PC vs Mac (in Off-topic)

MissingNo July 22 2007 2:30 PM EDT

I already have a PC that I use at home for gaming and pirating stuff and stuff.. But now I'm looking for a laptop to take with me to college in the fall. I was thinking about getting an Apple laptop because its marketing makes it seem that an Apple is so hip, awesome-looking, seamless, etc. I talked to some of the guys in chat about it and the ones who were on basically said I should instead just get the cheapest Windows laptop I could find. Does anyone have the personal insight of owning both a machine that runs Windows and a machine that runs Apple that could help me with my decision?

8DEOTWP July 22 2007 2:36 PM EDT

"instead just get the cheapest Windows laptop I could find"
In response to the fact that you need it only for word-processing and CB.

AdminG Beee July 22 2007 3:10 PM EDT

Mac _is_ a PC.

MissingNo July 22 2007 3:14 PM EDT

Then why do they have those PC vs Mac commercials then? The PC is obviously Windows.

8DEOTWP July 22 2007 3:23 PM EDT

To clarify, Mac is the generic PC.

AdminG Beee July 22 2007 3:36 PM EDT

No clarification needed.

Mac _is_ a PC.

bartjan July 22 2007 3:45 PM EDT

A PC does not equal Windows.

/me is certified™ Windows® free for the past 5+ years, but is using nothing but PC's in that time.

Oh, and when it comes to laptops? Thinkpads...

QBJohnnywas July 22 2007 3:49 PM EDT

I use a Mac at home. I used to have a straight forward Windows machine and when that went wrong I could fix it; finding out what needed to be done when I didn't know was easy and there were plenty of things I could get hold of in the way of software and tools to sort out problems. However when the Mac went wrong recently I was a bit stuck for options. Most options involve very expensive software or giving it to someone who knows what they're doing, again involving lots of expense. I do like Macs though; but as somebody else said - if all you're going to do is run a word processor and CB then get a cheap windows based machine. Less stress!

MissingNo July 22 2007 4:11 PM EDT

Really? Wow. From how it's advertised on the site, I would have thought Macs were very hard to mess up as opposed to a Windows computer, which is in a constant state of messed-upness. And the laptop is essentially for me to use the internet and a word processor, but I would like to try out some of those awesome iPrograms that I've read so much about.

48Zach July 22 2007 4:13 PM EDT

Dell Notebooks are nice.

Xenko July 22 2007 4:19 PM EDT

I think the question that should be asked is: In what situation should you buy a Mac as opposed to a PC?

(And stop being such tightwads about PC <> Windows. We all know what PC stands for, but common usage these days equates them to being the same).

QBJohnnywas July 22 2007 4:39 PM EDT

I always thought Macs were invulnerable in comparison to PCs as well; but they do go wrong. And when they go wrong they really really go wrong. And also, in general new applications that come out for windows tend to have a bit of life with lesser machines until you get a chance to upgrade. Pretty impossible with Macs. If a program is designed to work with the latest operating system then that's what you have to do. Once you start in on the Apple route you're tied into it pretty much for good.

The other thing to consider is the cost. I dunno about anywhere else but in the UK you can get a basic PC machine for half the price of the cheapest Mac machine.

And those fancy iLife programs? You can get the same sort of things for the PC; they don't do anything I haven't seen on a Windows based app.

Xiaz on Hiatus July 22 2007 11:25 PM EDT

I use an ASUS laptop (Intel CPU + Windows OS), built great and very cost effective. So I'd highly recommend taking a look at them, if you want to be EXTRA hip - there's even a leather clad Asus laptop - wave that at those Applesters and they'll probably be oo-ing and aa-ing for weeks.

Plus, I've recently run MacOSX on this laptop and yes it does run smooth with all the correct drivers - but having grown up with Windows, the OSX is too different for my liking. So if you're up to the task of learning a new OS, then get a Mac - it'd be a nice challenge.

QBsutekh137 July 22 2007 11:46 PM EDT

Seph, you can't go wrong with a cheap Windows laptop. G_Bee's comments are just stating that you _can_ run Windows on a Mac. My boss runs Vista on a huge Mac tower, because at the high-end, Macs are worth the hardware price premium.

But it comes down to functions. What functions do you need? Then, list those functions, and get the cheapest hardware/OS combination that does it. Simple as that. If a Zebra laptop running the Sutekh operating system can write papers, surf the web, and run torrents for you, and it is the cheapest, buy it. Do the due diligence. Investigate. There's no silver bullet, any more than deciding the best nutritional diet or the best bang-for-buck on booze. decide your needs, list several ways to meet those needs, then take the cheapest combination.

My guess is that a Windows-based laptop will do you well. One question -- do you _really_ need a laptop? If not, you can get a PC for $298 at Wal-Mart. Just add a monitor. You aren't going to get much cheaper than that.

