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Help me decide: PC or Apple laptop?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / August 23, 2013 9:33 AM PDT

Help me decide: PC or Apple laptop?

I read all your submissions and I really rely greatly on your answers so thank you!

I am in need of a new laptop. I've always had PCs but lately I have been increasingly unhappy with all the problems with errors. Inevitably a little Microsoft window pops up at the most inopportune times. It makes me crazy.

We have an iPad 2, and 4th-gen iPods. I only had one problem with my iPad in three years. I took it to Apple and they took care of it. It was as easy as pie. With my PC, it's like pulling teeth. I am good with computers and can usually work around problems, but it has gotten annoying to see little windows pop up saying my program is being closed for no reason.

So, my big question...PC or Apple for a laptop that I want to use for everyday home non-gaming use. I want to use it for e-mail, general word processing, pictures, and video. That's it. It has to be fast and work. That's all I ask. Can you help me decide?

Thanks very much!

--Submitted by Mary S. of Illinois

[[NOTE to all participating members: Please keep this a civil discussion and respect each other recommendations and suggestions. Let's help this member make an informed buying decision. Thanks! -Lee ]]

Note: This post was edited by its original author on 08/24/2013 at 1:31 PM PT
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Platforms and hardware
by mjd420nova / August 23, 2013 10:20 AM PDT

Besides the decision on which to buy, look to the future, especially the software you wish to use besides the OS. Many programs exist in both formats (Apple or PS-WIN) and prices can be the breaking point for either unit. As applications begin to take over, they too have multiple platforms and M$ is attempting to get the WIN8 to work everywhere. (tablet, smartphone, netbook, notebook, laptop, desktop, even some new appliances) WIFI options abound and may slant one way or the other depending on existing access points.

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Apple versus PC
by nomadicman04122 / August 23, 2013 10:34 AM PDT

It is becoming a reality now that the PC Windows has been overshadowed by the prowess of the Mac and it's OS. Given the fact that you have an iPad 2 and the 4th generation iPad you firstly would be enjoying the portability of being able to access your email already on this devices. What makes it interesting is that you can sync all your content in on keystroke or automatically using iTunes. Your notes, addressbook, the apps etc are all backed up continuously on your computer which has iTunes. Most of the content is also synced with a now default iCloud unless you select your computer's hard drive. iTunes does it automatically whenever your iPads come within range of a wifi or connects to your computer. This is where you make your distinction between using a PC or a MAC.

The MAC has it's address book, notes etc all being able to sync up with your iPads and iCloud seamlessly. You can install MS Word on it and you're all set to go. The Apple OS is already pre-installed you only need to do a setup that can allow you to not only configure it but to also authorise it with your iTunes login account. Once you enter your iTunes at the beginning it all syncs the common software applications and threads to your iCloud and you can choose to do this manually or opt out of it altogether. The flexibility is there. Now the nice thing about the Mac and its OS is everything is at a push of button or a two step or one step process. Most of the technicalities are removed in a Mac and on a PC there are many incongruities that exist mainly because the hardware and software were not designed together to make it all work with your devices. The PC requires software drivers from third parties that possibly interferes with other drivers or application running in your PC and causes it to hang. This is a common sight every other day on a PC and windows OS.

On a MAC you have the least problems and most are self correcting as the Mac OS will detect the anomalies and revert back to the former by rebooting itself at times an sometimes requires user intervention to reboot it. The MAC has come a long way and is now THE most popular because of the ease of use and some Windows pundits may disagree for the lack of tweaking capabilities. These days all we want is push a button and we get a reaction from the software apps etc. It becomes easy to focus on the task rather than tweaking with software all the time. Applications like MS Word works seamlessly hence no problem reading it in Windows or MAC OS.

The reliability of the Mac OS and it's integrated hardware makes it today the most popular and robust computing platform in the world. Seamless integration using the iTunes/iCloud combination with your iPads or iPhones makes it a fully streamlined platform regardless of where you work. Many benefits.

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Most popular?
by Flatworm / August 23, 2013 11:30 PM PDT
In reply to: Apple versus PC

Really? How many Apple laptops are sold vs. the number of Windows laptops? Is the ratio 1/5? 1/10? 1/20?

