Monday, May 05, 2008

Mac or PC?

Aubrey and I's computer has developed a number of quirks over the years. Technically, it is a laptop, but the screen broke a few years ago, so we have it hooked up to an external monitor, and it functions like a desktop now. Lately it has developed a new habit of randomly turning itself off. It usually only does this when I'm working on a paper, or when Aubrey and I are trying to watch the latest episode of The Office online. This quirk is particularly unacceptable. I had designated this morning to be "revise and edit papers" morning, but the computer has already shut down on me five times. I now hit "ctrl-s" after nearly every word I type.

So we are thinking it might be time to buy a new computer. Two questions face us now. Laptop or desktop? And the even bigger issue... Mac or PC?

We hear Macs are pretty nice, but they do cost a few extra shekels. Are they worth it? Please comment and tell us what to do....


Megan said...

Two votes for the Mac! We converted three years ago and I have not had one single problem with my Mac in all that time. Not one.

The previous 8 years of our marriage we had a Dell. And we had to beg, borrow, or steal one of the Eagle Lake or NavPress techie guys to come over at least three times EACH YEAR to fix some stupid problem with it (them - we had two at two different times). And this doesn't even count the number of times I called over to India for some help I couldn't understand.

Mac. All the way.

Melanie said...

Another Mac vote from us. I especially love iphoto (the photo editing program) and Aubrey would, too, I'm sure. It's also pretty amazing to be able to plug just about anything straight into the Mac and have it work, the first time, without having to load anything on the computer.

And laptop. Why would you want to watch The Office in your, well, office when you could watch it on your couch or in bed or on your back porch? Plus, if you have a Mac, you'll want to tote it around so everyone sees just how cool you are because you have a Mac, right?

Ed said...

I'd encourage you to get a Mac, for three reasons:

~Cost. Sure, a Mac costs more-- than a dirt-cheap, extreme low-end Windows PC that you'll replace in 18 months or less, if it doesn't break before then. But if you are really looking at the costs of computers that will last you beyond two years-- which I assume you want, right? because you're concerned about spending your money well?-- then you'll find a Mac costs roughly the same as any Windows PC (some comparisons actually put the Mac in a less expensive category than comparable Windows PCs).

~Function. As Megan affirms above (hi Megan), they work. They don't give persistent trouble or require some sort of tribal knowledge to coax into performing the task you wish upon it. Macs are designed to work literally right out of the box, and with few exceptions they do so, and they keep working for years beyond the life of the average Windows PC. (I have a seven-year-old Mac tower that I'll be selling soon, and someone will buy it and use it for another three or four years. I'm not kidding.)

~Function (again). Again, unlike Windows PCs, there is a different function element. Whereas with a Windows PC, you spend easily 20% of your time using the computer actually working on the computer (instead of getting REAL work done), with a Mac the interface and operating system will (once you've adjusted to the switch) become more transparent and you'll quit focusing on the computer, and more on the work.

All told, a Mac will SAVE you money over time-- in actual costs, in upgrade costs, in service costs, and in time.

Emilie said...

I'm not going to get into the Mac Vs. PC debate . . . but I will say that we've decided to go with a desktop the next time around. We're actually going to buy a flatscreen TV instead of a regular monitor too . . . but that's another story. :-)

emily said...

The commercials, Jeff. How could you not be wooed by the extreme wittiness of the Mac commercials.

Aubrey said...

These are great comments. We had a few other thoughts to throw in the mix.
1) If we want a computer to have for a while and to use when we have kids, then a desktop might be better and more child-friendly. For now there are benefits of having a laptop, but I do have my work laptop we could use with wireless internet.

2)Jeff is worried about running bibleworks on a Mac. Anyone with experience on this? He uses this program every single day, so this will be important.

abram.rampey said...

i saw an advertisement for a solid gold mac and i think that you guys need to get one of those. i mean if you are going to spend more for a computer you might as well go all the way.

but for real i don't really know, on one hand i like macs, but i have never really had a problem with my dell. i think that if you are going to use the things that macs are good for, like photo, video, or music editing then a mac is definitely a good choice. but if you are just going to be doing "run-of-the-mill-computer-use" then it really doesn't make that much of a difference.

Ed said...

Jeff, if you want to continue running Bibleworks, then running a WinXP system through Parallels Desktop should do the job very well; with Parallels, you can actually drag and drop, cut and paste, etc. between the two OSes. A program (like BibleWorks) running inside of Parallels will appear in its own window just like any other program, and you'll barely know that it's running under a different OS. It's pretty amazing.

