PC or Mac? What to get college-bound kids


Mudbug

Administrator emeritus
Jun 28, 2002
3,809
1
North Central Colorado
body copy - registration required

copied in it's entirety -
btw - username/password for Mercury News is:
ads@macbytes.com/macbytes1

Posted on Mon, Jul. 04, 2005


PC or Mac? What to get college-bound kids


By Jim Coates

Chicago Tribune

Q I need Mac vs. PC advice to decide what to get for kid No. 2, who is starting this fall as an engineering student. College kid No. 1 has a Dell, and she is wishing she chose a Mac instead.

What about Apple's recent announcement about changing to Intel chips instead of its own PowerPC brand? I expect any purchase to be usable for the next four to six years. I am inclined to go the Windows route.

Dan Ray
Medinah, Ill.

A You and I are treading in murky waters on deciding whether to fork over for the more youth-friendly but expensive Macs or to send offspring out into the world with dull but powerful Windows hardware, Mr. R.

And, as you note, Apple's recent announcement that it will change from its own PowerPC chips to the same Intel brands used in Windows machines makes for more murk still. So here goes:

First of all, whatever you buy is not going to be satisfactory to kids now going off to college for those four to six years. That goes for Mac and PC alike. Apple upgrades its operating system on a near-yearly basis, and each time comes with a flood of new stuff that won't work on earlier machines without upgrades. Ditto for Windows. We're awaiting a follow to Windows XP as well as a chip change from Microsoft to embrace new 64-bit chips rather than today's 32-bitters.

Things change far too fast to hope that a computer acquired for a frosh will be satisfactory through her senior year. So many new features get added to operating systems and hardware that obsolescence occurs almost before the FedEx truck arrives with the computer. It will, however, be ``usable,'' which is the word you used, for a long time.

The core functions of a computer such as Web browsing, word processing and movie/music playing will certainly last for the years you imagine. Usable is one thing, but desirable is a cigar of an entirely different color.

So the best advice to offer in the Mac vs. PC quandary is that the two platforms have become so similar that there is no longer a question about which is ``better'' in performance and usability -- despite the howls of Mac adherents who perceive (rightly) Windows as a crash-prone time sink. And crashes are becoming far less of an issue as Microsoft continues to patch the software and upgrade current users through those incessant Internet reminders.

It boils down to cost. If your kids want Macs and you're willing to put out a couple of hundred dollars extra, a Mac should be the apple of your eye. If cost counts, Windows wins.

Contact Jim Coates at jcoates@tribune.com.
 

1macker1

macrumors 65816
Oct 9, 2003
1,375
0
A Higher Level
I dont think you can't lose either way. Gotta make sure the programs you'll be using is available for Mac. But if all you need to comptuer for is for documents, I say get the PC.
 

puckhead193

macrumors G3
May 25, 2004
9,210
432
NY
why didn't they ask here on the forum, one more thread on "what to get for college" can't hurt ;)
 

Yvan256

macrumors 603
Jul 5, 2004
5,032
886
Canada
ClarkeB said:
Since when are PowerPC Apple's "own" chips?
Ever since writers didn't know anything about what they're writing about (which is probably 95% of them).
 

A@ron

macrumors member
May 2, 2002
54
0
Iowa
Apple upgrades its operating system on a near-yearly basis, and each time comes with a flood of new stuff that won't work on earlier machines without upgrades.
First off, the next verison of OS X will not be out in a year (of course "near-yearly basis" can be stretched like 'the first quarter of 2005') In addition, I have Tiger running on my old Indigo iBook. Sure it's not as fast as the current iBooks but it runs the newest OS with a minimal amout of RAM (and no I don't care about Quartz acceleration on that machine). Point being I don't see anyone else installing XP on a 6 year old laptop. I think these writers need to do more research before they make broad generalizations.
 

Fredo Viola

macrumors member
Mar 27, 2003
75
0
A@ron said:
First off, the next verison of OS X will not be out in a year (of course "near-yearly basis" can be stretched like 'the first quarter of 2005') In addition, I have Tiger running on my old Indigo iBook. Sure it's not as fast as the current iBooks but it runs the newest OS with a minimal amout of RAM (and no I don't care about Quartz acceleration on that machine). Point being I don't see anyone else installing XP on a 6 year old laptop. I think these writers need to do more research before they make broad generalizations.
EXACTLY! My thought too.

This article is total poppycock!
 

narco

macrumors 65816
Dec 9, 2003
1,155
0
California.
Funny, I have Tiger and I can't think of a single program (that I use) that won't work on it. I have used Quark, Photoshop/Illustrator, Word all since the past two versions of OS X. Maybe these "college-bound" kids are using other programs that I've never heard of.

Fishes,
narco.
 

LaMerVipere

macrumors 6502a
Jan 19, 2004
971
0
Chicago
The choice is simple . . . really.

