My friend Mark Evans wrote a blog post today entitled “Are MacBooks Just Trendy?” and I thought I’d write a completely unwarranted perspective myself. In his article, Mark ponders the value of the budget laptop buyer, who can pick up a lower-end Windows laptop for ~$500. He continues with…
Before the MacNation starts clamoring about how Macs are more stable, elegant, better designed, etc., the question that should be asked is whether the “regular” computer user needs a Mac to do what they need to do (browsing, e-mail, writing documents). In other words, can you avoid buying a Mac, and still have a satisfying computer experience?
The answer, I think, “Yes”.
First and foremost, while I did convert to the Mac last year (because the Sony Vaio VGN-SZ460 is such a wretched use of silicon it made the Foleo look like a good idea), I don’t consider myself a fanboy just yet (I even chastised them during CES a few months back). That said, however, considering the state of Windows Vista, I simply cannot endorse ANYONE buying a new machine that doesn’t run either XP or OS X.
The real question to me is what are you getting for your money, and I’m going to use the one example I have the most hands-on experience with: my mother. She bought a lower-end Dell last spring for ~1000, it has all the right speeds & feeds (dual core, 1GB RAM, DVD burner, etc). She hates it (possibly more than me and my Vaio!) because everything is slow, she gets alert messages all the time which make no sense to her, and even after I installed Picasa she has trouble managing the photos on her computer.
Again, I’m going to blame this on Vista, not Dell per se, but it doesn’t matter. My dad has a year old PC, his Logitech webcam crashes every third or so time he uses it. My mother-in-law just got a brand new budget PC, her Internet connection is no longer reliable. Even the Dell I was sent by Ed Bott as an example of a “good” Vista installation is unable to recognize two generic USB mice I tried (although it did boot in about 40 seconds, which was very impressive).
Is the MacBook trouble free? Absolutely not. For example, iMovie ’08 crashes on me everytime I run it unless I manually remove files from my preferences folder – a task my parents would be completely unable to do on a regular basis. MacOffice is still a far cry from Office XP/2003 (I’ll spare the discussion of Office Vista/2008). It isn’t perfect by a long shot.
But, it is reliable, and if you use OS X the way it wants to be used (because the other way around is a no-no), the MacBook is the best bargain computer on the market. For $1000 you get the same specs as a mid-range Windows laptop, except you get a computer than runs better and faster, all the time. It even tends to run Windows about as well as any Dell does, just in case you need to. The extra $500 is well worth it in the long run.
And as to the question of “is it trendy?” and the obvious “yes” response, there’s a reason for it. Look around Silicon Valley and many of the thought leaders you see have switched to a Mac. And they are happy they did. Further, there’s unquestionably a “trickle down” theory of high tech. As fashion starts in New York and moves West, technology starts in San Francisco and moves East.
The only other “trendy” PC I can think of is the eeePC. Oh, wait, and those red Dells. Because there’s nothing I want more than a bright fire engine red laptop sitting demurely on my desk. The real “question” in my eyes is this: what can Microsoft and the PC manufacturing industry do collectively to make a trendy Windows-based computer?
Does anyone have an answer? Bueller?