Mac vs. PC

How I was ensnared by Apple

By David Holthausen

Apple Products

Let me begin this post by stating that I used to be an absolute Mac hater (Jeff can attest to my disdain towards all things Apple). Since I was a child, we only ever had PCs, usually Dells, in the house, all the way from Dos to Windows 95, ME and XP. When the iPod was all the rage in the early and mid-2000’s, I bought the Creative Zen instead, which were, in fact, awesome MP3 players:

[I thought the click wheel was the dumbest thing ever and was generally enraged by those Justin Long Mac vs. PC commercials.

Yes, PCs do pie charts, but that’s ONE PROGRAM, YOU CAN STILL LISTEN TO MUSIC AND WATCH MOVIES. Clearly, they still make me angry.

Throughout college, I was still vehemently anti-Apple. My trusty Dell laptop lasted solidly all 4 years and still is going strong as a backup computer my parents use, 7 years after I originally purchased it.

At the same time, though, I remember seeing all those shiny aluminum MacBook Pros. Even though I hated Apple, I couldn’t deny that they were very aesthetically pleasing machines–technological eye candy, if you will.

When I decided to enter the world of the smartphone around 2009, I went again against all things Apple and that swanky iPhone and got a Windows Phone with the LG Incite.

It had the worst touchscreen ever, had an awful stylus, and it completely turned me off from touch screen keyboards. When I was due for an upgrade, I went with the Blackberry Torch 9800 with the touch screen, but also the full physical QWERTY keyboard. I really liked that phone; it was a solid performer, and the only really big drawback was the lack of apps. Nonetheless, I really liked that experience.

A couple years later, I was entitled to another phone upgrade and I was excited to get the new Blackberry Bold 9900 on AT&T. However, when it got released on Verizon over the summer, but not on AT&T (and didn’t come out on AT&T until the end of November) I started getting fidgety: I had a “free” upgrade burning a hole in my pocket, and I was yearning for something new and shiny. I was thinking more and more of jumping from the sinking Blackberry boat when I went and had brunch with a buddy of mine. While we were waiting for a table, I decided to try out his iPhone 4.

The UI, the sleekness, the touch screen, all the cool apps–for an Apple basher, it was difficult to come around and see how good of a mobile experience the iPhone 4 provided, but the difference was undeniable. After watching the product unveiling for the 4S, I took a leap to the dark side and decided to see what this Apple thing was all about. I even got up at 3am and pre-ordered it so I would get it on launch day.

The iPhone 4S really washed away my stigma against Apple. It was just so sleek, quick, and easy to use, and I finally saw what people had been saying about the quality of Apple products. Believe it or not, fall 2011 with the iPhone 4S was the first time I had ever used iTunes on my computer. I made the switch and moved everything over from Windows Media Player, which was a worthwhile pain.

As I mentioned earlier, during my undergrad days I used a Dell laptop, with which I had never had any major issues (other than it not being as shiny as a MacBook). Moving from undergrad to grad school, it was time for a new computer, and I made the misstep of moving away from Dell and getting an up-scaled Sony Vaio EA series with Blu-ray drive.

To its credit, the Sony Vaio was a nice computer when I got it, but it just didn’t last (which I have noticed about a great deal of Sony products). The hard drive died within a year (luckily, there was still a week left on the warranty), and over the subsequent 6 months, the screen started getting a loose connection, and the headphone jack and one of the USB ports died as well. So, as my Vaio was slowly making the turn from work computer to being a glorified home backup desktop, I began saving up to invest in a new laptop, one that would hopefully last for more than 2 years without breaking. After having a disk hard drive die I decided I wanted to go solid state; I wanted something light; and since I loved my iPhone so much, I thought it would be wise to complete my turn towards the evil empire and have all of my electronic devices on the same platform and sync seamlessly. Thus, I bought a 2012 MacBook Air.

