Editors note: This is one of several columns that I wrote for the Columbia Missourian. They were originally called Your Digital World
If youve decided to take the new computer plunge this holiday season, whether for yourself or others, you must ask yourself one question.
Macintosh or PC?
Its the great debate, bigger than the cola wars, and the fuel for many a fight in techdom.
But I have unraveled the mystery, researched many hours, tested several platforms and come to one undeniable answer.
The answer is it depends.
Wait, before you call the Missourian demanding your 50 cents back, there really isnt a hard and fast way to decide which is better, each has its own advantages and disadvantages.
PC Its a big world out there and a lot of people are using computers, most are using PCs. Thats the platforms biggest advantage, it holds the majority of the market share. So when youre going to look for software, theres a very good chance therell be a PC version. This is especially true for games; most are released for PC, and then if popular enough, ported to Mac.
Along with PCs comes Microsoft. Unless youre determined to run Linux on your machine, youre probably going to run some flavor of Windows. For some people, putting up with Microsofts shenanigans isnt worth it. For example, many people arent upgrading to Windows XP, the latest version, because it requires you to register with Microsoft or it shuts down after a certain period of time.
The PCs ubiquity can also be a drawback. There are hundreds of PC vendors with many different makes and models, many different processors and a lot of options. If buying a new computer seems daunting enough, let alone trying to tell a salesperson whether you want the Pentium 3, Pentium 4, or Celeron processor, then you might consider Apple.
Macintoshes It started the computer revolution and created advertising history. But today Apple holds less than 10 percent of the computer market, meaning that if you buy a Mac, chances are your friend doesnt. Unless youre a graphic designer. Macs are still considered a standard in that industry. All design software comes in a Mac version, and so does most productivity software.
With the advent of Mac OS X, which is based on a Unix core, theres a good chance a lot of good Unix and Linux software will be ported to the Mac.
Macs, I still believe, are a bit easier to use, so they may be the choice for a computer novices first digital foray. They also dont come in many configurations, but a lot of colors. Apple has set its strategy on two types of users and their two types of machines: professional and home users on desktop and portable machines. You want a professional desktop, G4 tower, home desktop, iMac portable: the Titanium Powerbook and the iBook are the choices.
Cost is also an issue, for a similarly configured PC, youre usually going to pay more for the Mac. For example, my fiancée and I recently bought an iBook, but could have gotten a comparable PC laptop for a little more than half the cost of the Mac.
What to do Whyd I pay that much for a notebook? Because my fiancée and I are both graphic designers, and she works in an office that uses Macs, so it made sense to buy a Mac.
Similarly, if youre considering buying a new computer, youll want to decide if youre going to need to bring work home from the office, or if youve got kids that need to bring work back from school think about getting the platform there.
If youre a graphic designer, consider a Mac, gamer, a PC. It really depends on how much you want to spend and what you want to do with it.
If youve thought about all this, and still cant decide, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Im here to help.