Which Mac should I get?

Hi, I am possibly going to get a mac for Christmas this year however I am wondering which mac I should get. I've read the comparisons on the Apple website however I am still unsure. I am wanting some information from people that have them and that use VoiceOver and many different apps. I am a student so I will be using my mac mainly for academic purposes however i have an iTunes library so I will most likely be using that as well. I am wondering about some of the built-in apps. First, how is Voiceover with Pages? I have it on my iPhone but I've found it difficult to use with just the touch screen so I am wondering will I have such difficulty once I have the keyboard? How is VoiceOver with numbers? As a part of my major, I will have to take a Statistics class, from what i know, we have to be proficient in Excel, however if i have a mac, I am wondering if I can use Numbers for the class instead since from what I know they are similar. Also, how is using Windows on a mac? I am wondering which macs this is possible on (for example only the iMac because the air and mini are too small for holding both OS's)? These are all of my questions so far, I hope they are understandable and that someone can give me some feedback. Thanks. Christina

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#1 My thoughts

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Hello, 1. Pages got a big update recently. I'm not a user of it myself, but all reports indicate that it is much better with Voiceover than it was in the past. Plus, it will come free with any new Mac you buy. 2. Numbers is easy to use, though I should clarify that I only use it for basic expense tracking. 3. Windows will work on any Mac, but yes, hard drive space is a concern. You should also decide if you want to use a vm (running Windows as just another app on the Mac) or Bootcamp (running it natively, as though OS10 did not even exist). Both options have advantages and disadvantages, but the concerns are the same for everyone, sighted or not, so google it and read all the articles people have already written. Either way, the only concern is that of resources; a properly configured Air can run Windows just as well as an iMac. 4. You will definitely want a Macbook if you plan to use it in classes. The main differences between the Air and Pro are: •the Air is lighter and smaller, but the Pro is relatively small as well •the Air has better battery life •the Pro has a retina display, the Air does not •the Pro has more ports on it •the Pro is more powerful, though you can configure an Air to be quite a powerhouse in its own right •the Air tops out at 13 inches, the Pro at 15, so if you are a low vision user you might consider a 15-inch screen to be important (of course, if you can get by in classes, you can hook up a big monitor at home) Let me know if you have further questions. I also recommend you email macvisionaries+subscribe@googlegroups.com to join that list. There are a lot of experienced Mac users who can offer their thoughts.

#2 Which Mac?

I think the last post did an excellent job framing the questions for you in making a choice. As I have no vision, I take the position that (all else equal) the smaller the screen the better the machine. Portability is a premium consideration for me and I have therefore chosen the 11 inch MacBook Air. I maximized both the memory and the drive size, but this did push up the price. The MacBook Pro is more expensive and I couldn't find anything that wouldn't run on the Air. I have the new version of Pages on my Air and it works fairly well. I am a long-time JAWS user and live with Word about 10 hours a day on my windows machine in the office. I still don't think Pages is as "easy" as Word with JAWS, but it's very usable in its current version. My Air runs Windows 7 easily and it is the fastest Windows machine I have used. Can't help you on numbers as I simply haven't used it enough. I find BootCamp is very easy and fast to switch between the Mac OS and Windows - only about a 30-45 second switch. VMWare Fusion also works well, but takes some getting used to in switching VO and JAWS on the fly. Depending on how you save music in your iTunes library, size may be a consideration. If you are downloading from the iTunes store or ripping in a compressed format, size shouldn't matter; but if you have a large music library in some type of lossless format, you will have issues with the drives sizes available on the Air. Hope this helps.

#3 Retina display

Hello. first, you'll really like your Mac, if you have an iPhone right now. You'll be able to use the gestures you use with the iPhone on thetrack pad of whichever mac you find. You'll get a Mac book pro for just over 1000 dollars whereas if you get the air, upgraded as the last commenter wrote you'll pay more. I've got a 13 inch non retina display and i like it. also the air doesn't have a disc drive, os if you want to watch a dvd or something you'll need to get one, which at last look was around eighty bucks. I know you'll probably use itunes. The retina displays are a little more expensive the the non retina ones, so if that's not a concern you can save a few hundred dollars by going with that. I used widnowson my last mac, haven't had the funds to get it up again. I used boot camp and though you need a little sighted help to get windows installed, it worked well for me. I should mention there's a guide doing this without help, but I haven't tried it yet. I might just do that sometime. Good luck.