It's somewhere in there. Apple isn't anywhere remotely close to being the most popular laptop. Nowhere close.

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Actually it is the other way around
by tlmurray--2008 / August 30, 2013 11:34 AM PDT
In reply to: Most popular?

Most sales tracking sources indicate that Mac sales do indeed outpace Windows sales at least in the last couple of years. The long history of Windows in the corporate space is what is responsible for driving up the numbers of total Windows machines out there.

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Mac sales beating PC sales?
by gar43 / August 30, 2013 3:51 PM PDT

Most of the articles I have read show that worldwide sales of PCs should be around 315 million units for 2013. MACs on the other hand are expected to be less than 30 million. But, the issue should not be about who sells the most rather which format fits your needs both now and in the future. With the explosion of tablet sales it may wind up being neither Windows PC nor MAC. Be very careful not to assume that what you are doing currently on your PC is what you will be doing in the future.

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Look at the metrics
by mpias / September 2, 2013 8:42 AM PDT

It's not that more Macs are being sold than PCs, they're not. It's that there were x number of PCs being sold per year and y number of Macs. Over the past number of years the number of PCs being sold per year has either remained the same or dropped slightly, while the number of Macs being sold per year has increased. PC sales still outnumber Mac sales by a lot but Mac sales are slowly catching up. It'll be a long time before Mac sales equal PC sales, if ever, but the percentage of Mac use vs PC use is rising.

On the other hand, and I don't know the exact figures, Mac sales are higher than any other SINGLE company's sales of higher end laptops, meaning that Macs in the $1000 to $3000 range outsell Dells, or any other company's offerings, IN THAT PARTICULAR PRICE RANGE. Taken all together PCs still rule, but on an individual company by company basis AND within the price range in which Apple competes, Apple sells more laptops.

Does that make sense?

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Have to factor in price
by mamajana / September 2, 2013 9:10 PM PDT
In reply to: Look at the metrics

Probably the reason for lower Mac sales is the price. I think the Apple products are better (especially more so than Dell) but it's cost prohibitive. Also, you've got to factor in business usage. More businesses use Dell than Mac. Creative people (writers, artists, etc.) tend to use more Macs.

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Macs outselling PCs - Total nonsense
by garry.k / August 30, 2013 10:37 PM PDT

Macs are barely reaching 10% of the market penetration. The only market they have been leading in is tablets, but they are losing that market and will eventually slide into same percentage.

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Losing Ground...
by Fox_Rox / August 31, 2013 7:40 AM PDT

Yes, this is true. Why on earth the average person would spend a huge amount more for an iPad or iPhone when an Android device can meet or beat anything the i-devices can offer for less cost is a mystery. The public is becoming more informed and moving away from overpriced products with imposed limits on functionality. There is nothing wrong with someone buying what they want and we all have preferences. Some people don't mind paying extra to fit in with the crowd they like to hang with.

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by kmkrreeves1 / August 31, 2013 8:13 AM PDT
In reply to: Losing Ground...

most people that own apple products use them only to look at facebook and maybe a word document every once in a while. People buy apples crap because they think it will make them look cool, not because it's better in anyway.

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You have got to be kidding
by ScorpionHoney / September 4, 2013 9:11 PM PDT
In reply to: exactly

I have Mac products because I became sick and tired of the viruses, glitches, crashes and crap of PCs and now flimsy Androids. Buy it to look cool? Please. I want efficiency, power, reliability. Don't have time to fart around with other products.

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Too bad ignorance isn't painful.
by mpias / September 5, 2013 12:01 PM PDT

There's a class of Windows users that like nothing better than to troll discussion groups and put Apple and Apple users down. They're utter ignorance about anything Apple is painfully obvious from their posts.

Fortunately they're a small minority and safe to ignore because the only people who take them seriously are like-minded trolls.

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It's called integration
by mpias / September 1, 2013 6:16 AM PDT
In reply to: Losing Ground...

