For 20 years, I've been a PC user, telling myself that it was the only way to get along in the real world. But my mind would always wander to the Apple line, the wonderful design, the absence of spyware and viruses. Finally, last December I decided to give myself one of those brand-new iMac G5's for Christmas. After all, I reasoned, since they were just out on the market, I'd be buying at the top of the curve and it would be the flagship Apple product for a while. Also, in a November 30 column, Wall Street Journal technology guru Walt Mossberg had proclaimed the iMac G5 to be the "gold standard of computers." That had pretty much clinched the deal for me.
It was blazing fast, beautifully designed and everything it was cracked up to be. The transition from PC to Mac was much easier than I'd feared. I loved it. Then Steve Jobs made my head explode. He stood up at MacWorld and announced that the G5 was old news. There was a brand new, brand new iMac -- with the core duo technology -- and an Intel chip inside. He said it was 2-3 times faster than the G5. My beautiful, state-of-the-art G5 was now old news.
Honestly, I was stunned. I mean, I'd had my iMac G5 for less than one month. I wrote Walt Mossberg and asked him if he thought Apple would have sympathy and take my G5 back and give me a new Core Duo. He wrote back that he thought the Apple policy would pretty much be "tough luck."
I called up Apple Support (where I'd just purchased a 3-year policy) and explained how my head was exploding and a very pleasant expert told me that, yeah, Apple did things like this. Luck of the draw. Still he put me through to the sales people and I found someone who said that, since I'd had my current computer for 32 days, there wasn't really anything they were obligated to do. Still, in fairness, she said, maybe they could do something. She allowed me to send back the iMac G5 for full credit and purchase a new iMac Intel Core Duo.
When the new computer showed up at my house, I packed off to the local Apple store with the G5 and the Core Duo and one of the Apple "geniuses" there hooked the two of them together and cloned what was on the G5 onto the Core Duo in an hour. I took the new one home and was working on it as if it was the same computer. The G5 got put into a box, taken to the post office and I got the promised full refund.
Honestly, I'm not entirely sure I can tell the difference. I do know that Walt Mossberg has reviewed the new iMac Intel Core Duo and he doesn't think it feels so much faster either, but he still says it's the best computer on the market. Check out Walter Mossberg's review here. Mossberg seems to be saying that as new programs come out that are made specifically for the Intel guts, the computer will get better and better. Right now, certain programs have to get "translated" through Mac's Rosetta technology.
I'm sure I'll find my share of frustrations with this iMac Intel Core Duo since no computer is ever problem free. I've had some minor bumps with iPhoto losing my thumbnails, that kind of thing, but nothing major. But I have never so looked forward to going to my computer in the morning and firing it up. With the wireless keyboard and mouse, it truly does look like the triumph of design it's been cracked up to be.Phone support, by the way, has been uniformly fantastic. The people are always friendly and knowledgeable. There's none of the calling India insanity, no long recorded messages that take you ten minutes to get to real person. I love how you have to remember only one number basically to resolve the vast majority of your software and/or hardware woes with an Apple. The Apple Store experience seems to be equally professional and competent. I've been disappointed in customer service in this country in general, in the computer industry in particular, and Apple is shining a light for everybody as to how it's all supposed to work. Even their web-presence seems helpful and positive.
Originally, I'd planned to use the Mac version of Microsoft Office, known in Apple circles as Entourage. Office, in one program, pulls together the equivalent of Apple's Address Book, Mail and iCal. I worked both sides of the fence for a few days and then just figured that I was holding on to the old ways and if I was going Apple then, dammit, I was going in all the way. Now I use Mail, iCal and Address Book and, for me, I honestly do like them better.
There are so many other programs to like on this computer. I love the way that Word works on it. Safari took a few days to get used to but now I can't think of any other way I'd rather surf the web. Finder has ably replaced Explorer in terms of keeping my computer organized. Always have loved iTunes even before the switch. iPhoto is great and the iMac even came with OmniOutliner bundled into it and I use it all the time now, too. Did I mention Photo Booth?
Courtesy Photo Booth
My only problem is that I write screenplays for a living and I'm on deadline for a four-hour mini-series called Pandemic that shoots in Los Angeles in June, and the new iMac Intel Core Duo is so damn much fun I keep wanting to play hooky on my real work. Pandemic, by the way, is the story of how a lethal flu virus gets loose in Los Angeles, forcing the quarantine of the entire city, making it hazardous to even go out in public. Of course, that won't be a problem for me now. I'll probably look forward to the extra screen time at home.
Once you go Mac, I honestly doubt if you ever go back. I won't.