I’m back for round 2, people. Tackling the difference between Macs and PC’s, as of 2011…. and when it comes to creating webcomics. In Part 1 of this article, I laid out the Pros and Cons of Macs…. the price vs. the value, the security vs. the accessibility, and the customer service vs. the speed of obsoltetion. That’s right, I am coining a new word, take notes people.
I have both a Windows-7-running Tablet PC as well as Power Mac G5, so I see the differences pretty clearly. I feel as though I can make pretty educated argument for either, and today I am tackling the Dark Side (or so my graphic-design-schooling background hath beat into me)… The PC and Windows Format. (all my designer apple-hugging geek friends, look away… just look away.)
- It’s not 1995 anymore. Or 2005 for that matter. Not that the stigma still isn’t there, but WAKE UP, friends. Windows 7 has arrived, and heck.. Windows XP wasn’t all that bad, was it? (Now Vista, we’ll forget about. Consider Windows 7 the “Do Over”) . Point being, for graphic design software that most of us comic creators use, Windows 7 and the modern PC handles it quite well. As well as *gasp* a Mac, even. So, let’s get over that, huh? Generally speaking, unless you are a creating your comics to be billboard size and then animated into a high-def feature film, you’ll do just fine with a PC. (yes, that still kinda hurts to say… darn that apple-cult-training back in 1998.)
*note: this is not really a “PRO” over apple. It is simply stating the playing field is level now.
- Thrifty Savings. When you think of Apple.. you tend to see dollar signs. And you would be right. But you’d also see pretty rigid standard settings for that money. PC’s come in such a variety of brands and most brands allow you to customize… which in the end saves you cash… if you know what to pimp out and what to cut back on. If you are knowledgeable and thrifty, you can get exactly what will make YOUR comics BEST…for less than what apple will charge you. Probably much less. Beware of the super cheap brands and not paying attention to the specs, you could end up with a dud when for a couple hundred more and some research you could be a very happy PC owner. So, do your homework first!
- The World at your Fingertips. The internet makes your life easy when you have a PC, when it comes to finding “an app for that”. Softpedia.com, Tucows.com, Download.cnet.com, and many many other websites offer freeware, shareware and the like for almost anything you want to do on your PC. Want to convert that video to a format you can upload to your WordPress site? Done. Or maybe a font manager? Sure. Just beware of male-ware and have that anti-virus software up to date.
- Endurance. As you may know already, one of my pet peeves about Apple is how FAST your computer becomes obsolete. PCs generally don’t have as much of an issue when it comes to the lifespan of the computer. You can crank out the RAM, replace video cards or buy a new mouse years and years after your purchase without feeling the pressure to update. (This was my reason for updating my G3 Mac.. I could not for the life of me find a MOUSE that would work with anything less than OS X). If you buy a good PC.. like a good car.. you can probably run that thing into the ground.
- The Tablet Laptop PC. Although Apple has the iPad, and yes it’s pretty nifty, many PC brands like Dell, Levono, and Gateway, offer a Tablet laptop. Unlike the iPad, Tablet Laptops allow you install the high-end software like Adobe and Manga Studio, and often have wacom technology and pressure-sensitivity that allow you to draw right on the screen with a stylus. Here’s the one I have, under $750 now (though discontinued). Rumors abound with apple finally releasing their own convertible tablet, but we all know how MUCH that’ll cost. And the modbook that is available now (not an official apple product) is quite expensive as well. It should be noted, however, that the sensitivity that these types of Tablets offer, cannot compare to the almighty Cintiq (but costs as much as the modbook!) I spent just under $1K for my Tablet laptop, running Windows 7, and the sensitivity works fine for me. I prefer the Mac OS, but for the price what I have works and is worth the extra money, time and effort spent on malware-fort-building.
- Troubleshooting. There will come a time with any computer when fixing it goes beyond your expertise… whether you’re a novice or an uber-geek-IT-guy. And you have to take it to the SuperGeeks-R-Us Repair shop. With Macs, you take it to… uh… Apple. Or call their pretty decent customer service technical support line. With PCs, and their never-ending varieties and dealers… who do you call? You have a sick HP model. Do you call Best Buy where you got it? Or HP? Or Microsoft? How long will you be on the line? Where is there a Microsoft store? With all these expansive options, it may get confusing. Not to mention the risk of dealing with less-than-ideal tech guys at retail stores who may not know as much as a trained professional for a specific company. Finding a good PC-repair guy is like finding a good mechanic- when you find one, swear by ’em. Okay, no more car similes.
- Viruses, Trojans, Spyware, Oh my! Remember how nice it was to have instant access to any freeware applications you wanted? Yeah, that comes with a price. Speaking from personal experience, my poor PC has been infected badly twice in 2 years.. and I consider myself pretty “street-smart” when it comes to not downloading dumb stuff or falling for “click me” ads. Never had that problem.. ever… with my Mac. For over 10 years. So, again… to be a good PC owner, you better do your homework and be smart about what you do and where you go online. Or you’ll spend that evening you were SUPPOSED to be cranking out a comic fighting a virus that won’t let you open any software.
- Bare Essentials. Often when you get your PC, you’ll notice the OS is pre-installed. Microsoft, to save money and keep people from messing with operating systems too much, often does not include an installation disc with the computer itself. This also means no way to restore the OS if your computers goes kaput. You have to order a disc, or go out and buy it. Same goes for a lot of the out-of-the-box extras. Macs comes with lots of goodies pre-installed (font management software, for instance) and your handy installation AND restore discs for safe-keeping. With PCs, you’re on your own.
- OS under lock & key. This one’s a bit of a personal preference. But my guess is that most people who do webcomics are computer-savvy enough to relate to my opinion here, so hear me out. One of the first issues I had with my PC, after years of being weaned on a Mac, was hacking into my own friggin’ system. To make my PC be able to connect to my trusty Mac. Vista was cleverly (and fittingly) programmed to see Macs as a threat, and therefor not able to transfer files to or from a Mac. To fix this issue, I had to do hours of research and learn how to hack into the Vista OS and reprogram the OS. I found this infuriating that I had to dig through the system that was deeply buried and hard to navigate. This is why I slightly prefer the Mac OS; everything is laid out in a way that makes sense to me, and is easily accessible… to me, the OWNER of the computer. Now, I’ll admit, Windows 7 fixed a lot of the issues (including seeing my Mac as a threat).. but the OS is still hidden away. And that irks me. As I said, personal preference… but to me it seems Macs are laid out as if it is expected that the owner will have a clue, and windows are dummy-proof. I’m not a fan of constantly using Child Safety Gates if I don’t have kids around.
That’s pretty much it, folks. No, I do not have a final conclusion about which is better, so if you’re looking for an exact brand and model number to write down and take shopping… you missed the point of this article. Know your needs. Educate yourself. Figure out your budget. Weigh the pros and cons and make your own decision on a computer that works for YOU.
And happy computer shopping!