I received another guest post from Software Engineer, Gyorgy Ordody. I am happy to share it with you.
A few weeks ago there was a discussion at lunch about a familiar topic: What laptop to get for home? The discussion ended up going in circles, without a clear winner. The candidates were the usual brands: HP, Toshiba, Lenovo, and the Mac.
It seems like thanks to the marketing machines of these brands, the differences between laptops are covered by the fog of hype, though Apple is still leading the pack, as far as marketing goes. Of course, there are downsides to owning a Mac too: theoatmeal.com/comics/apple not to mention www.dieselsweeties.com/archive/2671.
In light of this, is it worth buying a Mac? Trying to buy a new laptop is not easy. Here are a few factors that can help to make a decision:
Cost: Prices for a midsize laptop with 250GB plus HD, Intel i7 CPU, 13"-15" screen:
Yes, Mac laptops cost more than the comparable PC model. However if you factor in your chiropractor's fee, suddenly they are not that expensive. Somehow laptop makers still insist that a desktop replacement laptop should weigh as much as a desktop (and yes, you do have to lug around the power brick, not only the laptop). Also, battery life is a factor, and replaceable batteries vs. batteries with longer life is not that tough of a choice, especially if you have to lug around the aforementioned power brick for a while. Especially that replacing the built in batteries is a well documented process: www.ifixit.com/Guide/Repair/Installing-MacBook-Pro-17-Inch-Unibody-Battery/3403/1.
Reliability: It's important. This data is 1 year old, but maybe it's still relevant www.engadget.com/2009/11/17/laptop-reliability-survey-asus-and-toshiba-win-hp-fails.
So... since all laptops break at about the same rate, let's compare the customer service: www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2368923,00.asp.
Available Software: If cost and reliability do not make the decision easier, maybe the available software does. We knew that there were Autodesk apps already available for the Mac as Sketchbook Pro, Maya, etc. In fact, here is the full list: usa.autodesk.com/products/mac-compatible-products.
And at the top of the list is the new AutoCAD for the Mac. So, the circle is complete, for AutoCAD on the Mac: www.fourmilab.ch/autofile/www/subsectionstar2_68_0_2.html
On the right side of the list of products, you can see all the things that can be run using Bootcamp/Parallels Desktop. As far as Parallels Desktop go, one of the better features is the ability to run the Windows on your Bootcamp partition as a virtual machine. This is very useful, most days Windows gets 2 cores and the host Mac OS gets the rest, but if a full fledged Windows machine is needed, you can reboot and have the same Windows run with the full resources of the machine.
You can go the other way as well, if you really want - run OS X in a VM in a host Windows - though there are question about the legality of it: stackoverflow.com/questions/39159/is-it-possible-to-run-osx-in-a-virtual-machine.
By now, interoperability is not a problem, Mac Mail can handle Microsoft Exchange, Office 2011 for the Mac has Outlook in it and is very similar to Office 2010 for Windows (though sometimes it feels like that Word is not even compatible to itself, especially when it comes to tables and fonts). iWorks can load Office documents,
So, in the end, Apple is still trying to lead the pack in user experience, including hardware look and feel, software look and feel, and support. They also try to give the potential user great satisfaction rewarding a buy, that starts with unpacking the new computer and migrating data from the old one (www.2fatdads.com/2010/04/apple-macbook-pro-i5-unboxing) but of course this is all subjective, and might not matter at all.
If the vanities of buying a new laptop leave you befuddled and you never understood why your desktop productivity software had so many useless buttons, you can always choose a $200 netbook (or reuse your old laptop), run Linux (www.ubuntu.com or www.fedoraproject.org) on it, and do everything online: even AutoCAD has an online version now (www.autocadws.com) not only Office (www.officelive.com or docs.google.com or zoho.com), and Photoshop (photoshop.com or splashup.com or picnik.com or pixlr.com).