Welcome to 2007!
What an interesting article.
I thought I would add my experience as someone who is new to music recording but has spent a lot of time with PC's.
A bit of background first. I own my own IT company. We support the windows platform which is Windows XP, Windows 2003 Server and at the time of writing Vista has just been released.
I started getting into this stuff to support my wife as she has always wanted to record her own music. This lead me to go and find products to make a home studio. I purchased all our stuff before I read this article.
I did some diging on the internet (google search) and quite quickly found the m-audio web site. Then I found the FW 1814. It had some some useful addition product you could buy to go with this. It just happened to be protools m powered. I thought well 'why not'. I also picked up a condenser mic. After ordering all the gear it finally arived, (I live in New Zealand).
I had already bought a firwire card and installed it into my home desktop PC. I installed the driver (once :-)) and plugged it all in and installed pro tools. At first pro tools was a bit daunting, but after about an hour of fiddling I was able to record somthing. The biggest issue I had was that my self built PC was so noisy from all the cooling fans I had added it made a buzz on the track I layed down.
So then I went to my laptop, upgraded its harddisk to a 7200 rpm internal hardisk and plugged into the laptops Firewire port and had some very unstable recordings. Dam the IBM laptop, it was very new, but must have had a very basic firewire chip, this was not obvious at first and after quite some time (a lot) I replaced the FW cable and then added a pcmcia via chip set FW card. Then things became normal again.
This was the single biggest issue on the PC side I had. I can only imagine that the mac laptops come with a desent FW chip set like texas instuments or the less well known via chipset (which seems to be working fine) If anyone knows what the default mac laptop chipset is please let me know. So after that I also bought a good book on how to use pro tools from amazon and I was good to go. I needed the book as I had know idea what 'bounce to disk' meant :-).
So the other night we did some recordings with friends at our place and it all worked like a charm. We recorded 1 vocal at a time and the same with the base guitar, lead and rythum. Then using the fw 1814 and protools we did a rough mix and burnt it to and audio cd all from the laptop. It sounded pretty good for a first go if I do say so myself. So then imagine my surprise when I read gina's article today. I have to say that in general she is pretty close to the mark. Setting up the PC or laptop side is no joke unless you have a certain level or experience with the PC platform and not everyone has this. On that note regarding pro tools there are some amazing plug ins that come with it )or you can purchase) that it would appear are not available on any other software platform. For example Serato Pitch n Time. This can change the pitch and speed of a recording without the vocal turning into a 'chipmonk' voice. This product and most other plugins come in a Mac and PC version. But I did see a product that at time of writing only supported the Mac, i think it was idrum for protools.
Anyway from this experience and im a PC fan, I would have to say I agree with Gina, buying a mac would be a lot easier to get up and running, or it might mean weather you actually get recording or not.
Any way thanks for an interesting article. I certainly learned a few more things about audio engineering, so thanks for that.
PS lets see how well Vista can emulate the mac :-)