« iLife 08 iPhoto Export & iWeb Challenges | Main | The complexity of computing, even Apple's world »

October 23, 2007



I agree, buying a Mac makes no financial sense. One could argue that you get more out of your Mac than a PC, but I think that is not the case anymore. When we at home talked about buying a new laptop, we first thought about getting a MacBook. Although many things spoke for a purchase of a MacBook, what really swung us over to the PC camp was that a PC was and is very affordable. The laptop has Vista Home Basic (which I like more than the eye-candy addons Home Premium version only has to offer as extras), 160 gb hd, 2gb ram, an Intel Core Duo CPU, WLAN, 128mb dedicated GPU ram and all the standard connectors. Price then 599 Euros (~856 USD), and since then the price of that particular model has dropped even further.

As for an alternative to the Microsoft Office suite, I recommend you look at OpenOffice.org (http://openoffice.org). This OpenSource office package is the codebase the NeoOffice project is based upon.



One point in your article sticks out - "The only thing that has irritated me so far is that you have to make your own backup system disks."

I have to agree. This is annoying, but this is not a Microsoft problem, it's HP being cheap. I eventually gave in and ordered the discs for $15 from HP, but I also made a backup from my computer (and had some six coasters made, free of charge, thanks to poor HP software design).

One point that's worth keeping in mind is that the Windows Anytime Upgrade disc that came with your computer is good to reinstall Windows in a pinch, though you will have to activate the computer over the phone and not through the automated system. One trick is to backup the activation certificate that HP ships with computer and restore it after you are successfully booted up, avoiding that step.


The real decision isn't about the specs, it's about how easy it is to do what you have to do. When buying a computer for work, the purchase price is such a tiny fraction of the total cost of the machine (maintenance, productivity and opportunity cost, etc) it doesn't make sense to sweat about it TOO much.

The author had many specific needs in the real estate business which were Windows-only, so it made sense to buy one. A dentist, on the other hand, probably would have the opposite experience because of the rich application suites available to Mac dental offices.

As for an Office replacement, KOffice 2.0 (currently in alpha) is shaping up to be a fantastic choice, so the future is looking bright for non-MS office products.


What about battery-life and weight? When it comes to laptops, I'm far more wistful about remaining with Mac than I am with desktops. Sound is much better too (though I'm still using an iBook; a friend switching to the MacBook told me he thought the sound was not as good...).

Since you pointed out you bought a laptop, I'd like to hear about these issues.

I couldn't afford to replace my iMac and bought a Dell at half the price. My only regret is that I couldn't get something with XP instead of Vista.


Cheapest solution, max the ram on the MacBook and install bootcamp/windows. Works like a charm.


I'll try to do a comparison on battery life. I have been able to take my MacBook to work and get about three hours from it on typical use.

I'll see how the HP does on that.

The Staples web page which shows an online prices of $50 more than I paid has the weight at 6.18 lbs which ends up being less for me since I have been dragging around a keyboard and mouse because I don't like the trackpad on the MacBook.

My MacBook trackpad takes far more pressure than it should. When I sent it in for repair, I asked for it to be checked, but it came back the same way.

As to sound the HP came equipped with Altec Lansing sound which unscientifically I find okay, but I haven't done an iTunes install yet.

This url might get you to the Staples specs for the system.


The MacBook isn't the cheapest solution when I look at what I get and how much time I have to spend.

I am well aware of Boot Camp and already own Parallels Destop, but my 120 gig drive is maxed out and I only have 1.5 gigs of ram. So neither of those are really options without additional costs.

In addition to the ram, I would have to buy Windows, an external hard drive, and I find the MacBook's screen small for using Windows. That comes out to almost $675 using my favorite vendors and products if I go with Vista Ultimate, and I would still have an out of warranty MacBook with a 13" screen.

To use Boot Camp, I would have to buy Leopard which I don't need. Once I add Leopard to the cost, I am within $50 of what I paid for my new computer.

For that extra $50 I got a whole new computer with one year warranty. It is also one where I didn't have to figure out to install the operating system and fool around dual booting every time I want to use Windows.

I also got a bigger screen and better keyboard and my integrated SD card reader which is a huge bonus to someone who takes as many pictures as I do.

Vista worked on the HP with almost no effort on my part.

This way my MacBook can remain a Mac and do what it is best at and the HP in effect can be my full time real estate computer.

I have been in the computer world long enough to know that having two computers capable of doing most of the same things is better than depending on one with an external hard drive.

I just dropped a Firelite 80 gig hard drive that I have had for nearly five years. I'm always more likely to drop something small than I am something large like a laptop.

So having an extra work laptop is great insurance.


