Last week in our MyFive article titled “Computers We’ve Owned,” we left out a “5th Generation” of computers that we’ve owned in the past because we hadn’t yet purchased them. In the article, we mentioned that we’ve been looking at different models and manufacturers to see what would be best. We finally made our decision after lots of research, and the purchases were made. So what kind of computers did we end up with?
After much contemplation and lots of going back-and-forth, we decided on MacBook Pros. Now, before the Apple fanboys start giving us high-fives and the Apple haters start saying “that’s it, I’m done reading CyberNet,” we wanted to point out that even after using the Mac computers for a week, we are still firm believers that both Mac OS X and Windows (whether it be Vista or XP) have strengths and weaknesses. That last sentence alone helps explain why we ended up with MacBook Pros: because with them, we get the best of both worlds! If we said one operating system was better than the other, we’d be ignorant. We can run OS X and have the benefits of using it, but we can also run Vista or XP using Parallels and take advantage of the benefits that they offer.
Today we thought we’d take the time to just let you know about our first impressions: what we like and what we don’t like, and what it’s like going from being a Windows user to an OS X user. After using Windows for so long, there have been lots of things that are taking time to get used to, so we’ll talk about those things as well. Just note that what we’re writing about is our “out-of-box” experience, what the computer was like before installing any applications.
Our first impressions started shortly after purchasing the computers. Without going into too much of the boring details, there was a problem with our order. It was our mistake, but a call to Apple had our problem taken care of within minutes. Later that day we received an email with a survey that Apple wanted us to complete for calling their Customer Service line, so we completed the survey. The next day, we received a call from an Apple Manager checking up to see how our experience was. He even gave us his direct phone number so if we had any questions or concerns in the future, we could call him. We were impressed at the level of customer care that they offered.
Once the computers actually came (we ordered online through the Apple Store online), our first impression of the appearance was “wow, these are pretty slick computers.” Apple did a great job with the design. It’s slim (compared to our previous computers) and really feels durable. Of course we knew there was only going to be one mouse button, but it was still weird to see one long button instead of two shorter buttons.
Setting up the computers was easier than I ever expected it to be. Overall it’s not that much different from Windows — you go through a couple of screens and it’s ready to be used. One nice thing was that there weren’t a bunch of 3rd party applications that had to be uninstalled like what would happen if you purchase a computer with an OEM version of Vista on it. We always started with a fresh install of Windows in the past, so the 3rd party apps were never a problem for us anyways.
Another first impression was that we’re not a huge fan of Apple keyboards. Why you ask? Well, the positioning of the keys is different and the Alt and Command keys are flipped. Another “problem” is that instead of using the Ctrl key for shortcuts like copying and pasting, you use the command key which definitely takes getting used to.
We’ve always plugged-in a keyboard to use with our laptops at home because we type for hours on end everyday and need something ergonomic. In general we just don’t like Apple keyboards and so we decided to stick with our Microsoft Comfort Curve Keyboards.
On the keyboard that we’re used to using, there are keys for print screen, page up, page down, and more. On an Apple keyboard, those keys don’t exist. Things like that can make transitioning between a keyboard on a PC and a keyboard on a Mac a little more difficult.
Surfing the Web
We’ve always been Firefox and Opera users, but we decided that since the computers came with Safari, we’d give it a try. All I can say is that we only lasted a few hours using Safari. It’s not that it’s a bad browser, it’s just that we’re used to Firefox and we’ll be using both Windows and OS X regularly. Because we don’t like Safari for Windows, Firefox will be better to use from a consistency and bookmarks standpoint.
For casual browsing, Safari works great. We did notice though that once we started our “heavy” browsing and pulling up lots of sites, the short-comings of Safari started to show.
Switching Operating Systems is like…
Switching Operating Systems to us is just like moving to a new city. If you’ve moved, you know that there’s some fun and excitement to exploring new places but there’s some discomfort because it is unfamiliar and it might take you longer to get to where you need to go or you might get lost on occasion. We’re excited and having fun exploring Mac OS X, but we can say we’ve gotten “lost” every now and then trying to figure out how to do something.
