I've been using mac's for over ten years in education and really feel like that is the way to go especially how things are going right now in the PC industry. Also, I feel like for a user who has no experience either way w/ a mac or a PC a mac is easier. It has less issues w/ viruses and is way more user friendly when it comes to multi-media type stuff (ex. iLife suite which comes on a mac)
Here in Brasil the price is the main thing. A Mac can cost up to R$10,000 for a notebook. Windows pc are cheaper (maybe R$1,300) here but still expensive compared to other countries. I saw a lot of people saying good things about Macs but I've never seen one in a pc store since I've been here and thats been eight years or so, only online. I'd try one if they weren't so expensive here..
My district switched to the dark side (PCs) five years ago. So at work I deal with PCs all day, every day. Would I spend my own money on a PC? Never. I have a MacBook and an iMac. There's just no comparison in ease of use, amount of downtime and repairs, operating systems. Mac trumps PC in every category as far as I'm concerned.
An old rube that was put out for IBM products years ago pretty much sums up the way I think about Macs. "They may not run any better, but you sure couldn't pay any more for one." :))
For me as a teacher, I got off the Apple mania band wagon after Apple sold us a complete Apple GS lab setup -- 35 GS machines, mac II server, apple-link software, cabling and (are you ready) the only piece of software that would run on the system, Appleworks!! Wow, what a deal -- they unloaded $90,000 worth of out-of- date inventory to a bunch of fools (me) in Alaska. That very school year, Apple announced its latest and greatest -- the LC color Mac. They then proceeded to call us and offer great deals on the new machine. Our limited district dollars had just gone right down the drain and an Apple solicitor was already knocking on our electronic door. We rapidly found that the GS lab was so out of date that there would be no more software development, support or ... etc. Within fours years, we had entered the realm of DOS and the PC. PC is actually a misnomer in some respects because it simply means personal computer and I do think that the Mac family does qualify as a personal computer. So, in reality they are all PCs. I won't take you through the next ten years, but I went through setting up a Novell network, a Linux network (in my room -- 6 PCs) and finally the district went with Windows Active Directory. Our entire school district is networked through DSL and Cisco routers. The only group that had trouble in the networked environment was the group of "die hards" in the elementary school who fought "tooth and nail" to keep their macs. However, the apps that we all run, the gradebook program, the district wide student database and the district data analyzer all run in the Windows environment.
So, what can you personally glean from this diatribe? The software and cost should drive your decision making and not Steve Jobs or Bill Gates' marketing staff.
Cost wise, the boxes made by Dell or Gateway are the most cost effective. Another bonus of this type of machine is the configurations can be easily changed without sending it out to an Apple Repair Facility. They can also run different operating systems. In other words, they can run software and OSs written for Windows, Linux and the Macintosh.
I have evolved into a Open Source person. I started with the Apple II+, went to the Dos and Windows world and then the Linux world. I was a strong advocate for each one. Now, I just look at what a piece of software can do and its interoperability and ease of learning. I use the Open Office suite of programs at home and MS Office at school. Open Office is free. MS Office has a yearly licensing fee. I also use free art, sound and graphics programs at school and at home. I don't really like anything that is proprietary and costs money.
To finally answer your question of Macs vs. PCs, there is no simple answer. You have to ask yourself "What do I want to accomplish with a personal computer in the classroom? What software will allow me to do what I want to do? What kind of budget and space do I have available? What kind of support will I need? What kind of support is available? Do I need the computer to accomplish my classroom goals?
One you have answered these questions you will have a more clear picture of which type of machine to purchase.
Hope this is helpful.
Wow, ancient history. Frankly, sounds to me that someone didn't know what they were doing. We switched to PCs about 5 years ago and while the boxes are cheaper to begin with the cost of support personnel has probably quadrupled. So it's not just the initial cost you need to look at. You also need to look at downtime, ease of use, productivity, and life-cycle. Office and Open Office are both available for the Mac and many of our teachers use PCs at school and Macs at home.
I absolutely agree with Rob. The answer is, it depends.
I use both and have found that each have their strengths and weaknesses. It really depends on what you'll be using the computer for. I have a PC desktop at school, a PC laptop at home a MacBook at home. I find the Macs are user friendly and more or less seamless in operation UNTIL you want to interface with something outside the Mac world. Macs definitely do not play well with others. So I use my PC when I have to move across a wide range of applications and purposes. My MacBook though is great for general document creation, presentation creation etc. It has become my primary laptop at home and on the road mainly because it is lighter than my PC and it has a better battery life. The PC, however, is really important to me when I want to work with video and transcribe audio.
Also, it's not true that it's hard to move between Macs and PCs. They are becoming more and more alike in interfaces than in the old days. Yes, there are minor differences, but no more annoying than driving your partner's car instead of your own. You quickly figure out the differences and adjust.
Bottom line - don't let anyone tell you one is better than the other. Instead, explore what your needs are and determine from there which platform is the most suitable.
I'm interested in your comment that "Macs do not play well with others". Many folks I work with use Macs at home and PCs at school and go back and forth with no problem. I can export Keynote to PowerPoint or PDF and the other apps play nicely for me, too.
I do all my video editing with my Macs. We use MovieMaker and Ulead at school, but our machines don't have enough uumph to make it work well. I use Office on my Macs and it actually seems to work better than it does on the PC side. So could you be a little more specific in your complaints?
In our very rural Alabama, we use both. I have PCs that run our Student Information System and we use Macs for its iLife applications. The Macs are not on the network, but have Internet capabilities. At home, I have a Mac loaded with Parallels and Windows XP. To me, this is the best of both worlds! I get the productivity tools that come with the Mac (that are much easier for me and for students) while also getting the PC side that is necessary to run many network applications. I can see - somewhere in the future - switching to this dual platform system wide.
For multimedia work--especially beginners with multimedia, it is hard to beat the Mac with its iLife Suite. It also helps introduce students to the idea that a project can be constructed using several applications--each doing what it does best.
I am also a big fan of Linux, but it comes up short with multimedia in a big way. If you are just web browsing, word processing, etc. Linux gives the best bang for the buck. I take the old windows computers and put ubuntu on it. The kids really like ubuntu.
I am the only teacher at my school that has a Mac as a work machine--and the only teacher who goes beyond browsing and word processing--maybe a coincidence. Maybe not.