Ding! Mac vs. PC cost analysis, Round II

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Plus: Figuring in the Mac's fun factor.

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But I was wrong about that. The unexpected advantage I gained is that using my computer is more enjoyable. My concentration isn't broken periodically by problems, updates, security pop-ups and the like. I'm not thinking that I'm using a Mac. I'm thinking about what I'm using the computer to do -- what I'm reading, writing, figuring, buying, watching and so on. The Mac becomes just so much chrome wrapping the data I'm interacting with.

You're not conscious of your TV while you're watching it. That's the way it is with a Mac. I found that much harder to achieve on Windows PCs, which are constantly drawing attention to themselves.

Another reader, James Sugrue, put it this way: "The thing your article didn't touch on was the value you can't quantify with Macs: Not having to worry about malware, not having to rebuild your machine every six months because the registry has gotten corrupted or not having to deal with some dodgy driver that takes the system down.

"A recent switcher to the 'Cult of the Mac,' I've often wondered why I waited so long," Sugrue continues. "I am a professional software developer, using Windows and Visual Studio, so I have a lot of Windows pain most days. I wish I could do all my dev work on the Mac. I see that being a major barrier to switching for most of my peers, even though there are great apps like Parallels and Boot Camp that could help. There's a lot of ignorance about Apple for some reason among us technical types. A programmer at work said yesterday that he hated Apple. I asked whether he'd ever used a Mac. Nope."

He'd probably hate chocolate if he hadn't tried it, too.

Apple's Mac Mini is a Trojan horse (not the malware kind) whose entire purpose is to cost little enough to entice Mac-curious Windows users to give the Mac a try. The Mac Mini is neither powerful nor portable. But it works just fine and will definitely give you the Mac experience. Or consider this: You can rent Macs. It's not cheap, but it's a lot less than buying even a new Mac Mini.

You're not going to believe it until you try it yourself. I didn't.

I expect to write more columns on this subject. I hope to address the total cost of ownership for the Mac, the average length of time people keep their Macs and Mac resale values, among other things.

In the meantime, I welcome your input on this subject. What I value especially are fact-based arguments on either side of the question.

This article is adapted from the July 2007 issue of Scot's Newsletter and is published by permission. Scot Finnie is Computerworld's online editorial director.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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