the powerbook refund, I’m probably going to pick up a refurb iBook as well to tide me over until I’m comfortable purchasing a rev 1 mactel laptop.

    So as disappointed as I am that my powerbook didn’t work out, I’m mildly satisfied picking up a nice mac for a very good price and holding on to it for a bit.

    motherduce had this to say on Dec 07, 2005 Posts: 17
  • If you want the latest you have to buy later.

    MacKen - I love subtlety of that statement. Nice one. smile

    Chris Howard had this to say on Dec 07, 2005 Posts: 1209
  • My old G3 iMac is just about managing to cope with working these days and I am definitely planning on upgrading come January (basically once the upgrade to iLife, which usually comes out in january is available)

    The main thing that’s concerning me though is that once you upgrade to Intel, Classic and any OS 9 legacy programs you have are dead and buried - I have a few OS 9 games and things I would like to carry on being able to use and don’t like the thought of losing my backwards compatibility.

    So I guess, I’ll be buying at least one more generation of PPC architecture before going with the shift to Intel

    iGav had this to say on Dec 08, 2005 Posts: 2
  • Yeah, I’m in a pickle on all of this. I want a new Mac… BADLY. My original plans for financing a Quad fell through (with the idea that a Quad would not only get better over time as more apps make use of multiple processors, but that the money involved would force me to do more work with it than I do with my current Mac). This 400MHz G3 with 8MB of video memory really, really doesn’t cut it. Even the 700MHz G3 iBook (16MB video, Dual USB) I have to play with is lackluster. But, I’m jaded because once a week I go over to my parents’ place and mess with my dad’s Dual Processor 2.7GHz PowerMac G5.

    But, at this point, I’d even settle for fast G4 with a minimum of of 32MB of video memory. I’d also settle for an iMac, but one of the reasons I wanted the Quad as to get myself out of the world of all in ones.

    So why not buy someone’s used PowerMac G4? Well, sadly, I can’t seem to find any at a reasonable price!

    My problem with the Intel transition is that I don’t know when they’ll be ditching the G5 processors and that I’m also not too keen on buying the first generation of any Mac.

    I seriously doubt they’ll swith the iMac at MacWorld in January. Why in the world would they go from a 64-bit processor to a 32-bit? Intel’s 64-bit line just doesn’t meet Apple’s desires, if you ask me, so all G5-based systems will still be G5-based for probably another year.

    In fact… I wouldn’t be surprised to see the PowerMacs, iMacs, and maybe the Xserves go through one more update each in 2006 before they get switched. Remember, these models basically rely on Intel’s next generation of chips - none of which are available for purchase yet.

    I agree that avoiding a PowerBook switch could be detrimental, but if they could tell us something about it… “For those of you looking for a PowerBook, ‘Think March.’” Maybe the iBooks could benefit from a short-lived glory time where they’d be better than PowerBooks (except for the screen sizes and they’d probably have other features that are worse, like no 7200RPM drive option, no gigabit ethernet, maybe a slower SuperDrive).

    I fully expect an x86 Mac mini and I anticipate an x86 iBook, but the PowerBook… I’m skeptical. We’ll see. A month is going to pass a lot faster than you might think.

    (Is time getting faster? Does it have something to do with the black hole at the center of our galaxy? Perhaps it’s growing larger, pulling more light into it, alterting our perception of time while the actual amount of time, whatever time really is, for things like… the world turning… hasn’t changed at all. Perhaps technology itself has altered our sense of time. Other animals seem completely unaffected - they go about their lives as they always have. Maybe this fast time sense is part of the human being’s natural evolution…)

    Waa had this to say on Dec 08, 2005 Posts: 110
  • I’m waiting.  Got my iMac last Dec. and this stuff is too expensive to be hopping everytime Apple comes out with something new.  Does make me wonder though.  I look at what I bought last year and is now offered, with more packaged in the deal for less today.

    It’s bad enough not being able to down load things on the net b/c we own Macs when Apple goes and makes it even harder by changing the language yet again.

    SirGeorge53 had this to say on Dec 08, 2005 Posts: 27
  • *cough*Dharma*cough*

    Waa had this to say on Dec 09, 2005 Posts: 110
  • Anytime is a good time to buy a computer.  Computers are in constant change… morphing as we type.  A person can sit until they rot waiting for the perfect ‘puter to roll on to their desk.  Look at the early 90s ‘puter ads for all the “ultimate” ‘puters available then.  If we hadn’t purchased the first commadore ‘puters, we wouldn’t be having this type of conversation.

    So buy your ‘puters now and eat, drink and be merry for Christmas and the New Year Eve’s party!  As one of us will surely write an article Dec. ‘06 asking, “Should we buy a computer now?”


    SirGeorge53 had this to say on Dec 11, 2005 Posts: 27
  • Couldn’t have said it better, SirGeorge. In Dec. 06, we’ll be asking “should I buy now, or should I wait?” There’s always something better on the horizon. You have to decide what you need, then buy the best you can afford.

    brofkand had this to say on Dec 13, 2005 Posts: 6
  • I was planning on buy a powermac but now might just wait and see what happens at the MacWorld Expo. i’ve been saving up for a powermac for 11 months now and I raise an extra $5,000 just to get a new PowerMac but after reading about apple moves to intel make me wonder should I wait for Mactel’s, I guess we all will never know which one to buy until we get to test both the PowerPc and Intel versions at the same time, I just don’t want to regret a purchase of PowerMac knowing that a Mactel might be a wise decision in the long run?

    skyline had this to say on Dec 25, 2005 Posts: 1
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