Contemplating a switch

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by niter, Sep 9, 2003.

  1. niter macrumors 6502

    Sep 9, 2003
    I have a few questions regarding a switch from a PC to a Mac. Actually, it would not be a full switch, but just a switch of my primary computer. My posting here is to question the feasibility and practicality of a theoretical switch and to gain Mac users’ opinions.

    First off, this is not an “I hate PCs” sort of switch at all. In all honestly, I have never had a single serious problem with any PC except for a hasty first computer purchase complemented by Windows 95. I am one of those oddballs that actually liked Windows ME. While I am very happy with my PC, I have always liked the look of Apple’s products. Yet, I have never been a fan of the operating system nor the poor file transfer between my PC and my employer’s Mac. The Mac has had multimedia features that intrigue me, but at their prices I cannot justify getting a “play computer.” For an added measure of cheapness, it took me forever to buy my first well needed laptop because I could not justify the inflated price for system that I could not fully customize and upgrade when I could build my own PC to my specifications for significantly cheaper.

    BUT….I have been speaking recently to Mac aficionados and they have told me there have been vast changes to the Mac operating system (I have not used anything higher than OS 9) and that the file transfer from PC to Mac is not as big of a problem anymore. Additionally, I started to think that since I would not upgrade a laptop anyways choosing a Mac laptop vs. a PC laptop really is not all that different. The bottom line is that if I could use a Mac laptop (namely a PowerBook) to enjoy all the features of a Mac I like and have a seamless transfer of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and photograph files to my PC desktop I would get a Mac as my next laptop. Having a PC desktop would fulfill my building/upgrading fun and the Mac would satisfy my Mac orientated needs.

    The hitch to this whole decision is $. I am a student and I cannot go out buying computers left and right. I work in a “PC world,” and I need my computer to fit in that world. I have had the luxury of using my group’s licensed programs for all my computing desires, but if I switch over to a Mac I am on my own. I have done the pricing, and I have found that I would have to spend at minimum another $500-$1000 of my own money to replace much of the software—not replacing them is not really an option because they are programs which would be greatly complemented by the multimedia programs on a Mac.

    In a nutshell, I am most interested in reasons to buy a Mac OTHER than “a Mac has less problems than a PC” because I really do not have any problems at all with my PC. Does the new operating system allow for ease of work between a PC and a Mac? Can I have both types of computers and not have any trouble going back and forth? If I am happy with a PC and Windows, then what can a Mac offer me that would make my computing experience all the more enjoyable.

    Basically, I am teetering towards a Mac on my next computer purchase with the compatibility issues leaning me more towards the PC side and I am asking the users on this forum to give me a good argument as to why I should go towards the Mac (and not because it looks so good, because I am already sold on the aesthetics of the Macs).

    Sorry this is so long.
  2. tazo macrumors 68040


    Apr 6, 2003
    Pacific Northwest, Seattle, WA actually
    what is your budget? And are you working with Photoshop and MS apps like excel a lot?
  3. niter thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 9, 2003
    I could say that my budget is to have a cap for everything to be 100% UNDER 3k. BUT (and this is a big BUT), the computer has got to last. This is double my "PC laptop" budget because I have noticed that Macs seem to last a bit longer whereas PCs are outdated in months....My building budget for a desktop is $700, but that is another story.

    Here is a list of the programs which are critical to my computer uses (in order from greatest to least)


    and I need Norton Systemworks and Firewall just because they have saved me so many times from other irresponsible coworker's emails.

    Here is a list of my primary "fun" programs (a.k.a the personal programs I use regularly and definately want to have)

    Photo Shop
    Publisher (this could easily be replaced with a similar Mac program)
    Black and White
  4. niter thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 9, 2003
    *and when I say a long time, I mean I want bare minimum 3 years out of it, if not 4, for that price.