The MacBook Pro sound seems pretty good for built-in computer sound, but the speakers on any computer are going to be pretty hopeless. For decent sound, you have to plug in good headphones or a good stereo system.

As for running a business with a Mac, my own freelance business has no problems, since it mainly involves word processing, web-surfing, and email. I could practically do it on an iPhone if the keyboard weren't so impractical. :-)

Brad Laue

Actually your MacBook would have run the Windows apps you need in one of two ways; either by dual booting with Vista (as the MacBook is a Vista ready PC) or by running Windows within VMware Fusion and letting the Windows apps run alongside your Mac programs. Total cost of a Windows license plus VMware wouldn't have exceeded $400.

Vista laptop user

Actually, one of the biggest mistakes I made earlier this year was in *NOT* persuading my wife to get a MacBook to replace her aging Dell laptop with Windows XP. She bought a Sony Vaio with Vista pre-installed, and we have had no end of trouble. It's insanely slow to turn on, use anything, and turn off. Installing drivers for popular third party printers is still fraught with danger--one even brought down Internet Explorer 7, which refused to launch until we had booted enough times in Safe Mode to disable the errant driver. It has a heck of a time keeping a connection on our wireless network from just about anywhere in the house, unlike any of the other (non-Windows) laptops and network devices sprinkled in our home. To name a few problems.

So, we are in the market for a replacement for our Vista laptop, the replacement is going to be a Mac laptop running OS X. Leopard isn't really a part of the equation in this decision, regaining our sanity is.

On the bright side, I do think (unlike many articles to the contrary) that Vista is a big step forward from Windows XP, but Vista still seems like two steps backward compared with OS X.

Ken Sherman

You've now contributing to the problem not the solution. Giving more money to MS is a very bad idea.
They hurt us all everyday with their shenanigans.
We need to open up some of these closed systems, such as real estate, not give up and use Windows.
Did you check to see if the forms package will run under WINE? (Crossover?). Most of the win32 API is now supported. At least then you not giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

Yes, I'm a fanboi. Yes I own Apple stock. I don't really care if you use a Mac just don't use windows. PLEASE!


Well if Apple made an effort to work with some VARs in these businesses there might be an option, but Apple is notoriously bad about working with third parties.

Speaking of closed systems, I would be perfectly happy running OS X on my HP laptop along with Windows.

I don't view MS as the enemy. They are a very big company, and I believe they try hard to listen to their customers.

The people who I know who work at MS enjoy working there far more than my remaining friends at Apple enjoy working at Apple. Most of the time the Apple folks are just trying to survive.

A lot of smart people use Windows, and most of them are people who have made the Windows decision with the full knowledge that Apple exists and makes computers.


Go to the HP Web site and for $10 you can get the system disks mailed to you. I had to restore my Vista system once on my HP machine and the HP disks work great.

Glad you like the SD card reader.

You might want to try a copy of Canon's Easy-PhotoPrint for printing. It works just like the kiosks at the photo booths at retail stores and it's free.

Vista has been a very good system for me. The reload of the OS was my fault, not HP or Microsoft.



As usual, good stuff. I'd like to point you over here if you've not since it yet.


While it's evident that Apple market share is rising the bottom line is until Apple gets the enterprise back office in line and the enterprise developer in line they will never even hit 10% marketshare. I't really irrelevant how many college kids buy Macbooks...I mean how many college kids buy cheap beer too? :-) And buying a Macbook to boot into Windows is the one of the silliest arguments ever made for a reason to buy Apple hardware. I;ve worked closely with both Apple and MS in and Enterprise enviroment and MS is far and away so superior to Apple on so many levels. It's impossible to even get in touch with anyone on our Apple Entorepise team, they routinly miss meetings and conference calls. I can send an email to our MS rep and hear back eithing 30 min max. It's not even a question about being a "fan boy" or not, it's about what's practical.


A suggestion for you in case you're not aware of it.Check this AV for Windows. http://www.clamwin.com/
I use ClamAV on my Mac and have the Windows version on my wifes PC. Does the job and doesn't get in your face all the time.


For about $300, you could have purchased a larger hard drive for your MacBook *and* an OEM copy of Windows XP or Vista. You don't have to buy a retail version of Windows.
Swapping the hard drive on a MacBook is very easy and does not void the warranty (nor does it involve opening the case - you slide out the HD from the battery compartment). You could then use one of several virtual machine applications, or even CrossOver Mac (which doesn't even require an actual Windows installation) to do your PC work without rebooting or buying Leopard. You would have been fine with 1.5GB of RAM.
Can't help you if you say the 13" MacBook's screen is too small, but it isn't any different than using OS X on it.


