Why I considered – and rejected – a Mac

Why I considered – and rejected – a Mac

My computers are old. My desktop just turned four, and its Pentium D processor just isn’t able to cope with some of what I throw at it (especially editing of HD video). My tablet will be five in November, and it’s becoming physically disabled. (The power cord comes loose and the trackpad seems to be flipping out – the cursor often becomes uncontrollable.) I can put up with some desktop slowness, but I have to have a reliable machine on the road.

As I thought about replacing the tablet, I thought to myself, “Hey, what about a Mac?”Macs, after all, are celebrated for their multimedia management, and I thought I might be able to shift my a/v editing tasks from the desktop to a new MacBook, thus extending the life of the desktop for another year or two.

I was concerned, of course, about compatibility with Windows systems. After all, my primary use for a notebook is to run my IT consulting business while I’m out of the office, and that’s a Windows world. Not only are all my clients using Windows, but some of the cloud services I use require Internet Explorer for full functionality. Some quick research convinced me that this would not be a problem. Not only does the Mac OS have a bunch of features designed to facilitate networking with Windows – including BootCamp, which allows the Mac hardware to boot into Windows — but by using Parallels, an inexpensive software program, I could easily switch back and forth between Mac and Windows environments.

With my compatibility concerns assuaged, I started looking at pricing. My wife is a college professor, so we’d be eligible for an educational discount from Apple. I spec’d out the following system:

  • 15-inch MacBook Pro (Hi-Res Antiglare screen)
  • 2.66 GHz Intel Core i7
  • 4 GB RAM (2 DIMMS)
  • 500 GB SATA drive, 7200 RPM
  • DVD +/- RW
  • Aperture and Final Cut Express (photo and video editing)
  • AppleCare Protection Plan
  • One year One-to-One membership at the Apple store (figuring I might need some help with the OS transition)

Total price: $2,875.00

That’s a good chunk of change, so I started wondering what it would cost to solve my performance problems while staying on a Windows platform. First, the laptop, a Dell Studio 14 running Windows 7 Home Premium:

  • 14” Hi-Def screen (including facial recognition for logging on – cool!)
  • 1.6 GHz Intel Core i7 (2.8 GHz Turbo Mode)
  • 4 GB RAM
  • 500 GB SATA drive, 7200 RPM
  • DVD +/- RW
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements and Adobe Premiere Elements
  • 1 GB ATI Mobility Radeon HD video card
  • 3-year warranty with on-site support

Total price: $1,328.00 … and that’s street price. As a Dell reseller, I should be able to get a better deal.

Having halved the cost of the laptop, it occurred to me that I might be able to replace the desktop as well. I priced out a Dell Vostro 430 running Window 7 Home Basic (as a Microsoft partner, I can upgrade the OS at no charge):

  • 2.8 GHz Intel Core i7
  • 4 GB RAM (2 DIMMS)
  • 160 GB SATA drive, 7200 RPM (I already have two 250 GB 7200 RPM drives that I can re-use)
  • DVD +/- RW
  • 1 year warranty

Total price: $890.00

So if I got a new Windows laptop AND and a new Windows desktop – both of which should be crazy fast compared to what I have now – I’d spend $657 LESS than if I bought a comparably spec’d MacBook Pro.

Can anyone make a compelling case for why I should go Mac?

Posted in All, Apple, Hardware, Mac OS, Software, Technology, Windows 7 on Jul 2nd, 2010, 9:45 am by David Schrag   

9 Responses

  1. July 2nd, 2010 | 11:07 am

    Opinion will of course be divided. There is a big difference in quality between a Mac and a Dell, an even bigger difference in quality between Windows and OSX.

    Despite the difference in quality, I still think Apple is too expensive.

    I’ve been working in computers about 15 years and owned a Mac for one year. I’d say if computers interest you, you owe it to yourself to try a Mac.

    You’ll also be surprised how many heads you turn!

  2. July 2nd, 2010 | 11:22 am

    Paulie, how exactly is that “quality” expressed? Not in lifespan, I would think. There are dozens of Dells among my clients’ inventories that are over six years old. They’re not speedsters by today’s standards, of course, but they work. As for the quality of the operating system … I know plenty of people who make a living as Mac consultants. If Macs are so wonderful, why do so many Mac users need tech support?

    Ferraris and Lamborghinis turn heads as well, but I wouldn’t want to drive one every day.