As long as it meets your needs.

Asking anything more than that would be like...I don't know...asking who would win between The Hulk and Juggernaut. *grin* Capricious nonsense.

MissingNo July 22 2007 11:53 PM EDT

I think I need a laptop. That's the general consensus for college kids who are gonna be living in a dorm, isn't it?

QBsutekh137 July 22 2007 11:59 PM EDT

Maybe all the reason to do something different. *smile* Do you tend to need mobility for note-taking, studying, etc? If so, then yeah, laptop is where it is at. If you tend to be more sedentary and headquarter)oriented (e.g. your room), then a tower is just as good. Is it a tight campus, or spread out?

These are the tough questions. Ask them. *smile* But yeah, if you want to take notes in class and be able to head to the library with your gear...laptop.

Do you have an iPod? I should have known such a thing existed, but just recently found a gadget for the iPod that lets you record directly to the iPod. You can hold a TON of data on there. Put that with some dictation software, and if it works, you have yourself a note-taker that doesn't need a laptop. Endless possibilities!

Mem July 23 2007 12:13 AM EDT

Getting off to a fast start, Sutekh!

MiniMem (Trillion) QBsutekh137 (Hubbell) $20 -- $20 word award 12:10 AM EDT
MiniMem (Trillion) QBsutekh137 (Hubbell) $20 -- $20 word award 12:10 AM EDT
MiniMem (Trillion) QBsutekh137 (Hubbell) $20 -- $20 word award 12:10 AM EDT

Seph, if you're not doing any hardcore photo/video editing, or computer animation don't go with a Mac. It's just an overpriced metal box otherwise.

Flamey July 23 2007 4:51 AM EDT

iPods are completely pretty pieces of crap.

I can find some other MP3 Player or whatever you want to call them with their unlimited possibilities that is better, cheaper and has longer warranty.

Thus, ipods can go die.

QBsutekh137 July 23 2007 10:25 AM EDT

Um, OK, then. I guess it is clear that iPods suck. :\

What must you think of the iPhone then! Yikes!

If you have a better idea for taking dictation on a music MP3 player, do you have a link? Here is the link to the iPod solution I refer to above: Link.

QBJohnnywas July 23 2007 11:51 AM EDT

I've got a handy gadget for taking notes.......ENTER ;)

QBsutekh137 July 23 2007 12:09 PM EDT


48Zach July 23 2007 12:33 PM EDT

Ah! JW.. The classic.. But, with those you get those deviled writing cramps, and the time it takes, compared to typing (if you are a expirienced computer person) is very consuming

QBJohnnywas July 23 2007 12:47 PM EDT

And then somebody borrows your pen, chews the end until it disintegrates and fill it with spit, so that when you try and write you get wet hand/paper... :/ Some people need a software update I tell ya....

48Zach July 23 2007 12:51 PM EDT

Very nice.. That's why you dont loan them out ! =)

AdminJonathan July 23 2007 5:24 PM EDT

My wife has a macbook. For what it does it was a good deal; it was hard to find PC laptops with a built in webcam at the time, so no real regrets, but I don't find that OS X really lives up to the hype. My new job offered me a top of the line macbook pro but I went with an HP instead.

My favorite thing about the macbook is actually the Apple Store. It's had both its battery and AC adapter die, which sucks, but it was a lot nicer to just take it to the store and get the parts replaced while-you-wait than having to mail it off for a week.

You're not going to get that with "the cheapest windows laptop you can find." But, you can get a good experience with some PC vendors too... IBM for instance will drop off an overnight box at your door, then overnight it back when it's fixed. So it's worth doing your homework there. Who knows, you might get lucky and never have any problems, but if you do, it will matter.

And Mac or PC you should definitely use Mozy. :)

QBsutekh137 July 23 2007 7:15 PM EDT

Mozy rocks!

I had to upgrade to Tiger due to getting an iPhone (yes, "had" is a fallacious use of the word, there -- I didn't HAVE to do it, but the compulsion remained nonetheless)... ANYWAY, Mozy was one of the first things I installed, as I knew it would finally work for me...

It's great. Seamless, background, backing up all the time. I haven't tested restores extensively, but did create one restore that looked about right. Something people may not know -- Mozy backs up things like settings and e-mail effortlessly with things called "Backup Sets". It doesn't just back up locations, it can back up _types_ of data. So, it can even help recover a funky configuration or something after your hard drive crashes -- not just the standard things folks think about when they think about backups...

I could probably just read the FAQ more closely, but Jonathan, if I totally lose my computer, how do I know my Mozy key to get my files back? It would be heartening to hear, "Well, they just verify it is you, and then give you a new key...", but then I would still have to worry about identity fraud... Mozy made my key and didn't ask for much else -- how do I get my files back if my house burns down?

