Tell me again why the Mac is better? 5

I’m still finding the Mac experience surprisingly frustrating. I posted this in the comments, but it’s worth putting it on my main blog to invite people to respond.

My biggest surprise is that I’m seeing few things that are actually better on my Powerbook than my old Thinkpad. Can someone help me out here?

The reasons for preferring the Mac that I’ve heard so far are:

  • Better stability — I believe this is true, but in a week with the Powerbook I’ve had two crashes requiring me to remove the battery, and at least one force quit per day. No unexplained chronic problems like I got from time to time with Windows, but again, it has only been a week.
  • fewer viruses — Definitely true. On the other hand, I used a firewall and virus checker on my Windows machine, and didn’t use Microsoft’s email or Web browser apps. So I never spent any time dealing with viruses on my Thinkpad.
  • Better networking — So far, this has been the biggest surprise. My Powerbook doesn’t recognize the Linksys WiFi access point right next to it, and it often fails to recognize USB hard drives and keychain drives. Since I use USB drives all the time for backup and file transfer, the latter is a royal pain. I also couldn’t get the Powerbook to print over the Internet to a laser printer that worked right away on my Thinkpad. So, how is the Mac actually better in this department?
  • Print to PDF — Useful, but that’s just bundling a feature I already had with Acrobat.
  • Dashboard — Doesn’t do it for me. If I’m going to use widgets, I want them always available on the desktop, rather than requiring a mode switch. I know I can get that with Konfabulator, but I had that on Windows.
  • Spotlight — A nice feature. But the biggest thing I search through is email, and I can already do that with much more powerful features within Eudora.
  • Instant on from sleep — Better, but trivial.

So, what am I missing? Why is a Mac today actually better than a PC? Virtually everything I’ve seen so far is an improvement in basic, out-of-the-box functionality, but not an advantage over the tuned Thinkpad I gave up.

And before anyone flames me, I’ll reiterate that I was a die-hard Mac user for a decade before I (grudgingly) went over to Windows. I’ve just spent $9,000 on Mac hardware and software, and I want to feel that I made the right choice.

5 thoughts on “Tell me again why the Mac is better?

  1. Gen Jul 1,2005 10:36 am

    Kevin, if you are that unhappy with your Mac, I think you ought to consider going back to an IBM/Lenovo machine, especially that new tablet one. I hear great things about it.

    Personally, for me, moving to the Mac has been a revelation. Much greater stability, much better wireless support, instant on from sleep, freedom from viruses, etc.

    I can’t speak to your issues with your USB drives or your problems with your WiFi. All of my experience with USB drives and WiFi have been MUCH, MUCH better than having to deal with drivers in WinXP or the WinXP wireless networking config, which is much less intuitive than the one in OS X.

    My issues with the Powerbook platform are the heat, the weight, and the speed. I think they’re way too hot, weight too much, and definitely should be faster overall for what we pay for them.

    But for me, the OS X experience is so much better for me than WinXP, that I am willing to suffer the issues in order to use OS X. For me, it is THAT much better.

    One thing that was key for me in switching was having friends who supported me as I made the switch- teaching me what to do, suggesting good free apps, etc. If you don’t have a “friendly, neighborhood Mac Geek” near you, you might want to go visit your local Genius Bar. THose problems with the WiFi and the USB drives seem anomalous behavior.

  2. Reinout van Rees Jul 5,2005 3:41 am

    The powerbook is my first laptop, I used linux on the desktop (for 8 years or so) before. My only annoyance is that some keyboard things aren’t handled uniformly or just aren’t working. Alt-tab, not selecting buttons when ‘tab’bing through a web form, ctrl-arrow/ctrl-pageup/down behaviour is different in several programs…

    On the other hand, the instant-on is ideal for me when commuting. You pop in your seat, take out the laptop and you’re typing. Likewise for the “oops, here is my stop, gotta run” quick shutdown.

    Also: the non-existing fan noise. Granted, the IBMs are as good, but I was at a conference last week and a dell laptop was opened right behind me. Sounded like a stressed-out 747 in comparison.

    So: I’m pretty happy with the powerbook. The hardware problems almost sound like real mechanical problems. I’d ask the shop where you bought it. Chance that they’ll look strange too and ‘ll try and see what’s wrong.


  3. Phelps Jul 5,2005 12:25 pm

    I would call the warranty service. If you are having that many crashed and failures to recognize media, it sounds like a hardware problem. You might have a lemon, because I haven’t heard of people having similiar problems with powerbooks.

    (And I’m with you on the Dashboard thing. I haven’t used it since I cruised it the first time.)

  4. Phelps Jul 5,2005 12:27 pm

    Just to be clear — I have to force quit sometimes, but I almost never have to restart. (I have had two since getting Tiger, though, and that is wierd.)

  5. Kevin Werbach Jul 5,2005 1:41 pm

    I get the impression that Tiger (even 10.4.1, which I have) is still buggy and not yet really ready for prime time. I’m hoping that explains some of the problems I’m having. I haven’t had another hard crash requring a restart, so maybe I’ll find better stability than Windows after all.

    I’m loathe to call warranty service, which is bound to be a time suck, but I may be forced to if I can’t get the USB drives working. I use keychain drives all the time to transfer files. Now that I’ve moved all my files over, I also can’t afford to give up the machine for any length of time.

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