Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Should I buy a Mac?

The signs were looking ominous with three blue screens in the last two weeks. However, last night my laptop died and this time I think it's terminal. Luckily I had ran a back up of all my files on Sunday so the data loss won't be too bad.

I want to get a new laptop pretty quickly, but am unsure what to buy. I've decided to break down my choice and ask you, dear reader, for your thoughts.

What did I like about my old Dell Inspiron?
The fan did sound like a helicopter about to take off, but there were some redeeming features:
- I have a thing about wanting decent screens with a high resolution. I paid extra at the time for the top of the line Dell screen with a 1280 x 1024 resolution. That seems to be better than most laptops you can buy at the moment (and Dell seem to have withdrawn the upgrade service).

- The SD card reader. It might sound stupid, but I found this really convenient for getting all my photos off my camera and onto my PC. I didn't need an additional card reader.

- It wasn't quick, but it was powerful enough to do everything I needed.

What didn't I like?
- The main thing was the weight, it weighed and absolute tonne! I didn't carry it around too much, but part of the purpose of a laptop is that it is portable.

- The noisy fan and how hot is used to get.

What will I use the new laptop for?
It will be my main PC, but not being settled in one place, I still want to get a laptop. I will mainly be using it for surfing the web, editing / viewing / uploading my photos, using iTunes and the odd use of Excel and Word.

Nothing very powerful, so I reckon I can get away with buying quite a low end computer.

What are the options?
I'm currently considering between a Mac and PC.

The Dell has been pretty good really, so a strong contender would be another Inspiron. $800 seems to buy you something pretty decent. I haven't used Windows 7 before, but this seems like a safe option.

My second option would be to buy a Macbook. One of the things that frustrates me about the PC is that there isn't any decent (free) multimedia software. I occasionally want to edit the odd Quicktime movie and can't do it easily. The MacBook comes with iMovie built in. The MacBook is a lot more expensive at $1,299, but there are reconditioned ones available (that come with a full warranty) at $1,099.

Questions, Questions
Some of the issues that I am currently wrangling with about making the transition.

1. Is the price of the Macbook worth it over the PC? On the face of it you seem to get less for your money e.g. 4GB RAM vs 2GB. Are Macs just a rip off trading off the cool factor?

2. If you were to get the MacBook, would you take the 15% saving and buy a re-conditioned one? I have to admit I'd be tempted by this option if I were to go for a Mac.

3. Do I need to be worried about compatibility issues? I might be wrong here, but I get the impression there are a few things that just aren't available on the Mac. E.g. I use Synctoy to back up all my files onto an external hard drive which isn't available. Will it be possible to still upload all of my photos to Picassa?

What would you do? What else do I need to consider? As you can tell I seem to have been hit by the Lidster & Lidster indecision disease!


  1. Macs will always look expensive next to a comparable spec PC. You aren't paying for the cool factor, you're paying for amazing software, and hundreds of unique design touches that make it a very different user experience.

    Don't worry about compatability-time machine does exactly the backup you mentioned (and is preinstalled and requires no setup beyond plugging in the USB harddrive), picasa upload is built right in to iPhoto - just click a single button and it is done.

    I wouldn't go for reconditioned-minimal saving and the specs of the new ones are worth the little extra. Final comment - the MacBook pro prices have just been dropped and the MacBooks haven't. The price differential is tiny at the moment, and aluminium Apple products last a lot lover than plastics ones in my experience.

    You can get the 13 inch MacBook pro for $1400 with my discount (v $2500 I paid 9 months ago for similar spec). The extra $400 you pay over a similar dell gets you better & more complete software, better build quality, far better battery, far better customer support, smaller & thinner & lighter, quieter fan, a magnetic powercord that disconnects if you trip over it (something that was absent on my Vaio and cost me $200 within months of owning it) ... Seems like a bargain to me, but perhaps I'm just an Apple fanboy.

  2. If you really have to ask either a PC or a Mac then stick with what you've got. I can't for the life of me understand why anyone would buy a PC but that's just me. But I do appreciate and respect the comfort of using what you're used to. That's worth a lot.

    The question actually should be I think OSX v Windows 7. Beyond that do you really care what the box is like? Personally no, but fair enough, some people do. And hey Macs do look and feel great.

    I'm sure Windows7 is fine, but so what? It's a full version behind what OSX delivers.

    Having said that, make sure you throw away the supplied piece of rubbish called a mouse that Apple continually push. Truly awful and demonstrates the problems with over delivering on design and comfort. My $14.99 Logitech is superior when you have to use the thing all day everyday.

  3. i've only used Macs as a designer and will always only use a Mac. it's what I'm used to and for me is a lot more intuitive to how I work and what I need it for. :-)