WOW very + PCWorld review of MacBooks !!

Posted by: DLC

WOW very + PCWorld review of MacBooks !! - 01/22/09 01:25 AM

MAC VS Windows Laptops

woo-hooo !! cool

"In July 2008 I compared the specs and prices of three MacBook portables to three Windows laptops. I discovered that in some cases, MacBooks are priced competitively and can even cost less than similarly configured Windows competitors. Add to this the fact that Apple continues to get top scores for service and product reliability, and Mac laptops can be extremely attractive.
.... Nonetheless, if you're looking for long-term value--not to mention a more pleasurable computing experience--a Mac OS laptop is the way to go. Don't forget, you can run Windows on a Mac machine. But after using the Mac OS a while, you might not want to."

I have several students in my class asking about Macs... I guess the KeyNote lectures and Handouts in Pages really drives the point home ! wink
Posted by: Mike

Re: WOW very + PCWorld review of MacBooks !! - 01/22/09 02:11 AM

But after using the Mac OS a while, you might not want to.

Amen to that! grin
Posted by: Eddie

Re: WOW very + PCWorld review of MacBooks !! - 02/06/09 09:28 PM

Thanks for the link. I'm trying to decide whether to get a Macbook or a Windows-based laptop. One of the main reasons for getting a Macbook is precisely its ability to also run Windows.
One "limitation" of the comparison, at least from what I have seen, is that the author is comparing MSRP. He also added software to the Dell computer, increasing the price by $99.
My own comparison was against an HP laptop. Can't remember the model. It offered 4GB of memory vs Apple's 2 GB, a larger and faster hard drive, larger monitor (17"), faster CPU, and Vista Home Premium.
I was able to get a Macbook in the $750-$900 range, either on sale or refurbished. The HP was on sale for $600 or $650, and included some freebies (e.g., $80 printer) as well as considerable discounts on some software. I probably should have bought it on the spot. It was superior to the Macbook in every sense, and considerably cheaper.
I'm waiting to see if I can find a great deal on a Macbook, mainly because of all the Mac software I already have. If it wasn't for that, I would have a Windows laptop already.
The reason for buying the laptop is because I can't run some software on my PPC G5 thanks to Apple's ineptitude and/or arrogance regarding Java.

Apple's "top scores" for service are questionable. I would love to see a breakdown involving a user's level of experience and the problem's degree of difficulty. I've only contacted Apple 4 or 5 times, and as far as I remember they've been useless each time. I'm not an Apple expert, so it was odd to discover that I knew more than their "geniuses." Two of the issues I remember were an Apple Hard Drive that stopped working while under warranty, and a laptop that required OS X 10.4 to sync MP3s with a certain phone.
Apple said that nothing could be done about the hard drive, yet I was able to recover my data without Apple's help.
An Apple store genius said that 10.4 would not run on an older laptop and recommended buying a new laptop. When the tech guy from my office told me about this I asked him to bring me the laptop. It took me maybe 35 minutes to get 10.4 up and running on the old laptop, and everything worked fine, including syncing those MP3s with a phone.
I like my Apple computers, but find some of their stuff overrated and overpriced.
Posted by: padmavyuha

Re: WOW very + PCWorld review of MacBooks !! - 02/06/09 09:52 PM

Fair enough - though a faster cpu doesn't necessarily mean anything. I've used PhotoShop on a PC that had a much faster cpu than my MBP and it ran a lot slower on the PC, even with more ram. And as for doing more than one thing at once on a PC, pfff... try to burn a CD while doing anything else at all, and watch it break down and cry. For me, it's about how much you can get done in how much time. Using a mac means I can spend more time not using a mac and doing something else!
Posted by: Eddie

Re: WOW very + PCWorld review of MacBooks !! - 02/07/09 08:20 AM

I agree with you regarding processor speed. At the same time, given a choice I would usually prefer the faster processor.
In practical terms there may not be a huge difference in terms of speed, and as you mention some applications may even run slower in Windows, but at least I would know that part of what I'm paying for is reflected in the components being used by the manufacturer, such as RAM, CPU, video card, ports, hard drive, etc.
Thanks for the tip regarding multi-tasking. I would probably use just a few applications at the same time, such as Email, a web browser, and a "productivity" program such as Word, Excel, Quantrix, Stata, etc.
Posted by: padmavyuha

Re: WOW very + PCWorld review of MacBooks !! - 02/07/09 10:30 AM

I understand your 'value for money' concern - I suppose I'm just saying that you should include the OS in that evaluation. For example, most people find they get much more performance out of a pc running linux than running winxx on it; and I've had a folder of 250 images batch-process in Photoshop in a quarter of the time in OSX compared to in WinXP, and that with a slower processor on the mac. A good OS makes apps work better, and that's part of the value.
Posted by: yoyo52

Re: WOW very + PCWorld review of MacBooks !! - 02/07/09 04:08 PM

I was working on a Keynote thing yesterday, and had Keynote, Word, Excel, Safari, Mail, and Graphic Converter, all up, running, and being used at the same time. Not a hiccup. And that's on a now dinosaur-like PB 1.5 GHz with only 1.25 GB of RAM.
Posted by: Nagromme

Re: WOW very + PCWorld review of MacBooks !! - 02/07/09 04:32 PM

Originally Posted By: Eddie
In practical terms there may not be a huge difference in terms of speed, and as you mention some applications may even run slower in Windows, but at least I would know that part of what I'm paying for is reflected in the components being used by the manufacturer, such as RAM, CPU, video card, ports, hard drive, etc.

