July of this year my 2008 Macbook was getting slow and irritating. The battery had been equating 1% with 1min for about a year. I’d had Apple Techs operate on it, bought a new battery, and bought a new charger, but to no avail. And now it was acting up in strange ways. Sometimes thinking it was asleep when it was open and awake when it was closed. Crashing applications unexpectedly. Loading every internet page very slowly. It was just dying the way computers die. Of old age and overuse.
I wanted a new computer. Naturally I went to the Apple website and saw that the cheapest laptop they have is $1200. I considered waiting to save up money so that it wouldn’t be as much of a hit on my finances. Then I thought I’d make a list.
What about that warrants me spending $1200 on a computer? Not really anything. You could point at video editing, but I do that so rarely nowadays that it hardly counts.
Well, now I was at a crossroads. Dare I go back to “the dark side,” as Mac users call it?
My brother had always been adamantly pro-PC and I recalled conversations with him. He maintains that what people really want with a computer is customizability. Microsoft provides users the tools to customize their machines in any number of ways, Apple really doesn’t allow much of that. My Brother talked up the free support community that’s available for PCs. You can find all kinds of tutorials about applications or mechanical fixes online for PCs. That was an important draw for me.
I had also recently gotten my first smartphone, an Android (HTC One S). I love that phone. I spent a lot of time deciding if I wanted to go iPhone or Android and I know I made the right choice with Android.
I went online to find articles, videos, blogs, or anything where people had recorded their impressions when switching from Mac to PC. There was not much out there. The least helpful article was one from the early 2000’s that listed personality traits that defined the users of each operating system. All of the fun traits like “artistic, creative, free spirited” were listed for Mac users and all of the less fun traits like “organized and businessy” were listed for PC users. What a load of BS. People are not defined by the products they use. So, I started watching videos by Microsoft. Various press releases and conference presentations about Windows 8, Windows 7, and the Surface. I was very impressed. Don’t worry, I also watched videos posted by people who didn’t like Windows 8 at all.
Soon I was telling everyone how excited I was for Windows 8 to be released and how cool it was going to be. Luckily a friend had the beta version on one of his laptops and let me try it out. It was awesome. Definitely optimized for a tablet and thus a little strange to use with a mouse at times, but nothing that couldn’t be gotten used to. I wanted it. A lot.
I’d noticed by this time that a PC can be bought for half (or less than half) of the price of the equivalent Mac. I mean, what?! Why would anybody buy a Mac? You’re really paying for the aesthetics, the brand, and the customer service. Their customer service is great, but also stringent. With a PC I can open up my own computer and have at it. If I did that to my Macbook it would disqualify me from ever having an Apple Tech look at my machine again. Once my friend used compressed air on the inside of my laptop when the fan was being wonky. When I told the Apple Genius that he raised his eyebrows in shock and told me not to let people do that. Really? I can’t unscrew the bottom of my computer and blow on it?
So, it came down to freedom and customizability. I’d noticed that my Android was better at this than the iPhone. I remembered how I had used my family’s PCs and yeah, I felt like I did more real computer use with those than I ever had with my Macbook. I used to be good at fixing computer problems, but there’s no real way for a user to do that on Macs. That’s all closed off. They don’t want you tinkering. Being able to make my computer all mine was a big draw for me.
But what it really came down to was value. I could get something twenty times better than my current machine for half of what the new version cost. Now, that’s bang for your buck. And I like having my bucks. I also like explosions. Win-win!
Next! I’ll reveal my indecisiveness. Find out how I ended up deciding on a desktop.