A few months ago, I told you about my adventures with a new Windows-based PC that we had bought. At that time, I promised that my article would begin a series. So, here I return with another chapter in the book. Since then, much has happened in the Macintosh world. Before I get started (since it has been a while, indeed), let me recap the situation.
A few months ago, we were forced to buy (for business reasons beyond our control) a Dell 233 MMX with speakers, a 4 GB hard disk drive, 32 megs of RAM, a 3D video card, a 56K modem, some great software, and a plethora of other add-ons. A nice system, even from the outside. It outperformed my Performa 6200CD in all areas but enjoyment, reliability, and ease of use. And for those major reasons, along with others, I came to love my slow-as-molasses machine even more than before. But now, I must admit, I have come to love the Windows PC world over any other…
Now the tides have changed in the household, and a new machine has appeared. Just last month, I bought myself an Apple G3/233 with 64 MB of RAM, a Sony monitor, and some awesome speakers. I’ll admit, I splurged uncontrollably. But, it gave me a great opportunity to put both machines to the test… monster against monster. Top-o-the-line against top-o-the-line. And if I preferred my old 6200CD (still a great machine, don’t get me wrong) over a Dell Pentium PC, then I figure you know my personal feelings when it comes to the G3-PC face off. Let’s take a look…
Speed is one of the first things we all look for in a computer, no doubt. As most know by now, a G3 processor trounces the Pentium in almost any test. I noticed this upon first examination, and proved it with software titles that rely heavily on pure power. Speed is essential in my work, building Web pages, graphics, and working with text, scanned and printed material. And in all areas, the G3 comes out on top. I also used a game high in 3D graphics, a graphics program, and a scanning application. The programs are the same, just an up-to-date version for the proper platform. Again, the G3 was amazing, surpassing the Pentium in all areas. It was truly exceptional.
But my point here is not to simply compare one PC to one Macintosh. My point is rather to compare platforms as a whole. The real heart of a platform lies in its reliability, ease of use, and enjoyment. And as I said, the Macintosh still excels in all of these areas. I’ve used the Dell machine many hours since my last column, and I’m still happy to get back to the Mac when I’m done. Simple tasks like printing, networking, and hardware configurations can be an immense pain when things go wrong. On the Mac, you have a handful of options at your disposal to fix a problem, and one of them is almost always guaranteed to work. Because of the compatibility and relationship between hardware and software, a Mac’s problems are more easily found and easily fixed. When you run into a problem with a PC, however, the road to a solution can branch in a thousand places. Since using the PC, I’ve recorded a PC to Mac freeze ratio of roughly 4 to 1… and this only counts crashes that took the system down entirely, not the little quirks that really get to you. Furthermore, I was using the PC lightly, hardly ever running more than three programs at once. The Mac underwent heavy use with Internet work, Photoshop, 3D games, and a boatload of other applications, often all running at the same time. Both my Macintosh machines worked beautifully, being optimized with the powerful Mac OS 8.1. Networking was even a snap, as I had my two machines connected on a 10Base-T Ethernet network in less than an hour.
The awesome performance and reliability gave me the power and, more importantly to me, the faith in my machine to get the job done without worry. Even though the PC was capable of accomplishing most of the tasks I needed, I just could not come to trust the OS and software programs to be reliable and compatible. I could imagine myself doing all my work on the PC, but I could not imagine getting as much done and enjoying it as much as I do when I use my Mac.
Recently, there has also been a lot of talk in magazines and Macintosh Web sites about the price gaps between a PC and a Macintosh. Indeed, a Macintosh computer costs about $300-$500 more than its “equivalent” PC counterpart. This holds true for my situation. Sometimes the figure is more; sometimes it’s less, depending on the model. These comparisons, to me, hold no merit whatsoever at this point in the game. It was worth that amount to me to get a reliable machine that I will enjoy. If you really want the best of both worlds, buy a G3 Macintosh with Virtual PC 2.0. That’s exactly what I did, and I have full compatibility when I need it. With a G3 machine and Virtual PC 2.0, the speed of Windows 95 or NT on a Mac rivals that of an actual purebred Windows PC. Astonishing… For a little over $2000, you can now get a G3 Macintosh CPU that can run basically any OS you wish at a fabulous speed. What more could you ask for?
When I got the PC, things were just starting to look up for Apple. Now, Apple has posted another profit (and in the usually disappointing second quarter at that), the Mac G3 is selling wonderfully, and software sales are picking up. Software companies are eyeing the Mac platform with more enthusiasm, and those that already create Macintosh software are reaffirming their commitment. If you’ve kept up with the recent MacCentral reports (http://www.maccentral.com), you’ve also seen that companies large and small are beginning the “Forward Migration” to the Macintosh platform, abandoning the realm of the majority for the realm of the superior.
All of this again leads to the central point of my first part of this series… That simply put, the Macintosh is, overall, the superior platform. It’s not an opinion anymore. It can’t be refuted. Stick with it, and you won’t be disappointed. It’s on the rise, going in the right direction, and prospering. And if you’re not part of the family, we’d love to have you. The Windows world is a stagnant pond… We’re a raging river!