When you live in a city for 10 years, you know where to find the best deals and you know all of the back roads to get from point A to point B. Similarly, when you’ve used Windows for 10 years, you know all of the best software that’s available and you know all of the shortcuts to get tasks done as quickly as possible. We’re starting fresh in a “new city” and things are good, but a little confusing too.
Features we like
- Configuring multiple monitors is much, much easier:
We both have a dual monitor set-up and so we were curious what the configuration options would be. They are so nice! You’re shown two configuration screens, one for each monitor, and then you’re able to drag and drop each monitor in the position that you want it. Along the same lines, Ryan uses his 24″ monitor in a vertical orientation. With Windows he had to either install the graphics card software or download a 3rd party application to successfully rotate the 2nd display. With our Mac computers, there were absolutely no issues and no software had to be installed.
Another nice thing is that you can drag and drop the Dock/Menu Bar to the screen where you’d like it displayed. At one point Ryan wrote about a “trick” that could be used on Windows computers for choosing a primary monitor and all kinds of people said that it was so helpful. If Microsoft made managing monitors as easy as Apple, tricks like that wouldn’t be necessary.
Ahhh.. Spaces. We’re already in love with it. You can set-up multiple virtual desktops and drag windows from one virtual desktop to another. I have one desktop set-up with all of the applications I use for blogging, and another one set-up for the applications that I use for personal things like my address book, or photo editing
- Installing Apps is easier:
Typically you just have to drag an icon for the new app you’re installing into the applications folder. Uninstalling is just as easy, you just drag the folder you no longer want from the Applications folder to the trash
- Spotlight Search:
We’d say the Spotlight Search is better organized and slightly more powerful (you can get dictionary definitions and calculations right there on-the-spot) than Vista’s built-in searching feature
Getting Used to…
There’s a whole list of things that are taking time for us to get used to so we’ll just bullet them out.
- Command key – it’s driving us crazy using it instead of Ctrl for most shortcuts
- Resizing of most Windows can only be done on the bottom right corner, we’re used to resizing from anywhere on the window
- Start key/menu- I miss it, I really do! I used Vista’s built-in searching capabilities all the time and therefore got used to pressing the start key. It’s no longer there…
- Keyboard shortcuts – they are all different!
- Quitting an application
If you click the X in the upper left-hand corner and think the application has closed, you’re wrong. You actually have to go up to the menu bar and click the menu for the program you’re running and then click “Quit.” Alternatively, you can press Command+Q
- Maximizing a screen works differently – instead of filling up the whole screen, it only enlarges the window as large as it needs to be to fit the content of the Window
- Forcing a quit is no longer Ctrl+alt+delete – it’s Cmd-Alt-Escape — just a bit different
- Menu-bar location can be inconvenient when you’re using multiple monitors (it would be nice to place the menu-bar on both monitors for someone who has a dual monitor set-up)
- Customization options aren’t as abundant – with Windows there are seemingly endless amounts of customization options by diving into the registry and all kinds of hidden tweaks. With Mac, not so much… While there may be tips and tricks for Macs as well, it seems as though they are harder to come by…
We’re not giving-up on Windows entirely – we still have a Desktop computer running Vista Ultimate. It serves as our Media Center machine and will continue to back-up all of our important files and documents from the computers on our home network. We’ll also be running Vista using Parallels for certain things on our MacBook computers.
Overall, the out of box experience with our MacBook Pro computers is pretty impressive, but with the price you pay, you’d expect that. We’re happy to now be able to bring unbiassed news and tips from both sides of the spectrum This leads me to the next bit of information we wanted to share. Starting this week, our Microsoft Monday will now be Microsoft/Mac Monday and we’ll end up talking about both Windows and OS X.
In the past we’ve been called “Microsoft Fanboys” so this should go to show that we are open minded about how we view different operating systems. We’re sorry to anyone who is disappointed that we are now using Apple Hardware but we’re sure if you stick around, you’ll notice that we’ll still be covering plenty of Windows news and tips as we always have. Nothing has changed, other than the fact you might see a Mac article sprinkled into our daily writing every now and then.
What we need from you…
This is all so new to us, so if you’re using a Mac computer, let us know of any tips you might have, or must-have apps!