    I look at it as if I build another desktop for $700, I can feasibly see myself putting another $300 worth of upgrades on it in 3 years. Add a price of a $1500 laptop and that is $2500 of computing for 3 years. The nice part about PC desktops is that you can continually upgrade them to let them support/provide a home base for an aging laptop.

    Besides, in 3 years, I should be out of school and my future job provider should be providing me a computer ;)
  5. macktheknife macrumors 6502a


    Jan 24, 2002
    Almost all of the programs you mentioned are available for the Mac. However, you will of course, need to purchase the OS X versions of these programs. I have heard of companies willing to offer their programs to run on another OS as long as you send them your original copies. In any event, you will need to invest some time and money to obtain such programs unless you <AHEM> have a very generous friend of sorts.

    Here's another way to think about it. I have just switched back from a TiBook (550 MHz 512 MB RAM) to a Gateway 450X (1.4 GHz Pentium-M 512 MB RAM) that I bought for about $1,649. Say it lasts me for two years (not an unreasonable expectation) and I purchase a new PC laptop that will last for another two years for a similar price. By then I would have spent around $3k for two computers over the four-year period (assuming I won't sell my Gateway on eBay).

    If you want a *fast* Apple portable (i.e. the 1 GHz TiBook), you will spend about $2,500. Maybe it will last you three to four years, maybe it won't. In any event, if you went the PC route, you would have spent just a little more to get a nice upgrade after two years.

    Of course, this kind of reasoning is strictly from a price point of view. There are other issues (i.e. OS, look and feel, total user experience, etc.) that will tip the scale either way.
  6. msp macrumors newbie

    May 6, 2003
    Karlsruhe, Germany
    I bought a new laptop in july (a PB 12')

    I'm a student and use my PC for programming and term papers. I had a sony vaio 14' but I was not satisfied. It had a 2.4 GHz P4 processor that was fast, but battery runtime was around 1.5 h and it was heavy to carry.

    I was looking for a notebook that I could use at the uni, so I settled with the PB 12'

    I thought I could carry it with me and use the PC as my main desktop for the development work.

    Well what happened was that the PB is that great and the 867 MHz cpu is not that slow as I expected so I use my desktop rarely (I run debian linux on it, and sometimes XP with a game).
    The powerbook switched my complete workflow. I have my 18' TFT, keyboard and mouse attached when used on the desktop.

    So I have my system every time with me, no problems with different software versions or configurations between the main desktop and my laptop.

    I would suggest you getting a pb 12, as it is around 1700$ and fits the bill perfectly.
    As there are new ones coming out in the next halve year *g* I would wait for these and get more speed.
  7. whooleytoo macrumors 604


    Aug 2, 2002
    Cork, Ireland.
    There's an educational offer for MS Office which is quite cheap (relative to the old pricing at least!), at 150 US, EndNote is another 200. The educational version of ChemDraw is almost 800 US, so that would eat into your budget significantly! Note though, that Internet Explorer is no longer being updated on the Mac, though Safari is a very fine replacement, it may/may not be suitable for your needs.

    I'm very dubious about using Norton products - especially seeing as I get so much spam advertising SystemWorks! Mail's anti-spam features and rules work fine for me, just two of three spams (out of 40 or so a day) get through. There's also a firewall built into OSX which should be adequate.

    To be honest, if you need to buy all that software, you'll be doing well to afford any laptop, Mac or PC, within your budget. Depending on your needs, a tool like the excellent GraphicConverter might substitute for Photoshop (or not..).

    My best advice about buying a Mac, is to go into an Apple Store and play about with a few for a while. If that doesn't convince you to buy one, I really doubt anything anyone says here will.

    I will just say, OSX is quite good value, including web server, file server, mail server (if you want it), firewall, internet sharing, excellent WiFi and Bluetooth support, full Mac and Unix developer tools, productivity suite (AppleWorks), mail, scheduler, movie and DVD editing software, font editor...etc...etc.

