This is a report about one Molly Paige, who is getting her first computer, an iMac.  Molly delivers the news and joins the discussions with Minyard and Minyard, weekdays from 3 – 7 p.m. on the new LA Talk1110, KRLA radio in Los Angeles.  Her story may be familiar and similar to your own experiences.

You’ll read here about her journey, from opening the box, to setting it up and getting onto the Internet.  Can she do it all in under 10 minutes?

Molly has been a computer user for a long time, but never had her own.  As a reporter, she has written her stories and printed them using a computer, and she has used the Internet to get her email.

First, the hardware:

• Apple’s great-looking and speedy iMac.  Box stock, with 32 MB of RAM.  Nothing added, though I recommend an upgrade to at least 64 if not 96MB of RAM.  They come complete with a software bundle of productivity and fun software. For most of you, it’s all you need or will want.  It’s the easiest to set up, easiest to use, most trouble-free and will provide the best, most positive and most fun-filled computing experience available.  I know this to be true because I’ve helped so many people to get started with Macs and the new iMacs and NEVER had a serious problem, never had anyone decide to switch to another brand or type and only had positive feedback.  Please visit Apple for all the iMac details and also read my original comments and review of the iMac.

• It’s not nice to plug in a computer (and the phone line to its modem) without protection from a dreaded power surge!  Yup, faster than you can blink, it could all be over in, literally, a flash.  Everyone should use a surge suppressor connected to sensitive electronic equipment.  Period.  End of discussion.  It’s cheap insurance against costly damage.  The only brand I use or recommend is Panamax.  I have been a customer for over ten years and I have never had a failure, despite numerous power surges.  To prove my point, a few years ago I foolishly plugged in my fax machine to a Panamax device without also protecting the phone line that went to the fax.  Wouldn’t you know it, my fax machine was taken out by a hit through the phone line.  I remember exactly when it happened.  The lights momentarily dimmed throughout the house.  The repair bill was $235.97.  I will never forget it.

All Panamax surge suppressors carry a lifetime warranty and come with a $5,000,000 Lifetime connected equipment warranty coverage.  Correctly connected devices are covered by this incredible protection.  There is a Panamax surge suppression product to meet any need.  My computers, audio and video equipment and office machines, as well as my major appliances are all Panamax protected.  Sometimes surges come from inside your home of office, from an appliance or office machine on the fritz that sends s surge down the line in your house and affects the other equipment.

Panamax products are solidly built from the highest quality components.  I like that.  No cheaply manufactured parts are inside these heavy-duty, quality products.  They meet or exceed the highest standards in the industry and you can trust everything you buy from Panamax.  I do.  They stand behind their products.  Don’t settle for less than the best.  You can’t afford to go with second best.  Hard to find but worth the effort!  Visit them on the Internet here.

Molly is using a Telemax 6, (SRP $99) which contains six protected outlets and an in and out for the phone line.  This is the same product needed by most of you with home or office computers with modems. Plug in a computer, separate monitor, if needed, printer, desktop light and other accessories as required.  Features “Ground OK” and “Line Fault” diagnostic lights, 6 AC receptacles, 2 modular phone jacks (RJ-11/45 compatible, pins 4,5 protected. Protects 1 phone line.) Always-on outlet, 6-foot power cord and master on/off switch. Includes 7-foot phone line. UL 1449 Second Edition Listed, CSA Certified. Call for the name and location of the nearest retailer.  Phone Panamax at 800-472-5555

• How about a printer?  I usually advise that a first printer be a black & white laser printer.  These are the workhorses in the printer world and cost in the range for consumer models of between $400 and $800.  The cost per page is peanuts and they usually print from 2,500 to 6,000 pages or more before needing a relatively inexpensive ($30 – $80 on average) toner cartridge replacement.  Sure, they cost more, but they usually run and run trouble free for years and years.  Print output is at least 600 dpi (dots per inch) and some of the newer models are coming in with 1,200 dpi models for even crisper images. Pages pop out at a rate of about 10 pages per minute, or more.

