How Do I Choose My Next Computer?

Mac-PCOf late people have been discussing the right new device for their computing needs. The answer is that there isn’t one answer for everyone. To make the best choice, all the factors need to be considered. Here are a few things to think about to help make the best choice.

An easy way to think about a computer is to think about it like an automobile. Car drivers tend to fall in a few categories. So do computer “drivers” and they are somewhat alike.

Are there any Outside Forces to Consider?

This is the first hurdle to get over. Home users with no business ties to a company with technology requirements can jump right past this next paragraph.

Those of who need to “connect to the office” need to ask the IT department if there are any issues with using personal equipment on the company network. Some companies have what is called a “Virtual Private Network” or “VPN” that home workers can connect to with their personal equipment. A VPN hooks a person into their office over the Internet from home securely, just like they were there. They can see all the files and printers and any other network devices. Some VPN systems are “picky” about what can connect to them. Talk to the office IT department.

If you don’t connect to the office, then the choices for technology widens.

Microsoft Windows

A few years ago, most businesses could only run on  Personal Computers running Microsoft Windows. They were cheaper, more common and there were more programs available. It’s not the case any more. All of the business applications that are most popular run on both Mac and Windows platforms. Many applications have moved to the “cloud” which means they run on a web browser and are not dependant on any one platform. The traditional boundaries between operating systems, computer programs and work are becoming less defined.

The benefit of Windows based PC ‘s are that they are less expensive and there are more choices of manufacturers. Machines double in speed every 18 months or so. Keep this in mind when considering an extended warranty. If a machine breaks and the warranty provides a new one, it might be worth it.  Then again it might not be if the old one is repaired and not replaced. Consider any machine  a two year investment. Time is lost on older technology.

Microsoft Office and several other programs can be purchased on a subscription for a few dollars a month. Other applications are free.

There are many manufacturers of PC based hardware, and occasionally there is a “perfect storm” where PC components won’t work together. The open market drives the bad out and encourages the good.

A Microsoft Windows PC owner is probably more likely to be the driver of a lower cost automobile. They are probably an owner of an automobile as opposed to the leasee of one.  They probably know a bit about cars, and can do minor repairs to both their car and their computer. They can accessorize and upgrade their car or their computer and “make them their own”. Their car and their computer is a more for utility than it is for style or flash.

Macintosh

The benefits of Apple machines are that there are fewer “variables”. The support option is really just Apple, and they will stop supporting a device after two or three years. Apple makes everything work together as they control all the hardware. Anything that is extra for a Mac must be “blessed” by Apple. Most all of the software sold for Apple machines is also filtered through a process controlled by Apple. The whole idea is that the work that the computer does becomes the focus. With few hardware issues because of standardization, there are less technical problems to deal with. Apple is not “open” the way the PC market is. Everything just works because it is all Apple.

Apple machines now run on the same processor chip (Intel based) as Microsoft Windows machines. This means there is a way to actually run Windows on a Mac. The best of both worlds on one machine.

There are no competitors for Apple hardware – Apple makes it all. There are few choices for hardware support – Apple has their own stores with support. This makes the price higher, but the experience is well worth it if affordable. Mac machine are much “nicer” and feel of a higher quality than some PC’s.

A Mac user is probably a leasee of a “higher end” car. Mac users see the quality of a more experience based product, and they pay extra for the pleasure of using the car or the computer with that aesthetic. They probably don’t involve themselves in the inner workings of machines. They pay people to take care of those details. They just want to get the job done, with a bit of style if it isn’t too expensive.

Linux

Linux is the true open source software platform. There are “shells” that can make Linux look like a Windows or Mac system, but the core of the system is character based.  There are no windows or mouse without a “shell”.  There are many free programs that do everything that a Windows or Mac system can do. Linux isn’t “owned” by anyone.  This makes it very inexpensive, but provides the exact opposite experience of Apple. With Linux, be prepared to learn everything about a computer. Linux isn’t so much of a choice for a regular person to use. The people who build FaceBook use Linux. The majority of people who use FaceBook do not use Linux.

A typical Linux user probably drives an old car that is functional and is repaired by themselves with the help of a friend who has access to a junkyard and a repair shop. A typical Linux user is working at the next great Internet company about to go public. They are the most likely to become a Mac user as soon as they get some cash.

Final Decision

The decision really cones down to how much can be invested. Remember this is an 18 month investment. At the end of 18 months the process of picking a new machine should repeat itself and the old technology should get retired or “handed down”.

Call 201-796-7967 if you are in need of consultation.