  3. Jonathan
    July 2nd, 2010 | 11:22 am

    Macs certainly are more expensive. But the picture and sound quality on my MacBook Pro is superior to the PC laptops I’ve had — amazingly so. I can’t understand why the laptop makers don’t try to catch up.

    And then there’s UNIX. I’m an old geek, but UNIX is a workhorse. I know that microsoft’s OS’s are less broken than before, but even so, a Mac gives you:

    – significantly less crashes and system freezes
    – much reduced vulnerability to viruses

  4. July 2nd, 2010 | 11:38 am

    Jonathan, if I want to watch movies and listen to music, I could spend that extra $657 on an iPad, couldn’t I? As for viruses, the only thing you need to keep them off a Windows computer is a bit of common sense. And I don’t know how one can compare crashes and freezing. In my experience, Windows crashes and freezes are often caused by overambitious users — trying to run dozens of programs at once, for example. I can understand Apple commanding a reasonable price premium — maybe 15% or 20%. But 100%+? Too much.

  5. July 2nd, 2010 | 1:43 pm

    Quality in two respects:

    1) Hardware – extremly well thought out, quality materials and excellent attention to detail. Keyboard and screen are both amazing. Near silent in operation. Little touches such as the magnetic power cord are excellent touches.

    2) Did not claim the OS is perfect, but it sets the bar higher than Windows. It’s more intuitive and does not get bogged down with spyware/viruses easily.

    Also Opera is a great browser and browsing is just a pleasure.

    It’s not a car – don’t worry, you can use it every day.

  6. July 3rd, 2010 | 6:02 am

    I’m not a Microsoft fanboy by any means and don’t want to bash anyone, but I also still have yet to hear any compelling reason to buy a Mac and no real facts to back up any arguements. It’s definitely a religious thing, IMHO. A little free software and common sense, as David says, go a long way toward keeping malware away. And in the business world Windows is still king. That said, I LOVE my iPhone and can’t imagine life without it anymore. Some might call me a fanboy here and I’m not sure they’d be wrong. Because of my iPhone experience over the last year I’ve also considered trying a Mac but like I said, can’t really justify it. I have played around with a virtual Mac some (shh – don’t tell Steve) and if I ever really need a Mac to do more iPhone dev I’ll probably build a Hackintosh using a Dell Mini.

  7. Paulie
    July 3rd, 2010 | 4:32 pm

    Definitely not religious for me. Make my living out of Microsoft products, hardly ever recommend Macs to clients because they don’t fit in from a support perspective..

    I definitely acknowledge that I have not really given any really good reasons to buy a Mac – They are just nicer! It’s not something you realise until you spent a good while using one.

    Driving an average car does not seem all that bad until you get used to the luxury of driving a Jaguar.

    As I said, I’ve only been using one a year, I’d consider myself an expert in Windows and not at all knowledgeable on the Mac, but then I don’t need to be.

  8. September 14th, 2010 | 11:27 am

    I am a self-confessed Microsoft fanboy but over the last year or so I have developed a great deal of respect and admiration for Apple products, which are in many ways (not all ways) superior to Microsoft products. However, it really gets my goat when people say that MACs are less vulnerable to viruses. That’s just pure nonsense.

    Computer viruses are named as such because they mimic the behaviour of their biological counterparts. So answer me this; if a person lived in a completely germ-free environment and therefore never got sick, would he be invulnerable to disease? Of course not! MAC security is an illusion. It’s security through obscurity. It’s more an issue of virus availability rather than virus invulnerability. The simple fact is that the people who make viruses don’t waste their time on MACs because there are too few MACs (compared to PCs) for it to be beneficial to them in terms of kudos or financial returns.

    That said, I do like them, they are a lot more pleasurable to use and if they weren’t so expensive I would buy one.

  9. Leland
    July 20th, 2011 | 2:19 pm

    Macs are good for various purposes but for tech support when most your clients use Windows I would not consider a Mac. The price difference as pointed out is a big reason.

    Another for me is the quality of Mac hardware is not what many seem to think. I have had to support Macs in the business I work at and we have had more broken Macs in the last two years than PCs from Dell. We recently took apart a Macbook Pro from 2 years ago that was out of warranty. I was shocked the processor and GPU were not bolted down to the heatpipe and therefore susceptible to heat issues. And the the issue turned out to be bad cables. I have never had this issue with Dell, Lenovo or HP laptops. While I am sure most notebooks can fail for similar reasons we have had 4 go bad in the last 3 years where I work and no PC laptops. To me that makes me question the supposed Apple quality myth most people bring up.

Leave a reply