MacAir or Laptop PC?

depending on the use of said computer, i would promote a linux distro (there had to be one of us on here) over both the others) sadly the step into Linux scares most people because of the "geek" image, but there are various linux distros that suit ALL, from children only(secure browsing and chat) to power users and data recovery software used by myself and various government security agencies..Mac is a pretty OS that is expensive and fashionable, Windows is the default option for most, but has to many known issues to mention and poor old Linux with all the image that goes with it.I still use windows 2000 as it was one of the best OS available (mine is a tailored version that still does all that the latest OS's do), I have another Mac 10.4.11 and then various linux distros for mt work. hope this helps...sort of

I don't think there's ALWAYS a difference between "free" and "good," but in my experience Apple's hardware and software suffer fewer problems than the Windows stuff, perhaps because there's a single source of support.

You do have to pay for it, though. If that's a problem, then by all means stick with Windows or that other stuff.

Good Unix is not free, BTW

@Finn - Windows 7 automatically reboots without asking you when it has updated Windows.

I've never had this problem. In fact, it keeps asking me if I want to reboot now or should it ask again in x minutes. In the windows update section of control panel, I have automatic updating disabled. My PC looks for updates but leaves download and installation to be done manually.

I don't much like Windows either, particularly since a lot of the good old stuff like Outlook Express is no longer supported and the replacements are rubbish.

My father, who is 94 and has failing eyesight recently bought an iPad3 as an improvement on his big screen. I am starting to work with it to help him familiarise himself and am very impressed so far. Potentially Ipad could replace PC and MAC client machines, as long as apps are available to do the things you want.

Hi Nick,

Apple makes really good looking material that is waaay over prized. It used to be quite good build quality but that's no longer the case. Have a look at James' comment once more, regarding the pile of hardware he had to repair/replace. And he's definitely not the only person seeing those problems.

Whatever way you decide to go it's always best to google around and check out the forums for a best series or model, having the least problems and best results or performance (according to your needs) whether Mac or PC.

Then there's your choice of needs and choice of operating system. If you're a hardcore gamer you better stick with the platform (OS) the game was developed for. Most often this is M$ Windoze. In that case you'll also need high performance hardware like a fast graphics adapter with enough separate graphics memory (*RAM), a fast enough processor, enough RAM, etc. Now if you don't game you have many more options and can save a bundle.

Open/closed: The biggest disadvantage of Apple is that practically nothing is 'open', hardware as well as software, it's all proprietary and it's all payware. Windows? Almost as bad and don't even think about it. M$ willfully creates bloatware in order to render older hardware obsolete and worse, releases what could be called Beta-versions of their crapware as general release and then let the public (their clients!) test the software and find the bugs. Shameless!

Just like Nick A-H I'm very much a proponent of so-called 'free software' as well as 'open source software' (a somewhat different philosophy distinguishes the two). He mentioned Ubuntu Linux (should have written Ubuntu 'GNU-'Linux, as Linux is the name of only the kernel of the complete operating system, GNU is the remainder of the OS user land), which is only one choice out of many good distributions of all available GNU-Linux operating systems. These OS'es are so-called free software and many thousands of talented software developers give much of their time to create and support these products.

GNU-Linux distributions are made to work on the PC platform and thus if you buy a high quality PC Laptop (possibly without Windows, which will save you money, or if Windows comes included you may refuse it and ask for a refund, French law allows you!), and then install a free software OS and user software, you will have a high quality product at comparatively low cost.

GNU-Linux is a Unix clone (Gnu's Not Unix) and it may surprise you that Apple's OS-X is based on Unix combined with a fair amount of Next-Gen ideas. Which brings me to the operating system that I'm using, which is PC-BSD. This is a pure Unix system based on FreeBSD. The advantage of *BSD operating systems over GNU-Linux is that everything is developed under one umbrella. Every bit of software written for any of the BSD's needs to pass several tests of quality, security, compatibility and dependency and all of that is governed by a select group of BSD developers.

The advantage is obvious, on the other hand, one disadvantage is that the BSD user base is smaller than the GNU-Linux user base and there are less developers. So *BSD may sometimes lack drivers for the latest hardware, a problem that may play somewhat less with GNU-Linux, less again with Windows and which is virtually non-existent with Apple because they do both hard- and software.