If you're looking to convince yourself that the Mac is worth it, compare ALL the features, and the bundled software (some of which may be useless to any given person, so it's a personal call). The "number specs" on that HP look good, but lesser-known specs matter too. Macs have some nice hardware of their own, if you make a full comparison. Some of the things you might find missing on PC hardware include lighted keys, newer/better version of Bluetooth, WiFi N, LED screen, multitouch trackpad, remote receiver, gigabit ethernet, magnetic power connector, sudden motion sensor, ambient light sensor, web cam, metal housing, light weight and thin, compact power charger, etc. ... Most PC laptops will have some of that, few will have it all--especially if they're on the cheap end. Throw in the iLife software bundle, which simply has no Windows equivalent in terms of how quickly and painlessly you can do some very fun/cool/useful things. And the OS comes bundled with other utilities and features that would cost extra on Windows. Those "little things" may add up to far more value in daily use than a number on a spec sheet.

Re reliability, I don't think we have failure-rate data yet on the current crop of "solid aluminum" models. Prior to that, Apple had dropped from best-of-the-pack to being about the same as others. (With desktops, Apple has remained on top.)

The main reliability issue is software I think: fewer problems, and easier to fix. With all the knowledge people accumulate about Windows, they expect they'd need to know just as much to troubleshoot a Mac. In reality, everything you need to troubleshoot a Mac you could learn from half a sheet of paper: the system's internals are simpler and cleaner, not unlike the outside!

Re speed: Snow Leopard is on the way, followed by Mac apps that really take advantage of multiple processors in new ways. In the long run, a Mac with lower GHz might be the faster machine! Also, a Mac requires zero anti-malware apps to be running. If you use Windows and run the usual recommended suite of multiple virus and spyware checkers, always popping up to download updates etc., then that's a performance drain Macs don't have. Could that change? Yes. I keep waiting for the day but it never seems to arrive.

Re Windows and Mac on one machine: consider Parallels, VMWare, or various free alternatives: they're not for gaming, but they let you run Mac and Windows simultaneously, and drag stuff back and forth. It's very cool, and with OS X's Spaces, you can run each OS side by side and "slide" between them with Ctrl-Arrow. And no rebooting hassle/delay.

And yes, the MAIN value of a Mac is Mac OS X. Change feels weird at first, but after a week, you'll be enjoying the equivalent of Windows 17 smile

Also watch this site--it compares specific Mac and PC models. The info is old, but apparently due for an update soon: (The site doesn't simply declare winners, it just highlights which models have advantages in which areas. And it always compares machines of equal price. Which means they'd compare a Mac to a higher Dell/HP than the one you're looking at--but if the Mac looks better to you than THAT PC, it would be better than a lower model too.)

Whichever way you go, good luck!
Posted by: carp

Re: WOW very + PCWorld review of MacBooks !! - 02/07/09 09:24 PM

Right Nagromme

Most of those PC -vs- Mac comparisons are speed and HD space . Really if you would take a 600 buck Dell and bring it up to a open box Mac - component to component , ports , video card , screen , software , everything , you would find the Dell would then cost about 50 bucks more then a Mac.

Kinda reminds me of the old MHz wars - My PC is faster then your Mac , Oh yeah well I am not running 3 virus programs in the background and hassling with other shiit laugh
Posted by: Eddie

Re: WOW very + PCWorld review of MacBooks !! - 02/07/09 11:18 PM

First of all, sorry to have hijacked the thread. I do apologize smile

padmavyuha, while I like OS X, for my laptop needs Windows XP or Vista are fine. Although I've used Macs 98% of the time for the past 10 years, I have not had problems when I've used PCs.
I totally agree that "A good OS makes apps work better, and that's part of the value." In Apple's case, that's precisely my reason for switching. For example, Consideo Modeler or Quantrix Modeler will not work on a PPC. If Apple decides to provide an updated Java release for PPC I won't need another computer. As far as I know Microsoft takes backwards compatibility more seriously. Apple just looks forward.
As a side note, 10.5 was probably the worst OS X release since the first OS X beta. It eventually got better, but I was a bit shocked at the glowing reviews considering how buggy and unstable 10.5 was. In addition, any criticism towards the new OS was not well received by Apple "fans." But it was pretty bad.

