Forum Question: Dipping My Toes into Mac-World!

Hey guys, I am getting ready to dip my toes into Mac-World and purchase a new Mac Mini (which is all that I can reasonably afford, unfortunately) which is $600 (according to the Apple website). Now, unfortunately, they no longer come with an optic drive, so that’ll be another purchase. So, I have a few questions which shall be invaluable to me in figuring my total expenses: will any ol’ external USB optic-drive work with a Mac, and might there be any issues at all? A friend has told me, recently, that some optic drives won’t read the data saved onto certain CDs. This worries me because, as an author, I often need to mail a hard-copy of a Manuscript to my publisher on a CD. Could you recommend any specific brands? I need it to be able to burn data, CDs and DVDs as well as play DVDs and CDs (had a software prob. with my optical drive playing DVDs in my last DELL PC). Also, I have been having a LOT of Hard Drive issues with my present PC, so a friend (also an author) advised me to buy an external backup HD. Would this still be a necessity with a Mac, or is there some sort of built-in backup system that negates the need for one to go out and buy an external device? Oh, and what is the average price for iWork? I have looked around to see hundreds of different prices listed, depending on the location (or, heck, even at BestBuy.Com they listed several different prices for the same software, which struck me as highly unusual). I’m just hoping that it’s a lot cheaper than Word for Mac.

Comments: 7 Responses to “Dipping My Toes into Mac-World!”

    8/27/11 @ 3:07 pm

    You might want to consider whether you need an optical drive at all. The reason they no longer come with some Macs is that many people don’t use them. I’m a major power user, as you can expect, but I just don’t use discs anymore. Have a MacBook Pro before my MacBook Air and it turned out I never used the optical drive.
    But yes, many third-party external USB optical drives will work with Macs. You just have to check before you buy to see if it is compatible. If it is, they will most likely say so in their sales info.
    I’m a writer myself, and it has been years (maybe 8?) since my publisher required a CD copy of my files. You may want to check with them again. Or, maybe send USB flash drives back and forth. Though how that can be better than using FTP or DropBox, I don’t know.
    You should have an external backup drive, yes. Macs have a built-in system for using an external drive as a backup. It is called Time Machine.
    Having an external backup is important no matter what type of computer you have. Hard drives are all standard, so you have basically the same drives in Macs as you do in PCs.
    iWork is no longer sold as a package. It is three apps: Pages, Numbers and Keynote. Each is sold in the Mac app store for $20. $20 for Pages is a lot cheaper than Word for Mac, yes.

    8/27/11 @ 4:09 pm

    Thank you so much! Could I just have them pre-install Pages on my Mac at the Apple store, then? It’d be a lot simpler (no credit card, here.) And, not having to buy the other two facets of iWork is great, considering that I would NEVER use them! They’d also just take up unnecessary space…

    However, I *am* bothered by the fact that I cannot seem to locate an external HD less than $60, though the vast majority were upwards of $90! A friend of mine from the UK said she bought one cheaply for what would be about $20-$30!

      8/27/11 @ 4:13 pm

      I don’t think they will pre-install it for you. I’ve never heard of them doing that. Without a credit card or bank card of some sort you will have trouble now and in the future as you’ll need to establish an app store account (and probably iTunes as well).
      Hard drives for $90? Yes, you should be able to get a 500GB or even 1TB drive for that. It wasn’t that long ago when drives much much tinier than that were hundreds of dollars and 500GB was not even possible. $90 is cheap!

    8/27/11 @ 4:15 pm

    Personally, for me, it’s just a lot easier to organize my various manuscripts onto separate CDs instead of cramming them all on one flash drive, or be able to purchase an individual flash drive for each one; I’d have a helluva’ time remembering which drive held which doc. ;o) Whereas, with a CD, I can write it right on the disc.

    8/27/11 @ 4:51 pm

    Damn, and being unemployed throws a wrench into that, because I can’t get a credit card OR a bank card! Say, does Apple sell app cards the way it does with iTunes? If so, then I could probably just buy one and DL it that way. I do (well, I *did*) have an iTunes acct. on my old PC that way…

      8/27/11 @ 5:03 pm

      Well, I think you can buy an iTunes gift card and use it to open an account. Ask about that at the Apple Store. If you have an existing iTunes account, then just use that. Get an iTunes card at the store and apply the credit to your current account.
      Maybe I’m getting out of my area here at MacMost: but all you need to get a bank card is to have an account at a bank.

    8/27/11 @ 7:43 pm

    Only thing I’ve used optical drive for in my MacBook Pro is importing archived photos. A jump drive will work just fine for that if you have a still-working W-based PC. (have had – and *still* have numerous W-based machines.) Couldn’t be happier with my MAC. You can’t do things on a budget you don’t have. Any USB (or other-port-based) DVD/CD R-RW/etc. external drive that you determine from specs is compatible with OS-X, will work. Earn, then spend a few bucks more for what you need. You won’t be sorry. Welcome to a better land than W-PCs.

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