An advantage of BSD is that it comes with a software choice of around 20,000 free(!) programs, and it can run most Linux software which is free software as well. If you have the need to run any specific programs that are only available for Windows or Apple you could install virtualization software like Virtual Box or other and install/run Win or OS-X in a virtual environment and run those programs as on a PC or Apple. GNU-Linux let's you do the same.

You can install PC-BSD at choice from DVD, CD, USB, etc. Its installer has been declared to be the easiest of all by experts and users alike. Here some links:

And here the PBI (Push Button Installer) Library of older PC-BSD versions (the new library is called AppCafé) just to have an idea:

Enjoy your computing!


My last Windows machine was an absolutely terrific HP 6000 business laptop. The support was great. Over the three years of the extended warranty HP replaced absolutely every part of the machine (including the screen twice, in Paris).

Last year I changed to a MacBook Air 13", 4GB, 256GB SSD. Basically, I never have to reboot it. There is no such thing as a blue screen. The app store seems to be virus free. It just works, and it syncs with my iPhone and my iPad.

Nothing against Windows especially, if you're willing to do the maintenance and upkeep required, and can live with the general clunkiness. Apple has done away with most of that. But OS X is Unix, and anybody who's ever had a Unix system (as I have) knows there's nothing better.

Common sense says you keep a robust antivirus (I use Norton, as I always have) and backup (nothing beats TimeMachine plus Sugarsync, far as I can tell.)

Somewhere there may be an Apple user or two who might go back to Windows, but not me. Not a chance. Your mileage may vary.

There may be a Windows app here and there for which there is no Mac equivalent. For me it's Quicken, so for that I use Parallels. Works fine.

John Pearce

Sarasota, FL

If you are not in a hurry, maybe you could think of buying a refurbished Mac. I've got a big 27'' iMac 20% off, last time I bought one.

One of my best friends was a studio manager at the La Voix de Jura newspaper. Responsible for buying and maintenance of Mac and PC equipment. He told me pc is 50% cheaper initial investment, but obsolete twice as fast. And if you look at time lost for bugs, virusses and user unfriendlynes, PC's in the end work out simply more expensive than Macs. Unless you live in Asia and get paid 2$ an hour. Like those 85% PC ownwers someone wrote about earlier.

If you like quality, versatility and plain fun in everyday use... buy a Mac. That said, my 1.5 year old iPad is the best machine I bought in the last 20 years. Even is there is a much better one now. And when I had a problem with line appearing on my screen, they just gave me a new one. Even personalized it for me, like my old one, for free.

Hi Nick, In my trading days I probably spent more on Mac kit than most here, from the outset, in the days when a screen was £5000 alone, and Quark had to be purchased under license ie one per station...we did have a PC server but being in the media business, like Neil, it was Macs all the way.

However whist the build quality, security, bespoke software etc were an issue in those days, as Nick says PCs are now pretty robust, and it is the operating system and Applications which need thought. Nick champions 'open source' as do I, especially when it comes to applications such as Inkscape, and the truth is, most things are cross or indeed multi platform and most software is free or very cost effective.

It comes down to budget, and if you want the designer caché of Apple products. I may be worth considering making a saving by buying a good solid branded PC laptop, and with the savings ... buy a decent printer... 2TB external hard drive... Armarni suit and a sports car...just don't expect to pick up chicks without an ipad!


60 year old Ron... till midnight!

Are you Mac Ron? And happy birthday too

Dear Nick,

this is, the proverbial 'no brainer!'

Simply put if you want a very easy life, without the constant virus worry hassles of Windows, then OSX and Apple hardware or Ubuntu Linux on PC hardware are good ways to go. If you are prepared to spend a little more time, then Linux can be run in a very similar vein, but you need to identify what applications are going to be needed first. Linux will save you a lot of money, but you need to be aware of what you want to use it for. if it is for web browsing, email, document creation etc then Linux is just fine. You could even reuse some older hardware, and save even more.

If you do go down the Windows route, make sure you have very good anti-virus/firewall/malware protection, you update very regularly and constantly monitor what is installed and running on the device. Also the first thing you need to do is un-install all the rubbish that comes with a new Windows PC, as it affects performance considerably.

MacAir is neat and compact but if it develops a fault it is expensive to repair. The Macbook Pro 13 inch is close in price but more flexible and due to its component design can still be kept going in its old age.

Only use windows if you are exceedingly calm and have lots of spare time.

Got to say that 92% of the world don't buy BMW's either.

