From the moment I touched a computer, I’ve been a Windows man. Actually, I was a DOS man and then I was a Windows man, mainly because my 8086 didn’t support Windows and it wasn’t until I upgraded to a 386 with 49 Mhz Turbo Speed and 8 MB RAM that I got Windows. I digress though… I’ve been a Microsoft man.
I hated Macintosh. Oh, there were cool programs on it that Windows didn’t have a consumer equivalent for, like Photoshop (and if there was one, I surely couldn’t get it at age 10 or 11 or 12 or anytime before I turned 16 for that matter). But I hated them. They didn’t play games. They didn’t have all the other applications I liked. They didn’t even properly support file types that I used. Why would I want one?
That all changed in 2007. I suddenly… liked… Apple. I suppose it wasn’t as sudden as I make it sound. There was a lead up, to be sure. I’d stopped programming, I’d stopped tweaking my computers and building them from scratch, I’d even stopped fooling around with my OS. I’d tried Linux and that was even more tweaking and fine-tuning. I really didn’t want to throw down a lot of money for an OS and computer and I was becoming increasingly disinterested in technology at large. I was drifting away from the things that I had once found very exciting.
Then the iPod came and it made me take notice. I’d played around with MP3 players before but none of them warranted spending $250 to $350. They were pretty clunky, they were pretty ugly, and they weren’t very portable. Apple introduced the iPod and even though I didn’t go out and buy one (and still don’t own one), I thought that it was pretty ingenious. You pick it up, you play with the wheel, and it works. I didn’t really need to know anything else but that.
My brush with Apple happened before that moment though. My girlfriend at the time, an avid Mac fan, owned an iMac… the ones that were candy colored. I remember seeing it and thinking that it was a pretty neat thing… a computer, contained all inside that monitor. And she could play games with me like Warcraft. She played them just as fast and just as easily as I did. Her Mac worked and it worked well. My Mac hating heart was beginning to soften. The iPod would just help speed things along later in life.
After this combined assault on my senses, I started looking at some of the things Apple offered, but I wasn’t a fan yet. I no longer hated Apple but I wasn’t interested in purchasing their line of computers. They didn’t yet do the things I wanted them to do. I was still tweaking here and there, still playing around with technology, though it was quickly becoming apparent that I was losing interest in that side of myself. No, I wasn’t yet a fan.
Then a strange thing happened. In 2007, the iPhone came. I didn’t need it and I didn’t want it, but damn did it look sleek. I still have no desire to own one but when I saw it I thought that perhaps Apple was onto something. Perhaps the UI and the applications combined with a simplistic, intituitive interface was where technology needed to go. I thought back on all of the other technological revolutions that had caught on and not a one of them had catered to a hardcore mindset or a tech-savvy mindset… they had all been simplistic, refined extensions of something that had come before it. Apple seemed to be doing that with the iPhone, a cross between a cellphone and a smartphone. And they made it stylish.
As my life changed and I started spending less time on the computer, I realized that desktops tethered me in a way that was very restrictive to the work I wanted to do. I needed a new computer. Since Apple had started to catch my eye, I figured it only prudent to check them out. One thing that had stopped me was the price but it seemed that had changed… they weren’t anymore expensive than an equivalent Windows machine. In fact, in my ways they were cheaper (the software package is so much more robust on Macs than PCs and so much less expensive to boot). They were also sleek and stylish with a fantastic UI. Maybe it was Windows fatigue or maybe it was because I’m tired of wasting time messing with my Windows-based machines, but I turned to OSX and I took a long hard look at it. Would it be able to do everything I needed it to do? Would it be able to do it quickly? Would I be able to save and backup my work quickly and easily? How much time would I waste trying to learn a new OS? I’d never played with a Mac beyond early high school, before my school district replaced all of our Macs with Windows PCs, so I wasn’t certain what I’d be losing and what I’d be gaining. But I knew that I was turning to a new camp. After all this time, I was actually starting down a different path.
Before I looked at hardware, I decided to look at OSX. I watched tour videos, read reviews, checked all of its features. I learned it before I even touched it, then I went to the store and played with it for a solid couple hours (all the while being pestered by the Apple Store sales folks). I came away happy. With iLife 08, I could easily do things that I still can’t do with my PC, either because I don’t have the software or because I don’t have the built in hardware. Some of the things I could do, especially video related, I wouldn’t be able to do unless I had a pretty pricey piece of software to boot. That intrigued me. iWork 08 was a complete replacement to my Office suite, which is in serious need of an update. The prospects of just these two pieces of software almost sold me on OSX. But there was more. After learning about things like Spaces and Time Machine, I knew that OSX was doing things that even Vista wasn’t doing. And it seemed, at least for me during my play time, to work and work fast. Above all else, that was something I needed.
