Only a few days after writing about how everyone mocks my Acer laptop, I moved over to a shiny new MacBook with a 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and 2 gigs of RAM, with Leopard, iLife ’08, and the regular accoutrement of Mac applications. As a former Mac user who switched over to the PC just as OSX was on the horizon, coming back to this platform is like coming back home, but to a sleek, 21st-century home outfitted with the latest gadgets.
My former PC setup
My primary blogging and podcasting computer prior to this MacBook was an Acer Aspire series laptop with a 1.66 GHz processor and an Intel Core Duo (the previous version of the Core 2 Duo processor in my MacBook) and 2 gigs of RAM–not much of a difference, and this was on a computer that I bought 2 years ago. In terms of raw specs, these computers are pretty similar:
Acer Aspire (purchased July 2006)
- 1.66 GHz Intel Core Duo processor
- 2 gigs of RAM
- ATI Mobility Radeon X1400 graphics card
- 120 GB hard drive
- 16x DVD-RW optical drive
- multimedia card reader
- Windows XP SP2 Home Edition
- 4 USB ports, FireWire, video outputs, etc.
Cost: $1,199 (July 2006 at CompUSA)
My new Mac
I didn’t feel the need for a MacBook Pro–the regular MacBook seemed fine for my needs. I also considered a desktop iMac, but while I’d love a desktop Mac for my work in the home office, I’m currently doing most of my computer work in coffee shops, on trains, and in my car between gigs, which is not exactly the ideal set-up for a desktop user! Someday…
MacBook (purchased April 2008)
- 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor
- 2 gigs of RAM
- integrated graphics (no dedicated card)
- 160 GB hard drive
- Leopard and iLife 08
- superdrive optical drive
- 2 USB ports, FireWire, etc.
Cost: $1,299 (April 2008 at Apple Store)
In terms of specs and price, these two computers are quite similar, with a better processor on the MacBook but a better graphics card on the Acer, and a $100 difference in price. The Acer was a fairly high-end laptop when I bought it, and this MacBook is on the lower end of laptop prices for Apple, which is why the price is so close. An Acer with similar specs these days would cost less, making for a bit more of a price differential (though not a huge one).
A premium price for a premium product
Apple computers carry a premium price tag, but hey, so do car models like Lexus and BMW, and people gladly shell out the extra $$$ for the positive benefits of these models. Besides, the Apple price tag isn’t that much more expensive, and the power of the included software (see below) and the lack of a need to purchase an AntiVirus package can nearly equalize the cost.
Software used for blogging and podcasting on PC and Mac
One of the biggest factors delaying my move back to the Mac (besides being cheap in general and not wanting to buy a new computer until I’ve gotten a lot of use out of the old one) was the massive amount of PC software that I had acquired over the years. The cost of repurchasing, upgrading, or finding new alternatives to all of the PC programs listed below was prohibitive, and I approached the transition with quite a bit of trepidation.
I was also determined to make this transition without installing Windows on my Mac. I had decided to make the switch, and I really wanted to use OSX and not use Boot Camp or Parallels to run some Windows programs. I also knew that I wasn’t doing anything on the PC side that wasn’t also commonly done on a Mac, so I figured that I could at least get close to the software set I was already using.
Did I also mention that I’m a cheapskate? Well, I am, and I wanted to make this switch without blowing hundreds of dollars on software. If I could do it for around $100, fine. But was that realistic? After all, I’d accumulated a handsome little pile of applications for my PC blogging activities, and
Essential PC software for me:
- Windows Live Writer (blogging)
- PhotoShop (images)
- Word (writing)
- Sony SoundForge (podcasting)
- Audacity (podcasting)
- SoundSoap (podcasting)
- Windows Movie Maker (video)
My Mac software equivalents:
- ecto (blogging)
- Pixelmator (images)
- GarageBand (podcasting)
- iMovie HD (video)
Now, I could certainly buy PhotoShop for the Mac, and Audacity works on the Mac as well, but at the moment I’m sticking with the pre-installed media tools (with the exception of ecto and Pixelmator–more on these later) and seeing how they work for my workflow. I installed Office 2008 for Mac, mainly because I need Word, Excel, and PowerPoint too much to be fussing with constantly converting these files from a free option like OpenOffice.
I’ll get more into these specific applications in the next installments of this series, but I’ve had little problem adjusting my workflow to the Mac. Nearly every task (system search, copying files, backup, exporting between applications) seems just a little easier and/or more intuitive on the Mac, and the compound effect of all these little changes is pretty significant!
How’s the transition been?
The Mac is, quite simply, an excellent and elegant experience every step of the way. I have been a prolific and productive blogger and podcaster using Windows for the last few years, but after moving over to the Mac (with its seamless integration between iTunes, GarageBand, iPhoto, and iMovie), I now realize how incredibly kludgey my workflow has been these past few years!
The Mac is pretty dominant for my specialties (music, education, and blogging). In fact, I recently had a student tell me that she’s never even used a PC! The Mac platform is a longtime favorite in the educational and musical arenas–I’ve been using Finale on the Mac since the early nineties, and every paper I ever wrote for high school or college was on a Mac.
In short, though I’ve been a PC guy for the last five or six years, I’m no stranger to the Mac environment, and the Mac side of things has gotten a lot nicer since my OS 9.2 computer!
Virtually everything that can be done on the Mac can also be done on the PC, but without the elegance, efficiency, and user-friendliness of the Mac experience. Over the past several years I feel like I’ve had to force the PC to bend to my will. With the Mac, I feel like it’s built for exactly what I want to do. After all, I’m a musician, educator, blogger, and podcaster, so it’s not really that much of a surprise that I’d gravitate toward the Mac, is it?
Next time: Blogging software and workflow on the Mac and PC platforms….