MAC Attached

Price Matters

Ah, but what about prices and the availability of software, you may ask. Don't PCs cost less than Macs of comparable performance, and aren't there thousands more programs available for PCs than for Macs? Yes and yes again, but think twice before you decide to switch from a Mac to a PC because of that comparison alone. What really counts in any computer evaluation is the total cost of ownership--its initial price plus the cost of running and maintaining it for a number of years.

Here, too, Macs show great merit. Over the past two years, Apple has lowered prices. Even still, if all you're comparing is raw processor speed and hard-drive capacity, Macs may still appear to cost a little more than PCs. But again, there's that inherent simplicity and completeness of the Mac's core operating system. It makes the machine as a whole much easier to operate in both stand-alone and networked setups. "If you have a friend who will come over and fix your PC for free, get a PC. Otherwise, you can probably fix most problems on a Mac yourself," says Grierson. "Set up a good [data] backup system and install Norton Utilities [for diagnosing and fixing many common problems]. That's all you need."

Application software, or the relative lack thereof, is clearly the Mac's biggest weakness compared to the PC. Many industry-specific programs just aren't available for the Mac. But if it's basic business tasks you're doing, such as communicating, budgeting and accounting, the Mac can still hold its own against any brand.

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