Mac vs. PC – Which Is Right For You?


erica-manfred2Last week in  Aging With Geekitude, Erica showed you how to see more of what you want on your Facebook News Feed (take a look). This week, she’s sharing her favorite ways to get creative and have fun on the social network.



A colleague recently asked me if she should buy a Mac or PC, and I realized that although this question has been hashed and re-hashed ad infinitum on the Internet, it’s not dead yet. That’s because there is no definitive answer. Far be it from me to claim that I can come up with one, but I can at least address the question from the point of view of newer computer users. As I often do, I asked my Facebook friends – most of whom are on the far side of sixty – what they thought.

I had no idea that I was about to ignite a firestorm.

I got more responses, and far more heated ones, than I’ve ever had before – even the Israel-Hamas debate didn’t get as hot. As Steve Morrill, a journalist friend explained, “PC vs. Mac is a religious thing. Sort of like Sunnis and Shiites, Lutherans and Catholics, toilet paper off the top versus toilet paper off the bottom.” He, of course, is a Mac aficionado.

Full disclosure, I am a PC owner. I’ve never used a Mac, have happily owned Acers for 20 years and have no desire to switch. I also drive a Ford Escort and have no desire to own a BMW.

The Bottom Line

Price/Value PCs still beat Macs. The least expensive Mac laptop – the standard Air –  is at least two or three times the price of the cheapest PC laptop with comparable specifications. You can buy a perfectly serviceable Acer PC laptop for under $300 on Amazon, compared to the Air at $900. But the Mac is likely to have longer battery life, be lighter and prettier, require fewer service calls, have a simpler and more intuitive interface, and have that glowing apple on the case.

Multimedia Macs are more elegant and innovative machines that for years have been built from the ground up for sounds and pictures. That’s why filmmakers, graphic artists, photographers, musicians and the publishing departments of magazines use Macs – and maybe that’s helped give the Mac its snob factor. But PCs are catching up with features that Apple doesn’t offer, such as touch screens and PC-Tablet hybrids.

Setup Macs are easier to set up out of the box. Your Internet connection, your programs, your account – the Mac walks you through all that onscreen, step by step.

Crashes Mac users insist that Mac software crashes less. And a big Mac selling point is that these machines are hardly ever get viruses – not because of better virus protection, but because 90 percent of computers run Windows, so hackers get more bang for the buck by writing viruses for the masses.

Repairs PCs win hands down (unless you agree with Mac users who say that Macs need fewer repairs). It’s easier to find a PC repair person, and PCs allow for more tinkering. But if you live near an Apple store you can easily take your laptop in for repairs and free tech help at the Genius Bar; you can also take free classes at your local Apple Store. If you don’t live near an Apple Store, it might make more sense to buy a PC.

More to Think About

  • If your more techie friends/family members use Mac, it might make sense to go Mac so they can help you when and if you get stuck. Likewise if they use PC, go that way.
  • If you’ve been using a PC or a Mac, consider sticking with what you’ve got to save yourself having to get used to a new interface and gestures.
  • If you might want to tweak photos, edit video, make beats, or create music libraries, consider Mac. The software you’ll need to do these things comes with the system.
  • If you’re pretty sure you’ll never want to do more than email, browse the web, create simple Word and/or Excel documents, use Facebook and play games, you’re probably fine using an inexpensive PC. You can always add software like Photoshop later for whatever interests you.
  • If your main interest is gaming, go with PC; there’s a far wider range of available games.
  • If you have or plan to buy an iPhone or iPad, pairing either or both with a Mac will make your life more seamless. If you have or think you’ll buy an Android phone or tablet, think PC.

I tend to agree with Steve Berman of who wrote this article: “Contrary to what the rabid ‘fanboys’ and ‘fangirls’ of each would like you to think, the differences between Macs and PCs aren’t incredibly striking – sort of like Coke and Pepsi! Both machines will access the web, create office documents and pull off whatever tasks you ask of them. If cost is your only concern, PCs are the way to go. If you need more than the basics and prefer sleeker styling and Apple’s interface and design capabilities, get yourself a Mac.”

What the Real People Say

The quotes from my Facebook friends may sway you one way or the other:

  • “I only use Mac because my first computer in 1995 was given to me and it was a Mac. I got to be friends with my Mac guy, so I just kept buying Macs. I understand they are good for graphic design and the like, but for someone like me, it’s basically a $1400 Facebook/World of Warcraft machine.’ Sharon Nicols
  • “Mac. No question. I work on a PC at work and have owned only Macs since 1987. Ease of use on a Mac, non-crashing, few virus issues, and just more fun. IMHO.’ Brenda Lange
  • “One thing I will categorically state is that ownership of Macs or any Apple products and required software and apps does marry one to Apple and is way, way more expensive to maintain than a PC and Android apps. But once one becomes an Apple fan… Well that is that. Just witness the new release of the iPhone 6 and now the new buzz around new Macs and Mac Pros to be released. It all depends on what exactly you wish to accomplish with your machine, what your focus is, how much you can spend, and what you think is realistic for your needs. IMHO.” Ted Gross
  • “PC, and I’ve used both over the years. Several reasons why. More reasonably priced, if something goes wrong I don’t need to go to Apple and in fact I can often do the code fix myself. If I want, I can go to Dell or Gateway websites and customize my new PC however I want. And lastly – and most important for a writer – the files I write in Word will read exactly as I wrote them on any other pc.” JG Faherty
  • “I’ve had plenty of Macs freeze. Also, I really dislike being commandeered into using only their hardware and iTunes.” Lynne Bailey

And the real reason:

  • “Using a Mac makes me feel younger. (My son insisted that I switch.)” Alice Elena

Which computer do you use? Please let us know what side you’re on and why.