That said: the profs at CTS all recommend Accordance, and I can understand why. I was a devoted BibleWorks user through a good part of seminary; I even ran it under "Virtual PC" (which was a painfully slow way to run Windows on a Mac) for a while because of my commitment to it. Once I started using Accordance, though, I found everything I wanted in a Bible program.

At any rate, it'll be something to keep in mind down the line, if you go with a Mac.

E-mail or call me if you want more information about Macs and pastoral ministry.

Keeeeeeeith said...

Mac = Stability, Graphically Superior

PC = Flexibility; Afforability

We just switched to a desktop from the laptop and I thought I'd miss taking the laptop into the um...well, multitasking, but a magazine works just as well.

I'm hoping for a Mac when I go on YL staff, but that's strickly because of the video and graphic stuff that you can do on a Mac.

For day-to-day stuff I'd probably buy a Dell or some packaged brand and plan on replacing it every few years.

emily said...

with kids a laptop more subject to risk. yanking the power cord, (although mac's mag lock takes care of that) being pushed off the table, spilling drinks because you've got it on a table and not a desk. if you are buying a computer with kids in mind a desktop makes sense.

Anonymous said...

Hi there--

Cousin Julie needs to weigh in on this. I use Dells/PCs and work at macs at home, and just upgraded to a MacBook Pro. I prefer the mac. And I disagree with a comment made that macs are not for everyday use. But first, to justify why macs.

I am typing this using my 2000 G4. It's never crashed and I've never had to have it repaired. My old laptop is as old as the G4. Same story. No repairs, no crashes. the only thing that died was the battery, but after 8 years of use and charging, I figure it had a good life. Mom and dad have an older imac about the same age as mine and again, no problems. Tom and Susan have gone through several HPs and Dells in that time.

For everyday use: I run the office suite (2008 PowerPoint, word, excel) on my mac. And depending on how intensively you use the MS suite, iWork, especially Keynote (apples answer to PowerPoint) can give Microsoft a run for it's money.

To use windows programs, yes, you can use parallels, but you should also check out something called "crossover" by codeweavers. It allows you to run many windows programs on the mac WITHOUT having to buy XP or Vista. I kid you not. They, like most online software vendors, have a 30 day risk free trial, so you can see if it works with your specific software.

Also, there are fewer viruses for mac than PC. I have never, ever had one on either mac.

Yes, macs cost more, but I think the saying "you get what you pay for" is fairly true with the mac. And the MacBook is around 1000 and the desktop, iMac, comes in at about the same amount and you get a gorgeous 24 inch screen. And time is money for me, so because I am not dealing with viruses, computer breakdowns, crashes as often as some PCs, that is another reason I think Macs are worth it.

Keeping kids in mind, I'd agree that a laptop is a bit riskier choice. Though if spills are a concern you can buy "skins" for both laptop and "regular" keyboards that prevent most spills and other foreign particles (dust, pet hair, etc) from entering ( is one such vendor).

Also standard on all macs is the Ilife suite, which has a pretty good movie editor (iMovie) and photo editor (iPhoto).

There is also some pretty neat software that is mac exclusive (notebook from; omnigraffle and omnioutliner from, and scrivener from

Anyway, those are my 32 cents.


Ken Shomo said...

I'd go with a Dell laptop for everyday stuff. I have a Mac G4, and I've enjoyed having a Mac to be in the know. But PCs are more tidy and don't make you rely on the mouse so much; and, less expensive down the road. My G4 has had some problems with noise and with speed, but a PC can have the same issues.

I think someone rightly said that a Mac "thinks" like an artist and a PC "thinks" like a businessman. Just decide which one you'll prefer to have as a roommate.

Ken Shomo said...

Also -

Let's say you had a child 6 months from now. (Please let me know in which direction to change this randomly generated figure.) It would then be about 4 years before he/she would want to, or be allowed to, use the computer. And at that point he would probably be demanding a laptop anyway.

It is true that Macs don't get viruses. I have had a virus on a Dell laptop, just once... and that's one thing I really didn't appreciate.

But again, I've not experienced some of the joys that some Mac users speak about. And I've experienced some frustration with the artsy Mac that won't let me use various keyboard shutcuts and creates a messy desktop.

Anyway, my theory is that once people ask the question "Mac or PC?" they are on their way to getting a Mac. So come clean, guys, you're getting a Mac aren't you?