Apple or Toshiba

Sunday, October 26, 2008
A while ago I received some money to go towards a new computer for myself. This 2 or 3 year old Dell Inspiron is doing a slow dance of death here but for now we are limping along fine.

Because of the cash, I have an opportunity to look at a MacBook. (And why doesn't Apple just sell the things for $500 less and in a year they would probably take over the world...) Because of the cost of the Apple products, its not an opportunity that comes along often, so I kinda don't want to blow it.

Yesterday I spent some time with the MacBook at the Apple store. It is just quite an amazing thing. I'm not a fanboy but that thing is just intuitive and simple in design. It does what it does with speed and grace and the small things and attention to details are the kinds of things that just please me in places I don't know that I want to explore right now.


The down side is that it is an Apple so it won't do all the things I may be used to a computer doing. And the cost. $1399 is unbelievable, to me anyway. I'm not sure I could live with that level of commitment to a computer.

It seems to me to be a bit of a Cadillac in the PC world, and I don't drive Cadillacs. It runs at 2 Ghz, Intel Core 2 Duo with 2GB DDR3 Memory and a 160GB hard drive.

Then there is the $1000 Toshiba I saw. Good rugged solid windows machine although it has Vista and I don't look forward to learning that operating system now too.

It has a Intel Core 2 Duo Processor, 4 gigs of ram, 320 gig hard drive. 15.4 inch windscreen, wifi, and something called a DVD Super multi drive, which sounds like a new feature on a Jaguar.

All that to give you a sense of value vs cost.

My question to you, dear readers, is which should it be? Should I deal with my internal guilt of over spending and go with Apple, or reign it in and get the windows Toshiba and just work at getting it to the place where I want it to be?

I know there are both users out there, so tell me if you would change, and why? Why do you Apple users love your Mac's or you Windows users use them?

You don't need to quote scripture and verse from the Apple or Microsoft website, just one or two sentences on why, and which.

Or if you have insight into my guilt issues about spending, let er rip too.

I'm in a teachable moment here, so teach me.


  1. Go with the Toshiba and put the saved money away to replace your iPod Touch when it goes (which it eventually will). Or, use it to buy Windows XP (or the next platform---I hear Vista stinks). Toshibas are a good product, from what I've read.

    Macs are better at certain things than PCs: ask yourself if you spend much time doing the things that a Mac is better at. I suspect that you are a relatively "normal" computer user (as opposed to, say, a graphic designer), so getting a Mac probably wouldn't give you much of an advantage, other than maybe being a little more stable (and being hipper).

    But then that Mac, too, will soon start grinding along and slowing down and having problems of its own. Which platform is better/cheaper when something goes wrong?

    My brother made the switch to Macs last year and I'm pretty sure it wasn't long before he switched back. Nothing wrong with the Mac, I don't think, but nothing necessarily better, either.

  2. My rule of thumb for most everything - and it gets me into trouble enough of the time so I'll recommend it to you - get what you like the best, then enjoy it.

  3. You mention things that the Apple couldn't do. Is there a workaround/alternative (stupid-expensive) software available that will let you do what you need? If the answer is NO then it's solved itself.

    Otherwise use Linea's guide.

    The Mac's interface is more 'touchy-feelie' and owning one does send very specific message to some segments of the community. However I doubt it will sway many in a small farming community, so if you MUST do it, do it for yourself.

  4. donnjohnson@mac.comOctober 26, 2008 at 11:21 AM

    Go for the mac. You'll never turn back.

  5. Guilt eh? Well, it sounds like you want the Mac but are afraid of all that might entail. Tara has an iMac whilst I use an acer. I think if I have much choice, the next lappy I get will have fruit on the cover. That being said, I've heard that after some kind of update, Vista is much nicer to live with, but that's only the word on the street...
    (I'll be the one cheering on the Mac though...)

  6. I say go Mac. I have had mine for about four years now and it is still going strong. The only problem I have had is with the battery but that is fixed now.

    They just make more sense to me. I would never go back to a PC personally.

  7. I vote Windows. I got a 4GB Dual Core Gateway with DVD Burner / Vista etc. for $700 last year around the holidays. My father-in-law is a teacher and die-hard Apple user. His one year old MacBook has been in the shop 3 times this year- display went out, something else (can't remember) - it is in the shop again because the superdrive went out. My Gateway just keeps going and going.

  8. If I may add a further two cents, I would argue that buying one or the other isn't going to guarantee longevity. In this case I imagine it's not quite the same as choosing between a domestic car and a Japanese car. You'll get testimonials saying both Macs and PCs last forever and are in the shop all the time.

