Product Type: Apple PC desktops
Newest Review: ... Macs you don't have this problem because there is generally no need for anti-virus, and although anti-virus software is available for the... more
No longer just for geeks!
Apple iMac M9285B/A
Member Name: Dunks
Apple iMac M9285B/A
Advantages: More robust and reliable, simple design, hardware often works w/o drivers, great features
Disadvantages: Still some compatibility issues, could do with a right-mouse button, not good for gamers
It was with reluctance that I first joined that Mac 'club'. I had had experience with Macs about ten years ago at school - the old black and white monitors and more inferior features to the PC. I always regarded Apple users as having a rather geeky, fanboy image. Then of course there were the famous problems regarding the Mac's incompatibility with popular software. But things have moved on from there and the modern iMac has a lot going for it.
One of the principal attractions of getting a Mac was that they are less prone to virus, spyware etc. than Windows PCs. There are various theories about this, from Windows' massive market share in comparison with other operating systems making it a much more attractive target (why target a OS with less than 10 per cent market share?), security holes in the Windows software, to many hackers having a personal vendetta against Bill Gates and Microsoft and the tremendous power they hold over the computer software market. Whatever the reason, Macs do seem to be less vulnerable to security issues. This is borne out by my own experience. My Dell PC used to run like a snail and crashed regularly, and this may have been due to viruses or other malware. I did run anti-virus software but then you have the cost of the updates, and even the freeware could slow your system to a crawl. I had a bad experience where my PC had to be repaired due to malware or some other 'bug' and many programs just failed to work after it e.g. AutoUpdate and Google Earth. My Mac has only crashed a handful of times in a year by contrast and runs faster. With Macs you don't have this problem because there is generally no need for anti-virus, and although anti-virus software is available for the Mac, it is not widely used or seen as necessary. One analogy (possibly exaggerated!) for getting anti-virus software for a Mac is walking around town wearing a hard-helmet, just in case you are hit by a piece of space junk from the sky!
Even when programs do get infected on Macs, they aren't prone to spreading around other software on the computer, in contrast with the PC where a virus can destroy the whole system. The Mac operating system, Mac OS X, does come with its own firewall though and is less intrusive than my previous firewall for PC, McAfee.
Another appeal of the iMac was its design. It is a kind of desktop/laptop hybrid and suits my own needs very well, I have a bone condition where sometimes sitting at a desk for a long period of time can cause pain, and sometimes I can't do it at all. It is portable around the house - I am writing this relaxing in front of the TV just now instead of at my desk. This came without many of the disadvantages of a laptop - principally the higher cost for lower specifications. The monitor is excellent quality, very crisp with more vibrant colour than my old LCD monitor (not the one that ccame with the Dell PC).
Macs are now more compatible with software than before, although there are exceptions to this which I will note in a moment. Microsoft Office is available for the Mac and I haven't noticed any difference between that and the Windows version. This was a big selling point because Word, Excel et. al are ubiquitous and I use them at work, so I didn't really want to learn a new format, and taking work home could have been a nightmare! All major programs can usually be used on a Mac and popular file formats are supported - I transferred most of my old PC hard drive to the mac and picture, word processing, video, audio files have all been supported. The one notable exception to this is .exe files, I haven't managed to find an easy way to do this yet although a quick google shows it is possible. This hasn't been too much of a problem though as my .exe files were all small programs like downloaded games. Which brings me to another disadvantage - PC games usually aren't Mac-compatible. I only played a couple of games on my PC, preferring console gaming, but if you are a PC gamer then this would obviously be a major turn-off. There are ways around this - you can now run Windows on a Mac, for instance - but if you are a dedicated gamer, the PC is still very much king. There is also free software called Flip4Mac which converts Windows Media files (.wmv) to Quicktime format for the Mac. It doesn't play DRM-protected content though which can be annoying. There are free programs available to use MSN on the Mac.
I do like the desktop design on the Mac, but something like Windows taskbar would be useful, so that open programs are only a 'click' away. The quickest way to find open programs on Mac is to minimise them and click them on the dock, but this is still one click more than with Windows. Mac mice could also benefit from a two-button mouse, as the right mouse button is used a lot nowadays. You can emulate the right-mouse button by pressing Ctrl and clicking the mouse, but again this is double the work of Windows.
The slogan of Mac adverts used to be 'it just works' and in my experience that is very much true. My all-in-one printer and digital camera have worked without the original drivers, and the iPhoto software for photo-editing is excellent. It also automatically uploads the videos from my digital camera. You can edit those clips, or perhaps ones you've downloaded, into your own iMovie. This is the easiest program involving editing movie clips I've ever used, and I'm definitely no expert. Best of all, this is all free with Mac OS X! Other great extras include Dashboard, which can bring up local weather, stock markets and even flight information amongst much more, literally at the click of a mouse (just click the scroll button), Garageband, a free music-making software and a stylish-looking chess game and a built-in, high-res webcam. As with the monitor, the colour output of the webcam is very good. It also has AirPort Extreme wireless internet built-in, although you will of course need a wireless modem or router.
So overall I am very pleased with my decision to go for a Mac. It has been more reliable than the PC - much less seems to go wrong with it. Some programs not working can still be a nuisance, but this is getting better all the time and is more than made up for by the features available with the computer and its ease-of-use. The transition from PC to Mac is pretty seamless nowadays and I use both, Mac at home and PC at work. But now I would consider myself very much part of the Mac club!
Mac OS X v. 10.4.11
Processor 1.83 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
Memory 512 MB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM
Summary: Definitely an improvement from my Windows XP Dell PC
|Ease of use:|