I recently switched over to mac and I wanted to give an unbiased (or at least as unbiased as I can) look at what I found to be mac's plusses and minusses to other people looking to make the switch soon. Of course, this is just my OPINION based on my own experiences, so don't read too much into the tea leaves at the bottom of the cup. Here goes. A little history -I am a graduate student who was looking to buy a new computer to replace my 8 year old Dell laptop as a graduation present. Unfortunately, my laptop was stolen in December and has pushed up my need to get a new computer, thus my current situation. -I purchased two imacs for my mother and brother in October and set them up easily. They love them. One of them is showing all our photos continuously (my father scanned in 6000 negatives on top of all his digital pictures) and they say nothing but great things about the mac. I however am a little more critical (I was a philosophy major). Two weeks ago I bought the 17" macbook pro 2.6 Ghz top of the line machine from my local apple store. I came back home, fired it up and it had a dead pixel. Anyone who says these are not bothersome doesn't have one. All I could do is stare right at it all that day. I drove back to the apple store and they exchanged it no problem. Second macbook pro had a thin black translucent line across the bottom 1" of the screen. It also had two keyboard defects. I figured those problems weren't very bothersome so I disregarded them, kept the computer, installed 4GB crucial ram, and called it mine. I should note that I read these forums religiously and they said that 98% of people have no problems, and only the people with problems posted - I believed them. I must be incredibly unlucky then, because I had two defective computers in a row but I was going to write this post to state my experiences before I even bought the computers, so take that for what it's worth. Hardware Mac=Better: Graphics: The high-res display was amazing on the laptop (I went matte) and better than any pc laptop display I've ever seen. The 8600GT is a great card and although you can get better from Dell I don't need anything more. Design: No-brainer. Hard Drive: Where else can you find a 200GB 7200 RPM drive (which you will need once you have bootcamp and leopard installed) - answer: nowhere. Keyboard: I love the backlight illumination. Enough said. PC=Better: Speed: See below under software for my comparison of XP and Leopard, but in terms of SPEED ALONE, I found XP to be much snappier than Leopard, but this is more of a software thing. DVD Drive: My parents got a small cd stuck in it (yes, I know it was not smart of them to put it in, but they're just regular computer users and it was a pain to fix) Price: I have to say it because a similarly configured Dell is much cheaper, but everyone knows that so disregard this because as everyone knows you're paying to use a holier-than-thou mac. But I still said it. Network Card: My network card had some serious issues connecting to my wireless router 10 feet away that my old dell never had a problem finding. Also, it would cut out or "forget" my password-secured network. These problems persisted with three different routers including one airport extreme. Software Things I really like about the mac compared to pc: Quicklook: Great feature that I thought was useless until I found it to be incredibly fast and helpful. Mail: Much superior to outlook or outlook express. The IMAP handling is superb and the search query is uncomparable. Also the integration with the rest of the OS (address book and ical) is light years beyond windows. Address Book: Great, love the integration with the rest of the applications. iCal: Same as address book, love it Dashboard: I did not think I would use this program but I put some sticky notes on it and quickly became much better organized and really found this feature to be handy. Web clips were ok but sometimes took a very long time to load. Overall a good program if you don't use too many widgets. Windows programs that do this are very slow and memory intensive to the point of being unusable in my opinion. Quicktime: I like it much better than media player. Preview: Surprisingly very helpful and and after using it I don't see why windows doesn't have something this basic and easy. iTunes: Unsurprisingly this apple-based program works faster and better than on windows. On windows I was lucky if the program found my ipod but I never had any issues with mac. Mark/Space Palm OS Sync: I bought this program to sync my treo 650 with the mac (apple doesn't support these anymore unfortunately) and found it to be a very good program. It syncs directly with ical and address book and with my ipod touch perfectly. Much better than the windows version of these palm syncing software programs that rely on their own address book which makes integrating with email a pain. Support: Applecare was really great. They solved some of my problems and it was a pleasure to call them (as opposed to the dreaded technical support staff of other companies). They also helped out my parents a lot with their computers and overall deserve good marks. Things that didn't live up to my expectations: Safari: I really wanted to use this program. I tried to love it, and get really into the whole mac experience but I found it to be an inferior web browser than firefox. It has two fatal flaws in my opinion. One, it only shows pages after a long delay of