Ah, yes. The age-old debate. Apple vs. Windows. Mac vs. PC. Expensive vs. Affordable. Pretty vs. Utilitarian. If you’re involved with webcomics at all, you have probably read a funny webcomic with a definite bias, or witnessed a flame war in a techie forum, or even started weighing the pros and cons yourself before upgrading to your next computer. The nature of webcomics, being that you NEED a computer to post, read, and even create webcomic, puts you right in the middle of the debate.
I consider myself pretty tech-saavy. I also consider myself pretty level-headed when it comes to this debate. Yes, I was trained in art school solely on Macs, so for a while I had a pretty heavy bias towards Apple products. PC and windows were inferior, and to be a designer and use a PC was flat-out blasphemy. However, things have changed. The gap between Windows and Mac OS in terms of speed, capability and power has diminished. It’s no longer laughable to create artwork or video on a PC! Especially with the emergence of Windows 7, we basically have a level playing field. Now it comes down to personal preference for the general OS, and what you can afford. So, here I am once again to help you weigh the Pros and Cons of each platform, and how they relate to making webcomics, in this 2-parter article. I have both a Windows-7-runingn Tablet PC as well as Power Mac G5, so I see the differences pretty clearly. Lets’ begin with the old heavyweight champion, The Macintosh line of desktops and laptops:
- Security. Apple computers are far more secure, simply because hackers are not going to create virus’ for such a small percentage of personal computers. Less time trying to figure out what virus/Trojan/worm has infected your computer, more time making comics. Just from my own personal experience… times my PC got infected (and ate up day(s) of my time fixing) = 3, in 2 years. Times my Mac did = 0, in 6 years.
- The price of Power. Yes, even though the gap has diminished, apples still give you more bang for your buck, when you compare apples to apples (ha! pun intended! Goodness I’m funny. But I digress). Between the likes of oh, say, the Macbook line, and HP’s Envy model… which are more comparable when it comes to quality and specs… apple still manages to win out, being cheaper than the PC equivalent. Think of the Mac line as the upper crust of the PC world, not a line that expands from cheapo to luxury computers. Simply put, apples are slightly better at cranking out those webcomics. They have less of a chance of freezing up, 2 seconds before you were gonna save that file…. no really, you swear!
- Better stuff out of the box. Mac’s offer higher-quality freebie software than Windows does. This mainly includes apple-made photo, video & music editing and organizing software. Windows Media Center tries it’s best, but Apple has this covered. Whether you are sorting through your convention pictures library or listening to the latest Webcomic Alliance Podcast (*hint hint*), apple is your best bet.
- Apple is there to fix your problems. A definite pro for apple is their top-notch service. A computer is a computer, and will have it’s fair share of issues.. PC or Mac. Whether over the phone at 1am (an hour AFTER your latest comic was due to post), or at the genius bar in your neighborhood apple store, you’ll most likely have that computer up and chugging again… before your readers get too rowdy waiting for the next update.
- Cost of Quality. Lets face it, macs are expensive. There’s not really a watered down version of a mac that can compare to the prices of the bare-bones PC varieties. All those sales you see at Best Buy on Black Friday are going to be for PC’s, not Macs. Apple and only apple controls those prices. If you simply do not have the chunk of cash to pay for a mac (which is true of many of us starving artists), or the nerve to buy a 4-year-old used machine, then a PC it is.
- Keeping up with the Updates. A big beef of mine with apple is how fast your computer becomes obsolete. My poor G5, as great as it’s been for me these past 6 years, has reached it’s limit. No “Snow Leopard OS” for me. The updates, and if you feel the necessity, the new computer every 5 years, adds up to MORE money spent. And with webcomics being a type of field that needs to keep up with technology, apple sure makes that hard for those of us living on ramen noodles and coffee.
- Lack of third-party programs. Just like there are less apple-hackers to hijack your computer, there are also less programmers for those small (read: FREE) applications we webcomic creators need. Want to record your screen to stream live on ustream.com? Shell out some cash for that ONE application that’ll work. Convert those quicktime movies to something that’ll play on your wordpress site? Uh-huh, pay up, partner.
- Lack of a (affordable) Tablet Apple product. Honestly, this is what made me consider a Windows machine. I wanted to have a portable computer, that I could draw directly on with the sensitivity of a wacom tablet. Apple did not make anything like it (even the iPad isn’t in the same universe as a good Tablet PC, for this specific use). Sure, there are “Modbooks” made by a third party, but GUH.. look at the price tag! My Windows Tablet cost me less than HALF of that price. And if Apple ever does come out with a Tablet like the Gateway I currently use, you can bet I’ll never be able to afford it.
- Lack of games made for the Mac Platform. Wanted to pass the time shooting up the baddies in your favorite MMO game? Nope, sorry, not made for Mac. Oh wait, that kinda goes AGAINST the theme of webcomic creation, doesn’t it? Get back to work, slacker!
Stay tuned for the second installment of Mac Vs. PC: Webcomics Edition, coming soon to the Alliance! In the meantime, what did I forget folks? What pros or cons have you encountered with your mac? Would you stick with your mac, or shoot for a PC next time around?