- Besides the aesthetic “feel” of each platform, there are a number of important practical differences between Macs and PCs that should be taken into account when deciding which one is right for you.
A 3-year warranty from Dell or Apple will cost roughly the same. However, Apple does not offer as many types of support as Dell or many other manufacturers, e.g., accidental damage or on-site repair and replacement coverage.
- Hardware Variety
There are hundreds of models of Windows PCs sold by dozens of manufacturers you can choose from to ensure that you buy exactly what you need. Apple is the only company that sells Macs, and there many types of computers that Apple simply does not make; if you absolutely need a laptop for under $900, a desktop under $500, a tablet PC, or an ultra-portable subnotebook, a Windows PC is your best option.
- Software compatibility
Though there is vastly more Windows software than Mac OS X software, new Macs can run Windows software (though not vice versa). Any Mac manufactured since May 2006 has the ability to run Windows software through one of the following two methods: the first uses Apple’s free Boot Camp software and involves installing Windows on a separate hard drive partition. Thus, you can choose to boot the computer up running either Mac OS X or Windows, but not both at the same time. Alternatively, you can purchase Parallels Desktop , which allows you to run Windows and OS X simultaneously, giving you access to the combined software libraries of both platforms at the same time. For maximum flexibility, you can have it both ways and use both Boot camp and Parallels if you wish. For either approach, you must possess a licensed copy of Windows to install.
If you are a film student (or intend to become one), a Mac will useful because Final Cut Pro–the video editing software supported by and taught at Sarah Lawrence College–is a Mac-only product. For most other purposes, software compatibility is no longer likely to be the deciding factor between PC and Mac.
Macs are generally more expensive. Because Apple offers fewer models, you are more likely to pay for features that you don’t need when you buy a Mac. Apple’s cheaper models tend to be more expensive than cheap PCs. In addition, Sarah Lawrence College’s Apple store gives you a academic discount that will lower the price of a new Mac, in most cases. Sarah Lawrence College’s partnership with Dell typically only results in a small percentage off the final price. However, substantial discounts for Dell computers can often be found in local and/or national newspapers.