Why most people should buy a Mac

Danny Gorog

Editor’s note: welcome to our new Mac blogger Danny Gorog. Danny is a Melbournian who has been opining on Macs some time for Australia’s top selling newspaper the Herald Sun.

We’re incredibly pleased to have Danny on board with APCmag.com and hope you’ll enjoy his perspective on things as much as we have in talking to him.

Danny launches his online coverage today with guns blazing posing the question: should you buy a Mac or a PC? Danny is naturally arguing that there’s only one correct choice there and it ain’t the PC.

Welcome aboard Danny. I hope you’re wearing a thick flameproof suit!

Dan Warne
Online Editor APCMag.com

APC readers are not ordinary computer users.

We can swap a hard drive in under three minutes buy RAM with the right latency instinctively and maintain an updated OS image almost as easily as breathing.

But that’s the point — we’re not average computer users.

If you’re an ‘average’ computer user choosing to buy a Mac is the right decision.

Sure Macs are not for hardcore gamers who demand to be able to play all the latest game titles. They’re not for people who like to tweak every aspect of their computer on a clockspeed level [though that’s not to say there’s not a very active Mac hardware tweaking community].

But the people described above are not average computer users.

On the whole the ordinary person needs a computer that lets them email surf the web write letters and documents browse and edit digital photos rip and listen to music and watch DVDs. They might dabble in P2P and Skype.

For those users a Mac is absolutely ideal and the only decision they need to make is whether to by an Apple notebook or desktop.

Admittedly it hasn’t always been an easy choice.

Just 18 months ago when Apple was stuck in the rut of using underpowered PowerPC processors it was hard to convince average users of the benefits of a Mac. Anyone who needed to run Windows would have to shell out for the rather costly virtualisation package Virtual PC and a licence of Windows. It ran unacceptably slowly even on the fastest G5 Macs.

No wonder then that people still worried about compatibility between the Mac and Windows versions of Microsoft Office despite this issue having been resolved over a decade ago.

Since Apple switched to Intel processors lingering perceptions about compatibility are starting to fade away. It’s helped along by the fact that more and more computers are seen as communication tools not just gaming and office suite machines. Macs are first class computers when it comes to internet connectivity with a great default web browser and networking configuration that is dramatically easier than Windows’ gordian knot.

“But Macs are so expensive!”

Of course there’s still the lingering chestnut that Macs are still too expensive. My tip to ordinary computer users is not to take the advice from your geek friend who builds his own computer in the back room — yes dear APC reader I’m sort of talking about you.

But don’t be offended. I’m trying to save you time in tech support.

Unfortunately the ordinary computer user doesn’t realise that it’s necessary to be connected to the net to download virus updates; has no idea of the importance of running Windows Update and doesn’t know what the guy from Symantec is on about when they ring to say the subscription’s expired.

The ordinary computer user is going to call you for help when they start getting popup ads appearing randomly when they’re in the middle of working in Microsoft Word. You will be the one working on the weekend to disinfect their PC from the latest malware installed by your friend’s eight year old.

Getting back to the cost it’s true that you won’t find a Mac as cheap as cheapest red spot specials from Dell or Acer. But have you actually tried buying one of those $799 laptops recently? By the time you spec them up to a reasonable standard you’ll find you’ll have spent half as much again in extra RAM and an upgrade from basic DVD-ROM to DVD writer.

If you’re still working on an assumption from a few years ago that Macs are too expensive and a PC is far better value do yourself a favour and do a feature-by-feature analysis comparing a Macbook to the latest from HP Toshiba or Dell (they’ll be the ones in the Harris Technology catalogue with memorable names like GXA-5456a). I guarantee that you’ll find in an even-featured match that the Mac stacks up well.

If it is still a little more expensive don’t forget to factor in your time to help your friend remove all the trialware that comes preinstalled as standard and the extra cost for your friend to keep their anti-malware subscription up-to-date. Also toss in 3-4 hours of $100 per hour on-site tech-support for the year for the few weeks you go on holidays to Queensland and your friend desperately needs help. Just in case.

Why Windows users are sort of into bondage

Users who have done the above analysis and still buy a PC are plain stubborn. The truth is as much as they don’t want to admit it some people are simply slaves to their PCs and Windows. It’s a weird sado-masochistic bondage fetish: they take pride in routinely keeping their security suite up-to-date installing all the latest Windows patches and religiously staying on the lookout for new vulnerabilities

Oh and there’s no doubt the ordinary computer user will have heard that Macs can’t run as much software as PCs. Tell him to give Parallels or Boot Camp a shot (it’s real actual Windows running on a Mac at near full speed under Parallels or full speed under Boot Camp. Complete with all the malware risks that Windows on any other PC comes with.)

Most Windows users who move over to a Mac quickly discover how much they don’t need Windows. A quick look through MacUpdate.com VersionTracker.com and osx.iusethis.com will unearth numerous excellent freeware and shareware apps for Mac that do the same tasks as well as or better than the Windows tools your friend is probably accustomed to.

And of course when your friend buys a Mac they’ll also get OS X clearly the most advanced desktop operating system (still miles ahead of Windows Vista in most areas) plus the iLife suite that will literally transform the way you consume and create your digital media.

And you’ll buy in to a community of users who actually care about their platform and are enthusiastic about helping other Mac users.

Finally if your ordinary computer using friend has given the Mac a go for a month and decides he doesn’t like it he can sell the Mac on eBay for 80% – 90% of the original price tag. It’s got to tell you something about Macs that their resale value is so well maintained despite the fact that nowadays their internal architecture is much like any other well-made PC.

So after all that what is your friend … and what are you … waiting for?