In my last posting I mentioned that I was exploring the possibility of switching to an Apple Mac system. Specifically, I was looking at a Mac Mini so I could minimize my investment in a new system and reuse my current hardware (i.e., wide screen LCD monitor, keyboard, mouse). I was able to spend some time at the local Apple Store and talk with a long-time Mac user who worked there, and also had about 2 days of hands-on stick time with a Mac Mini connected to my current LCD Monitor and hardware. Below are my findings:
I have to admit that I was enamored by the coolness factor at the Apple Store, which was loaded with iMacs, MacBooks, iPhones, and iPods. I visited the store in the late afternoon, and it surprisingly filled with customers. I opted to try out a Mini Mac configured with a 2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo (4 MB Cache), 2 GB of RAM (667 MHz Bus), 120 GB hard drive (5400 RPM), which was the high end model. As you can see from the specs, the speed of the components are those typically found in a laptop (most desktop PCs have hard drives running at 7200 RPM). Of course, this is necessary to fit everything in such a tight, compact package of the Mac Mini.
Instead of giving a length comparison between the Vista OS and Mac OS X, I’ll try to just highlight what I thought was important in my decision whether to switch. First, the Mac booted up very fast (less than 1 minute) and was ready to go, compared to my Vista PC which takes more than 1 minute to boot up, and even then it continues to load system processes in the background as I try to start up Firefox or Outlook. Also, I found the Mac system very snappy in performance, with no noticeable lag in any activity I was doing (albeit, I was just checking email, web browsing, and working with Excel spreadsheets). It seemed that the Mac OS (with UNIX under the hood) was a very well tuned, efficient operating system.
The one thing that really stood out for me, was the appearance of the Mac interface. It reminded me of the various flavors of Linux that are currently available (e.g., RedHat, Ubuntu, etc) with the fonts and appearance of the drop-down menus and windowing system. I’ve always liked the high-res icons that are used in these Linux system, and they are also present in the Mac OS. So, on the surface the Mac OS appears to be just another flavor of Linux that you can download for free from the Internet (although I can’t comment on a performance comparison). Continue reading