Monday, May 02, 2005

How to Switch to a Mac - Part 4 - Mac Hardware & Which Model to Buy

Deciding to purchase a new computer is a much easier task than deciding which model to take home. The task can be so daunting in the Windows world because there are so many different processors (Intel vs. AMD), speeds, RAM types and speeds, video cards, manufacturers, configurations, features, and security problems. If your Windows computer doesn’t come pre-installed with some sort of Anti-Virus or security software, you’re better off not even getting on the Internet. It will only take a few minutes before your system is compromised. There is an emerging trend towards the exploitation of new and unprotected computers connected to the Internet. This is caused by numerous issues:

  • Windows default configurations are insecure
  • By the time you get your Windows system, new security vulnerabilities, viruses, worms, Trojans, and Spyware will likely have emerged since the computer was manufactured. Your system will be vulnerable even if it came with an anti-virus program.
  • Attackers and hackers regularly scan the common broadband and dial-up IP address ranges looking for vulnerable systems.
  • The Internet is circulating with worms that are continuously scanning for vulnerable and new computers to exploit.

The time to exploit an unprotected Windows computer connected to the Internet is often measured in minutes. This is especially true for broadband users. It is entirely possible for Windows users to get exploited through a vulnerability when they are downloading a software patch/fix/update for that vulnerability. Mac’s don’t have this problem. There are no known viruses or Spyware that are able to infect a Mac. Furthermore, all you need to do is enable the built-in UNIX based firewall in Mac OS X before you get on the internet. Once you do that, you know your system is safe. You can then feel safe downloading any OS X updates, including OS X security updates.

When you buy a Windows system, you’re essentially getting a PC kit with components from several different 3rd party vendors. When something goes wrong with the system, you’re likely to have to engage those 3rd party component vendors, especially if your manufacturer’s warranty has expired. Often you’ll be faced with a situation where those vendors will deflect blame to another vendor. You’re often left in the dark and will have to figure out the solution on your own.

Mac’s don’t have this dilemma because the operating system and hardware are designed, built, and engineered by Apple. The advantage is that you get seamless integration with Apple. Apple designed OS X to work with their hardware, whereas Microsoft has to write their OS to work in a “generic” fashion that various 3rd party vendors use. Buying and using an Apple is a great experience. Take it out-of-the-box, plug it in, run your setup, enable the built-in firewall in OS X, and start enjoying. With Apple, everything works together with ease. Consequently, Apple stands behind their products. When something doesn't work, you only have to work with Apple, not numerous 3rd party vendors.

Apple’s vision and hardware have made choosing a Macintosh computer a relatively easy task when compared to a Windows based system. Of course, Apple’s have historically been more expensive than Windows systems but you’re paying for that seamless integration, stability, ease of use, and quality engineering. The introduction of the Mac mini in January 2005 has lowered the cost barrier and is geared towards first time Mac users and switchers.

Apple systems are relatively easy to purchase and configure for your needs. Based on the type of user you are (Read my previous post on What kind of user are you?) you’ll be able to zero in on the type of Mac that will suit your needs. This makes the process simple, you choose the system based on the type of user you are and how you'll use your Mac.

Once you've identified the type of system you want, you either pick a pre-configured system or customize it for your needs. Think about purchasing a Windows based system. You have to compare the systems from numerous vendors. This is a difficult task because there is no way to really conduct an effective comparison. Vendor A may have a faster processor but less and slower RAM, whereas Vendor B may have a somewhat slower processor but more and faster RAM, as well as a larger hard drive. This is where Macs have an advantage, identify the type of user you are then choose your Mac.

Check back for the next update - What to do with your new Mac

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