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My girlfriend is in the market for a new desktop and she's thinking she might like to make the jump from PC to Mac. I'm a Windows/Linux guy and have only even touched a Mac once or twice. Not that I have anything against them, just never used them. So I need some advice.


She's not a power user by any means - uses Internet, email, word processing, spreadsheets, listens to music (uses Napster, which is not Mac-friendly. Ouch), loads photos from her camera, light Photoshop use, etc. Standard home user. No gaming other than the occasional Solitaire, no heavy graphic design needs. Mostly, she just wants something that is going to work. I've gotten her onto alternative software packages like Firefox, Thunderbird, and OpenOffice.org, so going off the "norm" that she is used to is not a problem. As long as it works.


And I guess that leads me to my question. I've heard that Macs are reliable and very easy to use. Do they ever crash? Any "blue screen" type stuff? Random lock ups or error messages that you can't quite get rid of? Are they fairly immune (so far) to spyware and viruses? The bottom line is that I don't really care how long it costs as long as I can go on the road for three weeks and not have her calling me up needing me to walk her through random Windows troubleshooting. Oh, and am I going to have to shell out tons of cash to get Mac-compatible software, or is there a free open source Mac movement?


And while we're at it, which one should I buy? PC prices have accustomed me to quality sub-$1k computers, but that doesn't look likely with a Mac. Is sub-$2k reasonable? What's the biggest bang for my buck?


Kind of a long request, and I know I could spend weeks trolling around the Internet looking at miscellaneous reviews. Mostly what I see is that people who have them love them, and people who don't make fun of them but I can't quite figure out why. (I'll admit I used to, but I since outgrew that.) So I guess I'm just looking for some honest and balanced reviews, preferably from people who are knowledgeable in both the PC and Mac realm. I trust the user group here and am crossing my fingers that there are a handful of Mac folks out there.


I really appreciate any help I can get here, 'cause I'd hate to blow two grand and be disappointed.

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My $0.01 worth. I have never owned a mac but my department does support our marketing folks who use them (2 people). Take this as a balancing voice of reason, if you will. I'm not fanatical about them and haven't used them enough for it to be fair to slam them...


Yes, they do crash occasionally. Usually it's very rare and has to do with a version X program trying to run on the just released version X+1 or it's a hardware problem like bad memory from a power spike. In our experience at work, the crashes are not often pretty but AppleCare is excellent to get it working again. Make sure you buy that support until you get the chance to learn it inside-out.


They are fairly "resistant" to viruses and spyware. Being based on Unix is a good start. Not having everything including the kitchen sink tied to the OS is another, but I'm hearing that they are moving that way. The problem with MS is that everything is so integrated that when the music program is told to play an executable it passes it off to the OS which does us "a favor" by running it. Also, the browser is integrated into the OS so any bad websites could cause file deletions, etc. That is what I think is the main cause of most of our problems with MS systems.


Mac's are more expensive for the same power. They do not have the vast array of software to choose from so consider that. I suspect the open-source community is smaller because the market share is but I'm not sure.


I'm no expert, as I said, but I'm sure that for the average non-power home user either system will be fine. The biggest thing I see is whether your favorite recipe program or ammo reloading program will run and will you miss it if not.


My last piece of advice - don't listen to anyone frothing at the mouth either for or against Macs... anyone that emotional about the mac vs pc issue is probably not going to be rational. :yes:


Good luck with the search for info and the decision to buy. I'm sure others will comment here too.


Edit: One more thing. The reason I didn't go Mac on my laptop when I bought it may be something for you to consider... Things I put on one computer will probably not be compatible on the other. That way-cool utility I downloaded or the program I have a license for that allows multiple installs - worthless for the other one.

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Thanks for the reply Jim. You're the kind of guy I was hoping to get an opinion from - someone who has had to deal with them on the support side and can give me some concrete positives and negatives. Balanced judgement on this issue is hard to find. (stay back you frothy-mouthed fanatics)


The main reason I haven't switched, outside of cost I suppose, is the software issue. I'm settled in my ways with all my little programs and I don't much feel like adopting new habits. But I'm also willing to accept the Windows baggage that comes with that, or at least I'm willing to manage it. I'd like to believe though that there is something easier and more reliable out there for the general public who just want to use their computers.


Maybe I should just get her a Unix machine and teach her the wonderful world of command line interfaces. :notworthy:

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Seriously, I installed Ubuntu, then Kubuntu, as a dual-boot on my main computer at home and the interface they have is just as easy to use as Windows is... it's just that you need to be a bit of a wiz if something needs something weird like special permissions or an ini file tweaked... then it's a bit hairy for a "user". It may be worth a look.


Command line interfaces are a depreciated feature for the most part nowdays. :P

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