MacAir or Laptop PC?


Would anyone be able to give me a guide as to the pros and cons of a Mac Airbook and a PC Laptop.

Apart from the aesthetics of Mac which I think in all terms are far superior, are there any real operating advantages /disadvantages (or other) of one over the other.


Mac, Mac Mac!!!! Much more reliable, less inclined to virus, much better quality

Due to the expense of mac's...all of them...I would expect a longer life...though saying that we have two full size mac' is 8 years the other 6 years...I am just about to chuck out a Dell that is not yet 3 years old...replaced the motherboard when it was 18 months...and the guy managed to cause me more probs...the cursor jumps everywhere...and now its overheating so badly it blacks out every couple of hours...have replaced it with a MacBook...husband just ordered his replace a part because we have the Times on line..and reading it via a clunky...the pads are more user friendly for reading books/papers etc.....though I have to say....I love PCs...been using Macs for 10 years...but PCs for much longer...and I love a that works that is!

That doesn't surprise too much, as it's one of the compromises you make for having a device this small and light. I see them very much like a netbook. I also think most devices these days have a shelf life of between 3-5 years, and if you specify the model you need correctly, then it should not need upgrading.

It is worth knowing about though before you buy one, so that is good find Finn, and it may mean you go for a Macbook Pro instead.

Not sure if you have seen the latest Macbook Air releases, but they look even more attractive now with uprated processors etc.Compared to the oppositions Ultrabook offerings , I have to say , even if you wish to run Linux on them, they are looking like a very good buy.

Brief new product overview


I've been using MacBooks for the last 7 years, I personally never had any other laptop, and I cannot truly complain. No computer is perfect, and my advice would be to really figure out WHAT you are going to use it for. In my case, during my studies I did a lot of courses in audio and video editing, and OSX is much more efficient when it comes to running certain softwares for those types of things. Otherwise, the downsides are that sometimes files or software are not compatible, icons or images get moved around when transferring files, or you need an adapter to connect to a projector and such.

Even though I no longer have those classes or necessarily use those programs anymore, I still know that I will never turn back and when my current MacBook dies (knock on wood!) I will get a MacBook Pro, hopefully. Even my husband and my dad now say they can't wait to switch because of the constant hassle. But again, it depends on what you want to do with your computer, so make a list of pros and cons on each side and good luck!

That service works perfectly with Linux as well, as it just uses the pptp protocol. Just follow the instructions for the Mac OSX setup, as it is very similar. If you get stuck, contact me and I will explain / show how it's done.



I use a proxy server from TVexpat. It costs 15 euros a month, but it makes the iPlayer believe I'n in the UK. Worth every penny!

if you use firefox there are a few ip hidder add ons for watching UK TV anonymosX this gives you 500mb of veiwing so cori and eatenders(if you must) are available

I use a recently bought new HP netbook, but not from choice, it was only 209 euro and that's all I had at the time. I use only Linux UBUNTU , not windows, as it runs faster, is safer and cheaper to use open source software of all kinds.(though I wish I'd installed it alongside windows because I miss Itunes so can't use my IP hider for watching UK TV at all.) Price almost totally dictates, but if I were able to afford a mac book it would definitely be MINE!!!

We have a stupid number of computers and laptops....two fixed full size mac' in our French in our UK we both have laptop dells....and I have a macbook....Ive used computers for ever...since the first a touch typist and have got used to both systems....I dont need specific programmes for work...I love the reliability of macs....the lack of constant viral attacks...and the smoothness...but then I find the basic PC laptops simpler and more user friendly...despite what Steve Jobs claimed...I dont think the Macs are instinctive...I would say PCs are...but if I could only keep would be a mac...

Seems to be a bit of a consus emerging here. Us pro designers are on the Mac side based on many years experience. Whether, as Apple builds more and more machines, they can keep up the quality remains to be seen. My wife hates her HP Compaq, having had an iMac from the start but budgetery restraints wouldn't stretch to a new Mac or a pre owned one which was a major mistake. Being semi-retired my 5 year old G4 was bought on ebay 2 years ago for €160, the laptops hold their price very well in comparison to desk top machines. Jan Henkes has a good idea to get round the dreaded Microsoft and Windows but viruses may still be a big problem. At least you can tap into the friendly and knowledgeable advice here on SFN!

I've been on Macs for over twenty years now, and have worked professionally on both, Mac OS and Windows machines.

Your question implies that you are concerned about the limitations (compatibility etc.) of a Mac vs a PC, and that you intend it for general use. If this is so, go for Mac Airbook. We have had it for over a year now, it's a wonderful and reliable machine.

