This is a common question we get asked by many of you. Since it's back to school time, let's focus on what makes each special.
About each platform
A PC is manufactured by many different companies and it runs the Microsoft Windows operating system. Manufacturers such as HP, Dell, Acer, Sony, and more produce these desktop and laptop computers for use with Microsoft Windows. Windows is what most of us are familiar with. Windows has a start bar at the bottom of the screen and a handy start button to launch programs. Unless you've been hiding under a rock for the last 20 years, you've already seen a Windows computer at offices, schools, and homes. Windows computers account for almost 90% of all computers used by people today. As a direct result, most software and hardware are compatible with PCs.
Macs are unique in both hardware and software. The hardware and software are produced by one company: Apple. Macs have a bar similar to Windows on the bottom of the screen, but it's called a dock and allows you to have frequently used programs appear for easy access. The environment is similar to windows, but has subtle differences. Despite having less than 10% market share, Apple has managed to drop it's unique "for creative people" status, and enter a variety of environments. Macs are now used by students, business professionals and, of course families. Most peripherals, such as printers and other devices, and software are Mac compatible today. Since Macs are produced by one company, their tighter integration results in a quality product. Battery life, performance, and design are all typically better than most PCs. They're also much slimmer and lighter than their PC counterparts.
Advice: If you're considering buying for a student, make sure the school's software or applications are compatible with your choice. Some may require you to buy one over the other based on curriculum. Most schools allow either choices.
Computers are susceptible to viruses and malware. Viruses and malware can reduce performance, leave open access to hackers, or be used for other harm. PCs tend to be open to these problems very often. Macs, until recently, have been well protected, even without security software.
Unfortunately, recent issues reveal that Macs are also susceptible, but fortunately not as bad as PCs. Most of these threats exist because of simple numbers. Since there are more PC users, there are more viruses for PCs. This is still the case today. Young adults and children tend to get into more trouble than adults because of greater downloading activities. Macs will reduce your child's chances of getting an infection.
Advice: If you find yourself having to consistently remove viruses and malware, then you're better off with a Mac.
PCs cost less than Macs. In some cases, a comparable Mac can cost almost twice that of a PC. A good PC laptop can cost about $600-$700, whereas an equivalent Mac will cost $999. A difference is definitely noticeable. The Mac is lighter, slimmer, and manufactured in a special unibody metal. The PC is the opposite and has a plastic casing. However, it is important to note that if your computer is plagued by infections often, a PC will cost you just as much as a Mac when you consider the amount of repairs.
Advice: If you're on a budget, a PC is your best bet. Apple does offer students and some businesses reduced pricing, a free printer, and other discounts.
Both platforms have their benefits. A PC is widely used and therefore most compatible, but this widespread use also means more security risks. Macs tend to be more secure and have a better set of hardware features, but can cost more.
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