My biggest concern with going with the Air was the lack of a disc drive; however, thanks to Apple, I can wirelessly use my disc drive on my Vaio if I need to get anything from a disk onto the Mac. Additionally, I thought I would use Boot Camp so I could also run full windows on the Apple hardware, but a year into having this laptop, I haven’t even thought of using Boot Camp, and this laptop is still running as well as the day I got it. And this past Christmas, I completed the Apple trio (actually the quad–I bought an iPod Shuffle for the gym after I got the iPhone) when I received the iPad mini as a present from my parents. (You can read my review of the iPad Mini HERE.)

It may have taken me two years, but I am living proof that it’s possible to go from being an absolute Apple hater to basically running the gamut of Apple devices–and all because AT&T and what used to be RIM were slow in getting the Bold 9900 released.

MacBook Pro or iMac?

My iMac Experience

iMacI’ve been lusting after an iMac for years. As I got to the end of my college career, I began to think that my aging laptop might not necessarily need to be replaced with another laptop, and that a desktop would do just fine. This idea grew into a full-fledged WANT well before I graduated in 2011, but I didn’t actively start saving for a desktop until early 2012.

Part of this desire for an iMac stemmed from the receptionist job I worked in college. Most offices at Boston College (or, at least, the ones I worked in) were equipped with iMacs rather than Windows desktops. The summer before my senior year, one of the offices I worked in underwent a long-overdue hardware update; that fall, the other office I worked in followed. The iMacs we got had been out for a few years, but they were gorgeous, and only cemented my desire for one of my own.

Near the end of 2012, as my savings account neared its goal of $1,750, Apple announced they would have a new iMac out that winter. This model, instead of requiring you to upgrade to a 1TB hard drive (which I had planned to do), would come standard with one. Jackpot! I decided I could wait a few more weeks for the computer to come out.

And so I waited, and I waited, and I waited. There was a two-week period during which I called all of the Apple stores in a 30-mile radius every day, asking if they had any iMacs in stock. I didn’t want to order online for fear that my beautiful new computer would sit on my doorstep all day, easy pickings for the computer-stealers that roam the streets. But finally, I decided I could wait no longer, and ordered my iMac online. (I shipped it to my office so that I wouldn’t have to worry about it sitting on my stoop.)

After six blissful months with my iMac, I have to say that I love it. The display is beautiful. It’s lightning-fast. It runs historically glitchy games like The Sims perfectly (or at least about as well as could be hoped for). I love being able to open a zillion Safari tabs in the huge screen, and I love that the computer is still fast enough to handle it. Looking at photos in all their 21.5” glory is a magical experience.

There are a few imperfections, though they’re minor. First, FaceTime always seems to fail on the first try. Jeff, Alex and I meet monthly over video chat, and when Jeff calls me from his iPad and I answer, it always freezes on the “connecting…” screen for several minutes, prompting me to hang up and call him. But from there, it always works smoothly.

Something else that annoys me, really through no fault of its own, is the battery life of the wireless accessories (trackpad, keyboard). I’d never had a keyboard or trackpad that was powered separately from the computer itself before (previously they’d always either been wired or attached to a laptop), so when my mouse pointer wasn’t responding one day I flat out panicked before realizing, oh, it’s probably the battery. Duh.

Finally, I’m not too crazy about Apple’s suite of office products. However, I haven’t had much use for them yet, so I will save my review of Pages, Numbers, and Keynote for another day once I have used them more intensively.

Here are the specs of my iMac:

PROCESSOR: 2.7GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5
MEMORY: 8GB 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM-2X4GB
HARD DRIVE: 1TB 5400-rpm Serial ATA Drive
GRAPHICS: NVIDIAGeFrc GT 640M 512M GDDR5
MOUSE: MAGIC TRACKPAD
PAGES: PAGES PREINSTALLED
NUMBERS: NUMBERS PREINSTALLED
KEYNOTE: KEYNOTE PREINSTALLED
APPLE KEYBOARD: Apple WL Kybd (English)+UG
COUNTRY KIT: COUNTRY KIT

Altogether, that added up to about $1,440. It’s not cheap, but for such a gorgeous computer, it was worth every penny.
Buy at Amazon.com (aff)