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Switcher Hangout The place for switchers to discuss their new machines, and how to work with OS X. General support can be had here for newbie stuff, like "How do I restart my new iMac?" :)

Buying advice for church?


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Porphyro

 
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A little background: I am a Lutheran, and instead of deacons or elders, we have a church council. I'm a member of council at my church and we briefly talked about replacing a couple of computers at our last council meeting.

We do not have a written policy on office computers, but we're thinking of formulating one. Such a move includes trying to figure out what sort of purchasing we want to do. Right now the office computers are PC's, but two of our pastors have MacBooks at home.

I think it would behoove our church to invest in Apple computers instead of wasting so much money (and used computer equipment) running through PC's every three or four years. My wife has a G3 iBook and it is running Tiger pretty well...try that with a 7-year-old PC.

"The switch" is one issue, but right now I'm worried about cost. I need to put together a loose possible buying scenario to present to council.

Three questions:
1) Are there nonprofit/church discounts or purchasing plans for Macs?
2) What would a reasonable turnover time be for replacing iMacs/Macbooks? Less often than 3 years, for sure.
3) We have a church secretary (desktop), parish pastor (desktop), campus pastor (laptop), and youth pastor (laptop or desktop, lappy right now). If you were our IT purchaser, what sort of setup would you go with? We have about a $450k annual budget, but technology isn't given a regular chunk of that.

Interesting tidbit: I've read in several places that Steve Jobs is a Lutheran.
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fleurya

 
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I've never heard of any discounts other than education discounts. If there isn't anything on the Apple website, then they probably don't have it. At least you have the tax free thing going for you!

As far as what computers to get, I would say the best and most economical choice would be the Mac mini's and some inexpensive monitors, keyboards and mice (you could even use what you already have in peripherals). You can get the refurbished minis on Apple.com. Laptops don't seem necessary and I can't imagine you'll be doing anything that requires anything more powerful than a mini.

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The first question to ask is. What are you doing with the existing computers? What software are you running and what kinds of data are you working with?

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ki99

 
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i would definitely agree with fleurya, that mac minis would serve you great. and if you really need a laptop, a low end macbook would do the trick. macs can last a long time if you don't need the latest. i have an 11 year old power mac that still could serve me for a while had something happen to my current mac.
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I'd go with a Jesusphone.
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All the pastors at my church work off Macbooks, the data projector is run off an iMac, as is the administration.

I've seen some church's that sell cheap software (like Photoshop, Dreamweaver etc) to churches for ministry purposes. So maybe you'd be able to find one that sells computers... if not, you could always get a student in the church to buy some computers and get the 10% discount... then donate, and you reimburse or something!

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shoelessone

 
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My personal advice in your situation would be to stick with windows.

4 years of life out of a PC is not at all bad, and if you bought a few current computers capable of running Vista (well), you'll be good for AT LEAST another 5-7 years I bet.

A mac mini might also be a good option, but as people before me mentioned, the big question is what are you planning on using the computers for? Also, will the people who have been using the PCs be happy about a total opperating system switch? For myself it was a lot of fun, but if people are using a particular set of software, and have been for a long time, they might not be too pleased about the idea!
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soloudinhere

 
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I have a PC laptop that I got in 2001 and while I want to beat it because it's slow (processor is 1.2GHz, but it can only take a max of 512mb ram) I also dropped it down a flight of stairs last week and it works fine.

Is it ancient, yes, but it still works and it's cranking away running XP SP2 just fine right as I type.

PCs can last plenty long. You just have to spend more outright to get the good ones.

I hate to say this, because I love my mac, but since you're operating on a budget I really think you could save more time and money by buying small business machines (I personally LOVE HP for this. I have had two of their small business lappys and the things are TANKS in terms of build quality) and they come with 3 year warranties standard. especially since you're buying desktops, you can get a LOT more longevity out of a new small business desktop than you can out of the undeniably aging mac mini.
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shoelessone

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soloudinhere View Post
I have a PC laptop that I got in 2001 and while I want to beat it because it's slow (processor is 1.2GHz, but it can only take a max of 512mb ram) I also dropped it down a flight of stairs last week and it works fine.

Is it ancient, yes, but it still works and it's cranking away running XP SP2 just fine right as I type.

PCs can last plenty long. You just have to spend more outright to get the good ones.

I hate to say this, because I love my mac, but since you're operating on a budget I really think you could save more time and money by buying small business machines (I personally LOVE HP for this. I have had two of their small business lappys and the things are TANKS in terms of build quality) and they come with 3 year warranties standard. especially since you're buying desktops, you can get a LOT more longevity out of a new small business desktop than you can out of the undeniably aging mac mini.
Yep, I 100% agree with this. My server which is running XP Pro w/ service pack 2 is a 733mzh machine, and originally came with Windows 98 SE. Although I won't be running the latest games on it, I can (and do) still use it for lots of things, including downloading torrents, browsing the web via firefox, etc, etc, etc. If I was just using word (as long as it was word 2007), excel, that sort of thing, it would still work perfectly for me.
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Village Idiot

 
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My opinion is that Mac Minis are horrible for the price. They're at the end of their life cycle and unless Apple either drops the price, upgrades the componenets, or brings out a computer to replace them, then they're not at all worth it. For the same price you can get a Dell that will blow the minis out of the water.

