Mac or PC – to buy or not to buy

Should I invest in a Mac? Computer columnist Matt Bentley has a think.

computerRecently Apple made a bit of stir by releasing a $5000USD computer screen, then charging an extra $1000USD for the stand that the monitor required to stay upright.

The cynic in me thinks this is probably just a marketing stunt – they wanted to charge $6000, but knew they’d get more publicity if they got everybody riled up about how ridiculous this is, and keep themselves in the headlines for a lot longer than if they’d just, you know, sold the thing.

The cynic is probably right; this is standard American media engagement in the trump era. Still, it begs the question, do you ever really need something that expensive? The answer from most apple fans has historically been, yes. And the answer from most computer technicians has been, no. Apple products are made from the same components as PC’s nowadays, and with the odd exception, there’s very little different to the hardware aside from cosmetics. However, hardware’s not really what Apple’s selling.

Apple has had a lot going for them in the past – while they never invented anything, or were the first to bring anything to market, they were very good at packaging things well and popularising them: the mouse, the graphical user interface, the touchscreen phone. They deserve credit at least for understanding the average consumer and targeting their interests better than competitors. And of course the first Macintosh computers were light-years ahead of what was available on other platforms.

Gradually the gap closed though, and now you’ll find aficionados on either side of the fence; some prefer Mac, some prefer Windows, some Linux, but most don’t really care so long as they can check their email, watch netflix and get the job done. Brand loyalty doesn’t last 40 years without bit of a reality check.

Microsoft lost 10% of their desktop market share to Macs over the past decade – largely because of Windows 8 and 10. And so more than one person has asked me, should I get a Mac instead of a PC?
How big is your wallet, is the first question I ask.

The second question is, what made you want to jump ship? The answer to that is typically that the new interface for Windows 8 or 10 is confusing compared to Windows 7. The third question is, do you want to get used to an interface you’re even more unfamiliar with? The usual answer to that is no. My general recommendation then is to fix aspects of Windows 8 or 10 to make them more like Windows 7, which takes a little bit of effort but once it’s done, the interface is far more familiar and usable.

After that point, it really comes down to time and experience as to whether or not you want to go over to Steve Jobs’ table. Many people prefer the user interface of a Mac and I don’t blame them; it has, at least, stayed static for the last 20 years. Some would say ‘stagnant’, but personally I feel like (and maybe Microsoft should’ve taken note of this when they designed Windows 8 and 10), if it’s ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Speaking of that, Mac’s are great when they’re working, but when they break, they’re not designed to be easy to fix. They are, nowadays, throwaway products. So bear that in mind, along with the heavy price tag, the unfair labour practices and the massive tax evasion that Apple perpetrates on a year-to-year basis. They may have been market leaders once, but they’re lagging behind nowadays – not just technologically, but also ethically. But I guess Steve Jobs might say, ‘if it ain’t broke’…

*Computer columnist Matt Bentley is director of Bentley Home PC Support.Matt Bentley

Email Matt here or phone 021 134 8576.

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Number 8 Network - a community website for the rural areas northeast of Hamilton, NZ, is run by Gordonton journalist/editor Annette Taylor.

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