All this week, Observer columnist Langston Wertz Jr. will write about popular technology rivalries and try to determine which is best for you.
Monday: Xbox 360 vs. PlayStation 3.
Today: Mac Vs. PC
The home computer market has long been dominated by Bill Gates, whose Windows software powered many of the systems we’ve known so well. But thanks to a user-friendly operating system, cool gadgets like the iPhone and a smart ad campaign (“Hi, I’m a Mac”), Steve Jobs’ Apple brand of computers is making a big run.
Last quarter, Apple accounted for nearly 10 percent of all U.S. computer sales, selling 1.64 million machines, a 29 percent increase over the same period in 2007. That put the company in third place in computer sales in the U.S. behind Dell and Hewlett-Packard, which both sell Windows-based machines.
But which should you buy?
PC Advantages: By now, most everyone knows how to click “Start” on a Windows machine. Using a PC is just familiar, and there are tons of programs and applications that work with Windows software. Since PC prices have plummeted, you can buy entry-level machines for as little as $299. You can also design a pretty powerful PC – complete with a Blu-Ray DVD burner and dual processors – for under $2,000. PCs are better for gaming, and there’s more software available for them than for their Mac cousins.
Mac Advantages: The Mac uses the Leopard operating system that is simply better, faster and easier to use (though there’s an initial learning curve). A new version, Snow Leopard, is due in January. The Mac starts up faster, runs programs faster and doesn’t slow down as much as a PC when handling multiple tasks. Macs are generally more expensive than PCs, but don’t tend to have as many problems with spyware and viruses. Macs will usually last longer. There’s much more Mac software available than two years ago (you can even get Microsoft Office for the Mac) and if you really need to run Windows, you can install something called Boot Camp that allows you to run Windows on your Mac. In my tests, Vista ran faster and smoother for me on a Mac than on a fairly new PC.
Knockout Blow: You can run Windows on a Mac. And Macs tend to outperform PCs. Once you get the hang of the Leopard operating system, you’ll love it. We only wish there were more affordable Mac towers available. At least Apple offers refurbished models on its web site at big discounts.
Winner: Mac, by a mile.
Wednesday: DSL vs. cable Internet
Thursday: wireless vs. wired network
Friday: satellite vs cable