The big debate - are Apple's worth the money?

Soldato
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Before I start this isn't an "anti" Apple rant. I'm interested to know whether those that have used Mac's for a decent amount of time (lets say 2 years) actually think they are worth the price premium.

Personally I own one of the first gen Intel Macbooks with the C2D @ 1.8Ghz


What I like:
[1] Quite pretty
[2] OSX is a nice mix of Unix with a good GUI
[3] No driver issues
[4] Good security

What I dislike:
[1] Quite fragile (compared to other laptops I've owned)
[2] OSX is quite nice - but a bit childish, not enough use of the Unix side of the house, poor support for adding Unix addons (fink commander sucks)
[3] Stuck to a relatively limited set of addons
[4] Occasional attitude of Mac users to insist they faultless.


To be honest I'm probably more productive on a similar specced Dell or IBM / Lenovo than my Macbook, mainly as I find the GUI gets in the way to be honest. I think if it was a case of £25 difference, I'd probably opt for a Mac though on most occasions. But when the costs is closer to £200-£250 in advance of a similar standard laptop I find it hard to see myself purchasing one.

Yourselves?
 
Soldato
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Feel out of place posting, but what are forums for.

I vote categorically yes for anyone with computer literacy issues. I'd recommend them to anyone who I didn't want to act as technical support for.

However the answer appears to be no if you don't want the operating system. Much of the premium is related to OSX and the various reasons to not run windows. If you want/need/insist on windows or will run linux anyway then the hardware's not special enough to justify the cost.

I own no mac, but have tried to work this one out. Interested in other replies
 
Commissario
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I've only been a Mac user for just over a year and I really do think they're worth it. I will respond to your dislikes with my reactions after a year or so use.

[1] My Macbook Pro feels a lot more solid and substantial than any other laptop I've used, but I treat it more gently because I don't want to damage it! I've been using laptops at work for years and because they're not in the same aesthetic league as the MBP, I've not really cared for them. I like my laptop and don't want to knacker it so I handle it as though it's fragile!

[2] I'm not sure what you mean by childish. It's an interesting thought though, I really liked Windows 2000 but I hated XP because of the way it looked. I always called it Fisher Price Windows or My First Windows because of it's look. The first thing I've always done with XP is to set it back to Windows Classic theme. Conversely, I really liked the way Vista looked when I still had a system running it. I agree that it's not that straightforward to add 'standard' Unix stuff, but I've never really needed to.

[3] I can't agree with this at all. I've always had a need for some fairly obscure software regarding [for example] my hobby of amateur radio but I've not found a shortage of Mac software to do what I need. In fact, the only reason I ever go back to Windows now is to run a utility written to automate downloading a speed camera database for my Garmin. I think the range of Mac software is enormous now and one can pretty much always find something to do the job.

[4] Can't argue with this. I'd replace 'occasional' with 'frequent' though :D

I'm more productive using my Mac at home than I am when I'm sitting in front of my PC at work. I find I get very frustrated at my PC, even though I recently rebuilt it because of problems. Bear in mind that I've always been very careful not to install rubbish on my work system but I have to do a rebuild every 8-9 months because it all just grinds to a halt. I only install work related software and it's not full of rubbish. I'd much rather have a Mac at work.

So yes, I think they're worth the money.
 
Caporegime
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Before I start this isn't an "anti" Apple rant. I'm interested to know whether those that have used Mac's for a decent amount of time (lets say 2 years) actually think they are worth the price premium.

Personally I own one of the first gen Intel Macbooks with the C2D @ 1.8Ghz


What I like:
[1] Quite pretty
[2] OSX is a nice mix of Unix with a good GUI
[3] No driver issues
[4] Good security

What I dislike:
[1] Quite fragile (compared to other laptops I've owned)
[2] OSX is quite nice - but a bit childish, not enough use of the Unix side of the house, poor support for adding Unix addons (fink commander sucks)
[3] Stuck to a relatively limited set of addons
[4] Occasional attitude of Mac users to insist they faultless.


To be honest I'm probably more productive on a similar specced Dell or IBM / Lenovo than my Macbook, mainly as I find the GUI gets in the way to be honest. I think if it was a case of £25 difference, I'd probably opt for a Mac though on most occasions. But when the costs is closer to £200-£250 in advance of a similar standard laptop I find it hard to see myself purchasing one.

Yourselves?

I've only used one for about 8 months, so I hope I'm allowed to comment. I don't think I would ever go back to Windows. I'm currently using a Mac Mini, but I'm eyeing a new Imac within the next 6 months. I'd say it is worth it, for the OS and the quality workmanship. It is a premium, yes, but it's one I'm prepared to pay.