There aren't any compatibility issues these days, Mac software allows exporting to cross-platform formats (PDF etc.) and to MS formats (Word etc). This is built-in, no additional expense. You can install Chrome and Firefox if you don't like Safari. And pre-installed Preview (it's an application, not just viewer) now has features on a par with Photoshop. I'd also recommend investing in iWork. With Lion, Apple started retailing its applications separately, each below 20 euros, just choose what you need most - Pages for word-processing and simple graphics, Numbers for spreadsheets and Keynote for presentations.

Recent scares about Mac viruses and malware weren't about Mac-specific viruses, but malware downloaded from cross-platform software, like Adobe. You have to be careful about security anyway.

There is also an issue of where you buy, not just what you buy. I'd recommend avoiding big shops, [mobile] phone retailers and certainly supermarkets. Mac or PC, you will need technical support, and no big retailer will have good apres ventes, as others here have said. Find a small to medium specialist shop that doubles up as a repair-maintenance business. It should be within reasonable driving distance. If you don't travel to UK on a regular basis, buy your main machine in France, and perifery/accessories on the internet or in supermarkets. When visiting the small retailer, find out if you can sign-up for telephone support and/or servicing on you premises, many do and it's good value when there is trouble.

As for 'build-to-last', I'm afraid it's a thing of the past. We need to think now in terms of 'last-for-the-while', meaning that machines become obsolete within a few years. Two years ago I discarded, with tears in my eyes, my 1991 LC, still working in OS 7, word processor and a few games. That's twenty years of use! When I serviced my 2008 iMac recently, the guy at EasyMac in Caen said, 'that's the last time, from next year they stop making spares for this model'.

So, when you do your costings, expect three-five years of use before you have to replace it again.

Hope this helps.

Sorry to get into this late in the day… but I'm just reminiscing.

For those who have used both PC and Mac there may be a dilemma. But, since 1984/5, when we first tooled up our graphics studio there has been no doubt… it would have to be Mac. Apple set the professional scene. PCs just didn't support the industry standard software…Quark, Illustrator & Photoshop. The first full workstations cost £18,000 a pop and working designers (doing it the 'old' way) needed a £3,000 training course to drive the set-up and (I'm amazed at this) they didn't even have font smoothing in those days. But within a few years the Typesetter and Film Planner were professions of the past.

I was asked by the head of the Graphics Department at West Sussex College of Design (remember Mike Skinner Ron?) to explain to the college's 'top table' and, unfortunately the accounts department, why it was so important to invest in Macs for their new graphics department computer suite. I spent an hour or so explaining how things were developing and about the importance of authentic font libraries (and stuff) to people who had only been used to looking at green text on black screens, why they should provide for their students the same kit they would be sitting in front of on day two of their first job (day one was always tidying the Letraset cabinet). I even invited the key players to our agency to see our Macs at work.

All that my chat to the college Principal and the head of accounts generated was the final comment… that, whilst they could see the needs of the profession - they had to follow the "wisest use of budget route". We voiced our strong objection and opinion but Mike and I lost the battle… PCs were of course far cheaper but, in those days much less capable too. Eventually though the war was won…. But at the time the feet on the ground result turned out to be some very disgruntled students and some somewhat aghast potential employers. Imagine the studio the interview... "What do you mean you had to learn on a PC?!" It was, for the college, a very embarrassing episode. OK it may not have taken long for them to realise and switch to a Mac suite, but an horrendous financial cost and a lot of finger pointing in professional and Further Ed teaching circles.

These days, of course, you can scarcely get a fag-paper between Macs and PCs capability-wise and the software straddles the platforms. Odd then that as an ex agency creative I still wouldn't be seen dead using a PC.

For me It's still a bit like asking Jensen Button why he has opted for the Mac (in his case that would be McLaren) for his next grand prix rather than his grandad's Austin Allegro. He wants to win - and more… he wants to do it with panache!


Sorry, seems I was lying. My first Mac was a 'Mac Plus'. Just found it in the attic, along with its carry-on bag that I used to take it home after work, in Amsterdam. It has 1MB internal memory. I believe. The OS was on a floppy disk, as was the wordprocessor. Wow, this does take me back a while.

I just took two Mac Mini's to the shop to get them upgraded. They were getting too slow for the modern software. For the oldest one - without Intell chip - we had to find an old version of Firefox to run on it. It was not easy, but the owner can now do his banking again. Maybe one year, two max before he'll have to get another mac.

The other one, my son's, was so cluttered with mess and downloads (it had just 1.5 of its 60 Gb left), it was getting quite slow. I had it cleaned, some RAM added, used Time Machine to put back only the vital stuff (30 gigs of music!) and it now runs Snow Leopard very smoothly. Good for another two or three years.

