Should I try Apple?

After a short wait of 12 years, I finally decided to go to school. I am just finishing my first semester, and for the second semester, I am thinking I will get myself a laptop/notebook.

I was thinking about trying a Macbook Air as an incredibly portable platform to use for schoolwork no matter where I happen to be. I have not used Apple for probably fifteen years or so, so I am nervous. When I am unsure, I can’t help but turn to the smartest group of people I know.
Turns out they were busy, so now I am turning to the Dope. :stuck_out_tongue:

I have decided I don’t do enough gaming nowadays for that to be a concern, so I’ll basically be surfing the web/reading/word processing, for the most part, which I assume will be equally simple on either platform.

Should I try a Mac? Is Apple as great/stable as I have been hearing? Or should I stick with Windows?

I would recommend it. The Macbook Air is probably one of the lightest, smallest, and still useable laptops around. I have both a desktop PC and old-school Macbook and am very happy with it, though I would switch to the Air in an instant.

As for stability, I can only speak for Lion (and not Snow Leopard) but I didn’t notice it being significantly more stable than Windows. Perhaps slightly, but I would still often get hangups in the form of the “Beach ball of doom” forcing the force-closure of several programs.

The first thing I would do in your situation is find out if my school supported/recommended a particular type of laptop/ notebook over its competitors. Then I would purchase that particular type of laptop/notebook. I would worry about which type to select only if my school happily supported/recommended multiple types of computers.

I’m a PC guy, but if my school was happier with Macs I’d get myself a Mac.

Having been a Mac owner for 27 years, I’d say: Yes.

Crazy about my new MacBook Air. It feels like something from the future, and only weighs 1 kilogram, so it’s easy to pop in the backpack. Unless you’re on an engineering campus, you’ll probably find more than half the kids in any given study lounge or library are using Macs.

This is the correct answer.
If you’re studying graphic arts you probably want a different machine than if you’re studying electrical engineering.

I love my Macbook Air. I am using it right now. It is on my lap, and it never cooks my legs like other “laptops”. Its lightness and portability live up to the hype. Be sure to ask for the student discount.

You pay a bit of a premium for a Mac, but I think it’s worth it. I finally converted just a few months ago, and I’m not looking back. I’ve got a MacBook Pro, not the Air, but the software is the same.

The only negative I have is the mouse pad. It’s got some neat features, but there are some things that a dedicated right click pad is just superior to the two-finger combo equivalent on the Mac. I use CAD software quite a bit, and that’s what I’m thinking of. But even word processing cut and past requires more care on the Mac.

I would love to be able to afford a Macbook Air for next semester. I have my desktop for gaming so I just need a very portable and user friendly laptop for bringing to school and that just doesn’t exist in the PC world from what I’ve seen. Sadly, as an unemployed student, my extra financial aid has to go for stuff slightly more important than a very expensive laptop. :frowning:

The Mac is the one product line from Apple that I wholehardedly support. They really are well built, and the options are very nice.

And don’t forget, you can run Windows on one, so if you need a Windows program, it’s not as big a deal.

I have had both Apple products and they are all good. They tend to run a bit high. I loved my iPod, but I get just as good sound from my Sansa clip. But the iPod runs rings around the Sansa for feel, style and display, but the music is the same.

I would say if you can afford an Apple get it. You’ll like it. The only reason not to get an Apple is the price.

Also if you need to run a specific program make sure that one will be compatible with a Mac. Not all are, but today most of them are, it’s not as big a deal as it used to be

As has already been pointed out, you can easily run Windows on a Mac these days, either by directly booting into it via Boot Camp (which comes with your Mac) or by using virtual machine software such as VMWare Fusion (which is what I use) or Parallels. It works great.

I would say that in terms of stability, Windows 7 and OS X are pretty similar, i.e. quite stable. But after 15 years of being a PC owner, I’m finding my Mac much more pleasant and user-friendly. (Very small example: On my previous Dell laptop, if I plugged in a USB mouse, it popped up an 'Installing new device" dialog every single time, and I had to wait a little bit while the mouse installed itself and started working. Occasionally it would fail to install for some unknown reason and I’d have to unplug it and plug it back in to try again. On my Mac, I plug in the USB mouse and it just instantly starts working. Again, that’s a very small example, but I have a skrillion examples like that.)

If price is a concern, I recommend checking out the refurbs on the Apple store. I got my MacBook Pro from the refurb site. It comes packaged like new, with the standard warranty, but you get it for a nice discount.

No. Not unless you hate money (and yourself).

We bought a MacBook Pro for our daughter to take to college. I work at a major Texas university and, IMHO, the Mac is in the majority here among the students. It is also climbing back up the usage slope among the faculty and staff ( again ).


I made it through my last few years with a MacBook and Open Office. Worked great!

Other than the expense I think Macs are fine if you don’t want to run PC-specific software like games.

Of course a laptop with Win7 is good too, and cheaper. Win7 is stable and not prone to malware like XP was.

You can run Windows on a Mac. It is not difficult. See up-thread. Many gamers do this.

I usually use Linux on the Desktop, but the drivers situation for most laptops is such a mess that I was thinking of getting a Mac laptop.

So question. I know Mac OS is a Unix variant. How different is it from Linux. Can I use gcc? Bash shell? Package managers? Are there software repositories?

Yes. You have the option to install Developer Tools which gives you everything you would normally have access to from a Unix command line. Last time I did it you could install XWindows too. As a bonus, you get Apple’s pretty darn good IDE.

Yes, you can use Bash shell, vi, nano, emacs, pico. You have to install Xcode to get gcc, but there’s no extra cost, other than the time downloading it. You get it through the App Store now, so it’s pretty painless.

MacPorts and Fink are, I believe, the most popular package management tools.