loading a webpage almost to completion. This means that if I want to quickly check the New York Times top headline, I have to wait for almost the entire page to load just to see the top line. In firefox it is much better at showing the page AS IT IS LOADING, but on mac this was still slower than in windows. Plus, it should have data detectors like mail, but maybe that's just me. Time Machine: I bought a 7200 RPM external HD and I found the computer to be noticeably slower when running with time machine running. Good for periodic backups but I was quick to turn this guy off. iPhoto: I'm on the fence about it. I really dislike that it duplicates your library and is very hard to do anything useful with the pictures aside from viewing them. But if you use quicklook to browse your folders and then have the iphoto copy (duplicate copies of data) then it is nice. Unix: I'm pretty computer-savvy and I thought having access to the unix core would be helpful but aside from chaning my dock I really found very little use out of it and realized how little I know about mac os x unix. Genius Bar Supprt: I bought procare and used it many times to help me with ichat and bootcamp. They didn't want to touch bootcamp support with a 10 foot pole (so don't rely on them for it) and were unable to get ichat working. Their attitude seemed to be, oh well, it doesn't work, it's ichat. This made me really upset as one of the main reasons I bought the mac was to talk to my parents with it and decrease my phone bill costs. Stacks: I really am looking forward to 10.5.2 with hierarchical browing because stacks are really unhelpful for the most part the way they are now given that you can't see whole filenames or navigate folders. Things that the pc is much better at than the mac: OS Speed: I hate to say it but I found Boot Camp running Win XP Pro to be much snappier than Leopard. I'll hold my comments at that so as not to incur the wrath of the mac community, but in terms of SPEED ALONE, Windows XP Professional was much faster than Leopard. In terms of application integration and enjoyment with the OS in terms of look, features, and navigation I think that Leopard wins. More on this in the conclusion. Microsoft Office: Office 2004 for mac is one of the worst programs I have ever used, especially powerpoint. I have yet to try Office 2008 (I will when I get my new computer), but Office 2007 for the PC is a great program that is uncomparable. I bought iWork and liked it but really cannot rely on it because no one else uses it and there were conversion errors in the sample powerpoint lectures that I made thus eliminating any chance of my using it. For professional office work that needs to be shared (which in my profession it does) this is one thing that the mac has way better than the pc. Also, you never know if you have to give a presentation on a windows pc so conversion to office perfectly was a must for me and it failed. What I wound up doing is installing boot camp with macdrive 7 and then office 2007 into that which worked well. Then I installed parallels to run the boot camp partition and it completely corrupted the bootcamp partition and I had to redo it all over again (this whole endeavor took up all of last weekend and ended in me being really annoyed having to reinstall XP 4 different times). Firefox: I was a firefox user and found that my web experience on my 8-year-old laptop was faster than my brand new top of the line mac. When I installed firefox in mac it was still slower than firefox on the bootcamp partition. Also, I really really really hate that I can't rename downloaded files before they start downloading in either Firefox or Safari. Printing: I found mac printing to be inferior (at least for microsoft office documents). I could never adjust the formatting as much as I could on windows and that costs the mac some points given my need to do intense office work. Things that don't work well on mac at all: Parallels/Bootcamp: see above remarks but this is a pain to get working correctly and I would never trust my parallels or bootcamp with any important data. I will use it strictly to RUN Office 2007 but will save all my files on the mac partition. iChat: I spent over 10 hours on the phone with technical support in total, bought 2 new routers (including an airport extreme), rewired my entire network, and was unable to get ichat to work. One of the main reasons I bought a mac was to save on phone costs to my parents long distance and this was a real bummer especially since all of this fiddling around took up another whole weekend. Conclusion I really enjoyed my mac but I could not get things to work the way I wanted to and that really soured my experience. iChat never worked, Bootcamp was a pain to use, Parallels corrupted everything twice, Office and Safari were inferior to the point of unusability, but most of all, Leopard was just not snappy compared to windows boot camp. However, in the end, the positives outweighed the negatives and I decided to stick with mac. Raw speed was not as important to me as features and in this regard I really fell in love with Leopard's look, features, and integration of the whole computer experience. I returned the mac because of the physical defects and am now waiting for the next macbook pro. I cannot lie, I still look at the Dell website for a possible computer, but will stick with mac. I hope my experience will help other future switchers make their decision.