The only way you could buy an "OEM copy" of Windows and a hard drive for $300 bucks is use one of the shady outfits that send me spam all the time.

No thanks, you can keep that deal.

scott schmitz

Sounds like its a bit too late for you, but perhaps others will find this useful. RealOrganized, Inc. sells organizational software for real estate agents that runs on Macs as well as PC's.

real estate software

Ken Sherman

Thanks for a very patient response to an emotional comment Ocracokewaves.
I do understand MS is a very large company and I'm sure there are wonderful people working there that are sincere in trying to support their customers and improve things, however...
MS, as a corporation, has consistently and repeated tried to undermine standards ( HTML, JAVA etc)j, used illegal and unethical business practices to eliminate competition, and is now even screwing up an international standards system (ISO) just to hold on to their revenue stream. I know most people don't want to know about a lot of this because they've been using and even making a living supporting Windows and by extension MS.
People like what they know and don't like change. If they opened their eyes they'd have to make a change if the wanted to sleep at night. Better to keep those eyes firmly shut and ignore MS's CONSISTENT unethical behavior.
I must admit, however, ethics doesn't seem to be a topic of consideration much these days in the good old US of A.
I'll finish with a 'horrible' analogy that just popped into my head. I'm sure I'll regret hitting the send button in a minute but...
Windows users are like battered wives.
Now matter how much they are abused they always take back the violent spouse. They're afraid of making a change more than they're afraid of going back to the familiar. Time and time again.
Funny thing is, happiness only comes into their life when then decide to dump the bastard.
Apologies to anyone I just offended. Abuse is nothing to joke about.


I have used Realty Juggler, but I hate to say it, that wasn't the problem that I outlined in the post.

The problem is real estate forms mostly. Another problem I didn't mention is access to some GIS sites for tax information and maps. Apple is notoriously absent in the GIS world and it is by choice on Apple's part.

While one of the counties I work has a nice site which allows all operating systems, the other has a site which is only happy with MS Explorer running on Windows which is the same problem I have with one of our MLS systems.

As far as I have been able to find out I'm the only real estate agent that uses a Mac in our county out of several hundred agents.

I doubt I can get anything to change.


Look I hate to burst your bubble, but how you treat the people who work for you is also important. I worked at Apple for nearly twenty years.

Knowing what I know about Apple, I would go to work for Microsoft over Apple any day.

Apple's business practices in dealing with partners and customers are not exactly what I consider world class.

I am not even certain that the Open Source folks have gotten a fair deal from Apple.

Apple has an operating system which most of us think is the best around. They force us to buy it on their hardware.

I love Apple products, but I am not fan of the company which has just as many warts as MS if you know where to look.

Right now I admire Bill Gates far more than Steve Jobs. When is the last time you heard of Steve Jobs doing anything except trying to get the spotlight for Apple.

Enough said. I don't want to go any farther down this road.

Just don't make Apple out to be a saint or Microsoft to be the incarnation of all evil.

That isn't the case for either one of them.


Actually a high number of mac users use windows when needed. Ultimately they are just tools, use what works. I type this from my Dell =\


Agreed. A lot of folks have a hard time saying that, but it is so true.


For your particular case, buying a Vista notebook may have been justifiable. For most other people, buying a MacBook and a Windows emulator is the better solution. And yes, I also stopped paying for M$ products years ago and I do not intend to give M$ even one cent of my money.



I sleep fine at night using MS products. I'm feeding my family and keeping a roof over their head. Please don't start going on and on about how unethical MS is and act like you are taking the high road by not using their products it only reflects poorly upon you. "battered wives" Geez, could you go any further over the top? it's just a computer get, over it. I feel very happy with my life right now. Things are fantasitc and I use Windows everyday. I was an OS X mac user for over 7 years and now I'm back to Windows and it just doesn't matter that much at the end of the day. Use what works for you.


I totally share your view on Apple and Microsoft world.

The Windows users have "dirty secrets" - most of them have to still reinstall whole OS, they have to worry about viruses and spyware, they have to deal with DLL hell, they simply have problems with system.

The MacOSX users have another dirty secret - almost all of them have BootCamp with windows, because MacOSX is just not compatible.

I have to say that both of sides has its own pros and cons.

But, one small advice, if you have problems with sites, that needs MSIE - try CrossOver (something like WINE for Mac). You cannot use it to most programs, but MSIE works under it (some old version, though). It runs quite fast and it doesn't need Windows running. It helps a lot.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)


  • View David Sobotta's profile on LinkedIn


  • Powered by FeedBlitz

Blog powered by Typepad