My friends all have viruses and I don't. My friends all have weird glitches like say, oh, "I can type documents up in Word but I can't save or print them"; and I don't. Their computers all come full of useless crap Dell software or what have you that takes over every usefull thing you'd want to do with your oh so powerful PC; the Mac actually comes with software you can use. The list goes on...
 

impierced

macrumors 6502
Sep 30, 2002
273
0
This one's easy.

Buy kid No. 2 a Mac. If kid No. 2 wishes they had a PC instead then switch with kid No. 1.

This sounds more like a logic problem than a platform issue. :)
 

chaos86

macrumors 65816
Sep 11, 2003
1,011
7
127.0.0.1
Actually yes, the choice is easy, but I might get flamed for it.

All the mainstream engineering software is windows only (some dos software is still used). Sure you could find the open source unix based stuff but the teachers won't teach the skills for that software, it will be harder to find, and a student wont be able to work between the school and the dorm because of the proprietary file formats all these softwares use.


Trust me, my dad is an electrical engineer and my brother is an architect-- it's just not possible to study in that field using a mac.
 

Santaduck

macrumors 6502a
Oct 21, 2003
627
0
Honolulu
Depends on computer type.

Laptop: No way would I recommend an Apple, because of the ridiculous nature of buying the old G4 this late in the game, no matter any incremental speed bumps.

I don't think they're even L3-enabled 7457 G4s are they? (I could be wrong). Nonetheless an iB or PB is just a stupid purchase for the next 4 yrs, even w/out

Tower/all-in-one: iMac or PM: I'd still recommend these. Apple's OS has never been stronger, and X11 is a nice option to have.

Also, the type of user is a consideration.

Non-poweruser: I can't tell you how many windows-owning students I have met who have completely virus/spyware/malware infested machines that frequently become almost completely unuseable. If your student is already a technically proficient windows poweruser, it's easy enough to keep up with these issues, but otherwise the Apple will save a lot of time.

Music: Music sharing is probably at the top of many students' minds, and I have to admit that some of the best iTunes plugins for sharing over the school (dorm) LAN come out first (or ever) for Windows.
 

GregUofMN

macrumors regular
Nov 15, 2003
183
0
I've always said...

Mac loaded with Virtual PC.


However, depending on what kind of engineering the kid is going into is going to play a big factor. Structural, Civil, Industrial engineering will use vastly different applications than a Bio-Medical engineer or even Chemical engineer. However, some of those engineering specific programs can be a little too much for a Virtual PC loaded G4 Mac.

EDITED: FOR GRAMMAR

EDITED AGAIN: FOR SPELLING
 

dotdotdot

macrumors 68020
Jan 23, 2005
2,381
31
zap2 said:
the extra $$$ is worth the mac, save up for a little if u do not have the $$ right now. That is the fact
What extra money?

You can't get a GOOD computer for $499, but you can get a GOOD Mac.

Mac mini, baseline, + KB, Mouse and cheap CRT used somewhere is like $600 total.

That was a pretty stupid article, or whatever you call it. It said nothing...
 

dotdotdot

macrumors 68020
Jan 23, 2005
2,381
31
LaMerVipere said:
Their computers all come full of useless crap Dell software or what have you that takes over every usefull thing you'd want to do with your oh so powerful PC; the Mac actually comes with software you can use. The list goes on...
I actually made a thread on this...

My friend has one of those $300 Dell systems, and while it really sucks, I literally took all the software that came with it (1) because I gave him about $100 for it - birthday gift... and 2) because he would never use it... he had a better computer with all this software already. I'll shut up and continue now) It came with Microsoft Office 2003, the full version not a trial, it came with Paint Shop Pro by Jasc, and it came with all this awesome stuff.

While I like the Apple iLife software package much better, this gave a pro image editor and office application. For $300 with the crap PC.

Of course, it also had viruses from day 1, some which could not be removed.
 

Sun Baked

macrumors G5
May 19, 2002
14,874
57
Fredo Viola said:
EXACTLY! My thought too.

This article is total poppycock!
What do you expect when it's written on a PC, by somebody that probably has never used any Apple equipment besides an iPod.
 

aussie_geek

macrumors 65816
Apr 19, 2004
1,093
0
Sydney Australia
For students wanting to do their essays and take notes, log onto the Uni network and do ' normal' uni stuff, an iBook is perfect.

There are certain degrees that require Windows OS for the programs to run - so be it. But for the average college student, they should seriously consider Macintosh.

I can remember when I was at Uni (a Colour Classic did all my stuff :D) not once was I effected due to a computer malfunction. Many of my friends had lost the lot on more than one occasion.

With a Mac, you can just do your work - turn it on, start typing, print it, save it and then recall it whenever. Reliability is paramount as it has all of your files to do with an education degree. If you lost them, well... I have not even considered what that would feel like.


aussie_geek
 

JeffTL

macrumors 6502a
Dec 18, 2003
733
0
I have yet to see how a Dell of comparable quality can be cheaper than an iBook or Mac Mini