Popular Mechanics has conducted a Apple Mac vs. Microsoft Windows PC smackdown and, unsurprisingly to Mac users, Apple Mac swept the contest, winning both the desktop and notebook categories.
Glenn Derene reports for Popular Mechanics, “We tested two all-in-one desktops and two laptops—one Mac and one PC per category—and assembled a panel of testers with a range of experience and preference that ran the gamut from expert users to my wife’s stepfather, who, by his own account, had never actually turned on a computer. Our testers were asked to set up the computers right out of the box and explore the machines through everyday tasks such as Web surfing, document creation, uploading photos, downloading Adobe Acrobat files and playing music and movies through Media Center and Front Row (the entertainment software suites integrated into Vista and Leopard, respectively). Our testers were instructed to divorce themselves as much as possible from their previous technological preferences and rate their experiences with each computer’s software and hardware.”
Derene reports, “Usability surveys are like taste tests—a useful look at the subjective appeal of a device. (Is it fun? Is it easy? Would I be happy to live with this thing?) But beneath their packaging, computers are data-crunching machines that can be run like racehorses. So the second component of our test regimen was about pure performance.”
The Verdict: Apple
Mac: In both the laptop and desktop showdowns, Apple’s computers were the winners. Oddly, the big difference didn’t come in our user ratings, where we expected the famously friendly Mac interface to shine. Our respondents liked the look and feel of both operating systems but had a slight preference toward OS X. In our speed trials, however, Leopard OS trounced Vista in all-important tasks such as boot-up, shutdown and program-launch times. We even tested Vista on the Macs using Apple’s platform-switching Boot Camp software—and found that both Apple computers ran Vista faster than our PCs did.
PC: Simply put, Vista proved to be a more sluggish operating system than Leopard. Our PCs installed some software faster, but in general they were slower in our time trials. Plus, both PCs showed weaker performance on third-party benchmarks than the Macs. Our biggest surprise, however, was that PCs were not the relative bargains we expected them to be. The Asus M51sr costs the same as a MacBook, while the Gateway One actually costs $300 more than an iMac. That means for the price of the Gateway you could buy an iMac, boost its hard drive to match the Gateway’s, purchase a copy of Vista to boot—and still save $100.
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