  8. alia macrumors 6502a


    Apr 2, 2003
    Orlando, FL
    A couple additions to what others have said... both Adobe and Macromedia offer generous discounts on their software to students, so replacing those apps might be less painful. If you really want a replacement for Photoshop though, I'd even consider Photoshop Elements... it's got around 80% of the functionality of PS7 (and a few things PS doesn't have, like a red-eye removal tool and fill flash filter) and it's only $50ish dollars. Plus, each CD comes with both the Mac and Windows version on it.

    As for compatibility, it should be no sweat to transfer files between your mac and PC. You can network them together to do it, or even just burn a CD of files on one and move it to the other. As long as you give your mac files names that the PC can read, it's no sweat.

    Virtual PC is slow as all heck, but it might be fine for running some of those PC apps that you only OCCASIONALLY need to use, and don't want to bother purchasing a license for - you can just install the version that you get through work.

    Also, with the possibility of running X11 on the mac, you may want to look into the free, open-source apps out there that can possibly replace some of the sofware you're looking to purchase for minimal expense.

    Hope this was helpful!

  9. niter thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 9, 2003
    I actually use the Photoshop Elements program and I would want to get that at that price. Honestly, if Apple has a program that does the same thing and is relatively straightforward, I would go with that instead if at a better price. This basically holds the same for Publisher (besides, that is not offered for a Mac). For instance, I use Publisher for making wedding invitations and I am certain that Apple offers a similar program, if not better. I am not thrilled with Publisher, but it does what I need it to do. With my "fun" programs, I am very flexible....I love using a computer and I love learning new programs. The only one that I less flexible is dreamweaver, but I would be happy waiting to get a older copy for cheaper on eBay.

    As for Norton, I was thinking about that. If there is a likewise program for a Mac then I am set. The only reason that I am pushing it is because I have found systemworks to keep my PC running smoothly and Firewall to prevent a recent trend of potential invaders. Perhaps Systemworks is really only needed on a PC. I have found that most of the issues users have with PC can be solved with Systemworks.

    Unfortunately, there is not a local Apple store near by...but I could go to my campus bookstore and play a bit. It really is not too necessary because I know the "look and feel" of a Mac. My only hangup is my "essential programs." I forgot to mention I could most likely get ChemDraw for free...if not, I have an old rudimentary program that would do the job minimally.

    It really comes down to....can I use Word, Excel, and Powerpoint without a SINGLE hitch. If yes, then Iwould save my money and ride out my PC laptop and get a Mac as my next laptop (esp after the new powerbooks come out ;) ). Perhaps I have a hangup on these programs...but I cannot choose and dictate what programs everybody else uses in my group and field. My hesitation comes from receiving file after file from my employer which could not open on my PC (even though they were Word files) or having all my files returned to me with my figures all over the place (the Mac in our workplace is notorious for taking figures on a Word file from a PC and mangling them. And that is if they even showed up as something other than that horrible red X!

    I want to switch. I just want assurance that this is no longer a problem. The computer doing the above is on OS 9 and I heard that this is no longer the case with the new operating system and the Office X. If this is true, then I am sold. The more I think about it, I just want one....even if I have to wait to replace my "fun" progams later. I just cannot permit myself to get one if I cannot use it both at work and at home because my lifestyle and fiances do not permit that.
  10. jxyama macrumors 68040


    Apr 3, 2003
    if you are still up for it, get a 12" powerbook. dunno how you feel after the software costs came in, but that's the cheapest powerbook - but it's performance is nothing but. i love mine. it's not the fastest computer i've ever used but it sure is well built and fun to use.

    forget OS 9. OS X is a world apart. do not let the memory of OS 9 be the decision maker.

    since you sounds like a student, go ask about the mac programs. Office X is made by Microsoft. i'd imagine it's 100% compatible with PC versions. i also got PS Elements... student discount got that me that program for under $50...

    simple firewall is built into OS X. i don't know about system works, what does it do exactly?
  11. whooleytoo macrumors 604


    Aug 2, 2002
    Cork, Ireland.
    Ok, getting ChemDraw for 'free' (cough!) frees up a lot of cash! GraphicConverter is a superb shareware graphics app, so you can evaluate if it suits your needs before buying it or another app.

