Buying a computer

A very good friend of mine asked me one of those questions today. What things should we look for when purchasing a new computer.? Is lap top better than the desktop?? The price range is from $4000 – $5000 (AUS).? Is IBM better than MAC? etc A few years ago I’d have been 50-50 on … Continue reading “Buying a computer”

A very good friend of mine asked me one of those questions today.

What things should we look for when purchasing a new computer.? Is lap top better than the desktop?? The price range is from $4000 – $5000 (AUS).? Is IBM better than MAC? etc

A few years ago I’d have been 50-50 on this and talked about the pros and cons of Macs and PCs. These days I’m older and wiser. Reason is that most of people who I advised to buy a PC did go and buy one and those who I advised to buy Macs all bought Macs. From the Mac guys I get an email every now and then with a question or two but for the most part they seem happy. From the PC guys I got dozens of emails and even though I’d not had any part in the actual buying and wasn’t paid for my advice and even said that a Mac would be a better option – they’d gone ahead and bought a PC and were now having problems. I helped them as best as I could until the point where I was routinely spending one night a week fixing PC problems for free.

Time to knock that on the head.

These days I’m more prgamatic. Sure, if you have an application you need that is only on the PC then buy a PC. By all means. But don’t come crying to me for support. I’ll help you but I cost a lot per hour. Conversely it means I now have more time to devote to helping the Mac users in the province and beyond for free.

So why buy a Mac? I’d have to go thru some of the reasons to NOT buy a Mac.

Here’s some great pages on the subject:

A lot of the reasons to NOT buy a Mac come down to a couple of really poor ones. The first is usually that the guy saying so is a Windows user and, well, there’s more windows machines out there. He doesn’t know the Mac or if he does he only remembers the little black and white models that came out in 1984 which are still being used around the world. He doesn’t know that Apple were the first computer manufacturer to have a mouse, the first to implement colour on machines and the first with both the floppy disk and the CD-ROM. Ignorance is his only weapon.

The second is a little more esoteric. For some reason, because this guy uses Windows there’s this “urge” that everyone else must use Windows and if you don’t then you’re some sort of ‘luser’. I personally couldn’t care what people use – I’m extremely pro-choice. If you are happy with windows then “Yeehaw”. I’m extremely happy for you. I’d note that I don’t know *anyone* who is happy with Windows. Some don’t mind it but for the most part they are ignorant of the alternatives.

Now…onto the meat of the question. A machine for Aus $4000-5000. Is a desktop better than a laptop. Hmm. I use laptops because I move around a lot and not just for travel. Sometimes I check email in the lounge in front of the TV. Sometimes my IM windows are open when I’m cooking in the kitchen. Sometimes I’m sitting in the car and typing up a letter or a story. Sometimes I’m in bed. I prefer laptops. The portability comes at a price. Laptops are always going to be slower than desktops because of disk speed (disks are slower to conserve on power) and don’t generally have the same cool features. Laptops also cost more.

If it were me I’d recommend an LCD iMac with SuperDrive. It’s not cheap at $4399 but then it’s well specc’ed. The processor is fast despite the fact it is 800 MHz. The MHz rating really has very little to do with the speed of the machine. The iMac is self contained and only weighs about 20 lbs so it takes up very little space and is easily carried about using the neck as a handle. The machine comes with 60 GB of hard disk which can be expanded using FireWire to almost anything. And it has the SuperDrive. A disk drive that can read CDs, burn CDRs and CDRW disks, read DVDs and …write DVDs. This last thing is a big deal especially when coupled with a digital video camera. Edit down four hours of holiday video into 1 hour of highlights with transitions and fades. Add it to a DVD with a slide show of camera stills and you’ve got a little treasure that will play in any commercial DVD player. And as DVD Players are now less than Aus $300, a lot more people have them.

To me that’s a great benefit especially for a family situation. Give the grandparents DVDs of the grandchildren and get DVDs of the grandparents so that you can remember them better in the future – they aren’t with you all the time you know.

At the end of the day I don’t know what she will pick and…well…it doesn’t bother me. There are other benefits to being a Mac user. Macs are easier to use. They last longer as well. There’s extra care taken in making sure they work. No manufacturer is perfect but the percentage of returns for Apple is less than 10% of the industry average. Mac users have a sense of community – for example – there are a dozen Mac User Groups in Australia.

Apple also provide their members with free email, free web space, heaps of free and high quality software. There’s other advantages but a lot of them apply to me in my specific situation. I have the choice of Windows, Linux, BSD and others but I choose to use a Mac. Because, for me, it’s a better machine.

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