People buy Macs and iDevices because of the ease of integration. Just like when using a Mac you find a more streamlined user experience due to the OS and hardware being designed by the same company, you find it much easier to integrate all your devices when they're made by one company.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that when you have multiple hardware designers putting their particular spin on two different companies operating systems and then trying to get every thing to integrate, there are going to be the occasional problems and glitches.

I'd rather spend more money up front on guaranteed streamlined integration of all my digital products rather than piecemeal different components together based solely getting the cheapest prices I can find and then have to waste my time troubleshooting.

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What is the true cost (price of ownership)
by KB-52a750user / August 31, 2013 12:52 AM PDT

Obviously many people who would like a mac see the cheap $350 laptops and decide they can't afford a mac. Then after buying the cheap Windows computer they will then spend countless hours doing the following: (I know I had been there for years before going with Mac)

updating windows
adding service packs
updating service packs
installing and running virus software
installing and running spy removal software
Spending a weekend reinstalling Windows and updating the service packs because of a Trojan, or slowness, or virus
Removing tool bars and other bloatware that creeps into the system
Updating drivers
adding firewalls, etc ( I am sure I am missing much)

If one counts the extra needless hours "tweaking" their Windows computers multiplied by their hourly wage, I'll bet that "cost of wasted time" would more than pay for the difference in upfront cost, not to mention having a stress-free, pleasant ownership. (once you get used to the different keyboard functionality)

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FUD much?
by Hartiq / August 31, 2013 1:16 AM PDT

KB-52a750user said : "Spending a weekend reinstalling Windows and updating the service packs because of a Trojan, or slowness, or virus
Removing tool bars and other bloatware that creeps into the system
Updating drivers"

I have had quite a few PC's from a number of different manufacturers and the only time I have ever re-installed Windows was to upgrade from Win98 to WinME. That went without a hitch and WinME caused no issues whatsoever.
I have only ever removed toolbars from the PC's of those people I act as an unpaid Helpdesk for, never from one of my boxes. In a score of years of using PC's and Mac's I have never downloaded and installed a toolbar on my machines so I have never needed to remove one. Those things do *NOT* "creep" onto the system the user must install them. And they can be as easily installed on Apple boxes as on Dells.
Bloatware? What, like the 150 megabyte updates to iTunes every few months? Or the hundred megabyte security upgrades to MacOS every so often? Apple may not update drivers very often but they do update Java, iTunes and OSX frequently and when they do the downloads are huge. Windows drivers tend to be tiny in comparison, mere megabytes. Neither OS is much worse than the other in this respect.
As far as tweaking goes, if you don't change anything much the only tweaking you need to do on a Windows box is the upgrades to anti-virus programs and the Windows system itself. That's at most ten minutes a month if all goes right. That is quite a lot like one iTunes update.
And if you do not have a firewall between your Apple box and the world you are just asking to be targeted. Apple boxes may be targets of last resort for the bad guys but they won't turn their noses up at one that is entirely open and vulnerable. No firewall and your box will eventually be a zombie.
I find it distasteful that anyone would try to promote one PC manufacturer by slagging off any other especially for imagined flaws or for flaws common to all.
I have run my new HP Win7 box 24/7 for months, connected and running SETI and EINSTEIN at home with automatic reporting home and fetching new work, without any problems. It was only rebooted to allow Windows to update on Patch Tuesdays.
My Mac Powerbook has been rebooted as often and for the same reasons.
Tell me, KB-52a750user, where's the difference?
Spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt for the purpose of promoting your religion is something politicians do. We should be far better than that.
Especially when we are trying to help someone.

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It is a real issue
by angryshortguy / August 31, 2013 2:05 AM PDT
In reply to: FUD much?

Mary has already indicated that she is having issues with "errors" and pops on her Windows computer.
Malware, bloatware, virus's, and rebuilds ARE the norm on Windows pcs.
I've rebuilt enough Windows installs at work and for friends/family to know this is a fact.
Not spreading fear, just stating the facts, and its exactly what Mary is having issues with.
If you haven't experienced this issue, you're one of the lucky ones.
But most people have this issue with MS.
Apple products are by far less likely to have these problems, and if you are careless enough to go where you shouldn't online and pick up problems, they're as easy to fix as deleting the files.
No uninstall, no registry to clean up, no long hours Googling the problem, no downloading fixes, no weekends rebuilding your machine.
If you use Time Machine to back up your Apple to an external drive, you can rebuild or move to a new Mac with ease.
Apple is still the platform of choice for the average person who doesn't want to deal with the mirriad of problems that come with using MS Windows.

