When you said you were thinking about getting a Mac, I was delighted that you were even considering the idea.
Thing is, I know how easy it is for me to sound like some mad ranting fist-waving Mac evangelist, and I don’t want to do that at all.
But I do think you should buy a Mac. Here’s why.
You told me that what you need is a writing, browsing and emailing machine. Which means you don’t need anything terribly fancy or expensive.
But this machine will be the center of your business. It needs to be lightweight, as your work tends to involve a lot of travel, and it needs to be very reliable. You do a lot of presentations in front of influential people; you need something that won’t crash on you part-way through.
So you could get a low-cost Windows laptop, a copy of MS Office, and you’d be pretty well set up.
But you’ll have no technical support department to help you any more. When your Windows machine gets overwhelmed with spyware and malware and viruses and worms and all the other gunk that inevitably arrives — and I know it will, I have seen dozens of Windows machines in my local area with these symptoms — you will have to sort it out. Or call me, and ask me to sort it out. Which I shall try and do, because you’re my brother and I’d do anything to help you out, but I won’t enjoy it.
If you choose a Mac (I’d suggest an iBook would suit you fine), you are less likely to need support services.
Note I use the term less likely. There’s a reason for that. My iBook has served me well for three years, never breaking nor needing any serious maintenance. It has not been infected with anything dangerous, and I can’t remember the last time it had a kernel panic (the Maciverse term for a Really Bad Crash).
But I know some other people, friends of mine, whose iBooks have caused them trouble. Usually, it’s hardware-related. A motherboard that needs replacing, or some other internal component that fails. If you’ve paid for the Applecare insurance service, you should be OK - repairs will be free, and in some circumstances you’ll get a replacement machine free of charge too.
My point is: sometimes Macs break, and I think it’s important to make that clear before you go and buy one. I’m not the kind of raving Mac fan who will try to brush over, or avoid this. Macs can break. They can be expensive to repair. But I still think you’re better off with one.
Why? Because it’s the software that’s the main attraction of the Mac. The operating system really is impressive when compared to Windows - which is not to say it’s perfect. Just better than Windows, in my opinion. It’s easy to understand and use, and yes, you can learn all the new keyboard commands in a couple of days. I know they feel weird when you’re borrowing my machine, but trust me: you can pick them up, and teach your fingers to use them.
If you have the impression that there are no applications available for Mac OS X, I suggest you take a look around Hyperjeff’s software database, which lists 13,000 free, shareware and paid-for software packages for just about every computing task you can think of. I know the kind of work you do, so I think Office for Mac, iLife, and iWork will cover almost all your needs. You might be interested in some of the other little extra utilities but we can cover that side of things later.
I’ve tried to say this before, to other people, and never seemed to say it in exactly the right way: I think you should use a Mac because it will do what you need, more reliably than a Windows computer will.
I do not think Macs are always better computers, or that they never fail or break (because I know they do), or that they are cheap (they are clearly not).
You will need to pay extra for Applecare, for backup (absolutely essential), and for some applications. But when you add up the benefits, the time you won’t spend fixing things, and the value of all the pre-installed software that comes with the machine, it means you’re getting what I’d call excellent value for money.
Good luck with the new business; and happy computer shopping. I hope you get something you like, Mac or not.
Love, your little brother
Back me up here, folks