Criticism wise...

[1] Quite fragile (compared to other laptops I've owned)

I don't have a Macbook, but I got the impression the Pro's were very hard wearing.

[2] OSX is quite nice - but a bit childish, not enough use of the Unix side of the house, poor support for adding Unix addons (fink commander sucks)

Firstly, I really don't see how it is childish. I honestly don't understand that. Secondly, it's not built out of the box to support Unix addons as such. If you want that, you use Linux. That's just the way it is.

[3] Stuck to a relatively limited set of addons

What sort of addons do you mean? I've had no trouble finding the software I need to do a job.

[4] Occasional attitude of Mac users to insist they faultless.

OK, I'll give you that one ;)
 
Soldato
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Used an iMac in tech for 2 years for video editing and photo editing. Was good at that, but not much else for me.
 
Soldato
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There is an aspect of OSX being a bit more of an appliance, than a flexible computing platform. It's not necessarily true, but it can be true for certain people, if that makes sense.

Personally I think a well equipped OSX laptop is incredibly powerful - it certainly is for the job I do anyways.

My last thoughts on why OSX is so powerful for me can be viewed here:

http://www.markc.me.uk/MarkC/Blog/Entries/2009/9/28_OSX_&_Virtualisation.html
 
Soldato
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Didn't really answer your question - yes, decent Apple kit is massively worth it for what I do for a living. I've yet to find any Windows based laptop that supports virtualisation as well as OSX..... and I get through a lot of hardware.
 
Soldato
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Used a macbook for a few years and I don't think they are worth the premium (although there isn't really any premium paid on lower end mac stuff). I find the OS too restricting with regards to simple customisation (mouse acceleration - I tried everything and couldn't remove it!). Yes it is pretty, yes it is slick, but for me I was glad to return to windows. Got annoyed by the maximise buttons etc. Just didn't do it for me.

The desktops are WAY overpriced and I would never consider buying one of them! However for laptops I think they are a pretty decent price if you go for the lower end stuff. But they aren't for me :(
 
Soldato
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Firstly thanks for the replies (was expecting some sort of flaming!).

On the childish point about the GUI, it's more lack of control from my perspective. With Linux and to a much lesser extent Windows 7 I feel I can control how things behave more easily. I don't like how the icons get bigger on the sidebar as you slide over them (it just looks a little childish - but I feel the same way about KDE).

I think those of you who have MBP's are justified in rating their durability as they look and feel a much more sturdy machine - but I honestly will say the MB I have is probably the least durable laptop I have (whilst I treated it with care, I won't cuddle up to a laptop and try to stop it getting a few knocks - personally I think a laptop should be able to withstand a few).

In my view I think the standard entry line MB should be priced around £500 and the intro IMAC at £600 and I think they'd be closer to a value purchase. Keep the comments coming tho folks :)
 
Soldato
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Used a macbook for a few years and I don't think they are worth the premium (although there isn't really any premium paid on lower end mac stuff). I find the OS too restricting with regards to simple customisation (mouse acceleration - I tried everything and couldn't remove it!). Yes it is pretty, yes it is slick, but for me I was glad to return to windows. Got annoyed by the maximise buttons etc. Just didn't do it for me.

The desktops are WAY overpriced and I would never consider buying one of them! However for laptops I think they are a pretty decent price if you go for the lower end stuff. But they aren't for me :(

It sounds like you didn't really scratch the surface.

Oh and the "desktops" are xeon based with FB dimms and server grade hardware, hence the price. They are not desktops as such more workstations and should not be compared with your average desktop PC.

An imac, considering the screen that is built in is pretty competitively priced in my opinion, in case I have caught the wrong end of what you are getting at.

And dangerstat, you can turn off magnification with a click of a button and use 2d dock for a more professional look if its what you require.
 
Soldato
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My main machine since March 2006 has been a MacBook Pro. It's had RAM upgrades and a big new HDD, but it's still fundamentally the same machine.

1. The Alu MBP is tough as old boots. Mine has the the odd dent and scratch now, and a bit of the paint is starting to peel near the Cmd key where my hand catches on it, but it buffs up OK and everything still works. It's at least as tough as the ThinkPads we use at work.

2. OS X is the main attraction to me. It's very stable, doesn't need ninja spec hardware to run well and becomes intuitive after a few days of switching. It doesn't tend to appeal to the PC hardcore as it can't be tweaked and messed around with as easily as Windows, then again I want to use the machine rather than fiddle with the settings. Apple control the hardware and software so no need to tweak and keep updating the drivers for optimal performance.

