Straying To The Dark Side: Apple MacBook Pro
Posted by scottmdewey
In October 2012 I purchased my first every MacBook: A 13 inch Apple MacBook Pro. I always thought abandoning Windows would be a hassle and that the benefits of going Mac were not great enough to warrant the switch over. Then in August 2012, I got to experience a MacBook up close. Not a new one mind but a previous generation (White 2GB RAM version). And it changed my mind completely.
My previous resistance to Apple computers is hard to pin point. Growing up they were always around. The trendy, chic alternative to a Windows PC. But back then, I was led to believe they were not as practical and limited by their lack of popularity (there was not as much software, compatibility etc). I’d stuck with Windows since I was introduced to computing, from Windows 3.0 to Windows 7. I’ve been through big chunky desktop units with only floppy disk drives to a small sexy portable netbook. They had served me well and did a good job up to a point. Longevity and reliability were always a problem. I’m 21 now and I must have had at least 7 variations of Windows products. Of course, you might argue that has been necessary because there has been such radical changes in computers in that period. And you would be right. Over that time we’ve gone through floppy disks, CD’s, DVD’s, Blu Ray, USB ports, memory cards, wi-fi, bluetooth, webcams, bigger hardrives and RAM, HD screens, HDMI…so on so on. However, now as I sit writing this on my MacBook, I think that this computer will last me about 4 years at least. That’s twice as long as the standard lifetime of one of my Windows computers. With Apple significantly on the map with its dramatic rise to prominence through the Ipod and Iphone, I was now in position to make a switch to Mac with much less risk than previously existed before.
A New Perspective
Till last August, I had never spent much time considering or even using a Mac. Not because I’m anti-Apple in any sense. I guess, it was not so much a sense of loyalty to Windows but familiarity. After all, it’s the only operating system I had ever really known. Then I had my first real job, in which I was lent an old Macbook to work on. It took me a short time to adjust to Mac OS but not long. Finding the Mac equivalents for various things proved most challenging. But there was nothing a quick Google search couldn’t fix (other search engines are available). So what suddenly blew my mind away and changed my opinion of them? Well nothing spectacular at all as it happens. Quite the opposite. It was, in fact, the regularity and reliability of the Mac that impressed me. Essentially, it was how normal and unordinary the experience was. No crashes, no bugs, no dreaded “Windows Not Responding” message. It just went about doing what you expect from a computer.
The best way of emphasising this is by comparing the sheer volume of things I could do on this Mac without it crashing compared to my significantly more powerful PC I had at home. Statistically, it shouldn’t have been a contest. My Windows laptop had twice as much RAM and had a significant advantage when it came to processing power. Yet, merely having a few internet pages open at once seemed to be a problem for it on occasion. This led to many freezes and windows not responding. And before anyone tries to get smart with me, I had tried a lot things to optimise it (bear minimum software, regular cache clearing etc). So let’s compare this to the Mac I had for work. Part of my job was video conferencing with colleagues on Google Hangout’s, so I was constantly receiving web cam video and audio streams all day. Not a problem for the Mac. You probably wouldn’t expect it to be either but let me tell you all the things I had open on top of that. Bare in mind I needed all these things for the job, I had 3 excel workbooks, 4 word documents and a dozen web pages open. I did not suffer one bit of lag, stuttering or freezing.
When it came to the final decision about whether to purchase a MacBook or not. A vital aspect was cost. Everyone knows anything Apple comes at a premium. Again, when it comes to cold hard facts you can get a Windows Ultrabook for considerably less than a MacBook with, on paper, better specs. Common sense would dictate you go for the cheaper one, but my recent experience had shown me that sometimes the best spec computer isn’t always the best. Once I decided to go Mac a wave of new choices and decisions greeted me, the main one being what Mac do I go for? I set myself a maximum budget of £1000. The options open to me ranged from the simple Mac mini to the MacBook Pro. I ruled out the mini from the start as I wanted something portable, a laptop. That left the Air or the Pro. The MacBook Air is the more aesthetically pleasing with its super thin body and the lighter in weight of the two. But, crucially to achieve this chic-ness it drops the disk drive. Ultimately, the Pro was a simple choice. It is slightly heavier, but its advanced features make it a lot better for what I was looking for when compared to the Air of the equivalent price.
Why Are They So Good Then?
My theory as to why MacBooks are better than their equivalent Windows computers is hard to articulate. It’s not so much a technological difference. One isn’t light years ahead of the other in terms of its hardware. As it turns out, it’s all about the philosophy of the two companies, which is reflected in its products. The differing philosophies between Windows and Apple in computers is similar to the battle in the phone market between Android and the Iphone. Apple’s policy is simple, a smooth slick closed down operating system, perfectly designed for its hardware alone. In the other corner we have Windows and Android with a much more open operating system allowing for it to work across a wide variety of hardware. The best comparison I can make to explain with this is comparing them to a shoe (bear with me). Imagine you have a shoe designed perfectly for your foot, to match your weight distribution, arch etc. This is the Apple operating system shoe, with your foot acting as the hardware. Then on the other foot (sorry I couldn’t resist) you have a store-bought shoe produced for the masses. This Window operating system shoe fits a wide variety of feet well enough, but would not necessarily provide the optimal support for your foot. Strained metaphors aside, by having an a more closed and hardware exclusive policy, Apple manages to ensure it has a more reliable and well-functioning product.
- Apple in 2012: new Macs, Mountain Lion and iTunes 11 (macworld.co.uk)
- MacBook EFI Firmware updates follow OS X 10.8.2 release (reviews.cnet.com)
- Head to Head: Windows 8 Convertible Ultrabook vs. MacBook Air + iPad (wired.com)