Mac vs. PC – Part 1

This is part one of a series, I’m sad to say. There should be no parts but now that I have a Mac I’ve definitly got some things to say. Let’s begin with some history.

History: I hate Macs.

There, that was easy. Now let’s really begin with a story.

A few weeks back I finally broke down and bought a 12″ 1GHz Powerbook. I’d been putting it off for a long time, but I just decided I really needed a laptop, and I wanted to learn OSX. I don’t intend to game or anything on the laptop, just really use it for mail, web and downloading pictures, so I figured there would be no harm in trying out a new platform. I had some initial problems with the Powerbook, which were all my fault and I can’t blame anyone else. It kept resetting or locking up when I picked it up and it turned out that I had not pushed the Airport (802.11b) card in far enough. I called Apple Support, they told me what I was doing wrong (instantly) and I have not had a single problem with the Powerbook since. Score one for Apple. For reference, I left Microcenter with about $1900 less in my pocket.

As it turns out I had the opportunity to buy a second laptop yesterday. I’ve been promising one to Kelly now for about 2 years and the time was finally right. She basically needs a laptop for the same reasons as me, so we didn’t intend to buy anything major, just a nice, cheap laptop. She is well versed in PC and Windows, and there is no good reason for her to learn a new operating system so we decided to buy a PC laptop.

We did plenty of shopping, from Best Buy to Microcenter to Best Buy to Comp USA where we finally purchased a HP Pavilion 4610US. It’s a AMD 2500+ based laptop with a 15″ screen, Combo DVD player and CD-RW, 512MB of RAM. After a mouse, bag, memory upgrade (from 256 to 512) and a few other sundry items we escaped the store for about $1100. An AMD 2500+ is about 1.8GHz, so right off the bat Kelly’s laptop is faster than mine, with a 3″ bigger screen for about $800 less money. Score one for PCs.

Having the unique opportunity to try out both a Mac and a PC laptop at the same time gives me some insight into the marketing you see behind these machines. The most important thing that I have to say is that the Mac and OSX just WORK. They really do. There’s nothing to configure, nothing to set up, no drivers to download, nothing weird to do. You do things that you would expect to result in certain results and they do. Albiet a little slowly. The marketing people are lying to you. A 1GHz Mac feels like a 1GHz computer. Not a 2GHz computer, or a 4GHz computer or whatever they are claiming these days. This laptop responds like the 1GHz AMD I threw away a few months ago. Let that be known.

Now, the real meat. Some comparisons.

Screen – The Mac screen and PC screen look to be of the same quality. There is definitly something to be said about the 15″ though. It’s a lot bigger. 3″ doesn’t seem like much till I hold my Powerbook up and see that the whole thing fits in her screen with some space left over. If I had it to do over again I would have saved my money a little longer and bought a 15″ Powerbook. I still love it though.

Speed – Her AMD 2500+ is definitly faster than my (much more expensive) Powerbook. No tricks or anything. Things just happen faster. That said, the 1GHz is “good enough”. I can do the things I want to do, I just wait a little longer for apps to open and such.

Ease of use – The Mac wins hands down. Everything works. Every. Single. Thing. Everything sorta works with the PC, after a little tweaking. In the short amount of time I had to mess with it I could not get DVDs to play smoothly on Kelly’s laptop when on battery power. It works fine on AC power, but on battery it “hitches” every other second. It’s unwatchable. Hopefully a driver update will fix this, but I didn’t have enough time to play with it before she had to leave. None of that on the (slower) Mac.

Aesthetics – Almost nothing to say. The Mac is gorgeous. The PC looks like a PC. Everything about the Mac is beautiful, from the power cable to the icons on the desktop.

Compatibility – The PC is Windows XP and works with everything, so not much to say there. The surprise, to me at least, is that OSX is pretty much just as good. There has been nothing so far that I couldn’t do. I was worried about the web browser sucking, but Safari seems just fine. I was worried about AIM, but iChat blows AIM away. Snak is a great IRC client and so on. Things are different but with a few minutes it’s very easy to become accustomed to them.
I’m dying without ATTray on OSX but that’s why I just downloaded XCode 🙂

Value – I’ve said it a million times and I’ll say it a million more. Macs are way too expensive. Everything about them is more expensive. Sure, Kelly’s DVD playback is a problem, but it’s one that will get fixed with a little work. I suppose Windows vs. OSX is like Linux vs. Windows there. If your time is worth nothing, Windows is better than OSX and Linux is better than Windows. For most consumers who just want to surf the web, check their email, download their pictures and maybe watch some porn I’d have to recommend they buy a Mac. There’s no weird driver incompatibilities or anything like that because Apple controls all the hardware, and they write the OS. If your Mom has a Mac there are no more calls about “How do I open a .zip file?” because Safari already did it for you.