Look past the eye candy and the brightly coloured buttons and the UI is excellent, and there's some very well though out productivity tools in there such as Expose. It's not flawless - the finder needed some work (which is getting there with the Snow Leopard rewrite) and the window maximisation doesn't work as Windows users would expect.

3. No problems for me in this regard. When I first got the machine universal apps were a little thin on the ground due to the Intel transition, but within 6 months the whole Mac software industry had become reinvigorated.

4. They're not faultless (new mainboard due to Bluetooth issues anyone?), but what is nowadays?

When I come to replace it them I'll be getting another Mac laptop. The price difference is worth it. That's not to say I don't want a good deal - this machine came from the US at a substantial saving over UK RRP.

I think a few switchers, especially the type that OcUK attracts get hung up on certain things like the window maximisation, mouse acceleration and font smoothing. It doesn't bother me much, the benefits outweigh the idiosyncrasies.

I didn't go looking for a Mac and bought this on impulse, which is never usually a good idea. PCs have come and gone at home and the current machine gets used for LAN gaming and that's it. A lot of corporate PC kit also crosses my desk at work, however I still prefer the Mac. This MBP might not the fastest bit of kit ever and no longer plays the current games but it's just fine for what I need.
 
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Soldato
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When I first learnt how to use a Mac it was when OS9 was current, I've worked with them since quite shortly after that. OS10.0... At that point I considered them the best thing for my job (graphics) but didn't want one at home. They just weren't quite there, and weren't worth the extra money for me.

Then I got out of Mac work, and when I went to go back into it I bought a Mac Mini with Tiger on it to swot up and get used to them again. I fell completely in love and haven't looked back.

So since Tiger, yes I absolutely do think they're worth the extra money, desktops AND laptops.

For me the OS is the main draw, but come on, look at them. You ARE paying for style. If you can't deal with that, then they're not for you, but anyone who denies that you pay money just for the design of the thing is a liar, or a little dim. The iMacs are machined out of one slab of aluminium, there's one visible screw on the whole machine. That sort of stuff costs money, and yes some of your purchase price goes there. I'm fine with that, but some people aren't and that's fine. They're a luxury product.

I've worked not only using macs, but more recently selling macs and teaching people how to use them - so I run into all the problems, I'm more than aware of them. I'm not a blinkered fanboy.

If you're convinced you have a 'limited' set of addons, then you're looking in the wrong places. Macs have some of the best third party software houses producing software for them, much of it beautifully integrated with OSX in a way that a lot of Windows programs just can't compete with. The only things I've had to admit defeat on tend to be very, very specific programs with a small market. It's completely understandable that those apps aren't available to such a 'small' player, market-share wise. But then if you need them, run a VM. Piece of cake. There are either Mac versions or Mac equivalents of very nearly every windows app you'd care to mention.

Expecting a Mac to do all your Unixy stuff is expecting too much. If you want to run Unix, run Unix! It's not what Macs are about.

The iLife suite is obscenely good for bundled software. A lot of people assume it won't be, but seriously, dig a little deeper. It's incredibly good, for people who are scared of computers and people who aren't. It strikes a balance that's very hard to get right and does a great job of it.

You don't need to wipe a Mac's arse for it. You can forget about antivirus, defragging, reformatting, all of that stuff. That alone's worth the price bump if you ask me, I hate that stuff. Largely the 'it just works' cliché is actually true. Largely, mind. I didn't say they were perfect. But you can be sure that your Mac will be fast when you get it and stay that fast almost indefinitely. All the average person has to do to a Windows machine to break it, is use it. That's not right.

Some of your purchase price also goes towards the aftercare, which is pretty exceptional - more so if you're near an Apple Store. They'll sort you out. There's not many shops where you can go and pick someone's brain about some problem you've got for an hour and they'll go out of their way to help you, even if it means starting at the beginning and finding out wtf you're talking about first. That sort of stuff is worth money. Warranty and aftercare are great.

There's more, but I've rambled enough. I can't remember the last time something wouldn't work on my Mac and it wasn't my fault. In fact I can't remember the last time my Mac actually properly misbehaved. It just doesn't happen. It just sits there looking pretty and does what it's told.

All three of my Macs do, the top spec iMac (admittedly it was horrendously expensive, but I love it and it won't be replaced anytime soon - I think it's been superceded twice now and you wouldn't be able to tell the difference by using it), the Mac Mini under my TV that runs Plex for me, sits ripping DVDs for hours without making a fuss and has currently been on for 54 days - and that was because of an update, and my parents' Macbook 2.0ghz C2D, which was previously mine, that will quite happily run Aperture and edit raw files.
 
