Mark Terry

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Apple Versus PC

August 16, 2007

I'm thinking of getting a new computer before the end of the year. I've been using PCs my entire computer-life, typically Dells. I'm seriously considering making the jump to Apples, specially a new iMac and quite likely, if I can swing the money, a MacBook to go with it for my occasional travel needs.

Here are my concerns.

1. Money. Macs are just plain more expensive. The upside of this is that because they seem significantly more resistant to viruses, you may get a longer life out of your Mac. (And I'm still surprised that old Macs seem to have resale value. Can you imagine a PC having ANY resale value?)

2. Viruses. As mentioned above. There are over 100,000 viruses aimed at Windows and only a hundred or so written to attack the Mac OS (based on Unix). Mac claims this is because their Unix-based system is less susceptible. I suspect it's because virus-writers think that Steve Jobs is cool and hip and Bill Gates is a nerdy rich guy. (Honestly, guys, Steve Jobs is a pretty nerdy rich guy, too. Really.) This is actually my #1 reason for considering a Mac, because my last Dell became totally corrupted from viruses and my current Dell--now 3 years old--has these bizarre periods of sluggishness. I don't know if it's from viruses or just heat and humidity. It's a Dell XPS mongo laptop and laptops aren't necessarily designed to run all day long due to heat issues.

3. You can get MicroSoft Office for Mac, but Mac claims the new iWork can handle it. I'm skeptical. If it were strictly writing, I wouldn't necessarily have a problem here, but I do a fair amount of Excel work with surveys and government databases, so I'm inclined to think I'm going to have to flip for MS Office either way. Also, I'm an editor, so people send me manuscripts in various formats, although unlike 5 years ago, MS Word format is almost all I get. And RTX change handle almost anything. Either way, the expenses start climbing.

4. The iMac (and MacBook) seem to be really smartly designed so you don't have to do a bunch of add-ons. In fact, taking a close look at the iMac, I'm really impressed with the design. I spent some time on the Dell website looking at a PC and by the time the $500 system had everything I wanted it costs over $1000. And what's the deal with their sound system add-ons, anyway?, the sound system on my Dell XPS is fantastic for a laptop, but we've got a cheap laptop we bought for under $500 2 years ago and the sound system is practically nonexistent. How's the sound on a Macbook, anyway?

Okay. Just some thoughts. I'm sure you've got some opinions. Lay 'em on me. I'm all ears.



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Blogger spyscribbler said...

I've been considering it myself. I'll be interested to see if anyone has any comments!

I feel a little scared to switch! Is the Windows run on that Mac-switchy-thing slower than when Windows is run on a PC?

7:21 AM  
Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

I've stuck with PCs because they are cheaper and the cheapest PC I can find does about a billion more things than I want/need to do anyway. Also, everyone I work for assumes I'm using a PC. I doubt that file formats would be a problem today (I won't buy MS Word but I have several programs that produce a .doc file). However, sometimes I'm sent software which I'm expected to use to produce the work. The clients always think there is no alternative. I suspect there are alternatives but I'm not computer savvy enough to argue and I don't want to have a Mac and be needing to work on some weird program that a client has that's only for PC. (For example right now I'm using some DOS based horror -- you can tell it dates back that far -- for SGML markup.

8:29 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

I'm not thinking of running Windows on a Mac, but Microsoft does make a Windows Office Suite for the Mac.

I don't have too many problems like that... usually. But from time to time, still, I get a file format from somebody that's a little strange. That said, I don't seem to have any luck running those funky formats on a PC, either, so maybe it wouldn't be an issue.

I think the cheapness factor, for me, is a selling point for PCs, actually.

Part of my rationale is: I want a good tabletop and a decent laptop for when I occasionally travel. I can get a good tabletop for about $1100 that includes most of the software I need, and I can get then a very good laptop for anywhere from $600 to, say, $850. Total of, tops, say, under $2000.

With the Macs, I'm looking at about $1300 to $1400, plus probably $250 more for software, then another $1100 for a MacBook, so the total price is around $2750 (or, put it another way, for that I could buy an additional laptop for my wife or kids to use in addition to the older one my oldest son hogs).

The real issue for me is that I seem to get about 3 years productivity out of my PCs, primarily, it seems because of the flood of viruses and spyware that constantly erode the computer's stability. Yes, I have anti-virus software (BitDefender, because Norton pisses me off and I had mixed results with McAffey) and I regularly run Spybot Search & Destroy, though I should run more than one anti-spyware software. I also have something called RegistryBooster that fixes registry errors, which seems to help quite a bit.

