Last March 26, 2007, I decided to buy a Macbook Pro 15", my very first macintosh system, instead of upgrading my 2 year old Motion Computing LE1600 Tablet PC.
The day of reckoning has finally arrived. I believe that after one month of using the MAC OS X, I have enough experience to compare it with my OS of choice for a very long time - Windows. In this blog, I will try to weigh all the factors before finally giving you my decision whether I will continue using MAC OS X or ditch it in favor of Windows.
Let me first give you a run down of all the things I have done so far in Mac OS X using my Macbook 13.3" 2.0 Ghz 2gig RAM 200 gig HD:
- After attending a 2 hour seminar on Mac OS X basics, I bought "Learning Mac OS Tiger Visually" and read that from cover to cover. I then data mined the web for any information about the OS. Every interesting find is saved right inside Firefox by using the extension Scrapbook.
- I am happily using with it all the bags that I used to carry the old LE1600. I particularly enjoy carrying it with the Waterfield Sleevecase and the Victorinox Eiffel laptop bag.
- I bought a mighty mouse, apple mouse pad, and keyboard for when I configure the Macbook as a desktop.
- I also bought a Firelight firewire 100 gig external hard drive where a digital image of the entire laptop is burned every week or so.
- The following software continue to reside and to be used at present:
Firefox (with Scrapbook, Mozgest, JKN email, and Autocopy plug-ins)
Skim (PDF annotator)
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom
Office for Mac
Callwave SMS Widget
Huawei USB HSDPA Application
Flash MX 2004
Paralells virtual OS management
Windows XP SP2
Office 2007 (Outlook, Word, Excel, Access, Powerpoint,Onenote)
Acrobat 7.0 Professional
Mindmanager Pro 6.0
Pro Show Gold
AVG Free 7.0
I did not bother with the links as they could easily be googled. I also did not enumerate the countless others that did not survive the honeymoon and those that come standard in most any Macbook. But, for those that did, I must say that they are more than sufficient to handle my day to day computing needs.
And now, for my observations starting with the pluses:
- Stable. The MAC OS X is indeed a far more stable system than Windows OS. In my one month of use, I have yet to do a restart due to system unresponsiveness. The only time I had to do a restart was when I tried booting using a back up created by SuperDuper. Even the system profiler only reports a single error after I uninstalled Acrobat Pro from the Mac OS X side.
- Instant on and sleep mode. Provided that I shut down all running applications, the system goes to sleep as soon I click Sleep from the Apple menu. There were only I few times when it did not turn on upon opening the lid. In those cases a single press on the power button wakes it up instantly.
- Wireless. Whether using the USB HSDPA modem or the built-in Airport, the Macbook simply connects wirelessly every time without any issues. I did not even have to setup anything as it automatically prompts you for whatever network is available.
- Security. The Mac OS X seems to be more secure having had no experience whatsoever with any adware pop ups or even viruses. I just cannot explain the peace of mind that I enjoy when surfing the web under Mac OS X. However, I know that a significant contributory factor is that there are less people creating viruses for the Mac OS X.
- System Upgrade. The full system upgrade, about 183 gigs worth of file, also went very smoothly requiring only a single restart. This to me is simply awesome. In Windows, it never fails that you will get prompted with "updates installed, system requires restart" when you least expect it (read: when you are on a deadline).
- Uninstall. Third party application uninstall cannot be more straightforward. Imagine just dragging to the trashcan the application and its support folders and you are done.
- Keyboard Shortcuts. I simply cannot explain in words the efficiency afforded me by the software Quicksilver. This software has done wonders to my productivity . With all the triggers that I have inputted into Quicksilver, I can now do things faster due to lack of distraction and instant access to everything that I need. I did not even bother memorizing the built in Mac OS X keyboard shortcuts except for a few. I simply created my own (ALT SHIFT W, opens Word, ALT - SHIFT E opens Excel, CTRL SHIFT D opens the documents folder, etc).
- Parallels. This software which allows one to virtually run Windows or Linux side by side with the MAC OS X, for me is the Microsoft killer. I believe that many more like myself will be jumping over to MAC OS X because of this software.
- Peace of mind. I guess the peace of mind that one gets when browsing from a MAC OS X system is its most important attribute. Gone were the days when I wonder why a file or a link takes too long to open only to find the anti virus application doing a full scan or updating its database. I do not even have to worry anymore about other defenses like anti spyware/adware, etc. For as long as I am careful in picking the sites to visit, I do not think I will encounter any problems browsing in MAC OS X (fingers crossed).
- Size and weight. The huge MBP 15 inch greatly affected my mobility. I find myself just leaving it behind in the car even during meetings. After two weeks with the MBP, I had to replace it with a more portable 13" Macbook. The macbook is only 17% slower in the processing department and is good enough for my computing needs. Still, I find the Macbook to be a bit on the heavy side when compared to the sub 4 pound Windows-only sub-notes.
- Battery Life. A true road warrior nowadays need at least 4 hours of battery life before having to plug in. The actual sub 3 hours of the Macbook just wouldn't cut it. It is just swell that I have an external battery pack for added power - battery geek.
- PIM. Having resided in Outlook for most of my computing life, I still gave MS Entourage a try in handling my emails only. My rationale is not to allow the Windows side of the MBK to connect to the internet. I was still using Outlook because it just syncs flawlessly with my current mobile phone -the Dopod 838 Pro. After 3 weeks, I gave up on Entourage and went back to my tried and tested Outlook for all my emails, address book, calendar, notes and to do lists. I discovered that having two systems (Entourage and Outlook) is not doing my productivity any good. I just had to install in the XP side my favorite firewall and anti-virus software. I still haven't touched the browser in the Windows side, and I don't think I will anytime soon.
- Blogging client. This is more of just an extra from MS WORD 2007 than a shortcoming of MAC OS X. I tried using the MAC OS X trial version of ECTO blogging client until it expired. The software is great insofar as doing what it is designed to do. However, a blogging client is already within MS WORD 2007 itself. Besides, the WORD blogging client interfaces very well with my favorite software for documenting any type of research - Onenote 2007. I decided to save the cash and just use what I already have available.
- Digital Ink. I do miss digital ink a lot. I haven't been to a lengthy meeting yet where it is just inappropriate to open the MBK. I did not have to worry about this before with the Tablet PC.
The Verdict. Despite the above shortcomings, the Mac OS X has greatly enhanced my productivity in front of the computer. I now find myself getting more things done with a lot less hardware or software induced distractions. For my computing style, the Macbook with XP under Parallels beats pound for pound an equally configured Windows only Laptop. Right now, I will choose my Macbook over any Windows only laptop.
Did it cost more? No, when I compare it to Tablet PCs of equivalent build quality. Was it worth it? Without a doubt. I now have more fun getting more done, and that is the real bottom line.
Things have indeed changed.
P.S. How about Windows Tablet PC and digital ink? Inasmuch as I miss digital ink, I am not about to let go of the positive experiences I am having with the MAC OS X now. But, give me a Mac with digital ink capability (Modbook) and I will never even look at any Windows Tablet PC anymore. I agree with my associate, Allan Jarlos, that sooner than later, all portables will have digital ink. For the time being, I can make do with my pigpogPda.
P.S.S. Prediction. With the phenomenal jump in sales of most apple products and the opening up of many new Apple stores the world over, there will be a whole lot more people like myself who will switch to the Mac OS X. Some will totally ditch Windows altogether while most will be running both either using Parallels or Boot Camp. This expected rise in the number of macusers worldwide will definitely attract a host of hackers to design viruses intended for the Mac OS X. I believe that this is one area that Cupertino never had to worry so much about before. I just hope they are ready.