It’s about 6 weeks since I took the leap and switched my work setup from my familiar and trusted Windows setup and got myself a Mac and given the amount of interest in work setups with sites like The setup and also the amount of reading I did before I switched I thought I’d give some of my thoughts.
The old setup
To start with my old work setup was well, pretty dated. A desktop PC that is so old I’m not even sure when I got it, I think I got after I finished Uni but I can’t be sure so that would put it at around 7 years. As with any PC it had it’s fair share of hardware upgrades and was working happily, if a little nosily, plodding along with windows XP. One of my big issues was the fact that even buffered it was really struggling to play a youtube video without jumping – not great. Add to that the fact that I spend a lot of time away from home with my job I had a laptop – a Lenovo Thinkpad – that I got and had kept from my first job out of uni, so that was probably about 6 years old, and still an XP machine. The real push over the edge came when the laptop screen ripped, given that it was so old there wasn’t much doing on the house insurance so I was in the market for something new.
To switch or not to switch
Obviously I had a look around and working between different places I wanted something that wasn’t just going to be a makeshift machine for when I was away but something that I could work on all the time. Being in the web industry you’re never far from voices recommending a switch to Mac and whilst I wasn’t a complete newbie, I’d used them on various modules at uni, I was a little apprehensive, after all I wasn’t unhappy with my PC setup so why switch? And there weren’t any immediately obvious benefits that I wouldn’t have from simply switching to a newer more powerful Windows setup.
So what swayed it?
So why have I switched then? Well as I said I had a good look round and initially I was rather keen on the MacBook Air but I decided that it was going to be a bit out of my price range and decided that if I was going to switch it was going to be a MacBook Pro, so I set about looking at what I could get as an alternative. The main factors that swung it were actually battery life and build quality, two things that aren’t major considerations for most in amongst processors and RAM and hard drive space. I just couldn’t find anything PC wise that would match up to the MBP in both of those areas. The long battery life means that I can happily sit working away in hotel receptions and airports without having to unplug the cleaning ladies hoover and build quality? Come on we all know Apple makes sexy computers.
As a freelancer I’m a registered sole trader so I decided to lease as a business, this made a lot of sense in terms of affordability and also means I have the option to keep extending the lease and updating the machine every 2 years – that MacBook Air might be on the way in the future! Given the way this gave me the possibility of spreading the cost of getting an Apple device I decided to make the switch. Had I had to pay for it outright I would most certainly have stuck with PC and lost out on the battery life and build for a machine much more affordable outright but at a similar spec to the MBP.
So what have I got?
I haven’t actually mentioned what I ended up with, I’ve got a rather low end 13″ MBP, I don’t need much more, I toyed with the idea of the 15″ but I like the slightly better portability I get for carrying this around. I think people often get carried away and over estimate the spec they need, I was always going to be safe in the knowledge that it was going to be better than my current laptop regardless.
I’ve also got windows 7 on bootcamp but I rarely open it up, only for a rostering program that I can’t get for the Mac and that’s it.
Am I happy with it?
Yes I am, but I certainly don’t think there’s too much that I wouldn’t have gotten from a upgraded windows machine. I’ve not been bowled over by Mac OS as I thought it would, or as every Mac evangelist would have you believe. There are still things I’ve had gripes with, keyboard shortcuts for pop up boxes for example, but amongst it all I’ve gotten used to it pretty quickly. I’ve found equivalents for all the little programs I had on windows that I liked and I’m starting to pick up the shortcuts, for example I found myself thinking “how the hell do I take a screen shot?”, then rather confused when it stuck it on the desktop and not onto the clipboard.
I also decided to stick the right zoom utility on as I much prefer a full screen view, given that it isn’t a massive screen this makes sense, maybe on a much larger monitor the native mac zoom works better. I’ve also found it a little strange at times where you can see all the things open behind, especially with using things like Fireworks where everything is floating on top of other programs. It’s something I’m getting used to though.
The one thing that I’ve been really taken with is the multi touch track pad, I used to always plug a mouse into my laptop and I’ve done it maybe once or twice since I got the MBP when I’ve needed to do something a little more intricate design wise. The track pad is great and really useful once you start to get au fait with it.
Would I go back to Windows?
I think when it comes to upgrading again I’ll be sticking with Apple, assuming I can afford it, however I wouldn’t be put off by the thought of moving back to Windows.
If anyone skipped to the end looking for a quick summary well here’s my thoughts. If I were stuck within tighter budgetary constraints I would have stuck with Windows, there is no doubt about that. I still think a lot of the complaints about Windows from Mac users are dated and baseless, although it isn’t without it’s faults, and a lot of promotion of the Mac OS you get from people is over the top, whilst it is good. (Queue the Apple fans in the comments!) Given my old setup to begin with there’s a lot of improvements I would have seen simply from getting newer equipment.
The fact that I have my work machine with me all the time is great as well, much better than keeping everything together across two machines and getting somewhere to realise you’ve accidentally only saved a file to your desktop machine.
The MBP though is a great bit of kit, the mentioned plus points of the battery life and build certainly show and I’ve settled in as a Mac user nicely. Although now sporting this and an iPhone I’ve had for a while I wouldn’t quite consider myself a full Apple convert yet, I’m not quite sure if I ever would, I’ve such a legacy of use of windows machines and there’ll always be friends and family with that thing to look at to keep me in the loop, and I’ve still retained my beast of a desktop machine in the corner for the odd, this site looks funny on Windows XP and IE complaint.