Contrast this with the purchase of a color inkjet printer ranging in cost from under $200 to nearly $500 for the top performers for home and light office use.  So far, so good, but the cost per page and the speed, as well as the longevity of the printed page are not on a par with laser printers.  Typically, inkjet printers use ink cartridges at the rate of about 250 pages per cartridge.  There are usually at least two cartridges, one for black and the other for the various colors.  Costs range from about $15 to $30 per cartridge.  This is an oversimplification, but the main point stands.  Nearly all color inkjet printers cost much more to operate than do black & white laser printers.  The difference may be as high as 10 to one!  Here’s another twist in the inkjet equation.  Most manufacturers advise replacing the cartridges six months after installation, or when the expiration date is reached on unopened cartridges.  Hey, there’s liquid in there and it dries out.  Inkjet printers also benefit from the special papers available when high quality printing is required, such as when printing graphics or photos.  This increases the cost per page dramatically.  On the other hand, photo-realistic printing at home is really cool!

The top name in inkjet printing for the Mac and PC has been Epson, with Hewlett-Packard another strong performer along with Canon.  In addition to these three leaders, Lexmark has been a well-received brand for PCs only.   I have had the best performance with numerous Epson models with generally excellent results.  I am currently using a model 740 with my iMac.  This printer comes with built-in USB ports as well as serial and parallel ports so it can be equally at home with any PC or Mac, new or fairly old.

Now, there’s a new and strong contender for this leadership role. Canon has recently introduced two new models, the BJC-5100 and BJC-6000.  The 6000 is particularly noteworthy for its purchase price, economy of use and strong performance characteristics.  Start with a $249 price.  Now, add 1440 x 720 quality, and up to 8 pages per minute in black & white, and up to 5 pages per minute in color.  There’s an even more important factor.   Normally, color cartridges contain the three or more colors together in one divided container.  So, when one of the colors is finished, the entire cartridge must be replaced, even though there may be plenty of the other two or more.  Canon’s approach in the 6000 is to use separate tanks for each color.  Replace only what is needed and save money!  Not bad.  The cost per page using the BJC-6000 is dramatically reduced to near the levels of some laser printers.

After going through the program with Molly, she decided she really wants color.  She expects to need to print a limited number of pages and, really, has no idea what she might decide to print as she gains experience with her iMac.  Molly’s going to try the Canon BJC-6000 and we’ll let you know what she thinks about it!

Here are my report notes:

March 20, 1999 – Ta Dah!  I arrived at Molly’s new apartment with the iMac unopened and sealed in its box.  I also brought the Panamax Telemax6.  First order of business, locate the power outlet and test it with the Telemax6.  First try at the preferred outlet, we found it dead!  Big surprise to Molly, as this is the outlet for her air conditioner, too.  We also tried an outlet in the kitchen and found a line fault, as identified by the diagnostic lights on the Telemax6.  Molly was unaware of this problem, too.  We then found a working outlet to use.

I started the stopwatch.  Next, I opened the box for Molly and lifted the iMac onto the table for her.  She plugged in the keyboard and mouse to the iMac, then plugged in the power cord and phone line from the iMac to the Telemax6.  I plugged in the phone line from the Telemax6 to the phone jack on the wall.

Next order of business was to turn on the iMac.  Molly did the honors and pressed the power switch on the iMac keyboard.  NOTHING!  Oops.  I was imagining the worst.  The stopwatch ticked away.  I quickly checked all the connections and unplugged and reconnected them all.  Still, nothing.  Oh, no!  Was this new iMac DOA?  Finally, it dawned on me that I should check the master power switch on the Telemax.  Duh!  Or should I say, Doh!  Sometimes even Mr. Gadget screws up.  Master switch on, Molly tried again and was rewarded with the rich and melodic Macintosh startup chord.

Up and running in about a minute, I had her double click on the “Browse the Internet” icon on the iMac screen.  She breezed through the questions that were automatically presented, and, voila, she was up and on the Internet in no time.  Actually, deducting the more than three minutes of my panic, she made it out of the box and onto the Internet with ease in less than 10 minutes.

So, goal one was met.

Next, I’ll visit Molly to set up the printer and give her some operating pointers.  Stay tuned!

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