I had an interesting discussion on my Facebook page last week about this. Our current desktop PC is an aged Dell. I’ve tried this, that, everything and more to keep it running but Anno Domini is calling and it’s time to replace it. Given that I’ve had frustrations with Windows, I thought this might be the time when we’d have to consider an iMac, even though my beloved brother-in-law works for Microsoft and that would feel like a family betrayal. So as part of the research I borrowed a MacBook from a friend. I also downloaded the Consumer Preview of Windows 8 onto a spare laptop. I asked friends on Facebook for their opinions, and had constructive thoughts from people on both sides of the debate.
Before any of this, I had ruled out going over to Linux. I’ve had bad experiences of it, and if it sent me scurrying around Internet forums for hours trying to find solutions and spending more time than I’d like on the command line than in the GUI, then what would it be like for Debbie? A price of free, gratis and otherwise no charge is very attractive, but is sadly impractical.
Why, then, still come down in favour of Windows when so many can eloquently describe the superiority of Macs? Here are the reasons that led to my conclusion:
Macs may look very nice, but over a period of years I’m not going to be comforted by an attractive appearance when there’s a problem to solve. Yes, Rebekah our daughter loved the sight of the shiny MacBook and the way the keyboard lit up in dark conditions, but I need more.
Then there’s integration. Some of my friends need synchronisation with their iPhones and iPads. I possess neither. My smartphone runs Android, and my contract is coming to an end in the next few weeks, but I just can’t afford iPhone prices. The only way I could afford one would be an old iPhone 3GS, and that would be no better than my existing HTC Desire. So I’ll be sticking with Android, and that’s not compatible with Macs, whereas it is with Windows.
An advantage of the Mac is the possibility of running both Apple’s OS X operating system and Windows. There is a variety of ways that can be used. However, the spec level we could have afforded in an iMac, while fine for running Mac software (which has a lower RAM footprint), would be no better than what we currently crawl along in for Windows programs. Hence a Mac would be little use for keeping some essential Windows apps. The spec would likely mean a complete conversion to Mac, and that would mean further expense. Had our budget been larger, this would have been a strong argument for change.
What about the learning curve? I picked up the bare essentials of OS X from an hour’s tutorial by my friend Richard, who loaned us the MacBook. I ran into trouble after a couple of days, when a utility refused to allow me to shut down the computer. Fortunately, after a couple of emails I learned about Apple’s ‘Force Quit’ application, which is much neater than holding down Ctrl-Shift-Esc to bring up the Task Manager in Windows. Overall, one friend who is experienced in using both systems and who for work reasons has had to alternate between them estimated it took him between three and six months to adjust to the change each time, and he is computer literate. Debbie, my wife, was just too daunted by that time scale, especially at a time when our children still consume much time in their dependence upon us. “Perhaps I’d be willing to consider a Mac next time,” she said.
So Windows it is, and I’m aware that what has gone above doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement for it, more a case that our circumstances led us to this decision. Well indeed, there are certain Windows bugs that in time will infuriate us. However, one of our current limitations was that we were confined to 32-bit Windows 7, and that meant a much lower RAM limit than the 64-bit versions. Also, given the fact that I’m sure one of our problems has been an elderly hard drive slowing down, I’m going for a system that combines a 1 terabyte hard drive spinning at 7,200 rpm with a 120 GB solid state drive, with much faster performance. Furthermore, my early impressions of Windows 8 are good, even though there will be several new ways of working to learn with that.
What have I ordered? Essentially, I looked at PCs specified for gaming and photo and video editing, in order to have the sort of power that would last. One friend who makes particularly heavy duty use of computers (full-fat Photoshop, Indesign and the like) raved about a company called Cyberpower. I spent a lot of time trying out different configurations on their website. They have an amazing range of options and components, bigger, I think, than any other company whose website I’ve visited.
But in the end I couldn’t quite get the spec I wanted within our price range, and so I went to a company that keeps winning awards for its computers, namely Chillblast. Here, then, is an image of roughly what our new baby will look like:
I’ve tweaked the sound card and monitor, plus I’ve gone for an internal card reader so I can just take memory cards out of cameras rather than plug the cameras into the USB ports.
That’s our story, then, and I share it in case our experience is any help to you. How have you decided about computers? Why not share your stories briefly below?
Just one condition. As I said on Facebook, no fanboy stuff, please, from any party. Sensible, rational accounts would be much preferred!
Hmm I have been working with Windows computers since the early 90’s and I will say that I have no beef with XP, in fact I keep it because I am familiar with it and I like it for games that I got before Windows 7. Now within the last few years however I came across Linux from a computer magazine that was featuring it it was Ubuntu 9.10 and I ran it from the Live CD that was enclosed. Since then it has been an awesome journey and I now run Ubuntu 10.10 and Windows 7 together on my laptop. If you would like more info on why I love Linux so much check out my blog http://anthonyvenable110.wordpress.com
Welcome here and thanks for your comment. I’ll check out your blog. I might still be persuaded to put a partition for Ubuntu onto the new PC!
Very good I hope it works out well for you. One thing I love about having a dual-boot system is that if I have a problem with Windows, then if I run Linux it will repair the issues without me even telling it to.
Reblogged this on anthonyvenable110 and commented:
this is a great post
If you were to consider a Linux Partition, I’d recommend Mint Linux as the most user friendly to setup, install and run as a Windows user.
It starts from an Ubuntu base, but has some very nice customisations and changes which make it far better than Ubuntu. Well worth a dabble…
Thanks for the recommendation, Mike. After what Ubuntu did to a laptop when I made the mistake of trying to upgrade one application to a more recent version, if I try Linux again it will definitely be a different distro.
Well, I’l try not to be a fanboy, but I converted from WIndows to Mac and would genuinely never go back.
If I may be permitted to say, I’m not convinced by some of your reasoning – had you not already purchase your new PC, I may have tried to change you mind…
In the main:
1. Android phone “compatibility” – I am unsure what actually has to be compatible – do people still sync phones with PCs anymore anyway? Gmail, hosted exchange etc. all has the ability to sync calendars, contacts etc. over the air. The App store requires no PC connection.
2. I’m not sure what you mean when you say Mac software has a “lower RAM footprint,” but when RAM can be had for about $30 for 4gb, I fail to see how this matters. I have 8GB on my MacBook Pro – 6gb for OS X and 2gb for Windows 7 running in a virtual machine. They are both available to me all day, complete with their applications, with a swipe of four fingers.
3.Windows 8 is horrible horrible horrible!
Just my 2c…..!
Some good thoughts, thanks, and I don’t mind you disagreeing at all. I just wanted to avoid the sloganeering that goes on from all sides of the debate. It isn’t just Apple who have fanboys!
I take your point entirely about the RAM, but the Android stuff was more that I was told a Mac wouldn’t recognise an Android phone as an external drive, therefore transferring files would have been problematical. My one Apple device – a 160 GB iPod – is completely full and I use my phone for supplementary music. Other points you make about syncing calendars and so on I entirely agree with you.
In the end, none of these was decisive, although the Android question was the strongest factor. I would have been quite willing to put in the time to learn a new OS, but my wife was far too daunted by the learning curve, and that was where all the perfectly good reasons for buying an iMac floundered in the end.