While DougC is correct that Windows laptops are available at lower prices than Macs, I’m not sure they would be a good deal for you. Be aware that the cheaper laptops generally have skimped in areas which you may regret in the end. The iBook is in the same rough price range as similar Windows laptops. Most new ones today come with CD-RW, DVD-R, and wireless, so that’s not different.
I have three laptops, two Windows (HP Pavillion and Compaq Armada) and one iBook. Bought the HP Pavillion and the iBook at roughly the same time, but always take the iBook with me.
The iBook has to my mind three advantages:
- weight (2.2 kg for the 12’’)
- battery life (easily 4 hours, often more like 5 for light usage like word processing)
- Mac OS X (whether you consider this a plus, is your own view).
You may not think the weight to be very important, but if you have to lug the thing around a lot, you may think differently.
Cheap laptops may quite often use a cheap Pentium, which means they’re power hungry, and don’t have such a good battery life. If you want to have a low-weight windows laptop with good battery life you may have to look at a high-end Sony Vaio, IBM Thinkpad, or Toshiba, which may easily cost twice as much as an iBook.
If you are already somewhat familiar with Mac OS X you should have no trouble getting used to it; I far prefer its interface to Windows XP (even though I didn’t mind Windows 95). It’s far more seamless and smooth at multitasking than Windows XP every managed for me. Try running iTunes and a video in QuickTime, then moving the video window with the mouse. I never managed that on my HP, and with SP 2 its performance has become abominable. Of course a dedicated user may get XP running smoothly and virus free as well, but that takes expertise and quite a lot of work over time; Mac OS X does normal user tasks smoothly without lots of maintenance.
Another little bonus for me is that the iBook hardly makes any sound; the ventilators only start blowing when you are working the thing really hard. Compare that to the interminal noise from most Pentium laptops (except Pentium M’s, but those are expensive).
For you there may however be a few cons.
- Sims2 (as mentioned, that may not run or not run as well).
- Having to buy new software (if you already have a Windows Photoshop license and/or Word). However, there are cheap or even free alternatives for taking notes/writing documents.
- The small iBook 12’’ may be too small for you, as may the 14’’; the PowerBook is available in larger formats but is more expensive.
What you should be aware of in any case is that there are quite a lot of ‘laptops’ that are in fact mobile desktops, i.e. too heavy and power hungry to use comfortably outside a more or less fixed desktop with a power socket.
All this is IMHO, I never bothered to delve into XP so probably deserve my bad experience there.