    So, in that respect, I would say go with what you want. Except that if the more expensive one doesn't guarantee better quality, perhaps the cheaper one is the better choice.

  9. I've used Macs for work for 15 years and have never been disappointed. They just work. We're getting ready to update to newer macs at work mostly because of upgrades in the creative software we use -- our old Macs still work just fine.

    I do know that sometimes laptops (of any brand) might have more issues than desktops. (My daughter bought a new Dell laptop this summer and has already had a major hard drive crash.)

    My vote is for a Mac -- yes it costs more, but it will be stable and will generally be easier to maintain security-wise. And if you need to use some Windows programs, you can use software such as Parallels desktop that allows you to use Windows. (From what I understand, it works pretty well.) (Or you could put Ubuntu on it instead of Windows.) And more and more software is less platform-dependent anyway.

    Go with what you really want. But I'd vote for a Mac. I really think you won't be disappointed. You might check for links to reputable retailers that offer good deals. I think there are some listed for Canada. So you might not have to spend $1400 to get a new computer. :)

  10. A MAC. Definitely a MAC!!!!

    I LOVE mine and it was worth every single penny... I NEVER get the blue screen of death. Ever. Love it.

  11. Um, are you sure then Tara??


    You know I never see any really passionate people go off about their Windows machines.

  12. My two cents - I have heard the Mac is awesome for photography and graphic design. That being said the latest addition of software seems more geared to the Windows machine. I keep looking at the Mac, and then always find myself drifting back to the PC. I have a Sony Viao and I don't know if I would go with any other. Solid machine, puts up with my abuse of traveling, and lugging around, runs will. Even has Vista, and I have have yet to receive the screen of death. And plus, it wasn't a deciding factor, but it doesn't hurt that it looks pretty :) Hey for all you critics out there, sometimes a girl likes her electronics to look pretty! I'm assuming that isn't a factor. Though Sony does have more handsome looking machines if pretty isn't your thing. :)

    So go with your gut! But I have to say I LOVE my Sony laptop, next to my camera, it's probably my second favorite 'child', though definitely the more used out of my electronics family :) I did look at Toshiba, a nice machine but didn't have the specs that I wanted to run the software I wanted - mainly Photoshop - while Sony did. Otherwise Toshiba gets pretty good reviews.

    I would go with the Toshiba, myself. Not because of cost, just seems the better choice :)

  13. Go for the Mac, I remember umming and arring a few years ago but since then I've, like others have said, never looked back. In fact my little, now old, mini has converted others to the light side! A certain Sleeping Monkey, will no doubt agree.

    What things are you thinking wont work on a Mac? Almost all document formats are supported and the only thing I could think are some old Win 95/98 software that will likely work in a virtual machine. Which as you're looking at a dual-core machine will run pretty darn near to full speed anyhow.

    The cost of the Mac is the a bit more but then you get what you pay for and for me OS X is a far superior OS. It takes getting used to sure but in the end it's worth it. In fact it's not so much getting used to but getting out of old Windows habbits.

  14. Is it too late to recommend an Amiga?

  15. :)

    Well, at least you didn't recommend a commodore 64.

    You guys are surprising me a bit. I thought A Girl would be all about the Mac since she's pretty much into photoshop these days, and I thought Dan would be Windows because he's turning into an IT guy.

    So far it looks like:

    6 for Mac
    3 for Windows
    3 for go with your heart
    and 1 for Amiga.

    Your experiences with either do help, although more and more I'm getting a feeling its like comparing Oranges to Apples.

  16. I'm an IT guy but a Linux/Unix IT Guy, truth be told if I could I'd install Ubuntu on my work laptop.

    Windows is now most definitely my 3rd choice OS. I know plenty about Windows to trouble shoot, desktop support etc and equally I am happy enough administrating a Win 2003 Server (and do) but I'd much rather play with Red Hat.

  17. If I had your dilemma I'd probably opt for the Toshiba, but I'd check into whether they would substitute XP Pro in place of Vista.

    However keep in mind that I'm a drab, grey, number cruncher. My artistic son loves his Mac.

  18. I think that windows people are just matter-of-fact get the job done people, while those with Macs have to justify the extra outlay and lack of easy upgradablility, hence they are more evangelistic.

    Would I buy a Mac? NO, because I like to ease with which Windows lets me tinker and the fact that I can add cheap upgrades *if I need to*. Windows is super stable, fast and easy to use, plus it's a real cinch to rebuild if you ever have to. Dan rebuilt his Mac recently, and it was not straightforward. I'd only want a Mac to look cool to my other maccy friends.

