I was going to reply to a person who left a comment on my last entry entitled Cult of Mac, but then I realized I had more to say so I decided to just write a new entry altogether. The comment left by the poster named “Nick” was as follows:
So, we know the rich use Macs. So would I if I was that wealthy. But the equivalent mac to my $1300 PC was $4000.
I agree with Nick. Macs are a little more pricey. I started building PC’s back in 1998. I’ve owned a few macs here and there through the years, mostly older imacs I bought used which I never spent much time with because they were many years older then my PC, so they were mostly toys to play with and not machines to do anything serious on. A few months ago I bought a macbook and it has become my main machine ever since.
Getting used to the mac OS took me about two weeks. It’s different and can be really frustrating at times until you condition yourself to start working a certain way. Once you do however, it can be a very pleasant experience. My impression of mac os compared to windows is similar to how I would describe an artist to an accountant. An accountant has all his papers organized and lined up, all his numbers in order and usually maintains a clean work area. An artist however has a system of chaos and mess but knows (generally speaking) where everything is at. Windows is a lot like that accountant, and mac more like that artist. Once you figure this out and accept this, working with a mac becomes a lot easier. But you have to be someone who is comfortable with messes. On mac os you open windows and stand them on top of each other, they are all different sizes and in different places and with the push of a button they all spread out in front of you so you can jump back and forth between them. You can sort of work like this on windows if you want, but not very well and it’s not the most efficient way to use that OS. On a mac, it’s really the only way to use it.
So getting back to the point of cost. Generally I agree with Nick. If you are looking for a lot of power on a mac you are going to spend a lot of money. PC’s are a lot like Christianity, there is a lot of variety out there and it is easy to find something that might fit your specific beliefs. You can take the things you don’t like and do like and interchange the pieces. It’s easy and readily available. But at the core they are all the same. Apple computers are a totally different religion. They exist unto themselves. You either buy into it all or you don’t. There are no substitutions. I know that is a horrible analogy but work with me. :)
When you buy a mac you’re buying more then just the hardware, you are buying the entire experience of being a mac user. You can’t come into the apple world looking for the same things you look for buying a windows box. It’s not about raw power or low prices, it’s about experience and paying a little bit more for something a little bit nicer. We all know you can walk into Walmart and buy a suit. It looks decent and costs a hell of a lot less. For most people this is a perfectly decent choice. But for others, maybe they want a different experience. Maybe they want a suit that is a little finer made with a little more attention to details. It may still be made of the same fabrics the walmart suit is made out of, but there was a little more care taken to it’s design and the service you get from the tailor selling you the suit. You are going to pay a little more, maybe even a lot more depending on the suit, but maybe it’s worth it to you. You’ve been buying walmart suits your whole life and now you want to splurge a little on something nicer.
Let me give you an example. I lost my “duckhead” for my macbooks power supply. The duckhead is the little electrical outlet prong that snaps into the power brick to use when you take it with you, versus the long cord that you might use otherwise. So I took my macbook into the apple store hoping to buy a replacement. The tech behind the counter told me they are a little difficult to get and took one off of a spare power brick she had, handed it to me and said “have a nice day”. No money was exchanged, no arguing or fuss was had, she simply gave me a new one. I have never had an experience like that with any other computer manufacturer ever.
Let me give you another experience I had. I bought an iphone from an AT&T store, I noticed the screen was a little darker then others. I walked into an apple store, told the guy behind the counter and he said he was sorry but he didn’t have any 4GB iphones left he could replace mine with, he said he could send me to another store that might have one. Instead I asked if I could pay the extra $100 and upgrade to the 8GB model instead. No problem. I handed him my $100 and he handed me a brand new 8GB iphone. Remember I didn’t even buy the phone at an apple store, I bought it at an AT&T store. I didn’t even have my receipt on me. But they didn’t ask any questions, just took the phone and exchanged it for me. If he had a 4GB replacement I would have walked out of there without any cash out of my pocket, but it was my own choice to ask for the upgrade and they did it without any problems whatsoever.
A friend of mine walked into an apple store with his malfunctioning ipod 6 months after he bought it, when they said they couldn’t fix it they handed him a brand new one. Also not bought from an apple store originally and without a receipt.
This level of customer service is part of the experience you pay for as a mac user. Sure you’re computer might cost a little more up front, but when you factor in the customer service you get, the viruses you won’t have to deal with, the user experience of the os in general, it really begins to show that you are getting what you pay for.
One of the reasons I switched to a mac was because after ten years of building and buying PC’s I just got frustrated and said “I don’t have time for this anymore, I just want a computer that works”. I’m a pretty computer literate person, I work for a tech company doing high definition video editing and sometimes web design. I put my machines through some of the toughest tasks one can ask of their computer and I know how to rip them apart and reassemble them when they break down. But I do this kind of stuff at work all the time and just decided that at home I didn’t want to deal with it anymore. I just wanted to be able to come home, get on my machine and do what I want to do. So far my macbook has allowed me that. And if it costs a little more, so be it.
Now all of that said, I don’t want to give PC’s too bad of a name. I’ll be honest, there are things I dislike about my mac. No computer is perfect. I know why I bought a mac and generally I’ve been happy with it. Overall I can’t complain. But I will admit the very thing that mac so nice, it’s closed system, is also one of the things that really aggravates me about it.
One of the reasons mac work so well is because Apple makes all the hardware and the OS. Yeah some of the programs do crash from time to time, but a simple force quit lets the program crash gracefully without anything else being affected. Only one time has my macbook frozen up to where I had to do a hard reboot and it was because I pulled an SD card out of a card reader without ejecting it first. In windows this is no problem, in mac os, you better eject that thing or you’re going to pay hell for it. This is really my first bitch about mac os, it needs to learn to gracefully allow external drives to be pulled without halting the whole system or requiring an eject.
Back to what I was saying. The closed ecosystem of the mac is what makes it work so well, but in turn this closed system is also what frustrates me sometimes. You’re only given so many hardware choices as a result and if you want anything that resembles your PC tower, you better be looking to dish out at least $2300 bucks. I’m not happy with my macbook having integrated graphics instead of dedicated graphics, but unless I want to spend an extra $900 for a macbook pro, I really have no choice. Meanwhile a couple people I know just bought new HP laptops with dedicated graphics cards in them for… take a guess… $900 (for the whole laptop). Which leaves me feeling cheated that an $1100 macbook can’t have dedicated graphics but a $900 HP can. So there is a certain level of envy that exists in me. That is until I remember that overall my experience with my machine is great, no matter what hardware seems to be in it, it just works. Had I bought one of their HP laptops I’d still be stuck trying to figure out an easy way to burn a video DVD without having to open three different programs to do it. On my macbook I can go from recording video of me in front of my computer to a DVD disc in a matter of only a few mouse strokes.
There is definitely a price to be paid when being a mac user, often it’s not having the latest and greatest hardware at the lowest price. But in turn, I have a stable machine, that is virus free, easy to use and with great customer support. So it really all comes down to what you value the most. And really it’s different for different people. There was a time it was worth more to me to build my own PC’s and trouble shoot them every six months then spend more for a mac, now things are the reverse. I don’t really believe one way is better then the other. It’s really just a matter of preference and if you’re a gamer or not. I’m not really.