This won’t quite be the Apple bashing that people probably expect. To start off, I don’t hate Apple. I think that they’re a spectacular company that does a lot of very smart things. I think that they build relatively high quality products and do a good job of supporting them.
Even if I don’t buy any of their products, I’m glad that Apple is around. They’re responsible for pushing forward a lot of technologies that are later adapted and improved on by companies I do buy things from.
I also think that Apple makes the right product for a lot of people, maybe even you. An iPod is probably the right music player for more people than any other music player. The average consumer will probably do better with a Mac laptop than the average PC laptop.
I say all this to make a point: I don’t hate Apple as some sort of partisan groupthink. I think they have their place, but it’s just not in my gear bag.
Here’s why: Apple is a mass market company with a simple lineup. Their strategy is to appeal to as many people as possible. That makes sense. They make easy to use computers that do most of what most people would want. As I said before, they’re a good choice for a lot of people.
The problem is that they can’t afford to make products for everyone. They make five different laptops. There are hundreds of models of PC laptops available. What are the odds that the best hardware (forget about software for now…) specs for your specific needs are found in one of those five computers?
In my specific case, my number one priority is to have a high resolution display. The more pixels on the screen, the more I can fit on it, and the more I can get done. Text is crisper, video and photos look better. The system interface takes up less room proportionally. This is critically important to me.
The thirteen inch MacBooks have 1280×800 pixel screens. That’s just over a million pixels, or one megapixel. The screen on my laptop, a Lenovo X200s is 1440×900, which is 1.3 megapixels. Same size screen, but I can fit thirty percent more stuff on it. Incidentally, that’s the same resolution of the fifteen inch MacBook.
I also hate Trackpads. I’ve used a Lenovo one that was okay and some Mac ones are okay. Apple is doing some smart things with multitouch, but I’d still much rather have a trackpoint in the middle of my keyboard. It’s harder to get used to, but better in the long run– you don’t have to move your fingers from the typing position to use the mouse.
Those are the big problems I have with MacBooks. There are minor issues too like lack of a fingerprint reader, suboptimal size to power ratio options, and less upgrade potential.
The iPhone has similar problems for me. Its screen is 320×480. My phone’s screen is slightly larger, but the resolution is 800×480, which is two and a half times better than the iPhone. I also NEED a real keyboard. Soft keyboards have come a long way and are okay for short messages, but I actually write posts and emails on my phone sometimes.
My point isn’t that real keyboards are better than touchscreens for everyone, but rather that if you want a product that is really customized to your needs, you ought to look outside Apple’s sphere. I think that many people have Apple products because they’re cool and trendy, not because they meet their needs better than any other product.
Up until recently, there was one product by Apple that I coveted: OSX. It’s so much better than XP and Vista that it’s not worth the space to explain why. I actually spent two days trying to get it to run properly on my last Thinkpad.
I imagine that some people switched to Apple just for OSX. The hardware wasn’t as good, but they like OSX so much that it was worth the sacrifice.
Personally I find that my operating system has almost no bearing on my productivity. Windows XP is at least as fast as OSX, so I can launch and navigate between my programs quickly and easily. It isn’t as flashy or fun as OSX, but that’s not particularly important to mee.
The one thing I really loved about OSX, though, was its beautiful font rendering. Windows XP renders fonts very poorly, and this makes a bit of a difference on a daily basis.
I recently installed Windows 7 and forced myself to use it for a week. At first I tried to make it look like Windows XP and found it extremely annoying. By the end of the week I started using it as it was intended to be used and have fallen in love with it. I never thought that would be the outcome of the experiment, but it is.
The font rendering is beautiful, the new taskbar is pretty efficient, and there are a lot of new features that I appreciate. Unlike Vista, which seemed to be all flash and no function, Windows 7 feels like it was built by people who actually care about making a great operating system.
If you told me that I could install OSX on my laptop and it would work perfectly, I’d decline and stick with Windows 7.
What’s Best For You?
I mainly wrote this so that when people tell me I should get an iPhone, I can point them here instead of explaining why I will never buy an iPhone or any other (current) Mac product.
At the end of the day I don’t think it matters much which computer you have, as long as you thought about what’s important to you and what isn’t, and made the decision based on that. I personally think that most people could find a Lenovo laptop that serves their needs perfectly.