Because of what I do I get to answer computer questions. Most are for the beginner computer people out there.
If you are not the sort of person who would ever be interested in games and you do not use a Windows machine at work then go with the $799.00 Mac Mini. Buy the apple keyboard and mouse for another $100.00 and a digital flat panel monitor with a DVI port. A Dell ultra sharp monitor refurbished from a company with a good return policy will cost you about $150.00
so your looking around $1050.00 for a 'good' starter Macintosh. It will have all the basic software you could use.
You can get by without security software.
You will not be able to buy software for your computer from most normal outlets.
Very few people will be able to help you with any tech problems (few occur actually) and your internet provider will not have a clue how to set up your system (99.9% of the time this will not be an issue)
Or you can buy a PC with keyboard mouse monitor for $550.00 (based on Dell inspiron 530)
1. Either pay $40.00+ a year or get anti-virus for free.
2. Use either windows defender or some spyware program for free.
3. Buy Microsoft Office with your computer for either $150.00 or $280.00 or get a compatible office product for free. FYI if you buy Microsoft Office Small business your looking aroun $370.00.