    My opinion is that a Windows XP machine would serve you best, but Vista is now maturing, and much of the fragility has been fixed. I know you'd love a Mac because of the way it interfaces. The extra cost *might* be worth it to own a machine that makes you feel good every time you use it. But more likely I suspect you'll get used to it and the fun will go after a month. But you still like your iPod/Tune/phone thingy I presume, so maybe the Mac interface is for you. Just remember it's a PC with underspec'd hardware for the price, fancy interface and expensive software and you won't go far wrong.

  19. Toni, I think many of your ideas regarding Mac upgrades are somewhat out of date now, it is just as easy to rip the guts out of a Mac as any PC. Regarding tinkering, if you haven't played with a Mac in the last few years then it may be an idea to try and get a play as there is plenty of tinkering that can be done, more or less, like any Linux distro.

    Where was it not straightforward to rebuild the Mac? I had to do it twice after I made a mistake, similar to wiping the registry after I tried to be a bit too clever, second time it went fine and involved no more than 5 clicks if I remember right. If I could have been bothered I probably could have fixed the install but it was quicker just to start again.

    Most people in IT that I know now are choosing Mac's or would certainly like one, if they can afford/justify it and a lot of this is down to what is underneath the flash, Unix. I guess a lot outside IT wont care too much for this and so for them the flashyness is worth it.

    It's true the Mac hardware from Apple is overpriced and hence most, who are happy enough, buy the main machine and then add memory, disk space etc later much like buying a PC from any main vendor.

    Owning a Mac has nothing to do with a fashion statement, apart from some circles, for most I know it is all about the OS.

  20. I say go Mac. I have a PC and it has Vista on it and it's nothing but frustrating. It seems Mac's last so much longer, so in terms of money it's worse it in the long run. I found myself in your shoes 2 years ago and couldn't bring myself to spend the extra cash, but boy I sure wish I had. Plus, it is trendy you know...

  21. Well honestly I thought I would be all pro Mac too, but every time I go to an Apple store - granted not often since I'm in the middle of nowhere - I look, I play and then I always gravitate to the Sony store where I lovingly eye up the new Viaos and wish it was time to upgrade.

    My first Sony had the very first Vista and I admit it had - um issues? frustrations? - that made me wonder what the heck did I do? But I took a leap of faith when the laptop died - not because of the OS, but laptops don't like the power cord being tripped over and falling about five feet onto a cold very hard hardwood floor (incidentally it was the hard drive that died, no visible damage to the unit itself) - I hummed and hawed, looked at Macs, did the research, but when it came down to it, I could get a PC and it was much better value for my money. The money I spent on this laptop was about $600 less than it's equivalent Mac counterpart.

    Since then either I am very lucky or very dumb, because I have had not one issue with windows with this machine, going on a year old.

    I would be interested in having a Mac just to compare, because I'm not sure I can get a good idea of what is better unless I had a Mac for a year.... However with starting up a business, and all my major - read very expensive software - is in Windows platform, I think I'll just stay with Windows for now.

    But really look at the Sonys they get really good reviews and if you want to look cool - well especially the C and NR series look pretty cool.

  22. Die-hard Windows fan here (I even have a Zune!!)
    One last vote for Windows! Go Toshiba! Sure, all laptops can fall apart - but I also work in IT and just installing and uninstalling programs and moving files around on a Mac is a lesson in frustration for me compared to Windows. How my father-in-law does it is beyond me! Windows! Windows! Woo hoo!

  23. Jason, you sound like you haven't used a Mac for any period of time, ie to unlearn the Windows way. I must admit the few hours I use a Mac before I got one were frustrating but I'd heard so many good things that in the end I bit the bullet and bought the cheapest one I could. After a couple of weeks Windows felt slow and cumbersome, there's a joke at work which describes Windows Admin work as Next > Next > Next > Done

    Just a Girl, if you can try and get a cheap one on ebay to play with, a firend of mine did and is now saving for something a little newer :)

  24. I would agree with the Mac guys above. Since I switched to using a Mac full-time, if you like, in January, I really find myself itching to get back on it whenever I use Windows. As Dan says, the hardware can be upgraded without too much trouble, the OS is far superior (in my opinion), and it makes using the computer so much easier. Take Jason's example of how he said he finds it hard to install a program - Dan's absolutely right that on Windows it's Double-click, Next, Next, Next, Accept, Next, Next, Change a value, Next, Finish and then possibly Reboot. Whereas on a Mac, you click "Download" and drag the downloaded file to your Applications folder. Done. Of if you want, download it straight to the applications folder - not even any dragging to do. Or just run it from wherever you do download it to - because, in the end, it doesn't matter where it's located as Spotlight will pick it up within a few seconds of typing the first few characters of it's name... And it can happily sit in the Dock just waiting for a single click to open.

