There may be a few more weeks left of summer and sunshine, but back-to-school sales are already popping up. For incoming college freshmen, this year’s school shopping list is going to be significantly longer than ever before, and will include items beyond pens and folders. If you are heading off to college, one of the most important investments you can make is a computer. Choosing between a Mac or PC, or a laptop or tablet, can be difficult for first-time computer owners. As you make these decisions, you will need to consider how you will be using your computer, your personal user preferences, and of course, your wallet.
Gaming: You need to take your classes seriously, but who doesn’t need a study break? If you plan on spending your free-time hosting gaming parties in your dorm room (yes, people do this), a PC might be your best bet. Macs are slowly expanding into the world of gaming, but far more games are offered to Windows users.
Graphic Design: The Mac vs. PC debate is extremely prevalent in the world of graphic design. While a general consensus is that the real difference is the designer, not the operating system, many graphic designers do lean towards Macs. Why? Years ago, Macs had noticeably better design programs. As the field of graphic design expanded, many colleges purchased Macs and professors got used to teaching Mac users. Many of these schools are unlikely to completely overhaul their Mac labs, and those who learned on Macs and are now teaching do not necessarily want to learn a whole new operating system.
Video Editing: When it comes to video editing, there is definitely no “one size fits all” solution. Final Cut Pro, a top video editing program, can only be used on Macs. However, there are several programs that are just as good- if not better- that are made for PCs. If you want to stick with Final Cut Pro, you are definitely going to want to opt for the Mac. If you are not married to one program, and wish to have access to dozens of editing programs, you may be better off going with a PC.
Just the Basics: Do you just need a computer for simple tasks? If all you really need is a machine to run word processing programs, Internet browsers, and iTunes, go for a PC. Mac computers are only available in a few models, with each model priced upwards of at least $850. PCs, on the other hand, are much more customizable. If you do not need anything beyond basic functions, you can snatch a PC for under $500!
Virus Protection: Yes, it is easier to avoid viruses on Mac computers. No, it is not because Macs are necessarily better at virus protection. Since the majority of computer users worldwide use PCs, people tend to develop viruses just for PCs. Yet as the Mac-using population grows, Mac-based viruses are starting to become more prominent. Unfortunately, many Mac users believe that they are not vulnerable to viruses, meaning that they may be more likely to get viruses than PC users who have protection software. Luckily, there are easy options for avoiding viruses on both Macs and PCs.
Computer vs. Tablet: Whether you choose to purchase a Mac or PC, you will have to decide on a computer or tablet. In general, it is probably best to go for the computer. It may be more reliable for word processing and can simply be more comfortable to use when writing long papers or doing heavy research. However, there are several benefits to opting for a tablet. With improved word processing and keyboard connection devices, it is becoming easier to use a tablet in a similar way as you would use a computer. Tablets are lightweight, easy to carry around, and extremely easy to use. Plus, you can easily store your textbooks right in a reader app, meaning you won’t have to lug heavy books to the library. Our suggestion? If it is financially feasible, get both! A full size iPad or PC tablet can be pricy, but you can buy smaller models without breaking the bank.