Every once in a while I get the urge to switch from a Windows PC to an Apple Mac. Usually that urge comes on when I have Windows applications that don’t respond or crash, or when the operating system just runs really slow. Recently my wife’s computer was working so badly I told her I needed to wipe the disk clean and reload Vista, and she responded with, “… maybe I should get a Mac”. After getting Vista re-installed and updated, I had a heck of a time getting her new Epson Color Printer/Scanner to work with the PC (it had a WiFi interface). I had to reboot the PC, uninstall the Epson drivers, reinstall them, fiddle with the printer, etc. Finally, I hit the right combination to get the printer working, but it really shouldn’t have been that difficult. So, should I blame the problem on Microsoft Vista? Or maybe the person who wrote the Epson printer driver? I don’t know.
Of course, the “grass is always greener on the other side” seems to come into play…. would a Mac be better? The last time I owned an Apple computer was in the late 80’s (a Mac SE and a Mac IIcx), so I have no idea how well or reliable the Unix-based OS-X works. After doing some Google searches, I found a lot of comparison between Macs and PCs but most of the info was 5+ years old.
So far as could I live with a Mac (or non-Microsoft Windows based machine), I think I can for my main home computer. I primarily use my home PC for the following:
- Web page surfing and Googling
- Dealing with Emails (local client application)
- Running a Web Server for testing web pages (I’m a web site developer)
- Some Photoshopping of images for web pages
- Record TV shows using a TV Tuner card
- Syncing with my Zune
- Scanning images with my Canon scanner
- Running Visual Studio 2005 for developing Windows Mobile Smartphone applications
Most of the items on my list I know I can do using a Mac, but the last item would definitely require a Windows-based machine. Of course, I could always install Microsoft Vista on the Intel-based Macs and either have a dual-boot system or run Vista inside an emulator shell.
My biggest concern is being able to sync with my Zune and also be able to record TV Shows with a TV tuner card. Are there any Mac users out there who can comment on this? Also, are there issues with the Macs that I should be concerned about? What about former Mac users who have switch to the Windows PCs?
Update (23 Feb 2008)
I’ve done some research and have learned a lot about Macs. Some important facts:
- Macs DO cost more than PCs, period. I can build a very good system that runs fast with Vista at a much lower cost than an iMac.
- There’s much more options in the PC world for machines and accessories than the Mac world. Lots of different choices with laptops, Desktops, Hybrids, etc. The Macs only have a few fixed models available.
- Not all Peripherals on the market for PCs will work with the Mac. In fact, it seems that very few will work with the Mac.
- A Mac Mini is the cheapest entry point into the Mac world, as you can use your existing monitor, keyboard, and mouse from your PC. The cheapest Mac Mini shipped by Apple have 1 GB of RAM and a 80 GB 5400 rpm disk drive, and a Intel Core 2 Duo processor, so they have less memory and disk space than most PCs. From what I’ve read, you need at least 2 GB of RAM to run the new OS X Leopard operating system effectively with no lag time.
- Upgrading a Mac Mini is possible by the user (adding more memory or changing the hard drive), but it voids the 1-year warranty. Also, opening the case to do the upgrade is very difficult and time consuming for most users.
- BIGGIE: There is no Zune Software for the Macs. The only way to use a Zune with a Mac is to install Windows XP or Vista on it. You’ll need to do a dual-boot or run Windows in a Virtual Machine (VM Fusion or Parallels) which is an additional cost. Not good.
I do have to say that the Apple web site is very nice, and offers lots of good information on their products, but it just seems to me I can build a better system buying quality components myself at a much cheaper price.
Now, I’m a big UNIX users from my past jobs so getting a UNIX-based system is compeling. Also, I do like different technology, so that is another plus to getting a Mac system. I’m just afraid that I won’t like the Mac OS because it will be so different from Windows. So, I’ll probably see if I can get a cheap Mac Mini from eBay so I can experiment with the Mac system and determine for myself if I can effectively use a Mac for my personal use.