    Go for a Mac, Randall... it's worth the price simply for the ease of use and how much quicker you'll be.

    What software are you afraid won't run on it? Chances are we could find you either a version that does or a very very similar app instead.

  25. You guys are starting to shift things for me. The argument that makes it more similar to Linux than windows is, that interests me. Last spring and part of summer I was running a Linux install on my windows machine and LOVED it. I rarely went back to Win. But then the install was somehow corrupted and I lost it. Now if I could have that feel, with an OS that is fairly well established, then that gets interesting.

    My fear with the Mac is this, what happens if it doesn't boot up one day.

    With Windows i know what to do, where to go, and how to get there. With a mac, if it ain't moving, what do I do? Return it? take it in?

    Is there a boot disk that comes with it?

    I suspect I know enough about the Windows operating system to make me dangerous with a Mac.


  26. Well, most likely, you would not have a day when your Mac would just not start. But yes, it comes with the install CD and you can boot from that. You can also start it in what's called 'single-user mode' which means unix, and can run diagnostics from there. Even I, who is not confident in unix, have done that to fix a couple little things.

    I work in a department that has both windows and macs (the editors and graphic designers use macs, the IT folks and most extension people use windows). The IT folks are always dealing with issues on the windows computers (true, they're support for all 105 county extension offices in Kansas, so some problems are bound to occur). We editors and designers are basically our own Mac support unit, and we seldom have any issues. Once in a while someone has a network issue, or something, but our computers start up and run every day and have for the almost 5 years we've had these particular machines. :) More often than not, problems are the result of user error (or a server problem), not machine failure.

    Do you know anyone nearby who's a mac user? If you switched, then you'd have someone handy to answer questions. But I'd also recommend the excellent books from O'Reilly publishing called The Missing Manuals. There's one for the latest version of the Mac operating system. I think it's written by David Pogue, the NY Times tech columnist. Also, Apple has good online support for switching, so you might just look over the Web site and see what it says.

    I don't want to overload you with info, but I really think you would find a Mac easy to use and it really is pretty hard to mess up.

    That said, if you choose to stay with what you're comfortable with, that's fine too. I'll still read your blog. :)

  27. Yeah, they come with an OS disk that is quite like a Linux Live disk in that you can run fairly advance diagnostics from, although hopefully you'll never have to!

    Your experience of Linux will probably help to get used to OS X quicker than coming from a straight Windows background. It is in many ways very similar to Linux but with a more consumer orientated feel. On a side note I really want to play on an OS X Server one day, just to see what it is like.

    I'm off to ebay, see how much one is!

  28. Dan - you're a masochist.


    FWIW Macs do break, but they just do it in different ways to PCs. But unless you do some daft things to a PC it won't normally break, and the same is true of a Mac.

    Guess you need to ask "am I going to do things that might break my computer or am I happy just to use it and not try all the latest software and gadgets".

  29. Just picture it Randall.... you in a artistic turtle neck, dark rimmed glasses, kick ass soul patch, cup of coffee, and a mac.

    That is one cool looking dude. Now think if you had a toshiba... I would think you were a banker or something.

  30. How about this: hunt up a Tandy 1000 and blow everyone's mind.

    Ah, the good old days of Sopwith! (Now with 3 colours!)

  31. or the Tandy CoCo with, I believe it was 16k of ram.


    Actually Greg, you and others, and myself if I'm honest, will hate the look of this Toshiba.

    I really dislike the case.

    That may push some Windows users towards Apple too.

  32. You should just get a typewriter. So much cheaper.

  33. That is a pretty ugly case, I'd agree. Surely there are equivalent Windows machines with better cases?

  34. Reading all of these, it seems like the majority is pro-Mac. I started using Mac at home with a Mac Classic in college all the way up to when my G4 died earlier this year. I always used Windows at work. When the G4 died, I got the Gateway. I guess working with Windows made me feel it's easier than mac (I worked on a help desk for a long time). Mac is cooler and it comes with a lot of great software that Windows does not come with but I just think navigating Windows is easier. I still work on Macs for people - something as simple as adding RAM is major surgery on some models!!
    I agree with you that the Toshiba is weird looking - what were they thinking??


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