A recent question from a client:

“I’m about to upgrade computers.  I need something portable, so I’m going towards a laptop at the moment.  I’m currently stuck on the PC vs. Mac fence.  Are the benefits of going Mac still manifest or are PCs becoming as reliable?”

My response:

“Over the past 20+ years, I’ve used both Macs and PCs (and Unix workstations) in my digital imaging work. I’ve used all kinds of laptops and desktop machines, plus servers of various flavors. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Historically, Mac’s disadvantage has been cost. Windows disadvantage has been stability/reliability.

Currently, I use a Dell laptop with Vista Home Premium and have been very happy (surprisingly so!) with it. It’s a refurbished model, with 4 GB RAM, 250 GB hard drive and 2 GHz Intel processor.

My main workstation in my studio is a Mac Mini, which I really like, too.

If money was no object, I would always go Mac, all the way. But I can’t always afford  high-powered Mac laptops (never mind the Mac Pro desktops…) so I got the Dell to use as my “road computer”. And in 6 months of heavy use it has never let me down.

Windows machines take more know-how and maintenance to keep running smoothly. Windows is also vulnerable to a much wider range of viruses and spyware than Mac OS X.

When it comes to choosing a computer for your digital photography, if you’re an experienced computer user, you can get great results with a Windows machine (yes, even Vista!). And Windows 7 is on the way. Windows has come a long way in terms of usability, and the photo editing/imaging software (Lightroom etc.) is very stable on most PC configurations.

On the other hand, most photographers who switch from PC to Mac rave about the experience and wonder why they didn’t do it sooner. Most everyone loves working on a Mac.

So it’s really a price vs. performance issue. You get a lot more for your money with a Windows machine. But in some cases the Mac OS is definitely worth paying more for… and Apple hardware is some of the best available.

Personally, I don’t see any reason to choose over the other…. I use both, at different times, for different purposes.

I know this falls short of a definitive answer, but I hope it gives you the info you need to move forward in your decision-making process.”

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