I came back and decided I needed a laptop. At first I was going to get the white Macbook. Clean, nice, simple. Then I realized that no matter who I thought I was kidding, I was going to end up playing games at some point in time, even if I haven’t touched a PC game in months and have no desire to actually play PC games anymore. This had been one of the reasons I hated Macs originally… but all of that changed when I realized that with nearly equivalent specs, my girlfriend with the iMac was playing at the same resolution, the same frames per second, with the same ease as I was on my Windows PC. That was native Mac software though. What about PC emulated software?
I decided to read up on the gaming aspect of the Macs and I learned something startling. In most cases, unless it was the most brute force PC game (and by brute force, I mean high end only, which are usually high end tech demo FPS which I don’t play anyway), the Mac suffered only a 10-15% drop in performance. Most of the time, less than that. A couple frames per second… which, at anything above 25 becomes a moot point. I’ve played games running at 15 FPS and done things on those games few of my peers could possibly do. I used to think I was doing well when my computer could run the latest game at 25 FPS after being a few years old. A Mac running the latest games at 5 or 10 FPS lower than a PC wouldn’t affect me in the slightest.
It was decided. I needed a Macbook Pro.I was going to play games at some point in time. I didn’t know when or where but I would. I didn’t need the fastest one. I didn’t need the most powerful. I simply needed a computer that could play games and was speedy enough to run 720p/1080p video content as well as produce the myriad of things I knew I would eventually produce. I decided on the 15″ version, going with a glossy screen, 2.2Ghz processor, and everything else it came with. I’d buy additional memory online for a price cheaper than what Apple charges and equip it. I had switched (or, I will when I order this beast). It was as simple as that. I suddenly felt excited about technology again, not because of the “Wow, cool” features that are generally shown but because I would own a computer that integrated easily into my life and wasn’t a monstrosity or eye-sore. I wouldn’t need to change anything I did and it would free me to do all of the things I can’t do with a desktop.
Then it dawned on me. If Apple had a laptop that fit my needs, wouldn’t they have other things? I still don’t own an iPod, though I’ll eventually get a Touch when a 32 GB SSD version is released, but I knew that they had to have routers. I was in need of a new one of those with Draft N that was also still supported by its maker (since Buffalo can’t support my router any longer due to legal issues).
Enter Macworld Expo 2008 and the Timecapsule. It was everything I needed… full functioning router with a hard drive built inside. Why the hard drive? Even though I would be dismantling all of my PC desktops and putting the drives into enclosures, the idea of a central file system connected to my router appealed to me. It would hold all of my media, while the other drives held other, less important things. I would get the 500 GB version. I have a little more than 300 GB at the moment (2×120 GB, 1×80 GB, 1×30 G, 1×12 GB, 1×4 GB) and I haven’t used all of the space. I have at least 200 GB free, easily. With the combined amount of space from the enclosure and Time Capsule, I would easily have enough space to fill my foreseeable needs for the next couple of years. And if I ever need more space… I’ll buy a small 500 GB drive and put it into an enclosure.
But what about my other needs? I don’t have cable and I typically get my media from the internet. Did Apple have a solution for me?
Turns out they did… Macworld Expo 2008 introduced the improved Apple TV, which features HD content without the need for a computer. Simply plug it in, sync it to your router, and go. Wow… did they ever have me covered or what?
I hate to say we’re becoming an Apple household, but it looks like we are. Perhaps there are other solutions out there. I don’t doubt it. They probably also offer so much variety that it would take me months to research them and figure out if they actually work for me. I realized a long time ago that I really don’t have time for technology anymore. I just need it to work and work well. If it doesn’t fit my needs, I don’t care how many bells and whistles it has, I’m not going to use it. So over the course of the next year, all signs point to Apple for me. I will get the laptop first, the router second, and the TV accessory last. Oh, and a new iMac 24″ for the missus. She likes art and after playing with one in the store, she definitely feels that the switch is for her. Who knows, maybe it’s just time for a change. Or maybe there’s one technology company in the world that’s actually catering towards my lifestyle. Either way, I’m switching.