Mac computers - is it mostly just image and status?

I am shopping for a laptop, so I went into my local Mac store and asked a couple of employees some questions and looked around at the PCs. I noticed a few things:

  • as a remembered, Mac computers cost a ton of money. Their cheaper computers cost as much as a mid-to-high-end Dell computer.
  • the employees gave off a distinct aura of hipster.
  • the store placed a lot of emphasis on form. Few stores try to look cool as much as a Mac store does.

This recent experience mirrors my perceptions of Macintosh and Mac users for the past few years: that Mac computers cost tons of money, that Macs are popular among trendy, well-dressed people, and that they place a lot of emphasis on form.

In my experience, Mac users also like to say that they like how easy Mac computers are to use and how they “just work” (or something along those lines). I don’t know if there’s any actual empirical or logical support for this claim, however. I remembered switching from a Mac to a PC in about 2001 or so and not experiencing a decline in usability.

So here’s my question: is Mac basically all about image and status?

I think the usual line of thought is that while Macs are more expensive, they’re sturdier. My dell laptop cost me around 1500 bucks and after 2 and a half years, it’s falling to pieces. My friends with macs are trucking around just fine.

That being said, mac users can be unbelievably condescending about computers. The mac vs, pc commercials are positively insulting.

There’s been no end of threads arguing that, for comparable equipment, Macs aren’t any more expensive than Windows machines.

Nope. It’s about not having to use Windows.

Once you get over the hurdle of learning a new operating system Macs are generally much easier to manage*. You have to compare the effort of learning how to use them less the effort saved by not faffing around with Windows and compare the saved time (if any) to the extra cost. Personally, I can afford them and I don’t have much problem picking up new IT so I won’t be going back to Windows unless Apple screw up badly, which doesn’t seem imminent. Conversely, I am not unimpressed having put Windows 7 on my Vista laptop.**

Macs are better designed. The trivial aspect of that is they look better. The important aspect is that they are easier to manage (see above). Do not assume that people who think that image is important do not think substance is much more important. (I’m not sure they are any sturdier though - I’m talking about systems / software design.)

If you are buying a computer think very carefully what you want to do with it. Apart from the routine, Macs are particularly attractive to people who are interested in creative applications - photo, film, music, web design. You can do all these on Windows machines, but if they are your main focus, then a Mac is well worth considering even if the cost is an issue for you. If you have the money, then a Mac is well worth considering anyway, unless gaming is your primary focus.


  • that is, what Turek said.
    ** looking around Sandwich Hall I see two desktop Macs, a Windows laptop and a Windows netbook. I need some Windows capability to use my office’s VPN, and Apple doesn’t make a netbook

No doubt, the Mac Air laptops are TEH SEXY. I used to really love my iPod, but that doesn’t get quite as much usage now that I have an iPhone (and I’m eagerly waiting what I expect will be a 64Gb version this summer).

But when it comes to a computer, co-workers and friends that use both say that while Macs do tend to be a bit more ‘stable’ (in terms of O/S and software), the majority of them say that the difference vs PCs isn’t near as large as Mac users want you to believe. For me, I don’t feel the need to pay significantly more for the same processing power while putting up with worse software coverage/support just to try and show everybody how ‘hip’ I am. Besides, I’m already pretty hip :stuck_out_tongue:

Seriously - if you’re into games at all, don’t even consider a Mac. If you want to buy a computer and forget about it for the next few years, get a Mac; if you like tinkering and want to be able to upgrade components as you go along, get a PC.

I bought a macbook for a couple of reasons:

  • I need a UNIX (-like) laptop. That basically leaves Linux, *BSD and Mac OSX as options.
  • I need to take it with me on projects and have it work with other hardware and networks. OSX tends to be better at doing that without having to fiddle with drivers and settings.
  • I need to run the Adobe suite. That means I either run Windows under an emulator or use OSX.
  • My previous linux laptop broke while working on a project and I didn’t feel like reinstalling and configuring a new machine, especially since I needed a new machine RIGHT NOW.