Commissario
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I went into OS X with a bit of a Windows mindset, I tried the green 'maximise' button a few times and realised it worked different and to be fair, it's not a button I really ever used under Windows so I just don't use it with the Mac. I do appreciate that it can be quite a hurdle though.

I started off trying to want to do things manually, the way I always did with Windows. For example, my music library was organised by artist/album directories, each with their own playlist files that I'd create whenever I ripped a CD. I started continuing this with my Mac and soon realised that I was just creating myself extra work so I did a search and delete on all playlist files and then dragged all the resulting music files into iTunes and told it to sort it out which it's done admirably.

I got very lucky when I bought my Mac Pro. I got it second hand for a very good price. I was on the verge of buying new through a student friend of mine but in the end I used the cash I saved to pick up an Apple TV and an 8800 graphics card for it. It was quite a large expense for me to consider buying new, even with the student discount but I did consider it worth it as I spent a few days working out the equivalent PC hardware prices and realised that the difference wasn't as much as I originally thought it would be. I didn't even entertain the thought of an iMac and I'm glad I went the way I did.

 
Associate
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1. Somehow i doubt they are as wear proof as IBM/Lenevo, Panasonic Toughbooks or some of the higher end (price comparible) Toshiba Dynabooks or NEC. One answer above was a little telling, due to the price premium people are more inclined to handle them a little gentler. If applied to standard notebooks would the same resistance apply?
My macbook is fine now after odd hardware issues. However a 8 year old Toshiba notebook i had was still going strong and this had been through the wars.

2. OSX is nice, perhaps a little restrictive as some functionality is still missing but generally nice. Though i don't find it any more difficult to use Windows XP, but did not like Vista... possibly because it was in a different language. Either are infinitely better than Win98,98,ME etc.

3. For me the mac is lacking on some applications forcing me to either run software through emulation or bootcamp. Still yet to find a music media player as simple and easy to use as Foobar on the mac. Cog comes close.
Also i've noticed small tools/applications that are free on windows come with a charge on OSX, partly do with less competitors/developers in comparison to windows OS. Perhaps to do with the demograph market for apple products.
For hardware addons yes.

4. no need to even comment.

Are mac laptops nice? Yes
Are they worth the price premium? probably not
If the price difference is small then opt for a Mac, better value elsewhere... Though 2nd prices seem to hold up reasonably well, though the push for greater market is beginning to bring this down.
 
Soldato
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I went into OS X with a bit of a Windows mindset, I tried the green 'maximise' button a few times and realised it worked different and to be fair, it's not a button I really ever used under Windows so I just don't use it with the Mac. I do appreciate that it can be quite a hurdle though.

Good shout. That green button is one of the worst buttons ever. It's useless. Disregard it immediately and forget it ever exists, is what I generally tell people when introducing them to OSX. I think they appreciate the honesty. I do the same thing with the squeeze buttons on the mouse, I tell them that it's awful and they don't have to turn it off but they will turn it off sooner or later.

I started off trying to want to do things manually, the way I always did with Windows. For example, my music library was organised by artist/album directories, each with their own playlist files that I'd create whenever I ripped a CD. I started continuing this with my Mac and soon realised that I was just creating myself extra work so I did a search and delete on all playlist files and then dragged all the resulting music files into iTunes and told it to sort it out which it's done admirably.

Again, really good example. When doing data transfers 95% of the time you pick up the whole lot off their PC, put it on an external drive, then drag it from the drive to iTunes. It crunches through it and it's done, nearly always perfect.

Same with iPhoto, especially since '09 addressed a minor issue (imo) with importing lots of pictures. It'd bundle them in one event on '08, meaning you'd have to go into each subfolder and do it much more manually, which was a pain in the arse. It doesn't any more. You can pick up one folder and all of its subfolders and subsubfolders will be sorted properly into events named after the folders and in date order according to the Exif. Cracking. Once you know what to show people it's easy to wow them within a few minutes, and I still haven't stopped finding things like this.

So many windows users never get to find this stuff out because they can't adjust their mindset. yes, admittedly the finder can be a little clunky, but mostly it's clunky when you try to use it like you'd use Windows Explorer. If you use it right, it's great. (mostly)
 
Commissario
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Also i've noticed small tools/applications that are free on windows come with a charge on OSX, partly do with less competitors/developers in comparison to windows OS. Perhaps to do with the demograph market for apple products.

That's really interesting because I found the total opposite. Stuff that I'd have expected to have a cost has been free.
 
Man of Honour
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I love my macbook :)

Oddly I wouldn't have an iMac / Mac Pro though, I have a Vista desktop which does all the Windowsy bits I need. Which is, er, Outlook and blu-ray...
 
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