A Year with the Mac

It was one year ago today that I took delivery of an Imac, my first ever Mac. While I’d had an iPod for a couple of years and used a Mac at university, this would be my first time away from pc’s and Windows. While the learning curve was steep’ish I took to the Mac really well and even though I’m still learning I’m now a fan of the Mac operating system and the hardware that Apple make. While Apple products are not to everyone’s taste and they are always accused of being expensive I can’t see me moving away from the Mac platform anytime soon.

The hardware has been great so far (touch wood). I was slightly apprehensive about buying an iMac due to it’s all in one non upgradable design. However I’m a console gamer now and have no real need to upgrade the hardware a bit at a time. The hardware’s most impressive feature is how quiet it is. You hardly notice it’s on which I certainly can’t say about most PCs that I’ve owned and used. One year on and it still feels fast as it did on day one even with new software that’s come out over the last couple of months that usually push up requirements.

The iMac is used every day and wakes from sleep in a couple of seconds while taking the same time to sleep at the end of the day. It sure beats the experience I’ve had using Windows and the slow start-up times or slow times when setting the machine to sleep. Even when i have to reboot for software updates and the like, the start-up times have remained consistently quick. It’s obviously slower than day one due to the apps I launch at start-up but it doesn’t slow down as much as Windows does over time. I guess what I’m trying to say is…it just works. Always. Not had a problem yet. I’m not saying there are no problems, but I’ve had none…yet.

One issue I do have are Apple mice. They really do suck. I bought a wireless Mighty Mouse and I lasted three weeks with it before putting it aside and plugging in my Logitech. From reading elsewhere seemingly Steve Job’s hate’s clicks and buttons but really – only having one mouse button is really limiting. The Mighty Mouse has a virtual right click and also a squeeze click but I found the squeeze was difficult to do and the virtual right click awkward as you had to lift from the left click for this to work. The Mighty Mouse is now an occasional laptop mouse…very occasional.

The operating system is also a lot more user friendly than XP and although I haven’t used Vista enough to be sure, I’m off the mind that it has a better set of features than it too. Through the use of Expose, Dashboard, Spotlight and Preview I find that day to day tasks are more easily carried out on a Mac than on a PC. I can get more things done and I’m also more pleased with the end result. It’s very hard to put into words why it feels and works better, but it does. I also make far more use of the built in app’s like Mail, Address Book, iCal etc than I did on Windows although I think Vista built in app’s are far more useful than XP’s. The O/S is also more fun than Windows and looks/feels a lot more stylish and has a lot of polish. Again not a big feature but it’s another little plus point. Oh, no spyware or virus worries either. It’s also about to get better (I trust) with Leopard coming out in the next month or so. What helps the O/S and Apple are the third party app’s found on the mac.

Some of them are Mac only exclusives and it’s no secret that I craved a couple of the app’s so much that they helped seal my move to the mac platform. Many are tightly integrated with the mac platform so much so that they feel like part of the O/S which I can’t say for many app’s on the Windows platform. Another little push came from Parallels, virtualisation software that meant I could move to the Mac but be safe in the knowledge that a fast and fully working XP was merely a button click away. I also think there’s a myth surrounding third party app’s. Before I switched I was told by a few people and also a lot of blogs that there isn’t as much shareware/freeware/third party on the Mac platform. While that’s true from a quantity point of view I’ve found the quality and range of app’s to be excellent and there is nothing that I feel I’ve missed in moving platforms.

So there you have it. A happy switcher one year on. During that year I’ve also seen a couple of friends move to the Mac who also have similarly positive experiences. Maybe it’s the Apple halo effect, maybe it’s the positive press that Apple garner on the web or maybe it’s just that the alternative to Windows and PC hardware is a better end user experience – can so many people be wrong? There are definitely some issues, it’s not a platform for everyone (gamers for example) and not everything is wonderful but in general a Mac makes for a great home computer that I would highly recommend. A few months after buying an iMac I also bought a Macbook Pro which again has been a good investment. Next Apple product will probably be an iPhone but not the first version. I reckon I can hold off until a 3G phone comes out in 2008. My only regret about switching a year ago is this…I wish I had done it sooner.

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