If you want to go cheap apple, go iMac. They're a lot better value for the price.

Also, call Apple. Just because they don't have anything advertised on their site doesn't mean that they don't do discounts for businesses and churches and such...

Are you guys currently networked? If so, that may be a consideration...if not, then don't worry about that one.

An iMac will last you as long as it takes for the parts to start failing, unless you're gaming or running some kind of secret software designed to unravel the hidden codes in the bible, you probably won't be doing anything too hardware intensive and the programs you would be using now can be used for ever...

Same thing with a PC really. There's still businesses that use orignial pentium computers because that bit of software they started using 10 years ago is what they're still using today...I'm not saying there's a ton of them, but there's places out there that have people running them that aren't tech saavy and don't need anything more than what they've been using since they went into business...

edit: I guess I type too slow...

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soloudinhere

 
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the advantage to PC small business desktops, in addition to the 3 year onsite warranty, is that the components are upgradeable. This is what makes the imacs a bad deal. In three years, if you're tired of the computer, just get a new motherboard and ram. No big huzzah.

Desktops that use laptop components are to me a stupid idea. Desktops should be cheaper and faster than laptops, by quite a bit. The iMacs are fine, but for the cost of a 20" iMac you could buy a pretty insane business desktop from a PC manufacturer. Won't be as pretty and shiny, but you also won't have to buy all new software liscenses and you won't have a pretty shiny brick when the hard drive goes.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soloudinhere View Post
the advantage to PC small business desktops, in addition to the 3 year onsite warranty, is that the components are upgradeable. This is what makes the imacs a bad deal. In three years, if you're tired of the computer, just get a new motherboard and ram. No big huzzah.

Desktops that use laptop components are to me a stupid idea. Desktops should be cheaper and faster than laptops, by quite a bit. The iMacs are fine, but for the cost of a 20" iMac you could buy a pretty insane business desktop from a PC manufacturer. Won't be as pretty and shiny, but you also won't have to buy all new software liscenses and you won't have a pretty shiny brick when the hard drive goes.
Except that it's cheaper for most businesses and consumers to simply buy a new machine.

If I told my boss that we don't need to buy a new replacement PC and explained to him I'd purchase a motherboard, new RAM, new CPU, new harddrive and invest a few hours ripping out the old components and installing these he tell me I'm mad.

In my opinion the only people who need upgradable systems are people running high-end machines that need to constantly stay up to date with the fastest technology (video professionals, high-end creative users) and gamers.

Your average Joe AND your average boss will not want the hassle and would much sooner plunk down the cash for a new all in one.
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soloudinhere

 
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Originally Posted by Aptmunich View Post
Except that it's cheaper for most businesses and consumers to simply buy a new machine.

If I told my boss that we don't need to buy a new replacement PC and explained to him I'd purchase a motherboard, new RAM, new CPU, new harddrive and invest a few hours ripping out the old components and installing these he tell me I'm mad.

In my opinion the only people who need upgradable systems are people running high-end machines that need to constantly stay up to date with the fastest technology (video professionals, high-end creative users) and gamers.

Your average Joe AND your average boss will not want the hassle and would much sooner plunk down the cash for a new all in one.

Funny, I work for a multibillion dollar company and they replace components all the time.

If you replace all that, the only thing you didn't change is the case. Then, yes, it makes sense to buy a new one. If you just replace the hard drive and up the ram, it takes maybe half an hour and costs maybe $200.

What you spend $1500 on an iMac, the boss men aren't as happy about just chucking it and buying a new one, especially since they could have had two PC towers for that and they know it...even if each tower only lasted two years (unlikely), you'd still get 4 years out of the same $1500 that might make it 3 years on an iMac. Desktops just weren't meant to have laptop parts in them. All you gain with the iMac is total lack of user repairability and some kind of all in one form factor that personally, I don't really see the merit of.

In this particular situation, a group on a budget with a desire to have the hardware last as long as possible, the iMac and mac mini just don't make sense. You're effectively saying well the computer is disposable anyway, whch is precisely the idea the OP was trying to avoid.
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Alexis

 
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the advantage to PC small business desktops, in addition to the 3 year onsite warranty, is that the components are upgradeable. This is what makes the imacs a bad deal. In three years, if you're tired of the computer, just get a new motherboard and ram. No big huzzah.
I used to think that, but have you seen the prices Macs go for on ebay? They hold their value, whereas PCs, like many cars, are depreciation disasters.

In three years, put your iMac on ebay and you've got 70% off your next iMac.
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soloudinhere

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexis View Post
I used to think that, but have you seen the prices Macs go for on ebay? They hold their value, whereas PCs, like many cars, are depreciation disasters.

In three years, put your iMac on ebay and you've got 70% off your next iMac.
That's likely to not be as true now that they're updating more frequently to keep up with the intel updates. Their computers are becoming outdated and 'previous model' a lot faster than before, and with the performance jumps coming so quickly a lot of people are a lot less willing to spend 70% of the cost of a new mac on an old one when the new ones are so much better.
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