So I just bought a macbook and an hour later I was ready to work again - if I’d have picked another machine and used Linux or *BSD it would probably have cost an extra day to get everything running right. That time difference alone easily made up for the higher cost of the machine. Looking at my colleague (freelance) programmers, a lot of them feel the same.

And what’s so wrong with wanting something that looks good? You’d pay extra for a house with nice landscaping instead of house in a flat dirt lot, wouldn’t you?

I’ve always used Macs at home (iPhone too!) but for work, I prefer PC with closed captions and subtitles. This is entirely due to what type of software I’m using and for what purpose. Here’s some quick examples.

For captions and subtitles. I’ve found Softel Swift 6.0 to be the best and most useable software to use because the PCs are gaged to work with it better. Majority of authoring companies use Microsoft based equipment, so of course, I like PC there, but only for work.

Mac = everything else, IMHO. For music, I prefer Logic. Here’s a great reason: the ease of setup. If I buy a new MIDI controller for say, drumbeats, the instructions are always similar. For Mac, you insert a CD-ROM, drag a file from a folder to a folder (or even just one click to install the Mac driver) and start LogicPro. You’re new equipment is working.
PC is always seven pages, requiring you to go online, download the correct driver from a list of too many, download that, restart, blah blah blah blah.

I trust Mac over PC for music, graphics, word processing, photos and video editing. It is always much quicker in reaction and let’s not forget I’ve never had a virus-- EVER. Not to mention much more professional looking menus, ease of partitioning hard drives, etc.

If you buy a Mac, TWO IMPORTANT THINGS: Buy from an Apple store or apple online and since you want a laptop, buy Apple Care protection. Worth it. The Apple stores are always quite helpful and great service in my experience. Plus, I LOVE how when you purchase something, you don’t even have to go to the counter. A salesman can scan it on the floor, swipe your card(s) and if you’re registered, you instantly get your receipt on your smartphone before you step out of the store. (!) Sexy.

However, if all you need a computer for is to play Worlds Of Warcraft and Doom for days on end, buy a cheap PC.

This and all messages I’ve typed is from my Macbook Pro laptop. Best I’ve ever used or owned.


Doom is a 17-year-old game. You can (literally) run it on your phone now. I don’t think it should be relevant to your computer purchase.

Wow, you really ARE living in 1993!

Dell stood by their hardware without me having to pay extra for “don’t send me broken shit” protection, and they’re one of the WORST manufacturers of PCs.

And you really spent a thousand dollars extra to avoid walking ten feet to the cash register?

No wonder Mac users are stereotyped as easily bedazzled marketing victims.

I’ve been to a Microsoft store and they look very similar to Apple stores.

I switched from PC to mac, and while there are things that piss me off righteously about the macs (I’m an administrative professional, and I damned well know how I want my files organized, thank you very much, computer), the reliability and ease of use of macs is not just a myth. At this point when you can have the PC world and the mac world on the same computer, I don’t see a reason to buy another PC.

I only use PCs but am researching Macs, primarily wanting to avoid all the problems of crashing and security software. The books, web sites, and users I am finding pretty much all say this element of Macs is really very much better.

There do also seem to be elements of style and trendiness at work, and I’m not aware you can buy the advantages without also buying these (though I would if I could).

But, I am pretty sure I am going to buy a Mac soon, and if Norton or Windows Genuine Advantage mess with me much more today, it may be in a few hours.