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The largest virus ever to hot computers was
by orlbuckeye / September 2, 2013 9:51 PM PDT
In reply to: It is a real issue

on mac computers. It was called the Flash point virus and it affected around 800,000 Apple computers.

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Not to mention...
by offerPop5138041 / September 2, 2013 10:24 PM PDT

The original viruses were on MACs and only on MACs. IBM Compatibles (the correct term for any PC that is not a MAC, yes MACs are PCs, also!) did not have any issues in this area at all. Not until some jack-a... ported it over to them. And now here we are....

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Windows ME no problems?
by ddealer27 / September 1, 2013 11:00 AM PDT
In reply to: FUD much?

If you never had a problem with Win ME you obviously never turned your computer on. That OS had so many bugs MSFT never even offered an update. It is considered the worst operating system ever sold by MS. I started years ago on DOS 3 machines, then Win 95 and the bug free upgrade Win 98 and Win 98 Plus that was Win 98 with out all the bugs, then Win ME that was to be Mom's Apple Pie that unfortunately was dropped in the floor at some point. Then I was absolutely forced to buy XP, and fell for the song and dance that the Home Version was the right version for me. To my surprise I had many problems with XP Home but when I paid more money for XP Pro I finially got a decent OS. After a number of years I started having problems because with all the Win updates some of my older coponents needed the drivers updated etc. From Win 98 on I was using custom high end machines, and pretty much learned how to resolve my own problems. I do have a HP Vista Laptop that has had few problems but I have only used it for email and basic internet when traveling.

When I junked my old desktop system 3 years ago I went with a Mac and I only wish I had done so many years ago. No more long nights looking for the glitch.

The one point everyone is missing here is that MS and Apple are 2 different types of companies. Microsoft wants to sell you new operating systems every other year for 2 or 3 hundred dollars. Apple wants to sell you a nice computer and OS and only charge you $35 when a new OS is available.

If Microsoft offered a operating system without bugs everyone would stick with it and they would go out of business. Even if they sell a good OS like XP, after a few years they will issue updates that will make the OS unstable.

I think recents tests indicate that a Mac Book is the fastest Windows Lap Top. Windows OS or Apple OS, they both run best on a Mac

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Maybe this is true for you because you're an expert
by ScorpionHoney / September 4, 2013 9:23 PM PDT
In reply to: FUD much?

I agree with KB-52a750user . All the problems with PCs listed I have put up with for many years before I finally had enough. If you are a regular user, not some expert, and you don't have time to reconfigure your computer endlessly, update your computer endlessly, losing valuable harddrive space as you do so, and even more valuable time, then Mac is the way to go. Four, count them, four, PCs down the drain because of trojans and viruses, this despite endless software for malware, adware, spyware, every kind of ware. Constant scanning, more wasted time. Lots of money down the drain as well so that repair guys can hand my PC back to me no better than when I took it in. This isn't fear talking for some kind of religion? Really? This is fact. Have had Macs simultaneously with PCs with virtually no problems. They are worth the extra up front cost.

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True cost comment
by jackbutler5555 / August 31, 2013 2:42 AM PDT

The industry standard PCs are, in fact, target for malware more than Macs. I think you may have more difficult attacks than most. The last six of your items really related to malware. Listed like that, they seem more formidable than they are. Anti-malware software can prevent most, if not all, attacks.

The first three items on you list are nearly effortless.

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True, but misleading
by mijcar / September 1, 2013 12:08 PM PDT
In reply to: True cost comment

I agree with the statement that PC's are currently the target of choice for malware. But it should also be pointed out that Mac's are becoming increasingly popular (in large part, because people misleading think they are invulnerable to attack) and and becoming commensurate more popular a target.

