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Meeting Notes

November 2006 - Mac Extras & Gadgets

Here are just a few of the many things you may be interested in:

Web sites of interest:

  • Deal Family - All of these sites are under same management. Many posted items are based on tips from readers. Prices are generally verified. Repeated complaints about a vendor result in their deals no longer being published. They also have forums for discussion.
    • Deal Mac - Great daily update of best Mac related deals
    • Deal News - Daily update of generic deals
    • Her Deal News - Daily update of deals for the female
    • Deal Ink - Great place to find best price on ink for printers
    • Deal Ram - Great place to find best prices on Ram, USB keys, removable media
    • Deal Cam - Great place to check going price for digital cameras (video and still)
    • Deal Coupons - List of available coupons
  • Deals on the Web
  • Slick Deals - exclusively reader posts, well organized
  • Tech Bargains
  • Tech Deals

Vendors of interest:

  • Mac Specific
    • Apple Store - online reseller of Apple products and more
    • Other World Computing - Great Mac addons. Been around a long time. I have bought happily from them in the past.
    • Small Dog Electronics - another online Mac shop (got my iPod here)
    • CompUSA - Online and local vendor of Mac and other goodies
    • Best Buy - Online and local vendor of accessories
  • General Vendors (new stuff)
    • Newegg - large online retailer. They tend to have pretty good prices. Great place to get a ballpark price. I have purchased from them several times without any issue.
    • Frys - web site with a subset of the products at Frys retail stores. Decent prices with good sales at times.
    • Amazon - giant online superstore
    • Dell - good prices on LCD Displays, cameras, etc (when you can catch the right sale)
    • Office Depot - online and local store for many accessories and supplies
    • Circuit City - online and local store for extras
  • iPod, Media, Accessories
  • New/used/refurb Dealers
    • Computer Geeks - started out as a warehouse resale shop. Now they have lots of good stuff (including Macs). They sell new, used, and refurbished items (clearly marked). Prices vary widely (compare before buying). They have been around for years. I have bought from them many times without issue.
    • Surplus Computers - random collection of products. Mostly resale of overstock purchased items.
    • Just Deals - Another resale of surplus items.


Apple has quite a variety of systems. And do not forget about refurbished deals. They can be pretty good at times.

  • Top of the line desktop: Mac Pro - dual processor, dual core work horse just asking for dual or quad displays
  • iMac has 17", 20: and 24" models that also support a second LCD (not mirrored) started at $999. This can be a great home solution.
  • Mac Mini starts at $599 and has a Core Duo processor. Great solution when size matters. Limited to a single display.
  • Mac Book Pro - top of the line 15" or 17" laptop starting at $1999
  • Mac Book - 13" consumer laptop starting at $1099. Latest model is pretty close to Pro line in horse-power, lags behind on screen and video card.

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The Apple iPod line provides numerous choices. Purchasing refurbished models enhances the choices and can save real money. And the rumors predict a whole new iPod line in a few months...

  • 30 GB and 60 GB Video iPods at $249/$349
  • 2 GB, 4 GB and 8 GB Nanos for $149/$199/$249
  • 1 GB Shuffle for $79

Remember that accessories will cost you. Not counting FM transmitter, you can spend $20-$100 easily and the FM transmitters go from $7-$100 (and the cheap ones do not cut it).

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You have a lot of choices in printers today. I recommend that before you buy a printer, look at the price of ink/toner (and paper if youn eed special paper). On the ink jet side, I have found Epson to be reasonably durable and the cheapest on ink (generic ink -- check Deal Ink). On the laser side, I have been real happy with my Brother. You can get low end laser printers in the $125-$75 range. If you want network attached, they tend to be in the $150-$250 range. Color laser printers have dropped a lot lately. I do not have any real experience here -- comments?

With the ability to burn CDs and DVDs, a printer that prints on printable media might be wise. If you plan to print pictures, make sure you check out the print time per page at maximum resolution (some printers really slow down on best quality).

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Web Hosting

I hope to get my own web hosting account Real Soon Now (TM). I see this as a family present. I hope to provide picture upload for my wife and I and for her sisters and their families. This will mean a little work for me to configure some things up front.

I am looking at DreamHost. Their current pricing is $7.95 a month for 200 GB of disk (if paid 2 years in advance). It also includes 1 domain and 2 TB of bandwidth. Look out for emac3.net somewhere down the road.

Some might even be able to back up most of their music with 200 GBs.

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Internal Hard Drives

Internal hard drives are relatively easy to swap out on desktop machines. You can really get a bargain buying your own drive and installing it yourself.

Be aware of a couple of items. Older Macs do not support over 128GB drives. Some support drives larger, but the boot partition must be in the first 128 GB. Drives are now available in sizes from 40 GB to 750 GB.

Older Macs use IDE drives and newer ones use SATA. Some use 2.5" but most use 3.5". You can find out about your particular Mac model several ways. Visiting Other World Computing maybe the least painful. Their upgrade page tells you what options you have.

If you are planning to upgrade a drive, I now recommend Seagate drives. They come with a 5 year warranty where most others are at 1 year or 3 years. Newegg is a great resource for hard drives. Last time I checked, Newegg has 320 GB Seagate drives with 5 year warranties for $90 (IDE and SATA).

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External Hard Drives

External hard drives are great ways to add extra storage. You can get USB and/or Firewire drives. I personally prefer Firewire for connecting to a Mac. getting a drive that does both is a great solution (providing both options). You can also buy an enclosure and add your own internal drive. Make sure you confirm the maximum size drive supported by the enclosure before buying (many have limits like 128 GB or 400 GB). Empty cases start at $7 and go to over a $100. A decent price for a non-fancy one is $20-$30.

Whether you are buying this as a backup or as additional storage, an external drive is a nice idea.

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USB Flash Drives

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Memory Cards

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