Macs simple enough for computer novices

February 5, 2012 12:00 am

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Question: I have wondered (for quite some time now) about advice for someone who wants to be able to create movies or still photos and then add music to them. A buddy added a bunch of photos to his computer before we had our 30-year high school reunion and then added the song "Old Days" by Chicago to it. Everyone at the reunion loved the finished product.

My problem is that I am too "old school" and really don't know what I need in the way of just a basic laptop and what programs I will need to add in order for me to be able to create what I have just described. Do you have any ideas for me?

San Jose, Calif.

Answer: Everything you said tells me you should get a Mac computer. The iTunes, GarageBand, iPhoto and iMovie software you need is included and delivers great results while being easy to use. Need help? Just go to your local Apple store and you will find free seminars and a knowledgeable staff eager to help you.

A Mac will cost a bit more than a Windows laptop, but it includes the software you need, and -- since you describe yourself as "old school" -- the Mac's ease of use and the enthusiastic help you will find at any Apple store will make it worth the difference. It could be the difference between getting what you want or becoming very frustrated while not getting anything out of your efforts at all. If you want to pay a price closer to what a Windows laptop costs, you can look on Craigslist for a used one to get yourself started. Just make sure it has an Intel processor.

Question: I read your recent column concerning a receiver upgrade to HDMI. I have a JVC RX7020V audio video control receiver with a phono input. I like the sound, but it does not have HDMI.

Reading your recommendations on HDMI receivers, is there one that is equipped with a phono input for a turntable that can also produce sound quality similar to my current receiver? I do not want to add the cost of buying a separate preamp to get an HDMI receiver.


Answer: I looked up the specs of your current receiver, and -- based on the distortion ratings -- I think one of the receivers I recommended would sound better. They do make HDMI receivers with phono jacks, but they tend to be in the $700-and-up price range, so you won't save any money that way.

You seem to assume that separate phono preamps are costly, and, in fact, most of the better ones for enthusiasts are $200 and up. I do not think you need this in your case. You can get a competent phono preamp for less than $50 and be way ahead of the game in terms of the cost-to-benefit ratio. For example, if you take the Onkyo TX-SR309 for $189 and add a Behringer MicroPHONO PP400 phono preamp for $25, you are at just a hair more than $200 for an HDMI setup that will also play your records.

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First Published 2012-02-11 01:53:12
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