This is getting pretty long winded, so let me summarize and then start writing ATTray for OSX.
I’m switched. I like my Mac. It was more expensive than a PC would have been and I got less actual product for my money but it’s better. It way better. You have to pay for nice things and it’s definitly worth it.
I used to think that recommending a Mac for Joe Average User was a bad idea because they would run into compatibility problems. I don’t think so any more. Aside from games, which the Mac is wayyyyyyy behind on everything else seems pretty good and at least as good as the Windows offerings.

Go ahead, buy your Mom a Mac. She’ll thank you for it by never calling you for support. There’s a hell of a lot of value in that.

On a side note, a friend of mine has been trying to get her Internet Explorer to work for a few weeks. She spent hours on the phone with Comcast, with Norton (because she had their firewall software installed) and anyone else that would listen to her. In all this time they never figured it out and multiple people told her to go buy a new computer. She called me and told me “I can send and receive e-mail, and Comcast says they can see the modem but when I open Internet Explorer it says ‘Server cannot be found'”.
Before she was done that statement I knew her proxy settings were screwed up, and so should you have. It took me about 30 seconds to guide her through getting it fixed up. What the HELL is wrong with tech support people that couldn’t find that? That’s a fucking embarrassment (along with my spelling). No wonder people get so frusterated with tech support, and hell, why not sent the support to India. They can’t be any worse than the rest of the stupid fucks who call themselves tech support in this country.


5 thoughts on “Mac vs. PC – Part 1”

  1. Jason its 802.11g, and if you have an 802.11g router you will notice the huge speed boost over 802.11b.

    That said I’m way happier with my Mac than I ever was with my Windows box, which is now a Linux machine sitting in the corner serving files and churning out tunes through the stereo. You note the speed differences and my only response is that although it really is slower, for 99% of the time that’s simply not an issue. After all the P3 500 was fast enough for me most of the time.

    Anyways I enjoyed this little piece and I am glad that you like your Powerbook.

    By the way doesn’t it have the best laptop keyboard that you have ever used?

  2. Steve – You are right of course. Airport Extreme cards are 802.11g. I forgot to mention it since my router is only 802.11b and I really only use the wireless for Internet access. Eventually I’ll upgrade the router.

    I agree that generally speed isn’t too much of an issue, but tonight I am finding one place where it definitly is. I’m delving into development on the Powerbook and compiles take a pretty good amount of time.

    The laptop keyboard is pretty good, and I’m sure it’ll be just great when I am not near a real keyboard but there is no replacement in the world for a nice Microsoft keyboard 🙂

  3. Nice comparison. I agree the Mac laptops are currently slower than the existing PC laptops, but I have successfully played a couple of newer games on them without any trouble so it isn’t all that bad.

    As for a couple of other things. It is a matter of taste, but that extra 3 inches of screen real estate ends up being the difference between me dragging my laptop with me when I go places and deciding that I simply don’t want to drag that big piece of crap around with me. I guess it depends on how you use your laptop, but the extra screen real estate turns a portable into a desktop at least to me.

    My previous laptop was a Dell Inspiron and all I can say is I hated carrieing the thing around because it just felt like cheap construction it made me paranoid that it would break. I don’t get that feeling from the MAC so consequently it gets used a lot more. Oh and BTW the Inspiron did have a hard drive that went nuts after about a year so it sounded like a jet engine so I guess I wasn’t to wrong about it being cheap.

    I do still feel dirty sometimes about having a Mac now because I was so vehmently against them for years… But the pretty command line is so much more effective than what they ship with XP now. Also, I don’t have 2 remember all that many different command sets now.

    Oh BTW some apps that I find make the Mac much better:
    -Fire (IM, without the little msg balloons in IChat)
    -NetNewswire(because checking 85 news sites a day to waste time is much better
    checking 4 or 5)
    -JellyfiSSH (Keep track of all the computers that aren’t MACS and running SSH)
    -PathFinder (A replacement for the finder that has more features, but unfortunately
    can’t completely replace the finder very well.)
    -Codetek Virtual Desktop(Because Expose is cute but Virtual Desktops are just

    Oops my response is getting really long winded so I’ll quit now.


  4. Just to let you know, if you take away the animation of opening a program in mac, it will open faster than a faster pc. Its that little animation apon opening that makes it open slower.
    Take care

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