Over the past 3 or 4 months our home computer has been falling apart. First one of the internal drives died, then one of the CD drives failed. An intermittent burning smell makes me suspect a problem with the power supply. Our Windows XP desktop sometimes lapses into a cheap-looking imitation, as though the graphics processor can’t manage to render everything properly, and the networking card fails from time to time for no apparent reason. Basically, the whole thing is dying and it is time to get a new one.
Over the past few weeks I have been doing some research on available systems. The last time we bought a computer was five years ago, so pretty much everything is new and improved. Passing over the fine details, I can see that I face two basic decisions: whether to get a desktop or a laptop, and, more portentously, whether to get a PC or a Mac.
As to the first of these dilemmas, my default position is to get a desktop, simply because that is what I have always done. I notice, though, that the laptops that are available today are far more powerful than our current system, and perhaps a laptop would be convenient: when I am working at my desk it can be connected to a larger monitor, but when I am not at my desk it can be moved around. On the other hand, a desktop system of the same price as a laptop system is a much faster and more powerful machine. So that question remains unresolved.
The PC vs. Mac question is vexing. I would not buy a laptop from Apple — they are simply too much money for too little computer — but the iMac is tempting. With everything integrated into the monitor, there would be no cables other than the power cable, and that would make for a very clean desk. This is attractive because my desk in our new house is quite a lot smaller than my old desk, and I am finding that with my monitor, wireless receiver, three speakers, and two external drives it is rather crowded. It would be great to sweep all that aside — well, all but one of the back-up drives — and replace it with a single, sleek, white monitor.
I am also told by all the Mac owners to whom I have spoken that they are sweet machines. They run well, are fast (after all, they don’t have to run Windows), and have fewer security issues. Also, they are cool. On the other hand, Mac owners can be smug, and I wouldn’t want that to happen to me.
The main trouble with Apple is that their things are too expensive. The iMac that I would want is listed at $1600. I can get a PC with the same specs for half the price. Having a nice clean desk would be nice, but I am not sure it would be that nice.
This is just me thinking out loud. If you’d like to offer an opinion on either of the questions over which I am deliberating, I am happy to hear it.