We now have two iMacs and 2 Mac Mini's running in the house, without a hitch. I've been on Mac for ever (my first one was a Mac Classic, 1987, running on a server). On the internet since about 1992, have not run antivirus software sinds 1995 and never had a problem with the system that a reboot wouldn't fix. Except once, when the 475LC (I think) wouldn't start because the internal battery was dead. Dealer changed it and off we went.

Well, come to think of it, to be honest I have had some hardware trouble in these 20 years, like an 'airport' wifi router that died for no reason and one ethernet card crash, but in each case it was swiftly dealt with by Apple Europe. Plus one or two problems to do with lightning, where the 'alimentation' (don't know the English word) died. In one case the insurance repaid me 1250 for a three year old 'Tournesol (the one that looks like a design lamp with the half sphere and pivoting screen) that i bought for 2750. With the insurance money, I bought a brand new 10x faster iMac!

But anyway... don't talk to me about how Mac is overpriced machinery just made to look good. It is simply not true.

I think your question should not be 'Mac or PC' but just: 'Which Mac?'

I think that a lot of technology is not built to last especially in the world of computers. My Macs have in the past lasted for 10 years but all have come to the end of their useful lives as the software is updated and more powerful applications need to be run. I can't use the latest versions of Firefox, Flash and any of the Adobe programmes as I am running OS10 on a Mac G4 with a PowerPC processor.

I have worked out the last G4 cost £2.00 a week, not expensive as nothing went wrong with it! I had similar experiences as I ran a design studio when they ran 24/7. Also, nothing is for free, there will always be some payback, otherwise how can the people who write the programmes earn a living?

Just don't get me started on my wife's HP laptop!!!!!

Ahumm Joyce,

I clearly remember my neighbors with their brand-new iMac (sporting the before last version of Macintosh OS before they switched to OS-X which is, praise, based on UNIX!). They used to call me three times a week to help them get the thing going again. That was not only a vile piece of utter crap hardware but also had an operating system not worth the name. During that period Apple lost a large percentage of its user base, and for a reason. Every manufacturer has had its ups and downs and also Apple has had several of either.

At that time I ran IBM's OS/2 on a 386DX with 8MB of RAM that didn't give a d*** what I threw at it. Once I had 46 simultaneous internet saves and downloads running that all came in well (after many hours of DL-ing over an old POTS connection). That was with the OS/2 native Netscape 2.02 browser, I've never since seen a more stable combination.

Nowadays browsers as well as our OS'es limit our number of connections and for a reason, if you hack the limits the systems risks crashes. In spite of nowadays computing power and ridiculous amounts of RAM.

I must agree that Mac's design is second to none, so is Ferrari's which I will buy neither, for like reasons. I'll stick with my Hiace... :-)


Oh goodness, I really really didn't want to post this, but come on John, "there is no such thing as a Good Free Unix". That is just not a sustainable argument, OpenBSD , FreeBSD, but I shall say no more. I'm old school Unix as well, and have worked with Solaris when it was known as SunOS, but the aforementioned are also extremely good. I'm assuming the distinction between Unix and Linux here, as that would be even more silly.

I also wondered about the HP6000, that had every component changed? Surely if it had been built properly, you wouldn't have had to take it back at all? The support does sound really good, but it would be better if you didn't need it, or less of it ;-)

All hardware fails, and my experience of many types of PC hardware is simply the more you pay , the less likely it is to fail. I have now converted to using Lenovo hardware for my Linux machines, and they never go anywhere except with me, certainly not back to the repair shop. They are expensive though, and are on a par with Apple hardware. However, my iPad needed a new universal adapter after only 2 years, but I have old Dell laptops that have never caused an issue, so as always your mileage will vary.

So anyway back to some recommendations:

Apple Macbook Air = Good choice

Lenovo IdeaPad U310 or U410 + Linux = Good Choice

Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook + Linux = Reasonable choice, with caveats (Dell hardware is not always the most reliable)

Generic PC + Windows = Reasonable choice , with caveats (Cheaper, heavier, less reliable, and all the issues that Windows brings)



I've been using my Macbook Pro now for 6 years, and also have an iMac. I went back to Ireland for 3 weeks and had to use my sisters PC laptop, the screen froze the system crashed and the browser internet exporer was awful . OMG I couldn't wait to get back to my Macbook, I could'nt stand it. I used a PC were I worked for 25 years so I do know about PC's. Apple Mac is far supierior to the PC, its reliable, safe, and hassle free. Safari browser is great as is the Mac OS X Lion. So if you are looking for all of these factors, do not hesitate to buy a Mac, its design is second to non.