My Turn

The Top 11 Reasons to Choose Macs over PCs

Frank Fox - 2008.02.06

My Turn is Low End Mac's column for reader-submitted articles. It's your turn to share your thoughts on all things Mac (or iPhone, iPod, etc.) and write for the Mac web. Email your submission to Dan Knight .

I love using Macs, but I've never found a "Top 10 Reasons" that didn't have at least a few bogus arguments. It may not be their fault if they haven't used a PC in awhile (ever?). They could be out of touch and using old excuses that no longer apply.

I've compiled 11 up-to-date reasons why Macs are better that gives up the old song and starts a new one.

11. Macs have less software choices.

Wait a minute, don't you want more choices.

Wrong, you don't want more choices, you want one choice - and you want it to be the right one. It is not even a price issue (price doesn't matter if there is only one choice). Take a look at the Linux world with all of its freeware choices. Talk about craptastic, confusing, and "as a matter of fact I don't want to fix it myself". Linux isn't taking over the desktop no matter how many "free" crappy programs there are with tons of features.

Let's face it: If a Mac user had a hundred office productivity programs, or a PC user a thousand office productivity programs, they are both going to pick Microsoft Office. (Don't send me any emails telling me how you personally don't use MS Office. One opinion doesn't matter.)

The world currently uses MS Office. Good or bad, it is the right choice, and having other choices is nice but not required.

10. Macs have less software installed.

Didn't I just say that? Yes, sort of, but now the reason has changed. I recently visited a family who had bought HP laptops. They had three or four choices of software to burn a CD, listen to music, or do whatever. They asked me which to use - like I would know.

This brings up the IT nightmare of shareware, screen savers, home programs, and other junk that gums up a computer. A good IT department will not let you install software, and they are a pain about giving you anything new. Why? Because of support. More software means more problems, and therefore more support. Follow these same rules for yourself if you want fewer computer problems: Use only the software you need and install no extras.

Here Apple helps by installing only a few extra programs on new computers. You get iLife programs, a trial game, and a trial version of MS Office, but that is about it. At least with what Apple does give there are not three different ones that all do the same thing that someone has to decide about.

9. Mac OS X is not out to punish people who install an extra copy.

Windows XP is bad enough to register, and Vista take every step possible to make it difficult to activate and stay activated. They will disable your copy if they think you are a pirate. And they are constantly inventing new ways to snoop on their own customers. They will even punish OEMs who try to sell a PC without an OS preinstalled.

Mac OS X doesn't even require that you register after upgrading, and they don't snoop on my computer looking for pirated copies. If you feel guilty they sell a reduced price Family Pack to make installing multiple copies legal.

Windows has its multiple pricing plans of Home, Media, Pro, etc. - nowhere in that mix is a plan to help you upgrade more than one machine. Basically they punish you if you pirate a copy and don't give a break to the honest person or business who needs more than one copy.

8. Macs are better at pushing new standards.

If you consider the low point of Apple's market share, this is impressive. When Apple decided to drop serial and SCSI support, and instead support USB and FireWire (IEEE-1394 for the PC reader out there), Apple had one transition product line, and by the next revision the old serial and SCSI ports were gone. Apple says screw legacy crap, get with the program or be left behind.

Compare this to Dell: It took them until last year to finally drop computers with serial and parallel ports. Who cares, make it an added expense or adapter and clean up your design, but no they are stuck supporting long out-of-date standards. (For those who care, I apologize, but maybe that old dot-matrix printer needs to be put in a museum.)

Apple does this not just as it relates to hardware but also with design. After the fruit colored iMacs were a success, a whole world of products from alarm clocks to toilet seats come out in colors to match. Then Apple made these products look out-of-date by switching to all white or all black, and the world is left following Apple's lead again - and again.

Remember, this was a company with 3-4% of the PC market getting alarm clock manufactures to follow their lead. If I want peripherals to match my new Mac, you can bet someone will update their product to go with Apple's latest designs.

7. Macs can run Windows, but PCs cannot (legitimately) run Mac OS X.

This is called getting the best of both worlds. Eat your heart out, Michael Dell, Steve Jobs is starting to eat your lunch. Mac market share is up, and this has got to be part of why.

If you have a Mac, why would you want to run PC software (remember, I said more choices was bad)? You don't want to, but sometimes you have to, like when Adobe Photoshop Elements stopped working after you upgraded to Leopard and the new version won't be out until spring. And what are you supposed to do when the "right choice" isn't available for OS X? Using a PC version sucks, but it is nice that you can if you must.