See more Aging With Geekitude articles.


Erica Manfred is a journalist, essayist and humorist who writes about everything from dentistry to divorce to fantasy fiction. Friend her on Facebook.


9 responses to “Mac vs. PC – Which Is Right For You?

  1. If youre on a PC and are thinking of switching…get a friend to slap you HARD until your brain starts to function normally…ahh there we go. Ive tried to switch twice. ( i just put my macbook pro on craigslist ) Take it from someone thats tried…its not worth the effort. Switching from PC to Mac is like moving to a foreign country and not being able to speak the language. All youll be doing is spending tons of cash on the hardware then the software then the time for a steep learning curve ( NO Macs are not easy to set up initially at all ) Why would you want to operate a computer with a one button mouse???? Would you try to drive a car with only a 1/3 steering wheel? The best computer is the one that works for you. If you switch or try to as I have, in the end you spend money and time to get you to where you were before you switched, and that is a computer system that does exactly what you were doing before on the PC. Whats the point? Theres a reason that one platform has over 90% market share and the other doesnt. My advice? Keep your sanity and stay PC.

  2. My first encounter with a computer was in the 1980s, with a Apple (a “2E,” if i remember correctly) and I wrote my dissertation on it at the youth center where I was volunteering then, but as an artitst, it was the Apple’s graphics capability that truly interested me, and still is.

    After my initial experience with an Apple product, I finally bought a Mac SE30 — tiny screen, only black & white, but I could do rudimentary desktop publishing on it, design & print and flyers, newsletters, etc., and made some money at it. Then I learned Pagemaker, but longed for more color drawing & painting capabilities. Moved up to higher & higher level Macs with color, and finally bought a little portable MacBookPro. I gloried in painting with Photoshop and using scanners on higher level Macs at service bureaus, but that was expensive… tho I had to struggle to get their printers to print out my art so that it looked like what I saw on screen! (Still a problem…colors on screen are oftern hard to match even on higher -end printers!)

    Meanwhile I got the opportunity to teach basic computer courses PT using PCs, so I learned the basics of that platform (which felt like a comedown…).

    Since then the PCs have adopted some of Mac’s features and capabilities, so it’s a matter of what you want to do with a computer and how you like to work.

    (My engineering prof. brother, who also has continued to buy Macs to use at home, still complains that there’s no really good database program for the Mac to compare with what’s available for PCs –so it all depends on what you want to do with a computer.) I remain an Apple fan.

  3. I started out on PCs, at work and at home, then switched to Mac 15 years ago. I hate to switch tech, so I use a machine for an insanely long time — my first Mac, a high-end laptop, lasted me for 10 years, courtesy of a new operating system mid-stream (cheap, easy to install, loads of free hand-holding from Apple tech support while I did it).

    I’d forgotten all about crashes and freezes and general malfunctions — my apple computers simply haven’t had them.

    There was a stretch of time in the early 2000’s when there were no problems with compatibility, but those days are gone. I’m thinking about adding one of the new hybrid pad/laptops just for a cheap source of universal access, but I’ve forgotten how to do the extensive self-protection one needs to do with a PC.

    1. = = = = = =


      Is there adapter/cable that can be used to transmit my MS-Excel & MS-WORD files from my Mac SE-30 to a modern Mac machine?

      = = = = = =


      I’ve Mac SE-30 with an external Zip Drive with its disks and there original cables/connections/mouse/keyboard, etc… in good conditions. The MS-Excel and MS-Word files that I worked on for years (under my Mac system OS 6.0.7 on Mac SE-30) are stored on the Mac SE-30 hard-disk and on Zip-disks.

      I’d like to transmit those old files to a new mac laptop since I urgently need to work on these files on a new Mac machine and to finally work on them under Windows on PC laptop.

      It seems that such transmission(s) is/are feasible (through certain hardware, e.g. adapters and cables).

      However, I do not know where to buy the required hardware in question.

      Can any body help.

      The Apple dealers at Cairo, Egypt (including Apple Trade Line and its maintenance services center, at the Sheik Zaid City to the west of Cairo are incapable of providing me any help. Those dealers say that there is “no way to do that since Mac SE-30 is a SCSI machine that apple has abandoned and make obsolete forever”.

      Simply, I do not believe those local dealers.

      For sure there is a way, but I must buy the correct adapters/cables to do that transmission job without Internet.

      I’m grateful to anybody who may help through providing the names/addresses/sites of dealers who may have the required hardware.

      = = = = = =

  4. Windows based computer is only one for me. I have Apple iTouch and Toshiba Tablet. I’ve been using computers since the 80s, and windows is more intuitive. I think Apple products are overrated and overpriced. I also have Apple iPod which I love for music and podcasts but that’s about it. I also hate having to use iTunes which is very user unfriendly in my opinion, but Apple doesn’t seem to push iTunes to make it better.

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