You are quite right, though, that most attacks are preventable. This is especially so because most infections are the result of user choices (visit a dangerous site, open a suspicious e-mail and follow the link there-in to a place one knows nothing about).

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installing and updating....
by RonG6 / August 31, 2013 6:05 AM PDT

As far as endless instally, uipdating and tweaking.... Just learn how to say no!
Don't get constant up dates Turn them off. Upgrade once to a latest service pak and that's it.
as far as toolbars and such, that goes for any opreating system OS or windows.
When installing any software from the internet, learn to unclick the toolbars and browser defaults, or select custom install and then unclick all the crap. They all try to make x y or z your default everything..
The major difference is cost. PC based stuff is less for most software because there are so many free or lowcost options available. But yes it is more "hands on" than mac. I have been using Win XP for a long time so I stick with ith I just want my stuff to work I dont care abut the latest bells and whistles.

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by cpier / September 1, 2013 8:21 PM PDT
In reply to: ....

I think the person meant that they haven't had to re-install windows since upgrading from Win 98 to ME. Subsequently they haven't had to re-install Windows. They have gone on to newer versions of Windows but these haven't needed re-installing. I don't think we should call each other 'moron' in these discussions.

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Seems more related to your choices rather than PC's
by mijcar / September 1, 2013 12:21 PM PDT

Within a week of getting our monthly PC updates, there is some update for the Mac.

As for infections, out of all the PC clients I have ever worked with, only two got confirmed infections, and those were clearly by their own choices regarding unsolicited e-mail. And - I admit shamefacedly - one of the computers in my own domain also got infected. That, too, was the result of a stupid choice.

Win 8 is good, so good that calls for assistance have tapered way off. In fact, you have indirectly led me to another comparison: The calls I get for PC assistance are in advanced areas by clients who have quickly grasped the fundamentals of some program and now what to do something flashy and different. The calls I get for Mac assistance are in basic areas by clients who are still struggling to get done things they think should be easy but which aren't.

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The true cost of ownership
by fantanman / September 2, 2013 2:55 AM PDT

I'm glad you posted that, KB-52a750user. I've been using only Macs for 20+ years and these days I don't do much with them other than email, surf the Web and compose using Word 2008 for Mac, a little Photoshop work, etc. So, when I see Windows laptops selling for $300 and Mac laptops cost $900+, I think, maybe I'll get a Windows machine. Thank you for bringing me back to reality.

What I love about Macs is, they just WORK. I'm using a 10-year-old Mac (pre-Intel). I've never used anti-virus software, I've never had catastrophic failure, I've never been forced to reinstall the OS. Mac advises me periodically of software updates, but everything still functions if I skip them. I also have a 5-yr-old MacBook I bought secondhand. It works like new. My iPod Touch and iPod Shuffles work seamlessly with either computer.

So, as tempting as the $300 or $600 Wiindows machines might be, I just couldn't deal with the hassles and frustrations that PC users encounter regularly. I once belonged to a chat group of several hundred PC users. Ninety percent of the email dealt with heartbreak and pain caused by Windows. No, thanks. At the same time I belonged to a Mac users group and occasionally used to help others with Mac problems. The website went dormant and my side business of fixing Mac problems dried up because, starting with the introduction of "Tiger" series of Mac OS's, people just weren't having many problems. Most Mac problems then and now, I have found, concern connecting to the Internet and configuring email accounts. I think Windows users encounter those same problems, and much more.

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A lot of this is history and doesn't apply today
by JazzGuyy / September 2, 2013 5:21 AM PDT

Today in many respects Mac and Windows computers, running recent versions of their respective operating systems, are more alike than different. A lot of the bad mouthing that people who switched from PCs to Macs do (or that Linux advocates refer to) really relates to the state of affairs with Windows 3 years or more ago (and some of it is just myth). These days, if run on decent hardware (there are still really cheap Windows machines with deficient hardware), Windows is as reliable as a Mac and there are few, if any, of the old hassles that required a re-install of Windows periodically or else it bogged down. Both computer types can be equally secure or insecure, depending on what the user understand and does. One type doesn't outperform the other, though there may be specific tasks that a PC does better than a Mac or vice versa. Same with Linux.

