Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Mac versus PC (08/2006)

Q: I need a new computer. I LOVE to use a Mac, but would it do what I need it to do at home? My primary use for a computer would be to chat on AOL, send email, and manage music and photos, and just general internet usage. My budget for a computer is not very high. I was trying to stay within $600-$800. Heather C. - Florence

The Apple Macintosh (“Mac”) versus the Personal Computer (“PC”) is one of the longest running debates in computing history. My success in finally resolving the issue is about as likely as collecting money from a Neese but I think we should at least make an attempt.

One of the most often-touted benefits of owning a Mac is the fact that it is less susceptible to viruses and is more stable than a PC. This is true but with some caveats. Macs comprise less than 5% of the total computers out there. Because of that, virus and spyware authors don’t bother writing malicious software for Macs. If you loaded up a Mac with all the junk software found on many PCs the Mac would likely become just as “unstable” as a PC. But, for now, the Mac is more stable and more secure than a PC.

Software designed for Windows will not run natively on a Mac. Although you can do everything on a Mac that you can do on a PC, there are rare times when Mac users feel stuck in a PC world. For example, you will not usually find Mac software at Wall-Mart. The line between PC’s and Macs is blurring a little with the recent introduction of a new Macintosh that will allow users to run both Windows and Apple’s operating system (called “OSX”) but I don’t believe the average home user will care about this ability.

If you ask any Mac user what he thinks of his computer, you will generally see his eyes glaze over while they proclaim their love for their Mac and use terms such as “elegant,” “beautiful,” “stylish,” that will generally evoke a slow, backwards step away from formerly-normal nerd. These people usually aren’t nuts. The Mac really is a work of beauty and elegance from the inside out. If you open up the case of a PC you are likely to see a disorganized rat’s nest of wires and electronics – especially if it is one that I built. The innards of a Mac are arranged with Zen-like cleanliness. The same can be said of the operating system. Things are simply where they are supposed to be and do what they are supposed to do.

For the average computer user who just wants to surf the internet and check email, a Mac is considerably more expensive than a PC. A Mac (including monitor) will set you back at least $800.00 while a PC can cost as little as $300.00. Granted, the $300.00 computer will not have nearly the features and capability of the least expensive Mac but many home users could not care less about many of the cool features of the Mac. Computer savvy folks are much more likely to appreciate the advanced features and quality of the Mac.

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