So, the point being, if I'm currently getting 3 years productivity out of a pair of computers that cost $2000, can I get an additional year (that's 4 years for the math impaired) for $3000, would it be worth it? There are some definite "ifs" there, though.

10:54 AM  
Blogger spyscribbler said...

It's the software that hangs me up. I don't upgrade much (Quickbooks 2000, Quicken 2002, Word 2002, etc ...), so switching would mean buying all new software, unless the Windows switchy thing would work. I do want Microsoft OneNote, though.

Would you ever consider using your laptop as a tabletop? If you use one of those $20 fan bases, they can be every bit as powerful as a tabletop. And with the saved money, you could get something high-end.

Pro: Macs are prettier.

3:30 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

My Dell XPS is a laptop, albeit a huge one. It was actually designed as a gamer's laptop. It's got a 17-inch screen, built-in speakers that are terrific, but the damned thing weighs 10 pounds. The one time I traveled with it I thought, this is absolutely the crappiest thing to carry around in an airport.

I can't use older Microsoft Office very well because of my editing gig. Everybody sending me stuff often have the newest Word and/or Excell software and it can cause some problems.

And yes, I agree. Apple has terrific design. If you really check out the new iMac, I was taken by the fact the computer is built into the screen, you can get wireless mouse and keyboard, there's no tray for the CD/DVD, and get this!--2 USB ports built into the keyboard!

I'll tell you, the cheap Acer laptop we've got put the USB ports on the right-hand side and I thought that was a stroke of genius. Hello! Computer designers. The back of the computer is not necessarily the best place to put all your damn ports when you're talking peripherals like flashdrives and iPods, okay?

4:38 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Oh, and another thing.

Mac is upgrading their operating system in October.

And although Microsoft has come out with Office 2007, I see that their Mac version has been delayed and won't be out until January 2008, called Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac.

On another note, I liked Windows XP a lot (far better than Windows ME, which is about the flakiest operating system I've ever encountered) and have some hesitations about diving into Windows Vista because it's such a resource hog.

4:40 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Oh, and yet another thing. I have a 22-inch flat-screen HP monitor that I run off my Dell XPS laptop. I've been told the MacBook would run it fine, as well.

4:41 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

USA Today's tech reviewer reviewed the new iMac today (talk about coincidence) and gave it 4 our of 4 stars. He also used iWork and said he was able to open Excel files with it.


6:18 PM  
Blogger Joe Moore said...

I posed your question to my son who is a federal agent for the Department of Defense. His specialty is computer forensics and he deals with both PC and MAC issues in regard to crimes committed with both. His comment was that for your purposes, he would recommended making the switch from a PC to a Unix-based system. In virtually all areas especially security, the MAC has it over Windows platforms. Have fun shopping.

9:48 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Thanks Joe. An agent for the DOD, huh? Now there's some fodder for a story...

10:41 AM  
Anonymous jw johnson said...

Do you ever reformat? Wiping your harddrive and writing it to 0's will clean up any problem and you will be amazed how well it runs again. Just do a thorough job of backup:-) 3 years and no reformat is a long time. Pain in the butt I know but if that's the only reason you need a new pc, it will save you $.

10:49 AM  
Blogger Tobias Buckell said...

You can run any windows apps on your Apple, so if there are apps you don't want to pay to switch over just yet, you can run them in real time using one $50 app that lets you vmware windows easily for all your existing software, so the main thing you need to look at is cost and security.

So far for me the macs last longer. I have a iBook from '99 still running, an iMac from '01, they have the latest OS installed on them. The iBook I'm finally ditching, sniff, due to the inability of the battery to keep a charge. But after almost 8 years, I'm kinda attached to the old original blueberry toilet lid iBook.

Also, if you're looking for a cheap desktop, stop comparing iMacs to cheap Dells, but compare the mac Mini to the cheap Dells and just plug in your existing keyboard and mouse and monitor. The mini is capable and is $600.

Also, plug in educational discount, as your son is in school, right? That'll shave off money.

Refurbed mac products come with the same warranty that you can buy for a new mac, that can save you money as well.

As you know, I'm pretty mac versed, please feel free to wing questions my way. I've helped a lot of people move over and so far no one has yet to complain LOL.

5:17 AM  
Blogger spyscribbler said...

Oh wow, I'm glad I came back to this post! Great information! I am SO jealous of the Dell XPS. I used to love gaming, but ... gosh ... I haven't had time in years.

I don't know if you pop back this far in your blog for comments, but how's the Acer? I saw a cheap one in WalMart, and the specs looked pretty awesome, especially for the price. Why is it so cheap?

I'm just nervous because I once bought an HP for cheap. Worst buy I ever made!

8:38 PM  
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