The Mac advantage has always been that Apple tightly controlled both the hardware and software side and didn't have to worry about working on thousands of hardware variations. It has always been somewhat of a miracle, IMO, that Windows could work as well as it did considering all the possible configurations of hardware and software it was asked to run. Apple also didn't have to worry in most cases about backward compatibility and could totally change their systems periodically, even if it meant that users of its newest computers would essentially have to start all over again.

The simple fact is you can have a reliable, hassle-free Windows or Mac or Linux computer. The important thing is to get a computer that does what you want it to do and that you can live with for a long time. The questions should be: does it work in a way I am comfortable with? does it run the software I want to run and need to run? if a laptop, does it offer the form factor, weight, screen size, keyboard, etc. that I will be comfortable with?

Whatever computer you have now that you are unhappy with needs one of the following things done to it: repair, replacement with a more up-to-date version, or switch to something else.

There is no best computer. It is what is best for you, your personality, and your needs.

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True Cost of ownership / True market share/penetration
by OrCrush / September 14, 2013 4:19 PM PDT

Something you just mentioned, fantaman, is something wide spread: you're using a 10 year old mac, and a 5 year old laptop. And they still work!

How many on this forum are still using 10 year old, or even 5 year old, pcs? And if so, are they running Windows 7 or 8? Very unlikely!

I've seen statistics, unfortunately I cannot cite sources, that estimate that globally more than 20% of PC's in use are Macs. The reason for the 10:1 PC vs Mac sales figures, is that PC's need to be replaced every 2-3 years vs 5-6 for Macs. So SALES are higher, but USAGE isn't nearly as high because many of those PC sales are to replace an existing machine; many of those Mac sales are new, or PC converts switching to windows.

I've been IT for a multiplatform print shop for more than 20 years, and have seen the evolution of computers in design. Currently our shop has 17 macs and PC's, plus a MacOSX file server.
The Macs run either OSX 10.6 or 10.7
The windows machines run XP Pro or Windows 7.
How it breaks down:
The Macs are heavily used for graphic design and file processing. If the Macs require more than a few minutes of attention each year for maintenance, it's a lot! They just work!
The Windows XP machines need a few hours of maintenance a year EACH, most of the time saved due to a heavy investment in software that maintains them for me, at a rather high expense. the Mac's don't need anything like that, they just work.
Windows One machine and it constantly needs updates patches fixes cleaning and more. What a piece of junk Windows 7 is. And before you ask, it's a mid level Dell which should be well supported. Go figure.

My advice...once you go Mac, you'll never go back.

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True Cost of Ownership
by sloppypete / September 15, 2013 6:39 AM PDT

Maybe in the States you buy a new one every three years. In Canada I am a IT person and the average computer is between 5 - 8 years old. Here we maintain them just like you do with your car and make it last 5 or more years. People here like things to last longer so maintenance is key. I know that Americans are a throw away society so when it quites you toss it out and buy new. So PC's are the way to go because Macs cost 4 times the price of a PC here. I do work on Mac's but it is usually the people who have a some substantial amount of money that can afford them. If you take care of your computer you can get it the last longer.

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by oterrya / September 15, 2013 1:21 PM PDT
In reply to: True Cost of Ownership

It has not been lack of care in the past that has caused me to replace my computer. It has been the demands of newer, more capable software that the old one just cannot handle adequately. In the past, it has been three years or less on the average before a replacement has been necessary. My current machine is a little over 4 years old and it is starting to bog down a bit. This is better longevity than I have previously had. I suspect in another year or so, I will have to replace it. In the past it has been primarily graphic editing and sound editing that have forced the issue. This time it appears the main issues are some sizeable data bases for which I have been capturing monthly data and generating analytical reports. This was a fairly high end machine when I got it which I think is why it has lasted so long as it has. I cannot conceive of this machine lasting another 4 years. I would, by then, have to go out for coffee (3 blocks away) while it performed some of the more onerous tasks in order to keep from going nuts. Are you noticing that your machines last a little longer than they did before?

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