The Mac vs the PC
Writer: Edwin Yap
Published: Fri, 13 Apr 2012
The popularity of the Apple Macintosh computer, or Mac, has no doubt risen in recent times. Yes, this month’s column IS on the debate about Mac versus the PC. By PC, I mean an IBM compatible machine, running a Windows operating system.
My intention is not to favour one machine over the other but just to present some food for thought and let you, dear reader, decide what you should buy.
We start with the most obvious – price. Taking a Mac laptop as an example, the cheapest MacBook on the market today is priced at RM3,099. This basically gives you 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, 2GB of memory and 64GB flash-based (akin to a thumb drive) solid state storage.
Buying a PC-based machine with equivalent specifications can cost you up to 20 to 30 percent less, somewhere in the region between RM2,000 and RM3,000.
While the asking price is indeed higher than an average PC-based laptop, you do get some software already in the Mac package. A typical MacBook comes equipped with Apple’s in built software such as the iLife suite, which comprises iPhoto, iMovie, and GarageBand.
Besides that, the Macs are equipped with the following software: Mail, Address Book, iCal, The Mac App Store, iTunes, Safari, Time Machine, Face Time, Photo Booth, Mission Control, Launchpad, Airdrop, Resume, Auto Save, Versions, Quick Look, Spotlight, QuickTime, and more.
If you buy the PC-based machine, you may not get the exact same kind of software and you‘ll need to factor in extra cost for a similar suite of programs. Also, it’s unlikely that you’ll get all the programs in an all-in-one package, which means you could end up spending RM500 to RM1,000 more.
Note that with the Mac, you’ll have fewer variations of technical specifications such as memory/hard disks, screen size configuration compared to PC-based machines.
Usability and build quality
Traditionally, many have found the Mac more user friendly compared to the PC.
It’s generally faster to operate; for example, a Mac takes much faster to start up compared to a Windows machine.
Although the Mac operating system is not perfect, it’s got loads of features that are very cleaver, nimble, and very intuitive to use. For example, it takes fewer steps to turn on, say the “file sharing” feature on a Mac compared to the Windows-based PC machine. Also, it has many integrated programs thrown in for free that are very innovative and intuitive to use.
From a hardware standpoint, the Mac is generally much more solidly built and thoughtfully laid out compared to the cheaper PC-based machines. For example, on an iMac desktop, you will find the USB port as part of the keyboard giving you immediate accessibility instead of having to plug it at the back of most PC based machines.
Ergonomically speaking, the Mac is simply more pleasing to the eye compared to PC.
Just take a look at the iMac desktop and compare that to a standard PC and you’ll understand why.
Software and other considerations
It’s somewhat of a misconception that the Mac is only used by those who are involved in the creative sector because of its native multimedia programs. This is however not true as the Mac can be used as a serious business desktop/laptop, being able to do everything you can on a PC.
Another untruth is that you can’t get software for the Mac or that the software is very costly. It’s true that in terms of sheer number of programs available, there is more PC-based software in the market for the Windows platform.
However, there is also a vibrant Mac community of developers and quite a fair bit of freeware and shareware that are available for downloads on the Mac.
Another plus point with Mac users is that you’re less likely to face unexplainable crashes and incompatibilities as you might on a Windows PC, as the Mac OS and Apple computers both come from the same company.
One oft-made remark is that Macs are freer from computer virus, malware and spyware, which trot the Internet frequently these days. It’s not that there are no Mac viruses/malware out there; It’s just that malware writers prefer to target the Windows platform as there are more users out there for them to make money out of. The popularity of Macs has gained in recent times, but so have Internet security companies’ antivirus software options for the Macs.
One truth however, is that the Mac does not support many games, which are primarily the domain of Windows PC machines.
So what is the verdict? Well, in my humble opinion, there is no hard and fast rule to this. I’ll sum up it this way: If you’re looking for an easy-to-use, pleasant and a fuss-free computing experience that is great looking and a well built machine to boot, and have some cash to spare, the Mac is worth your while.
But if you’re a price sensitive shopper, and will only use your machine for general computing and not multimedia activity, or as a gaming machine, you’re better off buying a simple PC-based machine that can cost RM3,000 (desktop) or RM2,000 (laptop).