    You shouldn't have too many problems with worms/virii on the Mac, although having anti virus software is never a bad idea. There are very, very few attacks on Macs (had a couple of benign virii back in my OS 8 days), and the built-in firewall should cope nicely with worms and such. The firewall is very easy to use, start a service (web sharing, remote login etc) and the firewall allows access on that port, stop the service and it blocks it again automatically. It even by default blocked my syncing my schedule with my Bluetooth phone - it's obviously pretty secure! (Easy to remedy, by opening one port.)

    I only use Word on my PC, so I don't know about document compatibility. I'd wouldn't expect to have problems, but don't have first hand experience.

  12. monkeydo_jb macrumors 6502

    Apr 17, 2002
    Columbia, MO
    When we're out at a local coffee shop studying, my fiance will
    use Word on my TiBook. When it's time to leave, she saves
    it as a Word document and emails it to herself. Later, when she's
    back in her dorm room on her Dell, she is able to easily open the doc
    w/out any formatting issues at all. We've never had a problem with this.

    I just switched in December, and let me tell you that OS X is amazing.
    I've caught myself chuckling lately when reading news articles about virus'
    and worms attacking Windows boxes.

    If you have any other worries post 'em!

    My 1GHz TiBook w/SuperDrive hasn't seemed slow to me yet!

  13. barrettd macrumors regular

    Sep 8, 2003
    Oklahoma City
    I may have missed something, but are you saying that Powerbooks come with Appleworks? I don't think mine did, but I don't think I've ever checked. I'm also a new "switcher", and couldn't be happier with my 15"PB.

  14. whooleytoo macrumors 604


    Aug 2, 2002
    Cork, Ireland.
    Actually (where's the 'hand up' smiley?) you're right. AppleWorks only comes with the eMacs, iMacs and iBooks, AFAIK.

  15. hulugu macrumors 68000


    Aug 13, 2003
    quae tangit perit Trump
    Office for Mac....

    I use a Mac at home and a PC at work, and I haven't had a single problem transfering Powerpoint, Excel, or Word files back and forth. I use the comments option a lot in Word and it works perfectly on both machines.
    In fact, the Mac and PC use most of the same file formats:
    JPG, MP3, TIFF, DOC, XLS, GIFF, etc. etc.
    So, it is only when you run into some odd properitary format that you can run into trouble, and the free-ware Graphic Coverter handles these things with aplomb.
    As for Explorer, Mac users have much better choices: Safari, Camino, Mozilla, Navigator (yeah it still works), OmniWeb, etc.
    In fact, right now I'm pounding this out on my TiBook while sharing files with my 2K PC.
    I just like my Mac better, the programs (iTunes, iCal, Safari, QT, etc.) always work better than their PC counterparts, and I love using Bluetooth (I bought the module) and wireless at home. My TiBook is merely a 550mhz and I get more done than I can on the 2.4ghz PC.
    Plus, no virii ;)
    And OSX does come with a disk utility and there are a number of suites including Norton that you can get.
  16. solvs macrumors 603


    Jun 25, 2002
    LaLaLand, CA
    Go to the Apple online store, click education. Big discounts. You may want to wait a few weeks though, "new PowerBooks, any day now" (really). Places like Amazon (Student and Teacher Office for $100) and Academic SuperStore have discounts on A LOT of education software. Many companies also offer cross platform upgrades at low prices. You'd have to ask.

    You may wind up enjoying these apps more on the Mac than on PCs. And unless you're used to insanely high speeds, they shouldn't seem that slow. Plus, battery life seems to be better on average. I would recommend AppleCare as well, especially for Newbies. You can buy it any time within the 1st year. Get it within the 1st 90days so you can have uninterupted free phone support.

    And buy as much RAM (Apple compatible third party, it's cheaper) as you can afford.


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