Early on, the Mac was a niche machine as nearly everyone in the graphic design and print industries adopted them as they ran, first, Pagemaker and then Quark Express which were de facto software programmes. Also, downtime is money, and Apple made the more reliable equipment. They don't just source the cheapest bits and stick them in a box, everything is under their control. I think you can look at various sectors and find that PC's or Macs hold dominant positions as, for instance, in geomapping I think it is Sun Microsystems.

The best solution, as for cars, is not to buy a machine but to lease it and back in the UK as this is fully tax deductable even if you are a sole trader -I don't know what the situation is here in France.

Some very interesting comments. I always though Macs where better built too + I prefer their design. Having said that I've had 6 PCs and have bought 4 over the last 7 years. Sounds odd, I'll explain... I simply buy the best value for money at a given time, not the most advanced on the market, my last buy was a 17" HP for a little over 400€. I find that using them constantly and with the huge increase in software size and demand, that they just can't cope after 3 years or so. Well they cope but when I turn on my 7 year old Toshiba, it takes ages to load everything and is incredibly slow, the screen is old format too. Yes it works and if I only had that one I'd be able to check emails and do translation work etc but it's soooo slow that it'd lose me money! In short I prefer to update every few years, will more likely be every 3 to 5 years now I'm moving away from translation work, that way I don't need extended guarantees, there's always an old one for the kids to use/play on/watch Tractor Tom etc. and I keep a modern "no kids" one that's fast and hassle free. I believe that they're all now built on the same line as other consumer electrical goods - ie they have a built in lifespan of 7 years...!

Also worth considering. I always assumed they were built to last, but sounds like otherwise now. Thanks

Whilst what Catharine says is true, I will add that their hardware is not built like it used to be. Over the last 5 years, I have repaired or replaced 5 apple displays, 2 keyboards, Catharine's iMac screen and 2 DVD burners, one of which was hardly ever used. I look after my equipment so there is no other reason for these failures that poor build quality, as I stare at my Apple 30 inch display now I can see it is developing a similar fault the the 3 previous ones. The difference now being that it is out of it's extended Applecare warranty and if it completely fails it will need to be replaced with the 900 quid 27" display. Worth remembering too is that every time the screen fails I have to drive it a two hour round trip to my nearest Apple center. I see you work in Paris so you will have less of a p[problem with after sales service as you'll be able to drop in if you have a problem.

If you buy a Mac, you should get the Applecare extended warranty with it, and that's not cheap either.

Worth considering also that virus's are beginning to appear on the mac platform now slowly but surely.

I guess that you use CAD software for you line of work? Check that whatever you use will run on a Mac. I use software that requires that I run Windows on my Mac on occasion, that's an added expense for that software too.

The upside is that the user interface is easy and intuitive.

The free OS Ubuntu is also easy and intuitive and will run on standard equipment.

I can see you are in two minds there Catharine.
Yeah I’m non tech too. My catch phrase is “I hate computers” and as such just want something that does what it says on the tin.
I think in the past the price has been an issue, but as you say, add up buggeration factor time and you’re probably winning.

Mac Mac and Mac.

Will give you a hassle free experience with excellent after sales service and support. As a non techy person I would never, ever go for anything else. And when I say non techy, I am really and truly someone who can barely operate the toaster. For me, the design aspect is key. And I don't just mean how the thing looks. It's the little things, for example the magnetic bit on the power cable - makes it far easier to connect. For numpties like me who would happily try and put the cable in the wrong hole, these small details make the user experience pain free. Plus, I reckon if you added up the time your average windows user spends dealing with viruses and other issues and factored that into the cost equation, Mac's would look cheap at twice the price!

Gotta love it when somebody asks 'should I buy a Mac? ' :) All the Mac users come out and tell you how amazing they are.

They never mention that Apple is so amazing they now have a 15% market share in wealthy continents and its as high as 1.5% in regions like Asia.

So between 85% and 98.5% of the world seem to think Apple is NOT the best choice for various reasons.

I would say having 85% of the world think they are NOT the best solution is a pretty good place to start.


Thanks Brian agree with most of what you say and will look at it from that point of view.

The thing about cars and colour though - I've known my OH turn down a car on the basis of colour before (once bitten and all that).

Thanks for your input

Good objective advice. The Airbook is really tempting, the price is obviously a factor, but as you say, you get what you pay. I too like the idea of the reliability of the Mac.

Still wait to hear from a few others before I make the decision though.