Nagromme, thanks for your thorough post. I do agree that specs may mean little in actual use. I did consider the features that I would use, and it seemed to be more than enough for my needs.
I searched and found the model I was referring to. It's a HP Pavillion Notebook dv6-1030us. I just went to HP's website and the model now has a "t" at the end, so I'm not sure if they changed specs.
"HP Pavilion brand featuring premium liquid metallic imprint patterns, HP ProtectSmart Hard Drive Protection, magical chrome media buttons, lighted logo, media docking port, remote control

Starting at specs:
Genuine Windows Vista Home Premium
Intel Core 2 Duo Processor T6400
2GB memory
160GB hard drive
Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 4500 MHD
Optional Blu-ray, Integrated HDTV Tuner, Verizon mobile broadband ExpressCard V740, edge to edge display

Wireless-G card
LightScribe SuperMulti 8X DVD+/-R/RW
Integrated webcam & microphone
full-size numeric keypad
ENERGY STARŪ qualified

Base price is $780. The one I saw had many upgrades, though. The ones I remember include 4GB memory, 320GB drive, Windows Vista Premium 64-bit Edition, Bluetooth, Webcam, mic, and Wireless-N networking. Plus the additional deals on software, free printer, etc. I thought it was quite attractive for $600.

I don't use iLife. I haven't tried the '09 version, but have '08 and don't use it. I'm using Freeway Pro so don't need iWeb, which according to most people is inferior to Rapidweaver, Sandvox, Freeway Express, and ShutterBug.
I don't use GarageBand. I will say that Apple did a wonderful thing with Logic. They made it cheaper and easier to use. I love it. Because of all the plugins I bought I still use ProTools on my G4, under OS 9. Again the backwards compatibility issue. For me to use ProTools with my G5 I needed a new DigiDesign interface. Thanks, but no thanks.
I don't use iPhoto. I have other programs (e.g., Memory Miner, Shoebox) but even those don't get much use except for Expression Media.
I enjoyed using iMovie, but I think it was iMovie HD. I've tried the '08 version and don't recall the details but I have not used it after a couple of tries.

I do think that one big advantage of staying with Mac is that I'm very familiar with the OS. Friends, family members, and people at the office would come to me whenever they had a problem with their Macs. Snow Leopard may be an interesting upgrade. I will probably try it on a separate partition, and wait until 10.6.2 or 10.6.3. Having a PPC is scary laugh

Since you mentioned Spaces, I remembered that I was already using many of the features that Leopard offers. I NEVER use Spaces, but on Tiger I used VirtualDesktop Pro. I NEVER use Dashboard, but used Konfabulator quite a bit years ago. I previewed my files using PathFinder or WorkStrip. I NEVER use TimeMachine. I seldom use Spotlight, but definitely use Houdah Spot frequently.

Thank you very much for the link and for all your comments smile

carp, the $600 HP would probably cost over $1000 right now. It's sale price made it quite attractive. I did not even do a comparison with Dell, Toshiba, Sony, etc., since that HP seemed like a good option for my needs. A Macbook on sale is $935. That's almost 56% more expensive. Given the price difference, it would be nice if the Mac came with 4GB of memory instead of 2GB, a 320GB 7200RPM drive instead of a 120GB 5400RPM drive, a larger screen instead of 13.3", 5 ports instead of 3, etc.

If you want to do a feature-by-feature comparison and think that the HP will be more expensive, here's the link:



I still think that the HP was a better deal than the Macs I saw.

I'll wait a few months before making my purchase, since I just had some unexpected medical expenses and need to pay for those first. Maybe by then I'll find a good deal on a Mac smile

I like my Macs, and I have nothing against Apple (except when it comes to their arrogance). I also have nothing against PCs or Windows. BTW, I haven't read about the speed wars in years. That's a good point. But being able to use 8GB of memory vs. 4GB or having a larger and faster drive actually make a difference. In terms of cost, these things would be fairly cheap for Apple to include in their models.
And speaking of speed wars, I always found OS X slower than OS 9. Of course, now we have faster processors so it would be hard to make a fair comparison, but I loved OS 9.2 and I managed to have a very stable system. smile
Oh, and I do run anti-virus programs on my Mac and on the PCs I've used. Haven't had any speed problems.
Posted by: Nagromme

Re: WOW very + PCWorld review of MacBooks !! - 02/08/09 07:34 PM

OS 9 was certainly faster than OS X, much like Windows 3 was faster than Windows Vista. Of course, an OS that old also does a lot less.

Have fun shopping in the months ahead! And as you may know, the best sales on Apple products are often to be found either at Amazon, or at at bottom left. (Now, if you qualify for education pricing from Apple, that's also a great discount.)

As for arrogance... better steer clear of Apple AND Microsoft smile

(You're right that Microsoft looks to the past more. It's their catch-22: if they don't look to the past they lose their locked-in user base and there goes the monopoly. Yet looking back slows down innovation, leaving OS X light years ahead. Microsoft's monopoly is both their blessing and their curse.)