For years the only computer I used was a PC. It was the most available, the cheapest available, the easiest to have serviced and the most compatible. My first proper computer was an Olivetti which I will never buy again. I changed the motherboard three times the first year. But in those days there weren’t too many reputable companies other than IBM to choose from. Mostly “clones” and that sounded a bit scary for me. The price difference wasn’t worth it.
I was only subliminally aware there was an Apple brand and it was much later before I learned just how different it was to Microsoft. For a long time I considered it to be another version of the same thing only with an attitude. That was 25 years ago. I am more informed these days.
Eventually it became clear that there were good reasons for the attitude. They use a Unix based operating system which is more stable and more secure. In computing terms that is huge. They were originally built with graphic designers or creative types in mind, which represents a limitation, but have since expanded the versatility of the machine for many other purposes.
Anyway, after hassling with the inherent problems of PC’s for most of my computing life I decided to give Apple a try. It seemed like PC problems got worse with age rather than better. My last PC, an HP, was the worst yet with slow starts (15+ minutes), slow shut downs, lock ups (increasingly more often) and so on. The motherboard burned out in less than a year. If you have a PC you know what I mean.
My new Apple (MacBook 5.1), however, did not bring immediate gratification. Before buying my Apple I had never heard one negative comment from any Apple owner. Nothing! According to them the Mac was heaven’s answer to every conceivable computing problem: “I’ll never look back!” “The best decision I’ve ever made!!” “They are beautiful to work with!!!” are the only kinds of remarks Apple owners make. My expectations were very high. The reality was less than expected.
I do like my Apple and, no, I doubt I would go back to PC but there are some things you need to understand before you buy. Following is an honest report by an Apple user, not a technical guru just a user, but it gives prospective buyers something to think about.
I have labeled dislikes three ways: “Learn It” (LI), “Live With It” (LWI) and “Live With It Till Later Maybe” (LWITLM) and the meanings are…
(LI) A problem that will diminish as you learn more.
(LWI) Grumbling and grousing will do no go. It is intrinsic and will not go away or improve.
(LWITLM) There may or may not be a solution forthcoming. You may have to live with it.
Non-intuitive terminology (LI)
Apple terminology is very different to industry standard and in many cases gives no clue as to what they mean. “Alias” is the term used for a desktop icon. It is a very powerful feature but difficult to use until you figure out what they mean. Other vague terms are: Automator (not even the I-Store employee knew what this was), Finder, Time Machine, Stacks, Boot Camp, Spaces and so on. Sorry, I still don’t understand those terms so I can’t give you a heads up.
Not only are the meanings of the terms vague the usefulness of the feature they represent, once explained, leaves you scratching your head. The I-Store employee/teacher did explain how some of the features worked but no one in the class could understand why such a feature would be handy.
Oh and BTW, no other computer company organizes free classes for first time buyers. Only Apple does that.
They aren’t being nice and I’m not exaggerating. The terminology is really weird and some features are a bit strange.
Elongated Processes (LWI)
The general rule is, whatever you do on a PC in one step will require two on an Apple. If you want to move between two open programs on a PC just click the button for the one you want. On an Apple you must hit F3 and then click on the program you want.
From day one, long before I learned “apple” was more than a piece of fruit, this has been their nemesis. PC programs WILL NOT work on an Apple and the obvious solution, “just buy Apple programs,” is not the answer. Everyone writes programs for PC’s very few write them for Apple.
Blackberry phones, for example, don’t come with Apple friendly syncing software. I managed to find a free program for this purpose but it is sloppy, slow, awkward and frustrating. The one you pay for isn’t any better and there is only one on the market. Blackberry does offer their version but they didn’t make it very downloadable.
Even trying to copy my address book and email backup to my Apple was a mission. The I-Store personnel had to help me, it required specialized software and took about three hours. And I still had to go in and redo some of the information.
Apple Programming (LI) and (LWITLM)
My MacBook came with many features which are handy but not with any writing, tabling or presentation programs. I bought and played with Apple’s version of Office (I-Works) a little and found it to be ambiguous also but haven’t had to work with it enough to learn it well since I purchased Office for Apple just in case. That gave me familiar ground to work on. Office for Apple includes Word, Excel, Power Point and Entourage (Outlook) and was priced very fairly.
It was only recently that Apple agreed to let Office in. I am pleased that the standoff between Jobs and Gates is beginning to relax a bit. That bodes well for Apple.
This is not really a deal breaker. Apples are a bit more expensive but not over the top. Cheaper versions of PC are usually underpowered so you are getting what you pay for anyway. In fact, the only way to get a PC that will last is to throw money all over it when you buy it and it still may fail shortly.
Okay, now we can get to some things I actually like and these make Apple worth the trouble.
Start up/Shut down
What a breeze! My Apple is up and running in seconds and it shuts down just as quickly. This alone should make any experienced PC user buy an Apple immediately. It was the one issue that pushed me beyond breaking point.
It is a little sluggish when clicking on a few commands, a slight pause on the odd occasion, but hardly noticeable once you get used to it. Generally the machine is very stable. There are no lock ups requiring you to restart your machine! Some third party programs will occasionally stall but Apple has a feature, “force quit,” which allows you to “force” the program shut down without restarting the machine.
Apples do not get viruses. Let me say that again. You never get virus warnings or infections on an Apple. I guess virus infections are possible but so far it has not been a problem for me or any other Apple owner I have talked to. Different people have given various reasons for this but I don’t understand nor can I verify any of them. But, I have no anti-virus programs or viruses on my machine. That means I am saving a little bit of money on programming and a lot of inconvenience with virus problems.
The battery lasts four hours!!! I never had a PC that afforded more than one and half hours. If you want a laptop, Apple is your machine.
Every PC I have owned overheated, some to the point of shutting down. Apple architecture is so different it doesn’t even need an air vent. That means the machine doesn’t collect loads of grime and crud on the internal components. It runs cool and clean.
Apples don’t die and they don’t require a lot of repair work. Unlike PC’s the problems they do have are occasional and usually resolved quickly and effectively. They don’t recur or worsen in future generations.
PC’s are notorious for passing problems from one generation to the next (new versions of Windows offer no solutions to old problems) and the machines get cranky as they age. The longer you own a machine the longer it takes to start and the more often it decides to lock up. And, if your PC’s hardware is durable enough to last it won’t be long before the new technology makes it obsolete anyway.
Will I keep my Apple? Absolutely! Do I recommend them? Without hesitation! For general computing purposes you can’t beat the Apple but, be prepared for the inevitable learning curve. You will fuss with it at first but once you get through the basics you will actually be pleased you bought one.