Last 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 Monster.com 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.