Thraklight Resonance July 23 2007 9:17 PM EDT

Whenever I look at discussions like this, I think of my old graduate school friends who now work at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and get to run nuclear fusion applications on the Cray XT4 supercomputer. Then I get depressed for the rest of the day. :-)

AdminJonathan July 23 2007 10:19 PM EDT

Sutekh: if you use the "Mozy key" all you need is your account password. Mozy will automatically decrypt it for you when you request a restore.

If you built a custom key, nobody can get your data if you lose that key. (To paraphrase Schneier, there are two types of encryption in this world: cryptography that will stop your kid sister from reading your files, and cryptography that will stop major governments from reading your files. Mozy uses the latter.) So you should probably keep a copy on a keydrive or send it to a webmail service.

AdminNightStrike July 24 2007 12:35 AM EDT

If you're getting ready for college, and given past discussions, you're most likely broke as a joke... If you're on a budget, then stick to it. Follow Sut's suggesting and get a $300 computer from Wal Mart. Use it for email/word processing, don't bog it down with Bit torrents and direct connect garbage, and be serious about your education.

Flamey July 24 2007 3:47 AM EDT

Sut, all those gadgets and things that Apple creates for their iPods are great, but they seem to cost a lot of money. Not to mention that they're not built in either. Radio, Voice recorder, cost you a lot more money and you can only have one plugged in at the same time. Other music devices can come with those things built in and be cheaper, that's what I was trying to say.

QBsutekh137 July 24 2007 10:34 AM EDT

I'd love to see a device that has an FM transmitter, FM receiver, voice recorder, movie playback, 80 GB hard drive, slip design, simple interface, easy integration, larger players with direct dock integration, camera connectors, integrated car docks...

Please, do tell!

By the way, Apple does not make all the third-party stuff... Belkin, Griffin, etc -- these folks make a lot of the integrated devices that enhance the iPod. I think it is a Good Thing that these items are modular, so that I can get what I want and NOT get what I DON'T need. As for one-at-a-time use...when you send me the link to the device that has all the above built in (and cheaper!), I'll verify to make sure all functions can be used at the same time. *smile*

QBsutekh137 July 24 2007 10:35 AM EDT

Then I am set on Mozy, and my little sister will be foiled when she tries to read my stuff!!!!! *smile* Thanks, Jonathan!

MissingNo July 24 2007 11:18 AM EDT

Wait, do I even need to buy a separate computer? Should I just bring this one along with me?

QBsutekh137 July 24 2007 12:10 PM EDT

Was that an option? Of course, take it with you if you can! Save the cash! If nothing else, start with your current machine and see how it works in the college environment. Then, make a solid, educated decision on what to get next (if anything).

AdminJonathan July 29 2007 1:26 AM EDT

I really found my laptop much more useful than my desktop in college. Even in non-CS classes it was great to be able to make digital, searchable outlines during lecture. For $400 at the low end a laptop is almost certainly worth it. Of course for that price you won't be getting a gaming rig, but you might want to take a break from gaming your first semester anyway. :)

Maybe your professors will have all their notes on the web these days. (But even then their notes may be less than complete.) I'd ask a few students or professors at your college for their opinions.

ignignokt July 29 2007 2:19 AM EDT

I'd agree with Jon that a laptop is very very helpful at college. My college makes i mandatory to have a laptop, the cost is spread out over a few years and included as a miscellaneous expense (which is covered by scholarships, grants or loans).

I find it great to be able to type my notes during class, do group work with ease, and do my schoolwork wherever I wish without having to be tied down to a desk.

As far as the whole Windows vs OSX (or whatever the latest flavor of it is)argument , a lot of computer manufacturers now offer the option of Linux. Linux is as secure, if not more secure than OSX and from what I've heard, it is a lot cleaner which allows more power for things that you actually run. The thing with Linux is that it is very difficult to learn, unfamilar for most people, and has a much limited software catalog. Therefore, I'd say that Linux is most likely not a good choice for you.

As far as hardware is concerned... it seems difficult to pick a superior brand. Apple is very expensive, usually about 50-100% more expensive than a comparable non-apple laptop. IBM was once renown for it's superb quality but they have been bought out by a Chinese company called Lenovo and I haven't heard people boosting of its quality. Panasonic and Toshiba seem to receive high marks, however with high quality comes expensive pricing. Then companies such as ;Gateway, Sony, Dell, HP/Compaq have had problems with exploding batteries and what not which make them a hard sell.

Overall, I'd say that Dell is the best value as far as quality/price goes. Their unique business model (ordering parts and assembling laptops to order) has allowed them to be very competitive with pricing. However, their customer service can leave you frustrated (due to long wait times and foreign call centers with difficult dialects to comprehend). From what I've heard/read, if you order a Dell through their small business section, you receive a higher quality of customer service. That being said, I feel like Dell's prices make it so attractive that looking into other companies seems to be a null point.
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