I had an ancient Hewitt-Packard tower PC for years. It took FOREVER to start up, it balked, it froze, I couldn’t watch videos or You Tube things, it needed anti-virus things. It was just awful. It served the purpose, mind you, I didn’t really do anything other than surf and print an occasional recipe. Then it got to the point where I was strapping it into the car seat and taking it to Computer Outlet to be fixed more than once or twice a year, and I said the hell with this dinosaur, I want me a MacBook. So I tottered into the Apple Store lit up like an operating room (and looking like the grandmother I could theoretically be!), full of young kids, pointed at the $999 model, and said ‘that one!’. Took it home, had a young kid I lassooed off the street to set it up and give me a lesson, got Roadrunner, and here I sit on my comfy couch typing away. I don’t have to go into the spare room, fire up the PC, holed up away from life. Occasionally Mr. Sali demands I hand it over to him. I know the MacBook does much more than I need, I don’t know anything much about computers other than log on, surf, log out. But the difference is like day and night, like having a kerosene lantern to read by and modern electricity. Yes, it was expensive, but the savings of time and aggravation more than make up for it. No more Norton anti-virus! No more freezing up, turning the thing off, waiting, turning it back on…I’m happy with the Mac, image and status are irrelevant.

What are these things? :wink:

Mac are definately more hardier, from a physical standpoint and from a user standpoint.

Though Windows is much better that it was before. In the old days if you pulled the power plug on a Mac it was nothing, while doing that on a Win machine could screw it up. This isn’t the case so much, if at all, anymore.

Macs don’t appeal to the computer geeks so much so there isn’t a much cutting and new edge that you get with Windows. I mean no point in making a new software program if it’s isn’t going to be used.

All though for true Geekiness Linux can’t be beat.

Now that I’ve used Ubantu, I really can’t see paying for an OS for just simple things like basic computer use, surfing the web etc. Ubantu rocks. I have had many a person say “my laptop is pretty shot,” and buy a new machine and then I put Linux on it and they love the old worn out laptop as an extra computer.

Salinqmind, is this the wrong time to tell you that you could have done the exact same thing with a $399 Windows laptop and that Apple still needs an anti-virus and anti-malware program?

Oh I dunno. Most programmers I know have macs, many even have a mac as their only machine. Most programmers I know are in the server / web side of the business, though - where the client OS doesn’t really matter and OSX provides decent compatibility with “server” OSs like BSD, Solaris and Linux.

Nah. You mean FreeBSD :slight_smile:

Psst: it’s “Ubuntu”. But yeah, for typical home use, Ubuntu should work well enough. As long as you’re not into gaming, but then you don’t want OSX either.

Snerk, of course they do. :wink:

If you compare a Macbook to a consumer machine that’s on sale at Best Buy for $399, the Macbook looks overpriced until six months down the road when your cheap laptop is dead.
If you compare a Macbook to a similar-quality PC, such as an HP Elitebook or other “business-class” machine, the Macbook looks kind of overpriced.
If you compare a Macbook to a boutique laptop, like the Voodoo Envy or whatever Alienware is offering now, the Macbook looks a pretty good deal.
If you compare a Macbook to a laptop that really is only style and marketing like the ASUS Lamborghini-branded laptops, the Macbook look like a fantastic bargain.

Windows 7 and OSX are the same. Both are stable. Both are secure. Both can do the same jobs. Both have annoyances. Both may be compromised if you do something stupid.

So yeah, there is a bit of an image premium. It isn’t as bad as you’d think though.

I bought my PowerBook G4 in 2005. I needed a new computer (my PC was constantly getting the BSOD, and it was only 500 MHz), and it needed to be compatible with the video studio I was freelancing at.

I like the way things are organised on the Mac. At work, I never know where to look for files that I save at whatever Windows defaults to. Is it on the network? Is it on my hard disc? I have to burrow down through several different trees if I want to bother to look for something. On the Mac, I just type a file name (or partial name) into the Finder and it finds it instantly. (Windows can take several minutes to do a Search.) The Mac is just easier to live with. And I like the Safari browser.

For the past five years I liked Macs because ‘they just work’. But in the last couple of months I’ve been disappointed. Apple released an update to Safari, and now I get the Mac version of the BSOD (the ‘beach ball’) about half the time I try to watch YouTube. Apple seems disinclined to fix the bug. I’m tempted to make a ‘Mac vs. PC’ commercial where Mac Guy freezes on YouTube while PC Guy laughs at him. :mad: I have to be very careful not to click on a YouTube link, lest I have to do a hard-restart, and only open YouTube links in Firefox. But I find Firefox not as easy to use as Safari.