#4 A Few Comments

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

No Macs nowadays come with disk drives, the only way to get one built in is to get a Macbook Pro from early 2012 (non-retina) or earlier. Yes, the 11 inch is smaller, but keep in mind that your arrow and function keys (the row along the top) will be smaller as a result. The overall size of all the rest of the keys is about the same, though. The major concern about Bootcamp is that you need to allocate memory on your drive to it, and you cannot resize that allocation later without paid software. If you give 50gb to Windows and then find you only ever use 20gb, that's 30gb wasted. Likewise, if you give Windows 50gb and find you need more, there is not much you can do. A virtual machine can grow dynamically, using only as much space as it needs to. I am running into this now - I gave Windows 200gb of my 500gb hard drive when I got my Mac Mini in 2011. I now use the Mac almost exclusively, and my Windows partition is only using 60gb of the total, so that's 140gb I cannot use on the Mac. The prices of these machines are definitely something to look at. I recommend you configure different machines on apple.com, or download the Apple Store app for iOS and use that to set up machines. Look at the prices of everything and see what is in your budget. Again, the main differences are in ports, system resources, and display quality.

#5 Re: My Thoughts

Hi, Thanks. That was a lot of useful information. I am not able to see at all so the screen does not really matter much to me which is why I would want the 11 In. air if possible because I'm not sure how useful the mac Mini would be. I will do research on what you mentioned about using Windows on the Mac. I do not really need many ports on my mac because I mainly have SD cards and to my knowledge, both have an SD card reader. I'm not sure what I wil do if I have any CD's though; I would not mind buying an external CD drive though if I needed to at some point. A majority of my music/other media downloads is mainly from iTunes. Thanks for letting me know about the Mac Visionaries list, I will join that at some point probably and ask my question there so I can get even more opinions from people with experience with a Mac.

#6 11 or 13-inch MacBook Air

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Christina, Just some food for thought: Before you decide on the 11-inch MacBook Air for sure, it is worth considering that the battery life on the 13-inch model is rated longer.

#7 Re: A Few Comments

Hi, Thanks again for this information. I will download the Apple Store app and see what I can come up with in terms of pricing and what configurations will work best for me. Also, can you explain some about the virtual machine? I'm not quite sure what that is. Thank you.

#8 Re: 11 or 13-inch macBook Air

Hi, thanks. That is good to know. I just looked on Apple, it appears the 13-inch has three more hours.

#9 The Mini is not a Laptop

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

The Mini is a desktop, not a laptop. True, it has no screen, but it also has no keyboard, mouse, or battery. Also, in looking at the two machines, I would have to say that the MacBook Air is actually smaller. The Mini has many more ports, But, again, is not a laptop. If I had it to do over, I would definitely go for the laptop option over the desktop option. As to virtual machines, this is basically a way to run an operating system inside another one. As far as the operating system being virtualized is concerned, it is running on a normal computer. However, this is due to virtualization software; the host, on which all the software is running, sees the entire virtualization program as just another application. So, I can switch into and out of Windows at any time, without needing to reboot to switch operating systems. Running an operating system natively does have its advantages, and I still strongly recommend that you look up articles on this topic on Google.

#10 VM

Hi, It is also worth noting that VM fusion and other VM software is not free. Also, you'll have to purchase a legal copy of windows to run on it. So, if you are chosing to run windows, those are the things you should keep in mind. Also, if you can afford it, definitely go for the pro. the pro I just find is far more dynamic, and it is not that much bigger in size. It is exactly the same widthness just a larger screen. I am thinking for running windows via VM, the pro might be a better option since you will have more resources to run the two operating systems at the same time. HTH and by the way, a brand new user of the Mac as well. got my 15.4 inch pro only 3 weeks ago.

#11 MacBook air and 11 inch

Hi, it is also worth noting, that the 11 inch MacBook air, does not in fact have an SD card slot. You will need a 13 inch version, to get the SD card slot as part of the device. Not quite sure why Apple has done this, but there you go.