6. Steve Jobs is cool and Bill Gates is a dork.

Most of the PC world CEOs are lacking in cool. Why? Because they're "suits", and they lack vision.

If the computer price was the same (and sometimes they are, however briefly), who would you rather buy from, the dork or the guy in jeans? They may both be hard to get along with, but as a salesman for his company, Steve gives a hell of a keynote regardless of what the engineers have cooked up for him to display.

5. Apple seems to have a plan with their product development.

Let's do a comparison:

HP executive: What the biggest capacity hard drive, fastest processor, and best graphics card we can put into a machine? Let take all that crap, whatever it is, and that will be our next high-end machine. Then let's take low spec crap and make a low cost model.

15-inch iMac G4Apple executive: We've got this iMac thing. Yes, the consumers like it, but we need to update the function to go along with new computer equipment. Why don't we ditch the CRT display and put an LCD on a lamp post. Then shrink the whole computer to fit inside the lamp base. Then after everyone adjusts to that new look, we'll simplify it some more now that larger LCD screens are cheaper. We'll get rid of the base and hide everything behind the screen. Next we'll take those parts and....

This is not to say everything in a Mac is cutting edge. No, they do pull back in ways that could politely be described as "controlling the user experience" - or negatively viewed as "last month's design". They can take these kinds of product risks, because they are not selling just a collection of hardware.

They are trying to innovate new things about the device and not stuff it full of as much new crap as possible. Some innovations are just cosmetic, but others are more about function, like new trackpads, backlighting in keyboards, LED lights for the LCD screen, etc.

Apple isn't just reacting to how to cram the latest processor and video card into a box. They have a product; they chose what to include and what to leave out. They chose to get the parts they want to work the best possible (at least I hope that's why). Then next time they add in a few things that make the most sense. Eventually the design gets stale, and then they leap ahead with something new.

Someone else can catch up with them on hardware specifications, but give thought to design and what Apple will do next they all miss the mark completely.

4. In general, Apple has better customers.

Simply because it costs more, you are going to weed out the people who can't afford it. This is important, because Apple isn't shooting for the lowest common denominator. It's not that Apple cares who buys - they are a business not a bigot - but they have better focus the smaller their market is. It will be a sad day when everyone wants to have a Mac.

3. Macs are both easy and hard to get rid of.

Macs sell great on eBay. I've had luck both buying and selling. Right now old stuff is selling for more than I would want to pay, but the person selling is happier.

I have three desktop computers at home, and I used to have five. All of them worked fine. I could connect them all to a network, surf the Web, write reports, etc. They just took up too much space. I finally gave away two and wanted to sell a third. My wife wouldn't let me. She wanted one moved to her crafting room so she could go on the Internet. It's an old G4 computer, and between my wife and daughter it is used almost every day.

Macs go on working and being useful for so long that you have a hard time getting rid of them. (I did have an iBook laptop die because of faulty circuit board design. Curse you, Apple, for screwing that one up.)

2. You buy a new Mac out of lust and a new PC because your old one is crap.

I seldom hear a Mac person complain that their Mac is slow (maybe because there are few around), unless they have installed too much junk software on it or changed what they are doing - or they've had it for eight years. When I started editing video, I finally wanted a faster machine. Before that I was okay with what I had, but I did lust after the new models that kept coming out.

MacBook AirLike the new MacBook Air, I really like the look of that model. I would willingly give up the internal DVD - if I could afford the computer. I'll probably settle on buying a MacBook because it is cheaper. This shows how well Apple can design a product that people will want regardless of the specification of equipment built into it.

In contrast, my PC friends and my company's IT department buy new stuff to constantly replace old stuff that doesn't run Windows or Office fast enough. They don't talk about the new look of HP's latest laptop; they only care about hard drive size and maybe how much RAM is included. They get their new box because the old one was too slow for running the same software it was running a year ago.

Worse, in my opinion, are those PC gamers who'll spend thousands on the fastest PC just to play the latest game. To these people I say, Sony PlayStation - have you heard of it. It doesn't even cost one grand, and you can play tons of new games on your 61" HD TV. Get a clue and save your money for taking a girl on a date.

1. Macs rule.

Now that Apple has switched to Intel and you can run Windows on Macs, the comparison is real. Macs are fast, have great design, and compare well with other top-end equipment. When compared on performance - even running Windows Vista -, the Macs are awesome machines.

If you want to be cheap, there are other products to buy, but if you've got the cash, Macs are top notch. Give this same level of performance to running Mac OS X, and you have a machine to be proud of.

There you have it: The real reason why Macs are better. No bullshit about security or stability that depend on what the person running the machine does with software.

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