The Mac Webb

Why We Love Our Macs

- 2002.04.25

About three times a year, Mac fans begin to anticipate the latest release from Cupertino. Speculation regarding the next Apple release floods across the Internet with speed and energy rarely equaled.

It is a tribute to Apple design sensibilities and Apple fans that this phenomena occurs. I know of no rumor sites for Compaq, Gateway, Dell, or HP. Few message boards discuss the latest Wintel hardware in depth. Only Apple builds computers which capture the imagination of users.

This month is no different. With the World Wide Developers conference looming, rumors have begun to circle the Internet about updates PowerBook G4to the Apple line, most specifically the PowerBook. The current PowerBook G4 is the most likely machine for "something new," having maintained the same basic style and components for approximately 15 months.

Of all of the rumor site speculation, the claims of a G4 PowerBook running at 800 MHz seem to be the most realistic. This machine would essentially be the same PowerBook you can buy today with a boost in speed, hard drive, and memory.

The most interesting thing about this speculation is the angry flood of posts written in reaction. Checking all of the major Apple fan sites, the consensus seems to be that with Wintel laptops boasting 1.7 GHz chips, 64 MB video, and DDR RAM, Apple can no longer use the "Megahertz Myth" to explain the difference in power. Fans somehow feel that Apple has lost the edge and will lose business to less expensive Wintel laptops with greater power and capabilities.

While I would certainly love to see a major product update from Apple, I still consider Apple products far and away superior to Wintel offerings. A PowerBook is more than the sum of its parts. My lowly PowerBook G4/400 has become an extension of me, fulfilling all of the tasks I require of a computer without any of the difficulties I associate with my Wintel boxes. Running OS X has been a joy, with a personal record of 65 days uptime stopped only by an OS X update that required a restart.

My new employer provided me with a Wintel machine for corporate work this week. Sitting on my desk is a Dell Inspiron 8200 with the following specifications: Pentium 4 1.7 GHz processor, 15" UXGA display, 1024 MB DDR 266 MHz, 64 MB Nvidia NV17 3D video for Inspiro, 40 GB hard drive, floppy drive, Windows XP Professional Edition, integrated 10/100 ethernet, 56K modem, DVD/CD-RW 16x combo, and Office XP Professional.

This machine is the current state of the art in Wintel laptops and has some wonderful components. With the huge screen, super video card, and large RAM number, I could certainly consider this machine to be in desktop class. On paper, my PowerBook G4 would look foolishly obsolete.

This should be no contest.

Strange as it will seem to many, I would not trade my PowerBook for this machine. While the component parts are superb, the machine has none of the elegance or design sense of my PowerBook. Blocky and heavy, this machine weighs around 8 pounds, runs extremely hot, is extremely noisy, and feels altogether rickety. Dell simply threw the best components into a case and created a computer. I can not imagine a moment's thought going into the overall usability of this machine.

While Windows XP is a strong operating system, I still deal with driver conflicts, security problems, and lack of stability. After opening the box on Monday, I immediately went to the Dell Web site and looked for updates. I updated the trackpad, system BIOS, LAN card, and video drivers. This machine was ordered last week and arrived on Monday - why were these updates not included?

I have yet to bring this machine home in the evening; I still bring my PowerBook to the office. I have both machines sitting side by side and perform 90% of my work on the PowerBook. When I travel, I am still amazed by reaction I get from people admiring the PowerBook. It is quite simply the perfect computer.

In conclusion, Apple fans are fanatic about the machines they love. We want to continue to use the most impressive machines on the market. We love to show off the great blend of hardware, software, and design sense that have long been an Apple tradition.

Unfortunately, some are losing faith in machines that are difficult to justify on components and performance alone. I understand that many are having trouble defending purchases of laptops which seem slower on paper.

My contention is that pure numbers have never been the thing that made us Mac fanatics. It has almost always been possible to build machines that were cheaper and had better, stronger, faster components than an Apple computer.

What Mac fanatics love is the overall design sense and computing experience. For my money, no current offering will make me pass on my PowerBook. LEM

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